Rabbi Asher Sabag
Former Shaliach in Chicago


The Mishnah (BT Eruvin 61b) states:

“One who lives with an idolater in a chatzeir (loosely, courtyard) or with someone who does not accept the [laws of] eruv – that [idolater] restricts him [from carrying into the chatzeir]. R’ Eliezer ben Yaakov says, ‘[The idolater] never restricts unless there are two Jews who restrict each other…’”

The reason a non-Jew, who is not obligated to observe the laws of eruvin, can restrict the Jews living in his chatzeir is to prevent the Jews from living with the non-Jew and learning his ways. According to R’ Eliezer ben Yaakov, the Mishnah only applies to two Jews – rather than just one – because it is uncommon for a single Jew to dwell among non-Jews. (And decrees are not made for uncommon cases.)

In order to make the eruv usable – despite the non-Jew – the Chachamim ruled that we can lease the non-Jew’s property. (Neither an eruv nor a bitul reshut – which are solutions used for an eruv with Jews – apply in this case.) This takanah (loosely, regulation) also serves to prevent the Jew from dwelling among non-Jews, because presumably, the non-Jew will be loathe to rent his property to a Jew (for assorted reasons). Nevertheless, the lease can be for as little as shaveh prutah, and the non-Jew does not have to comprehend the lease’s purpose.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 382:1-5) states lihalachah:

“One who lives with an idolater in a chatzeir – [the idolater] does not restrict him unless there are two Jews living in two houses, and they restrict each other. Then, the idolater restricts them. And it does not help if the idolater repudiates (yevatel) his property. Rather, they must lease it from him… One who rents from a Jew without specifying – this is effective, and there is no need to specify to him that the [purpose] is to enable carrying… One may lease from a nonJew for even less than shaveh prutah.”

What happens in the case of a hotel owned by a non-Jew? Does this case resemble a situation where Jews live together with non-Jews in a chatzeir? If so, must one lease from the hotel’s owner or from the hotel’s guests? Usually, the owner does not reside in the hotel – especially when the hotel is part of a chain which belongs to nonresident owners.

The Shulchan Aruch (382:1) rules that a non-Jew who is away from home does not restrict his Jewish neighbors. Thus, the hotel owner does not restrict the Jewish guests. But do the non-Jewish guests restrict the Jewish guests, even though they are just visiting?

The Tosafot cite the Yerushalmi to the effect that a lodger cannot restrict if he is in residence for less than thirty days. The Shulchan Aruch (384:1) concurs and adds that if the non-Jew is a regular guest, he restricts immediately. However, if he is not a regular guest, the restriction does not begin until he has been in residence for over thirty days.

Although most hotel guests leave well before thirty days have elapsed, a hotel may have some regular or constant guests, who restrict immediately.

We should note that although the non-Jewish guests are the ones who restrict, a Jewish guest does not have to lease from each one of them. Instead, he can lease from the hotel manager, who has access to each hotel room.

The Gemara (BT Eruvin 65b) states:

“Reish Lakish and the students of R’ Chanina visited a pundak (an inn), and the tenant was not there but the landlord was present. They said, ‘Is it permitted to lease from him?’”

Rashi (ibid) gives two explanations for the term “pundak”:

“That the residents of that chatzeir were two Jews and one non-Jew who rented his residence from his fellow non-Jew and that Shabbat, the non-Jewish tenant was not there but the non-Jewish landlord was. And they were afraid that he would arrive on Shabbat. [Another explanation is that] a pundak has rooms which open onto the chatzeir, and the lodgers enter them and restrict each other on Shabbat.”

Although the first case does not resemble a hotel, the second explanation reflects a situation which is very similar to a hotel. The lodgers are the restrictors, and that Shabbat the non-Jewish tenant was away. Therefore, the Gemara asks whether the students could lease from the non-Jewish innkeeper himself. The Gemara concludes that if the innkeeper has permission to evict the tenant, the students may lease from the innkeeper himself.

The Tosafot (ibid) observes that Rashi cites two explanations and that even the second explanation reflects the truth. In other words, the two explanations do not contradict each other and are both correct lihalachah.

The Shulchan Aruch (382:18) rules that one may lease from the landlord if the tenant is away – as long as the landlord has access to the apartment. However, he did not specify if this corresponds to Rashi’s first or second explanation.

The Beit Yosef (382:18) applies this Gemara to large ships:

“Large ships which are divided into rooms, and each [passenger] eats in his room, etc. And what is their takanah? They lease from the ship’s owner before the spaces are allotted to the tenants. And if they did not lease from him before the spaces were allotted, they must lease from the tenants. However, if the ship’s owner has permission to
leave his belongings wherever he wants – including in the hired spaces – they may lease from the ship’s owner.”

The Rama (382:20) agrees and adds that this extra leasing may be incorporated into the normal fare paid for a cabin.

At first glance, this case appears to resemble modern-day hotels. After all, we are talking about people who have no intention of dwelling permanently in that place; rather, they plan on lodging for a specific length of time. However, the Beit Yosef stipulates that each person eats in his own space, and therefore, the space belongs to him. But if everyone eats together, the food unites them, and they are all considered to be one unit. And as we saw above, a non-Jew cannot restrict a single Jew. (The Mishnah Brurah rules accordingly in the name of the Rashba.)

The Mishnah in Eruvin states that if the landlord has access (tefisat yad), a resident cannot restrict the other residents. Rashi explains that tefisat yad means that the landlord has a place within the residence where he can keep his belongings. Since the entire chatzeir belongs to him, he is considered to reside with the tenant. As the Shulchan Aruch (370:2) rules:

“A landlord who has many houses in the chatzeir and he lends or rents them out to others, and in each one, he has items which cannot be moved on Shabbat due to their weight or because they are forbidden – these are items which may not be moved even litzorech mekoman – the residents do not restrict him, because they have all become his guests. And therefore, they are also allowed to carry from their houses into the chatzeir – even if they did not make an eruv.”

Similarly, in every hotel room, the owner has items which cannot be moved due to their weight (such as beds, closets, etc.). Also, in most cases, hotels are authorized to evict the guests, to switch their rooms, or even to bar them from entering. Hence, the guests cannot be considered to be permanent residents of the hotel, and as long as a guest does not have a space that belongs to him, he cannot restrict other guests.

Thus, I believe that there is no need to erect an eruv inside a hotel – even if the owner or some of the guests are non-Jews. As explained above, there is no one to restrict; everyone eats together in a common room; and the owner has access to every room in the hotel.

On the Yeshivat Beit El website, HaRav HaGaon Rav Dov Lior was asked about a Polish hotel which hosted an Israeli delegation. He responded briefly – and without details – that in order to carry within the hotel on Shabbat, the Israelis must lease permission to use the hallways, the dining room, etc. from the hotel’s owner. However, in my humbleness, I had trouble comprehending this response because of all the aforementioned reasons.

I asked several rabbanim about this issue, and almost all of them said that they believed that an eruv was not necessary. However, most of them were unable to give a specific reason why not.

Finally, I heard from Rav Riskin shlita that we must distinguish between a regular hotel guest and someone residing there in a vacation apartment which he has purchased. The latter resident must lease from the non-Jew (assuming that all the abovementioned conditions apply).