Eiruv Chatzeirot

Eiruvin (7:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 14 years ago

In the sixth perek we learn about eiruv chatzeirot. The Rambam (Eiruvin 1:1-5) explains the source of this decree:

(1) A courtyard that has many residents, each with their own house – biblically, everyone can carry objects throughout the courtyard, from their houses to the courtyard and from house to house… (2) However, mi’divrei sofrim, it is prohibited for the residents to carry in this private domain in which multiple resident have a share until they perform an eiruv from erev Shabbat… This is the decree of Shlomo and his beit din….

(4) Why did Shlomo institute this decree? So that people would not err and say, just like one can carry from courtyards to the streets of a city and back, so too one can carry from the city to the field… and it will appear to them that hotza’ah is not a melacha and it is permissible to carry from a private domain to a public domain. (5) Therefore, he decreed that any private domain which is divided amongst multiple residents with each having their own area while a remaining area belongs to all equally, the area in which each have equal rights would be considered like a public domain, and each area belonging to an individual would be considered a private domain. Consequently it would be prohibited to carry from a private area to a shared area just like it is prohibited to carry from a private domain to the public domain… until they make an eiruv.

In brief, biblically there is no prohibition of carrying from one’s house to the chatzer. The biblical prohibition (as mentioned previously) is carrying from a private domain to a public domain or the reverse. Nevertheless, out of concern of the potential confusion that may result, Shlomo HaMelech required an eiruv chatzeirot before one can carry from a house to a chatzer or between houses through the chatzer (see Eiruvin 21b). It appears that this concern is focused on people potentially confusing a shared private domain with the public domain.

One may ask, can one carry directly between two adjoining houses (not through a chatzer). The Tosfot Yom Tov explains such a scenario does not seem to be covered by Shlomo HaMelech’s decree as described by the Rambam. This is because the object is not being transferred through an area in which multiple residents have equal rights. Nevertheless, a particular Mishnah makes it clear that even this case would require an eiruv chatzeirot.

The Mishnah (7:1) describes a case where two chatzeirot were divided by a wall with a “window” cut out from it. The Mishnah explains that if the window is four by four t’fachim and no more than ten t’fachim from the ground then residents of both chatzeirot may join together and make a single eiruv chatzeirot. Rashi (Eiruvin 76a) explains that a hole of these dimensions constitutes a petach (door way) enabling the residents of both chatzeirot to join together. The Gemara elaborates and explains that this requirement only applies in the case of a wall dividing two chatzeirot. However a window in a wall dividing two houses may be higher than ten t’fachim and still enable the two residents to join together in an eiruv chatzeirot. The Rambam also bring this law in the Mishnah Torah (Eiruvin 3:5). Consequently, an eiruv chatzeirot is required even in the case of two adjoining houses.

The Tosfot Yom Tov explains that indeed this case was not covered by Shlomo HaMelech’s decree and was in fact a later decree instituted by the Chachamim.

Rashi (Eiruvin 21b) on the other hand seems to suggest that even this case was included in the Shlomo HaMelech’s decree:

Shlomo instituted eruvei chatzeirot and decreed that one cannot carry from one private domain to another, in order to create a fence and a distancing from the Torah prohibition so that people would not permit [carrying] from the public domain to the private domain. This is like it is written (Kohellet 12:9) “[And besides being wise, Kohellet also imparted knowledge to the people;] he listened (i'zen), and sought out; and arranged many proverbs.” Therefore he made handles (ozna’im) for the Torah like handles for a utensil that enables one to grasp it.

Unlike previously, this description of Shlomo Ha’Melech’s decree does not focus on a particular point of confusion, but rather on the broader premise of creating “ozna’im la’Torah” and creating extra barriers in front of the Torah prohibition, thereby including this case as well.

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