An Eruv in Crown Heights?

There is an existing Eruv supervised by Rabbi Unsdorfer which covers North Crown Heights. This doesn’t include Chabad. While there have been Eruvin in Chabad (in Liadi and Lubavitch itself) times have changed, and the last Lubavitcher Rebbe זי’’ע stated clearly that he was against Eruvin today and an example is Melbourne. Let me qualify that. One cannot be against Kosher Eruvin in the sense that they think an Eruv is an unnecessary concept. That is a view likely held by Reform or “reconstructionist/new age” Jews. I would like to think that those who are less practicing but when they do practice, do so, according to traditional Orthodox Judaism also have no issue with the concept of a Kosher Eruv and would consider supporting such.

I was privy to details of the first (unkosher) Eruv constructed in Melbourne many years ago through the office of the then Mizrachi Organisation’s Rabbi (not the venerable Rav Abaranok ז’ל), and heard the tapes of Rabbi Groner ז’ל discussing the issue forcefully with Rabbi M.D. Tendler and read booklets from Rabbi M. Krasnjanski and Rabbi Yosef Bechoffer and more.

Melbourne now has a world-class Kosher Eruv, which is, I believe, under the supervision of Rav Gavriel Tzinner (who has mashgichim here through the Council of Orthodox Judaism of Victoria) and visits these shores from time to time. It is trusted by those who avail themselves of its facility, and this includes the ultra orthodox, generally secessionist, Adass Israel Congregation.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe did not issue Halachic decisions as a rule, but did do so from time to time if he felt it was important to identify and/or stress a Chabad custom, or if he deemed the matter to be of a level of importance to the extent that he did so.

On the issue of Eruvin, as I understand it, the Lubavitcher Rebbe preferred to build a quiet unannounced but strictly Kosher Eruv for the purposes of minimising the possibility of someone carrying by accident. I understand that he was concerned that, in our day, a proliferation of Eruvin would imply that ordinary Jews would forget there was a prohibition to carry. Indeed, on several occasions I have witnessed Jews, especially from Israel where there are Eruvin all over the place, not even be aware that one should not carry on Shabbos, as a matter of Torah law.

Since the Lubavitcher Rebbe passed away, as I saw in videos and written material, and as affirmed in the book by Rabbi Eliezrie which I happened to finish one week prior to this post, the LR specified that issues in “the future” for Chabad Chassidim (which undoubtedly included the possibility that he would not live to see the redemption before he passed away)  should be decided by Vaad Rabbonei Lubavitch or Mercaz etc depending on the type of issue. I do not recall reading or hearing the notion that one decides based on opening a random page of his Torah, a practice which many Rabbis forbid or do not encourage, including some Chabad-ordained Rabbis, since even the Goral HaGro (and yes there is also a Gemora גיטין דף סח)  was only used with Tanach.

I therefore close with my opinion that those who are now starting a public campaign to raise money for a more expansive Eruv in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, should only be doing so if they are not Chabad Chassidim, or they have express permission from the aforementioned Beis Din of Lubavitch.

I am not here to discuss the merits of an Eruv. In days gone by Eruvin were critical. They allowed one to bring home the pot of choolent, which was warming in the baker’s oven (I presume the baker had a fleshig section or the heavy pots never had enough to overflow 😦 ) for lunch after davening. It is a halakhic requirement to have something warm on Shabbos, and from there, Choolent, Chamin and the like emerged (in my opinion). As an aside, PLEASE don’t use the term Pareve Choolent. There is no such thing. Call it Potato Stew or slow cooked Potato or whatever. A choolent without meat, was unfortunately something which the poor suffered who couldn’t even get bones to put in their choolent.

