Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Part 5: Rav Henkin’s Final Opinion on the Manhattan Eruv


Rav Moshe Fenstein’s Final Opinion Regarding a Manhattan Eruv
Since Rav Henkin mentioned in letter six that he would follow Rav Moshe Feinstein and not join those who supported an eruv, it is important to explore what Rav Moshe’s final opinion was regarding the Manhattan eruv.
While Rav Moshe wrote (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:139-140, 5 Sivan 5712/May 29, 1952-19 Sivan 5712/June 12, 1952) an intricate teshuvah detailing his arguments why he could not support a Manhattan eruv, he subsequently wrote two letters (HaPardes, 33rd year, vol. 9 Sivan 5719/ July, 1959, p. 13 – Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:89 27 Kislev 5721/December 16, 1960) stating that if the rabbanim, after perusing his arguments in opposition to the eruv nevertheless maintained that an eruv should be established, he would not be mocheh,  but he would not join those who sanction it.  [These letters are what Rav Henkin was referring to when he declared that he would follow Rav Moshe and would not be mocheh against those in support of an eruv, but would not join them.]
However, Rav Moshe signed onto the Agudas Harabbanim kol korei in opposition to the Manhattan eruv dated 18 Sivan 5722/June 20, 1962. What transpired between the years that Rav Moshe wrote his letters where he stated that he would not be mocheh and his signing of the kol korei was,  as Rav Moshe wrote in his hashmatah [addendum] (Igros Moshe, vol. 6, p. 428; undated, published in 1982), that “the rabbanim of the Agudas Harabbanim assembled, under the leadership of Hagaon Harav Aharon Kotler, z”l and the Roshei Yeshivos, and they let it be known to the public that there is absolutely no way to establish an eruv in Manhattan, and it is forbidden to carry even after any [measures] any rabbanim have done or will do in the future.” Clearly, the only reason why Rav Moshe signed onto the kol korei was Rav Aharon’s [and the Roshei Yeshivos] resistance to the establishment of an eruv. 
Following the above, we can understand an interesting exclusion of Rav Moshe’s in the hashmatah. Even though Rav Moshe signed on to the kol korei, we see he was not at ease with its language since he omitted the strident last line when he quoted the kol korei in the hashmatah, which stated that, “those who rely on the eruv in Manhattan will be considered a mechallel Shabbos.” There is no doubt that even after Rav Moshe joined the opposition to the eruv, he was not as opposed to others establishing an eruv as were some of the other rabbanim. 
In fact, Rav Moshe’s final letter on the matter of a Manhattan eruv was to Rav Shalom Yehuda Berman of the Lincoln Square Synagogue dated 6 Teves 5745/December 30, 1984. Rav Moshe declared therein that Rav Shimon Eider zt”l does not need to follow his opinion and can establish an eruv.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Part 4: Rav Henkin’s Final Opinion on the Manhattan Eruv


Rav Henkin’s Final Opinion Regarding A Manhattan Eruv
What is apparent from the entire corpus of Rav Henkin’s writing regarding the Manhattan eruv is that his main issue was whether all the pirtzos were sealed off and that there should be a consensus of most of the rabbanim of Manhattan since he did not want to be the main one supporting the eruv. Clearly, if not for these two issues, Rav Henkin would have fully agreed to the establishment of the Manhattan eruv. However, the issue whether or not Manhattan should be classified as a reshus harabbim is where Rav Henkin departed company from almost all the rabbanim who did not support the eruv in Manhattan, including Rav Moshe Feinstein. It is obvious from the get go that Rav Henkin acquiesced to Rav Seigel’s opinion that Manhattan is not classified as a reshus harabbim, so much so that Rav Henkin never brought up the issue again. Moreover, if Rav Henkin would have classified Manhattan as a reshus harabbim, he could not have agreed to the eruv even for times of greet need (see letter seven).
Now let us explore when the undated letter with the crossed out address (letter six) was written. Since we now know that Rav Henkin would cross out the old address on Ezras Torah’s stationary on all letters penned after the 26 of Tammuz, it is still a possibility that the last letter was letter seven, since it was written on the 28 of Tammuz, and thus the undated letter six could have been written earlier, either on the 26 or 27 of Tammuz. [This important point, that letter seven was dated 28 of Tammuz which was after the Ezras Torah move and hence, could have been the last letter was omitted by Rabbi Kleinman in this article.]
Furthermore, since there are similarities between letters number (four) five and six, the logical conclusion would be that letter seven was the final one on the matter. In letters five and six, Rav Henkin states that he could not pasken for the entire city and that the pirtzos should be rectified. It would, therefore, follow that the undated letter six was not after number seven where Rav Henkin actually said that they should establish the eruv for times of great need.
Moreover, even if letter number six was written last, it only attests to the fact that a consensus of the rabbanim never materialized regarding the Manhattan eruv and that Rav Henkin only allowed the eruv for all, when and if there was a general agreement.             
Finally, even if letter six was the last one on the matter, and Rav Henkin joined Rav Moshe in declining to publicly support the eruv but not to object to those who allowed one, there is, nevertheless, a substantial difference between these two Gedolim. This is evident from the fact that Rav Moshe’s signature is included on the 1962 kol korei opposing the Manhattan eruv; however, Rav Henkin is not among the signatories. Rav Henkin’s signature was extremely important and was, no doubt, sought after by the Agudas Harrabanim (whose stationary it was on). The lack of Rav Henkin’s signature is very telling.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Part 3: Rav Henkin’s Final Opinion on the Manhattan Eruv


