Photo Credit: Jewish Press

When Life Is A Zoo
‘The Greater Part…Is Regarded as a Garden’
(Eruvin 23b)



A karpif is an area that isn’t used for daily living purposes – for example, a place outside the city used for storing wood. The Sages prohibited carrying in a karpif even where it is enclosed on all sides by a fence because it resembles a reshus harabim in that it is a large area and not used for residential purposes.

The halacha follows Rabbi Akiva (supra 23a, mishnah) that carrying is only prohibited in a karpif that is larger than two beth se’ah (5,000 square cubits), which was the size of the courtyard of the Mishkan).

The Mishnah (supra 18a) states that carrying is permitted in a dir (a cattle-pen where animals graze) regardless of its size because it’s considered a dwelling enclosed for residential use.


Defining A Dwelling

Biur Halacha (Orach Chayim 358) cites three possible reasons why a cattle-pen is considered enclosed for dwelling purposes: 1) the word “dwelling” can also refer to animals (see Rashba); 2) a place that a person (in this case, a shepherd) frequents is considered an area used for human dwelling (see Rashi (22a s.v. “kol avir”); and 3) a watchman’s hut is inside it, according to Rabbeinu Yehonasan, and thus the enclosure serves both animals and humans (cf. Rashi 19b s.v. “dir”).


A Watchman’s Hut An Abode?

The Gemara (supra 22a) states that a watchman’s hut in a field is not considered an enclosed area for human dwelling since a watchman’s primary purpose is to watch the fields, not dwell there. Therefore, if the field is larger than two beth se’ah, carrying is prohibited despite the presence of a watchman’s hut.

The Noda B’Yehudah (2nd vol. Orach Chayim 47) remarks that the Gemara seems to contradict Rabbeinu Yehonasan as it states that a watchman’s hut does not change the status of the area to one of human dwelling. He therefore suggests that the Gemara is referring to a hut that is only used by a watchman intermittently, whereas Rabbeinu Yehonasan is referring to a hut used by a watchman 24 hours a day.


A Zoo

The Noda B’Yehudah (ad loc.) was asked whether carrying is permitted in a zoo (which is larger than two beth se’ah) or if it’s considered a karpif where carrying is prohibited. It was suggested that a zoo is considered enclosed for dwelling since it serves the needs of animals (see Rashba above).

In reply, the Noda B’Yehudah rejects the comparison. Even if a cattle-pen is considered an enclosed area for dwelling, a zoo – which houses wild animals – is certainly not since humans cannot live in harmony with them. Even if a zookeeper lives in a building in the zoo, the zoo is not considered an enclosed area for dwelling unless he lives there 24 hours a day.


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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.