By COLlive reporter
A group of Chabad rabbis from around the world issued an unprecedented letter in support of establishing eruvin in small and large cities that would allow Jews to carry items in the public domain on Shabbos.
“Based on the words of our Rebbeim throughout the years, including the Rebbe, the nasi of our generation, it is a mitzvah for us to establish eruvin in cities where it is possible to do so l’chatchila (initial preference) – based on the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch, those of the Alter Rebbe, and those of the Tzemach Tzedek,” they wrote.
In the letter dated 23 Elul 5781 provided to COLlive.com, the rabbonim said this was “in order to prevent people from transgressing and in order to allow carrying in the streets, provided that Rabbonim and Dayanim who are experts in the laws of eruvin will be responsible for the establishment and supervision of these eruvin, and they will continually be inspected by overseers.”
Among the signed are Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky and Rabbi Levi Kaplan of Crown Heights, Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, Rabbi Pinchos Feldman and Rabbi Moshe Gutnick of Sydney, Australia, Rabbi Avrohom Alashvilli and Rabbi Michoel Shlomo Avishad of Israel, Rabbi Boruch Oberlander of Hungary, and Rabbi Dovid Dubov of Princeton, NJ.
“According to the ruling of the Alter Rebbe, in this day and age, there is no concept of a public domain as defined by Biblical Law for several reasons,” they explain.
“In many instances, our Rebbe revealed his opinion to Rabbanim and communal activists in Eretz Yisrael and in the Diaspora that it is a mitzvah to establish eruvin in cities, stating, “It is a great and wondrous merit” for all those who participate and help in this mitzvah because through eruvin, thousands and tens of thousands of Jews are saved from violating the laws of Shabbos, whether unwittingly or knowingly. In this manner, the observance of the holy Shabbos is strengthened in all places where our fellow Jews reside.
“True, the Rebbe hesitated regarding the establishment of an eruv publicly in certain communities. Nevertheless, in those communities and at that time, the local government did not grant permission to establish an eruv. The only possibility was to rely on the existing enclosing structures, and the Dayanim and the supervisors would not have the authority to correct any disqualifying factor in these eruvin.
“Alternatively, at times, it was not possible to appoint an overseer who would continually check the eruv so that it could not be fixed immediately if it were to become invalid. These were the reasons for the Rebbe’s hesitation in those instances as explained in his own words.3 It is as clear as day, based on the Rebbe’s words in other sources, that his words of hesitation regarding these instances should not be taken as universal guidelines in other places as is evident from the fact that regarding other places, the Rebbe wrote explicitly, “It is a great mitzvah to establish eruvin in cities.”
“It is understood from the above that when there are Rabbanim, who are experts in the laws of eruvin and who have field experience in the application of these laws, who suggest establishing an eruv according to law and there is the possibility that expert Dayanim will take responsibility for establishing the eruv and supervisors who are charged with immediately correcting any flaw that might arise in the enclosing structures – this would remedy the concerns the Rebbe expressed in his letter – it is obvious that, according to the Rebbe’s guidelines, there is no reason to refrain from establishing an eruv. Furthermore, to refer to the ruling of Tashbatz quoted by the Rebbe in his letters: “A Torah scholar’s mode of conduct is to establish [eruvin]. Anyone who has misgivings in his heart about this demonstrates utter illiteracy – or he has become influenced by heresy. It is a great merit to establish [eruvin].”
“On the contrary, the merit of the general populace is dependent on everyone who assists in this mitzvah – whether through his efforts or through his finances. By doing so, he brings closer the true and ultimate redemption.”
Noted Roshei Yeshiva joined the call as well, such as Rabbi Leibel Kaplan of Montreal, Rabbi Akiva Wagner of Toronto, Rabbi Yechiel Kalmenson of Brunoy, France and his brother Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Kalmenson of New Haven.
“I saw the conclusion reached by the Rabbis – namely that an eruv may be established in a place where there are expert Rabbis, who are knowledgeable in Hilchos Eruvin and supervisors who regularly inspect the eruv making certain that there would be no possibility that the eruv would be disqualified and remain in that state before Shabbos,” Rabbi Yechiel Kalmenson wrote.
“It is clear as day that in such an instance, the Rebbe’s opinion is that it is a mitzvah to establish an eruv; this is all evident from the Rebbe’s words. One who differs with this statement is differing with the Divine Presence.”
Rabbi Gavriel Zinner, a world-renowned posek and author of the Nitei Gavriel anthology on practical halacha, wrote: “I was privileged over the course of many years to receive the holy blessing and encouragement of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zy”a, regarding the establishment of eruvin in both small and large cities.”
Rabbi Zinner stated that “The Rebbe himself participated in the establishment of eruvin by donating money for that purpose. He emphasized that his gifts were conditioned on the stipulation that the eruvin would be under the supervision of distinguished Torah scholars.”
Click here to download full letter with footnotes.