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Introduction to Eruvin – by Gitta Jaroslawicz-Neufeld

Melacha is HOTZA’AH הוצאה: Transferring objects between private and public domain OR 4 amot in public domain.  Rabbis added decrees against transfer between private domains because there might be confusion regarding public domains.

The Domains רשויות

By Torah Law:

  • Private Domain רשות היחיד RHY
    • Enclosed by partitions at least 10 tefachim high
    • Minimum dimension of 4 x 4 tefachim
    • Partitions can be:
      • Conventional walls (ground level to minimal height of 10 tefachim)
      • Walls of ditch which measure 10 tefachim
      • Steep incline surrounding a plateau rising to 10 tefachim
        • Or any combination totaling 10 tefachim
      • Minimum of three sides (majority opinion)
      • Does NOT require private ownership
      • Can carry on its roof
      • Can transfer to immediately adjacent RHY
    • Public Domain רשות הרבים RHR
      • Commonly used street, public area or highway
      • Open at both ends (מפולש)
      • At least 16 amot wide
      • Rambam: must be used by at least 600,00 people
      • Based on encampment in the desert
        • Private ownership disqualifies
        • Roof disqualifies
        • Surrounded by walls disqualifies

Any area that does not fit into one of these two categories is not considered a domain BY TORAH LAW.

Out of concern that people would confuse a non-enclosed area with a RHR and think carrying in a RHR is permitted, Rabbinic law added:

  • Karmelit כרמלית
    • Missing one of the criteria for RHR
    • Doesn’t have the partitions for RHY
    • Elevated between 3 -10 tefachim
    • Must be at least 4 x 4 tefachim
    • Treated with restrictions of both RHR and RHY
      • RHR:
        • Can’t carry 4 amot in it
        • Can’t carry between it and RHY
      • RHY:
        • Can’t carry between it and RHR

Makom Petur מקופ פטור

  • Neither RHR or RHY
  • Smaller than 4 x 4 tefachim



The Partitions מחיצות

Minimum requirements:

  • At least 10 tefachim high
  • Enclose area of 4 x 4 tefachim
  • Torah level- enough to have 3 (Rambam disagrees), but Rabbis said you need a 4th “something” added to make it appear more private


Openings:  Don’t necessarily disqualify partition since you need to be able to get in and out

  • Entrance פתח
    • Doesn’t invalidate
    • Considered part of the partition
  • Gap/breach פרצה
    • Invalidates

The rules of a פתח:

  • Can’t be wider than 10 amot
  • Gaps can’t exceed the “solid” space of the partition (some exceptions)
  • Form of the doorway צורת הפתח – counts as a partition
    • 2 posts and bar/string/wire attached across TOP of posts

Added 4th side:

  • לחי – post
    • At least 10 tefachim high
    • Can be very thin
    • Counts as a 4th wall
    • Sometimes needs to be 4 tefachim wide – called a pas
  • קורה – beam
    • Beam goes across the top of the entire open side, connecting both side walls
    • Doesn’t count as a 4th wall – just serves as a reminder that it’s not a RHR
  • צורת הפתח – form of the entrance
    • Made of 2 lechi’s and a kora (or string) connecting them
    • Counts as a 4th wall

Leniencies: (Halakha leMoshe MiSinai)

  • לבוד
    • Space less than 3 tefachim is considered closed
    • Thickness doesn’t matter
      • Examples:
        • Stakes separated by less than 3 tefachim is acceptable
        • Ropes or wires strung horizontally separated by less than 3 tefachim but reaching to height of 10 tefachim is acceptable
      • גוד (extension) – can “extend” partitions (that are 10 tefachim) to areas they don’t physically reach
        • Downward גוד אחית מחיצתא
          • Partition 10 tefachim high (eg: balcony) can be extended downward to convert area below it into RHY
          • BUT if small goats can pass through the imaginary area (=3 tefachim or more) – it’s invalid
          • Main application: if partition extends of water, it converts that part into RHY
        • Upward גוד אסיק מחיצתא
          • Partition 10 tefachim high can be extended upward and considered for that area also
  • פי תקרה יורד וסותם – edge of roof extends downward and seals
    • Makes area below roof into RHY
    • Not invalidated by passage of animals
    • Roof = at least 4 x 4 tefachim
    • Slanted roof doesn’t work

Rabbinically Prohibited RHY

  • Alley מבוי

Can be:

  • CLOSED סתום
    • Dead end – Closed on three sides and only open where it meets RHR
    • From Torah law, counts as RHY, but Rabbis concerned that people might get confused:
      • Think you can carry in RHR
      • Might carry from it into RHR
    • Need to do something to open side to show that it’s separate from RHR
      • Partition (or its equivalent)
      • Crossbeam קורה across top of opening
      • Post לחי next to one of the walls at the opening
    • OPEN מפולש
      • Open at both ends
      • Need to “fix” both ends
  • (Permitted) Area which is completely open to forbidden area נפרץ במלואו למקום איסור
    • Permitted area has NO partition at all on side that adjoins forbidden area (courtyard open to karmelit)
    • There IS a partition but the opening counts as a breach rather than an entrance:
      • More than 10 amot wide
      • Gaps exceed wall
    • Carrying is permitted in each of 2 areas but forbidden from one to the other; if both completely open to each other, can’t carry within each area
  • Non residential enclosed area קרפף
    • Treated as karmelit even though has partitions like RHY
    • Larger than 5000 square amot and not used for daily living

Eruvei Chatzerot and Shitufei Mevo’ot – “mixing” the courtyards and “partnering” the alleys

Enacted by Shlomo HaMelekh and his court:

  • Prohibit carrying into communal spaces even if they are properly enclosed
  • Institution of eruv and shituf which remove that prohibition

Prohibit carrying into communal spaces even if they are properly enclosed:

  • Prohibit transfer from RHY to another RHY – safeguard against carrying from RHY to RHR
  • Ownership in this case means right of usage
  • Common area, where more than one household has usage rights, is considered its own reshut since ownership status is different than that of each household – so carrying from one house into common area is carrying from one domain to another

Remediation via eruv or shituf

  • ערובי חצרות
    • View all houses opening into common area as owned by a single “consortium”
    • Collect loaf of bread from each home and place in one house for duration of Shabbat – symbolizes that all live in that place, making the courtyard the property of only one person, and therefore – since both courtyard and home are owned by same person – can carry there.
    • If even one family does not participate, NOONE can carry from home to courtyard. Can remedy by that family being מבטל רשות – giving up their right to use the courtyard.  Then they are considered “guests” of the “owners.”
    • If one courtyard opens to another directly – can also be joined in one eruv
    • Courtyard still needs the 4 walls
    • Eruv only removes issue of communal use, not issues of structure
  • שיתופי מבואות
    • Allows carrying between courtyard and alley
    • Alley is joint property of the courtyards opening into it – so need to “merge” all the courtyards into one unit so that can carry between courtyard(s) and alley
    • Differs somewhat from eruv chatzerot:
      • Enough to use lehi or kora; EC needs pas (or 2 lehi’s – one on each side)
      • Can us more types of food; EC needs bread
      • (Tzurat hapetach works for either)
    • Can be done for entire city, as long as it has 3 walls and a lechi or kora.

Credit for the content: Artscroll Shottenstein edition of the Talmud Eruvin and Rabbi Faham of YEshivat Keter Torah in NJ from


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