The Alleys of Chicago

Short_alleyw cite

In Nasso (Bamidbar 7:3) we are given the concept of public and private space. According to the Shulchan Orach (OC 345) a Reshus HaRabim (public domain) is an area that is at least 16 amos wide without a roof. The opinion of R Avraham chaim Na’eh is that an amah is 18.9 inches. According to the opinion of the Chazon Ish an amah is 22.7 inches (Frank, The Practical Talmud Dictionary) Based on each of these opioinons how wide does a street have to be to be a Reshus HaRabim? The average width of an alley in the City of Chicago is 18 feet. Would this be a a Reshus HaRabim by either of these opinions?


By R Na’eh

18.9″ x 16 = 302.4″

302.4″ / 12 = 25.2′

By Chason Ish

22.7″ x 16 = 363.2″

363.2″ / 12 = 30.27′


At 18′ a Chicago alley is not a Reshus HaRabim by either opinion.