Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Bais Ephraim Revisited


As I have written on numerous occasions the argument that the Bais Ephraim maintains that pirtzos esser [breaches of ten amos wide] is on a d’Oraysa level in a situation of three mechitzos, as opposed to pasei bira’os [an enclosure consisting of four two-sided posts of at least an amah wide in each direction forming the corners of a square] is hevel. Those making this argument are either menuvalim breshus haTorah, or simply am haratzim.

However, I would like to revisit this debate, due to an additional argument set forth by these yungerleit, which I feel I should address. The added argument is as follows: The Bais Ephraim would only allow three mechitzos in a situation where the mechitzos are complete without any pirtzos, as depicted by the letter bais in the second diagram of the Bais Ephraim’s teshuva. In essence those making this claim utilize the second diagram, which seems to portray three continuous mechitzos, as proof that the Bais Ephraim maintains that in a situation of three mechitzos, gaps of ten amos are on a d’Oraysa level (and hence tzuras hapesachim to close the breaches are not sufficient), as opposed to pasei bira’os, in which case pirtzos esser prohibits only me’d’rabbanan (therefore, tzuras hapesachim to close the gaps are acceptable).

Let us explore why this claim is simply another excuse to prohibit eruvin:

To begin with, in my post, Part 3: The Truth Regarding The Stamford Hill Eruv, I state that the entire teshuvah of the Bais Ephraim demonstrates that pirtzos esser in a situation of three mechitzos [not unlike pasei bira’os], is only proscribed me’d’rabbanan. In fact, the Bais Ephraim argues that the reason pasei bira’os are suitable to demarcate a reshus harabbim is because otherwise asu rabbim u’mevatlei mechitzta. According to these yungerleit, the Bais Ephraim’s argument should have been that pasei bira’os are needed because otherwise pirtzos esser would be on a d’Oraysa level.

Now that we know that the Bais Ephraim always maintains that a pirtzos esser is only proscribed me’d’rabbanan, we can explain why he used the letter bais as the diagram for three mechitzos, which seems to suggest a requirement for three continuous mechitzos without any breaches, as these yungeleit argue.

These are the diagrams as depicted in the original print of the Bais Ephraim (1818), published during his lifetime (O.C. siman 26):

The Bais Ephraim was referring to two towns whose homes formed mechitzos [mechitzos habbatim], and where the circumstances were either that the major road [derech hamelech] ran through the middle of the city or where the road ran at the edge of the city.  Hence the use of a bais and a flipped backwards bais to depict a road that bisected the middle of the town, leaving the area encompassed with pasei bira’os. Or to illustrate a city whose main road ran at the edge of the town, thus detaching the fourth wall, they employed a bais and a flipped backwards vav, which denotes three walls [without closed corners on the fourth side], and an additional wall for the fourth side. The Bais Ephraim allowed all the breaches to be closed with tzuras hapesachim in these conditions, as the breaches are only proscribed me’d’rabbanan.

These diagrams are comprised of enlarged Hebrew letters, since at the time it was difficult to insert diagrams, and so the printers resorted to using the Hebrew alphabet in lieu of actual illustrations.

The argument that the fact that the Bais Ephraim employed the letter bais to represent three mechitzos (in the second example), is proof that the mechitzos would need to be without a breach of ten amos is wrong on a few counts.

Firstly, the letter bais was only used to depict three mechitzos consisting of houses, because it was difficult to insert an actual diagram. However, it is a given that there are breaches of ten amos between the houses, as the Bais Ephraim states (Teshuvos HaBach HaChadashos, siman 3) that it was common for the pirtzos between the homes to be closed with tzuras hapesachim.

Secondly, the example given by the Bais Ephraim was that there was a major road ten amos wide, bisecting the three walls from the fourth wall. The breaches formed by the main road running through two of the towns’ mechitzos habbatim were at least ten amos wide, and nevertheless the entire area included in the omed merubeh of the four mechitzos habbatim, even the unenclosed area adjacent to the breaches, was classified as a reshus hayachid me’d’Oraysa according to the Bais Ephraim.

