Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Boulder, CO 3

Council Passes Eruv Lease

Cowles Objects that People Weren't Informed of Religious Boundary

By Ryan Morgan

A plan to build a Jewish religious boundary in central Boulder hit a speed bump Tuesday night, but the Boulder City Council still offered its blessing.

Some members of the Boulder City Council took issue with the proposal to grant a lease to Congregation Aish Kodesh to build an eruv, or religious boundary.

After lengthy debate, the council voted 5-2 to approve the eruv. Read on ...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Boulder, CO 2

Boundary May Simplify Boulder Jews' Sabbath

Council May Grant Lease Allowing Right-of-way for Eruv

By Ryan Morgan

An Orthodox Jewish congregation in Boulder is just a few regulatory hurdles away from having an easier Sabbath.

On Tuesday night, the Boulder City Council will consider whether to grant a lease to the Congregation Aish Kodesh to build an eruv, or religious boundary. Orthodox Jews are forbidden on the Sabbath from doing any sort of work outside the home — including mundane tasks like carrying a wallet in a pocket or carrying a child. An eruv provides a large, unbroken boundary inside which people can go about their business on the Sabbath. Read on ...

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Letter to the Editor

The following is my letter to the editor which appears in the current issue of Mishpacha [November 21, 2007]. It was written in response to the article Beaver Hats and Brownstones [November 7, 2007].

Dear Sir,

As an avid reader from the get go, I would like to take this opportunity to commend you for publishing a wonderful magazine. I know I can always count on Mishpacha to provide balanced coverage on a wide variety of topics. That is why I was taken aback when I read your recent cover story about Williamsburg (November 7, 2007; page 6) where you drew parallels between the religiosity of Bnei Brak and Jerusalem with that of Williamsburg, and compared the current anti-eruv vigilantism of a few individuals with that of prewar Williamsburg Rabbis Chaim Gelb and Baruch Kaplan, “who would vocally stand up for Shabbos.”

The analogy is totally off the mark. Chillul Shabbos in prewar Williamsburg was universally accepted as a legitimate concern, while the contemporary eruv issue is at the most a machlokas haposkim. There is no requirement for one to be mocheh when others are following their rabbanim who allow carrying. As a matter of fact, the eruv is supported and used by the foremost posek in America, Harav Fischel Hershkowitz shlita.

The rabbi you describe as a, “proponent of a machlokas l’sheim Shamayim, [who] fervently believe[s] that any eruv subscriber is a mechallel Shabbos,” is not just, “taking to task those Jews who accept the Williamsburg eruv.” He has physically attacked people carrying and has even been arrested for harassment. I hardly think that this is the paradigm of one who campaigns l’sheim Shamayim that you seek to promote in your fine publication.

It’s ironic that Bnei Brak and Jerusalem — areas that are known for their kanaus l’sheim Shamayim — are, hallachically, no different than Williamsburg, yet the overwhelming majority of observant Yiden who carry in the eruvin there never encounter such vigilantism. Carriages are not overturned and the women pushing them are not verbally harassed. This clearly demonstrates that the motive for this vigilantism is not l’sheim Shamayim.

This is not the venue for a detailed discussion regarding the underlying issue of the Williamsburg eruv. Suffice it to say, it’s clearly a power struggle and has little to do with halachah.



Saturday, November 17, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Lancaster, PA

New Eruv Will Allow Orthodox Jews to Carry

By James Buescher

Lancaster, PA - It's a treasured part of Scripture for Jews: the story of the Israelites, after having escaped slavery in Egypt, depending on God for a mysterious biblical food called manna. Read on ...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Manchester, England 2

Another Eruv on the Way for Manchester

By Nathan Jeffay

Plans are afoot to establish an eruv in the Greater Manchester town of Whitefield.

Whitefield Hebrew Congregation has “a route and a scheme” for a religious boundary that would permit Orthodox Jews to carry certain items on Shabbat, its minister Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag has told the JC. Read on...

Friday, November 02, 2007

History of City Eruvin − Part 5: The Eruv in St. Louis

Continued from part IV

The First St. Louis Eruv

In 1896, Rav Zecharia Yosef Rosenfeld published his arguments for an eruv in a kuntres called Tikvas Zecharia.[89] He stated in his preface:[90] I was driven out of the country in which I was born by the fury of my oppressor,[91] a country where Torah and greatness completely enveloped me. I arrived in this country and observed that even many of the religious Jews permitted carrying on the Shabbos [without an eruv]. A religious Jew, a Jew for whom all is holy, is not embarrassed to carry his tallis to shul in public and then to wrap himself in it during prayer. I said to myself, what could I do for the sake of my people, to remove this major sin? If I raise my voice in public to express the severity of the prohibition, I know very well that my words will not make an impact because people have already become accustomed to carrying. Furthermore, the many preachers of this country have used all the means at their disposal to rebuke the public, yet they have been unsuccessful and their words have been ignored.

Rav Rosenfeld then stated: When I was appointed as the Rav of the Agudas HaKehilos of St. Louis, I wasted no time, and I examined the configuration of the city and labored over the halachic issues. Baruch Hashem, I found that there is an acceptable way to permit carrying in St. Louis on Shabbos. He then added that he hoped that others would be energized to do likewise in all communities, to seek an acceptable means to permit carrying in order to remove this major sin.

Since a proposal to establish an eruv had never before been implemented in this country,[92] Rav Rosenfeld sent his kuntres to Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor (1817-1896)[93] Av Bais Din of Kovno to secure a haskamah. Rav Spektor answered that it was difficult for him to be involved from such a great distance in a complicated halachic issue like this since he was unfamiliar with the configuration of American cities. Rav Spektor directed Rav Rosenfeld to turn to Rav Yaakov Yosef Josef, Chief Rabbi of New York, for a haskamah since he would be more familiar with the cities of America. Rav Rosenfeld stated that he followed this suggestion and indeed secured a haskamah from the Chief Rabbi. He then signed and dated the preface as the Rav of the Agudas HaKehilos of St. Louis on Feb 24 (or April 20), 1896.

In his introduction, Rav Rosenfeld cited the Chasam Sofer[94] who declared that it was common sense and an obligation to rectify the chatzeiros and the mevo’os in order to permit carrying as it is known that issurei Shabbos are severe. Those who did not observe Shabbos were considered as if they denied the entire Torah, and included in this was the proscription of carrying. Moreover, we were commanded to educate the children not to become accustomed to chilul Shabbos. However, it was not possible for the public to ensure that members of their household did not leave their houses without carrying something. The Chasam Sofer continued that it was the responsibility of the rabbanim to rectify their city, and if not, they would have to account for it.

Rav Rosenfeld then added that it was only Bais Din and not the inhabitants of the mavoi who could compel one to contribute for the mechitzos and the eruvei chatzeiros. He cited the Behag[95] that there was a requirement to establish an eruv of tzuras hapesachim for a city. Rav Rosenfeld then argued that the duty of a rav, whether or not he received wages from the community, definitely included the responsibility of establishing an eruv.

Rav Rosenfeld cited the Rosh[96] who commanded the leader of the city Freres, who refused to establish an eruv, to rectify the streets of his city in order that carrying be permitted on Shabbos.

Therefore, Rav Rosenfeld declared that it was incumbent upon him to inspect the perimeter of the city of St. Louis in order to find a heter to rectify the city so that carrying would be permitted on Shabbos.