Back to the issue. My view on the online appeal for money to support a wider Eruv in Crown Heights are:

  1. It should not be supported publicly by Rabbonei Lubavitch
  2. It should not be used by Chasidim of Chabad
  3. It should be constructed by a Rabbi of world-renowned expertise in Eruvin
  4. Others should follow their own Posek, and if their Posek allows it, by all means, use it
  5. Those who are not of Chabad persuasion who want to be personally stringent should only do so for themselves. They should not impose the stringency on their family. If they wish to change their mind and use the Eruv later on, they will need Hatoras Nedorim (annulment of vows, given the views of the Rambam on Reshus HoRabbim D’Orayso, which is also a Chumra of Briskers and I believe the Rav was also reluctant to use Eruvin)

In summary, it would have been better, given the relative paltry sum required from the vantage point of a Gvir, to have done this without fanfare, if one followed the late and great Lubavitcher Rebbe. Indeed, who knows if an Eruv was built in secret. It’s not in any book I’ve read (and I have read four relatively good ones on Chabad in the last year, especially when compared with the poor book by Heilman et al which was taken apart by Rabbi Rapoport of England)

Disclaimer: I aspire to be an ordinary Jew. I am not a card-carrying member of any group, although  I would be most inclined to follow Rav Soloveitchik if he were בעולם דידן. One can only surmise if the Lubavitcher Rebbe would have a different opinion. Those who try to second guess him, should give up now. There is no ability to do that. Like the Rav, the Lubavitcher Rebbe was a super genius.

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia although my views have naught​ to do with my employer. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

30 thoughts on “An Eruv in Crown Heights?”

  1. “North Crown Heights” is even more artificial a name than “Brower Park”. If you want to call the place by its name, say “Bedford Stuyvesant”, or “Bed-Stuy”. But that name has negative sales value, so now it’s “Brower Park”, and that is what the eruv is called by the people who built and maintain it, those who check it every week, and those who use it. The people who live there are mostly not Lubavitchers, and there’s no reason they should not have an eruv. The Crown Heights Jewish community (with the Rebbe’s support) fought hard in 1976 to have that area officially separated from the neighbourhood, so it can’t now claim that it is Crown Heights and should be subject to the standards of the Rebbe’s opinions.

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    1. It is what it is, and the Eruv will be what it will become. For a Chabadnik who considers themselves a Chassid they will nee to follow the legacies left by the Lubavitcher rebbe vis a vis how we wanted things run. There is no other way. I haven’t got a clue who is trying to make their Eruv bigger, but if they aren’t chabadniks one cannot argue that may not. If their Rabbonim/Beis Din says they can expand it then they may.

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  2. For the record, the Alter Rebbe held like every other acharon that the basic halacha is follows the majority of rishonim, that without 600K people there is no reshus horabim. However he recommeded that each person should be machmir for himself.
    Also on the question of whether tzuros hapesach can be wider than 10 amos, the Alter Rebbe ruled for the majority opinion that it is permitted, but that it is best for each individual to be machmir like the Rambam.
    Therefore it is not true that the Alter Rebbe held a normal eruv (such as that in Melbourne) is passul. He merely held that a chossid should not use it, out of deference to the Rambam’s opinion.
    Where an eruv is עומד מרובה על הפרוץ on three sides, the Rambam agrees that the rest can be made up with tzuros hapesach of even hundreds of amos, and so such an eruv would be usable even by one who heeds the Alter Rebbe’s call to be strict on oneself. (It’s my understanding that Sydney has such an eruv.)
    Once an eruv mehudar has been constructed and has been publicised, I don’t know of any instruction from the Rebbe not to use it. At that point whatever damage the Rebbe was worried about would have already been done; not using it wouldn’t change anything, so there would seem to be no reason to refrain.

