Sunday 4 December 2011

The Sunday Curiosity: No 1. Eruv.

Most religions of the world have their little quirks; some go in for mock-cannibalistic rituals (drinking blood and eating flesh), some throw live animals off high cliffs to appease their inhumane 'gods', and others dance around, tempting death by putting poisonous snakes into their mouths; but Judaism must have one of the most bizarre.  

All major cities in the western world have large Jewish communities. In general they are hard working, honest, and respectful people, who require nothing more than to be left in peace, and get on with their work. But, as their religion prevents them doing certain things on a Saturday, they have had to find a solution.

So, they string up a length of aerial wire (the eruv) around their most populated areas, and within that area the rules no longer apply. Within the 'wired' area they may 'Move an object from an enclosed area (i.e. their home) to a major thoroughfare', or 'Move an object from a major thoroughfare to an enclosed area', or, if they're really adventurous, 'Move an object of more than four cubits around within a major thoroughfare'.

That simple encircling length of wire, magically allows them to ignore the rules of the Torah... A bit like Christians crossing their fingers behind their backs, as they ignore the 10 commandments.  Ain't life/religion wonderful!

If I find anything even more bizarre, I might post a 'The Sunday Curiosity No 2'.


  1. The mental back-flips performed by those of yer actual establishment religious inclination can be astounding.

    When I lived in on under and around Manchester you could bet your bottom dollar that at the head of every spontaneous traffic jam would be a Volvo with some formally-dressed Rabbi parking on the white line & cat's eyes while he "made a quick delivery".

    A Rabbi friend of mine used to confound the Inland Revenoo's best efforts by getting paid for absolutely everything in kind.

  2. I know there are people who circumvent their religious practices in cynical ways. And I know many religious practices seem daft - and, in many ways are so. However, sometimes, something apparently daft (like putting up a wire) can transform one's attitude to what we do and how we do it. I am not a Jew so can't quite judge. Nor am I a Roman Catholic - so I have never needed to confine myself to fish on a Friday . . . and I'm struggling to find a parallel in my own life though I know there are parallels (I'll suddenly think of something later) but I have experienced enough to imagine that the simple act of eating (or not eating) can be just as helpful in reminding the mind of what matters as doing something worthwhile and significant.

    I think I'd solve the moving objects problem either by being very strict about it or by tying a great long wire round the world - all the way round. And another in the other direction - so everywhere is simultaneously parcelled up and liberated.

  3. Some orthodox families (I have heard) put a time-switch on the T.V. set so that they do not break any rules by switching it on on the sabbath. I wonder how the Israeli military get around it - maybe they are exempt.

  4. They probably wrap 'eruns' around their guns!

  5. There's a 'sabbath' setting on my oven Cro that (when programmed) prevents it from being turned on.
    It boggles my mind that Churches have to treat people like complete idiots.

  6. Forgive my interference but I think the correct term is 'eruv' Cro dahlink. Love your blog - found you through John and Tom - been quietly following you on the sidelines for a while now.

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  8. Who are they trying to fool...themselves or God? I don't get it!

  9. Sorry Camille. I can't think why I wrote it with an N. Of course it should have read ERUV.

  10. I am utterly fascinated by this.
    Very recently, I got into a discussion with a close friend about the local ERUV. I thought it was just a symbolic line, while he claimed it was an actual wire. We each bet $1, and, well, he won. We both live across from a large synagogue, and have known the numerous rabbis who live in "The Rabbi's House" for a few years (with their inevitably numerous children) and then move (or are moved) on.

    I managed to locate -- online -- the boundaries of our closest ERUV, but have yet to go check for the wires.


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