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Ask the rabbi Shabbat and Holidays Eruv and Carrying

Carrying House Keys

Rabbi David SperlingSivan 14, 5774
4301
Question
B’H There is no eruv where I live. I have to walk a mile or more to the shul on shabbat. I am a single woman and putting my apt. keys around my neck with key ring. I was told not halachic. I cant wear a key belt as my skirt doesnt need a belt and it just being on my skirt would be a ruse. I don’t wear ties so a decorative key for tie clasp not an option. I am in a unit with 3 other people so keyless entry also not an option. How can I wear my key so it is halachic? todah
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The question of how to carry a key on Shabbat is a very interesting one that has been discussed by the greatest sages over the last hundred years or so. You are correct that just wearing the key on a chain is forbidden, as it is certainly considered as carrying the key. There are two ways that are permissible. Firstly, we rule that it is permitted to wear jewelry on Shabbat even in places where it is forbidden to carry. That being so, many rabbis allow turning the key into a brooch or tie-clip. Of course, this will take some preparation. You will have to have a broach pin attached to the back of the key, and also get the key shined and perhaps add a jewel or two (real or artificial) to it, in order that it looks like a lovely piece of jewelry, and not just an old key that you have pinned to your blouse. The second way to transfer the key is to use it as part of your clothing. It can be made into part of belt, and then used to hold up an article of clothing. To do this, you take a piece of elastic and tie one end of it to the key (through its hole) before Shabbat – then the other end is either tied to the teeth of the key with a bow (on Shabbat, or a knot before Shabbat), or wound around them, in such a way the key serves as an integral part of the belt. You point out that your skirt does not require a belt, and as such it is forbidden to go out with the "Shabbat key-belt" on your skirt. However, there are many other ways such a belt can be used. It could be used to hold your socks up, to hold your shirt sleeves up (i.e. to loosely push them up, and then use the elastic key-belt to hold the sleeve from falling open, or down), or even to keep a scarf that is hanging around your neck and down your front from blowing up and away. I'm sure that with some imagination you can find a real use for such a belt on your Shabbat clothing. (For further study see the book Shmirat Shabbat KeHilchatoh, chapter 18, paragraphs 32, 47, and 48). Blessings.
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