Tuesday, November 07, 2006

History of City Eruvin − Part 4: The Eruv in St. Louis

Continued from part III


Rav Jaffe set forth why he believed that an eruv could not be established in St. Louis and in any other city in America. He stated that, according to the current city survey, the population of St. Louis was greater than 600,000.[64] The city was 18 miles long and close to 12 miles wide, and the city was 150 streets lengthwise and 60 streets across its width.[65] The streets were more than 16 amos wide, and some were even up to 60 amos wide. From one side of the city, all the streets intersected Broadway [the widest street] and from the other side of the city the streets ran parallel to Broadway. Broadway and all the streets in St. Louis were mefulash from one end of the city to the other and they led into intercity highways. Rav Jaffe added that all cities in America were laid out in such a pattern.

Even if one claimed that there was no shishim ribo traversing therein daily, Rav Jaffe stated that, according to many Rishonim and Achronim, the city would still have been classified as a reshus harabbim. This is either because they did not require shishim ribo traversing the street daily or because they did not consider shishim ribo to be a condition of a reshus harabbim. More so, even those who accepted shishim ribo as a criterion of a reshus harabbim would have agreed that an intercity highway that is 16 amos wide did not require shishim ribo in order to be classified as a reshus harabbim. Therefore, Rav Jaffe stated, the only way to rectify large cities in America in order to establish an eruv would have been with delasos neulos ba’laila [doors which are closed at night] or at least reuyos linol [suitable for closing], which would have been impossible to erect since all the streets were open to the intercity highways and the trains were constantly running.

Rav Jaffe added that the streets could not even be classified as being encompassed by two mechitzos since they were open by more than 16 amos along their length and breadth; accordingly, only delasos would have sufficed. More so, according to those who did not require shishim ribo, since every street was not only open to the end of the city but was also open to the next avenue by more than 16 amos, there is no doubt that it was a reshus harabbim [and even according to those poskim who required shishim ribo bokim b’chol yom there was a possibility that they would also have considered the city a reshus harabbim since at times there was shishim ribo bokim].

An additional point set forth by Rav Jaffe was that even the Rishonim who regarded shishim ribo bokim bo as a criterion of a reshus harabbim would nevertheless have required delasos to facilitate carrying. Rashi, who was the main Rishon to uphold that shishim ribo bokim is a criterion of a reshus harabbim, nevertheless, only allowed that it removed the issur d’Oraysa [skilah and chatas] but for a heter tiltul [d'rabbanan] he would have required delasos. Rav Jaffe added that some of the largest cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago and even possibly St. Louis did, in fact, have shishim ribo traversing therein and would definitely have required delasos, according to all opinions.

Rav Jaffe continued that one should not accuse him of having only collected chumras, since he had investigated the applicability of the heterim of the Maharitats[66] and the Bais Ephraim[67] to ascertain if there could possibly not be a requirement of delasos. However, Rav Jaffe declared, the Pri Megadim[68] would have disagreed and would have required delasos. More so, he stated, the Maharitats and the Bais Ephraim might not have required that the streets be closed with delasos since there were Rishonim who maintained that two mechitzos would classify the area as a reshus hayachid and because the streets were only open from two sides. However, since the streets of St. Louis were open on all sides along their length and width, it was possible that even the Maharitats and the Bais Ephraim would have required delasos. Additionally, Rav Jaffe declared that only when it was not possible to erect delasos would the Maharitats and the Bais Ephraim, as a last resort, not have required delasos. More so, even if we could rely on the Bais Ephraim’s heterim in this situation [St. Louis], since the matter was possibly a d’Oraysa, the tzuras hapesachim were required m’dinah, and their establishment needed to be without kulos.

Because of the way the streets were laid out in American cities, Rav Jaffe argued that, according to the poskim, every street required a tzuras hapesach from one side and from the other side, either a lechi or a korah. To erect tzuras hapesachim, Rav Jaffe declared, would have been impossible because neither the populace nor the government would have allowed it.

Rav Jaffe then rebutted all of Rav Rosenfeld’s grounds for allowing an eruv in St. Louis. He refuted Rav Rosenfeld’s claim that the telegraph poles and wires could have been used as tzuras hapesachim. Telegraphs poles, Rav Jaffe declared, were not sufficient since they were classified as a tzuras hapesach min hatzad [a doorway whose lintel rests on the sides of the doorposts]. Furthermore, as the gaps between the telegraph poles and the houses were more than three tefachim, the tzuras hapesachim were not actually enclosing the area. Additionally, Rav Jaffe contested Rav Rosenfeld’s assertion that since the telegraphs lines encircled the city they were sufficient even without the houses.[69] Rav Jaffe brought support that it was not sufficient to use tzuras hapesachim to circumscribe all sides of an enclosure.

