Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Part 3: The Jewish Tribune’s Argument Against the NW London Eruv

Continued from part II

The Jewish Tribune, page 4, Public Notice:
In view of a brochure and rumours recently circulating in connection with the Eruv in Nort West London, we wish to reaffirm our opinion that it remains problematic and of doubtful validity.
In particular, renowned past and present Poskim – including Rav M. Feinstein, Dayan I. J. Weiss and others have ruled that London is considered a public domain Min-Hatorah, automatically invalidates any such Eruv. According to the Chazon Ish it has other faults.
The rebuttal:
To begin with, regarding Rav Moshe zt”l, it is important to note there is a fundamental flaw in the anti-eruv cabal’s way of thinking regarding his chiddushim in eruvin. Rav Moshe was only against an eruv in Manhattan and Brooklyn. His objections were based on self-admitted major chiddushim in hilchos eruvin and therefore Rav Moshe did not want to even issue a p’sak din barur (see Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l’s Reluctance to Pasken Against the Establishment of an Eruv). We, therefore, do not have a right to negate an eruv by adding to his chiddushim.
There are two reasons why Rav Moshe would allow the London eruv:
1) Despite the fact that Golders Green is developed with houses all the way up to the inner city of London, Rav Moshe would allow that the neighborhood is distinct from its surroundings. This can be discerned from the fact that Rav Moshe allowed the establishment of eruvin in neighborhoods with comparable conditions to Golders Green. Rav Moshe allowed an eruv in the Detroit neighborhoods of Oak Park and Southfield despite the fact that these two neighborhoods are well developed with houses right up to the Detroit city line. Additionally, Rav Moshe allowed an eruv for the neighborhood of Kew Gardens Hills, Queens even though all of Queens’s neighborhoods adjoin each other. In both situations, Rav Moshe maintained that these neighborhoods are distinct despite the fact that they were part of a larger built up area. There is no doubt that Golders Green is a distinct neighborhood and is not part of the inner city of London. Why should Golders Green be any different then Queens and Detroit where Rav Moshe allowed an eruv? [I would add that even if we were to apply Rav Moshe’s chiddush that he used in Brooklyn, that a city is an area of twelve mil by twelve mil, to the city of London, we probably would not have a population of 3,000,000 people contained therein. However, in light of the above, we do not have to involve ourselves with this issue at all.]
2) Alternatively, the area is classified as a reshus hayachid since it is enclosed by mechitzos habatim. Those who assert that Rav Moshe would not allow mechitzos habatim are totally incorrect. Mechitzos habatim are mechitzos l’chol hadayos. There are two fundaments required to allow mechitzos habatim (or for that matter any mechitzos), and Rav Moshe agrees to both of them: 1. That we pasken lo asu rabbim. 2. That we pasken pirtzos esser is d’rabbanan. Rav Moshe only took issue with the chiddush of the Chazon Ish that the omed of a reshus hayachid formed a mechitzah but not with the above two fundaments.

Regarding the Chazon Ish shitos, the eruv has no other faults. He would allow the eruv l’chatchilah (as mentioned above on the subject of the K’vish Haschachor and the karpeifos).

Regarding Rav Weiss zt”l, it is important to mention that he never articulated a word about erecting an eruv in London. He only declared that based on the Bais Ephraim’s (and the Chacham Tzvi’s) statement, London is a reshus harabbim regarding shishim ribo. Therefore, he argues, we would not be able to include shishim ribo as one of the heterim to allow, for example, pushing a wheelchair on Shabbos without an eruv (Minchas Yitzchak, 2:114:9; see also 2:98:17; 2:112:4; 3:26:4; 3:36:3; 5:40; and his haskamah on Birchas HaShabbos, 1987). From this statement, the cabal wants to convince us that the Minchas Yitzchak was opposed to an eruv in London. This is totally preposterous since there are several reasons why Rav Weiss could have called London a reshus harabbim but nevertheless would have allowed an eruv. To begin with, it should be noted that the Minchas Yitzchak, in his teshuvos, oscillated between calling London a reshus harabbim and stating that the matter still requires consideration (tzaruch iyun).

