Wednesday, September 03, 2008

History of City Eruvin − Part 6: The Eruv in St. Louis

Continued from part V


Rav Rosenfeld then demonstrated how the above was applicable to St. Louis.

He stated that the population of St. Louis three years prior to his establishing of the eruv was 460,000,[108] and that the present population count was approximately 500,000.[109]

Rav Rosenfeld then declared that most people traversed the streets in either electric or steam trolleys, the walls of which were within three tefachim off the ground; consequently, the passengers were actually sitting in a reshus hayachid and therefore, as the trolley passed, the ground beneath it was classified as a reshus hayachid, as well. Thus, according to those who defined a reshus harabbim as an area that had shishim ribo traversing it on a daily basis, it would be illogical to argue that we include the commuters in the trolleys in the tally since when they passed over the street it was categorized as a reshus hayachid. Moreover, he asserted, even those who maintained that shishim ribo was not a criterion of a reshus harabbim required that the area be able to sustain the rabbim; consequentially, since the trolleys made it dangerous for pedestrians to traverse the street, it was not halachically considered as being capable of sustaining the masses. Additionally, the sidewalks alone were not independently 16 amos wide, and to cross over to the next street, one needed to negotiate the side street, avoiding the trolleys that were obstructing the way there, as well.[110]

Telegraph lines bisected the city, and the wires halachically created a roofed area through the principle of lavud. Consequentially, the streets beneath them were classified as a karmelis, dividing the city into parts of less than shishim ribo as outlined in chapter one, section two.

Rav Rosenfeld then set forth how the area where the Jews resided was enclosed:[111]
On the east side by the Mississippi River [numbers 1-2 on the map].

On the south side by the River Des Peres [numbers 3-4 on the map]. Both rivers had banks which were more than 10 tefachim high above their respective waterlines.[112]

On the north side by the Mississippi River, as well [numbers 5-6 on the map],[113] whose banks were above the waterline. Closer to the city, however, railroads ran along artificial embankments. One embankment that was longer and steeper than the others covered the pipelines that brought water into the city [numbers 7-9 on the map].[114]

On the west side there was a deep artificial trench that ran [south] from its northern corner where it met the Mississippi River.[115] Several bridges that were broader than 10 amos spanned this trench. There were also walls in the vicinity that consisted of fences surrounding Jewish and non-Jewish cemeteries in that area [numbers 10-11 on the map][116] and numerous hills,[117] but there were many breaks broader than 10 amos between them.

There was an additional mechitzah on the west side between the area in which the Jews resided and the areas inhabited by non-Jews.[118] The telegraph line that began on the hill from the north [the railroad embankments] continued right up to the riverbanks of the River Des Peres on the south, so that there was no break between the telegraph poles and the northern and southern walls of the eruv.[119]

The mechitzah on the south side, the riverbanks of the River Des Peres, was more than 10 tefachim high above its waterlines and was never plied by boats. There was only one bridge[120] on which the railroad ran that crossed over the section of the river facing the neighborhood where the Jews resided.[121] However, this bridge had a structure that served as a tzuras hapesach. On the north side, both the embankments of the Mississippi River and the artificial embankments were sufficient as mechitzos [and did not have any bridges negating them].

The mechitzah on the west side, the artificial trench, was also crossed by bridges. Although Rav Shlomo Kluger upheld that bridges did not halachically negate riverbanks,[122] Rav Rosenfeld declared that he would not rely on this leniency, and therefore, he was utilizing the telegraph lines as he had outlined in chapter five. More so, since he was only using telegraph lines that either had wires directly over their poles[123] or telegraph lines where the crossarms were attached to the top of the pole and not those whose poles projected above their crossarms, he deflected the Toras Chesed’s first concern. Rav Rosenfeld argued that since the telegraph lines joined the mechitzos from the north and south without interruption, the Toras Chesed’s third issue did not apply, as outlined in chapter five. Therefore, since the Toras Chesed’s objection to the use of telegraph lines for tzuras hapesachim was only in conjunction with all four issues, now that two of his issues had been deflected, even the Toras Chesed would have allowed that the telegraph lines could be used as tzuras hapesachim. Besides for which, since the telegraph lines served as halachic tzuras hapesachim, Rav Rosenfeld argued that we could view the wires halachically as connected through the principle of lavud. We could then apply the principle of pi tikra yored v’sosem, and the telegraph lines could be regarded as mechitzos, as outlined at the end of chapter five.

