The Kuntres: More On the Need For a Large Eiruv - Then and Now
It is clear from the discussions of the earlier poskim that in the absence of a large eiruv, the general populace would invariably come to be mechalel Shabbos, rachmann litzlan. In such a situation there was a tremendous responsibility on the Rabbonim to find a way to minimize chilul Shabbos, by constructing an eiruv that would minimize chilul Shabbos, at least according to many Rishonim. This will be shown clearly in the following pages.
Rebuttal: This was one motive the poskim submitted as to why to construct eruvin. However, in Section One, I cited additional rationales why a community wide eruv is needed. Moreover, there was the argument set forth by the Perishah, namely oneg Shabbos, which a more inclusive eruv would definitely be augmenting. Additionally, we do not have to rely on any kulos in constructing a community wide eruv; hence, there is no great “responsibility” needed to depend on.
The Kuntres: 1) The Chasam Sofer's Teshuvah
The Chnsam Sofer, in a teshuva, explains the rationale behind the almost universal practice of his day for the Rabbanim to construct eiruvin in the cities of Europe. It is worthwhile to quote the pertinent teshuvah, in order to assess how it may apply in today's times.
שו"ת חתם סופר או"ח סי' צ"ט:
I was asked to clarify and clearly demonstrate from the words of Chazal that it is a worthy and proper practice for every Jewish community to remedy the streets and alleyways of their cities with the construction of tzuros hapesach and other such alterations, so that the general populace not stumble [i.e. sin] by carrying and transferring from one reshus to another on the holy day of Shabbos.
This needs neither support nor proof; common sense dictates that this is so, and passages in Chazal clearly state so.
It's self evident, for observing Shabbos by refraining from our weekday pursuits is one of the very cornerstones of our faith! One who does not keep Shabbos properly is classified as a kofer, and a mumar lechol haTorah. The prohibition of hotza’ah from a reshus harrabim to a reshus hayachid, or vice versa, is a melachah like any other, and one who transgresses this melachah is a mumar lechol haTorah . .. and the Rabbis condemned him as a kofer in all of the Torah, and as one who has gone out from the classification of a Jew.
Carrying on Shabbos is so stringent that even in the case of a fire, chas vesluzlom, [which is destroying one's home and property] one is not permitted to transfer his things from the house to a courtyard that was not properly rectified with an eiruv.
We are furthermore bound to see to it that our children not become accustomed to acts that desecrate the Shabbos ... and we are even obligated to train them to refrain from actions that are classified as " shevus."
Let every sensible man make the assessment, it is completely impossible for Jews to supervise their entire households, children, and their wives, and those of weak intellect, over the course of an entire Shabbos, guarding them that they shouldn't carry anything beyond the front door of the house, a small item, or a handkerchief, or a child who walks outside while eating a piece of food ... how much anxiety and hardship will the head of the household face? Also, particularly in regards to prayers at the shul on Shabbos, which entails carrying siddurim… and carrying taleisim, etc.
As such, simple logic dictates that it is worthy and necessary to rectify the courtyards and alleys with an eiruv that permits carrying.
Indeed, it is for this reason that we find in Chazal, [who were concerned lest] the masses be degenerate, and forget, and carry without an eiruv ... Certainly we must not be lax in our efforts to rectify the streets to safeguard the people from ruining their Shabbos observance ...
And the matter is incumbent upon the Rabbi-the scholar of the city- to rectify the streets; if he does not do so, the stumbling, and the "collar" of the people's sin, is around his neck.
Rebuttal: Actually, the Chasm Sofer’s motivations to establish eruvin are arguments to institute a community wide eruv, as discussed latter.
The Kuntres: Applying the Chasam Sofer' s Reasoning to our Times
The above teshuvah of the Chasam Sofer is sometimes cited as proof that a community should go to any lengths to ensure that their city be enclosed in an eiruv. However, one who takes a closer look at the teshuvah will see that virtually all the reasons given by the Chasam Sofer to construct eiruvin do not apply today, certainly not in Lakewood.