Chapter One – Citing support for his opposition to the Masa'as Binyamin,[97] Rav Rosenfeld argued that most poskim did accept the criterion of shishim ribo as a fundament of a reshus harabbim, including Tosfos. Rav Rosenfeld added the Eshkol, Piskei Rid, and HaAgur to the Bais Ephraim’s list of Rishonim who maintained that shishim ribo is a criterion of a reshus harabbim.[98]

Additionally, Rav Rosenfeld, in support of the Bais Ephraim, cited Rashi[99] who clarified that the reason why Machane Levi'ah was a reshus harabbim was because it was where Klall Yisroel assembled to hear Torah from Moshe Rabbainu. Rav Rosenfeld argued that even though Machane Levi'ah was the main reshus harabbim since Yidden came from the entire diglei hamidbar to Machane Levi'ah, it was prohibited to carry in all the streets in the diglei hamidbar. Consequently, Rav Rosenfeld argued, even according to those who posited that it was sufficient to classify a street which supported shishim ribo as a reshus harabbim, at least one street actually needed to contain shishim ribo traversing therein. Only then, according to Rashi, would all the streets leading to it be considered as supporting shishim ribo and, therefore, they would be classified as a reshus harabbim.

Section One – Rav Rosenfeld maintained that even though we included all the inhabitants of the city towards shishim ribo – since all the streets opened into each other – if a karmelis such as a roofed area bisected the city, we would not tally the now divided population as a unified total to render the city a reshus harabbim.[100]

Section Two – In Rav Rosenfeld’s opinion, the telegraph lines which bisected the city created a roofed area through the principle of lavud [we view objects within three tefachim of each other as if they are halachically connected] because their wires were spaced less than three tefachim apart on crossarms that projected more than an amah on both sides of the poles. Consequentially, the streets beneath them would be classified as a karmelis, and the city was bisected into parts of less than shishim ribo.

Chapter Two – Notwithstanding the platyas contained therein, Rav Rosenfeld upheld that a city encompassed by mechitzos would be classified as a reshus hayachid since, as a result, the platyas were not mefulash.

Chapter Three – Rav Rosenfeld mentioned that many of the Gedolei Achronim maintained that the mechitzos were not negated even at the time when the river froze over. He then argued that water did halachically negate the riverbanks; only the riverbanks that were above the water line could be used as mechitzos.[101]

Chapter Four – An additional concern discussed by Rav Rosenfeld was that the riverbanks may later be obliterated by a build-up of sediment.

Chapter Five – Rav Rosenfeld cited the Shoel U’Maishiv[102] who maintained that telegraph lines served as halachic tzuras hapesachim. He then disputed the Toras Chesed’s four reasons why telegraph lines were not considered halachic tzuras hapesachim:[103] 1) Rav Rosenfeld advocated that wires affixed to the top of the crossarms were not considered tzuras hapesach min hatzad. [Additionally, he declared that he only made use of telegraph lines where the wires were affixed to insulators fastened to crossarms that were attached to the top of the poles.] 2) He demonstrated that the poskim would have allowed that a structure meant to resemble a doorway could serve as a tzuras hapesach even if not expressly constructed as one [as opposed to an area requiring only minimal rectification ― a heker]. Additionally, the fact that telegraph wires, in order to allow passage beneath them, were intentionally placed high up on poles, which were never placed in middle of the street but only on the corners, proves that they were designed to allow free passage beneath them. 3) He argued that we were not concerned that the distance between the telegraph poles and the houses was more than three tefachim because the poles were running along the sidewalk, parallel to the streets. Since the opening between the telegraph poles and the houses was only on the side, Rav Rosenfeld stated that that the gap could be up to 10 amos wide. Additionally, Rav Rosenfeld noted that in a situation where the telegraph lines and the mechitzos were joined together without any gaps between them, it did not concern us that there were gaps between the poles and the houses. 4) He maintained that only when the tzuras hapesachim were less than three tefachim apart was there a dispute that this was not the way a doorway is constructed. In fact, the telegraph poles were more than four tefachim apart.

Additionally, Rav Rosenfeld noted that the crossarms on the telegraph poles projected more than an amah on each side, and the wires generally were spaced less than three tefachim apart on the crossarms. Therefore, he reasoned, since we view the space between the wires as halachically connected through lavud, we could then apply the principle of pi tikra yored v’sosem [we regard the edge of a roof as extending downwards, forming a legitimate partition], and the telegraph lines could be regarded as mechitzos.

Chapter Six – Rav Rosenfeld stated: 1) That he disagreed with Rav Akivah Eiger[104] and maintained that the renting of the reshus through sechiro v’lekito was effective for an observant Jew. 2) Rav Rosenfeld argued that, even according to Rav Akivah Eiger, sechiro v’lekito was effective for a non-Shomer Shabbos Jew.

Chapter Seven – According to the Teshuvos Rivash,[105] Rav Rosenfeld stated it was possible to contract sechiras reshus from the city’s mayor because he could place objects in the homes of the city’s residents as he pleased. Another rationale cited by the Rivash was that, since the mayor had the authority to alter the major thoroughfares as he pleased and to offer the residents an alternative route, he obviously had the right to remove all the non-Jews from the thoroughfares. Since he may expel them, he may sell their jurisdictions over the streets as well. The Rivash noted that the second reason did not suffice to permit carrying into the streets from the houses that belonged to the non-Jews. He therefore concluded that, in order to satisfy both reasons, it was best to refrain from carrying in and out of the houses of non-Jews and to limit one’s carrying to taking objects from houses owned by Jews into the streets and vice versa.

Citing the Pri Megadim[106] Rav Rosenfeld wrote that, as far as we are concerned, each reason is sufficient by itself. Therefore, when the mayor was authorized to quarter soldiers in private homes, one was allowed to carry even to and from non-Jewish homes. If, however, the mayor was not authorized to do so, one was only permitted to carry into the streets from Jewish homes. Thus, according to the laws of this country that authorized the authorities to condemn private homes in order to construct roads, marketplaces, or for other public benefit when they deem necessary, the Rivash’s second reason allowed carrying even into the streets from non-Jewish homes.

Rav Rosenfeld continued that, according to the laws of this country, magistrates could issue warrants allowing the police to enter any house. Detectives might enter houses even without the knowledge of homeowners. The officials in charge of hygiene and health might enter any house at any time to inspect the cleanliness, the water pipes and other matters, and then require the homeowners to work and fix any violations in accordance with their directives. If the homeowner did not fulfill their directives, they might send workers with tools into the homes to make the necessary repairs at the owner’s expense. If he did not reimburse the authorities, they had the right to sell his house. According to Rav Rosenfeld this suggested that one might contract the sechiras reshus from the mayor of the city. Furthermore, since the officials, the police officers, and all the city authorities involved in municipal matters such as preventing harm, maintaining roads and preserving sanitation, were not appointed by the government but were rather elected by the inhabitants of the city who, in turn, are the sole sources of their salaries, the municipal authorities and workers were thus no less than sechiro v’lekito of the inhabitants of the city, or at the very least, they should be considered sechiro v’lekito of sechiro v’lekito.[107]

