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As per my quick research 1 2 sometime around 1800 to 1920 European cities stopped erecting and started removing city walls. My understanding is that a lot of the laws regarding Eruv was assuming that most cities had walls, and those walls could be used for the Eruv. Many places nowadays have an Eruv by incorporating buildings wals and using an almost invisible string, with permission from the city government, to close the gaps in certain places. However, smaller communities, like many post-Holocaust Europen cities do not have an Eruv.

What did ~10M Jews in pre-Holocaust Europe do? Are there sources of them using a shabbos girdle? Did many cities allow string Eruvs to be built? Were there a lot of Shu"ts relating to the changing of the times?

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    Why do you think that most cities had an eruv? Sep 28 at 8:10
  • Point of clarification - the string/wire can only be used for a small proportion of the boundary according to widely accepted opinions - generally for going across roads etc. I live in Manchester, UK and our Eruv is mostly made up of the fronts/backs of houses, or boundary walls and fences. We use multi-core fishing wire on galvanised steel poles to cross roads. I'd imagine that most large European cities over the last 200 years could achieve most of the boundary with buildings and boundaries in a similar way, but I don't know if they actually did so. Sep 28 at 8:30
  • It was indeed quite controversial. Many people nowadays assume that there is a long tradition to big eruvin and cite all these rishonim saying it's a big mitzva, but they don't realize the world looked very different back then
    – Double AA
    Sep 28 at 9:28
  • @Kazi bácsi I guess it is just my bias from having lived in the US and Israel. It was really hard for me on Shabbat in Europe (hard to carry keys, no map, no bringing wine to my host, no stroller). I assumed that large historic European communities solved those issues similar to how modern Americans and Israelis do (with an Eruv). But maybe they didn't. Was that the case? Were Eruvim rare in Europe even when 10M Jews lived in large communities there?
    – HanMah
    Sep 28 at 12:27
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1 Answer 1

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The Aruch Hashulchan (O"C 345:18) claims that the minhag was to have eruvin using a tzuras hapesach (likely with these strings or something similar) and this has been so for hundreds of years. He writes this in the context of explaining why it's so shver that we rely on such eiruvin given how the rishonim stack up in the sugya. but he says that it's a mitzvah and a chiyuv to explain the minhagim of klal yisrael and he has a bit on an arichus eing matzdik the minhag. ע"ש and see the Be'ur Halcha over there as well.

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  • Of course they used tzuros hapesach. But they did so in tiny towns or within walled cities, not in large unwalled cities.
    – Double AA
    Oct 9 at 2:53
  • Very well may be, I'm not a buckey in these inyanim. Oct 9 at 13:46

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