5) On 13 Cheshvan 5721/November 3, 1960, Rav Henkin wrote a letter to Rav Menachem Kasher zt”l (ibid., p. 14; Gevuros Eliyahu, siman 118) stating that while he agreed with the rabbanim who supported an eruv regarding certain points, he still had some doubts regarding other issues, particularly if all the pirtzos were sealed. He went on to say that one could rely on the rabbanim who supported the eruv and particularly on the Shotzer rebbe who expounded on the [heter for the] bridges and tunnels. Rav Henkin then stated that he could not pasken for the entire city, which contained many great rabbanim, until there was some consensus on the issue. He reiterated that the main point was that the pirtzos should be built up and that there should be a person in charge of making sure that the pirtzos are sealed.
6) In a following letter (as mentioned in the article this letter is undated, but it must have been written sometime after 26 Tammuz 5721/July 10, 1961) to Rav Kasher (Divrei MenachemO.C. vol. 2, pp. 14, 135; Gevuros Eliyahu, siman 121), Rav Henkin stated that since there were many rabbanim in Manhattan, he was not the person in charge of this matter. He continued that he would follow Rav Moshe Feinstein [regarding Manhattan] and not join those who supported an eruv, but he would also not be mocheh against those who allowed one. Rav Henkin then reiterated that if any modifications where made it should have permanence and that a vaad should be established in order to assure that no changes [over time] are being made to the mechitzos.   
7) On 28 Tammuz 5721/July 12, 1961, Rav Henkin wrote his final letter regarding eruvin [as was understood until Rabbi Kleinman, “unearthed this inconsistency”] to the Vaad L’Tikkun Eruvin B’Manhattan (Divrei MenachemO.C. vol. 2, pp. 14-15; Hapardes 36th year, vol. 4; Kisvei Hagriah Henkin, pp. 32-33, and Gevuros Eliyahu, siman 119). He stated that there was a sound basis to establish an eruv in Manhattan and that the borough was no different than other cities that had erected eruvin and was even superior to them [because of its mechitzos].
He continued that the Vaad was comprised of prominent rabbanimadmorim and baal habattim under the auspices of Rav Kasher, Rav Eisenstadt, and the Shotzer rebbe who were all working on obtaining the support of other rabbanim after which they would call a meeting of the rabbanim to decide the matter of establishing the eruv after all the needed modifications where made. Rav Henkin declared that it was his belief that they should not wait until this meeting of the rabbanim to proceed, because from experience, he knew that it would take a great deal of time until they would come together, and it was a pity to wait so long. Rav Henkin recommended that they should instead immediately rectify what needed to be corrected and then publicize that there were rabbanim who were responsible for the kashrus of the eruv. However, until the Vaad would receive the written support of most of the rabbanim of Manhattan, the heter for the eruv would only be for times of great need.
On the other hand, once they had garnered the necessary support from most of the rabbanim, they could publicize that the heter was for all.
Rav Henkin gave some examples of what he considered a great need: Women and children who felt a need to leave their apartments on Shabbos, particularly during the summer; doctors who needed to carry for a choleh shain bo sakana; the need to carry on Shabbos that falls on Succos.
Rav Henkin added, among other things, that the Vaad should place advertisements in the newspapers stating that only the borough of Manhattan is included in this eruv. The Vaad should establish a fund to pay the salaries of two masgichim, and that the rabbanim should expedite the establishment of mechitzos for the boroughs of Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens, since they do not have a general eruv. He also suggested that the Vaad designate two talmidei chachamim who are experts in hilchos eruvin to answer people’s questions regarding eruvei chatzeiros in the other boroughs.
There is a similar letter (dated as above, letter seven) from Rav Henkin to Rav Moskowitz (Gevuros Eliyahu, siman 120) where he concludes that everything published regarding this matter should be done in the name of the Vaad and not in his name; however, Rav Henkin allowed that they can make use of the contents of his letter. 