Continued here.
[89] Preface p. {6}. Rav Jaffe later claimed that the rabbanim of Yerushalayim had seen Rav Rosenfeld’s Tikvas Zecharia, vol. 2 (Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom, p. 2). Consequentially, Tikvas Zecharia, vol. 2 must have been published prior to their haskama on Rav Jaffe’s Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom which is dated June 28, 1896 (ibid., p. {2} 3). However, I am not convinced that they actually saw Rav Rosenfeld’s kuntres at all; see further Analysis of the Halachic Debate.
[90] Page {3}.
[91] See note 31.
[92] See note 56.
[93] Author of Be'er Yitzchak (Konigsberg, 1858); Ein Yitzchak, vol. 1 (Vilna, 1889), vol. 2 (1895), and Nachal Yitzchak, vol. 1 (Vilna, 1872), vol. 2 (1884).
[94] O.C. siman 99.
[95] Hilchos Eruvin, Perek Hador.
[96] Klal 21, siman 8.
[97] Siman 92.
[98] This was the first teshuvah to mention that, besides for the Bais Ephraim’s list, there are additional Rishonim who support shishim ribo. By 1906, Rav Rosenfeld’s addition was being quoted by others; see Rav Avraham Aharon Yudelovitch, Bais Av (2:5:2). As Rav Rosenfeld sent a query to Rav Yudelovitch (ibid., 3:30), I would venture to say that he sent him his kuntres as well (see also notes 100, 110). How else can we explain how Rav Rosenfeld’s kuntres reached Rav Yudelovitch who was in Manchester at the time?
[99] Shabbos, 96b.
[100] This chiddush in the name of Rav Rosenfeld was mentioned, as well, by the Bais Av (2:5:10) who did not agree with him. See the article by Rav Avraham Aharon Price regarding the Toronto eruv in HaPardes (25th year, vol. 4 pp. 11-38) where he defends Rav Rosenfeld (p. 21); see also notes 98, 110.
[101] Rav Rosenfeld extensively reworked this chapter at a later date. Hence some editions are paginated as folios with a different type from pp. 13-18 (see Hebrew Printing in America 1735-1926, p. 974). See also note 167.
[102] Mahadura Kama, 2:88.
[103] O.C. siman 9.
[104] Gilyon HaShas, Eruvin 80a.
[105] Siman 427.
[106] Mishbetzes Zahav, siman 391:6.
[107] I have cited many of Rav Rosenfeld’s arguments regarding sechirus reshus as they are pertinent to contemporary American eruvin. Besides for some of my own insertions, the above translation regarding sechirus reshus [chapter 7] were taken from The Contemporary Eruv (2002), p. 115.

Title page of Rav Rosenfeld’s kuntres attesting to the permissibility of the St. Louis eruv.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eruvin in the News: NW London 2

Eruv Tempts Synagogue to Relocate

By Simon Rocker

Finchley Central Synagogue is considering moving to a location that would enable its congregants to use the North-West London eruv.

The current premises of the 120-member Federation community in Redbourne Avenue lie only a couple of hundred yards outside the eruv. Read on ...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Sunnyside, Queens 2

Synagogue's Fishing Line Helps Lure Orthodox Jews

By John Lauinger

The Synagogue Young Israel of Sunnyside once had so many worshipers in the 1960s that it had to rent extra space to handle its Rosh Hashanah celebration.

But as time passed, the fortunes of the Orthodox congregation changed dramatically. Its membership, once more than 200, fell by more than half, and those who remained worshiped without a rabbi for more than 20 years.

Now, Young Israel celebrates Rosh Hashanah, which started yesterday, in the midst of a rebirth, having recently welcomed several young families into its ranks.

That revival is due in part to the lure of thousands of yards of religiously symbolic fishing line, which could be a crucial element in attracting young Orthodox families to Sunnyside. Read on...

Eruvin in the News: Manalapan, NJ

Synagogue Granted Final Approval for Special Area

By Kathy Baratta

Manalapan - There had been whispers of controversy, all unfounded and unnecessary, according to Rabbi Chaim Veshnefsky.

Veshnefsky, of the Jewish Learning Center Community Synagogue, Pine Brook Road, told Greater Media Newspapers that he and about 25 of his congregants had come to the Township Committee's Sept 5 meeting to thank the entire governing body for passing a resolution that he said will assist Manalapan's orthodox Jews on their way to prayer. Read on...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

K’siva V’Chasima Tova

I would like to wish my readers a k’siva v’chasima tova and a gut gebentchte yahr. Hashem yemaleh kol mishalos lebecha l’tova.

As the new year dawns, it is my fervent wish that we merit the clarity of vision to see beyond our differences, so that together we may be zocheh to greet Moshiach speedily in our days.

Remember to make an eruv tavshilin.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Specious Arguments Made in the Name of the Mishnah Berurah

Part of an ongoing commentary on the bias against city eruvin.

The argument: The Mishnah Berurah chose to follow the Mishkenos Yaakov’s shitah (that most Rishonim do not accept shishim ribo as a criterion) over the Bais Ephraim’s, and therefore we should not accept shishim ribo as a criterion of a reshus harabbim.

The rebuttal:
● Major poskim have stated that it is obvious that the Mishnah Berurah did not see the Bais Ephraim, and had he seen it, he would not have accepted the Mishkenos Yaakov’s opinion so readily (Toldos Shmuel, 3:81:7, 3:86:8; Bais Av, 2:5:2; Divrei Yatziv, 2:173:1, and Even Yisroel, 8:36).

Some have argued that it is presumptuous to assume that had the Mishnah Berurah seen the Bais Ephraim, he would have changed his mind.
This is incorrect for the following reasons:
○ As mentioned, great poskim have argued this point.
○ The fact is the Mishnah Berurah mentions the Bais Ephraim’s other sefarim [Sharei Ephraim, Mateh Ephraim] extensively, so the question begs why didn’t he at least mention that the Bais Ephraim disagrees with the Mishkenos Yaakov? The answer is that the above mentioned poskim were correct because the Mishnah Berurah himself stated that he didn’t have the Shu”t Bais Ephraim (Bi’ur Halachah 208:9, s.v. Eino M’Vorech).

The argument: It’s not that the Mishnah Berurah disagreed with the Bais Ephraim and the overwhelming majority of poskim who accepted shishim ribo, he just maintained that a Baal Nefesh should not rely on the criterion of shishim ribo.

The rebuttal:
● The overwhelming majority of poskim accepted shishim ribo as a criterion of a reshus harabbim and allowed that even a Baal Nefesh could rely on it.

The argument: The Mishnah Berurah knew the Rishonim on both sides of the machlokas (for and against shishim ribo) and yet chose to be stringent.

The rebuttal:
● Many of the Gaonim and Rishonim mentioned here, The Overwhelming Majority of Rishonim Maintain that Shishim Ribo is a Criterion of a Reshus Harabbim, were not included in the Mishnah Berurah’s own list since they were published after the Mishnah Berurah was printed. Clearly the Mishnah Berurah did not know all the Rishonim who accepted shishim ribo as a criterion of reshus harabbim.

Some have argued that even if the Mishnah Berurah would have known that the overwhelming majority of Rishonim maintain that shishim ribo is a criterion, he would nevertheless not have accepted it as a fundament of a reshus harabbim.
This is incorrect for the following reason:
○ The Mishnah Berurah was utilizing the Mishkenos Yaakov’s argument that since the majority of Rishonim objected to shishim ribo, we can’t accept it as a fundament of a reshus harabbim. However, at this time, we know the reverse is true; the overwhelming majority of Rishonim accept shishim ribo as a criterion. Consequentially, by the Mishinah Berurah’s own argument, there is no reason to believe he would not recognize shishim ribo as a criterion of a reshus harabbim.

For additional reasons why a Brooklyn eruv would be acceptable to the Mishnah Berurah please see the following posts: Part 1: According to the Mishnah Berurah, May a Baal Nefesh Carry in an Eruv of Tzuras HaPesachim? and Part 2: According to the Mishnah Berurah, May a Baal Nefesh Carry in an Eruv of Tzuras HaPesachim? .

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eruvin in the News: New York, NY 6

New Eruv Constructed in Midtown

By Hilly Krieger

The Beren campus has been included within the boundaries of a new eruv erected in Manhattan earlier this summer, an endeavor involving a host of Yeshiva University administrators and rabbis.

The project, which was largely funded by SCW’s Office of the Dean, required much complicated construction and was closely monitored to ensure that it was built according to the highest standards of halakha. The initiative is expected to drastically improve the quality of Shabbatot on campus, as carrying will now be permitted in the vicinity.

