Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Part 3: The Truth About Warsaw

Continued from The Truth About Warsaw part: II

On the Los Angeles eruv website it states that Rav Gustman zt"l was asked, “How did Warsaw continue to keep their Eruv, even after the population there grew, and exceeded 600,000. He answered that Warsaw did not have main streets like Paris or Brooklyn, wherein there were 600,000 people from all around using those streets. Warsaw expanded in a manner that the people from the various parts of the city did not use any single streets, and rather each neighborhood used the adjacent streets. At the time there were no cars or wide streets, hence no major thoroughfares used by 600,000 people.”

This story in the name of Rav Gustman zt”l is not credible. The fact is that Rav Shlomo Dovid Kahane zt”l, one of the main rabbanim of Warsaw before World War II, wrote (Divrei Menachem, O.C. vol. 2, pp. 42-43) that in Warsaw they didn’t want to rely on the criterion of shishim ribo at all (however he maintained that they relied on the universally accepted criterion of mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar). Additionally, the story is questionable since there were trains and trolleys in Warsaw and those streets were heavily trafficked by commuters from other parts of the city (there were two bridges that crossed from Warsaw to Praga and people used to commute both ways there as well). Consequently, there is no difference between Warsaw and our cities and if an eruv was allowed in Warsaw there is no reason not to allow an eruv in Brooklyn as well (see also The Overwhelming Majority of Achronim Maintain That the Shishim Ribo has to Traverse the Street Itself).