An eruv allows Jews to carry within a semi-public space on Shabbat. The space must be bounded by walls and must meet several detailed requirements. The eruv must consist of food for a meal for the community that shares that semi-public space.

Most cities or towns that have an eruv use matzah for their eruvs - it's cheap, it never goes bad (well, it never goes worse) and you can eat it all year (just make sure to replace it on Passover). But there is one time you cannot eat matzah - erev Pesach.

If erev Pesach falls on Shabbos, how can a community sustain its eruv with matzah (even matzah for that year)?

I once asked a very knowledgeable rabbi this, but I found the answer unsatisfying. He said this:

  • If you made an eruv of a meal for Friday night and it is eaten fully, the eruv remains valid. If you made an eruv of a meal for Friday night and it is not eaten but spoils, the eruv remains valid since it was edible at some point.
  • You can technically eat matzah during bein hashmashot - after Shabbos starts, and before the d'oraita ban on matzah starts.
  • You can therefore make a meal of matzah during bein hashmashot
  • Since the matzah is edible for that meal (you know - the one we intend to eat when we start shabbos so early that we're home from shul, make kiddush, wash, and eat fully by twilight?), it's fine.

I am dissatisfied by this because that meal does not actually exist. I am also dissatisfied because it relies on two definitions of "night" in order to work. It feels strategic rather than genuine.

Is there a better answer as to why using matzah for an eruv on erev Pesach is valid?

  • No way! I just asked this question to a friend two days ago!
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2013 at 5:06
  • 3
    Your dissatisfaction with the rabbi's answer presupposes that the prohibition begins at night, which is actually a point of disagreement. While some rishonim hold the prohibition starts at night (including possibly the Ramban and Orchos Chayim), other rishonim hold that the prohibition doesn't start until dawn (which is generally how we hold), and some hold that it doesn't start until chametz becomes prohibited.
    – Fred
    Mar 5, 2013 at 5:28
  • @Fred That's what my friend and I decided the answer was.
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2013 at 5:35
  • 1
    Of course, they can just use bread and eat it in the morning.
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2013 at 14:05
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    If the reason to prefer matzah is economic/convenience, then surely for one Shabbat a year (in years where it applies) we can just use bread instead as @DoubleAA says? Is there actually a halachic reason to prefer matzah, or is it just convenient (and when it's not convenient, don't do that)? Mar 5, 2013 at 15:10

2 Answers 2


1) See shulchan Aruch end of Siman 416 that Yom Kippur also requires an Eiruv and it is valid (and we all know that we won't be able to eat it at all on YK!), I think that YK would be a stronger question.

2) In Shulchan Aruch HoRav 386:8 he writes משתתפין אפילו באוכל שאינו ראוי לו אם ראוי לשום אדם מישראל, now since Min Hatorah a child is allowed to eat on Yom Kippur (see SA HoRav Siman 394:2 that the restrictions are only if forbidden from Torah Law) and definitely on Erev Pesach that's on Shabbos it's not Min HaTorah even for an adult. In addition by Yom Kippur, a sick person -let's say a woman within 3 days after giving birth- may eat it - therefore there would be no problem with the Eiruv.

  • 2
    Accept because of point 2. Yom Kippur eruvin really clarify things. Thank you! Apr 5, 2013 at 21:24

HaMaor Volume 33:3 page 24 - Rabbi Shmuel Singer asks this question and says that since the Rama 471:2 indicates that a minor can eat Matza therefore you can make this Eruv.

  • 1) How would that help? 2) The Rama doesn't say that. He says it isn't assur to feed them because it's only a bittul aseh. The food is still assur, just we don't have a prohibition of feeding minors something only forbidden as bittul aseh. See the Terumat haDeshen the Rama quotes.
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2013 at 18:41
  • @DoubleAA did you read the first line? Mar 5, 2013 at 18:45
  • Of the Rama? Yes. Did you? He says להאכילו==to feed him. Like I said, see the Rama's source (the Terumat haDeshen) inside to understand him better.
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2013 at 18:47

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