Thursday, February 09, 2006

History of City Eruvin − Part 3: The Eruv in Krakow

Continued from part II

The Controversy

Three years after Rav Chaim Libush Horowitz published his kuntres Tikkun Eruvin (1887) supporting an eruv in Krakow, Rav Menachem Mendel Krengel published ten teshuvos in a kuntres calling it Toras Eruv (1891) where he contested, in strident, tones all of Rav Horowitz’s heterim. Rav Krengel wrote that there were karpeifos in Krakow that were not enclosed and why he considered it problematic that the Vistula River might later be obliterated by sediment and that it might also freeze. He also stated that not all the Vistula’s riverbanks were halachically sufficient and that the gates at the bridges were not adequate. He then added that the previous rabbanim who resided in Krakow never entertained the concept of using the riverbanks of the Vistula River as mechitzos ─ even though, at the time, it encircled most of the Jewish Quarters ─ and insisted on establishing a more reliable eruv. Additionally, he objected to the use of telegraph and telephone poles as tzuras hapesachim and pointed out that there were gaps in the mechitzos that were not rectified.

The Counterattack

A while later (Adar, 1892) the Bais Din of Krakow, Rav Chaim Libush Horowitz, Rav Yosef Lederberger (1826-1913), Rav Chaim Nossan Dembitzer (1820-1893), author of Klilas Yoffi, and Rav Klonimus Kalman Gutwirth (1827-1902) issued a proclamation (see below) condemning the kuntres Toras Eruv. The Bais Din protested that more then four years had passed since they permitted the carrying on Shabbos in Krakow together with Rav Tzvi Hersh Rappaport zt”l (1811-1891) and now someone published a kuntres full of lies and misquotes. They refuted the kuntres point by point and mirrored its strident tone. They declared that the author’s [Rav Krengel’s] claim that there were pirtzos more then ten amos wide that were not rectified showed that he misunderstood which mechitzos they were using as the boundaries of the eruv. They stated that not only were pirtzos more then ten amos wide rectified, even pirtzos less than ten amos were corrected. Additionally, they pointed out that the author didn’t understand which mechitzos they had made use of to rectify the bridges. More so, Rav Krengel’s critique that the preceding rabbanim of Krakow never used the Vitsula as a mechitzah was totally off the mark. They explained that previously the Jewish Quarter, which was comprised of only a few streets, was totally encompassed by ramparts so there was no need to rely on the Vistula River. Currently, Jews were allowed to reside in the entire city of Krakow and therefore there was a need to include the complete city within an eruv. That is why they utilized the Vistula River. Additionally, a letter was appended to the proclamation that Rav Horowitz received from the Av Bais Din of Warsaw, Rav Shmuel Zanvil Klepfish (1820-1902), where he declares that they [the Chidushei HaRim and other rabbanim of Warsaw] sought as many kulos as were needed to establish the Warsaw eruv. They were not concerned if the karpeifos were themselves encompassed and that they were not troubled that the Vistula River (which ran through Warsaw as well) might freeze.

The Rebuttal

That same year (Sivan, 1892) Rav Krengel reprinted his kuntres Toras Eruv (calling it Toras Eruvin) and added to his first teshuvos a refutation (siman 11) of the above mentioned proclamation. He claimed that in the last hundred years since the time the government had allowed the Jews to live in all sections of Krakow, the poskim who were alive at the time could have made use of Rav Horowitz’s heterim and didn’t because they were problematic. More so, Rav Krengel alleged that the authorities did not remove the tzuras hapesachim because someone asked permission to erect tzuras hapesachim as Rav Horowitz had claimed. It was because Rav Horowitz sought to demonstrate his abilities as a posek, to fashion all kinds of heterim without utilizing tzuras hapesachim, and for that reason alone he didn’t allow the authorities to agree to the erection of tzuras hapesachim. Rav Krengel added that if Rav Horowitz would have wanted to he could have convinced the authorities to allow them to reinstate the tzuras hapesachim. He declared that the bridges and the pirtzos were not rectified as Rav Horowits claimed and that there were areas of the Vistula’s riverbanks that still need rectification. Furthermore, Rav Krengel stated, he was informed that the karpeifos of Warsaw were enclosed so no evidence could be inferred from Rav Klepfish’s letter.