Friday, July 05, 2019

Part 2: Rav Henkin’s Final Opinion on the Manhattan Eruv



Rav Henkin’s Letters Regarding a Manhattan Eruv
In order to contextualize Rav Henkin’s opinion regarding the Manhattan eruv, we need to analyze all of his pertinent writings on the matter:     

1) Rav Henkin’s first mention of a Manhattan eruv was in 1936 (Luach HaYovel Shel Esras Torah, p. 62). Rav Henkin declared that Rav Seigel’s eruv of 1905 could no longer be relied upon because Rav Seigel had only enacted sechiras reshus for ten years. [Rav Seigel wrote a kuntres titled Eruv V’Hotzaah allowing one to utilize the eruv. In Gevuros Eliyahu, Rav Kleinman mistakenly referenced the wrong source, Rav Seigel’s teshuvah in his sefer titled Oznai Yehoshuasiman 18; however, this teshuvah only argued that Manhattan is not classified as a reshus harabbim and was penned prior to Eruv V’Hotzaah which was written to allow that one can actually carry in lower Manhattan, heter tiltul. No doubt the citation should have been to Eruv V’Hotzaah.] However, the main reason Rav Henkin asserted that the eruv was problematic was because of the changes to its parameters (the waterfront and the elevated Third Ave. train line) with the establishment of the bridges that crossed over Manhattan’s waterfront.
2) The above letter was later reprinted in Edus L’Yisroel, 1949 (p. 151; Gevuros Eliyahu, siman 114; it seems that Rabbi Kleinman did not realize that this letter was first published in Luach HaYovel Shel Esras Torah, in 1936) where Rav Henkin added a paragraph in which he stated that although someone mentioned that most of the bridges in fact comprise an integral tzuras hapesach, he refutes this claim. He added that there is an additional matter of asu rabbim u’mevatlei mechitzta since the borough of Manhattan contains shishim ribo. However, he admitted that Rav Seigel had already paskend (Oznai Yehoshuasiman 18) regarding this issue [that we do not say asu rabbim because Manhattan is encompassed by mechitzos and that the shishim ribo would need to traverse the street itself; actually, Rabbi Kleinman in Gevuros Eliyahu, siman 114 n. 746 missed the point that in essence Rav Henkin by declaring that Rav Seigel had already issued an opinion on these matters was affirming that shishim ribo is conditional of the street and that we pasken lo asu rabbim u’mevatlei mechitzta, and therefore Rav Henkin, never cited these issues again].
 3) On 12 Kislev, 5719/November 24, 1958 (Gevuros Eliyahu, siman 115) Rav Henkin issued a haskamah on the Shotzer Rebbe’s, Rav Yosef Dovid Moskowitz zt”l’s, sefer Kuntres Tikkun Eruvin Manhattan (1959). The Shotzer rebbe mentions (p. 45) that he investigated the Manhattan waterfront and its bridges in 1954 and again in 1959 and found that they were halachically sealed. Among the issues Rav Henkin mentioned in his haskamah was that if Manhattan’s mechitzos as is are halachically valid, then he believed that one cannot make an argument in opposition to an eruv that some may come to carry in other neighborhoods (Rav Henkin is disagreeing here with one of Rav Moshe’s arguments against a Manhattan eruv; Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:139:5, 5:28:15, and Rav Schwab Maayan Beis Ha’shoeva, Va’yakhel). However, Rav Henkin declared that if tzuras hapesachim or other means to close the gaps were to be used, as was employed in Europe, he believed that they would not endure. Rav Henkin continued that even though the Shotzer Rebbe maintained that the pirtzos of the bridges and tunnels of Manhattan are halachically considered sealed, he was still not clear about the matter. Rav Henkin concluded that if the mechitzos were valid then he would be lenient regarding zeraim negating the mechitzos and shemo yaaleh hanahar sirton and sechirus reshus. [There is a follow up to this letter with some clarifications in Gevuros Eliyahu, siman 116. Actually, Rabbi Kleinman missed some additional points of Rav Henkin’s which were published in Divrei MenachemO.C. vol. 2, p. 224.]  
4) On 7 Teves 5719/December 18, 1958, Rav Henkin wrote a letter to Rav Eisenstadt (collection Gevuros Eliyahu, siman 117) stating that, on the whole, he was not opposed to an eruv in Manhattan and if sechirus reshus was enacted, it would be sufficient for all. However, Rav Henkin stated that he did not want his name included with those who support using the eruv. Furthermore, he declared that he did not believe that it is fitting to publicize the heter.     
[At a meeting in Rav Henkin’s house on 16 Adar Beis 5719/March 26, 1959, regarding the issue of the Manhattan eruv (HaPardes, 33rd year, vol. 9, and Divrei MenachemO.C. vol. 2, p. 38), the following was discussed: the fact that Manhattan was an island that was encompassed by mechitzos b’y’dai adam (besides for one area) and the issue of the bridges and tunnels being halachically sealed.
On 16 Adar 5720/March 15, 1960, Rav Henkin signed on to a kol korei of the Vaad L’Maan Tikkun Eruvin B’Manhattan (ibid., p. 10) that stated there is a need to investigate how to bring to fruition the plan for a Manhattan eruv.]

