Tuesday, March 31, 2009

History of City Eruvin − Part 7: The Eruv in St. Louis

Continued from part VI

The Rebuttal

Sometime after Rav Rosenfeld published his Tikvas Zecharia, Rav Jaffe penned a rebuttal titled, Rishfei Eish, that he inserted into some editions of his Sho’el Ka’inyan.[138]

Rav Jaffe mentioned Rav Rosenfeld’s argument[139] that, contrary to Rav Akivah Eiger’s opinion, the renting of the reshus through sechiro v’lekito was effective for an observant Jew. Rav Jaffe proceeded to bring support for Rav Akivah Eiger that the renting of the reshus through sechiro v’lekito is not sufficient for an observant Jew. He then cited the Atzei Almogim[140] that renting the reshus through sechiro v’lekito was not effective for a Tsdoki or a Yisroel Mummer [Jewish sinner]. Rav Jaffe then went on to argue that most of those who grew up in America are uneducated and are mechalel Shabbos so they should not be halachically different than a Tsdoki, in which case bitul and sechiras reshus would not suffice.

Additionally, he defended the Toras Chesed against Rav Rosenfeld’s disputation[141] that wires affixed to the top of the crossarms are not considered tzuras hapesach min hatzad. Rav Jaffe brought proof that wires fastened as such are considered min hatzad.

Rav Jaffe stated that he had decimated the remainder of Rav Rosenfeld’s arguments in his kuntres, Orva Parach, which he was in the process of publishing in Yerushalayim. In 1896, Rav Jaffe published the kuntres but titled it Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom instead.[142]

In the preface to Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom, he wrote a short preamble for publishing the kuntres. He stated that after the gedolim of Eretz Yisroel,[143] saw both his kuntres and the opposing kuntres Tikvas Zecharia, they agreed with him that it was prohibited to rely on the St. Louis eruv. He added that the rabbanim of Yafa, Dubrovno,[144] and the additional Gedolei HaDor that he cites in his introduction[145] agree that it was prohibited to rely on the St. Louis eruv. Rav Jaffe mentioned that his friend Rav Eliezer Zalman Grayewsky wrote to him that he heard from the Dayan, Rav Chaim Yaakov Spira of Yerushalayim, that when Rav Spira was a Dayan in Kovno, he assisted Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor who had been requested by the community leaders to establish an eruv through the use of the telegraph lines. Rav Spektor then sent Rav Spira to examine the construct of the telegraph lines. After Rav Spektor was made aware that Rav Spira’s grandfather, Rav Aryeh Leib Spira, the previous rav of Kovno, was opposed to utilizing the telegraph lines, he ceased his inquiry into the matter. Rav Spektor declared that once the Gaon Rav Spira prohibited the telegraph lines, who could argue? Therefore, Rav Jaffe stated that if Rav Rosenfeld refused to follow these gedolim, the Bais Din Hagadol of Yerushalayim, he would be considered a zaken mamre. Hopefully, he added, Rav Rosenfeld would listen to these words emanating from Yerushalayim.

In Rav Jaffe’s introduction,[146] he stated that he had previously demonstrated the severity of carrying on Shabbos in St. Louis and all similarly planned cities, and that in his sefer Sho’el Ka’inyan, he outlined how, according to most Rishonim and Achronim and even those who accept shishim ribo as a criterion, carrying in St. Louis is an issur skilah. He argued that, as is apparent from the preface of the Tikvas Zecharia, Rav Rosenfeld allowed the carrying on Shabbos in order to make a name for himself, and by doing so, he undermined the main kedushah of Shabbos. Rav Jaffe continued that this is the path of the earlier mechalelei Shabbos of this land, to be lenient in kedushas haShabbos through the fabrication of all kinds of heterim. He then listed the rabbanim who agreed with him and gave him haskamos: Rav Yaakov Dovid Willovsky, Av Bais Din of Slutzk; Rav Shmuel Salant, Ravad of Yerushalayim; Rav Shaul Chaim Hurowitz, Reish Mesivta in Yerushalayim; Rav Naphtali Herz HaLevi Vaidenboim, Ravad of Yafa, and Rav Eliezer Zalman Grayewsky. Additionally, Rav Jaffe stated that rabbanim in America agreed with him, as well, such as: Rav Yaakov Chaim Widerevits, of New York; Rav Yehoshua Seigel, Rav HaKollel D'Kehilas Yisroel in New York;[147] his relative Rav Dov Ber Abramowitz, Rav of Mishkan Yisroel Anshei Suvalk in New York; Rav Dov Aryeh Levinthal, Av Bais Din of Philadelphia;[148] Rav Yaakov Ibn-Frommer, Av Bais Din of Cleveland;[149] Avraham Yaakov Gershon Lesser, Av Bais Din of Chicago, and Rav Moshe Shimon Sivitz, Av Bais Din of Pittsburg.[150]

He then declared that with his thwarting [in his sefer Sho’el Ka’inyan] of Rav Rosenfeld’s public suppositions,[151] he almost succeeded in ensuring that the few G-d fearing Jews would desist from using the eruv. However, he stated, Rav Rosenfeld now claimed that he had additional grounds[152] on which he built his heter for an eruv in St. Louis and for all cities in America.[153] Now, Rav Jaffe exclaimed, Rav Rosenfeld even published his heter calling it Tikvas Zecharia, in the “hope” [tikva] that all would follow him, Rav “Zecharia” Rosenfeld.

