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Eruvin in Modern

Metropolitan Areas

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer

Mara d'Asra, Cong. Bais Tefila

Rosh Kollel, Frumi Noble Night Kollel of Yeshivas Beis HaMidrash LaTorah

Author, Sefer Bigdei Shesh al Messeches Bava Basra

Second Edition


© 1993, 1995

First Edition, 5753

Second Revised and Emended Edition, 5755-1995

The Hebrew Theological College Press

7135 N. Carpenter Rd.

Skokie, IL 60077

(847) 982-2500

Haskama from HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Weinberg shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Baltimore, MD, given to the first edition:

    I was privileged to go through a Kuntres "Eruvin in Modern Metropolitan Areas". The Author is HaRav Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer.

    It was an informative and stimulating learning. The Halachos were presented with clarity and depth. The reasoning was strong and consistent; the conclusions justified and reliable as a whole.

    Rav Bechhofer has a great zechus in presenting this Kuntres for the advancement of Torah and its observance among the many.

Yaakov Weinberg



In Memory of

Dorothy Lefton a"h

St. Louis, Mo.

In Memory of

Bernhard and Clara Bechhofer a"h

In Memory of

Aharon Dovid Aryeh a"h

son of ylct"a Rabbi and Mrs. Yosef Weisblum sheyichu

Dedicated by Mr. and Mrs. Yosef Brandman sheyichyu, Chicago, IL

In Memory of

Shulamit Atkin a"h

Dedicated by her son, Yechiel Atkin sheyichye, Chicago, IL

In Memory of

Mr. and Mrs. Moshe Yehuda Brandman a"h

Dedicated by her children, Shmuel and Rivka Brandman sheyichyu, Chicago, IL

Table of Contents

Haskomos (to the First Edition)

Michtav Beracha (to the Second Edition)



I. Common Problems in the Construction of Eruvin in Urban Areas

1.    How an Urban Tzuras Hapesach Is Built

2.    Problems Encountered in the Use of a Rod as a Lechi

3.    Problems with the Overhead Cable

4.    Problems with the Position of the Pole

5.    Transferring from Fence to Cable

6.    Utilizing Other Structures

7.    The "Disappearing" Halacha of Karpeifos

8.    Delasos (Doors)

9.    What if an Eruv Breaks or is Invalid?

10.    Conclusion


II. The Reshus Harabbim Issue

1.    The Four Domains

2.    Defining Reshus Harabbim

3.    Space and Time Factors: Space Frame of Measurement

4.    Space and Time Factors: Time, and Differences L'halacha

5.    Additional Factors in Determining Reshus Harabbim Status

6.    The Extraordinary Chazon Ish

7.    Conclusion


III. Renting the Area from the Authorities and Eruvei Chatzeiros in Multiple Unit Dwellings and Hotels

1.    Eruvei Chatzeiros vs. Sechiras Reshus:

    What, Which, When

2.    Some Applications L'Halacha

3.    Sechiras Reshus from a Landlord

4.    Sechiras Reshus in Public and Urban Areas



Diagrams page 1

Diagrams page 2

Foreword to the Second Edition

    I am most grateful to HaKadosh Baruch Hu who caused the first edition of this work to find favor in the eyes of the public. Many people have noted the positive impact that the kuntres has had on the state of eruvin in Am Yisroel. One prominent Rav told me that the kuntres described precisely all the problems he had encountered in a local eruv. After The Jewish Observer printed an excerpt from the work's first section, a reader from a great ir va'em b'Yisroel wrote me that after reading that essay they checked the local eruv, found it pasul, and fixed it. Others have let me know that the work clarified the major issues in eruv controversies in ways they never before understood.

    In this second edition I have attempted both to correct mistakes that occurred in the first edition and to bring additional material on certain subjects where I either erred or was not clear in the first edition. Nevertheless, shegi'os me yavin, and I will continue to appreciate any constructive criticism.

    I am most thankful to my mother, Mrs. Schulamith Bechhofer, who handled much of this kuntres' distribution. I acknowledge the many people who read the first edition of this work and provided both kind words of encouragement and constructive criticism. In particular I would like to thank my aunt, Mrs. Meta Bechhofer, and a talmid chochom who requested anonymity, who carefully proofread the work and marked it to enable me to correct the many typographical and stylistic errors therein.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer

Chodesh Sivan 5755

N.B. I owe much hakoras hatov to our yeshiva, Beis HaMidrash LaTorah, Hebrew Theological College, for all the Talmud and Harbotzas Torah it has enabled me to accomplish. I am indebted to its administration: Rabbi Shlomo Morgenstern, Rosh HaYeshiva, Reb Shmuel Brandman, Chairman of the Board, Rabbi Dr. Jerold Isenberg, Chancellor, and Rabbi Sender Kutner, Vice President for Administration; to Rabbi Jerome Lefton of St. Louis, one of our yeshiva's musmachim; to my father, Mr. Ernst Bechhofer; and to yeshiva alumni Reb Yosef Brandman and Reb Yechiel Atkin, for their kind support of the publication of this edition. I am grateful to Rabbi Yitzchok Sender, Rosh Yeshiva in our yeshiva, and Daniel Lefton for their assistance. Yeyasher kocham l'orysa!

Foreword to the First Edition

    This kuntres is the result of observations made over the course of several years and several eruvin in various metropolitan areas. The issues surrounding eruvin are some of the most divisive and some of the least understood halachic concerns of contemporary Shomrei Shabbos. Even knowledgeable and learned ba'alei battim and Rabbonim are often not well informed in the obscure and involved halachos of eruvin. This adds to the potential for misunderstanding, controversy, and even errors in halacha. I hope that this work will serve to clarify some of these issues. I further hope that this work leads to both a reduction in friction bein adam l'chaveiro, and to enhancement of the kashruth of eruvin - a gain in bein adam laMakom.