The mechitzah on the east side, the riverbank of the Mississippi River, was more than 10 tefachim high above its waterlines and was sufficient. Additionally, since the Mississippi River abutted the artificial embankment on the north side [number 9 on the map],[124] the issue of the houses being set back 10 amos from the river does not concern us.

Rav Rosenfeld then cited a few reasons why the issue of the masses disembarking from the ships and negating the natural riverbanks should not concern us:
1) Only when the rabbim cross natural mechitzos that are einam mukafim l’dira do we say that they negate the mechitzos. However, since two of the mechitzos are manmade ― the telegraph lines on the west side and the artificial embankment on the north side ― the riverbanks are considered mukafim l’dira. Consequentially, the masses do not override the natural mechitzos of the river.

2) St. Louis was encompassed by three mechitzos which did not have a rabbim traversing them ― the artificial embankment on the north side, the riverbanks of the River Des Peres on the south side, which did not have boats plying it, and the telegraph lines on the west side [which were regarded as tzuras hapesachim]. Given that three of the mechitzos did not have a rabbim negating them, it does not concern us, halachically, that the fourth side did.

Rav Rosenfeld then explained the quandary of employing the telegraph lines as a mechitzah through pi tikra yored v’sosem. Only when there are two adjoining mechitzos [and not just two parallel walls] can we utilize the principle of pi tikra yored v’sosem for the third side. Consequentially, if we made use of the telegraph lines on the west side through pi tikra yored v’sosem, the riverbank of the Mississippi River on the east side would be the third mechitzah, in which case we maintain that the masses do override the natural mechitzah. However, Rav Rosenfeld posited that the telegraph lines could also be employed for gud achis mechitzta [we regard the wall as if it extends downward forming a valid partition] since there were numerous crossarms totaling at least 10 tefachim in height affixed to the telegraph poles (we can use the principle of lavud and classify the crossarms as a solid wall). Nevertheless, gud achis has its own drawback; we do not make use of such a mechitzah on land since there can be geduyim bokim bo [the open space beneath a mechitzah employing gud achis is one in which small animals such as young goats could readily pass through, thus the principle is not applied]. Therefore, Rav Rosenfeld suggested that, in order to overcome these shortcomings, the telegraph lines could be employed for both principles, pi tikra and gud achis, in conjunction with each other. When employing gud achis, we do not have the disadvantage of needing two adjoining mechitzos, and when utilizing pi tikra, there is no drawback of geduyim bokim. Nonetheless, even though Rav Rosenfeld considered this argument sound, he did not want to employ it since he did not know of any other poskim who used these principles in conjunction with each other to overcome these shortcomings.

Nevertheless, Rav Rosenfeld posited that incorporating the telegraph lines through pi tikra did not prevent him from using the riverbank of the Mississippi River as a mechitzah for the following two reasons: He argued that me’d’Oraysa we could employ pi tikra for the third side even if the two walls were not adjoining each other. Consequentially, even if the fourth side was enclosed with a natural mechitzah, the masses did not override it, and the area was classified me’d’rabbanan as a reshus hayachid. Additionally, according to the Elya Rabah,[125] only when both open sides of the two parallel mechitzos open into a reshus harabbim do we not employ pi tikra for the third side. However, in our situation, the open side on the east opened into the Mississippi River, which was a karmelis. Even on the open west side, besides for the telegraph lines [that he was employing through pi tikra], the mechitzos [the artificial trench, fences of the cemeteries, and the many hills] were sufficient me’d’Oraysa, notwithstanding the fact that there were bridges and gaps between these mechitzos that were more than 10 amos wide. Consequentially, we could employ pi tikra for the third side.

