Latest update: April 3rd, 2013
When Life Is A Zoo
The term karpif refers to an area that is not used for living purposes on a daily basis. For example, a place outside a city that is used for storing wood is considered a karpif. The Sages prohibited carrying in a karpif even when it is enclosed by fences on all sides because it resembles a reshus harabim in that it is a large area and not used for dwelling. The halacha follows Rabbi Akiva (Eruvin 23a) that carrying is only prohibited in a karpif which is larger than two beth se’ah (5,000 square cubits, which was the size of the courtyard of the Mishkan).
The mishnah (ibid. 18a) states that carrying is permitted in a dir (a cattle-pen where animals graze) regardless of its size because it’s considered an enclosed residential area and therefore does not have the status of a karpif (which is not residential in nature).
Defining A Dwelling
The Biur Halacha (Orach Chayim 358) cites three possible reasons why the mishnah considers a cattle-pen an enclosed residential area. First, because although people don’t live there, animals do; that is enough for the area to be considered “residential” (Rashba). Second, because a place which people frequent is considered residential and since shepherds often enter cattle-pens to care for the animals, they are considered residential (Rashi, 22a s.v. “kol Avir”). Third, because the mishnah is specifically talking about cattle-pens that contain a watchman’s hut (Rabbenu Yehonasan, cf. Rashi 19b s.v. “dir”). Ordinary cattle-pens, however, are not considered residential.
A Watchman’s Hut An Abode?
The Gemara (supra 22a) states that fields with watchmen’s huts are not considered residential since the watchman’s primary purpose is to watch the field, not to live in it. Therefore, if the field is larger than two beth se’ah, carrying in it is prohibited despite the presence of a watchman’s hut.
The Noda B’Yehudah (2nd vol. Orach Chayim 47) remarks that this Gemara seems to contradict Rabbenu Yehonasan who argues that that the presence of a watchman’s hut makes an area residential. To resolve this contradiction, the Noda B’Yehudah suggests that the Gemara is referring to a hut that is only used by a watchmen intermittently, whereas Rabbenu Yehonassan is referring to a hut used by a watchman 24 hours a day.
A Zoo: Nice Place To Visit But…
The Noda B’Yehudah (ad loc.) was asked whether carrying is permitted in a zoo. Is it a dir where carrying is permitted or a karpif where carrying is prohibited? He answered that although a zoo superficially seems like a dir, in fact it is not. A dir houses domesticated animals where people can in theory live. A zoo, however, houses wild animals in addition to domesticated ones, and people cannot live in harmony with animals like lions and tigers. The presence of a building inside the zoo used by a zookeeper does not change anything (unless he lives there 24 hours a day).
About the Author: RABBI YAAKOV KLASS, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.
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