Additionally, he stated that these Dayanim in Krakow, Rav Akiva Kornitzer (1838-1892); Rav Chaim Gold (1906); Rav Yosef Damesek (1810-1893), author of Kesav Yad; Rav Meir Rappaport (1849-1921), and Rav Yosef Yehuda Zucker (1826-1906) knew the parameters of Krakow very well and had agreed with his ruling that the eruv was flawed. He then added that although most of Rav Horowitz’s supporters were his family members, even one of his relatives, Rav Aryeh Leib Horowitz (1847-1909), Av Bais Din of Stryj (and later of Stanislav) and author of Harei B’samim, did not consent to his heterim. Moreover, Rav Krengel alleged that even the rabbanim who signed on the proclamation supporting Rav Horowitz admitted to him that they had not perused both Tikkun Eruvin and Toras Eruv and therefore their signature was of no value.

Rav Krengel asserted that Rav Yehoshua Horowitz (1848-1913), Av Bais Din of Dzikow and author of Ateres Yehoshua; Rav Shlomo Halberstam (1847-1905), Av Bais Din of Vizhnitsa (later of Bobov), and Rav Yisroel Yehuda Neuman (1808-1888), author of Machnah Yisroel, refused to acknowledge Rav Horowitz’s teshuvos regarding the eruv. Additionally, Rav Krengel published responsa (siman 12) written to him by these poskim: Rav Chaim Yehuda Litvin (1842-1903), Av Bais Din of Smorgone and author of Sha'arei Dayah, who stated that an eruv of tzuras hapesachim should be reinstated and that Rav Horowitz was relying on too many kulos. Rav Akiva Kornitzer (1838-1892), Ravad of Krakow and author of Teshuvos Rav Akiva Kornitzer, agreed with all of Rav Krengel’s criticism. Rav Yaacov Weidenfeld (1840-1894), Av Bais Din of Grimalov and author of Kochav Me’Yaakov, declared that he did not support the eruv; however, he stated that since the Stanislaver, his rebbe, supported the eruv he couldn’t oppose the eruv either. Rav Yitzchok Schmelkes (1828–1906), Av Bais Din of Przemysl and author of Bais Yitzchok, declared that since he did not want to be involved in the machlokas, he did not respond to Rav Horowitz’s kuntres and that he understood there was no reason to because he had been told that the more observant did not follow his rulings. Rav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam (1813-1899), Av Bais Din of Shinev and author of Divrei Yechezkel, stated that the tzuras hapesachim had to be re-established and that there was no way to allow this eruv since there were pirtzos of ten amos. Rav Shalom Mordechai Schwadron (1835–1911), Av Bais Din of Brezan and author of Mharsham, after discussing both sides of the controversy stated that since according to Rav Krengel’s allegations there were pirtzos of ten amos, there is no way to allow this eruv. Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor (1817-1896), Av Bais Din of Kovno and author of Be'er Yitzchak, stated that he agreed in principle with Rav Krengel and had some comments to add, but was unable to write a more extensive teshuvah since he was physically weak and especially since he was removed from the situation. Rav Yisroel Isser Shapira (1894), Av Bais Din of Mezritsh and author of Ezras Yisroel, declared that he agreed with Rav Krengel and that the tzuras hapesachim should be reinstated. Rav Krengel concluded his kuntres (siman 13) with suggestions on how to rectify the eruv even if it would not be possible to return the tzuras hapeaschim.

Next: Analysis of the Controversy

Page 1 of the proclamation (1892) disseminated in support of the eruv in Krakow by Rav Chaim Libush Horowitz and his Bais Din as a counterattack to Rav Menachem Mendel Krengel’s kuntres Toras Eruv which sharply criticized the eruv.

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