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Eruv Article

Eruv Article

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Published by James Wolfe

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Published by: James Wolfe on Feb 26, 2010
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07/10/2013

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When an
 Eruv
Falls on ShabbatRabbi Ezra Schwartz
Fellow
 Kollel L’Horaah,
RIETSIn recent years the number of 
eruvin
in Jewish communities throughout theUnited States has proliferated
.
This is clearly a positive development as it enables Jewsto experience more freedom of movement on Shabbat
.
However, the ready availability of 
eruvin
raises the concern that people may forget that there is a prohibition of carryingitems from one domain to another on Shabbat
.
Therefore, it is essential to be aware of what may and may not be done in the (hopefully) rare cases that the
eruv
is notoperational.This discussion is particularly relevant in the summer months when many peoplereside in camps and bungalow colonies. Unlike metropolitan
eruvin
which are comprisedof a combination of walls, small breaks, and
tzurot hapetach
(a
halachic
door framecomposed of two vertical poles at least ten handbreaths high with a lintel on top),
eruvin
in camps are often composed primarily of 
tzurot hapetach.
The wire which forms thelintels on these
tzurot hapetach
are often very weak and frequently tear in rain storms.
1 
In contrast, the
tzurot hapetach
employed in metropolitan areas most often use telephoneor other strong wires as the lintel. Telephone and electrical wire are strong and durable,thus significantly reducing the likelihood that the
tzurot hapetach
will tear on Shabbat
.
However, even these strong
eruvin
are known to break in harsh weather conditions.
2
 
1
It must be noted that we are only dealing with cases where after the
tzurat hapetach
 breaks there is a gapof more than ten
amot 
, which is the approximate equivalent of eighteen feet. If the gap is smaller thaneighteen feet the consensus of 
 poskim
is to treat the
eruv
as kosher. See
Teshuvot Rabbi Akiva Eiger 
no. 35and
Mishnah Berurah
363:111. On rare occasions even though the gap created by the fallen
eruv
is lessthan ten
amot,
the entire
eruv
will be invalid. See Rabbi Shulem N. Weiss,
Sefer Tikkun Eruvin
 page 114note 2.
2
See
 Ketzot HaShulchan
105:26.
1
 
This article will present and analyze a number of the issues that arise when the
eruv
is down. We will discuss whether the rabbi or some other communal figure shouldinform the community when the
eruv
is down. We will also look into the permissibility of repairing an
eruv
on Shabbat
 
and the appropriate procedure to follow indoing so.
 
Moreover, we will analyze what the consequences are if the
eruv
was repairedin a forbidden manner. Finally, we will discuss the permitted ways to carry necessaryitems when the
eruv
is down and we will describe which methods are preferred andwhich should be avoided.
 Shabbat ho’eel v’hutra hutra
There is a popular misconception that if an
eruv
was operational at the beginningof Shabbat
 
it can continue to be utilized the rest of Shabbat
.
This misconception is notcompletely devoid of a basis in halacha
.
The Gemara
 
(
 Eruvin
17a and elsewhere) teachesthat
Shabbat ho’eel v’hutra hutra,
once carrying on Shabbat
 
was permitted it remains permitted the rest of the day. However, this principle is very limited in application.
 
Inorder to permit one to carry on Shabbat
 
the entire area must be enclosed with halachicwalls and food must be made available for all the people in town to partake of. In theterminology of the Gemara
 
the food alone is termed
eruv
while the halachic
 
walls arecalled
mechitzot.
Tosafot in
 Eruvin
(17a s.v.
eeraiv
) explain that the principle of 
ho’eel v’hutra hutra
only applies to the former case where the food or the actual
eruv
wasconsumed after Shabbat
 
 began. In a case where the
mechitzot 
 break after thecommencement of Shabbat
 ,
Tosafot demonstrate that the Gemara
 
forbids one to continue2
 
to carry.
 