In contesting Rav Rosenfeld’s utilization of the Mississippi River for one side of the St. Louis eruv, Rav Jaffe argued that the other end of the street that led to the river required a tzuras hapesach. Furthermore, he asserted that there was a concern that the riverbanks might later be obliterated by sediment and that the river might also freeze. Moreover, there were ships and bridges that negated the riverbanks. Additionally, according to some poskim, in a city larger than beis se’asayim [five thousand square amos], riverbanks were not sufficient because they were einam mukafim l’dira [not made with the intent to sustain habitation]. Furthermore, Rav Jaffe claimed that the way the city streets were situated more than 10 amos away from the river, they required a tzuras hapesach. More so, if the rabbim [masses] traversed therein, even a gap of four tefachim needed to be rectified.

Rav Jaffe argued that the hills at the end of the city, which he had heard Rav Rosenfeld was using, were not sufficient as mechitzos. He argued that even if these hills existed, the other end of the street that led to the hills required a tzuras hapesach. Additionally, Rav Jaffe claimed the city streets were situated more than 10 amos away from the hills. More so, if a rabbim traversed therein, even a gap of four tefachim needed to be rectified. Furthermore, according to some poskim, natural walls would not be sufficient in a city that is larger than beis se’asayim because they are einam mukafim l’dira.

Despite Rav Rosenfeld’s claim that an eruv could be built in all cities in America because the streets were built on inclines,[70] Rav Jaffe asserted that none of the streets were built up 10 tefachim over a four amos area because the trolleys would not have been able to travel such inclines. Rav Jaffe added that even if there had been a street with such a gradient, it would have flattened out by the next street, and a tzuras hapesach would have been needed at the intersection. Additionally, he claimed, these inclines are einam mukafim l’dira according to the Magen Avraham.[71] Furthermore, according to the Magen Avraham,[72] if there was a rabbim traversing these inclines, we would say asu rabbim u’mevatlei mechitzta. Even though the Magen Avraham considered a rabbim to only be shishim ribo, many poskim disagree with him regarding this issue.

Consequently, Rav Jaffe argued that we could not be lenient and allow an eruv for St. Louis and other large cities in America since it was a safek d’Oraysa. All the criteria of reshus harabbim were met besides for the possibility that there was no shishim ribo traversing therein, which many Rishonim and Achronim did not accept as a criterion at all. More so, some of the large cities did have shishim ribo bokim.

Additionally, Rav Jaffe refuted Rav Rosenfeld’s claim that the roads were not considered 16 amos wide since the streets and the sidewalks were not considered one contiguous 16 amos. He argued that the sidewalks were created for the general public, and as one could not demarcate the sidewalk from the street, they must be included with the streets as one contiguous 16 amos. Additionally, Rav Jaffe added that there were streets that were 16 amos wide even without the sidewalks.

Rav Jaffe disputed Rav Rosenfeld’s argument that, even though Washington Avenue was wider than 16 amos, since there were pillars across the width of the street,[73] it was not classified as a reshus harabbim.[74] Rav Jaffe claimed that this heter only affected Washington Avenue, and since the avenue was open at its intersections to many streets that were wider than 16 amos, the heter was irrelevant. Additionally, he argued, the pillars were too far apart to be considered mechitzos.

Rav Jaffe contested, as well, Rav Rosenfeld’s claim that the manhole covers for the underground waterworks could be considered delasos when they were open, and therefore, the street was not classified as a reshus harabbim.[75] He argued that, nevertheless, the city as whole did not lose its status as a reshus harabbim.

Following the above, Rav Jaffe stated that even if St. Louis was a small city and a kosher eruv of tzuras hapesachim was established, we would still not be able to carry therein. The majority of the population in American cities was non-Jewish and even the Jewish population consisted mostly of mechalelei Shabbos so renting of the reshus would not suffice. Rav Jaffe scoffed at Rav Rosenfeld’s renting of the rights to carry in St. Louis from a policeman. He claimed that through this means Rav Rosenfeld wanted to allow the rental of the reshus for Baltimore, as well.[76] Rav Jaffe argued that the policeman was, at most, the representative of the mayor, and in a country such as ours, where the government is elected by the populace and only represents the people, the mayor and even the president himself did not have the right to evict anyone from his home. Rav Jaffe added that in this country even the privileges to the streets were shared equally by all, and the government could not remove people or change the streets as it pleased. Consequentially, even the renting of the reshus for the street would not suffice.

Rav Jaffe summarized that there were no delasos, no tzuras hapesachim, no koros, no lechayayim, no tikun reshuyos, and no sechiras reshuyos but there was a possibility of an issur skilah and kares and all would agree that there was an issur me’divrei kabalah.

He signed this teshuvah, on January 9, 1894, as the Av Bais Din of St. Louis.[77]

Rav Jaffe appended this teshuvah to a letter[78] he wrote to Rav Shmuel Salant (1815-1909),[79] Rav, Ravad of Yerushalayim regarding mikvaos. He asked for a haskamah from the rav regarding his issur on the eruv that the recently arrived rav had established since the whole foundation of Yehadus was in peril because of it, and he mentioned that other rabbanim from here [America] agreed with him as well.[80] Rav Jaffe then sent his teshuvah to his friend Rav Eliezer Zalman Grayewsky (1843-1899)[81] in Eretz Yisroel asking him for his opinion since Rav Grayewsky knew the layout of St. Louis.[82] Rav Grayewsky agreed with Rav Jaffe and declared that an eruv could not be established.[83] Rav Grayewsky published Rav Jaffe’s Sho’el Ka’inyan and included a haskamah dated [5]655[84] and his own glosses dated July 5, 1894.

