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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 17 Jul 2020 05:02 PM and ends Sat 18 Jul 2020 06:03 PM

What is an Eruv

י"ז שבט ה' אלפים תש"ע

Article’s tags: Eruv
As one of the 39 activities present in the construct of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and forbidden on Shabbos, carrying looms large. 

The torah forbids us to carry on Shabbos from a PUBLIC DOMAIN (Reshus Harabim), that is a straight thoroughfare, highway or public area whose dimension is at least 16 Amos (approximately 10m wide), unroofed and having no closure at either end, with, according to some authorities, a daily stream of traffic of 600,000 people, to a PRIVATE DOMAIN (Reshus Hayachid), defined as an area of a minimum of 4 Tefachim square (approximately 37cm), enclosed by walls or partitions, or vice versa.  Additionally, we are not permitted to move an object 4 Amos (2 1/3 metres) within a public domain during the course of Shabbos

The Rabbis extended this prohibition to include carrying both within a Karmelis ie; a semi public domain, and from a Karmelis to a public or private domain. 

As the Torah does permit carrying within a closed private area, the Talmud explains that a larger area may be halachically rendered a private one, by surrounding it with the enclosure known as an Eruv.  

To CONSTRUCT AN ERUV we need to halachically combine the areas of dwelling ie. homes, streets, roads etc., into an area classifiable as a single private domain, in which carrying is permitted. Towards this end, several physical constructs and/or natural phenomenon are utilised.  Amongst them are: 

  • A tzuras haPesach comprised of two vertical side posts (lechis) at least 10 tefachim (1 metre) in height, beginning within three tefachim of the ground (33cm), with a "lintel" ie.:  post, Telstra wire, fishing line, or cable, resting directly on top of them. These two posts and "lintel" may be comprised of any material and virtually be of any thickness so long as they are firmly in place and are not swayed by a normal wind. Often utility poles themselves serve as "natural" lechis, with the cables already on top serving as the Koros (lintels). Fences and building walls are not valid posts, though a lechi may be connected, at times, to them.
  • The bank of a river or canal may serve as a valid partition if it possesses a sharply rising slope reaching the height ten tefachim (1 meter) within a span of four amos (2 1/3 meters).
  • Fences whose spaces between lattices and/or links are no greater than three tefachim wide (22cm).

Once the "physical amalgamation" of the area in question has been facilitated, 2 additional things need be done:

  • sechiras reshus ie; the rental of the entire area from a representative of the state government
  • Eruvay Chatzeros ie; the combining of all individual rights of property owned by the Jews living in the area, through a box of Matzos acquired and set aside on their behalf (with the appropriate bracha).

In line with the a clear appreciation of the complicated nuances of Shabbos as they relate to carrying, coupled with the desire to increase Oneg (delight) Shabbos for all, including mothers, young children and the elderly, who without an eruv would effectively be homebound, the Rabbis' have historically encouraged the construction of eruvin.  From the Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim Teshuva 99, to the Levush Mordechai, Teshuva 64, continuing through such recent day luminaries as the Chazon Ish and Rav Moshe Feinstein, the design and support of eruvin has been both heralded and clarified. 

Notwithstanding that, the ability to carry may never be abused for the downgrading of Shabbos through ball playing, roller skating, using an umbrella and the like, the ability of all our community's residence to wheel prams, wheelchairs and carry everything from handkerchiefs, raincoats and hats, house keys, medicinals, siddurim, food, tallaisos and sefarim enhance our Shabbos comfort IMMEASURABLY.

As with everything in life, nothing remains static and everything needs to be maintained and retained.  The Eruv, halachically needs to be checked on a weekly basis by several people, erudite in its laws and able to check all the poles, walls and wires.  Trees often need to be pruned of foliage that masks the visibility of wires running on top the poles, and repairs need be made under halachic guidance, by people capable of literally rising to the occasion, at times, to the tops of the telephone and cable poles.  As always, the eruv's functioning is predicated upon the FULL SUPPORT of those living within its boundaries, as they are the immediate beneficiaries of both the ability to carry freely on Shabbos, and the privilege of residing in a community that is constantly growing and maintaining its reals estate value due the Eruv that marks it as prime choice for younger families, professionals and women who wish not to be "Shabbos Shut-ins".


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