Friday, August 26, 2005

Part 1: Why is Eruvin Different From Any Other Issue that it Elicits Such a Visceral Response?

Eruvin is different then other halachic issues in one significant aspect. Eruvin more than any other issue vests a certain amount of centralized power to the baal ha’machsher. People publicly carrying in a rav’s eruv is a clear sign of the posek’s influence and support in the community, unlike relying on the rav’s hechsher on food, which is a more private matter. Consequently, there are people who find it incumbent upon themselves not to allow an eruv to be established, and insist that their rav’s opinion is the only one that can be followed. If one were to follow the history of eruvin in cities where there was no central governing rav or Bais Din, they would find that machlokas often erupted as a result of this desire for dominance in community affairs [Krakow 1888, St. Louis 1895, Odessa 1900, New York 1905 to the present, Manchester 1906, Frankfurt am Main 1914, and London 1932 to the present]. Otherwise, eruvin would generate the same level of reaction as say a mikveh, where every individual just follows the p’sak of his own rav.