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Shabbat Parashat Vayakhel- Pekudei 5769

A Group Eiruv Techumin

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Question: A few friends alternate going to a community outside the techum Shabbat to lain on Shabbat. We have a place to put an eiruv techumin that enables us to get there. Do we have to do the procedure each week? What do we do about the fact that a different person each week needs it?


Answer: One may make an eiruv techumin for a period of many Shabbatot (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 413:1). (One has to use something with a long shelf life and ensure it is in a safe place.) The declaration that accompanies placing the eiruv (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 415:4), he should include that it takes effect only on Shabbatot when he wants to make use of it (Biur Halacha to 413:1). This can be important for the following reason. An eiruv techumin does not increase the distance one may walk but changes the central point around which the 2,000 amot radius is calculated. On a week you are not going to lain, you might want mobility in a different direction. The food that was put aside for that purpose for one week can be reused. You do not need to know before a given Shabbat if you are going to activate it that Shabbat, but can rely on the original global declaration (Shulchan Aruch, OC 413:1). This is because we can say that certain details of a halachic process can be retroactively determined (b’reira) regarding rabbinic halachot. (Techum Shabbat on walking above 2,000 amot is rabbinic up to 24,000 amot. The eiruv is effective only up to a maximum of 4,000 amot.) In this case, the eiruv is functional based on the original declaration, and the days for which declaration will apply can be determined later (see Mishna Berura 413:8).

The next question is if everyone in the group can share an eiruv. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid., based on Eiruvin 82a) says that one can place an eiruv techumin on behalf of a group of people and that this works even if it is unclear who will be included in that group (e.g., all the people who will go to the house of mourning- mishna ibid.). This, again, can be determined by b’reira.

There are, though, a few conditions that must be met. First, the people to whom it will apply need to be made aware of their possible inclusion in the eiruv before the given Shabbat begins, even though they do not have to decide at that point whether they want to be included (gemara ad loc.- see Mishna Berura 413:7). Someone also must have acquired a requisite portion of the eiruv (even in the open-ended manner) for each person who is to be included. As the amount is enough food to eat for two meals (which, according to the standard opinion, is up to a little more than a pound of bread- Netivot Shabbat 31:(38)) this may be challenging.

There are at least two ways to solve the problem. One is to use a food that does not require much quantity. Unlike an eiruv chatzerot, which must be of bread, an eiruv techumin can use any food (Shulchan Aruch, OC 409:7). One only needs the amount of the given food that would be used in a classic meal (ibid.). For drinks, this is two revi'iot (approximately, a cup). Regarding foods that are used as relish with bread or other foods, including salty water, the amount is how much would be consumed in a meal, which is very little (Shulchan Aruch, OC 386:6). Thus, using salty water (ibid.), a bottle could probably be enough for the entire group of people who will end up going to lain. The other system is that each week, after using the eiruv, the person who used it does a kinyan (the easiest is a kinyan sudar, in which the transferred object does not have to be present) to pass it on to the next person or back to a central person who is in charge of making a kinyan on behalf of the relevant participants. According to the Shevet Halevi (VI, 44) it is not even necessary to make a kinyan back, as the present may be only for a Shabbat at a time.


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R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga  Brachfeld



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