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  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Eruv and Carrying

carrying without an eruv and melacha


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Adar II 7, 5776
Shalom dear Rabbi, for years I have wondered about a certain event: I was in chutz la’aretz on Shabbat in a place where there is no eruv. A women and her teenage daughter were walking to shul early in the morning when it was still quite cold and they had to wear down-jackets. After the kiddush, at noon, people were taking a walk and the temperature had risen to about 18 degrees centrigrade (64 degrees fahrenheit), and there was sunshine, and some people were only wearing T-Shirts for a while) They were still wearing their jackets and did not want to carry them in their hands or under their arms, saying that it was against the prohibition of carrying. Can I please ask two question? 1. I understand that without an eruv it is forbidden to carry general items out of a house or into a house (or from the public domain to the private domain), and this those part of the 39 melachot. However, why is it forbidden to carry a general item around within one of those domains, i.e. to carry something like a jacket in ones hand within the private or the public domain? (when not changing domains and when there are no items in/on the jacket which a person is categorically forbidden to handle on Shabbat, such as needles, a mobile-phone, a radio,etc.) (Or is there a concept of indirectly committing a melacha by carrying the jacket in ones hand after taking it from the private domain into the public domain in a way that is itself permitted (wearing the jacket as a piece of clothing) and then later using this to have it with oneself without using it, in a certain sense "profitting" from carrying it into the public domain, although that had been permissible in the first place?) (Would it be a problem if in the outside area with many shops,snack-bars part of the public domain is perhaps legally owned by a private person and one might unknowingly cross into his legal property?) Can you please tell me if it would have been permissible to carry the jacket in ones hand/under ones arm? And if not, which prohibitions would have been involved? Would a certain melacha be involved? 2. If there is indeed a prohibition to carry the jacket in ones hand, in the specific case, where it had become quite warm, would there be a place for leniency? Thank you very much in advance!!!
ב"ה Shalom Your questions are specific and accurate and they show a fine analysis of the issues which need clarification. What is called by the English speaking Jewish communities around the world "carrying on Shabbat" includes a few prohibitions. One is carrying from the public domain to the private domain or vice versa. Also included is the prohibition of carrying 4 "amot" within the public domain on Shabbat. It should be made clear, however, that although for the sake of presenting clear concepts and a translation from Hebrew "Reshut Harabim" and Reshut Hayachid" we use the words public domain and private domain, the words public and private don’t denote private ownership or public ownership but rather the size, use and how an area is enclosed. Even in a Reshut Hayachid which is commonly shared by many people, there is an additional requirement of "Eruv Chtzerot", which is normally taken care of by the local Rabbi. Having a mobile phone or money in a pocket on Shabbat is an additional prohibition of "muktzeh" and is forbidden to move or carry on your person on Shabbat whether or not there is an Eruv. After the short introduction I will try to answer your specific questions. Within the private domain a person may carry a coat in hand or a tissue in the pocket. Within the public domain this is forbidden, as aforementioned, one may not carry a distance of 4 "amot " which is approximately between 1.70 -2 meters in a public domain. Wearing clothing in their normal way does not constitute carrying; however taking in the hand is the classic example of carrying on Shabbat. However, in the case which you described due to weather change they could also have worn their coats over their shoulders without putting in the sleeves since this is also a way of wearing a coat (See Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata, 18:4) or they could have left it in the synagogue and picked it up after Shabbat. I hope I have answered all you questions. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim.
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