Latest update: May 17th, 2013
‘A Separate Contribution From Each’
When several houses share a common courtyard, an eruv chatzeiros must be set in order to carry on Shabbos from the houses into the courtyard and vice versa. Even though the courtyard is surrounded by walls and is technically a reshus hayachid, carrying is still restricted without a physical eruv chatzeiros. Accordingly, an apartment building also requires an eruv chatzeiros in order to carry from the apartments into the stairwell or lobby and from apartment to apartment. The common areas of the building have the halachic status of a courtyard and thus, even though the entire building is technically considered one big reshus hayachid, an eruv chatzeiros is still necessary.
The halacha on this matter is clear and unchallenged since the particulars of an apartment building match exactly the courtyards that existed at the time of the Gemara. The question becomes more complicated in regard to hotels, hospitals, and the like, where residents are given private rooms but share a common area.
Each case is slightly different. In summer-rentals common in Eretz Yisrael, known as tzimmerim (Yiddish for “rooms”), each family has its own cooking facilities in its room, and eats independently. In a hotel, each person has his own room, but everyone usually eats together in a common dining room. In a hospital, each patient eats in his own room, but the food is provided by a common kitchen. These distinctions are very significant in determining whether an eruv chatzeiros is necessary to carry from one’s private room to the public hallways.
Since the residents of tzimmerim cook and eat independently, each room is like a separate house; an eruv chatzeiros would therefore seem to be necessary. However, some poskim find reasons why tzimmerim would not need an eruv chatzeiros. According to halacha (Eruvin 85b, Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 370:2), when a landlord lives in the courtyard and retains a “handhold” on all the houses therein by leaving his belongings there, he unites all the houses into one common property. All the houses are considered his, and there is no need to make an eruv since everyone else is considered a guest in his home (see Mishnah Berurah ibid, s.k. 10, 11).
Don’t Scratch the Furniture
The Maharshag (Teshuvos 122) and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, O.C. I, 141) rule that such is the case when the owner of a hotel or tzimmerim lives on the premises. He has a “handhold” on all the rooms since he leaves his furniture there for the guests to use. Therefore, there is no need to make an eruv chatzeiros.
However, most poskim reject this ruling (Chazon Ish 92 s.v. Teshuva; Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchosa 17, s.k. 58 citing the Aruch HaShulchan; Dvar Avraham 3:30; Minchas Yitzchak 4:55 citing the Maharsham; Shevet HaLevi 2:54; R’ Elyashiv also concurred with these opinions, see sefer Eruv Chatzeiros, p. 274). They insist that the furniture provided for the convenience of the guests is not considered a “handhold” for the landlord. The usage of the common furniture is also rented to the guests, along with the room, and therefore it is considered theirs, not his.
It is important to note that even when the landlord does not retain a handhold on the rooms, an eruv chatzeiros is only necessary if the tenants stay for more than 30 days. When a room is rented for less than this amount of time, the tenants are of secondary importance to the landlord. Since he is the only significant resident, the courtyard is not considered a common area, and thus there is no need for an eruv chatzeiros (see Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 370:8, Mishnah Berurah, loc. cit.).
Hotels and Hospitals
The halachos of eruvin distinguish between neighbors who share their meals in one common room and neighbors who have collective supplies of food but eat independently. When they actually eat together, the common dining room unites them into one group. Therefore, the courtyard does not resemble a public area and no eruv is necessary. This is often the case in hotels where guests dine together. Even if the courtyard is home to gentiles or Jewish apostates who would render an eruv invalid (see Eruvin 61b), one may still carry from the homes into the courtyard since there is no need for an eruv at all.
When each family eats alone, sharing a common supply of food, they are not considered one collective group. Nevertheless, the food supply takes the place of an eruv to unite them and permit them to carry into the courtyard (Eruvin 71a). In this case, there is need for an eruv, but the common food supply serves that function. This is often the case in hospitals, where patients eat alone in their rooms from food prepared in a common kitchen. Since an eruv is necessary, however, if a gentile or Jewish apostate is staying in the hospital, it is forbidden to carry from private rooms into the public corridors, since they render the eruv invalid (Nesivos Shabbos by Rabbi Blau 31:15).
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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