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Eruvin 66

Be our guest.

On Eruvin 42, we learned that not only is one permitted to travel on a boat over Shabbat, but one may move all about the vessel and carry objects as well. But what happens when you arrive in port and check in to your hotel, a residence that likely has one owner (perhaps not Jewish) and many occupants? Do you need to establish an eruv in the hotel in order to carry objects on Shabbat? Is it even possible if the owner and/or other occupants are not Jewish? Today’s daf addresses this head-scratcher.

Let’s start with a mishnah that opened this chapter and is the basis for today’s discussion:

One who resides with a gentile in the same courtyard, or lives in the same courtyard with one who does not accept the principle of eruv, this renders it prohibited for him to carry from his own house into the courtyard or from the courtyard into his house, unless he rents this person’s rights in the courtyard.

If there is a non-Jewish person or family living in this multi-family residence, or a Jew who does not abide by the rabbinic laws of eruv, then creating an eruv is not possible. But the Gemara offers a work-around: if the Jews rent out the non-Jewish (or non-eruv-abiding) resident’s right to the courtyard, then an eruv can be established.

The Gemara picks up with a story on daf 65b:

Reish Lakish and the students of Rabbi Hanina happened to come on Shabbat to a certain inn that had at least three permanent residents, two Jews and a gentile who rented their quarters from the gentile innkeeper. Although the gentile tenant was not present on that Shabbat, the gentile landlord was present. Concerned that the gentile tenant might return during Shabbat and render it prohibited for them to carry, Rabbi Hanina’s students wondered whether the gentile landlord could rent out the gentile’s room again for the purpose of an eruv.

A group of rabbis were spending Shabbat at an inn with both Jewish and non-Jewish guests. The inn, with many semi-permanent guests, becomes analogous to dwellings described in the mishnah that share a courtyard. The presence of a non-Jewish guest in the inn makes establishing an eruv and carrying within the hotel impermissible. But when the non-Jewish guest is away for the day, the Jews consider renting that person’s room (much as in the previous text the Jews rented out their non-Jewish neighbor) so that the entire hotel is now technically occupied by Jews. This story implies that unless the inn is owned by a Jew, or occupied only by Jews (in which case an eruv can be established), the temporary Jewish resident has no way to carry within it on Shabbat.

This conversation continues onto the top of today’s page where it is asked whether or not one is able to rent the space from the non-Jewish owner on Shabbat or if this needs to happen before Shabbat. And, we learn, one may rent the space of the property from the manager instead of having to rent it directly from the owner of the property.

This problem is still relevant today when observant Jews travel to hotels which are more often than not owned by non-Jews or hosting non-Jewish guests. Based on the Gemara, you might suppose that when a Jewish person is staying in a hotel owned by a non-Jew, they would not be able to carry in this hotel unless they rented the entire space from the owner or if they made an eruv with the other guests who would need to all be Jews — a tall order! But the medieval law code, the Shulchan Aruch (382:18), finds a loophole, holding that when a Jewish person rents from a non-Jew, as long as the non-Jew retains property within the property, it is permitted for the Jewish resident to carry within the residence. Practically, what this means is that since the owner of the hotel still owns all of the furniture in the hotel room, it is entirely theirs and a Jewish patron is allowed to carry throughout the entire hotel.

Read all of Eruvin 66 on Sefaria.

This piece originally appeared in a My Jewish Learning Daf Yomi email newsletter sent on October 14th, 2020. If you are interested in receiving the newsletter, sign up here.

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