Rav Jaffe proclaimed that if Rav Rosenfeld’s heterim had been disseminated in Europe they would not have found a receptive audience, and he would not have felt a need to publish this rebuttal. However, here in America, the populace awaited a rav who was mekil. The masses were not learned and were busy with the ways of the world. Rav Jaffe continued that Rav Rosenfeld was a mekil who argued on those whom we receive nourishment from ― the Rishonim, Achronim, and also on the Gaonim, such as the Toras Chesed. Rav Jaffe then stated that Rav Rosenfeld himself carried on Shabbos, and he had even directed one of the shochtim to deliberately carry in order to accustom the masses to carrying.

In defense of kedushas haShabbos and the honor of the Rishonim and the Achronim, Rav Jaffe claimed that he had reviewed all of Rav Rosenfeld’s writings and realized that it was not worthwhile to rebuff any of the words of Rabboseinu HaGedolim and it was with great displeasure that he fought this moral war. However, for kavod haTorah and kedushas haShabbos, he would leave his confines and tear down all of Rav Rosenfeld’s arguments. He stated that he called the kuntres Teshuvah KaHalachah because it is an halachic answer to the words of the person who allowed an eruv by being lenient in the issur of carrying in a reshus harabbim.

Rav Jaffe then signed this introduction as the former Av Bais Din of various kehilos in Zamut[154] and presently a rav in St. Louis.[155]

Continued here.
[138] See note 52.
[139] Tikvas Zecharia, chapter 6, p. 37.
[140] Siman, 391.
[141] Tikvas Zecharia, chapter 5, p. 26.
[142] There is a mistake in the chronogram on the title page, which adds up to the year [5]756. No doubt it should have been [5]656. The kuntres must have been published after June 28, 1896, since that is the latest haskamah Rav Jaffe received (Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom {2} 3; alternately, see Rav Grayewsky’s haskamah which could have been written sometime in July 1896). However, it was probably published prior to the haskamah from Rav Diskin, which was dated October 28, 1896 since it did not make it into the kuntres.
[143] Rav Jaffe is referring to the haskamah on page 2 {2} from Rav Shmuel Salant and Rav Schneur Zalman Fradkin; see below.
[144] See pp. 4-8, and below.
[145] See below.
[146] Page 9 {5}. Rav Jaffe called this section of his kuntres Teshuvah KaHalachah and the second section, which contained correspondence, Divrei Shalom.
[147] See note 205.
[148] As we shall see, Rav Jaffe did not include a haskamah from Rav Levinthal. Moreover, Rav Rosenfeld received a letter of praise from Rav Levinthal; see above, The First St. Louis Eruv.
[149] As we shall see, Rav Jaffe did not include a haskamah from Rav Frommer.
[150] As we shall see, Rav Jaffe did not include a haskamah from Rav Sivitz. Moreover, in his letter of praise to Rav Rosenfeld, Rav Sivitz clearly stated that he did not want to be involved in an ongoing machlokas between gedolim in halachah; see above, The First St. Louis Eruv.
[151] See above, The First City Eruv in North America – St. Louis 1894 and note 60.
[152] Since Rav Jaffe was only acquainted with what Rav Rosenfeld publicly suggested were his heterim for an eruv, Rav Jaffe only had a general idea of Rav Rosenfeld’s eruv boundaries. Clearly, Rav Jaffe did not know many of the particulars that Rav Rosenfeld suggested in Tikvas Zechariah, vol. 2 (see also note 60). These include Rav Rosenfeld’s: 1) Specific heterim for using telegraph lines as tzuras hapesachim. 2) Employment of the telegraph lines through the principle of lavud and pi tikra. 3) Argument that the riverbanks are 10 tefachim above the waterline. 4) Usage of the River Des Peres, the artificial embankments, and trench as mechitzos. 5) Arguments regarding the trolleys. Consequentially, Rav Jaffe published his Teshuvah KaHalachah VeDivrei Shalom to refute all of Rav Rosenfeld’s arguments which were finally committed to paper with the publication of Tikvas Zechariah, vol. 2.
[153] Actually, Rav Rosenfeld never mentioned in Tikvas Zechariah that his heter was for all cities in America. He only stated that he hoped his heter would energize other communities to follow suit (ibid., preface p. {5}; see also Rav Ticktin’s haskamah).
[154] Yiddish name for territory in northwestern region of modern Lithuania.
[155] In some editions, Rav Jaffe inserted a new introduction changing only the place of his rabbanus to New York. Apparently, Rav Jaffe added this page after he became a rav in Brooklyn in 1897 (see note 22). This can be discerned from the fact that this edition included a Mahadurah Achron with a teshuvah that Rav Jaffe had written from Brooklyn in 1898. Alternately, Rav Jaffe added this introduction when he became rav in Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol in New York City, which would explain why he signed as Av Bais Din in New York.

Title page of Rav Jaffe’s kuntres where he rebuts Rav Rosenfeld hetterim for an eruv in St. Louis.