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The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Balak

What is the purpose of erecting an eiruv?

Firstly, we will demonstrate an eiruv on a small scale and then upgrade it to a larger one. In a building, the communal stairway and lobby is private property shared by all the neighbors. According to biblical law one may carry from one’s apartment to the building’s lobby and from there to a neighbor’s apartment, because one has not entered a public domain. However, Shlomo haMelech decreed that if this practice continued, people might end up carrying from a private domain to a reshus harabim (public domain) and violate a biblical transgression.

What is the cause for such a mistake?

He rationalized that people would compare a communal yard with a public domain, as both are shared and used by others. This has been endorsed by Chazal and is part of halacha in the Shulchan Aruch. [1]

Is there a way to carry to and from a communal yard?

Indeed, as a result, the concept of eiruv chatzeiros (combining of yards) was established. Chazal devised a method of combining all private domains into a single communal domain and thus solve the entire problem. This is done by collecting bread from all neighbors of a yard and placing the bread in one of the houses. A person is where his meal is and thus everyone shares a house and the yard is attached or belongs to that one house. In effect, a single private domain has been created, with many people living therein, far removed from a public domain. [2]

When tenants subsequently carry to and from the communal yard it is not compared to a public domain. Eiruv means to combine or mix and Chazal devised a way to combine several private domains into a single domain.

Can this be duplicated on a grand scale such as a neighborhood?

Yes it can but it is much more complicated. The reason is because a communal yard or building stairway is already surrounded by walls and fences, which grants it a status of a reshus hayachid – a private domain, which in turn is divided up into private homes and apartments. All that is needed is to pool sources by sharing bread and placing it in one of the homes.

Larger facilities might not be surrounded or have walls and thus the first and major project is to create a private domain by erecting walls. This is the complicated part.

An area can be enclosed by walls and fences and by a tsurat hapesach. A tsuras hapesach comprises two vertical poles and a third pole perpendicularly placed above. The third pole may be wire, string, wood or anything that can stretch from one pole to another. It need not touch the vertical poles, suffice that it is perpendicular above.

The halachos of a tsuras hapesach are extremely complicated and we will not endeavor to encompass them in these brief shiurim.

The idea is to surround a neighborhood or town, incorporating existing fences and walls and complementing these with a tsuras hapesach. Obviously a single tsuras hapesach is not adequate to surround a large area. This is done by placing many poles at a certain distance from each other and stretching a wire from one pole to another.

Can this method be used to surround a town and city?

Basically yes, but it is very important to note that an area defined as a reshus harabim d’oraisso, i.e. a biblically defined public domain, cannot be enclosed only by a tsuras hapesach, rather its entrances must be closed with doors or gates. Several complicated factors define a reshus harabim but we will not delve into them.

A city defined as a karmelis, a reshus harabim d’rabanan, can be enclosed with a tsuras hapesach without gates or doors at its entrances.

Isn’t there a problem of gentiles residing in the neighborhood?

For various reasons gentiles prevent the implementation of the eiruv and Chazal said that one must ‘rent’ the gentile’s property. This is feasible in an apartment building but impossible in a large neighborhood with hundreds of gentiles. In large areas, renting is substituted by hiring from local authorities who have authorization to enter resident’s homes.

What is the next stage?

Enclosing an area defines it as a private domain but one may not yet carry in this area because it is divided by many private domains. The next step is to have all residents share bread and produce the same conditions as the eiruv chatzeiros mentioned above. This sharing is called shituf mevo’os – sharing alleys, because here we are combining neighborhoods and not only houses in a yard. [3] Matzos are usually used, because they last long without spoiling and they are usually placed in a shul.

Briefly -

  • An area must be surrounded and enclosed and this is mainly accomplished with a tsuras hapesach.
  • Gentile’s residences must be rented individually or rented from local authorities.
  • Bread – matzos must be provided by (or granted to) all the residents and are usually placed in a local shul.


[1] Simon 366:1.

[2] See simon 366:1 and the M”B.

[3] Houses lead into a communal yard. Yards open to a communal alley or street. Thus the alleys are combined into a single entity.


Food For Thought

What is the reason for the many disputes over setting up an eiruv?

Is there a limit how far one may walk on Shabbos?

Is there a way to lengthen one’s allotted distance?

If a person in a desert does not know when it is Shabbos, how must he conduct himself?

Answers coming be"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha

Bilam told Balak that Hashem is taking them out of Egypt (23:22) and Rashi explains that Bilam was refuting Balak’s claim that Hashem took them out of Egypt, in the past tense.

Ran Ganzfried (author of the Kitzur) explains that Balak’s claim was that Hashem took B’nei Yisroel out of Egypt because of his hate for the Egyptians and not because He loves B’nei Yisroel. This would enable Bilam to ch”v curse B’nei Yisroel.

Bilam subsequently corrected him saying that Hashem continues to take them out of Egypt, in the present tense, because He loves them and thus it will be useless to try and curse them.

For a printed version, click here.



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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.