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I know people do this (if there's no eruv in town, or if you're afraid the eruv will be down at the end of a 3-day yomtov); I think it involves a string from the sukkah to the house? Please explain.

I think it often looks like this? (aerial view, the connecting line between them is string or fishing line):

|   House     |
|             |
   | Suka|

Hm, or if it was this?

|   House     |
|             |
                 | Suka|

Or this?

|   House     |
|             |
 \         /
  \       / 
   | Suka|
share|improve this question
Without any other mechitzos, #3 is the only one with potential. And, at the risk of overemphasizing, simply connecting the house and the sukkah with wire won't accomplish anything if a proper "tzuras hapesach" is not made. – YDK Sep 28 '10 at 19:30
However, if you walk on the wire, you will go from a reshus hayachid to a reshus hayachid without passing through the karmelis ;) – YDK Sep 28 '10 at 19:33
YDK -- the wire has lechis on both sides, it is a tzuras hapesach. (Couldn't you see that from the beautiful picture? :) ) – Shalom Sep 28 '10 at 23:10
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Here's my understanding of what you have to do, based on setting one of these up, with Rabbinic guidance, for a few years in college. I've never studied the relevant laws in depth, but I believe based on what I learned in practice from my Rabbi that under normal conditions, the following procedure will do the trick. Ask your Rabbi to be sure. This will be a restatement of some of the information in YDK's answer, but with more bullets and less jargon.

To be allowed to carry stuff into, through, and out of an area on Shabbat, you need two things to be true:

  1. The entire area is "owned" by one entity.

  2. The area is enclosed on all sides by "walls."

For the purpose of this discussion, I'll assume that your house, your sukkah, and the space you want to traverse between them are all on your property, which takes care of (1). If not, you be able to fix this by making an eruv chatzeirot. This is definitely a situation that requires rabbinic guidance.

For (2), there are two basic categories of "wall":

a. "Solid" walls:

  • Are within 3 tefachim (for which 9 inches should satisfy all opinions) of the ground for their entire length, and

  • Extend up from the ground at least 10 tefachim (for which 40 inches should satisfy all opinions) for their entire length, and

  • Contain no gaps that measure more than 3 tefachim by 3 tefachim (for which 9" x 9" should satisfy all opinions).

  • Examples: The walls of your house or sukkah (assuming it's a kosher sukkah!), a 40"-high dense hedge, a 40"-high chainlink fence.

b. "Doorways":

  • Includes a regular doorway with regular doorposts, or

  • A Halachic "doorway" made of two uprights and a wire strung over them. The requirements for this are:

    • Uprights are straight, solid objects that extend from the ground to at least 10 tefachim (for which 40 inches should satisfy all opinions) up. A cheap strip of wood should suffice.

      Note that while according to some authorities, you can just use the existing walls for uprights, to satisfy the stricter and what I'm told are normative authorities, you need to use dedicated uprights.

    • The wire has to pass directly over the uprights.

    • The wire has to be tight enough that its maximum deviation from an absolutely straight line is less than 3 tefachim (for which 9 inches should satisfy all opinions), so make it as tight as you safely can. The shorter the wire is, the easier this requirement is to satisfy.

  • I recommend attaching the wire on both ends first, making it as tight as possible, then placing and fixing the uprights directly underneath the two ends of the wire.

The "walls" or "doorways" have to completely surround (subject to possible exceptions, as described by YDK. Consult your Rabbi if you think you think an exception may apply.) the area you're using, with no gap between adjacent "walls" or between a wall and the upright for the adjacent "doorway" of more than 3 tefachim (for which 9 inches should satisfy all opinions).

Your third diagram could potentially depict the setup I've described, but not the first two, unless there's an unseen additional wall or fence or the like connecting the house and the sukkah.

There may be other ways to fulfill the relevant Halacha or other opinions, but like I said, I believe that if you follow the above procedure, you'll be OK according to the normative opinions.

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I just found this set of diagrams, which is incredibly hepful: wp.yise.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/… – Shalom Oct 14 '10 at 14:32
That's a great resource! – Isaac Moses Oct 14 '10 at 14:57

If you use a back door to a sukkah in the backyard, you may not need one if your yard is basically fenced in. Even if the front of the yard has an opening (like a driveway) you won't need to do anything if:

a) the individual opening is less than 10 amos and

b) the enclosed length of that side (e.g. the back of the house, the fence) is greater than the length of all the openings of that side (omed meruba al haparutz)

(This does not apply in between houses because you need to be able to recognize the walls that are omed, so you probably can't come out your side door.)

If you need to enclose the area, the following is a guideline for those who generally rely on eruvin:

The idea behind eruvin (not really the technical word in your case) is that I'm allowed to carry in a reshus hayachid. If that reshus hayachid had a side that was mostly closed, but had an opening that was in the form of an entrance (tzuras hapesach), that opening was considered halachically "closed".

Although this idea only works on a Torah level when the side is mostly closed, the chachamim allowed this idea to consider a rabbinic area of karmelis "closed" even if the side is mostly open. So an "eruv" is an enclosure of multiple entrances.

So to close your yard, you will form entrances using "doorposts" (lechi) and a "crossbeam". The lechis need to be 10 tefachim tall and the crossbeam must run over the lechis, but don't have to touch them (gud asik) and should not run at an angle or droop (although you have a leeway of three tefachim). Since any material and thickness of crossbeam is OK, people tend to use fishing line. Needless to say, since they are entrances, you should not make them in a way that a wall will block the entrance.

And, of course, have your rav take a look at it.

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So usually I think I've seen a wire running from the sukkah (in the unfenced yard or driveway) to the house. Okay so that forms a "wall" between them, but what does that accomplish? – Shalom Sep 28 '10 at 16:53
It's hard to say without seeing it. The house has a wall, the sukkah has a wall, one side is being "enclosed" (assuming they are constructing a tzuras hapesach and not just tying a string). Is nothing on the fourth side? – YDK Sep 28 '10 at 17:53

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