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Part 1: Rav Henkin’s Final Opinion on the Manhattan Eruv



In the Mishpacha article “Book of Life” (issue 613 2 Sivan 5776 June 8, 2016) Eytan Kobre interviewed Rabbi Daniel Osher Kleinman (the editor of Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin’s zt”l’s teshuvos Gevuros Eliyahu) regarding Rabbi Eitam Henkin Hy”d. In order to demonstrate Reb Eitam’s quest for the truth and his ability to be mekabel, Reb Daniel cited an incident when he unearthed an inconsistency and Reb Eitam reversed his long held opinion. The issue was regarding the halachic feasibility of an eruv in Manhattan according to the opinion of Reb Eitam’s grandfather Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin.
Rav Henkin had written several letters on the topic of the Manhattan eruv. In one undated letter, he joined Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l in declining to publicly support an eruv, while in another, seemingly his last on the matter, Rav Henkin ostensibly lent his approval. The prevailing belief, with which Reb Eitam concurred, was that in his final pronouncement on the matter, Rav Henkin had, indeed, endorsed the construction of an eruv in the borough. However, Rabbi Kleinman discovered that the address of Ezras Torah on the stationary that Rav Henkin used for this undated letter was crossed out, and a new address was written in. According to Rabbi Kleinman, when Ezras Torah moved in the summer of 5721/1961, Rav Henkin made sure to cross out the previous address and write the new one on every letter following 26 Tammuz 5721. Therefore, the undated letter of non-support for the eruv, although previously thought to have been written years earlier, had actually been penned sometime after late Tammuz 5721, making it veritably his last known statement on the issue.
The prevailing belief on the topic of Rav Henkin’s position regarding an eruv in Manhattan up until Rabbi Kleinman unearthed this inconsistency had been set forth by Rav Menachem Kasher zt”l and the Shatzer Rebbe zt”l. Because of Rav Henkin’s stature as one of the preeminent poskim in America, the significance of his position cannot be underestimated. It is for this reason that Rabbi Kleinman’s discovery is of great importance. However, to those unfamiliar with Rav Henkin’s writings on the subject, the article may leave some with the mistaken impression that not only did Rav Henkin in his final opinion not lend his support for the eruv, he was actually in opposition to the establishment of an eruv for Manhattan [since he joined Rav Moshe Feinstein who, as is well known, signed onto the 1962 kol korei in opposition to the Manhattan eruv; more about this later on]. This is incorrect, and as I will demonstrate further on, there are omissions in Rabbi Kleinman’s arguments, as well.
To begin with, it is important to note that the first Manhattan eruv, which was established by Rav Yehoshua Seigel zt”l in 1905, used as its parameters the natural riverbanks [mechitzos hayam] that only encompassed the Lower East Side up until the Third Avenue El. As the Jewish community migrated out of the Lower East Side, there was a growing need to enlarge the Manhattan eruv to encompass more of the island. In 1949, the Amshinover Rebbe zt"l urged Rav Tzvi Eisenstadt zt”l to establish an eruv that included the entire Manhattan. Rav Eisenstadt spent days investigating the Manhattan waterfront and concluded that it was bounded by man-made walls [mechitzos b’y’dai adam] and, therefore, an eruv could be established (Minchas Tzvisiman 4). There were many meetings and teshuvos written concerning this eruv, the culmination being that most rabbanim allowed an eruv in Manhattan. Along with Rav Eisenstadt and the Amshinover Rebbe, the list included the Kapishnitzer Rebbe, Boyaner Rebbe, Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Michoel Dov Weissmandel, Rav Yonasan Steif, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Rav Menachem Kasher, and the Shatzer Rebbe, zt”l. In Iyar of 1962, an eruv was finally established under the supervision of the Shatzer Rebbe.
The following month on the 18th of Sivan, a kol korei opposing the Manhattan eruv was issued by the Agudas Harrabanim with the signatures of Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Gedalia Schorr, Rav Chaim Bick, and Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Part 13 - Lakewood Eruvin: The Truth