This is proof positive that even in a situation of three mechitzos omed merubeh al haparutz, the Bais Ephraim maintains that pirtzos esser is only a proscription me’d’rabbanan. 

The above demonstrates that those making this argument are misguided yungeleit who never learnt properly, and were never meshamesh rabbanim.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Part 12: Chukei Chaim: Eruvin Rebuttal


Chukei Chaim: Big Cities

Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh

20. In the times of the Gemara. Yerushalayim of old was a reshus horabim d’oraisa. The Gemara says (עירובין ו: כב., קא.) that were the doors of Yerushalayim not closed at night, one would be chayav for carrying in a reshus horabim. According to the Rishonim who require 600,000 people for a reshus horabim, the Old City of Yerushalayim alone must have had 600,000 people. Although it is unlikely that 600,000 people lived there [as there is no room – today the Old City only has about 40,000 residents], at times, tens of thousands of people came from outside, for a total of 600,000 people inside.

Rebuttal: It’s possible that when the Yidden were oleh l’regel, there were 600,000 people traversing the main artery of Yerushalayim. It’s hard to speculate how many people could have been contained within the walls or on a street of Yerushalayim. Besides the Midrash Eichah (1:2) which states that there were vast numbers of people living in Yerushalayim, the Gemara in Gittin (57a) declares that there were many cities on Har HaMelech containing shishim ribo or more. As the Gemara mentions there, the Tzedokim didn’t believe that such a population was possible, and I think this is ironic given what is known about the Tzedokim that they were einoh modeh b’eruv.

Chukei Chaim: 21. Yerushalayim over the years. Over the years, even when the new Yerushalayim metropolis extended to the neighborhoods outside the Old City walls and the eiruv was constantly expanded as neighborhoods were added, Yerushalayim did not have 600,000 residents. This is what the geonim and Rabbanim of Yerushalayim relied on to authorize an eiruv of tzuros hapesach alone: Yerushalayim was not a reshus horabim d’oraisa according to many opinions. We heard from multiple poskim of Yerushalayim that the day the population of Yerushalayim reaches 600,000, we must reconsider the heter of carrying in the Yerushalayim eiruv (מור הגר''מ בראנדסדארפער בשם המנחת יצחק, הגריש''א).

Rebuttal: Everything is hearsay when the issue is eruvin. In fact, the Minchas Yitzchak (8:32) clearly maintains that only when shishim ribo traverse the street itself is it classified as a reshus harabbim (the only question regarding his position was whether the requirement of shishim ribo traversing the street is every day or would many/most days suffice). Clearly, this story regarding the Minchas Yitzchak is specious. Rav Elyashiv is quoted in his sefer Ha’aros on Maseches Shabbos (6b) as advancing numerous reasons why Yerushalayim does not fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo.


Chukei Chaim: Yerushalayim Today

22. About a million residents. Currently [5784/2024], the residents of Yerushalayim number close to one million – it is the biggest city in Eretz Yisroel. Accordingly, the shaila arose whether and how it is possible to rely on an eiruv of tzuros hapesach alone in a reshus horabim d’oraisa.

23. Arabs are not included. The poskim reasoned that the Arabs in East Jerusalem and other Arab neighborhoods are not included in the number of 600,000. The reason is that the main roads which serve the Jews in the center of the city do not serve the Arabs of East Jerusalem, and we generally do not use their roads due to the danger to life. Thus, they are not counted as residents of Yerushalayim for the purposes of eiruvin. According to the statistics, they make up 40% of Yerushalayim’s population. However, according to this calculation, Yerushalayim is still left with about 600,000 Jews, leaving the question in place.

24. Ramot and the like are not included. To this, some poskim explain that some neighborhoods in Yerushalayim, e.g., Ramot, which has over 50,000 people, and other neighborhoods counted as part of the city’s population for official records, are not part of the city for the purposes of hilchos eiruvin, as they are not connected to the rest of the city with a continuous row of houses, and there is a big enough gap to define them as outside the city. [See what we wrote (Issue 30, par. 18) regarding Purim in Ramot.] Thus, there are not yet 600,000 people; there is still time before that happens.

