March 24th, 2011


One detail about an eruv

Over on Facebook I posted a link to Wyatt Cenac's brilliant piece on the Hamptons eruv. But I wanted to clarify one thing, because I can't stand the way most people talk about an eruv.

The wrong explanation of an eruv: Jews aren't allowed to carry things on the Sabbath. But if they put up an eruv, they can break that rule! (Or "An eruv is a loophole that lets them evade that rule.")

The right explanation of an eruv: Jews aren't allowed to carry things in an unenclosed area on the Sabbath. An eruv is the smallest physical boundary marker that can turn an open area into an enclosed area, within which we are permitted ab initio to carry things.

(And to drive home the point that an eruv is an actual boundary marker, and not just symbolic, every inch of every eruv is physically checked every week for damage that would render it discontiguous, and if it can't be repaired in time then "the eruv is down" and we are not permitted to carry. This happened in Boston after the big snowstorm a few months back.)

Another puzzle of mine

As you probably recall, I've been one of the constructors for the crossword puzzles on the big wall at Eltana, the hot new bagel place in Seattle. Several of you have asked if I could send you my puzzles, and the answer until now has been "no"; you could only get them at Eltana.

Well, Eltana is now running the puzzles as ads in the Seattle Jewish Times, and so my December puzzle is now available on page 12 of this week's issue.

My thanks to Mike Selinker and the others at Lone Shark Games for inviting me to contribute puzzles to this project, and to Eltana for realizing that nothing is more natural with a bagel and coffee than a crossword puzzle. It's been a lot of fun so far, and I look forward to the puzzles to come!