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    1. Irrespective you have missed THE Instruction from the Lubavitcher Rebbe: which transcends Eruvin, namely, the decisions of the Vaad Raaboni etc. RE 600,000 you know very well that Achronim argue how you count that, and parks and ponds etc complicate matters. You will also carefully note that I haven’t and don’t advertise my own hanhogos on these matters. I’m writing from a non personal viewpoint even if I lived in Kingston Avenue (are there non Chabad Shules in the vicinity?) I’ve only been there once, and enjoyed myself

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  3. There are 613 mitzvos. One of those mitzvos
    is not carrying on Shabbos. Building an Eruv
    would effectively mean there would be
    612 mitzvos. No doubt, an Eruv is very
    convenient and many Jews takes advantage
    of you’d convenience. But if you takeII this
    din seriously, it would effectively mean there
    would be only 612 mitzvos

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  4. Rabbi Berel Levin wrote a ten page article last week, in which he argues that crown heights is a rushus harabim de’orarsa even according to other poskim. See shturem.com

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    1. I have not seen it but undoubtedly he will be following the Rambam and interpretation of the Rambam. Rabbi Levin is a world class librarian etc but his personal Psak offers no imperative. Those that use Eruvin are not Machmir for the Rambam. For Chabad, they must follow the wishes of the LR as laid out in preparation before his death. A Chabadnik has no need for Berel’s erudite views. The non Chabadnik will follow their Rav

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  5. The only thing that might have changed over the years is the possibility of do it quietly. Today that would be impossible. Therefore, even the rabbanim couldn’t say an eruv is good, just as they couldn’t say machine matzo is good for chabad, even if you had the best hechsher on them.
    Since crown heights is chabad town, it would seem no one else has a right to make one either, just as no one would make one in Williamsburg against the wishes of the satmar rav.

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    1. I disagree. Unless I am mistaken, if there is a single non Chabad Kehilla in Crown Heights then their Rav would be permitted to build an Eruv al Pi din, as well as do not have halachic fiefdoms any longer. I don’t think they would succeed and many would surely rip it down, but that of itself is against Halacha

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    1. I am unable to consider as I do not know that Kehilla. If the Rav of that Kehilla wishes to build an Eruv, unless he is a Posek of world renowned, I expect he would discuss that with such Poskim. He may also discuss it with Chabad’s Vaad Rabboni, in the end he will be guided by his Kehilla and the halachic authorities he discusses the matter with.

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    1. I have seen that, but I believe this transcends crown heights and MAY be an issue for Vaad RABBONEI Lubavitch and Merkos. I am not a Chossid so the all I can do is think out loud based on published material I have seen. It’s certainly not my job to determine which policy ought to be followed. I can just proffer an outsider’s opinion.

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  6. I wish to publicly convey my very sincere apologies in making a very grave error in judgrment. I thought in constructing a Eruv would breach the mitzvo
    of Carrying on Shabbos.
    I am an orthodox and a observant Jew.
    I would never be flippant or make light of,
    in referring to or associating with,
    the Torah on which I take in the
    outmost seriousness, as it should be

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    1. I’m glad you read up about Eruvin and realised there is such a think as a kosher Eruv which most certainly should not imply that people who use it are transgressing a Torah command. This was surprising given that you use Melbourne’s Eruv (as do most). If a person has a view on the Kashrus of a PARTICULAR Eruv or they have a personal Chumra then that is something else. If you asked the older members of your family, I would not at all be surprised if Kosice from whence your family emanates, HAD an Eruv too.

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  7. I was shown the answer regarding an Eruv in Australia. From my very limited understanding in it, it seemed like there was a taam kamus into the danger of making an eruv. It seems like the Rebbe was uncomfortable with the idea even if all precautions were taken, there was a greater micshol the Rebbe didn’t want to get into. Like ein ruach chachomim noche heimenu.

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    1. That may be true, but I do not think this becomes halachically binding on the rest of Melbourne. Whilst most Rabbis of Synagogues and Shtieblach and Chabad Houses are from Chabad, the Orthodox Lay Roof body is the COSV. It built the kosher Eruv. The matter in Melbourne is now a fait accompli to the extent that I believe Rabbi Shimshon Yurkovitch, Rabbi Groners son in law, has not publicly opposed extensions to the Eruv towards his Chabad House location.

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  8. True, but the same could not be said of crown heights, which is the home of lubavitch. No one would think to make an eruv in bnei brak without the support of the Gedolim there. Crown heights is the same. Unless demographics change when a majority of the community is no longer lubavitch.
    This is of course different than someone opening a nusach sefard shul. An eruv effects the whole city, and as such needs the support of at least the majority of rabbanim and gedolim of that city.

