Saturday, October 01, 2005

Part 1: The Truth About Warsaw

The fact that the city of Warsaw had an eruv is very important to the history of city eruvin since it’s population was greater than shishim ribo. Consequently, the heter to allow an eruv in Warsaw would allow us today to establish eruvin in all large cities. This explains the misinformation disseminated by the anti-eruv camp that the reason why an eruv was permitted in Warsaw was that the Wistula River split the cities population in two and that both sides had less than shishim ribo.

These are the facts:
Rav Shlomo Dovid Kahane zt”l (Divrei Menachem, O.C. vol. 2, pp. 42-43), one of the main rabbanim of Warsaw before World War II, posited that the heter to erect an eruv in a large city such as Warsaw, which was not walled from the year 1877 (Encyklopedia Warszawy, 1994 p. 187), was universally accepted as the streets were not mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar. More so, he claimed, a small city would have a greater problem establishing an eruv since its streets would be mefulash. In a small city there is usually one main street running straight through the center of the town as opposed to a large city where the streets are generally not straight from city gate to city gate. From the year 1900 Warsaw had a population of more than shishim ribo on one side of the Vistula River which divided the city in two ― the larger side known as Warsaw and the significantly smaller side known as Praga (Rocznik Statystyczny Warszawy 1921 i 1922, 1924 p. 14).