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Shabbat Eruv

Rabbi David SperlingNisan 18, 5777
114
Question
I live in Moshav Luzit where there is an eiruv though it is questionable since it is never checked by anyone and I see near my house that the eiruv is not pulled tight but sags a bit. We do not carry on Shabbat since we are not sure it is kosher. So when my daughter visits on Shabbat with her family, how can she go outside for a walk with the baby in the carriage? The baby does not walk yet. Can her 4 year old push the carriage together with her? Would that make it permissible?
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The very first thing I can suggest is to make some efforts to check your eruv. Your Moshav – Luzit – comes under the Mateh Yehudah Municipality, who are obligated to provide religious services. One of those services is to make sure the eruv is good. The web site (in hebrew) of the religious services department is - http://m-yehuda.org.il/depart29.shtml At the bottom of there web page they have phone numbers of the people you will want to call. One line of the web page reads, in translation “We promise to … to help create religious services in your towns, including the eruv ...”. So they are definitely the first address. (This is assuming your Moshav does not have a Rabbi, in which case you should talk to him first). As to the sagging eruv string – this is somewhat of a debate. See the Mishna Brurah 362, 66, where he brings two opinions about whether the string has to be drawn tightly over the poles or not. Although there are strict opinions, one may certainly rely on the lenient view – see the Aruch HaShulchann 362, 37. So, if the Moshav is in fact surrounded by an eruv, and the only problem is the sagging string, your daughter (and yourselves) may rely on it to carry, if you so choose. If there are other problems with the eruv (such as fallen strings etc), then we would assume that the eruv is not good. (Again – please call the local council's religious department). In such a case it is not permitted to carry a baby outside, neither in a baby carriage, nor in one's arms. In times of great need, we are sometimes lenient and rely on the opinions that a child that can walk may be carried or pushed in a pram, in a location that lacks a Rabbinic eruv. This would apply if a child (such as the four year old) got too tired to continue walking home for example. But this is not a leniency that may be used simply to go out for a walk, but rather in times of real need. Also, according to many opinions it only applies to a child that can walk normally, but not a small baby. So, you will have to take turns baby-sitting the baby so as to allow your daughter some time to go outside if she wishes – but the baby will have to stay inside. If your house itself has a fence, it may be considered as an eruv, and allow carrying the baby out to the garden. This depends on how the fence is built (height etc) – and you will need to get some advice on whether your fence fulfills the criterion of an eruv. As it is Pessach, it's worth mentioning that on Yom Tov (as opposed to Shabbat) an eruv is not needed, and the baby may be carried outside (along with other items). Blessings.
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