Eruvin 62, 65 Bittul and Sechiras reshus and hotels on Shabbos

After some fascinating diversions into the realm of the prohibition of making halachik rulings in front of one’s Rabbi, respecting the privacy of married couples, ruach hakodesh, and much else, we return to the discussion of the main theme of the chapter’s opening Mishna.

We already know that although from a biblical perspective, there is no prohibition against transferring items on shabbos from one private domain to another adjacent one, even if it is owned by a different person, Chazal prohibited transferring things from one private domain to another if the second domain is owned by a different person.

This prohibition was designed to prevent one from getting confused and transferring from a private domain to a public domain and extends even to transferring objects from a private domain owned by an individual to one which he shares with other individuals.

This was the standard situation with the shared courtyards that multiple homes would commonly  open up to in Talmudic times (still common in older neighborhoods of Yerushalayim and other cities),also applies to the communal spaces and corridors of apartment buildings and gated communities, and to a certain extent, as well to the public space in cities which are enclosed enough to meet the criteria for being considered private domains.

Chazal limited this prohibition to shared spaces where an ערוב חצירות  has not been made- the eruv here does not refer to the physical or symbolic partitions that are necessary to make it into a private domain, but to the eruv process we have discussed before where food is used to symbolically convert the entire area into one single private domain.

There is another option available , known as בטול רשות, where everyone except for one resident can “nullify” their ownership thus making the one resident the halachik owner for the duration of shabbos, also making it one large  private domain.

Though this could be  a reversible decision, it is rather complex and the precise lomdus by which it works requires its own discussion- more of that later.

For reasons discussed in the Gemara (Eruvin 62a,) the option to make an eruv only applies when all residents are Jewish as the symbolic eruv mechanism is not available to a non-Jew, nor is the option of בטול רשות.

The Mishna on 61b discusses the laws when one lives in a courtyard with an idolater (the applicability of these laws to monotheistic non-Jews and a ger toshav are a discussion in their own right, which I hope to address sensitively and correctly at one point.)

Rabbi Meir is of the view that even if there is only one Jew living in the courtyard, he may not carry in or into it, whereas Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov holds that so long as there is only one Jewish household  there, no eruv is needed even.

Once there are more than one Jewish households living in the courtyard, Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov agrees that an eruv is needed theoretically- however, seeing as the idol-worshipper cannot be part of the eruv, the only way forward is a third mechanism, namely that of שכירות רשות.

Unlike בטול רשות  which does not transfer ownership in any way to anyone else, this involves the עכום renting his rights in the property to the Jewish residents, making them the only halachik owners of the space, after which they can make an eruv amongst themselves.

The Gemara on Eruvin 62a refers to a debate as to the nature and status of this “rental” and notes that it was understandably not common for the non-Jew to agree to such an arrangement.

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How does this affect one who stays in a hotel on Shabbos?

Theoretically speaking, a hotel is generally owned by the same person, group of people, or company, and all areas from the rooms to the corridors and public areas should thus be viewed as one large private domain, so long as the entire area is surrounded by halachically acceptable partitions.

As such, one would think that there should be no issues carrying from room to the public areas and versa, within the public areas, or from room to room.

However, this could be a little more complex given that rooms are “rented” out to different people, and there are typically both Jewish and non-Jewish guests, hotel-owners, managers, and other staff staying there at the same time.

If we view this as a regular שכירות , and if שכירות קונה  (renting a property makes the renter the halachik owner during the period of the lease, at least in certain regards,) then the hotel can no longer be regarded as one private domain owned by the hotel owner, but is more similar to a courtyard with multiple houses, each owned by different people.

This would essentially make all the complexities of עירוב, בטול רשות, and שכירת רשות  applicable to a hotel situation.

In truth, the general rule seems to be that  שכירות לא קניא  (a rental does not confer temporary ownership- see A.Z. 16a  but c.f. B.M. 56b and Pesachim 6a, and a topic for another post.)

Yet Strong evidence that these rules indeed apply to a hotel situation can be found on Eruvin 65a, where Reish Lakish and the students of Rabbi Chanina spend Shabbos at a פונדק , where a non-Jew also was renting a room, but was not currently there. The owner, on the other hand, was there.  (A פונדק   generally appears to refer to an inn where people stay temporarily while travelling, both long and short-term  [see Tosefta B.M 8/28 (Leiberman) ]and seems at face-value at least to be equivalent to a modern-day hotel-)

The Gemara relates how they wanted to do שכירת רשות  from the owner but were uncertain whether he had the authority to do this, seeing that the relevant room was rented out to someone else.  It explains that their uncertainty related to a place where the law entitled the owner to evict the renter at any time, but that if he did not have the right to do this, it was clear that he was also not able to perform שכירת רשות.

As a hotel manager or owner certainly does not have the legal authority to evict  guests any-time he wants to(at least in most modern locales,) it seems that one would have to perform שכירות רשות  with any non-Jewish guests themselves.

However, most of the  Rishonim (see Rashba, Ritva, Rosh for example) note that if the owner has a תפיסת יד  (degree of control) over the rented property still, such as the right to store property there, he can certainly perform the שכירות רשות  even if he lacks the right to evict the tenant.

They prove this from the fact that even שכירו ולקיטו  (the hired laborer) of the owner may perform this שכירות given their connection to the property, and an owner with rights to keep property in the rooms is certainly not less than a שכיר.

As such, seeing as hotel owners or managers (who ostensibly have the law of a שכיר) store hotel furniture, decor, electronic devices and other property in the rooms, have the right to enter to inspect or clean the rooms (at least when guests are not present) and maintain general responsibility for the rooms, it seems that they certainly would have the ability to perform this שכירות רשות, assuming it is even needed. (One could  counter  though that seeing as all the items kept in the rooms are for the use and  benefit of the guest during his stay, this is not the same level of תפיסת יד  that one who may use the rooms for his own storage-after all, the manager or even the owner usually cannot just store his own private things in the rooms at his whim!)

There is also another case at the bottom of the daf where a similar question regarding שכירת רשות  in a פונדק  arose, adding more strength to the argument that hotel settings might also be subject to these requirements, though still subject to the points raised above.

It seems that for whatever reason, as far as the requirements of eruv and שכירת רשות  are concerned, we do consider שכירות  as a form of קנין.

Perhaps these laws are simply not dependant on absolute ownership but more on utility and control- this would make sense given the reason that Chazal required eruv chatzeiros  to prevent people transferring from one domain to another- as such, it is not objective ownership that is important but rather the appearance of residence. (there might be reason to differentiate between short-term and long-term rentals (more than 30 days as well, but that is beyond the scope of this post.)

In order to avoid all the complexity regarding these issues, many people perform  שכירת רשות  in hotels where possible (and so I have seen Moreinu haRav Asher Weiss שליט”א, though  he told me it might not really be necessary.)

Based on the above arguments, doing so with the owner, manager, or other appropriate staff member of the hotel seems to be acceptable normative practise.

 However, there is also strong reasoning in favor of those who do not do so for short stays less than 30 days- of course, please see below disclaimer as usual!

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha

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