8 š

The Kuntres: The Outstanding Quality of Small Local Eiruvin
The problems of a large eiruv are specific to a large-scale undertaking. It should be noted that in almost all cases a small local eiruv in Lakewood can be constructed in a manner that is halachically tenable according to all opinions, and virtually problem free.
Rebuttal: I reiterate, the community wide eruv is not considered a large city eruv, and if, “a small local eiruv in Lakewood can be constructed in a manner that is halachically tenable according to all opinions, and virtually problem free,” then a community wide eruv can be virtually problem free, as well. 

The Kuntres: {Footnote 5 - Even a small eiruv that includes “thoroughfare streets" has the same issue as a large eiruv that includes such streets. However small local eiruvin can often be constructed in a manner that avoids thoroughfare streets. [A Rav should be contacted to verify the status of a given street].}
Rebuttal: Now the Baal Hakuntres is modeh al haemes, that small and large eruvin in Lakewood can share the same properties.  As mentioned above, even if we would accept that some roads in Lakewood are classified as sratyas, the overwhelming majority of poskim would require that they would need to fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim.

The Kuntres: These eiruvin afford us with a commendable extra measure of oneg Shabbos, without lowering anyone's standards.
Rebuttal: How much more so would a community wide eruv afford us an extra measure of oneg Shabbos without lowering anyone's standards?  

The Kuntres: {Footnote 6 -  It is important to point out, that any eiruv large or small cannot be relied upon, unless it was constructed and is maintained under the guidance of a Rav Hamachshir, who is properly versed in the halochos of eiruvin and their practical application.}
Rebuttal: Correct. This is required for all hechsherim. However, it would be much easier to have one eruv under the guidance of one Rav Hamachshir.  

The Kuntres: The Problem of Inadvertently Carrying Past The Eiruv Boundaries of a Small Eiruv
As mentioned earlier, an argument has been put forth, that chilul Shabbos can easily occur when people inadvertently walk past the boundaries of their neighborhood eiruv.
This problem, is caused by the fact that people are supposed to find out about the boundaries of the eiruv from an "eiruv map", that is placed in shul, or given out to all families that live within the eiruv. This is highly inadequate because many people are not proficient at "reading" and memorizing maps. An effective way to familiarize people with the eiruv, is by having every head of household show his family where the tzuros hapesach of the eiruv are, and educate them minimally as to how the eiruv works. This "eiruv awareness" can be accomplished on one Shabbos walk and will certainly greatly reduce inadvertent" carrying" outside of the eiruv.
Based on all of the above, it seems clear, that there are tremendous halachic advantages to smaller eiruvin that avoid the abovementioned issues over larger eiruvin.
Rebuttal: A much simpler idea would be to establish a larger eruv, in which case there would be no danger that people would carry out of the boundaries. Furthermore, it would negate the issue of people, after having left the boundaries of their local eruv, realizing that they overlooked something in their pockets. Therefore, there are clear benefits and no downsides to a community wide eruv.

