An Eruv for Kibbutz Hanaton

(OH 362:10-11)

Does Kibbutz Hanaton require an eruv for the carrying of objects around on Shabbat?

Note: The kibbutz lies on two steep hills, encircled by fields. There is a road which winds around the houses, but not around the entire public area. There is no doubt, though, which area makes up the kibbutz territory. The members’ houses, the communal dining-room and the synagogue are all situated on one hill; on the other are the sheds of the livestock, which need to be reached on Shabbat (including the carrying of objects to it), for the purpose of tending to the animals. Parents also take their children on walks to the animal sheds on Shabbat. There is no security fence around the kibbutz.

In order to allow the carrying around of various articles and goods in the kibbutz on Shabbat, the entire kibbutz needs be considered as a private domain. The most convenient way to turn the kibbutz into a private domain would be to surround it with a fence, which is at least 10 tefahim high (approximately one meter). Since this is a very expensive solution, the kibbutz can instead be surrounded by a “tsurat hapetah” (lit. “the form of a gate”): “a reed on one side, a reed on the other side, and a reed above them” (see Shulhan Arukh OH 362:11). One could maintain that a kibbutz is obviously not a private domain, but rather a public domain, and may therefore not use tsurat hapetah in order to mark its boundaries. However, it has become commonly accepted that no real public domain exists in our time, but rather only a carmelit (an area which cannot be classified either as a private area or as a public area). The prohibition of carrying things around in a carmelit is only derabanan (a rabbinical prohibition), which enables us to take the lenient option, and allow for a tsurat hapetah to serve as a boundary for the kibbutz.

How does one build an eruv of tsurat hapetah? Poles have to be erected around the kibbutz and a wire has to be placed above them. One may utilize the already existing telephone poles around the kibbutz, and there are two opinions as to the procedure involved. Some say that in order to be sure that we have “a reed above them”, a barrel or a reed should be placed near the telephone pole under the wire. This is valid because the upper reed does not have to touch the two other ones in order for it to be a valid tsurat hapetah. Another opinion is that the telephone wire is sufficient even without putting another reed near the pole. Therefore we conclude that, in view of the last opinion, if the kibbutz is already surrounded by telephone or electricity poles, that suffices for an eruv, and nothing else must be added to or changed about it.

Rabbi David Golinkin
Approved Unanimously 5746