Rebuttal: All of the above is irrelevant, and excuses after the fact. Only when shishim ribo traverse the street would Yerushalayim be classified as a reshus harabbim of shishim ribo. Moreover, the fact is that the eruv in Yerushalayim does not only rely on the criterion of shishim ribo, it relies on the criterion of mefulash u’mechuvanim, and the Chazon Ish’s shita as well (Orach Dovid, ois 188, Kinyan Torah, 4:40, and Even Yisroel, 8:36). It’s about time people stop denying that there is more than one reason why Yerushalayim is not classified as a reshus harabbim.


Chukei Chaim: 25. Kosher when originally established. Another rationale said about Yerushalayim is that since there weren’t 600,000 people when the eiruv was established, and it was kosher, it is hard to challenge an established eiruv. Thus, we use a combination of all sorts of heteirim to keep its kosher status. For example, on Shabbos itself there are not 600,000 people on the streets; even during the week there are not 600,000 people on the streets, as there are elderly people and young children who do not go out (see Igros Moshe quoted in Issue 316, par. 21); the streets do not go all the way through from the city’s entrance to its exit; even during the week, no one street has 600,000 people; and the like. But it is true, bnei Torah and people who are meticulous in mitzvos should know the issues and decide for themselves if they want to carry in the eiruv, and those who are meikel have basis to rely on. Thus, there is plenty of room to rely only on neighborhood eiruvim (תשוה"נ ח''ה סי' ק''א).

Rebuttal: This is simply an excuse after the fact. If the matter is of a d’Oraysa, there would be strong reason to negate the eruv, and many people would agree that it should not be relied on. However, the entire anti-eruv enterprise is being foisted on others by misguided yungeleit who never learnt halachah, and never were meshamish rabbanim. To those who do not accept the arguments of these yungeleit it is clear that the issue is not a matter of a d’Oraysa. Moreover, there are other criteria, and not heteirim, that are being relied on to establish an eruv in Yerushalayim.  

Actually, Rav Elyashiv is quoted in his sefer Ha’aros on Maseches Shabbos (6b) as advancing numerous reasons why Yerushalayim does not fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo (e.g. we require that the shishim ribo traverse therein the entire day, that we do not include non-residents, women, children, infirm, and non-Jews in the tally). Consequently, it is possible that Rav Elyashiv would agree that most large cities do not fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo and an eruv of tzuras hapesachim can be established. It should also be noted that Rav Elyashiv was only referring to an eruv consisting of tzuras hapesachim. However, he certainly would have allowed an eruv formed by mechitzos that are omed merubeh to be established (see The Toronto Community Eruv, p. 15).    

Chukei Chaim: Brooklyn

26. Reshus horabim d’oraisa. For many years, there was no eiruv in Brooklyn – not in Boro Park, and not in Flatbush – due to the psak of the gedolei and poskei hador. This was primarily because it is a reshus horabim d’oraisa, as its resident’s number over 2.5 million. They held that all the borough’s streets have the d’oraisa status of reshus horabim since they serve all the borough’s residents. Thus, an eiruv cannot be made with tzuros hapesach alone (הגר''מ פיינשטיין באג''מ או''ח סי' קל''ט, הגר''י שטייף, בעל דברי יואל ועוד).

Rebuttal: Huh? This is based on hearsay. Rav Yonason Steif maintained that there is no reshus harabbim today, and supported eruvin in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Satmar Rebbe (Vayoel Moshe) upheld that there is no reshus harabbim today. Even regarding Rav Moshe it is questionable whether he would be opposed to a Brooklyn eruv in their current construct. 

Chukei Chaim: 27. Meikel opinion. However, about 25 years ago, some choshuve rabbanim established eiruvim in Boro Park and Flatbush based on tzuros hapesach alone. They primarily relied on the fact that the 600,000 people are not on the streets included in the eiruv themselves (שו''ת עמק התשובה ח''א סי' כ', ח''ג סי' ט''ו, שו''ת משנה הלכות ח''ח סי' ס''ב עד קע''ט, שו''ת חוק חיים -יאקא ח''ד סי' ט''ז).

