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The Bavli, Shabas 5, amud 1, indicates that a hand is considered to be a physically large enough location that akira (lifting something from its place to transport the object) and hanacha (resting the transported object upon arrival) can be done on it, even though it's not actually large enough: the usual minimum is four tefach squared.

Later on the same page, we have:

א״ר אבין א״ר יוחנן הכניס ידו לתוך חצר חבירו וקיבל מי גשמים והוציא חייב מתקיף לה ר׳ זירא מה לי הטעינו חבירו מה לי הטעינו שמים איהו לא עביד עקירה לא תימא קיבל אלא קלט והא בעינן עקירה מעל גבי מקום ד׳ וליכא

  • Rabbi Avin said that Rabbi Yochanan said: "If he brought his hand into his fellow's courtyard, caught rainwater, and took it out [to a public thoroughfare], he's liable."
  • Rabbi Zera fumed at that: "What's the difference whether his fellow loaded him up [where the one whose hand is loaded up is not liable because his fellow did akira] or the sky did? He didn't do akira!"
  • Rather, say not "caught" but "incorporated" [that the descending flow hit his one hand and he caught it in the other —Rashi].
  • But [that can't be:] we need akira from a four-tefach surface and don't have it!

Why not? We said a hand is large enough for akira and hanacha, further up the same page. (M'iri mentions this question but doesn't answer it except to say that considering this case akira and hanacha would mean any passage from hand to hand would count as akira and hanacha also, which is impossible. But I don't see why that's impossible. It seems to fit exactly with the passage further up the page.)

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The question of the גמרא is based on the assumption that if something is moving, it is already נעקר, or in a state of עקירה. Therefore, if something fell out of the air into one's hand, even though we have the כלל that ידו של אדם חשובה לו כד׳ על ד, he still has not done the עקירה.

The source for this can be found on .דף ג, where the גמרא says (depending on the גירסא) that ידו לא נייח, גופו נייח, i.e. your hand is not stationary, therefore we cannot say that when someone put something in your hand while you are outside and your hand is inside, and then you take it out, that you did עקירה והנחה. The other גירסא is ידו בתר גופו גרירא. Most ראשונים explain that the two גירסות mean the same thing, but רש׳׳י does not. There is not enough room here to explain this entire מחלוקת. Be that as it may, the answer to your question is to be found on .דף ג.

The גמרא then attempts to answer that he plucked it out of the air, which would theoretically answer the עקירה question, but leaves open another problem: you still plucked it out of the air, which does not have ד׳ על ד׳, and therefore should not constitute an עקירה. In order to explain this question we need to look at a גמרא on :דף ז, which says explicitly that one does not need a מקום ד׳ על ד׳ in רשות היחיד to be חייב. The רשב׳׳א answers this סתירה with the following:

והא דאמרינן גבי הכניס ידו לחצר חבירו וקלט מי גשמים והא בעינן עקירה מעל גבי מקום ארבעה, לאו דוקא מקום ארבעה אלא הכי קאמר והא בעינן עקירה מעל גבי מקום וליכא, ותדע לך דהתם לאו משום שיעור מקום אתינן אלא משום דבעינן מקום לאפוקי קולט

...[after explaining that we don't really need ד׳ על ד׳ in רשות היחיד, he says] And that which we said in the case which he stuck his hand into his fellow's yard and pulled rainwater out of the air, and the גמרא asks ''but do we not need an area four by four?'' it does not mean literally an area four by four, but the following: we need עקירה from an area and we don't have it [i.e. pulling rainwater out of the air is like pulling it out of nowhere, and you need a ''where'' to do עקירה from.-moses]. Know that this is true, because we come not from the size, but from an ''area'', as opposed to ''grabbing'' [his proof is from the fact that you don't actually need to mention the size of the area to disprove the attempted answer that you grabbed it out of the air, you only need to mention that the air is not actually a place. it must be that the mention of the size of the area is not meant literally.-moses]

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I don't see how this answers the question. What does kolet answer, then? Why is Mokom dalet relevent? – Yishai Nov 12 '13 at 0:46
if he was קולט, he has done עקירה, as opposed to when it falls into his hand, there was no עקירה done at all. in terms of מקום ד׳, it actually is not relevant. the רשב׳׳א on .דף ד:, ח and רמב׳׳ן on :דף ז say that you do not actually need מקום ד׳ in a רה׳׳י. despite the fact that this appears to be contrary to the סוגיא on דף ד/ה, they manage to explain everything away i a more or less coherent fashion. – moses Nov 12 '13 at 20:41
If you bring the רשב"א or the רמב"ן in your answer, and explain how they explain the question והא בעינן עקירה, then I think you have an answer. With what you have written so far, I don't see it. It could be what you write is relevant to their explanations, but you haven't connected the dots, so to speak. – Yishai Nov 12 '13 at 20:53
I'm upvoting the answer, but it isn't clear. The crux of the answer is "The גמרא then attempts to answer that he plucked it out of the air, which would theoretically answer the עקירה question, but leaves open another problem: you still plucked it out of the air, which does not have ד׳ על ד׳" – Yishai Dec 12 '13 at 23:00

The answer lies in Tosafos "Mai Taama Yado Lo Naich." There is a big difference between putting it into a hand that belongs to someone in the same domain and a hand whose host is in another domain. In the former, putting it on the hand is a complete landing in that domain, and it is as if it is on the ground. But in the latter, the hand is on its own and therefore it was placed in the air.

What Rava says in Daf 5, that a person's hand is as substantial as a four by four, is to satisfy the other requirement — of a Makom Chashuv. But whether or not it was at all placed in a final spot depends on the above criteria.

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