Rebuttal: In fact, the Chasam Sofer’s rationales to erect eruvin are exceedingly pertinent today. Who can guarantee that his children will not carry outside their local eruv? Who hasn’t realized that they overlooked something in their pockets after having left the boundaries of their local eruv? These issues do not cause us anxiety? Can we say that no “hardships” are caused because there is no all-encompassing eruv? Local eruvin do not supersede the Chasam Sofer’s concerns. This Chasam Sofer flies in the face of our antagonist, and therefore, he tries to minimize it.
The Kuntres: That being the case, the truth is, that Chasam Sofer' s teshuvah is far from being a source that can be used to encourage building large eiruvin today. To the contrary, one can see that his powerful words were primarily aimed at motivating the people to avoid chilul Shabbos at all costs, and to charge the Rabbanim with the responsibility to guard the integrity of Shabbos observance in their cities.
Rebuttal: This paragraph is mendacious at best. No, the primary aim of the Chasam Sofer’s admonishment to the rabbanim to guard the integrity of Shabbos observance in their cities is to establish eruvin, since these are issues that are beyond their control.
A community wide eruv in Lakewood is not halachically considered a large eruv; this cannot be stressed enough. Furthermore, in large cities, the opposition disputes all eruvin, including block eruvin, hence the rabbanim seeking to establish an eruv in these cities are citing this Chasam Sofer incipiently in order to demonstrate why an eruv needs to be established.
The Kuntres: In that case, what are we to say if we construct an eiruv that relies on kulos that are far from being universally acceptable, for convenience only? Have we not contradicted the spirit of the Chasam Sofer's teshuvah?
Rebuttal: I reiterate, these are not kulos at all but only accepted halachah and minhag. The Lakewood eruvin, large or small are relying on the same criteria, which are not kulos. No, we do not “contradict the spirit of the Chasam Sofer's teshuvah.” The Chasam Sofer’s rationales are still pertinent today. It is the Baal Hakuntres who is, “contradicting the spirit of the Chasam Sofer’s teshuvah,” through his diyukim.
The Kuntres: If anything, the concerns that the Chasam Sofer raises can be viewed as a call to construct quality local eiruvin, which can be put up betaclilis ha'hidur. Even a small eiruv, creates a situation in which, there is no need to be "on guard" that no woman or child walks out of the house while carrying something small. By encouraging small neighborhood eiruvin, and making sure that people are familiar with its borders, we will be keeping to both the spirit and the letter of the holy Chasam Sofer's words.
Rebuttal: Let examine the above. First, the Baal Hakuntres argues that, “However, one who takes a closer look at the teshuvah will see that virtually all the reasons given by the Chasam Sofer to construct eruvin do not apply today, certainly not in Lakewood,” and now he asserts, “the concerns that the Chasam Sofer raises can be viewed as a call to construct quality local eiruvin.” So what is it, does the Chasam Sofer’s rationales apply today in Lakewood or not? Apparently, the Baal Hakuntres cannot make up his mind. Well, we will do it for him. There are numerous reasons why the Chasam Sofer’s rationales are just as pertinent today, as mentioned previously. Additionally, it would be much simpler to establish a community wide eruv than, “making sure that people are familiar with its borders,” of the smaller eruvin.
The Kuntres: 2) The Beis Ephraim
The Beis Ephraim, is considered the greatest leading proponent of constructing large eiruvin based on the opinion of the Rishonim that rule leniently in this matter.
The Bais Ephraim states [סימן כ"ז ד"ה ולכן נראה]
One who wishes to rule stringently should do so for himself, but not for others, for this is a "chumra de' asi leydei kula" [a stringency that will cause a 'leniency'], ... if you will rule stringently for the people [to invalidate the use of tzuros hapesach] this stumbling block will be your responsibility' ... to carry without any eiruv at all, it is a near certainty that they will transgress [the prohibition of hotza'ah,] at least on a Rabbinic level.
It is plainly clear from the Beis Ephraim's words that without an eiruv there was a very real concern that many people would have ended up carrying on Shabbos.
Rebuttal: Actually, what’s apparent from the Bais Ephraim is that one should not seek chumros in eruvin, period. The need for a larger eruv in Lakewood is very pertinent today. People mistakenly carry out of the local eruvin on a constant basis. Small or large eruvin in Lakewood are halachically one and the same.
