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Thought for the Day: Four Kinds of Domains That Just Don't Fit

Of course, this is silly:
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
you know Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?
Obviously if he is the most famous reindeer of all you would remember him before the others, which the lyricist has already admitted that you know.  I would say it is a simple קל וחומר, but I feel a little sheepish applying a ש''ס concept to a carol of the avoda zara variety.

You know, of course, there are four main categories of domain regarding Shabbos: Public, private, exempt, and כרמלית/everything else.  But do you recall the all that goes into that most expansive domain of all; the "everything else"?  (Perhaps it is writing and allusions such as this that explains why the Yated -- nor Bina, nor Ami -- have yet to contact me regarding being a regular columnist for them...)  The Biur Halacha, siman 359, explains everything about כרמלית, but were afraid to ask.  (Another allusion that is not going to win me any points among the frum publications; sigh.)

To review the three simple domains (at the Torah level):
  • Public -- an area that is not surrounded by man-made partitions that can either support or actually has (it's a disagreement among the earlier sages) traffic of 600,000 people daily.
  • Private -- any area of any size that is surrounded by man made partitions.  (If you don't specify "man made" it would follow that the entire world is a private domain, since all land masses are surrounded by a shore line that is steeper than 10 amos in four t'fachim.)
  • Exempt -- Too small to be useful (less that 4x4 t'fachim), too tall to be ignored (taller that 3 t'fachim).
So what is a כרמלית?  Turns out there is both a Torah and Rabbinic version.  The Torah version is a valley/mountain/meadow that is large and unfenced, but not regularly frequented by 600,000 or more people.  The Rabbinic version is fenced, but for protection rather than for residing, and is large.  Many municipal parks (Peterson Park, for example) fall into this category.  They are certainly fenced, but no one is even allowed to live there.  Those are really private domains according to the Torah, but the Sages gave them the restrictions of a כרמלית because they are easily confused with a private domain.  This is, by the way, the one case where the Sages permitted, לכתחילה, to carry something from a כרמלית to a private domain; it would just be way too confusing otherwise.

The other two?  These are again really private domains according to the Torah, but have a public domain flavor, so the Sages put protective measures into place.  They were also really defined and given their own categories because of the way cities were built.  The houses were build in groups of four to ten or so that shared a common area in front and had storage in the back.  The front is called a חצר, the back a רחבה or מוקצה (yes, same word you've seen before from Hilchos Shabbos).  The front area is clearly for living needs use, but is often shared, so the Sages didn't want you to carry from your house to the חצר or back without special provisions (ie, עירוב).  The one in back was often for stowage rather than daily living needs -- hence the term מוקצה/put out of mind -- so the Sages also didn't want you using it without restrictions or special provisions; in this case, fencing it for daily living needs purposes.

Don't you feel educated now?


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