    I am grateful to many people shehigiani ad halom in Inyanei Eruvin: Rabbi Moshe Brown, Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshiva Derech Ayson, Far Rockaway, NY; Rabbi Moshe Dov Stein, Posek in Yeshiva Shor Yoshuv, Far Rockaway, NY; Rabbi Dovid Zucker, Rosh HaKollel, Kollel Zichron Shneur, Chicago, IL; Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Berman; Rabbi Menachem M. Blank; Reb Gershon Eliezer Schaffel; v'acharon acharon chaviv, the chaveirim of the morning Daf Yomi shiur at Cong. Bnei Ruven in Chicago, IL. I would also like to acknowledge my debt of gratitude to our yeshiva, Beis HaMidrash LaTorah of Skokie, IL, for establishing and supporting the Frumi Noble Night Kollel. Many issues discussed in this kuntres were first formulated in my shiurim at the Night Kollel. I am most thankful to my ozeres k'negdi, Shoshana Michal shetichye, whose patience and encouragement were crucial in enabling me to work on this kuntres. May we see nachas from our children, and merit raising them l'Torah, l'chuppa, u'l'ma'asim tovim.

Modeh ani laHashem Yisborach shesam chelki bein yoshvei Beis haMedrash. Achas sho'alti mei'eis Hashem, osa avakesh, shivti b'veis Hashem kol yemei chaiyai.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer

8 Tishrei 5753, Chicago, IL

N.B. I thank the many people who read this manuscript and brought important points to my attention. I am grateful to Rabbi Eliezer Lachman, Eli Solomon, and Nachy Shabat for their assistance, and to Ms. Rochel Karbal for the work she did on the diagrams. I am especially grateful to Mr. Jack Saltzman of Saltzman Printers, who found this kuntres significant enough to warrant his undertaking to publish it. Yeyasher kocho l'orysa!


    The Torah forbids us to carry in any area defined as a reshus harabbim (a public domain) on Shabbos. Chazal extended this prohibition to include any unenclosed area. The most popular method of enclosing an area al pi halacha is a tzuras hapesach (literally: the form of a door way - the familiar two poles with a wire across the top and the variations on that theme). The rationale of this solution is that a door frame is a halachically valid form of enclosure1. Eruvin of this sort enclose areas as small as a backyard and as large as entire neighborhoods.

    Almost inevitably, however, the construction of an eruv in an urban setting becomes a matter of controversy. Almost as inevitably, the issues involved in the controversy cause much confusion and strife, especially among those not familiar with Hilchos Eruvin. The focus of such controversies usually centers on the halachic definition of a reshus harabbim, i.e., what constitutes a public domain that cannot be halachically enclosed with the device of tzuras hapesach. A common misconception is that once the reshus harabbim question is resolved, the actual construction of the eruv is a simple and straightforward matter. The Chazon Ish, however, is alleged to have remarked that he never saw a city with a "pasul mikvah" (due to all the chumros we employ in building mikvaos) or a "kosher eruv" (due to the intricate details involved in the construction of a valid enclosure).

    There are three major areas of concern in dealing with contemporary eruvin:

1) The reshus harabbim issue.

2) Problems in the construction of urban eruvin.

3) How to go about renting the area in question from the authorities. (This area will lead us to explore the additional contemporary concerns of eruvei chatzeiros in apartment buildings and hotels.)

    To emphasize that most of the problems in contemporary eruvin are in the area of construction we will begin our discussion with the problems involved in constructing an eruv and deal with the reshus harabbim issue later.

    This kuntres is in no way intended to decide halacha l'ma'aseh. It is intended to alert persons involved in the construction, maintenance and/or use of an eruv to some possibleproblems and issues that they may face2. Any question should be submitted to a Rav who is familiar with Hilchos Eruvin to rule upon halacha l'ma'aseh.

    One final note before we begin: An argument that frequently appears in literature concerning eruvin is that it is worthwhile building eruvin - even if they must rely on extraordinary kullos and dei'os yachid - to save ignorant and estranged Acheinu Beis Yisroel who may be unaware of the prohibition of Hotza'a from a severe aveira3. This is not the place to discuss the halachic and philosophical issues involved in such an approach. It must be clarified, however, that even where such an approach is utilized and implemented in building an eruv, observant inhabitants of the enclosed area should be made aware of the kullos employed and continue to refrain from carrying within such an eruv.


1.    Eruvin 11b.

2.    An often misapplied principle is that of "halacha k'divrei hamaykil b'eruv" (the halacha, in an argument concerning the walls of an eruv, follows the more lenient opinion - Eruvin 46a). Some modern Poskim even extend this principle to the point of using it to support their own lenient rulings! (See Rabbi Y. Y. Blau's Nesivos Shabbos (Yerushalayim, 1989) 15:2 and footnotes 4-5 for a list of sources that deal with this principle and summaries of their opinions.) The Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim, Eruvin 112:10, proves that this principle does not apply to later Poskim. Whenever we deal with an issue discussed by the Acharonim we follow a weighted majority opinion. The stature and reasoning of each Posek must be weighed when considering his views and counting his psak in the halachic equation. See also Rabbi Shlomo Miller's note on this point in his haskoma to this kuntres.

3.    See, for example, Rabbi Yosef Moskowitz' Kuntres Tikunei Eruvin of Manhattan (New York, 1959) pp. 161-164.

Converted by Andrew Scriven

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