Fire Breaking out on Shabbos
5. All sacred texts (1), whether written or printed, may be saved from a
fire or flood. They may even be carried to a courtyard or alleyway into
which it would be generally forbidden to transfer them due to the lack of
an "eruv [chatzeros]" (2). This leniency applies only if [the courtyard or
alleyway] was constructed in a way that would allow for an "eruv chatzeros"
or a "shituf m'vo'os." It is permitted to use a gentile to save sacred
texts, even if he will carry them through a public domain (3). (The laws
regarding saving a corpse from a fire will be discussed in Chapter 88, Law 16.)
(1) This includes a Tanach, Mishna, Gemara or any book of commentary on the
Torah; this applies no matter what language or script the text is printed
or written in (See Mishna Berura 334:50).
(2) In the days of the Talmud, it was common for a number of private homes
to share one enclosed courtyard; a properly enclosed courtyard is defined
as a private domain, and thus it would be Biblically permissible to carry
from a private home into the shared courtyard. However, the Sages feared
that if people would be allowed to carry from a home owned by one
individual, into a courtyard shared by a number of individuals, then people
may mistakenly believe that it is permitted to carry from a private domain
into a public domain, and vice versa. Also, if one was permitted to carry
within a shared courtyard, one may come to carry within a public
domain.Therefore, the Sages prohibited carrying between a private home and
the shared courtyard in which it is situated, and they even prohibited
carrying within the courtyard itself. Now, in order to permit carrying
between the houses and the courtyard, a loaf of bread has to be collected
from each house in the courtyard, and then all the loaves have to be placed
in one of the houses for the duration of Shabbos. This then symbolizes that
all the contributing residents are legally residing in one dwelling (the
house where they left their bread). In this way, the courtyard can be
viewed as the province of only one dwelling, rather than several, and since
the houses and the courtyard are both the property of a single consortium,
there is no prohibition to carry from one to the other (because it can no
longer be viewed as carrying from a private area to a "public" area, and
the potential error which prompted the original rabbinical prohibition
would not occur). This whole procedure is called "eruv chatzeros." The same
principle applies when a number of courtyards (each containing a few
individual homes) open up into a large alleyway (Movoi); halachically
uniting the courtyards into one body is called "shituf m'vo'os."
(3) Generally, it is rabbinically prohibited to ask a gentile to perform a
forbidden activity on Shabbos; however, in order to save sacred texts, the
prohibition is waived. Where there is no alternative, one may even tell a
gentile to extinguish a fire on Shabbos in order to save sacred texts.
Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 2002 Project Genesis, Inc.
NASO AND SHAVUOS:
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5772
Count Us In!
Shlomo Katz - 5775
A Drink of Wine
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769
The Torah's Safeguards
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771
The Paradox Of Keeping That Which He Gives Away
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764
It's the Time...
Shlomo Katz - 5759
How Much Do You Love the Torah?
Shlomo Katz - 5762
Lines of Lineage
Shlomo Katz - 5759
Why Did The Younger Brother Get The Better Job?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766
The Power Of Group Identification: Both Positive and Negative
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767
The Common Denominator Between Long Hair and A Shaven Head
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769
The Final Countdown
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760
Learned From Their Mistakes
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756
Our Business/Our Blessing
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760