Efforts to erect the eruv were initiated two years ago by Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, in conjunction with Machon L'horaa, led by Rabbi Shraga Klien of Monsey, who will inspect it on a weekly basis. Read on...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Dallas, TX

Rabbi's Weekly Maintenance Keeps Faithful in Line

By Harriet P. Gross

Suppose you're an Orthodox Jew, upholding in daily life all your faith's many traditions. Sabbath worship is high on the list. But "work" isn't permitted on that holy day, and today's Judaism counts driving as work. So you'll choose a home within walking distance of your synagogue.

However, you're faced with another dilemma: "transferring and transporting from domain to domain" – moving anything from one place to another – can't be done either. So you're not able to push your baby's stroller or carry an umbrella if it's raining. When you'd like to accept a neighbor's invitation for lunch after services, you can't contribute a cake or casserole from home. What's left but to stay home yourself? Read on...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Manchester, England

Manchester Plans Eruv

By Bernard Josephs

Moves are afoot to set up the first official eruv outside London.

The plan under discussion in north Manchester would provide a notional boundary within which Orthodox Jews would be able to carry certain items on Shabbat. Read on...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Sunnyside, Queens

A Slender Thread to Knit a Neighborhood

By Jake Mooney

Looking north from the 46th Street platform of the elevated No. 7 train in Sunnyside, Queens, visitors can see the Oki Japanese Restaurant, the offices of the Turkish American Multicultural Educational Foundation, the Colombian bakery El Buen Sabor and an Irish pub called McGuinness’s.

A block away on 43rd Avenue, the Young Israel of Sunnyside synagogue is relatively inconspicuous in this cultural mixing bowl. It occupies space in the basement of a brick apartment building, with only a green awning and a small sign on the door to identify it. Read on...

Eruvin in the News: New York City

Want to Set Up an Eruv? First, Call the D.O.T.

By Jake Mooney

If you’re an Orthodox Jew and you want to put up an eruv, a zone where rules against carrying things in public on the Sabbath are relaxed, you might be wise to consult a panel of scholars and experts to help keep you on the right side of thousands of years of Jewish law and tradition.

Rabbi Yonah Levant, the spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Sunnyside synagogue in Queens, did just that during the months of planning for his congregation’s new eruv, going up any day now, that I wrote about for this Sunday’s City section.But if, like Rabbi Levant, you want an eruv within the five boroughs, the city’s Department of Transportation has some rules of its own. You’ve seen the Hebrew National hot dog commercials: “We answer to a higher authority”? This is sort of like the opposite. The department is less concerned with your moral good standing than with protecting the city from liability, and its residents and light poles from errant wires.

“Coordinating the eruv application process allows us to ensure that any future construction projects take into account the existence of the eruv’s wires,” said Ted Timbers, a spokesman for hte department. He said it also gives the city “the ability to inform the community that they may have to be temporarily moved during the construction.”

The department sends interested parties a packet of paperwork that includes two-and-a-half single-spaced pages of eruv regulations and a self-certification letter in which applicants promise to pay all costs and expenses associated with the eruv, absolve the city from any legal responsibility for it, and concede that the City can take it down at any time. Read on...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Specious Arguments Made in the Name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l Against an Eruv in Brooklyn: Part 2

Continued from part I

Part of an ongoing commentary on the bias against city eruvin.

The argument: The map of the mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn illustrates that we make use of mechitzos habatim between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. However, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l does not agree that mechitzos habatim are halachically valid.

The rebuttal:

We are not required to enclose the fourth side of Brooklyn with mechitzos at all. Three mechitzos omed merubeh al haparutz would classify an area as a reshus hayachid me’d’Oraysa, and Rav Moshe does not argue on this.
Mechitzos habatim are mechitzos l’kol hadeios. Rav Moshe’s only issue with them was regarding the Chazon Ish’s chiddush utilizing the halachic omed as a mechitzah. Accordingly, we can make use of mechitzos habatim; however, we are utilizing the mechitzos encompassing the Brooklyn waterfront on three sides, which do not consist of batim, and Rav Moshe would definitely not have had an issue with them.
The only reason we indicate on the map that there are mechitzos habatim on the fourth side of Brooklyn, is because there is a daas yachid that would require pasei bira’os, hence we can make use of the mechitzos habatim on the fourth side. Thus, even according to those who want to be stringent in all matters pertaining to eruvin, our mechitzos would suffice, since the batim connect the pasim b’kav echad.

The argument: In Seagate, the fact that Rav Moshe needed to rely on tzuras hapesachim on the side facing the water indicates that the mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn were not sufficient.

The rebuttal:

The mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn include gates at the waterfront and the mechitzos enclosing private property. The Sea Gate mechitzos that Rav Moshe utilized on three sides to enclose the town are those that are being used for the Brooklyn mechitzos and not the mechitzos facing the water.
Because Seagate utilized existing mechitzos on three sides to enable carrying in the community, it was necessary to close off the waterfront with a tzuras hapesach. However, for the rest of Brooklyn, we just need mechitzos that are omed merubeh to modify Brooklyn’s status to a reshus hayachid. A tzuras hapesach was erected to allow carrying in other Brooklyn neighborhoods. Therefore, the fact that mechitzos facing the water are deficient is inconsequential.
The walls at the Seagate shore have been repaired lately and can be used as mechitzos for Brooklyn, as well.

The argument: It’s not possible that Rav Moshe allowed a tzuras hapesach to demarcate an area containing less than shishim ribo in Kew Garden Hills because a reshus harabbim can’t be divide with a tzuras hapesach. More so, it follows that the reason Rav Moshe allowed an eruv in Seagate (Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:28:19 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89) was because it was separated from the rest of Brooklyn with walls and gates; a tzuras hapesach would not have been sufficient in this case.

The rebuttal:

This is incorrect. There are Rishonim and Achronim who maintain that a tzuras hapesach can demarcate an area containing less than shishim ribo (see Tosfos Rid, Eruvin 22a; Or Zarua, Eruvin 22a; Rav Yonasan Stief zt”l in Mahari Stief, siman 68; Rav Chaim Michoel Dov Weissmandel zt”l in Toras Chemed, p. 93, and Rav Elya Meir Bloch zt”l in Kol Tzvi number 7). [It’s important to note that most Achronim maintain that a tzuras hapesach changes the status of a reshus harabbim into a reshus hayachid; see Part 1: Delasos – Me’d’Oraysa or Me’d’rabbanan.]
Rav Moshe maintained that if an area of twelve mil by twelve mil contains a population of 3 million, an eruv can’t be erected in any part of that area. However, Rav Moshe stated clearly that since the Jewish Quarters in European cities were only a small section of the city, never encompassing shishim ribo, it was permissible to erect tzuras hapesachim therein (ibid., 5:28:5). This is why Rav Moshe stated that even if we were to separate Boro Park and Flatbush from the rest of Brooklyn, it would not change their status as a reshus harabbim since each neighborhood independently contained shishim ribo (ibid., 5:28:5 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89). On the other hand, Rav Moshe declared that an eruv can be erected in Kew Garden Hills since it is only a small section of Queens. The unifying shita of Rav Moshe’s is that it is permissible to encircle a section of a city with tzuras hapesachim if it does not encompass shishim ribo. The fact is that both the Boro Park and Flatbush eruvin do not independently contain even close to shishim ribo, hence there is no reason, according to Rav Moshe, not to allow the establishment of an eruv.
When Rav Moshe stated that Seagate was enclosed by walls, he was merely explaining why tzuras hapesachim were not needed. The mechitzos encompassing Seagate were being used for an eruv to allow carrying [heter tiltul]. If Seagate had been enclosed only by a tzuras hapesach, Rav Moshe would not have objected to an eruv there either as long as the eruv encompassed less than shishim ribo.
In the Addendum to O.C. 4:89, Rav Moshe mentions that both Boro Park and Flatbush independently contain shishim ribo, hence an eruv can’t be established there. Rav Moshe continues that Seagate is enclosed by mechitzos and that Kew Garden Hills is only a small neighborhood, therefore an eruv could be established in these neighborhoods. It is clear from this teshuvah that Rav Moshe only meant that Kew Garden Hills and Seagate are unlike Boro Park and Flatbush because (he was mislead to believe that) they independently contained shishim ribo.