As I just mentioned, Rav Weiss primarily cites the Bais Ephraim as the source for his statement that London is a reshus harabbim of shishim ribo; thus it would be judicious to examine what the Bais Ephraim assumed regarding London. The Bais Ephraim (O.C. siman 26 p. 45) states that the reason why some Rishonim only mention, as the criteria of a reshus harabbim, that a street would need to be sixteen amos wide and mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar and not shishim ribo is because there were cities such as Paris, London, Vienna, Frankfort-on-Main and others that did contain shishim ribo. Therefore, the Bais Ephraim postulates, these Rishonim only mentioned the criteria that pertained to large cities (and would allow an eruv). As proof that there were such cities, the Bais Ephraim quotes the question posed to the Chacham Tzvi (siman 37) regarding the possibility that there were several sratyas [thoroughfares] and platyas [marketplaces] in England that contained shishim ribo traversing them. Some want to argue that since the Bais Ephraim states that the cities of Paris, London, Vienna and Frankfort-on-Main contain shishim ribo, he upholds that the criterion of shishim ribo is conditional of a city and not a street. This is incorrect. As can be discerned regarding his discussion of cities containing shishim ribo, it is clear from the Bais Ephraim that he maintains that the criterion is conditional of a street since he quotes the query posed to the Chacham Tzvi which was referring to thoroughfares and marketplaces in England containing shishim ribo and not about the cities themselves (there are many instances when the Bais Ephraim actually discusses the criterion of shishim ribo and clearly indicates that it refers to a street; see The Overwhelming Majority of Achronim Maintain That the Shishim Ribo Has to Traverse the Street Itself and Part 4: Birur HaShitos ─ Regarding Shishim Ribo). Moreover, the Minchas Yitzchak himself, when he explores the criterion of shishim ribo (8:32:1), upholds that the Bais Ephraim is of the opinion that the shishim ribo must traverse the street itself (albeit not daily). Consequentially, when the Bais Ephraim discusses cities containing shishim ribo, he must be referring to streets of a city that contain shishim ribo.

In light of the above, let us explore the opinion of the Minchas Yitzchak regarding shishim ribo, and what he would possibly maintain regarding eruvin. When Rav Weiss posits that the circumstances in London would not allow us to include shishim ribo for any heter since the city contains shishim ribo, it was not because he made a survey of London and consequentially came to this conclusion, but rather he was just quoting the Bais Ephraim. However, the Bais Ephraim assumed that there were streets and marketplaces that possibly contained shishim ribo, and therefore, he referred to London as a reshus harabbim of shishim ribo. Additionally, the Minchas Yitzchak himself understood the Bais Ephraim’s shita in shishim ribo as applying to a street. Consequently, if we now know that there is no street in London that ever has shishim ribo traversing it, even Rav Weiss would admit that no reshus harabbim exists therein, and an eruv of tzuras hapesachim can be erected. Clearly there is no street in Golders Green that has anywhere close to shishim ribo traversing it. Moreover, if the Minchas Yitzchak was asked about establishing an eruv in London, it is possible that he would argue that we follow the Shulchan Aruch HaRav that a tzuras hapesach reclassifies a reshus harabbim into a reshus hayachid, and only me’d’rabbanan, do we require delasos. Since the requirement is only me’d’rabbanan, we can be lenient and apply any additional heter to remove the obligation of delasos. Additionally, Rav Weiss could allow an eruv based on the Chazon Ish’s chiddush. Furthermore, since Rav Weiss followed the Bais Ephraim ─ who maintains lo asu rabbim u’mevatlei mechitzta, and that pirtzos esser is me’d’rabbanan ─ there is no doubt that he would allow the eruv since it consists of mechitzos. The reason why the Minchas Yitzchak did not rely on the Chazon Ish or mechitzos (habattim) to downgrade London to a reshus hayachid in his teshuvos was simply because he was not erecting an eruv, so he did not evaluate the possibility of using mechitzos.

The above illuminates an overarching flaw in many of the anti-eruv group’s arguments. They purposely conflate a statement from a posek regarding another issue as if it would negate an eruv. If a posek was actually establishing an eruv, he would truly plumb the depths of hilchos eruvin to seek a means to establish one. This can be discerned from the Minchas Yitzchok himself. When he refers to issues such as pushing wheelchairs on Shabbos (without an eruv), he accepted the Bais Ephraim’s assumption that there are streets in London that have shishim ribo traversing them. However, when the matter was eruvin, he states clearly that the Bais Ephraim maintains that the shishim ribo must traverse the street itself as opposed to a city, which in fact would allow an eruv for London.

[I would add, it is remarkable and telling that Rav Weiss cites in some of his teshuvos the Bais Ephraim’s argument that there were cities which contained shishim ribo and yet were not classified as a reshus harabbim since the streets were not sixteen amos wide and were not mefulash mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar. The Minchas Yitzchak then posits that it is obvious that the streets of London are sixteen amos wide so they possibly are a reshus harabbim, but he then fails to mention anything regarding the criterion of mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar. (Of course, the cabal would proclaim that evidently Rav Weiss considered the streets of London mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar since he never utilized this criterion. However, this begs the question of why did he mention the criterion that the streets today are sixteen amos wide and did not just append to this that the streets of London are mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar, as well.) The most likely explanation for this omission is that since the Minchas Yitzchak was not referring to establishing an eruv and was not seeking a heter to erect one, he did not utilize the criterion of mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar since it would require that he evaluate each and every street separately to observe if they meet this criterion or not. However, regarding shishim ribo, Rav Weiss accepted the Bais Ephraim’s assumption (and did not evaluate the streets to discern if they actually contain shishim ribo or not) that there were streets that met this criterion; hence, London was classified as a reshus harabbim, and as a result, we would not be able to use it as a heter at all. Consequently, if Rav Weiss was involved with the construction of an eruv in London, there is no doubt that he would follow the Bais Ephraim and assess each street separately to distinguish if it meets the requirement of being mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar, as well.]

