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  • Author or Editor: Margaret Olin x

Margaret Olin

Abstract

The eruv is a talmudic provision that permits orthodox Jews to carry small objects outside of their homes on the Sabbath, a practice that would otherwise be forbidden on that day. Often intended to be visible, it is marked in a variety of ways with a range of materials, and frequently serves as a metaphor for relations within a community, as suggested in the articles and works of art included in the symposium and portfolio to which this essay serves as an introduction.

Series:

Margaret Olin

Abstract

The eruv, or Sabbath boundary, is a distinctive spatial practice of Judaism that resembles stealth architecture in the urban fabric. Its primary purpose is to allow orthodox Jews to carry small objects outside of their homes on the Sabbath, a practice otherwise forbidden by the Talmudic interpretation of the commandment to “do no work” on that day. Materially, the eruv border consists of an almost invisible bricolage made of materials such as wires and utility poles found on the street. It is a minimalist work of architecture whose simple line surrounds and delimitates the complexity of urban space while it defines the human community that inhabits its space. The material borders of the eruv have increasingly inspired artistic and literary responses, but also legal ones, which sometimes proceed for years. An investigation of the materiality of this invisible urban boundary and the metaphorical activity that accumulates around it has a wealth of implications for the uneasy relations between modern religious spatial practices and the urban contexts to which they seek to adjust and within which they take shape.