An Eruv (pronounced Ay-Roov) is a term used for the physical structure which joins multiple areas to make one large area called a R’shus HaYachid (private domain). Once a R’shus HaYachid has been created, it is permissible (according to Jewish Law) to carry objects on Shabbat and Yom Kippur within the boundaries of the Eruv. The plural of Eruv is Eruvin (pronounced Ay-Roov-in).
The Three Major Components of an Eruv
There are three major components to an Eruv’s existence:
- The area to be enclosed must be determined as capable of having an Eruv, in accordance with Jewish Law
- No R’shus HaRabbim (Public Domain by Jewish Law) can be inside the enclosed area
- No Karpef (area deemed unfit by Jewish Law for human habitation) can be inside the enclosed area
- The area must then be enclosed according to Jewish Law, forming one consistant perimeter
- This can be done by establishing walls, and creating additional “doorways” (Tzuras HaPesach)
- The rights of all people dwelling within the Eruv must be unified in accordance with Jewish Law
- Eruv Chatzeros– Setting aside food for all of the Jewish dwellers, thereby uniting everyone into one entity
- S’chiras Makom– Renting the rights from the gentile dwellers for permission to unify
Each of these components is a study unto itself, and must be considered in the execution of any Eruv, whether communal or private. In fact, an entire tractate of the Talmud, called “Eruvin,” is focused on discussing these topics. Most subjects regarding Eruvin are fraught with differing opinions of Jewish Law, and therefore it is of utmost importance that questions related to the Eruv should be discussed with a Posek (Jewish Legal Expert.)
The Torah (Shemos Ch. 16; 25-29) prohibits carrying objects within a public domain, as well as carrying from a public domain to a private domain (and vice versa) on Shabbat. Carrying is permitted only in a private domain. There is an area in between the public and private domain called a Karmelis. The Rabbis prohibited carrying within a Karmelis (and to-and-from a Karmelis) to help prevent people from carrying into a public domain. However, these Rabbis created a method of converting a Karmelis into a private domain. The process which converts a Karmelis into a private domain is called an Eruv.
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