Sunday, June 17, 2007

Brooklyn Eruv Debate II

The debate between R. Shmuel Pultman and R. Yair Hoffman discussed in this post was continued in last week's Five Towns Jewish Times (PDF, pp. 16-20). This time I'm not going to quote from the exchange. I leave it up to you to read it, if it interests you.

Let me just offer a few comments:

1. I think R. Pultman is a little unclear ona central so let me explain it in my own words. The Magen Avraham and Taz say that most rishonim are of the view that a reshus ha-rabim needs 600,000 people. The Mishkenos Ya'akov and Mishnah Berurah challenge those statements based on commentaries published from manuscript. If one accepts views newly found in manuscript then one must also utilize the more recently published views also, which leads one to the conclusion that the majority of rishonim require 600,000 people. If one rejects newly published manuscripts, as the Chazon Ish reportedly did, then one must return to the Magen Avraham's and Taz's original statements. Either way, the majority holds that we require 600,000 people. And R. Pultman proves that this is the majority, presumably based on the extensive research of the greatest baki of rabbinic literature, in the broadest sense of the term, of the twentieth century--R. Menachem Kasher. See Torah Shelemah, vol. 15 (Yisro chs. 18-19), addenda, no. 12. Additionally, as the Beis Ephraim (Orach Chaim 26) pointed out and R. Mordechai Willig (Am Mordechai on Shabbos, Kuntres Nachalas Ya'akov Avi 3:1) recently reiterated, the majority of Ashkenazic rishonim, by anyone's count, require 600,000.

2. R. Pultman repeatedly makes the claim that the rishonim and the Shulchan Arukh require 600,000 traverse a particular street. He deduces this from the language "shishim ribbo overim bo -- 600,000 traverse it". But who says that "bo" refers to a specific street? I think the simple explanation is that it refers to walking around in the street in general, anywhere in the city.

3. R. Pultman twice quotes Iggeros Moshe, Orach Chaim 2:90 as holding that a gap of ten amos is only de-rabbanan. I don't know. I don't really see that in the responsum because it could be discussing a case of a karmelis in which the requirement for an eruv is already de-rabbanan.

On another subject, The Yeshiva World quotes an article in the NY Times about a change in a Manhattan eruv. The TYW editor adds a note that Gedolim of the previous generation forbade any eruv in Manhattan. While he is correct that many Gedolim did, indeed, forbid any eruv in Manhattan, it should be noted that R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik's students (led by R. Norman Lamm) erected an eruv with his permission. As R. Adam Mintz has written (link), R. Yosef Eliyahu Henkin approved in principle an eruv in Manhattan. This was confirmed to me by his grandson, R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin, who added that his grandfather nevertheless instructed him not to carry in the eruv. Additionally, R. Menachem Kasher was very much involved in the eruv project. And, more recently, R. Hershel Schachter has approved eruvin in Manhattan (see, for example, the YU eruv). For more on R. Shachter's view, see his article "The Laws of Eruvin: An Overview" in The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society. And see R. Mordechai Willig's views in general in his above-mentioned kuntres.

UPDATE: See also here about the Manhattan eruv.

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