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Shabbat Parashat Pekudei| 5764
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Question: I will be on the island of Maui (Hawaii) on Shabbat. Do I need an eiruv in order to carry? (Maui is an island, with a population of over 100,000, that is not connected by bridge to any other land).
Answer: In order to carry in an area, there firstly need to be walls (physical or halachic, i.e. the eiruv) surrounding one on all sides. I understand the question, that the fact that Maui is an island might make it considered surrounded by walls. The gemara (Eiruvin 22b) raises the question that there should be no reshut harabim (public domain) in the world, because, looking far enough to each side, every place is surrounded by ocean. We should point out that a body of water is not in and of itself like a wall, but the steep incline that certainly exists underwater is considered a wall, even though it is covered over by water (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 363: 29 and Mishna Berura, ad loc.).
The gemara, which rejects this possibility, does not delineate why and when the oceans do not preclude the status of reshut harabim. Several rishonim point out that natural walls are less significant than man-made walls. Tosafot (Eiruvin, ibid.) says that natural walls are uprooted by the movement of all the masses of people within these distant walls. The Ritva (ibid.) says that to be considered surrounded by walls, the walls need to be close enough that a person feels contained by them. Either way, in Maui, which has over 100,000 inhabitants and, while seeming small on the globe, has an area of approximately 2,000 sq. kilometers, the natural walls of the shore do not count.
There are another few rabbinic level laws which would require one to have an eiruv. The walls must not have gaps of more than ten amot between them, which is a problem, because the incline of the ocean floor is probably not uniform. The area must be enclosed at least partially by man-made walls that were built specifically for the purpose of people living within. These sections of the wall must connect to the wall that surrounds on all sides (see Shulchan Aruch OC 358). There cannot be large areas of agricultural or uninhabitable areas within the area (ibid.). Even if the walls were valid, there is still a need for the second part of the eiruv, which is the box of matzot which is acquired on behalf of all the Jewish inhabitants (OC 266). There also needs to be a renting of permission for Jews to carry from an authorized representative of the non-Jewish inhabitants (OC 382). This needs to be done by an experienced rabbi.
It is worthwhile to check if there is a small Jewish community, with, if not a small eiruv, at least other important religious services.
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