3) Rav Rosenfeld posited that since St. Louis is encompassed by mechitzos, it was classified as a reshus hayachid, and as the Magen Avraham maintained,[126] to negate the mechitzos we require shishim ribo traversing them.

As he had illustrated above, Rav Rosenfeld stated there was ample reason to allow an eruv even if the rabbim did override the natural walls. However, he argued that there were no masses traversing these natural walls at all.

Rav Rosenfeld explained that the ships never negated the riverbanks. Passengers disembarked and embarked from gangplanks that were retrieved as soon as they were no longer needed. He argued that the fact that there was a rabbim crossing the riverbanks when these gangplanks were extended was no worse than a reshus harabbim where carrying was allowed as long as its doors were closed by night. Rav Rosenfeld continued that he did not need to rely on this rationale for the ships which navigated between St. Louis and East St. Louis, as these ships only plied the water during the day and not by night. Consequentially, there was no continuous traversing of the masses, which was a prerequisite for them to be classified as overriding the walls. Additionally, the passengers embarked and disembarked these boats via manmade piers that extended into the river and which had doors that were opened only when needed. Therefore, the riverbanks themselves were not negated by the masses.

Furthermore, Rav Rosenfeld stated, there were those who were stringent even regarding rivers and oceans because their natural mechitzos may in time be obliterated by a build-up of sediment. However, even those who were stringent would have allowed the riverbanks that he was relying on since they were above the waterline by at least 10 tefachim.

Rav Rosenfeld continued that on the east side crossing the Mississippi River there was one bridge that linked St. Louis to East St. Louis [number 12 on the map][127] which was more than 16 amos wide on the St. Louis side. However, he declared, the bridge was divided in the middle of its span into three sections by mechitzos on the west, north, and south sides. The outer two sections of the bridge, which were used by the railroads, were less than 11 amos, and the middle section was less than 13 1/3 amos [therefore, the bridge was not classified as a reshus harabbim]. More so, since the majority of the center span’s width was utilized by the railroads, the remainder of the width was even less than 10 amos, consequentially a telegraph line could certainly serve as a tzuras hapesach to close the gap.[128]

Concluding his kuntres, Rav Rosenfeld stated that the poskim upheld that if there was an additional basis for leniency besides for the fact that the street did not have shishim ribo traversing it daily, the area was not considered a reshus harabbim. Accordingly, Rav Rosenfeld argued that he did not consider St. Louis as a city containing shishim ribo, and in conjunction with the fact that the streets of the city were not mefulash to a reshus harabbim, there is no question that the mechitzos encompassing the city were sufficient.

Rav Rosenfeld received haskamos from:
Rav Yaakov Yosef Josef (1840/1-1902),[129] Chief Rabbi of New York dated September 17, 1895. Rav Josef urged his friend Rav Rosenfeld to publish his kuntres.
Rav Shabsi Rosenberg (1851-1913)[130] of Brooklyn dated September 26, 1895. Rav Rosenberg stated that his friend[131] Rav Rosenfeld stayed by him[132] and showed him his kuntres regarding the eruv. Rav Rosenberg was duly impressed and recommended that it be publish.

In some editions[133] there are the following additional approbations:
Rav Abba Chaim Levinson (1853-1912) of Baltimore dated April 22, 1896. He mentioned that there was nothing to add as Rav Rosenfeld had done a thorough job in citing the Rishonim and Achronim.
Rav Yosef Komissarsky (1831-1908) of Chicago dated April 23, 1896. Rav Komissarsky declared that Rav Rosenfeld did not need a haskamah from him.
Rav Todros Yukel Ticktin (b. 1835) of Chicago dated May 1, 1896. Rav Ticktin stated that he saw Rav Rosenfeld’s kuntres and that there was hope it would cause the rabbanim of America to be envious and rectify pressing issues.
Rav Meir Peimer (1840-1911) of Slutsk dated August 17, 1896. He declared that without a doubt one could rely on Rav Rosenfeld’s heter to carry, and whoever disagreed with Rav Rosenfeld was the underdog. Most importantly, Rav Peimer stated that Rav Rosenfeld was correct in seeking all means to remove obstacles.