Finally, I think that it is important to note that the greatest posek that lived in England in the past hundred years, Rav Avroham Ahron Yudelovitz zt”l, the Bais Av, wrote an entire volume regarding an eruv in Manchester and in all major cities. He argued that the criterion of shishim ribo is conditional of a street, and that the streets would need to be mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar in order to be classified as a reshus harbbim. There is no doubt that he would be more than satisfied with the new eruv consisting of mechitzos in London.

In summation, the article in The Jewish Tribune contains the following fabrications:
1) Rav Eider zt”l claimed that Rav Moshe zt”l would not allow the eruv in Golders Green. Some members of the cabal even go so far to claim that Rav Eider alleged that his rebbe would not allow the eruv in Golders Green because he would classify it as a reshus harabbim. There is not a shred of evidence to back up these allegations.
2) The London Bais Din or the Rosh Bais Din shlita originally asserted that the eruv was mehudar. In fact never was the word mehudar used.
3) Rav Elyashiv shlita understood the criterion of shishim ribo as being conditional of a street servicing shishim ribo. In fact, Rav Elyashiv stated in his letter that shishim ribo is conditional of the city. [Of course the cabal would argue that what Rav Elyashiv meant when he said that a city containing shishim ribo is classified as a reshus harabbim was that there could now be a street in the city that services shishim ribo. Besides for the fact that they would need to add words to Rav Elyashiv’s letter for this argument to be true, it is erroneous as well. Rav Elyashiv stated that it is a concern if Yerushalayim contains shishim ribo since we would not be able to rely on shitas Rashi. If Rav Elyashiv maintained that the criterion of shishim ribo is conditional of a street servicing 600,000 people, he would not have mentioned the issue of Yerushalayim containing shishim ribo. For even if the city did not contain shishim ribo, the roads could nevertheless be classified as servicing 600,000 people since additional commuters use the roads coming into the city as well. Consequently, if Rav Elayshiv understood the criterion of shishim ribo as being conditional of a street servicing 600,000 people, this would have been his emphasis and not the city of Yerushalayim itself.]
4) Rav Elayshiv upheld that only in an area where people were previously carrying can we rely on sechirus reshus of the city mayor. In fact, Rav Elayshiv’s maintained that eruvin can be established in areas that did not have one prior, and that we can rely on today’s sechirus reshus.
5) Rav Karelitz claimed that the Chazon Ish did not rely on his chiddush in practice, and therefore, the K’vish Haschachor was not included in the Bnai Brak eruv because it was possibly a reshus harabbim. In fact, it was not included by the Chazon Ish in the Bnai Brak eruv because it failed to meet the criterion of his chiddush.

In summation the following rationales would allow an eruv in Golders Green:
1) There is no street that has shishim ribo traversing it. Given that there is no street included in the eruv that ever comes close to having shishim ribo traversing it, even those who argue that just the possibility alone would classify it as a reshus harabbim would allow an eruv. Moreover, most poskim maintain that we do not include vehicular traffic in the tally.
2) The streets of the community are not mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar.
3) We can rely on the chiddush of the Chazon Ish.
4) The area is fundamentally a reshus hayachid since it is encompassed by mechitzos.
Even one of the above conditions would be sufficient ground to allow an eruv of tzuras hepesachim l’chatchilah. Additionally, as there are many reasons to allow an eruv in London, even a Baal Nefesh can rely on the eruv with certainty. Furthermore, since the Golders Green eruv consist of mechitzos habatim, the eruv is considered a Rambam eruv.

All the other halachic arguments ─ such as sechiras reshus or karpeifos ─ are issues that affect all city eruvin today, but nevertheless, have not negated any eruv yet. Why should Golders Green be any different? Moreover, all the arguments set forth to date have been that the Gedolei Haposkim would have objected to an eruv in London, but the issue of sechiras reshus and karpeifos have never been part of the Gedolei Haposkim’s arguments at all. Why do we have to follow those who want to collect every chumrah in hilchos eruvin? Dear readers, there are few poskim who, if we would follow all their rulings in regards to eruvin, would not allow us to establish an eruv l’chatchilah.

We are left with the hashkafic issues. One who claims that an eruv negatively impacts the sanctity of the Shabbos by encouraging unbecoming behavior, such as ball playing or socializing, is in fact making a blanket statement against all eruvin ─ since these issues can be problematic with eruvin in both large and small cities and even a private eruv between adjacent houses ─ and he can be considered an einoh modeh b’eruv. Eruvin, according to the poskim, was always a matter of halachah and not hashkafah. Let us remember that an eruv is a tikun and not a michshol, and it serves to improve the spiritual quality of a community’s Shabbos observance.