During a Vaad Harabbonim of Baltimore meeting held prior to Pesach it was decided that this week–the week of Shabbos Parshas Achrei Mos/Kedoshim–would be the perfect time to dedicate for “Kedushas Shabbos and Eruv Awareness”. The importance of Shabbos is mentioned in the beginning of this week’s parsha of Kedoshim: “Every man shall revere his mother and his father and you shall observe My Sabbaths – I am Hashem your G-d.” [Vayikra/Leviticus 19:3]
Rabbi Dovid Heber, Rav of Khal Ahavas Yisroel Tzemach Tzedek, explains, “The Vaad Harabbonim decided that they would like to be mechazek the inyan of Shabbos in the community, in general, and in particular, an Eruv awareness, both as far as the rabbonim speaking about it in their shuls on this coming Shabbos, as well as in all the schools to all levels of students from elementary aged through high school and above.”
The schools were contacted by the Vaad and encouraged to either invite a Rav of their choice or ask a member of their staff to speak about Kedushas Shabbos and Eruv Awareness. Speakers included: Rabbi Mordechai Shuchatowitz, Rav of Agudath Israel-Greenspring/Adath Yeshurun Mogen Abraham, who spoke to the Talmudical Academy elementary school students; and, Rabbi Heber, who addressed the Torah Institute middle schoolers, the Talmudical Academy high schoolers, and the third, fourth and fifth Bais Yaakov of Baltimore girls. On erev Shabbos, Rabbi Zvi Teichman, Rav of Congregation Ohel Moshe, is scheduled to speak to the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders of the Talmudical Academy, and Rabbi Y. Zvi Weiss, Rav of Bais Haknesses Ohr Hachaim, is scheduled to speak to the Bais Yaakov Middle School. Other schools had faculty members address these important issues with their students.
The Baltimore Eruv is under the halachaic direction of HaRav Moshe Heinemann, Rav of Agudath Israel. In an exclusive BaltimoreJewishLife.com interview, HaRav Heinemann, said, “When the Eruv was made in Baltimore about 35 years ago, the idea was to enhance the observance of Shabbos, because women were stuck at home with a baby and couldn’t get out. Shabbos was much more enjoyable, if we could get out and carry some things that we needed. We didn’t want the Eruv to destroy the sanctity of Shabbos, so we–the Vaad Harabbonim, who at that time, was in charge of the Eruv–made certain restrictions that said women cannot carry pocketbooks on Shabbos, even though nothing muktzeh is in them, people should not go bicycle riding and people should not play ball… The idea was that we should not profane the Shabbos, so to speak, by doing things which are really not Shabbosdik…Baruch Hashem, the Eruv has made the quality of life on Shabbos much easier. So if you don‘t have a succah and you have to carry your food to one, there’s no problem, or if you are making a simcha and you forgot the horseradish, you can get it from somewhere else. There are a lot of things that the Eruv has helped the quality of life on Shabbos. It should not be used for things that aren‘t Shabbosdik…that was our main concern.”
As it notes in the beginning pages of the Eruv List, “An Eruv only permits the carrying of items whose use is permitted on Shabbos. Items which fall under the category of “Muktza” (such as those listed here) may not be carried, even within an Eruv. In addition to the 39 categories of work that we are forbidden to perform on Shabbos, Chazal instituted a prohibition against certain activities in order to preserve the spirit of Shabbos. Most sport activities are precluded in order to preserve this spirit. The Rabbanim of our city have banned the use of the Eruv for sports activities. The Rabbanim implore the parents and teachers of our community to supervise the activities of our children on Shabbos afternoon and guide them toward preferred forms of leisure activities.”
With regard to Kedushas Shabbos, in general, HaRav Heinemann concluded with, “It says in the Yerushalmi [the Eretz Yisrael version of the Talmud], that it was only with difficulty that our Rabbis permitted a person to say ‘Shalom Aleichem’ on Shabbos, because it is not important for Shabbos. So, we see from here that we should only speak about things that have a spiritual value, like Torah and maasim tovim–things that have to do with the tzibur, for the community, and things like that…You are not allowed to talk about business on Shabbos.”
Besides the original takana of no ball playing, the Rabbonim who spoke addressed other various aspects of Shabbos and the Eruv including the following: 1) The importance of Kedushas Shabbos and how we sanctify ourselves through keeping it and honoring it properly, 2) If one is visiting another community that does not have a proper Eruv, one cannot carry, 3) If the Eruv is ever down, e.g., because there is a storm or it has to come down, temporarily, because of construction, one has to realize that one cannot carry; it is important to know the halachos regarding carrying, and 4) How even our speech on Shabbos must be “Shabbosdik” and not about business, finances, sales, work and Melocho that we are planning on doing after Shabbos.
By BaltimoreJewishLife.com/Margie Pensak