|A thin line delineating a space, a tradition of years measured in thousands|
|Map of the boundary|
When I figured it out, my mind verily exploded with a mixture of delight, curiosity, awe, wonder, and a kind of reverence. I've spent some preliminary time learning what I can about eruvs, or more properly, eruvin. Once you get a lead on what you're looking at with those four characters, though, e-r-u-v, it's a little like unlocking a door to a fascinating other world that you had little idea was happening alongside inside around part of yet separately in/to this world, your city. Many large cities around the world have them. Many that I have visited or lived in. But I had no idea.
What I understand so far is that an eruv is an enclosing structure symbolic of walls and gates typically composed now of contiguous combinations of man-made structures and natural forms (hills of a minimum 24 degree slope for example) which define a grouping of properties which, due to the proper validation of the eruv by recognized authorities, are considered during the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbot or Shabbos) (from sundown Friday to when three stars appear on Saturday evening) as a kind of abstract extension of the home, sort of a giant back yard.
Within the extension of the home, mainly, carrying is permitted during Shabbos, with "carrying" defined very specifically and comprehensively, including quite necessary things like toting a prayer book, or pushing a baby stroller, or carrying food. Thus, for the observant, an eruv actually enables many important things. Not, however, riding a bicycle. There should be, on the other hand, a store of common food for the community somewhere within the eruv.
|The poles (lekhi) are vertical, the wire/rope/line (korah) run over the top, as with a crossbeam, forming a "Tzurat Ha'Petach", or image of a doorway through an enclosing wall|
Understand that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day He will give you two days’ worth of bread. Each of you stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:29)
Thus says the LORD, Take heed for yourselves, and do not carry any load on the sabbath day or bring anything in through the gates of Jerusalem. You shall not bring a load out of your houses on the sabbath day nor do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers. (Jeremiah 17:21-22)
|Police car entering the eruv through a Tzurat Ha'Petach|
Sometimes, my local place turns out to include simple/complex wonders I didn't even imagine, and I find them on my bicycle.
It's a Thin Line - The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond from Yeshiva University Museum on Vimeo.