The Kuntres: Other problems with a Large Eiruv
It is also important to stress several points that are well known to anyone who has dealt with the practicalities of constructing and maintaining a large-scale eiruv.
Rebuttal: As I mentioned in the preface, the opposition to eruvin has created an atmosphere where rabbanim are uncomfortable giving hechsherim even on neighborhood eruvin. As a matter of fact, there are much larger eruvin than the community wide Lakewood Eruv, such as in Eretz Yisroel, and most people utilize the eruv, v'ein pozeh peh umetzavtzeh.
The Kuntres: 1) Large eiruvin generally rely extensively on tzuros hapesach for the necessary enclosure. Even one damaged tzuras hapesach will generally invalidate the eiruv entirely!
Thus, the argument that a large eiruv clearly helps to reduce chillul Shabbos is far from a convincing argument. Very often, the opposite can be true. If even one damaged tzuras hapesacli goes unnoticed, large numbers of people can be mechalel Shabbos inadvertently. This is a fact that can be attested to, by anyone involved in eiruvin today. As a matter of fact, many eiruvin that have large amounts of tzuros hnpesach need some level of repair on an almost weekly basis!
[Although some eiruvin are constructed in a manner that avoid this issue, by the use of utility poles, this often comes with certain halachic leniencies upon which need to be relied].
Rebuttal: Actually, the neighborhood eruvin require much upkeep and suffer from considerable neglect. It would be much better to have one community wide eruv under one hechsher. The argument that one downed tzuras hapesach will generally invalidate the entire eruv is inane. In such a situation, even a neighborhood eruv would be nullified. Moreover, if a neighborhood eruv does not have to rely on any leniencies, so too a community wide eruv would not need to rely on leniencies.
The Kuntres: 2) The eiruv must undergo, weekly, a thorough and professional inspection. Furthermore, a mashgiach who is well versed in the relevant halachos must be the one to conduct this inspection. A Torah scholar who is qualified for the task must be paid in a manner commensurate with his expertise, and effort. This can prove to be a formidable cost. Very often, in the long run, the eiruv inspection is given over to unpaid/unlearned volunteers. The halachic risks of this are obvious.
Rebuttal: This actually is an argument for one community wide eruv under one hechsher since it would be much easier to monitor. In any case, the Baal Hakuntres is trying to distinguish eruvin from other hechsherim, insinuating that eruvin is some kind of unique inyan that requires special care unlike other hechsherim. In fact, there is no difference between a hechsher on eruvin and other hechsherim; they all require diligence.
The Kuntres: 3) Last minute shailos
When making sure that the eiruv is valid for use on Shabbos, last minute shailos are asked and a pressured decision must be made. Oftentimes, kulos and halachic "bidieveds" are followed, or the decision is made to rely on a" chazakah" which may not be halachically viable.
Rebuttal: Again, this actually is an argument for one community wide eruv under one hechsher since at least it is monitored and the shailos will be observed. Unfortunately, no shailos are asked regarding many of the neighborhood eruvin.
The Kuntres: 4) Renting from Non-Jews
A large eiruv, runs into the problem of non-Jews who live within the eiruv. In order for the eiruv to be valid, the non-Jews' property must be properly rented by the Jewish residents. In large eiruvin where it impossible to rent from them individually, some sort of rental agreement with the local government, or with local utility companies is executed. The process by which this is accomplished today is far from agreed upon by prominent Poskim, for several reasons, and is a major reason why prominent Poskim strongly encourage a ben-torah to refrain from using such eiruvin.
Rebuttal: This issue is most definitely a matter of a d’rabbanan, and thus, according to all, we employ the maxim halachah k’divrei hameikil b’eruvin. It is ironic that concerning the ability to enact these agreements, those who are machmir regarding eruvin seek stringencies, when all along we were told that the reason for their vociferous opposition was because the matter is a d’Oraysa. Apparently, the search for stringencies on the topic of eruvin is now even regarding matters of d’rabbanan. Even if it was true that these issues, “are far from agreed upon by prominent poskim,” since others disagree, we would then say halachah k’divrei hameikil b’eruvin, and can follow those poskim who are mekil.
In fact, the streets of the neighborhood eruvin also require some sort of rental agreement so bnei-Torah should refrain from using these eruvin, as well. All I can say is good luck. [It should be mentioned that a sefer will be published shortly that will set the record straight regarding these issues.]