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    1. It’s been 20 years since I read the Tshuvos of Reb Moshe on Eruvin. One would need to invoke אתרי דמר. That then becomes a loaded question if a Rabbi extends his congregations Eruv because some members live further out.

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  9. I should add: if the people behind the extension consider themselves Chassidei Chabad, then my blog post (albeit with typos as I rarely proof-read) represents my view

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  10. The whole crown heights controversy is only on the movement to make an eruv in crown heights. No one ever had a problem with the park slope eruv, even though it extends into part of crown heights.

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  11. As a non-Australian and not a Brooklyn one, I wonder if the Chatzer surrounded by an Eruv in Chutz La’aretz does contain also dwellings of Gentiles? Do you have to have their permission to be included in your Yard? Do you have to get a permit from the town’s council to put up an Eruv and define your Chatzer? May their dwellings be included in YOUR Chatzer?

    Once when in Upper West Side in Manhattan they had a notice in the synagogue that the following Shabat there will be no Eruv as they prepare for Macy’s parade. One of the Mitpalelim told me that he lives next to Central Park but cannot enter it on Shabat with his grandchild’s pram. Members of congregations in north London were against an Eruv, as it would define it by Jews as a Jewish Ghetto and deprive them living beyond it.

    In England I used to put my handkerchief in the pocked of my jacked (also for decoration – …יוצא אדם ב . I was told that if it was for decoration and part of my uniform I cannot blow my nose with it. As a Jew I answered with a question: Can I wipe my nose on my sleeve – and down my trousers?

    You also mention:
    “In days gone by Eruvin were critical. They allowed one to bring home the pot of choolent, which was warming in the baker’s oven (I presume the baker had a fleshig section or the heavy pots never had enough to overflow😦 ) for lunch after davening.”

    Very few communities at that time had an Eruv. In the one’s that did not have one, a young boy, not yet Bar Mitzwa, would carry it from the baker to the house (a testimony from one that remembers it) or the gentile maid if you had one.
    About the “overflow” of the Cholent (I noticed the surprised look on the face of your “smiley”), here is what is written about it in שמואל הירש, זכרונות מקהילת מטרסדורף וחורבנה :

    “הדיין הרב טויסיג נכנס למאפיות […] שם סגר את התנורים בהם התבשל החמין, כדי שהתבשיל ירתח לפני כניסת השבת. […] הרב טויסיג הנהיג לעטוף את הסירים בנייר על מנת למנוע התזת תוכנו של סיר אחד למשנהו; הדבר נעשה בשל החשש, שמא לא כל המשפחות שומרות על רמת כשרות מספקת.”

    I do not think that the bakers had a special Fleishig section in their ovens. Rabbi Taussig was worried about overflowing from one pot to another.

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    1. I have no doubt about the Kashrus of the Baker’s ovens in those days and my smiley was meant to convey that I am aware of halachic issues. In respect of your comment about Eruvin including non Jewish residents, that is not a problem anymore than the Shabbos Goy or Arab in your midst and is discussed. I know you are more than capable of learning these.

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    2. I should add for completeness that even cheap emblems such as used by some Bnei Akiva are discussed by Reb Moshe, the Minchas Yitzchok and of course one can read about it in lots of places.

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  12. Rabbi Leibel groner has put out a letter that the Rebbe has said not to make an eruv. The crown heights bes din also put out a letter forbidding it.

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  13. The question would be, if someone would go make and give a hechsher to an eruv in opposition to the Rebbe and the beis din, would you trust the kashrus of it. Similarly as no one trusts meir rabi with anything.

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  14. It’s directed at anyone who feels an eruv is viable in crown heights. Even if one doesn’t hold of asra drav, or feel bound by the BD,which reliable rov would get involved. And if someone did, is it a real rov, or more than likely a rabi kind person who would give a hechsher to anything.

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