Additionally, Rav Rosenfeld included the following two letters of praise:
Rav Dov Aryeh Levinthal (1865-1952) of Philadelphia. Rav Levinthal commended Rav Rosenfeld for building on a solid foundation of Rishonim.
Rav Moshe Shimon Sivitz (1855-1936)[134] of Pittsburgh. Rav Sivitz stated that he had received Rav Rosenfeld’s two letters, but the reason he had not replied was that he was afraid to get involved in an ongoing machlokas between gedolim in halachah, and that he was sure that it was a machlokas l’sheim Shomayim. However, now that he had the satisfaction of actually seeing the kuntres, he is required to give him a brachah.

Sometime later, Rav Rosenfeld added an Addendum which was only included in some editions. He reiterated that the population of St. Louis had not reached shishim ribo, but even when it would, at some point in time, reach shishim ribo, the city would still not be classified as a reshus harabbim, and he listed the reasons mentioned above, stressing that there were three mechitzos encompassing the city.[135] Rav Rosenfeld stated that the bridges were only an issue me’d’rabbanan. He added that the bridge over the Mississippi River had two levels, and to reach the upper level one would need to go through a structure which is classified as a reshus hayachid.[136] He reiterated that he was only relying on telegraph lines whose wires were directly on top of the poles[137] or on those were the crossarms were attached to the top of the pole; in which case, he could employ the principle of pi tikra.

