By COLlive reporter
An article posted this week on COLlive.com that argued for the creation of an Eruv around the Crown Heights neighborhood has been widely discussed since.
Rabbi Shalom Ber Levine, an author and chief librarian of Agudas Chassidei Chabad Library in Brooklyn, NY, wrote a 10-page halachic response.
He first mentioned how the idea of an Eruv has long been opposed by “rabbis of our neighborhood” and notes that “it has been publicized that the Rebbe was against” it as well.
Rabbi Levine stated that according to the Alter Rebbe, author of the Shulchan Aruch Harav and founder of Chabad, “the streets in our neighborhood have the ordinance of an absolute public domain.”
Even the halachic authorities according to which the Eruv in Boro Park was built would agree that such an Eruv won’t suffice for Crown Heights, he stated.
He specifically cited Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard as main thoroughfares that would qualify as public domains, as well as the Nostrand, Kingston and Utica Avenues which would halachicly be labeled “markets” due to their many storefronts.
Here’s Rabbi Levine’s full article “Eruv in our neighborhood – according to Rabbeinu Hazaken.”
In addition, Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky of Chabad in Doval, Florida, has written the following article:
Here we go again… Everybody “KNOWS” what The Rebbe wants, wanted and “would have wanted” had it been before (the dreadful day of) Gimmel Tammuz. Yes, I’m responding to the recent article concerning the Eiruv issue and the subsequent responses in the comments section.
In particular, I was appalled by comment #18 which said something to the effect that “if The Rebbe were here today and saw the need we have today for this said Eiruv – his opinion would have been different (from what it appears to be).” I did not read all the comments, so I do not know if anyone responded to that Chutzpah. However, for perspective, I share the following story.
Many years ago, as Jews began to become more enlightened (sounds familiar?), a well-meaning Yid approached one of the famous Rabbis with the following question: “Perhaps if The Torah were given during our times, it would allow for a more contemporary approach to some of the matters which are so noncombustible in the Jewish community. Perhaps the Rabbis can arrange for some lenience and some modernization to accommodate the current times.”
The Rabbi, in an attempt to communicate to this well-meaning individual the extent of his foolishness, shared with him the following tale: Once there was a very rich merchant who sought to hire a coachman to deliver his wares – during the brutal Russian winter – from a distant location. His only stipulation was that the merchandise must be delivered by a certain date – regardless of the weather and conditions – in order for the coachman to receive his (very handsome) wages. As it turned out, no reasonable delivery guy was willing to take this formidable risk. The realization of the near impossibility of this feat was enough to discourage almost all wagon drivers.
Except for one. He was very brave, strong and daring, but not too smart, as you will see. He set out and managed to overcome many adversities along the way, in his attempt to make it back on time and score big. He almost succeeded, were it not for a sudden terrible blizzard which stranded him for several days. When he arrived a day later than scheduled, he was duly informed by the merchant that he will not be getting paid, as he had breached the conditions of the contract. “But I did my best,” he cried. “It’s not my fault that an unexpected blizzard hampered my efforts to arrive on time.”
After examining the contract at the Din Torah, the Rov had no choice but to judge in favor of the merchant. The coachman tried to plead his case with the Rabbi, who went through the pains of trying to explain to this simpleton that this is the rule according to The Torah and there’s nothing he can really do for him – as much as he’d love to.
“Oy Rebbe, I know why you can’t help me, I realize why The Torah is so inconsiderate to my plight – The Torah was given to us during the late spring and in a very hot climate. Had Hashem given us The Torah during the cold winter… surely the law would have been much different!”
To my knowledge, The Rebbe said what he meant and meant what he said. In my humble opinion, the Rebbe was not known to be shy when it came to Halacha and giving his directives. Yes, there were times that some received a specific directive from the Rebbe and were clearly instructed not to present it in His name.
For the most part, our Rebbe was very sensitive to the needs of the community and its diverse individuals. Perhaps many still remember how others in other communities wrongfully accused The Rebbe of being modern (Chas V’shalom), which certainly is clear by now – even to them – that this is clearly NOT the case.
However, they wrongfully got this notion from what seemed to them as such, due to the Rebbe’s sensitivity to every Yid and His deeper knowledge of Halacha and contemporary issues.
I’m not a Rov, nor do I have a real grasp of the particulars of the laws regarding the Eiruv issue. One thing is clear to me: The Rebbe did certainly have the best possible understanding of this (and all) matters.
He also understood very well the needs of the community and all. He also knew very well what fallout there can be because of the matter. He did have the ability to give a green light or a red light and he clearly chose the latter. Obviously, he understood that for Crown Heights it’s not appropriate. He didn’t want it. Period.
We live in a democratic country, no one is forced to live in Crown Heights. Those who choose to live there should have the minimal respect for The Rebbe and not interfere with the standards and environment HE chose for the community which he cherished so much (due to the fact that the Frierdiker Rebbe “lived here the last 10 years of his life in this world”).
It’s a free world, why can’t people just find another place, rather than trample on the fabric of the community?! What really is the attraction of living in Crown Heights – Is it not for the fact that this is The Rebbe’s Shchuna? Then let it remain a place where The Rebbe (and his openly expressed desires) are respected!
By the way, did Lubavitch (yes, that famous little town in Belarus) have an Eiruv? FYI The Rabbeim (and the Jewish community) had tremendous clout there and in the surrounding areas…
In conclusion, I wish to make the following argument: Too often, too many of us “Farshtei’ers”, especially the younger generation have more Chutzpah to speak out (The Rebbe considered this a very big advantage for today’s youth – if directed correctly) rather than knowing the actual facts. Chutzpah speaks louder than fact, but it doesn’t mean it’s correct. Just because one had the courage to speak out does not mean that his argument is right. One can be very convincing and even get their way, yet still be wrong.
As in the story of an older woman who gets on to a crowded bus with all the seats occupied. She looks down at a younger woman seated in front of her. Holding her hand to her chest she said: “If you knew what I have you would stand up and give me your seat.”
The young woman did just that, and gave her the seat. Soon, the younger woman pulled out an unopened bottle of water from her bag. Again the older woman said to her, “if you only knew what I have – you’d give me the water.”
After several times, a curious passenger inquired as to what condition she has.
“You want to know what I have?” she replied, “I’ll tell you: Chutzpah!”