The Kuntres: 5) Karfef
Another problem which is prevalent in large eiruvin is the issue of "karfef', which means, that if there is an area inside the eiruv which is not available for residential use, it may invalidate the entire eiruv. For example, an area with overgrowth often presents a problem of "karfef' in large eiruvin.
Rebuttal: This is not a new issue, and to quote Rav Fishel Hershkowitz zt”l, every city in Europe had an issue with karpeifos, but the poskim always found a way to allow an eruv. As a matter of fact, some of the neighborhood eruvin also contain karpeifos.
The Kuntres: 6) Sratia Me'ir Le'ir [Intercity roads]
A final problem, which is common to many large eiruvin, is the inclusion of roads that are used to travel from city to city. According to the Ramban (ערובין נ"ט ע"ב) the authorities that are of the opinion, that a road must service 600,000 people to qualify as a reshus harrabim, are referring to a city street [which is a local travel route]. However, an intercity road [i.e. a road that is used to travel from city to city] does not need to actually service 600,000 people in order to qualify as a reshus harrabim, as it is considered an "intrinsically public road" [i.e. a road that services "all people"]
Rebuttal: As I mentioned (note 6 and 18), while some Rishonim may label a road as a sratya even though it is inside of the city limits, the Rishonim (Ramban, and Piskei Rid) who maintain that a sratya would not need to fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo clearly state that they are referring to a sratya that is an intercity road outside of the city boundaries. The few Achronim (Bais Yaakov and Yeshuos Malko) who follow these Rishonim are also referring to an actual intercity road outside of the city limits, and only those roads would not need shishim ribo traversing therein to be categorized as a reshus harabbim. However, those poskim who refer to the main road inside of the city limits as a sratya (Bais Ephraim and Avnei Nezer) uphold that it would need to fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim (besides for maybe Rav Chaim Volozhiner).
Moreover, the overwhelming majority of Rishonim and Achronim disagree with the Ramban and Tosfos Rid and maintain that there is no difference between roads inside of the city and those that are outside of the city limits: both would need to fulfill the criterion of shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim.
The Kuntres: This Ramban is brought down in Biur Halacha (סימן שמ"ה ס"ז בסו"ד) Furthermore, Rav Chaim Volozhiner [in the abovementioned recently published teshuva] says unequivocally, that "there is no room for leniency in this matter"
Rebuttal: The Ramban clearly states that a sratya is an intercity road which is not within the city limits. Hence, even if we were to pasken like the Ramban that a sratya does not require shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim, the roads in Lakewood proper would not be categorized as sratyas. It is important to note that Rav Chaim Volozhiner most probably did not see the Ramban (we know that his talmid the Mishkenos Yaakov was made aware of the Ramban after the Bais Ephraim pointed it out to him), and if he would have seen that the Ramban said clearly that a sratya is outside of the city limits, he possibly would have agreed (while it is beyond the scope of this article, there is what to discuss regarding what Rav Chaim Volozhiner was referring to by a sratya included in the city). In any case, Rav Chaim Volozhiner would not categorize Rt. 9 as a derech hamelech/sratya, since it is not mainly used by Lakewood inhabitants for intercity travel.
[While the Baal Hakuntres mentions in his Kuntres HaDoreshes Masa'as Shabbos (vol. 2, anaf aleph; where he describes the classification of a sratya) that the Rivash maintains that a sratya is outside of the city boundaries, he fails to mention there that the Ramban, whose shita he is trying to convince the world to follow, also upholds that a sratya is outside of the city limits. Hence, it is incongruous to object to an eruv because of the Ramban’s understanding of shishim ribo and sratya, when he clearly maintains that those roads inside the city limits are not categorized as sratyas and would unquestionably require shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim.]
The Kuntres: Therefore, although there are great Poskim that rule leniently in this matter as well one cannot ignore the added seriousness involved in the decision to construct and use an eiruv on such a road, especially when there is a lack of true necessity.
Rebuttal: The Rama (357:3) maintains that a sratya even outside of a city requires shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim. We, Benei Ashkenaz, follow the Rama. The overwhelming majority of poskim uphold the Rama’s opinion, so there is no doubt that we, “rule leniently in this matter.” Furthermore, the Bais Ephraim, whose opinion regarding eruvin are the ones we rely on, clearly maintains that a sratya included in the city requires shishim ribo to be classified as a reshus harabbim.