The majority, the sum and the collective (Eruvin 70)

Today was probably one of the last days of the motorcycle season, so I decided to drive through the polders and visit the Jewish cemetery of Diemen. This relatively young cemetery was founded just over a century ago. It has several rows of people that died during the Second World War, many of them by suicide.

Most of the extended Baruch family, like most Dutch Jewish families, especially those lacking the funds to flee or go into hiding, were killed in concentration camps, but four of them have graves; one elderly relative died of old age, and was buried in 1942 in Oude Pekela.

But Moritz and Sara Baruch – Petschon and their son Heinz committed suicide on the 14th of July 1942. A few years before they had fled Germany and they had means nor possibilities to flee Amsterdam and saw no other way to escape their fate. They were buried in Diemen, and, with no relatives to fund stoned, the Dutch government paid for their tombstones. The number of tombstones of people that died from 1940 to 1945 count into hundreds. Many are from family members that died, like Moritz, Sara and Heinz, on the same day.

A 15 minute walk from the house where they were found, the new names monument for Jewish, Roma and Sinti Holocaust victims is being erected. The limits of this project are that the names of the people that do have a grave will not be mentioned on this monument. This means that the names of Moritz, Sara and Heinz will not be on the monument. Like so many others that committed suicide, disappeared, were killed in Dutch camps and cremated, or were killed in hiding. So, contrary to public belief, the monument will not be a monument for killed Jewry as a whole, or for all Jews that were killed during the holocaust, but for, as the press often mentions “more than 102.000 Jews, Roma and Sinti“, of whom 102.000 were Jews, and 220 Roma and Sinti. So for the vast majority.

So there is still, and there won’t be a monument for Dutch all but completely disappeared Jewry as a whole, or even for all victims, save the online Jewish Monument. Call me pre-occupied, but this is what I thought about whilst studying Eruvin 70.

The question is posed by Abaye to Rabba: suppose 5 Jews have a courtyard, and one forgot to participate in the Eruv. He can withdraw his rights, so that the other four can carry. But does he explicitly have to state that to just one of them, or to all of them? Rabba says: to all of them individually.

My understanding is that here, the collective not only supersedes the sum of the parts, but also of the complete sum. There is a qualitative difference between the majority, the sum and the collective. The importance of the Eruv is the benefit for the collective, can only be carried out if the sum participates, and not when only the majority participates.


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