The argument: The reason why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv in Queens as opposed to Brooklyn was because Queens is not conceptualized from a halachic perspective as one city, whereas Brooklyn is (this has been argued at a shiur given by a prominent Rav in Flatbush and in a article in the Five Towns Jewish Times, June 1, pp. 15-17).

The rebuttal:

Rav Moshe never said that Queens is not conceptualized as one, only that Kew Garden Hills is a small neighborhood in Queens (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:86 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89). Rav Moshe never said that Brooklyn is conceptualized as one, only that Boro Park and Flatbush individually contain shishim ribo, and therefore, an eruv can’t be erected (ibid., 5:28:5 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89).
According to Rav Moshe, it makes no difference whether or not Queens is considered as one city since Rav Moshe’s main thesis is that we look at an area of twelve mil by twelve mil and not how the boroughs are conceptualized. If the twelve mil by twelve mil area contains a population of 3 million, an eruv cannot be erected in any part it (ibid., 1:139:5, 4:87-88). Kew Garden Hills is part of the twelve mil by twelve mil of Queens just as Boro Park and Flatbush are part of the twelve mil by twelve mil of Brooklyn. If the population of Queens doesn’t meet the requirement of Rav Moshe’s chiddush to be classified as a reshus harabbim neither does the population of Brooklyn.
In any case, this discussion is beside the point. Rav Moshe declared that both the Boro Park and Flatbush neighborhoods independently contain shishim ribo without including the population of Brooklyn. Consequently, Rav Moshe did consider the neighborhoods in Brooklyn as distinct entities and nevertheless, he objected to an eruv therein (ibid., 5:28:5 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89).

When confronted with this fact, which proves that Rav Moshe couldn’t have subscribed to these claims, they argued:
This explanation of why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv for Kew Garden Hills comes from reputable sources, so why shouldn’t we accept their oral explanations? Those who disagree with these oral explanations of why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv in a neighborhood in Queens are undermining his teshuvos because this is the only reason why he could have allowed an eruv there as opposed to Brooklyn. Consequently, they are denigrating Rav Moshe’s kavod by undermining his position.
This is incorrect for the following reasons:
Rav Moshe clearly set forth his chiddushim in eruvin in his teshuvos. To argue that we should accept what someone claims Rav Moshe verbally expressed when it contradicts what he had clearly written is a dangerous thing to advocate. If so, maybe Rav Moshe verbally discounted all of his teshuvos and none of them are reliable, chas v’shalom (see also Noda B’Yehudah, Tinyana, Y.D. 29-30).
All these purported, “oral explanations,” differentiating between Brooklyn and Queens were clearly fabricated in order to justify why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv in Queens but not in Brooklyn. However, those people generating these fictitious accounts did not fully study all the pertinent teshuvos in Igros Moshe and didn’t realize that their excuses contradict his written words. In essence these people are arguing that we should believe that Rav Moshe didn’t know his own shitos in eruvin. I would rather believe that these claims were created after the fact by people who do not know Rav Moshe’s shitos. Actually, Rav Moshe did indicate in his teshuvos why he allowed an eruv in a neighborhood in Queens so there is no need to rely on hearsay (see above).
It’s fascinating that those promoting these contradictory statements as an excuse for an eruv in Queens have the temerity to claim that those promoting an eruv in Brooklyn are denigrating Rav Moshe’s kovod. In fact, they are making Rav Moshe look as if he did not know his own teshuvos. Clearly they are the ones who are denigrating Rav Moshe’s kavod. Don’t they see the irony in the situation? In their campaign to argue against Brooklyn eruvin, they are quick to make claims in Rav Moshe’s name even if they contradict his teshuvos. Contrast that with rabbanim supporting the eruv who spent a considerable amount of time studying Rav Moshe’s teshuvos and investigating the mechitzos in order to satisfy Rav Moshe’s shitos in eruvin. So who is more respectful of Rav Moshe’s kavod — the proponents of eruvin who study every word he wrote or those objecting to eruvin whose arguments contradict his teshuvos?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Specious Arguments Made in the Name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l Against an Eruv in Brooklyn: Part 1

Part of an ongoing commentary on the bias against city eruvin.

Recently there has been some discussion regarding our claim that Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l would allow an eruv in Brooklyn with many of the arguments presented confirming that the anti-eruv group makes claims in Rav Moshe’s name without truly knowing his shitos in eruvin. They prefer to first make grand pronouncements, and only then to do their research. If the issues at hand weren’t so serious, I’d find these catch up attempts amusing. I question their intellectual honesty in formulating opinions before studying the sources. In truth, it is not Rav Moshe’s positions which are being contested, but the positions of those who believe that Rav Moshe would never allow an eruv not withstanding any changes in the metzious. The following is some of their arguments.

The argument: Rav Moshe's classification of an area of twelve mil by twelve mil as a reshus harabbim was not dependent on there being a population of 3 million contained therein, but only if there are 600,000 people traversing its streets (see Five Towns Jewish Times, June 1, pp. 15-17).

The rebuttal:

If one was to peruse all the pertinent teshuvos in Igros Moshe regarding the issue of shishim ribo, they would realize that Rav Moshe maintains that only with a population of 3 million could we possibly have 600,000 people traversing the streets at one time.

In regards to Chicago, Rav Dovid Feinstein shlita was in agreement that, according to his father's shitah, there must be a minimum population of 3 million in order for the city to be defined as a reshus harabbim (West Rogers Park Eruv, 1993 p. 23).

Some have argued that they have yet to see that Rav Dovid would allow an eruv in Brooklyn, so no proof can be brought from his statements regarding Chicago.
However, this is incorrect:

Nowhere are we arguing that Rav Dovid Feinstein shlita allowed an eruv in Brooklyn. Different aspects of his arguments may be accepted or rejected, without having to accept his entire thesis. Regarding this point of contention, what Rav Dovid’s father’s shita is on the subject of shishim ribo, he clearly agrees that a population of 3 million is the crucial number.

○ This is ironic. In Brooklyn, when one argues that Rav Moshe would allow an eruv, the rejoinder is that Rav Dovid maintains that his father would not allow an eruv, and he knows his father’s opinion better than anyone. On the other hand, in Chicago (and LA), they argue that Rav Dovid is incorrect regarding his father’s shitos in eruvin. When the objective is to negate an eruv, the anti-eruv group always knows better, even better than Rav Dovid.

When the rabbanim who wanted to erect an eruv in Flatbush argued that the population of Brooklyn is fewer than 3 million, Rav Moshe answered that nevertheless he would not advise that they establish an eruv since Brooklyn is a large borough, and some might think that there is shishim ribo traversing its streets (this is an additional chiddush of Rav Moshe’s, and he only considered this objection to an eruv a gezeirah; see Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:88). If it’s as these people argue, Rav Moshe should not have countered that some might think that there is shishim ribo traversing Brooklyn’s streets, but rather that Brooklyn is a reshus harabbim since the population number of 3 million is not a hard and fast rule as his main concern is whether there is 600,000 in the streets. Additionally, Rav Moshe stated regarding Detroit proper that even though his requirement is that there be a population of 3 million to classify the area as a reshus harabbim, an eruv should nevertheless not be established because some may think that the city is large enough that there is shishim ribo traversing its streets (ibid., 5:29). Yet again we see that when Rav Moshe was asked about an area that contained a population fewer than 3 million, he did not argue that the population number of 3 million is not a hard and fast rule as his main concern is that there be 600,000 in the streets. On the contrary, he considered the matter a gezeirah and not an issue of a reshus harabbim (ibid., 4:88). [It’s important to note, Rav Moshe’s conclusion was that an eruv in Brooklyn, according to his opinion, is a matter of a d’Oraysa. Whilst the population of Brooklyn was less than 3 million, Rav Moshe was misled to believe that there are over a million people who come into the borough to work. The combined tally pushed Brooklyn into a status of a reshus harbbim (ibid.). This however is incorrect, and the actual number of people who come into the borough to work is much fewer than 1 million (see Part 2: The Permissibility of a Brooklyn Eruv According to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l). Hence, Rav Moshe’s objection to a Brooklyn eruv should only be a matter of a gezeirah.]