Next: The Rebuttal
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[108] Most probably Rav Rosenfeld is referring to the 1890 census; see note 57.
[109] I do not know where Rav Rosenfeld obtained such an estimate for 1893. Gould’s St. Louis Directory, p. 25 stated that by 1893 the population of St. Louis was 574,569. However, if Rav Rosenfeld was using Gould’s, they stated that in 1890, the population of St. Louis was 466,200 which is more than he said the population was at that time (but closer than the 1890 US Census of 451,770; see also note 57). [See note 135 regarding the population tally for 1896, the year that Rav Rosenfeld actually published the kuntres.]
[110] It is interesting to note that the Bais Av (2:9:2) quotes this chiddush in the name of Rav Rosenfeld although he disagrees with him. However, see the article by Rav Price regarding the Toronto eruv in HaPardes (25th year, vol. 4 pp. 11-38) where he defends Rav Rosenfeld (pp. 20-23). Additionally, when the Bais Av mentioned the Tikvas Zecharia, he did not spell out the name of the kuntres; he only used an acronym. Therefore, Rav Price mentioned that he did not know which sefer the Bais Av was arguing on, but he stated that he agrees with the author regarding this issue (see also notes 98, 100). Rav Price’s talmid, Rav Gedalia Felder, in his Yesodei Yeshurun (vol. 5 p. 287) clarifies that the Bais Av was referring to the Tikvas Zecharia.
[111] See note 118.
[112] Actually, the River Des Peres after running along the southern side of the city turns northward and runs west through and past Forest Park. However, since the river seems to have narrowed considerably at this point, I do not know if these riverbanks would have satisfied Rav Rosenfeld’s assertion that they were 10 tefachim high. In any case, I assume that Rav Rosenfeld was not using the western part of the river as a boundary at all, since he only mentioned the trench and the hills and cemetery gates as the western mechitzos.
[113] Currently, it is nearly impossible to identify the northern and western boundaries of the mechitzos. Even at the time of the eruv’s establishment, is seems that Rav Rosenfeld did not verbally specify these mechitzos’ exact positions as can be discerned from Rav Jaffe’s rebuttal. It is possible that because the eruv was so contentious, Rav Rosenfeld was deliberately vague about the composition of these boundaries. Rav Rosenfeld probably did verbalize until where one was permitted to carry, which on the west side was based on the telegraph poles (see note 119). The following is some of the issues that illustrate the difficulty of comprehending what Rav Rosenfeld was referring to regarding this northern mechitzah. Rav Rosenfeld mentioned that the Mississippi River bounds St. Louis on the north when, in fact, it is the Missouri River that encloses the northern side of St. Louis [number 6 on the map]. It is possible that Rav Rosenfeld was utilizing the Mississippi River for the northern border as it curves around the city of St. Louis [number 2 on the map], but this leaves numerous questions. For instance, what did Rav Rosenfeld gain by utilizing the railroad [numbers 7-9 on the map] since there is actually not much distance at this point between the Mississippi and the railroad track? Additionally, if Rav Rosenfeld was using the Mississippi River as it curves around the city, this would mean that the northern boundary terminated in the city proper, but the western borders ― the Jewish cemeteries and the hills ― are all much further west of the city and could not have been used as a fourth mechitzah to enclose the city.
[114] Since these tracks commence at the Bissell’s Point Waterworks [number 9 on the map], it is likely that they are the ones that covered the pipelines and are the tracks that Rav Rosenfeld is referring to (see note 124 for further proof). However, I have no idea how far west of the city Rav Rosenfeld made use of these tracks.
[115] I have spent a considerable amount of time on the different possibilities for this boundary, but alas, all of them come up short. I have chosen to leave out these possibilities as they leave more questions unanswered then answered. Since Rav Rosenfeld used an assortment of structures to assemble this mechitzah on the western side of the city, it makes it all the more unfeasible to pinpoint with any certainty what he was using for this border.
[116] At the time, there were three Jewish cemeteries west of the city. Bnai Amoona, Chesed Shel Emes, and Mt. Olive. However, since neither of these Jewish cemeteries is in close proximity to the non-Jewish cemeteries, Rav Rosenfeld probably was just referring to the general vicinity west of the city where there were many non-Jewish cemeteries, as well.
[117] Since there are numerous hills west of the city, it would be impossible to pinpoint which ones Rav Rosenfeld was referring to.
[118] Rav Rosenfeld mentioned twice (Tikvas Zecharia, pp. 42-43) the area where the Jews resided and only here did he make the distinction between the area of the Jewish and non-Jewish neighborhoods. As there were no segregated neighborhoods in St. Louis ― Jews and non-Jews lived side by side ― Rav Rosenfeld could only have been referring to the predominately Jewish neighborhood, the area commonly referred to as the Jewish Ghetto. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that Rav Rosenfeld was using telegraph poles and wires running along Grand Avenue, which was the northern boundary of the ghetto (see the following note). Actually, Rav Jaffe took Rav Rosenfeld to task regarding this issue of a Jewish neighborhood (Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom, pp. {14} 27, {15} 29). This, though, is one of Rav Jaffe’s more trivial arguments.