Additionally, Rav Jaffe received the following haskamos:
Rav Shmuel Salant, who stated that while he did not have the time to peruse the sefer, he knew Rav Jaffe from before as a gadol b’Torah. Rav Salant added that he was delighted to know and see that in America, too, there now existed rabbanim of great scholarship. If only, he states, their numbers would increase in all the cities of America.
Rav Shaul Chaim Hurowitz (1828-1915),[85] of Yerushalayim[86] dated December 19, 1894. Rav Hurowitz mentioned that Rav Grayewsky had asked of him to examine the sefer Sho’el Ka’inyan and to comment on it. He then deliberated some points regarding other halachic issues that Rav Jaffe discussed in his sefer.
Rav Naphtali Herz HaLevi Vaidenboim (1852-1902),[87] Ravad of Yafa,[88] dated December 14, 1894. He stated that Rav Grayewsky asked him for a haskamah on the sefer Sho’el Ka’inyan. After examining the sefer Rav Vaidenboim wrote that, on the whole, he agreed with Rav Jaffe regarding the eruv. However, he disagreed with him regarding the right to rent the reshus from a policeman and even from the mayor. The mayor, Rav Vaidenboim argued, was an employee of the inhabitants of the city and renting from him was no less than renting the reshus through sechiro v’lekito [an employee or a seasonal worker] of sechiro v’lekito. He then included some points regarding additional halachic issues that Rav Jaffe had discussed in his sefer.

Next: The First St. Louis Eruv
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[64] It is very probable that Rav Jaffe was referring to the population tallies published in Gould’s St. Louis Directory which, by 1893, claimed the city’s population was 574,569. This would also explain Rav Jaffe referring to his source as a current city survey, which was issued yearly, as opposed to the census which is conducted every 10 years and only gave a figure of 452,000 for 1890. However, as we shall see further, Rav Jaffe was unsure if there actually was shishim ribo traversing therein daily (see also note 176). Moreover, the fact that Rav Jaffe argued that the population was over shishim ribo (which is even more than Gould’s for that year) must mean that he was including some of the suburbs in this tally (see following note).
[65] Since the streets of St. Louis are not all parallel to each other, it is hard to know exactly how Rav Jaffe calculated the number of streets. However, it is clear from the dimensions of the city that he presented and the number of streets that he mentioned, that Rav Jaffe also included some suburbs (see preceding note and note 176).
[66] Siman 251.
[67] O.C. siman 26-27.
[68] Aishel Avraham, siman 364:2.
[69] As we shall see, Rav Rosenfeld did not mention this argument in his Tikvas Zecharia.
[70] Ibid. See also note 153.
[71] Siman 363:39.
[72] Ibid., 40.
[73] I am not sure what purpose these pillars served, but I believe that they had something to do with a rail system that ran partway up Washington Avenue.
[74] As we shall see, Rav Rosenfeld did not mention this argument in his Tikvas Zecharia.
[75] Ibid.
[76] The mention of Baltimore was probably because at that time Rav Rosenfeld was still commuting there; see notes 33-34.
[77] Sho’el Ka’inyan, p. {12} 23.
[78] Ibid., p. 37.
[79] Author of Toras Rabenu Shmuel Salant (Yerushalayim, 1998).
[80] At this time, Rav Jaffe could only be referring to verbal agreement by the American rabbanim since the earliest haskamah published by Rav Jaffe from any rav in America was in Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom, dated from the start of 5656, and which postdated Sho’el Ka’inyan, dated 5655.
[81] Author of Ginas Egoz (Berlin, 1887); Haggadah Shel Pesach Gevul Yam (New York, 1889); Kadish Le’alam (Yerushalayim, 1891), and Siach Eliezer on Seder Hoshanos Selichos VeYotzros (Yerushalayim, 1896).
[82] In Sho’el Ka’inyan (p. 226), and in Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom (p. 28) Rav Jaffe mentioned that Rav Grayewsky had been to St. Louis. See also what Rav Grayewsky writes in ibid., p. 30.
[83] Sho’el Ka’inyan, p. {23} 45.
[84] It is interesting to note that Rav Grayewsky excused himself in his haskamah (ibid., p. 6) why he wrote comments on a sefer from a rav in America.
[85] Author of Yad Shaul on the Nachlas Dovid, vol. 1 (Vilna, 1864); Kelilas Shaul (Vilna, 1879); Mitspeh Shaul on the Nachlas Dovid, vol. 2 (Vilna, 1881), and Pri Eitz Chaim on the Bais Dovid (Yerushalayim, 1904).
[86] Formerly Rav of Dubrovno.
[87] Author of Shaar Naftali and Imrei Shefer on the Sidur HaGra (Yerushalayim, 1895); Luchos HaBris on the Shnei Luchos HaBris (Yerushalayim, 1937), and Kesef Mishnah on the Mishnas Chassidim (New York, 2006).
[88] Formerly of Bialystok.