Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Eruv Stories: A Burning Issue, Follow-Up

In Eruv Stories: A Burning Issue, I mention a story regarding Harav Mordechai Benet zt”l and the eruv in Nikolsburg. The Christian butcher Topolanski stubbornly refused to allow the [eruv] chain to be set up. This was due not so much to his own scruples, but rather because of his neighbors, who objected to the presence of this symbol of an alien belief in their proximity. It was Harav Benet who convinced Topolanski to allow the erection of a tzuras hapesach on his house by blessing him that his house would always be protected from fire.

A similar story is cited in Die Juden Und Judengemeinden Mahrens In Vergangenheit Und Gegenwart by Hugo Gold, published in 1929 (see facsimile of p. 443 below). However, the issue mentioned was not about erecting chains but only regarding eruvei techumin. He states that the neighbors objected to the sign above Topolanski’s doorway which stated in Hebrew, “Bais HaEruv”. This sign indicated that herein lay the eruv techumin and that this was the boundaries of the town. From this point onwards would begin the 2000 amos (see Pe’er Mordechai, p. 174 who cites Hugo Gold).

This version of the story is suspect. The story, as I originally posted it, was mentioned prior to 1929 in both Kovetz Kerem Shlomo (the letter was written in 1874) and Hickl's illustrierter Jüdischer Volkskalendar (1926/27). Both maintain that the story was regarding erecting a tzuras hapesach. More so, the story published in Kovetz Kerem Shlomo was written by Harav Moshe Lieb Cohen zt”l who, since he was a Dayan in Nikolsburg not long after the passing of Harav Benet, probably had more intimate knowledge of the story than the other citations. Additionally, it is more probable that Topolanski’s neighbors would object to a tzuras hapesach (which actually was a very contentious issue between Christens and Jews) then just some Hebrew words above the doorway.

However, there is a possibility that Topolanski’s house was the site of both the eruv techumin and a lechi since it was on the outskirts of the town.

Facsimile of Die Juden Und Judengemeinden Mahrens In Vergangenheit Und Gegenwart, p. 443, that mentions the story regarding the eruv in Nikolsburg.