[119] I am only suggesting that the indicated end points of these boundaries [numbers 4 and 8 on the map] are correct. In any case, Rav Rosenfeld could have selected one of the many telegraph lines that crisscrossed the city to join any point of his choosing on the north and south boundaries to conclude the enclosure of the city. I have been told by members of Rav Rosenfeld’s family that they remember hearing that residents of St. Louis carried on Shabbos at least until Grand Avenue, but this is much farther east than the probable western border of the mechitzah, although the telegraph lines that he used as tzuras hapesachim could have been situated there.
[120] From the maps of the time, there seems to have been three bridges on the south side of the River Des Peres (see for instance Higgins' Road Map of St. Louis and Vicinity, c. 1895). Therefore, it is hard to identify what Rav Rosenfeld was referring to.
[121] See note 118.
[122] U’Bacharta B’Chaim, siman 117.
[123] See note 236.
[124] As can be seen from the included illustration of the northern mechitzah, the railroad tracks from the Bissell’s Point Waterworks (notice the raised railroad embankment on the illustration) joined up with the eastern mechitzah [the Mississippi River]. I am indebted to Mr. Murray Darrish for pointing out this map to me.
[125] Siman 346:4.
[126] Siman 363:40.
[127] There is no doubt that Rav Rosenfeld was referring to the Eads Bridge which was opened in 1874 [number 12 on the map], since it was the only bridge between St. Louis and East St. Louis at the time. However, the question is why didn’t he mention the Merchant Bridge which connected St. Louis with Venice, Illinois, and which was already operable by 1890 (this bridge was a railroad bridge; the 1878 Pitzman map below predates the bridge but it would be situated near number 13 on the map).
[128] I have spent a considerable amount of time poring over photographs, maps, and schematics of the Eads Bridge trying to understand Rav Rosenfeld’s description, but alas, I am no clearer now as to what he was referring to than I was at the outset.
[129] Author of L’Bais Yaakov (Vilna, 1888), and Toldos Yaakov Joseph (New York, 1889). See also L’Bais Yaakov (New York, 2002).
[130] Author of Bris Melech (Vilna, 1907). See also note 23.
[131] Family members of Rav Rosenfeld think that there is a possibility he knew Rav Rosenberg from Yeshivah in Vilna (see Chachmei Yisrael B’America, p. 96 on Rav Rosenberg).
[132] It is probable that to obtain a haskamah from Rav Yaakov Yosef, Rav Rosenfeld came to New York; at which time, it is likely that he stayed by Rav Rosenberg in Brooklyn. It is possible that the underlying cause of the quarrel Rav Jaffe had with Rav Rosenberg when he came to Brooklyn was because of Rav Rosenberg’s friendship with Rav Rosenfeld; see note 23.
[133] See Hebrew Printing in America 1735-1926, p. 974.
[134] Author of Cheker Daas (Yerushalayim, 1898, 1902); Bais Paga (Yerushalayim, 1904); Pri Yecheskel (Yerushalayim, 1908); Mateh Aharon (Yerushalayim, 1914); Mashbiach, vol. 1 (Yerushalayim, 1913, St. Louis, 1920), vol. 2 (St. Louis, 1918), third edition (Yerushalayim, 1929); Hasfos L’Mashbiach HaYerushalmi (St. Louis, 1931, Kedainiai, 1933), and Tzemach HaSadeh (St. Louis, 1935).
[135] It is possible that Rav Rosenfeld was rebutting Rav Jaffe in this Addendum with his statement that it is irrelevant if the population reached shishim ribo, which Rav Jaffe claimed as fact. Therefore, there is a possibility that this Addendum was published even after Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom. The fact that Rav Jaffe did not mention this Addendum (even though he rebutted just about everything Rav Rosenfeld wrote) also lends support that it was published after Rav Jaffe’s Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom. However, the fact that Rav Rosenfeld only defended himself against one of Rav Jaffe’s refutations and totally ignored Rav Jaffe’s countless other criticisms suggests that there is no correlation between this Addendum and Rav Jaffe’s Rishfei Eish (see note 52) and Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom. Therefore, it is possible that this summary was published even prior to Rav Jaffe’s Rishfei Eish.
I believe that Rav Rosenfeld was only bringing his figures up to date. The numbers in his kuntres were for 1893, the year that he established the eruv, but his kuntres was published in 1896. Even though Rav Rosenfeld relied on the US Census figures, he was answering those who cited the 1896 Gould’s St. Louis Directory which established the population as 611,268. Therefore, he declared in his Addendum that it was irrelevant if the population at some point in time reached shishim ribo, since the city was encompassed by three mechitzos (it should be noted that even by the year 1900, the census claimed that the population was only 575,000).
[136] See notes 127-128.
[137] See note 236.
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Map of St. Louis with possible eruv boundaries (Pitzman, Julius. Pitzman’s New Atlas of the City and County of Saint Louis, Missouri, 1878).


Illustration of the Bissell’s Point Waterworks showing the northern mechitzah (notice the raised railroad embankment on the illustration) that ran alongside the riverbank and joined up with the eastern mechitzah [the Mississippi River] (Compton, Richard J., and Dry, Camille N., Pictorial St. Louis, the Great Metropolis of the Mississippi Valley; A Topographical Survey Drawn in Perspective A.D. 1875; Plate 48).