Areas Enclosed by Partitions
5. Planting trees in a courtyard larger than a "Bais Sosayim" (1) [which
was enclosed for dwelling purposes], even throughout most of it, will not
nullify its status as "enclosed for dwelling," because people usually relax
under the shade of trees [in their courtyard] (2).
However, [different principles apply] when one plants vegetable seeds; if
one sowed the majority of the courtyard (even if the area sown was not
concentrated in one place, but rather spread throughout the courtyard ),
its status as an area enclosed for dwelling is nullified, and the entire
courtyard is considered a garden ("Gina") (3).
If one sowed less than half the courtyard, [the following rules apply:] If
the area sown is less than "Bais Sosayim," it is considered insignificant
in relation to the rest of the courtyard, and hence, the entire area is
governed by the laws of a courtyard (4). If, however, a single,
concentrated area that exceeds "Bais Sosayim" [was sowed], the planted area
is considered a "carmelis." Furthermore, the remainder of the courtyard is
now completely open to a forbidden area, and therefore, it is forbidden to
carry an object more than four "amos" in the entire area (5).
(1) A "Bais Sosayim" is an area which would require two "seahs" of seed? It
is equivalent in size to the courtyard of the "Mishkan" ("Tabernacle" - the
portable tent of worship that was situated in the center of the Israelite
encampment in the desert after the exodus from Egypt], that is, 100
"amos" by 50 "amos." Thus, if the area were square it would be 70 "amos"
and four "tefachim" by 70 "amos" and four "tefachim". If the enclosure is
round or any other shape, its area should total 5000 square "amos."
Opinions among the authorities as to the exact length of an "Amah"
("cubit") range between 48 and 60cm (20 to 24 inches).
(2) In other words, the planting of trees does not affect the usage of the
courtyard as an extension of one's house.
(3) Turning the majority of the courtyard into a vegetable garden redefines
even the unplanted section, giving the entire courtyard the status of a
garden, thereby nullifying its status as an extension of one's dwelling
space. Since the courtyard as a whole exceeds "Bais Sosayim" in size, and
it no longer has a status of being enclosed for dwelling, it is considered
a "carmelis," and thus one is forbidden to carry more than a distance of
four "amos" within it.
(4) In other words, since the vegetable garden takes up less then half the
courtyard, it does not have the power to redefine the unplanted section as
a garden. Furthermore, even though the vegetable garden itself nullifies
its surrounding wall's status of "enclosed for dwelling," since it is less
than "Bais Sosayim" in size, it doesn't require a "dwelling" status in
order to make carrying within it permissible (Mishna Berura 358:71).
(5) The vegetable garden takes up less than half the courtyard, and thus
doesn't have the power to redefine the unplanted section as a garden;
however, since the planted section is considered a "carmelis" due to its
size, one is forbidden to carry in the unplanted section because it is
completely open to a forbidden area.