Areas Enclosed by Partitions
4. How does one redefine an area as one that was enclosed for dwelling
purposes ("Mookaf Ledirah") (1), if it originally had the status of an area
enclosed for other than dwelling purposes, that is, it was first enclosed
with partitions, and only then a house was built in that enclosure, or one
opened a doorway [into the enclosed area] from a house [built before the
partitions were erected] (2)?
[It can be transformed into "a place enclosed for the purpose of dwelling"
by] first creating a breach in the partitions which is wider than ten
"amos" (3) (ten "amos" (5) is considered an entrance, but anything wider is
considered a breach in the wall), thereby halachically nullifying the
partitions [and rendering the area halachically "unenclosed"]. Then, one
should repair the breach, and the area will be considered "enclosed for the
purpose of dwelling" (4).
(1) As we saw in HY 83:1-2, areas that are not enclosed for the purpose of
dwelling, like gardens or orchards, which are enclosed only to protect the
trees and plants growing there, are classified according to their size. If
the enclosed area would not require more than two "seahs" [of seed to sow
it], one is permitted to carry within it; however, if the area is large
enough to require more than two "seahs" [of seed], it is given the status
of a "carmelis" [and hence, one would not be allowed to carry within it].
(2) Even if the house was built on the area before it was enclosed by
partitions, if there was no back door, for instance, which led out into the
enclosed yard, it is an indication that one does not intend to use that
area for general household activities, and thus the area would be defined
as one enclosed for other than dwelling purposes. According to the Mishna
Berura (358:19), if one enclosed an area with the intent to subsequently
build a house within it, or if one fenced around an already existing house
with the intent to create a doorway leading into that area from the house,
then that area is still defined as "enclosed for dwelling purposes," even
though the partitions were erected before the area could be used for
(3) The breach does not have to be made through the entire height of the
wall, because once a partition is less than 10 "tefachim" high, it is no
longer halachically considered a partition ("Mechitzah").
(4) One need not repair the entire breach, rather, one could repair
everything except ten "amos" of it, and then create a "Tzuras HaPesach"
("shape of doorway") in the remaining ten "amos" space (See HY 82:4-6 for a
definition of "Tzuras HaPesach").
(5) Opinions among the authorities as to the exact length of a 'tefach'
('handbreadth') range between 8 and 10cm ( 3 to 4 inches). Opinions among
the authorities as to the exact length of an "Amah" ("cubit") range between
48 and 60cm (20 to 24 inches).