05. Forming a Partnership Using Two Meals’ Worth of Food

As we have seen (section 1 above), in order to transform a reshut ha-rabim or karmelit into a reshut ha-yaĥid in which carrying is permitted, it is not enough to enclose it in a fence or tzurat ha-petaĥ. A partnership must also be formed among all the residents in the enclosed area. This is accomplished by means of bread owned jointly by every resident of the enclosed area. It is not necessary to use bread made from one of the five species of cereal grains; rice bread is also acceptable (SA 366:8). If fewer than eighteen people live in the enclosed area, it is sufficient to have enough jointly-owned bread for each person to have the volume of one grogeret (dried fig). If there are exactly eighteen people, a volume of eighteen grogarot is required, the quantity considered the equivalent of two meals’ worth. For a group of more than eighteen residents – even a thousand – the amount of bread required to form a partnership between all of them does not change, but remains uniform at two meals’ worth.

The poskim disagree about the precise quantity of two meals’ worth of food. The accepted ruling is that le-khatĥila the volume of eight eggs (about 400 ml) should be used, while be-di’avad the volume of six eggs (about 300 ml) is sufficient (SA 368:3). As mentioned above, this communal food is called an eruv (literally “merging”) because through it everyone is merged or joined together, and their enclosed property is defined as a reshut ha-yaĥid.

Since the eruv bread belongs to all residents of the city, any of them may eat it whenever he wishes. If the eruv was eaten during Shabbat, the residents may continue to carry for all of that Shabbat. Since the eruv was there during bein ha-shmashot on Friday (when Shabbat began), the partnership was already formed. For the next Shabbat, however, a new eruv must be set aside.[5]

On a kibbutz or anywhere else where all the residents eat together in a communal dining hall, it is sufficient to erect a tzurat ha-petaĥ around the area. It is not necessary to put aside two meals’ worth of food in such a case, since the food in the communal kitchen serves to form the general partnership necessary for an eruv.

[5]. There are actually two types of “eruv” that transform a public domain into a private domain: eruv ĥatzerot (“merging of courtyards”) and shitufei mevo’ot (“sharing of alleyways”). The purpose of an eruv ĥatzerot is to permit carrying in a reshut ha-yaĥid that is divided into areas owned by different people. The Sages decreed that one should not carry from a home belonging to one person to a home belonging to another, even when both homes are a private domains. Since they belong to different people, the area between them resembles a public domain. By setting aside an eruv ĥatzerot, the homeowners become partners, and may carry from one home to another. The food for an eruv ĥatzerot must be placed in one of the homes (SA 368:3), and it must consist of bread (SA 368:1). In contrast, a shitufei mevo’ot is more effective, because it transforms all the homes, yards, and streets into one domain, within which everyone may carry. Therefore, the food for a shitufei mevo’ot does not need to be placed in a home; a yard can suffice. It also does not have to consist of bread; two meals’ worth of any food is acceptable. When a shitufei mevo’ot is set aside, there is no need for an eruv ĥatzerot. This is why nowadays the custom is to leave the eruv food in the synagogue; even though it cannot be considered a home, the eruv is valid, because it is in fact a shitufei mevo’ot (SA 368:3; 386:1 and BHL ad loc.). Nevertheless, since a shitufei mevo’ot can also serve as an eruv ĥatzerot, we make sure to use bread.

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The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
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