Rebuttal: They did not, “primarily rely on the fact that the 600,000 people are not on the streets included in the eiruv themselves.” In fact, they relied on the criteria of mefulash u’mechuvanim, and mechitzos, as well as shishim ribo. Rav Bleier simply does not know what he is talking about, and the fact that he ignores these criteria demonstrates a bias.   

Chukei Chaim: 28. Three walls. Some claim Boro Park is surrounded by three walls, so an eiruv can be made even though it is considered a reshus horabim. They also claim the train bridges in Boro Park divide part of the streets and constitute walls based on the halacha of פי תקרה (שו''ת משנה הלכות ח''ח סי' ע'' ט). However, others argue and do not accept these rationales (שו''ת אג''מ או''ח סי' קל''ח, יציאות השבת סי' י''ג, קונטרס פירצות העיר נדפס בסוף ס' יציאות השבת, ס' וכיצד אין מערבין).

Rebuttal: Huh? Those who argue against the mechitzos which encompass Brooklyn are simply eino modeh b’eruvin. One cannot argue regarding facts. Brooklyn is encompassed by multiple layers of mechitzos. Additionally, Rav Bleier should get with the program. No one utilized the train bridges as a heter for the current Brooklyn eruvin, and these was never used as more than a snif l’heter.

Chukei Chaim: In Practice

29. We previously wrote (316, par. 42) that most poskim hold one should not carry l’chatchila in eiruvim in big cities with more than a million residents, e.g., New York, London, Paris, etc., that are based on tzuros hapesach alone, without any upgrades – especially those who are meticulous in mitzvos (above, 7). Examples of effective upgrades are three real walls (316, par. 33); three walls consisting of more wall than gap (317, par. 22); closed doors (318, par. 3); or at least doors that are able to close (ibid., 13). As with all halachic matters, each person should consult with his rav who is proficient in the topic.

Rebuttal: This is simply fiction. There are multiple reasons to allow an eruv, l’chatchilah, consisting of tzuras hapesachim, even in these large cities, and even a “Baal Nefesh“ can rely on them. 

Chukei Chaim: Eiruv Increases Peace

Prevent Machlokes

30. At the close of the eiruvin series, and with the hope that everyone enjoyed the halachos we set forth on eiruvin and accumulated more information on the “closed alley” of eiruvin, we will conclude with the Yerushalmi (עירובין פ''ג ה''ב, פ''ז ה''ט): Why do we make eiruvei chatzeiros? To promote peace [דרכיה שלום]. As the posuk says (משלי ג'), “דרכי דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום.” The prepared roads and paths cause an increase of peace (פני משה). This way, neighbors can speak to each other and everyone can blend together and be considered like one person (קרבן העדה).

31. The Gemara also says (עירובין דף מ''ט ע''א): R’ Yehuda said in the name of Shmuel, “If one is particular [מקפיד] about his eiruv, his eiruv is not an eiruv. What is it called? An eiruv. ([Implying] that everyone should be in harmony [מעורבין] and satisfied with it; one should not protest against his friend. Rather, [it should be a] pleasant, harmonious partnership [רש''י ד''ה עירוב שמו].)

32. Sadly, we see that much machlokes breaks out over eiruvim in many places. Therefore, let us improve in the matter. On the contrary, let us increase peace among us, especially among talmidei chachamim, who increase peace in the world, until we are zocheh to live within the walls of Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh; as the posuk says, “ה' עוז לעמו יתן, ה' יברך את עמו בשלום.”

Rebuttal: Rav Bleier’s newsletters did a tremendous disservice, by giving a widespread platform to these yungeleit. 

The Navi states v’karasa L’Shabbos oneg, and as the Perishah posits, the ability to utilize eruvin is a matter of oneg Shabbos, a d’oraysa. May we be zocheh to fulfill the mitzva of oneg Shabbos properly.

The Bais Ephraim Revisited

  As I have written on numerous occasions the argument that the Bais Ephraim maintains that pirtzos esser [breaches of ten amos wide] is ...