A little context regarding this teshuvah of the Bais Ephraim would go a long way towards understanding his rebuke. The Mishkenos Yaakov argued that we cannot rely on the criterion of shishim ribo, and that one who does is possibly transgressing a Biblical prohibition. The Bais Ephraim countered that we do accept the fundament of shishim ribo, and then, at the conclusion of the teshuvah, declared that, “One who wishes to rule stringently should do so for himself, but not for others, for this is a chumra de'asi leydei kula…”
[The fact that the Bais Ephraim admonished others not to be stringent because of the real possibility that people will lapse in the observance of Shabbos, does not translate that one cannot rely on the criterion of shishim ribo l’chatchilah. The Bais Ephraim expended considerable energy in this teshuvah to demonstrate that we uphold the criterion of shishim ribo.]
The Kuntres: 3) The Chelkas Yaakov [Harav Yaakov Breish]
Rav Breish corroborates this fact in his sefer very clearly. He states שו"ת חלקת יעקב [ח"א בהקדמה ל"תיקון עירובין" ד"ה ואם] Our great leaders of the past "took their lives into their hands," in order to permit the wide construction of eiruvin that employed tzuros hapesach [to enclose the streets]. Doing so is ineffective except according to those [Rishonim] who hold that today we have no real reshuyos harrabim, because our roads do not carry 600,000. Nevertheless, under great duress, and due to the practical impossibility of constructing actual gates and doorways around entire cities, they relied on these opinions, and they dismissed the views of the great Rishonim and Achronim, recorded in Shulchnn Aruch, siman 345, who maintain that even in our day our roads qualify as reshuyos harrabim. and that that qualification is not dependent upon the presence of shishim ribo, for according to these Rishonim, a tzuras hapesach is ineffective around our roads.
Rebuttal: To cite the Chelkas Yaakov is totally misleading. The Baal Hakuntres is selectively choosing whom he cities since very few poskim would agree with the Chelkas Yaakov that we don’t rely on shishim ribo l’chatchilah (there are nearly 100 poskim who uphold the criterion and approximately 25 who do not). Additionally, while there is a machlokas Rishonim regarding the criterion of shishim ribo, as I mentioned previously, we now know that the overwhelming majority of Rishonim uphold the criterion. Once we accept the criterion of shishim ribo l’chatchilah, it is not a kula only halachah p’suka.
The fact that the Baal Hakuntres is not inveighing against the neighborhood eruvin that crossover sisxteen amos wide streets, which are clearly relying on the criterion of shishim ribo (and or mefulash u’mechavanim), demonstrates that he allows that we rely on the criterion l’chatchilah. Hence, since there is no difference between a community wide eruv and a neighborhood eruv, the Baal Hakuntres’s issue then is not if we can rely on the criterion of shishim ribo l’chatchilah but only about minimizing the number of eruvin.
The Kuntres: Rav Breish paints a detailed picture of the situation in his European hometown, writing how even upstanding and religious members of the community would not consider walking out of their homes without locking their doors and carrying their keys all around the city. Righteous Jews would be rachmana litzlan mechalel Shabbos even otherwise -they simply would not listen to anyone who would forbid the "mere" carrying of a key on Shabbos! In such a desperate situation it is no wonder that eiruvin were constructed in order to prevent such disastrous chilul Shabbos.
Rebuttal: The Baal Hakuntres is omitting something. While one of the reasons to establish eruvin in pre-war Europe was because even righteous Jews would rachmana litzlan carry without an eruv, there are additional motives to establish eruvin, such as the Chasam Sofer’s and Perishah’s rationales, which are just as pertinent today.
The Kuntres: Let us return to our first question. Is it reasonable to compare the standard practice of the pre-war European communities constructing large Eiruvin, to our current circumstances in modern day Lakewood?
It would seem quite clear that the situation in Lakewood today is very different than the situation in Europe.
Rebuttal: The Baal Hakuntres is suggesting that in pre-war Europe there was only one rationale to allow the construction of eruvin, when in fact there were many justifications for establishing eruvin. Many of the motives are extremely pertinent today.