The Kuntres: As far as the possibility of maintaining both one large eiruv and many small ones, if families contribute to the maintenance of a large eiruv, they will often not contribute toward the construction of a local eiruv as well.
Rebuttal: No harm will be done if the small eruvin are discontinued. In any case, those who believe that a small eruv is more scrupulous would no doubt find a way to finance them.

The Kuntres: In summation: A) We mustn't lose sight of the fact that an act of ho'tza'ah is a full-fledged act of chilul Shabbos; a very severe issur. As mentioned earlier, carrying in a street that is not enclosed with a valid eiruv is an act that can very easily be ho'tza'ah de'oraysa.
Rebuttal: And regarding this issue, we gain nothing from a small eruv and only gain with a larger one. Moreover, according to the majority of poskim, once a tzuras hapesach is erected the matter is only d’rabbanan.

The Kuntres: B) There is certainly room to argue, that one may construct and carry in large eiruvin even today, based on the minhag. However, as we have demonstrated, there is clearly very good reason, based on sound halachic grounds, to avoid constructing and using them today, whenever possible.
Rebuttal: This Kuntres demonstrates that the author is grasping at straws. The same halachic grounds that allow the neighborhood eruvin would allow the community wide eruv. They are both small by large city eruv standards. 

The Kuntres: C) In Lakewood today, it is generally possible to construct small local eiruvin that will allow us to enjoy the outdoors on Shabbos in a halachically "mehudar" fashion, without having to compromise our standards in any way.
Rebuttal: The larger eruv would allow even greater oneg Shabbos without any compromise since there is no halachic differences between the large and small eruvin.

The Kuntres: D) When weighing the halachic advantages of smaller eiruvin over larger ones, it seems difficult to argue, that the halachic benefits of the larger eiruvin versus smaller ones, outweigh the severe halachic limitations that are inherent to the larger eiruvin.
Rebuttal: There is no halachic advantage of smaller eruvin over larger ones in Lakewood; even the larger eruv is small by large city eruv standards.  There are clear benefits to a larger eruv as outlined in Section One, 1.

The Kuntres: E) The clear directive of, the Shulchn.n Aruch Harav, Cluzyai Adam, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, and Mishna Brura is that "a G-d fearing person should be stringent in this matter" [to consider a street a reshus horrabim even if it does not service 600,000 people]. As mentioned earlier, this directive was given even in Europe when this presented great difficulty. We can fairly assume, that the abovementioned Poskim would strongly encourage this attitude as much as possible, in our situation in Lakewood today. May we be   זוכהto be  מקיים the  mitzva of שבת  properly, and thereby be  זוכהto be mekabel .פני משיח צדקינו במהרה בימינו אמן
Rebuttal: I reiterate, the Shulchan Aruch Harav did not write these words, and these poskim would probably admit that since we now know that the overwhelming majority of Rishonim uphold the criterion of shishim ribo there is no doubt that we can rely on this fundament l’chatchilah. Moreover, these poskim would allow that we can rely on the criterion of mefulash u’mechavanim l’chatchilah. In any case, besides for establishing eruvin due to great difficulties, there are additional rationales (as I have mentioned in Section One, 1), and there are no halachic grounds to object to a community wide eruv.     
The Navi states v’karasa L’Shabbos oneg, and as the Perishah posits, the ability to utilize eruvin is a matter of oneg Shabbos.  May we be zocheh to fulfill the mitzva of oneg Shabbos properly.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Part 12 - Lakewood Eruvin: The Truth


7 š

The Kuntres: Other problems with a Large Eiruv
It is also important to stress several points that are well known to anyone who has dealt with the practicalities of constructing and maintaining a large-scale eiruv.
Rebuttal: As I mentioned in the preface, the opposition to eruvin has created an atmosphere where rabbanim are uncomfortable giving hechsherim even on neighborhood eruvin. As a matter of fact, there are much larger eruvin than the community wide Lakewood Eruv, such as in Eretz Yisroel, and most people utilize the eruv, v'ein pozeh peh umetzavtzeh.