Some have argued that if Rav Moshe always considered an eruv in a large city a gezeirah, how can we claim that he would allow a Brooklyn eruv because its population is fewer than 3 million?
This gezeirah does not pertain to us as well for the following reasons:
Rav Moshe only stated this gezeirah because he was led to believe that Brooklyn did not have mechitzos. Once we have established that Brooklyn is circumscribed by mechitzos, Rav Moshe would certainly not have objected because of a gezeirah since, in any case, with mechitzos, Brooklyn is considered, me’d’Oraysa, a reshus hayachid.
Since we have erected a tzuras hapesach in each neighborhood, the area enclosed contains a population of much fewer than shishim ribo, which would definitely not be mistaken as a reshus harabbim.
It is interesting to note the similarities between the Brooklyn and Chicago eruvin. Both Brooklyn and Chicago have a population of approximately 2.5 million people over a twelve mil by twelve mil area. Despite this number of people, Rav Dovid Feinstein shlita agreed that, according to his father, an eruv could be established in Chicago. This gezeirah was not considered a serious enough issue to impede the construction of an eruv in Chicago and should not interfere with an eruv in Brooklyn as well.

The argument: Rav Moshe’s chiddush that the criterion of shishim ribo is conditional of the city as opposed to a street is more rational since it’s not possible that there was shishim ribo traversing any one street of Yerushalayim at one time in the period of the Bais HaMikdash (see Five Towns Jewish Times, June 1, pp. 15-17).

The rebuttal:
Rav Moshe originally maintained that the criterion of shishim ribo was conditional of the street (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:109) yet after he codified his chiddush, we do not see that he used this argument as a motive for his change of mind.
It’s possible that when the Yiddin were oleh regel, there were 600,000 people traversing the main artery of Yerushalayim. I would add that it’s hard to speculate how many people could have been contained within the walls or on a street of Yerushalayim. Besides for the Midrash Eichah (1:2) which states that there were vast numbers of people living in Yerushalayim (and consequentially could have supplied a street with shishim ribo), the Gemara in Gitten (57a) declares that there were many cities on Har HaMelech containing shishim ribo or more. As the Gemara mentions, the Tzdokim didn’t believe that such a population was possible, and I think this is ironic given what is known about the Tzdokim that they were einoh modeh b’eruv.
Actually, there is just as much a possibility of shishim ribo traversing a single street as there is in the collective streets of Yerushalayim. The Achronim only require that the shishim ribo traverse the street over an entire day and just on some days of the year. It is Rav Moshe who required that the shishim ribo traverse the streets at one time (ibid., 1:139:5, 4:87). Rav Moshe maintains that regarding a city, the requirement of shishim ribo is that 600,000 people would need to traverse its collective streets at one time. [In regards to a intercity road, the shishim ribo need to traverse the same section of the road daily in order that it be classified as a reshus harabbim (ibid., 5:28:16).] The real question then is how was it possible for the old city of Yerushalayim to have 600,000 people traversing its streets collectively especially if this is only achievable with an extremely large population [3 million] as Rav Moshe posits?

The argument: Rav Moshe would not have argued that an eruv can’t be established in Brooklyn without having personally investigated the possibility of Brooklyn being encompassed by mechitzos or having at least looked at a map of the Brooklyn waterfront (see Five Towns Jewish Times, June 1, pp. 15-17).

The rebuttal:
There is no question that Rav Moshe never investigated the mechitzos, and no one ever claimed that Rav Moshe did. People do not realize that to physically inspect the mechitzos at Brooklyn’s waterfront would take many days of work. Had Rav Moshe done so, it would have been common knowledge. It is a specious argument to claim that Rav Moshe would have noticed mechitzos by studying Brooklyn’s maps. Maps are not detailed enough to show mechitzos.
If Rav Moshe would have explored the mechitzos, he would not have said that it’s possible to investigate their existence (Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:28:5). Instead he would have said that he had inspected them, and that he believes that they are halachically insufficient.

The argument: When Rav Moshe stated (ibid., 5:28:5; see also ibid., Addendum to O.C. 4:89) regarding Brooklyn’s mechitzos, “Until now they [the mechitzos] did not exist, but that one can investigate [vezehu efshar levarer]” he did not mean that the existence of mechitzos can be investigated, but only as an admonition to those that claim that they do exist (see Five Towns Jewish Times, June 1, pp. 15-17).

The rebuttal:
Anyone who would learn through this teshuvah would realize that this is a complete distortion of the simple meaning of Rav Moshe’s words.
Rav Moshe was only following what he was informed were the facts on the ground regarding mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn. It’s obvious that Rav Moshe was informed that there were no mechitzos, past or present, encompassing Brooklyn. However, this teshuvah of Rav Moshe’s was in response to Rav Menashe Klein shlita’s argument that there were mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn (Kuntres Oim Ani Chomah, vol. 1 p. 29, published in Shaari Halachos, 11). To this Rav Moshe responded that it’s possible to investigate the mechitzos [vezehu efshar levarer]. The foremost Rav feeding Rav Moshe information regarding the facts on the ground in Brooklyn cavalierly stated in his teshuvah opposing an eruv in Brooklyn that the mechitzos basically don’t exist because there were hundreds upon hundreds of large pirtzos in the mechitzos, and that there were whole neighborhoods that were not included at all (Kerem Beyavnah, 3:27). Alas this is entirely incorrect, and it’s a well known fact that this Rav never even bothered to investigate the mechitzos himself. Following this, it is no wonder that Rav Moshe was under the impression that there were no mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn.

Some have argued that it’s not plausible that Rav Moshe would agree that there is a possibility of mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn, because then he would not have written a teshuvah objecting to a Brooklyn eruv without having investigated the matter.
This is incorrect for the following reason:
○ If one would read the subsequent line in Rav Moshe’s teshuvah, he would not argue this point. Rav Moshe stated that even if Brooklyn was encompassed by mechitzos, he would still object to an eruv because he requires delasos. However, this does not pertain to us because Rav Moshe only required delasos at the bridges (as stated in this teshuvah regarding Brooklyn, Rav Moshe was referring to the chiddush that he set forth about the Manhattan bridges which were not enclosed by the mechitzos). Rav Moshe states that if we erect a tzuras hapesach in the area enclosed by the mechitzos, which is classified as a reshus hayachid, it’s sufficient (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:139:3; see Is There a Requirement of Delasos According to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l ).

The argument: Rav Moshe maintained that pirtzos esser negates the mechitzos on a d’Oraysa level. Therefore, Rav Moshe was of the opinion that the mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn were halachically deficient (this has been argued at a shiur given by a prominent Rav in Flatbush and in a article in the Five Towns Jewish Times, June 1, pp. 15-17).

The rebuttal:

Rav Moshe stated explicitly that pirtzos esser is only d’rabbanan (Igros Moshe, O.C. 2:89-90).

