What is an Eruv?

Today’s question is one that I imagine a lot of people who live in a Jewish community may not even have seen and sadly something that also is not that common in the United Kingdom.

I am trying to learn more about Eruv. I understand that it is a boundary helping Orthodox Jews be able to move about on Shabbot. Is the line that looks like fishing wire continuous? I tried to follow it but it ended and is not visible along the map the local synagogue posted.

Shela

In the most simple way to explain this that an Eruv is a “pole with a wire” on it that encloses an area that symbolically “merges” an area so that private homes and public areas are “merged” into one private area thus avoiding transferring domains which allows a Jew in order to do things that otherwise would not be allowed outside of their homes on the Sabbath. Such examples are carrying keys, medication, baby prams and more.

I think before I carry on it may be worth discussing what a domain is. There are four types of domains which are.

  • Private (such as your home)
  • Public (such as a shopping mall)
  • Neutral (something that isn’t really either
  • Carmelit (everything else that isn’t above)

If it is still hard to understand imagine a square that is your house. Now imagine a bigger square around your house – this bigger square is the Eruv which encloses your house so you live within the Eruv – your house happens to be apart of it as long as the whole thing is always connected. The logic being you are no longer going from private to the public domain when leaving your house – you never left as long as it is within the Eruv as the domains have been merged!

The red line is the Eruv

Now to answer the question – yes they are continuous. The boundary of them is not to be broken otherwise it is no longer valid until it is repaired. You will also find that it is not always a line as other things such as a fence and walls are also included.

There is much more to it than a simple wire or fence in order to make it valid but for the sake of the question, I feel I gone into enough detail but if anyone is interested in the conditions needed in order for this to be valid then do let me know!

This question was answered on .

Need to quote me?

Matityahu ben Avraham Avinu (2020) What is an Eruv?. [online] Ask a Jew. Available at: https://askajew.co.uk/2020/01/05/what-is-an-eruv/ [Accessed 24 Nov 2020]

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