The Kuntres: 1) Large eiruvin generally rely extensively on tzuros hapesach for the necessary enclosure. Even one damaged tzuras hapesach will generally invalidate the eiruv entirely!
Thus, the argument that a large eiruv clearly helps to reduce chillul Shabbos is far from a convincing argument. Very often, the opposite can be true. If even one damaged tzuras hapesacli goes unnoticed, large numbers of people can be mechalel Shabbos inadvertently. This is a fact that can be attested to, by anyone involved in eiruvin today. As a matter of fact, many eiruvin that have large amounts of tzuros hnpesach need some level of repair on an almost weekly basis!
[Although some eiruvin are constructed in a manner that avoid this issue, by the use of utility poles, this often comes with certain halachic leniencies upon which need to be relied].
Rebuttal: Actually, the neighborhood eruvin require much upkeep and suffer from considerable neglect. It would be much better to have one community wide eruv under one hechsher. The argument that one downed tzuras hapesach will generally invalidate the entire eruv is inane. In such a situation, even a neighborhood eruv would be nullified. Moreover, if a neighborhood eruv does not have to rely on any leniencies, so too a community wide eruv would not need to rely on leniencies.     

The Kuntres: 2) The eiruv must undergo, weekly, a thorough and professional inspection. Furthermore, a mashgiach who is well versed in the relevant halachos must be the one to conduct this inspection. A Torah scholar who is qualified for the task must be paid in a manner commensurate with his expertise, and effort. This can prove to be a formidable cost. Very often, in the long run, the eiruv inspection is given over to unpaid/unlearned volunteers. The halachic risks of this are obvious.
Rebuttal: This actually is an argument for one community wide eruv under one hechsher since it would be much easier to monitor.  In any case, the Baal Hakuntres is trying to distinguish eruvin from other hechsherim, insinuating that eruvin is some kind of unique inyan that requires special care unlike other hechsherim. In fact, there is no difference between a hechsher on eruvin and other hechsherim; they all require diligence.  

The Kuntres: 3) Last minute shailos
When making sure that the eiruv is valid for use on Shabbos, last minute shailos are asked and a pressured decision must be made. Oftentimes, kulos and halachic "bidieveds" are followed, or the decision is made to rely on a" chazakah" which may not be halachically viable.
Rebuttal: Again, this actually is an argument for one community wide eruv under one hechsher since at least it is monitored and the shailos will be observed.  Unfortunately, no shailos are asked regarding many of the neighborhood eruvin.

The Kuntres: 4) Renting from Non-Jews
A large eiruv, runs into the problem of non-Jews who live within the eiruv. In order for the eiruv to be valid, the non-Jews' property must be properly rented by the Jewish residents. In large eiruvin where it impossible to rent from them individually, some sort of rental agreement with the local government, or with local utility companies is executed. The process by which this is accomplished today is far from agreed upon by prominent Poskim, for several reasons, and is a major reason why prominent Poskim strongly encourage a ben-torah to refrain from using such eiruvin.
Rebuttal: This issue is most definitely a matter of a d’rabbanan, and thus, according to all, we employ the maxim halachah k’divrei hameikil b’eruvin. It is ironic that concerning the ability to enact these agreements, those who are machmir regarding eruvin seek stringencies, when all along we were told that the reason for their vociferous opposition was because the matter is a d’Oraysa. Apparently, the search for stringencies on the topic of eruvin is now even regarding matters of d’rabbanan. Even if it was true that these issues, “are far from agreed upon by prominent poskim,” since others disagree, we would then say halachah k’divrei hameikil b’eruvin, and can follow those poskim who are mekil.
In fact, the streets of the neighborhood eruvin also require some sort of rental agreement so bnei-Torah should refrain from using these eruvin, as well. All I can say is good luck. [It should be mentioned that a sefer will be published shortly that will set the record straight regarding these issues.]    

The Kuntres: 5) Karfef
Another problem which is prevalent in large eiruvin is the issue of "karfef', which means, that if there is an area inside the eiruv which is not available for residential use, it may invalidate the entire eiruv. For example, an area with overgrowth often presents a problem of "karfef' in large eiruvin.
Rebuttal: This is not a new issue, and to quote Rav Fishel Hershkowitz zt”l, every city in Europe had an issue with karpeifos, but the poskim always found a way to allow an eruv. As a matter of fact, some of the neighborhood eruvin also contain karpeifos.