When confronted with these teshuvos which proves that claims are made in Rav Moshe’s name without actually knowing his shitos, those in opposition to the eruv split hairs and argue the following two points:
1) In O.C. 2:89 Rav Moshe only states that a pirtzos esser is mashma that it is d’rabbanan; hence, it is inconclusive what his final decision was regarding the matter.
This is incorrect for the following reasons:
Rav Moshe makes use of the word mashma and nevertheless means it as a final p’sak (see e.g. Igros Moshe, Even HaEzer, 1:58 and Yoreh Deah, 2:141).
In the following teshuvah (O.C. 2:90) Rav Moshe clearly maintained that pirtzos esser is d’rabbanan, and does not use the word mashma at all.
2) Yes, but these teshuvos are regarding Seagate, a karmelis, but in a situation of a reshus harabbim, Rav Moshe would argue that a pirtzos esser negates the mechitzos me’d’Oraysa.
This is incorrect for the following reasons:
Rav Moshe in O.C. 2:89-90 did not argue that the pirtzos do not negate the mechitzos because the area is a karmelis. Instead, Rav Moshe stated that the pirtzos themselves do not negate the mechitzos because they are only prohibited me’d’rabbanan.
Siman 2:89 is only referring to issues of d’Oraysas.

Rav Moshe was aware of the fact that there were pirtzos greater than ten amos in Manhattan, and he never made an issue of the matter (see Kuntres Tikkun Eruvin Manhattan, pp. 68, 168-69; Divrei Menachim, O.C. vol. 2, p. 76 and Rav Tzvi Eisenstadt zt”l in his Hatzaah L’Tikkun Eruvin B’Manhattan).
Rav Moshe disagreed with the Chazon Ish’s chiddush that the omed of a reshus hayachid can create a mechitzah (Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:28:3). If Rav Moshe would have been of the opinion that a pirtzos esser is a matter of a d’Oraysa, this could have been his main argument against the Chazon Ish, since this is one of the fundaments that the Chazon Ish makes use of in his chiddushim.
It is a important to note that the overwhelming majority of poskim maintain that pirtzos esser negates the mechitzos only me’d’rabbanan, and a tzuras hapesach is sufficient to rectify the gaps (Mabit in Kiryat Sefer, Shabbos Perek 16; Bais Meir, siman 364; Pri Megadim, Mishbetzes Zahav, 363:1; Markeves HaMishnah, Hilchos Shabbos 14; Pnei Yehoshua, Shabbos 6a; Shulchan Aruch HaRav, O.C. 345:11; Zera Emes, Eruvin 17; Bais Ephraim, O.C. 26-27; Tikkun Eruvin Krakow, teshuvah 1; Melamud Leho’il, siman 68; Avnei Nezer, O.C. 265:13, 265:25, 276:1, 279:3; Aruch HaShulchan, O.C. 362:26; Mahari Slutsk, O.C. 11; Achiezer, 4:8; Chazon Ish, O.C. 107:5-8, 112:5; Chavatzelet HaSharon, O.C. 19, and Kol Mevaser, 1:20:2).
In summation, not only is there no statement of Rav Moshe’s stating that pirtzos esser is a matter of a d’Oraysa, he actually maintained that a pirtzos esser only negates a mechitzah me’d’rabbanan. The reason why some can make such statements with impunity – that Rav Moshe maintained pirtzos esser is a matter of a d’Oraysa – is because most people would overlook these teshuvos in Igros Moshe, O.C. 2:89-90, since they do not concern the issue of eruvin in large cities.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Palo Alto, CA 3

New Eruv Reopens Old Church-State Debates in Palo Alto

By Josh Richman

Oakland, Calif. - Some lines, it seems, cannot be crossed.

In 1999, Rabbi Yitzchok Feldman and his synagogue, Congregation Emek Beracha, approached the city of Palo Alto — an urbane community of tree-lined lanes that some of Silicon Valley’s and Stanford University’s finest minds call home — about creating an eruv, a delineated area in which Orthodox Jews can engage in certain activities normally forbidden on the Sabbath. City officials initially reacted warmly, but the following year a community outcry about separation of church and state, and perhaps about less high-minded issues, as well, beat back the proposal into obscurity. Read on...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Borehamwood, London 5

Green Light For Elstree Eruv

By Marcb Shoffman

The Jewish community in Elstree and Borehamwood was celebrating this week after Hertsmere Borough Council gave the green light for the construction of London's latest eruv.

Last Thursday, the local authority gave planning permission for the construction of the religious boundary, consisting of 34 sets of six-metre high poles joined by wire. Read on ...

Eruvin in the News: Borehamwood, London 4

Elstree Gets Eruv

By Leslie Bunder

The fast growing Jewish community of Elstree and Borehamwood is to become the third area in the UK to have its own Eruv and allow orthodox Jews to carry and push wheelchairs on Shabbat.

Following approval by Hertsmere Borough Council, a symbolic boundary around the area will be created that will allow normally prohibited tasks to be undertaken. Read on ...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Venice Beach, CA 7

Permit for Symbolic Jewish Boundary Over SoCal Beaches Upheld

State regulators refused to revoke Monday an Orthodox temple's permit to use a strand of fishing line to create a symbolic religious boundary over surrounding beach communities despite concerns from conservationists it could threaten birds.

The California Coastal Commission voted 7-4 to uphold the permit granted to the Pacific Jewish Center in Venice in the spring. Read on ...

Eruvin in the News: Borehamwood, London 3

Eruv Plan Approved

By Janaki Mahadevan

Plans to create a symbolic Jewish boundary around Borehamwood were approved at a planning meeting on Thursday night.

The public gallery in Hertsmere Borough Council's chamber was packed with people waiting to hear the decision on whether 34 sets of poles joined by wire can be put up around the town to create an eruv. Read on ...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Borehamwood, London 2

Stuck Inside On the Sabbath

Last night, borough councillors were due to vote on planning permission for an eruv, a symbolic religious zone, in Borehamwood. Tessa Roberts speaks to Orthodox Jews to find out why it is so important for them.

Efrat Arnold, 27, of Theobald Street, has been confined to her home every Sabbath since moving to Borehamwood six months ago.

She has two children, aged two years and four months, but cannot take them out in a buggy on a Friday evening or Saturday, or carry them to a friend's house over the road. Read on ...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Palo Alto, CA 2

Easing Structures of Sabbath

Inside Symbolic Enclosure, or Eruv, Orthodox Jews May Work

By Kim Vo

Workers will soon start hanging thin fishing line high above Palo Alto. Though nearly invisible to most people, it will ease the lives of hundreds of Orthodox Jews while leaving a few others uneasy about the intersection of government and religion.

People who strictly observe Jewish law are prohibited from working on the Jewish Sabbath, which runs from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. "Working" includes driving and carrying or pushing items between private and public domains - for instance, from one's home to the outdoors. Read on...

Eruvin in the News: Swan Lake, NY

Fence Does Not Make For Good Neighbors

By Jeanne Sager

Swan Lake - If good fences make for good neighbors, what does a fence more than a dozen feet in the air make? In Swan Lake, just one word – controversy.

Workers were spotted in the hamlet last week fastening long pieces of what appeared to be PVC pipe to the telephone poles around the lake. Read on...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Palo Alto, CA

Palo Alto Eruv Approved -- After Eight Years

Orthodox Jewish Boundary Will Be Strung Around Palo Alto

By Molly Tanenbaum

A 13-mile-long eruv, a border that will allow Orthodox Jews to carry objects from home to their synagogue on the Sabbath, will be constructed around Palo Alto after eight years of attempts to gain city approval.

