Religion & Beliefs

It’s Pole-tastic

The other day I was having lunch with a friend, explaining to her how complicated our home search had been, trying to find a place that was the right size, in walking distance from the shul, and within the eruv. … Read More

By / May 16, 2007

The other day I was having lunch with a friend, explaining to her how complicated our home search had been, trying to find a place that was the right size, in walking distance from the shul, and within the eruv.

The quizzical look on her face made me realize that, while the years I spent living in and around the New York area made me take an eruv for granted, not everyone knows exactly what one is. Even those of us who know what it is don’t know exactly how/why it works.

So, here goes…a mini lesson in practical halachah.

First of all, the reason behind an eruv is the prohibition against carrying an object from the private to the public domain, i.e. our apartment to the street, and vice versa.

This particular melachah can cause some inconveniences, particularly to women with young children who are unable to walk and need to be carried, because while it is easy to drop a cake off at a friend’s house on Friday afternoon, dropping your kid at another person’s house and leaving it there for the duration of shabbos might be deemed neglect.

But halachah came up with an answer to this problem—the eruv.  There are three types of eruvin, but for our purposes, we will only deal with the kind of eruv that allows us to carry on shabbos.

Simply out, as a Boston Jewish community web site explains:

“Eruv” means merging. Technically, an eruv is the legal procedure that temporarily merges many private domains each Shabbat. [The Eruv] is a mechanism for a community to come together as a domain physically bounded by partitions. The partitions can be more symbolic than substantive, for example existing utility wires can often be used as a symbolic “lintel.” By adding a vertical post under each end of the wire, a symbolic “doorway” can be made. The resulting “form of a doorway” can be a valid part of the boundary.

So, by just putting up a few posts under some telephone wires, an entire Jewish community can be transformed—more young couples will be attracted to the area, more kids will be in shul. Isn’t it amazing the halachic solutions to pressing problems that can be found when there’s a will to find them?