The Kuntres: 6) Sratia Me'ir Le'ir [Intercity roads]
A final problem, which is common to many large eiruvin, is the inclusion of roads that are used to travel from city to city. According to the Ramban (ערובין נ"ט ע"ב) the authorities that are of the opinion, that a road must service 600,000 people to qualify as a reshus harrabim, are referring to a city street [which is a local travel route]. However, an intercity road [i.e. a road that is used to travel from city to city] does not need to actually service 600,000 people in order to qualify as a reshus harrabim, as it is considered an "intrinsically public road" [i.e. a road that services "all people"]
Rebuttal: As I mentioned (note 6 and 18), while some Rishonim may label a road as a sratya even though it is inside of the city limits, the Rishonim (Ramban, and Piskei Rid) who maintain that a sratya would not need to fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo clearly state that they are referring to a sratya that is an intercity road outside of the city boundaries. The few Achronim (Bais Yaakov and Yeshuos Malko) who follow these Rishonim are also referring to an actual intercity road outside of the city limits, and only those roads would not need shishim ribo traversing therein to be categorized as a reshus harabbim. However, those poskim who refer to the main road inside of the city limits as a sratya (Bais Ephraim and Avnei Nezer) uphold that it would need to fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim (besides for maybe Rav Chaim Volozhiner).
Moreover, the overwhelming majority of Rishonim and Achronim disagree with the Ramban and Tosfos Rid and maintain that there is no difference between roads inside of the city and those that are outside of the city limits: both would need to fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim.          

The Kuntres: This Ramban is brought down in Biur Halacha (סימן שמ"ה ס"ז בסו"ד) Furthermore, Rav Chaim Volozhiner [in the abovementioned recently published teshuva] says unequivocally, that "there is no room for leniency in this matter"
Rebuttal: The Ramban clearly states that a sratya is an intercity road which is not within the city limits. Hence, even if we were to pasken like the Ramban that a sratya does not require shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim, the roads in Lakewood proper would not be categorized as sratyas.  It is important to note that Rav Chaim Volozhiner most probably did not see the Ramban (we know that his talmid the Mishkenos Yaakov was made aware of the Ramban after the Bais Ephraim pointed it out to him), and if he would have seen that the Ramban said clearly that a sratya is outside of the city limits, he possibly would have agreed (while it is beyond the scope of this article, there is what to discuss regarding what Rav Chaim Volozhiner was referring to by a sratya included in the city). In any case, Rav Chaim Volozhiner would not categorize Rt. 9 as a derech hamelech/sratya, since it is not mainly used by Lakewood inhabitants for intercity travel.
[While the Baal Hakuntres mentions in his Kuntres HaDoreshes Masa'as Shabbos (vol. 2, anaf aleph; where he describes the classification of a sratya) that the Rivash maintains that a sratya is outside of the city boundaries, he fails to mention there that the Ramban, whose shita he is trying to convince the world to follow, also upholds that a sratya is outside of the city limits. Hence, it is incongruous to object to an eruv because of the Ramban’s understanding of shishim ribo and sratya, when he clearly maintains that those roads inside the city limits are not categorized as sratyas and would unquestionably require shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim.]

The Kuntres: Therefore, although there are great Poskim that rule leniently in this matter as well one cannot ignore the added seriousness involved in the decision to construct and use an eiruv on such a road, especially when there is a lack of true necessity.
Rebuttal: The Rama (357:3) maintains that a sratya even outside of a city requires shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim. We, Benei Ashkenaz, follow the Rama. The overwhelming majority of poskim uphold the Rama’s opinion, so there is no doubt that we, “rule leniently in this matter.” Furthermore, the Bais Ephraim, whose opinion regarding eruvin are the ones we rely on, clearly maintains that a sratya included in the city requires shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim.

Part 5: Rav Henkin’s Final Opinion on the Manhattan Eruv

Rav Moshe Fenstein’s Final Opinion Regarding a Manhattan Eruv Since Rav Henkin mentioned in letter six that he would follow Rav Moshe Fe...