Sunday, January 07, 2007

State of Eruvin

A letter-to-the-editor of HaModia by R. Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer from this past summer (link):

To the Editor:

Chanoch Bresler's report in Friday, Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parashas Eikev, 17 Av's Hamodia ("Rabbanim: State of Eiruvin in Israel 'Worse Than Expected,'" p. 12), highlights the deterioration of Eiruvin in Eretz Yisrael "due to lack of funding for normal inspections and repairs."

Clearly the situation is grave, with terrible ramifications for Shemiras Shabbos, R"L. However, at least in Eretz Yisrael there exists "the Eiruvin Center of Eretz Yisrael, a Rabbinical body established with the blessings of the Gedolei HaPoskim.

In Chutz La'Aretz, at least here in North America, no such Center. The decentralized nature of the North American milieu practically precludes the existence of such a Center.

Yet, if anything, due to the way in which Eiruvin are constructed here (heavily relying on utility poles and other pre-existing structures, as opposed to Eretz Yisrael, where the use of dedicated Eiruv poles and structures is far more widespread), the situation is much, much worse.

In numerous conversations with me, Rabbanim who are experts in the construction of Eiruvin have bemoaned both the lack of maintenance, and the lack of proper manpower, that have led to an extraordinary prevalence of Eiruvin in states of disrepair that render them invalid - according to even the most lenient opinions.

In a recent, somewhat impromptu, conference call among several concerned Rabbanim, the following suggestions were raised, and it would be an extraordinary Zechus and Zikkui HoRabbim for both Rabbanim and Askanim to do whatever they can to help bring them to fruition:

1. Every local Eiruv should have written protocols and plans for checking and maintenance.

2. Every local Eiruv should designate a Posek to whom they ask their shailos, and who oversees their procedures.

3. The standards of Eiruv Inspectors and Eiruv inspections should be uniform, and there should exist a "mini-course" and certification for Inspectors.

4. The local community should be aware of the boundaries and construction of the Eiruv and be alert to problems, so as to alert the local Rav.

5. The local Rav/Rabbanim must be involved on an ongoing basis with the Eiruv.

6. As is the case with Tefillin and Mezuzos, every Eiruv should undergo a major inspection by a Posek in twice in seven years.

7. It is essential that the complex issues of Eruvei Chatzeiros and Sechiras Reshus are regularly reviewed by competent Rabbanim or a Posek.May HKB"H assist us in enhancing Shemiras Shabbos, u'b'Zechus haShabbos Miyad Nig'alin.

Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Author: The Contemporary Eruv: Eruvin in Modern Metropolitan Areas

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