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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 21 Aug 2020 05:31 PM and ends Sat 15 Aug 2020 06:25 PM

Frequently asked questions about the Eruv

Carrying on Shabbat

Q. Where am I allowed to carry on Shabbat in the absence of an Eruv?

In the absence of an eruv you are only allowed to carry within a private property that is fully surrounded by a fence/wall at least a little over a meter high.

Q. Is there any restriction on what I am allowed to carry on Shabbat in any case?

Handling objects that are muktzah, whether indoors or outdoors, in an eruv or absent an eruv is forbidden.Therefore, an umbrella,( which when opened is halachikly forbidden due to  erecting a tent within  the category of construction) is muktza and may not be handled.

Moving or carrying items in preparation for a post-Shabbat activity (hachana), is forbidden, unless one has a legitimate use for them on Shabbat itself.

Certain weekday activities that smack of uvdin d'chol, i.e. scenarios that would detract from the holiness of Shabbos, may not be done as well. Many authorities consider ball playing unacceptable for this reason, certainly to children above the age of 9. Even younger children need to be careful not to play on surfaces in such a way that they carve holes or ruts into the playing surface. Exercise prescribed by a physician should be discussed with one's Rav.

Q. Without getting too technical, is there a readily understandable reason why carrying is prohibited on Shabbat?

On Shabbat there are 39 types of work that are prohibited, all found in the construction of the (portable) temple in the desert following  the Exodus. The melachos prohibited on Shabbos were -  as a rule - all involved in the creation of something new, and were not forbidden on account to the physical effort expended.

Q. If I have a house, a private property, with no surrounding fences may I carry within the bounds of my property on Shabbat?

Within the house yes. Within the property itself outside the house, no.

Q. Is there any difference between carrying on my own property and carrying on someone else's (private) property?

There is no difference if the other person's private property is completely owned by an individual or a family unit. However group of residencies on a single plot of land need establish an Eruv Chatziros to facilitate carrying.This should be done by someone conversant with its laws.


Q. What is an Eruv?

When people refer to an eruv (Hebrew:עירוב‎ ) mixture, also transliterated as eiruv or erub, (plural: eruvin) they normally mean the halachic enclosure that observant Jewish communities construct in their neighbourhoods to permit the transference of objects from one domain type to another, such as carrying an object from indoors (a private domain) to a public street (a public domain) on Shabbat, which would otherwise be prohibited by Jewish law (Halacha).

A jointly owned quantity of bread/matza ( the latter typically used due to its lasting ability ) legally connects  all residents of the given area into one unit.  This is done yearly, prior to Pesach accompanied by a b'racha articulating that it is available to everyone within the enclosed area to eat.

Q Is an Eruv  complicated to construct ?

Absolutely, with many laws playing into the mix. However, the tzuras hapesach, the doorway consisting of two verticals, i.e. the door-posts, and a horizontal lintel across the top may often be realized thru telephone (utility) poles (serving as vertical members), with the overhead cables strung atop serving as lintels. The Halacha requires that the lintel must rest directly above the top of the door-posts. Note that this is often not the typical construct of utility poles, where the cable is attached either their sides or to a member held away from the pole. To address this, we attach a thin rod ( lechi ) onto the pole to serve as the door post , placed directly under the above crossing wire ( korah ).

Q When did the institution of Eruvin first start?

The eruv as we know it today dates back to the time of  King Solomon, created to facilitate an even more enjoyable  shabbos. This was a millennium prior to the Talmudic era.

Q What are the benefits of an Eruv?

It allows people to carry their Shabbos needs (and by the way, their Yom Kippur needs) in public areas e.g. a siddur,  machzor, tallis, baby prams, wheelchairs,  bottles of wine needed for Shabbos enjoyment. Families with small children can then have much greater maneuverability.

Q Is an Eruv only relevant to Shabbat, or does it have some role on Yomtov?

An Eruv is relevant only to Shabbos and Yom Kippur.

Q What are the disadvantages of having an Eruv in a town?

There is always a border to every Eruv beyond which one may not carry, and people may not realise , at times, where the border is, inadvertently carrying outside the border. As well, someone raised in a town with an Eruv may not realise that there is even a problem carrying in public when venturing beyond the home town limits!

Q Are Rabbinical authorities generally in favour of instituting Eruvin?

Generally yes, but there are nuances of diffence in how an Eruv is constructed.

Q Why do some people not use an Eruv?

Some have a tradition never to rely upon a Eruv, and the particular status of an area as a reshus h'arabiim m'deoraisoh ( Biblcal public domain ) -which would disable us from constructing an Eruv - may be in dispute.

Q How long has the Melbourne Eruv been in operation?

The Melbourne Eruv is regarded as one of the world's most brilliantly constructed Eruvin from a halachic perspective. ( In the opinion of Rav Shimone Eider zt"l and yb'l Rav Gavriel Zinner shlita ). It was first instituted in1997. All necessary constructs and repairs are made by experienced qualified electrical linesmen who work according to Australian Standards for electrical lines work. We are greatly assisted by the fact that Melbourne does not suffer from cyclones (hurricanes) or snow storms, both of which cause havoc with Eruvin in other parts of the world.

Q Does an Eruv require a once-a-year inspection to make sure that it is still a proper Eruv?

An Eruv requires WEEKLY inspection to make sure that the boundary complies with halachic law.

Q What kinds of things may go wrong from within such a short time as a week?

Many things may occur:

  1. The utility poles are subject to alteration by the utility companies. They can be modified, or they could even be completely replaced with a new pole.
  2. Weather conditions might affect the halachic status of a utility pole.
  3. A vehicle might be involved in a small collision with a pole, not affecting its operation with respect to power or telephone, but requiring work to restore its halachic status.

Q Are there any halachic differences between what / how I can carry within the eruv, and what I can carry within my home?

Generally not.

Q Who certifies the fitness (kashrut) of the Melbourne Eruv?

The Rav Hamachshir is international halachic expert Rav Gavriel Zinner who relies locally on Rabbi Yaakov Sprung and Rabbi Avraham Zvi Beck. The key layity personnel of Melbourne Eruv are Dr Peter Kloot and Mr Yossi Aron. There are a number of Mashgichim nominated by Melbourne Eruv and Adass Israel as well.

Q How many Kilometres is the circumference of the Melbourne Eruv?

The Melbourne Eruv is one of the largest in the world outside Israel. The current perimeter is more than 33 kilometres. The boundary passes through St Kilda, Elwood, Brighton, East Brighton, Moorabbin, Highett, Moorabbin East, East Bentleigh,Murrumbeena,Carnegie, North Caulfield and East St Kilda.

Q Does Melbourne Eruv have any indication of how many people benefit from the Eruv?

There are currently (August 2012) 320 individuals or families who have subscribed to the Eruv List.

Q What is the current cost of maintaining the Eruv?

Approximately $60,000 per annum. The cost includes payment to the weekly mashgichim and payment to the contractors who do the repairs. It is a requirement of the utility companies that ONLY qualified and certified contractors may carry out any work on a power pole. And the cost of administration.