Tosafot’s distinction is cited by
Shulchan Aruch
(
Orach Chaim
374:2 and365:7) and
Mishnah Berurah
(374:9 and 365:31,32)
.
Consequently, when a string of the
eruv
tears after Shabbat
 
has begun, it is forbidden to carry until the
mechitza
is repaired.
3
However, there is a dissenting opinion. In a few terse and cryptic
teshuvot,
RabbiShlomo Kluger writes that when a string of the
eruv
rips after Shabbat
 
already began andit is impossible to find a non-Jew to repair it, one may continue to carry.
4
The reasonoffered by Rabbi Kluger in support of his
 psak 
is the aforementioned statement in theGemara
 , Shabbat ho’eel v’hutra hutra
. Rabbi Kluger does not however, tell us how hedeals with the Gemara
’s
qualification that this principle is not applicable when the
mechitzot 
fall on Shabbat
.
For this reason, the vast majority of 
 poskim
dismiss RabbiKluger’s argument entirely.
5
 
3
The rationale for distinguishing between a case where the
mechitzot 
 break on Shabbat
 
and when the foodof the
eruv
is removed after Shabbat
 
 began is provided by Rabbi Hershel Schachter in his
Sefer Eretz  HaTzvi,
 page 62. Rabbi Schachter shows that conceptually there are two reasons why carrying may beforbidden on Shabbat
.
One reason is that the area is not considered a private domain,
reshut hayachid,
andthe other reason is that at times the rabbis instituted a prohibition to carry even in an area that technicallymeets the criteria as a
reshut hayachid.
In our case where the string of a
tzurat hapetach
rips on Shabbatthe domain will (rabbinically) no longer be considered a private domain. Therefore, it is forbidden tocontinue to carry. However, in the case where the food of an
eruv
is consumed after Shabbat
 
has begun,the domain remains a
reshut hayachid.
The absence of the bread simply will add an extraneous prohibitionto carry. Since this prohibition was not in place when Shabbat
 
 began, it cannot set in on Shabbat
.
4
See
Teshuvot HaElef Lecha Shlomo
number 153. In the same
teshuvot 
no. 162 and 172, Rabbi Kluger repeats this argument, which he originally formulated in response to a query from “
Sdei Halavan
”. Seealso Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson,
Teshuvot Shoeil U’maishiv Tinyanna,
vol. 1 no. 89 who cites
Shabbat ho’eel v’hutra
as the basis for the
eruv
to be repaired, even by a Jew. It is not clear how he deals with thedifference between
eruv
and
mechitzot.
Moreover, it seems that if we apply the principle of 
Shabbat ho’eel v’hutra,
the
eruv
does not need any repair; consequently, it should be forbidden even for a non-Jew torepair the
eruv.
See
Sefer Kovetz 
on Rambam
 Hilchot Shabbat 
17:19.
 
 Nevertheless, both Rabbi ShlomoKluger and the
Shoeil U’Maishiv
allow a non-Jew to repair the
eruv.
There is another fairly obscure modern day authority who, though he does not cite Rabbi ShlomoKluger or the
Shoel Umaishiv
, also applies
Shabbat ho’eel v’hutra hutra.
See Rabbi Yisrael AvrahamAbba Krieger (originally rabbi in Koshdari, Lithuania and later in Frankfurt am Main and Boston)
Taanugei Yisrael 
no. 75.
5
See
Shmirat Shabbat keHilchata
chapter 17 note 100 and
 Eretz HaTzvi
 page 66. Ordinarily, the operative principle with respect to
eruvin
is that the halacha
 
follows the lenient position, (
halacha k’divrei hameikal be’eruv
). See
 Eruvin
46a. It would be tempting to apply this principle to our case and follow RabbiShlomo Kluger’s lenient opinion. However, there are three reasons why we may not apply this principle inour case. First, according to a large number of 
 Rishonim
this principle may only be applied to questionsregarding the actual bread of an
eruv,
not to questions about the
mechitzot.
See
 Rosh, Eruvin
Ch. 2 number 4.
 
Moreover, we only say
halacha kdivrei hameikal 
in the case of a minority opinion, not in the case of acompletely rejected opinion. Rabbi Schachter has told me in the name of the late Rabbi Sheps of Torah
3

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