"I'm looking forward to exhaling," said Rabbi Yitzchok Feldman, of Congregation Emek Beracha, who spearheaded the Palo Alto eruv effort in 1999. Read on...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Eruvin in the News: New York, NY 5

Ritual Fence Set for Jews in Manhattan Is Extended

By Ethan Wilensky-Lanford
June 16, 2007

Jews living in a large area of Manhattan who regularly observe the Sabbath will have a much easier time of it today. An eruv, a line that delineates the concept of domestic space for Orthodox Jews and dictates where they may carry items on the day of rest, has been extended from Midtown to Houston Street. Read on...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Eruvin in the News: Center City, PA

Center City Eruv Up and Running

By Bryan Schwartzman
June 14, 2007

As of June 1, the Center City eruv was officially up and running, more than and a year-and-a-half after Mayor John F. Street signed a law that approved its construction.

An eruv consists of a series of symbolic barriers that surround an area within which observant Jews are permitted under halachah to carry things outside of the home on Shabbat, an act normally forbidden. Read on...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l: The Need For Eruvin

Theories abound as to what Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l’s shitos were regarding eruvin. There are many arguments set forth by people that purport to explain exactly what Rav Moshe proposed. Invariably, they fail in their attempt because they contradict Rav Moshe’s teshuvos. In truth, these interpretations are unnecessary since Rav Moshe expressed his views very clearly in his teshuvos.

For example, some argue that not only did Rav Moshe not consider the establishment of a contemporary eruv a mitzvah, but they continue that even when Rav Moshe did allow the construction of an eruv, he believed that one should not carry. Therefore, I have set out to clarify what Rav Moshe’s true beliefs are.

שיטת האג"מ בענין המצוה והשתדלות לעשות עירוב

לשון השו"ת אגרות משה חלק או"ח ה סימן כח אות כא-כב:

יש צורך לתקן עירובין, אף שוודאי אינו צורך כל כך כמו שהיה ביוראפ. אבל לעומת זה איכא צורך להיפוך, דהרי בשביל זה לא ידעו כלל שאיכא איסור הוצאה וכו', שא"כ כשע"י זה שיתקנו בעירובין כל הערים הרי ישכחו שאיכא איסור הוצאה בעולם, דהא בכרכים גדולים אין עושין צוה"פ ממש שיכירו כל אדם וכו', ואף אם באיזה מקום יצטרכו לצורת הפתח מיוחדת, לא יזדמן לראות זה אלא איזה יחידים וכו', ואף שאנן לא גזרינן יותר ממה שאיתא בגמ' ובדברי הגאונים, מ"מ אין לומר שהוא מעלה ומצוה כשאיכא חסרון זה וכו'.

והתיקון שיש בעירוב למחללי שבת במזיד בפרהסיא וכו', אולי בשביל אלו שאין יודעין כלום, דרשעותן ואף הכפירה שלהן בא להם מצד שחנכום כן אבותיהם הרשעים, יש איזה מעלה ואולי גם מצווה לתקן עירובין, שלא יעברו גם על איסור הוצאה שבידינו למנוע אותו בתיקון העירובין, מאחר שיש לדונו כשוגג. אף שאינו שוגג ממש, דאף שאביו חנכו לרשעותו ולכפירתו, הא עכ"פ רואה ויודע משומרי תורה ומצוות, ויודע שאיכא גדולים ובעלי דעת וחכמה יותר מאביו, שלכן נוטה יותר לומר שליכא חיוב למונעו מעבירה.

לשון שו"ת אגרות משה חלק או"ח ה סימן כט:

והנה הא דמצינו בגמ' עירובין דף ס"ח ע"א (א"ל רבה בר רב חנן וכו') דאיכא חיוב על חכמי העיר לתקן שיוכלו לטלטל בעיר, וכן היו בכל עיירות שהיו נמצאים יהודים היו מתקנין עירובין, אמרתי שהיה זה במקומותינו שלא היה אפשר בלא זה וכו', וגם בערים גדולות היה זה דבר קשה, שלכן היו גם ערים גדלות שהיו מתקנים עירובין. אבל כאן בזמנינו שאין שום צורך וכו', שלכן אין תיקון עירובין דבר נחוץ, אלא רק לאטפויי הנאה בעלמא, אין זה ענין הצריך להשתדל בזה.

ואף שהוא דבר טוב בעוה"ר שאיכא הרבה עוברי עבירה, שתיקון העירובין ימעט האיסורין, ליכא חיוב להפריש בשביל מומרים במזיד וכו', ושוגגים שאין יודעין האיסור אין מצויין ואולי גם ליכא.

ולעומת זה איכא חסרון בתיקון עירובין שירגילו להוציא, ולפעמים שיתקלקל בשבת ולא יוכלו להודיע ויכשלו שומרי תורה.

אבל בשנים האחרונות התחילו לתבוע שיתקנו עירובין, מחמת שהנשים מצטערות הרבה בזה מפני שמניעת הנאה הוא צער גדול להם, מפני הרגילות להיות מפונקות. ואלו שיש להם תינוקות אין יכולין לצאת מהבית כל השבת וכדומה. ויש גם שאין יכולות להבליג על דעתן ורצונם, ועוברות. והתחילו בשביל זה בכמה מקומות לתקן עירובין. ושייך להחשיב כשאיכא הרבה תובעין, לצורך, ויש אולי מקומות ששייך להחשיב גם צורך גדול, ושייך להרב המקומי לידע זה. וא"כ וודאי לא שייך למחות, ואולי יש גם להשתדל בזה וכו'.

שלכן אם רוב הרבנים יודעים מקהילותיהם שרוצים ותובעין שיתקנו עירובין, שנמצא שהוא צורך גדול, יש גם להשתדל לתקן עירובין.

לשון האגרות משה חלק או"ח ד סימן פו :

הכשר העירוב בקיו גארדענס הילס וכו', הנני רואה בזה תועלת גדולה והצלה ממכשול בשוגג ובמזיד וכו', דלכן הוא טובה גדולה ותועלת לשמירת שבת,ואני אומר שיפה עשיתם.


א) בכל תשובותיו מיירי רק לענין אם יש מצוה להשתדל לעשות עירוב.

ב) בסימן כ"ח לא ברירא ליה שלא לעשות עירוב, דהא יש תיקון למחללי שבת "בשביל אלו שאין יודעין כלום", רק ד"נוטה יותר לומר שליכא חיוב למונעו מעבירה".

ג) בסימן פ"ו כותב בברירות: "הנני רואה בזה תועלת גדולה והצלה ממכשול בשוגג ובמזיד וכו', דלכן הוא טובה גדולה ותועלת לשמירת שבת, ואני אומר שיפה עשיתם".

ד) גם בסימן כ"ט כתב דכשאיכא הרבה תובעין נחשב לצורך, "ויש אולי מקומות ששייך להחשיב גם צורך גדול, ושייך להרב המקומי לידע זה, וא"כ וודאי לא שייך למחות, ואולי יש גם להשתדל בזה", וסיים: "שלכן אם רוב הרבנים יודעים מקהילותיהם שרוצים ותובעין שיתקנו עירובין, שנמצא שהוא צורך גדול, יש גם להשתדל לתקן עירובין". וידוע דרוב מורי ההוראה בשכונות בארא פארק חשבו זה לצורך גדול מחמת כמה וכמה טעמים.

ה) וכל השקו"ט בתשובותיו הנ"ל הם רק לענין לכתחלה, אבל עירוב שכבר נעשה וכשר להלכה, לא כתב בשום מקום שלא יטלטלו בו משום ספיקותיו. ואדרבה לגבי דעטראיט וסיגעיט וקיו גארדענס כתב מפורש לעשות עירוב, ולא כתב בשום מקום שבעל נפש יחמיר שלא יטלטל בעירוב כשר.

In Summation:

From the above, it appears that Rav Moshe would agree that if the rabbanim uphold that there is a great need for an eruv, they should strive to establish one. More so, there is no doubt that Rav Moshe would concur that if an kosher eruv is established, one can carry therein, and nowhere do we see that Rav Moshe states that a baal nefesh should be stringent.

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