Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ahavas Yisroel and Zealotry

Crown Heights Eruv (Crown Heights Info)
I do not use city-wide Eruvin. More on that later.

An Eruv (Eruvin is plural for Eruv) is a Halachic device that permits Jews to carry on Shabbos in locations that  they are otherwise forbidden from doing. It converts a public domain into a private domain by using partitions of various designs to encompass a specific area. The area encircled by these partitions becomes a private domain where one is Halachicly permitted to carry on Shabbos. As long as that area is not deemed public domain D’Oraisa (on a biblical level) our sages permitted such a conversion.

Needless to say a there are many considerations that factor into constructing an Eruv. One of which is the cost. That often means that Kulos (leniencies) that are not accepted by all Poskim are utilized. And that causes conflict between those that want to use that Eruv and those that believe it is not Halachicly viable.

An example of such a controversy is Chicago’s West Rogers Park Eruv. In order to save money on construction a pre existing structure was utilized as a partition on one of its boundaries. The problem was that it encompassed part of the longest continuous street in Chicago. Which many Poskim said turned that area into a biblical level public domain which cannot be converted into a private one by means of an Eruv.

The controversy was in how to count the number of people encompassed by this long road. There are Poskim counting it one way that determined it was populated by 600 thousand and other Poskim counted it in a way that said it was less them that number. The Poskim of this Eruv used the latter method and have given it their seal of approval. But there are many people that do not use it.

I do not use the Eruv. But I acknowledge that there are serious Poskim that do approve of it. So I do not criticize those that do. 2 of my children use it and 2 don’t. Rav Ahron Soloveichik famously condemned the Eruv - saying that the proper way to count people within that Eruv makes it a biblical level public domain.  Although I respect my Rebbe’s view on this – and personally follow his recommendation not to use it, I also respect those Poskim that permit it and have no issue with those that do use it.  

There are cities that construct Eruvin utilizing Kulos that are sometimes controversial. This is true in Israel where the Chief Rabbinate has erected Eruvin in just about every city. Charedim that do not want to rely on those Kulos will sometimes build their own Eruv (An Eruv Mehudar).

As far as I am concerned this should cause no problems for anyone. Those that want to continue to rely on the Rabbanut Eruv (which usually encompasses a greater area) may continue to do so. Those that want to rely on an Eruv Mehudar, God bless them as well. Shalom Al Yisroel.

I wish.

Unfortunately there are the Kanoim – zealots on both sides of the Eruv issue. There are those that resent the rejection of the Rabbanut Eruvin and give Charedim a hard time about ‘adding more poles to their city’ - resenting the fact that they reject a ‘perfectly good Eruv’ that has been approved by the Chief Rabbinate.

On the other hand there are Kanoim that vandalize Eruvin they do not consider valid. In my view this is the opposite of righteousness and justice. No one has a right to tell others how to conduct their lives or to make it hard on people that want to utilize Kulos – or don’t want to use Kulos. 

Protesting a few extra poles in a city that are hardly noticeable is nothing more than an expression of contempt for Charedi needs.

And what happened recently in Crown Heights is even worse. From the Forward
A controversial new eruv designed to serve Modern Orthodox Jews in the traditionally Hasidic Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights was allegedly vandalized — days after rabbis from the Chabad-Lubavitcher group said the ritual barrier was not approved by rabbinic authorities.
The wire… was cut and torn down twice in the last week, members of the growing Modern Orthodox community in the neighborhood said. “It was broken in 20 places,” said Naftali Hanau, a Crown Heights resident who advocated for the new eruv. 
One of the characteristics of Chabad (Lubavitch) is their Ahavas Yisroel – love of fellow Jews. They constantly tout this fact - and for the most part practice it. They reach out to all Jews regardless of how religious they are – all over the world. But their Avavas Yisroel does not seem to extend to the Jews of their own neighborhood.

I understand that Lubavitch does not approve of the new Eruv erected by Modern Orthodox Jews that have moved into their neighborhood. They have that right. But their members have no right to vandalize it.

They don’t have to use it. And they can promote the fact that is is unapproved by Chabad for their members. But to vandalize it shows a side of Chabad that is uncharacteristic of them.

I hasten to add that to the best of my knowledge the vandalism was not done in any official capacity. Nor do I think it was sanctioned at any level. But there are those in Chabad that are moved to act this way because statements like the following. From the Forward
“It’s self-understood that the Rebbe’s decision is final, and it is forbidden for anyone to help or support… the building of an eruv in our neighborhood,” read an earlier letter from Rabbi Avrohom Osdoba, a senior member of the Crown Heights rabbinical court…
Osdoba and another beit din member, Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Halevy Segal, said the eruv was not kosher and called the erection of the eruv “the devastation of the Shabbat in our honorable neighborhood.” 
Statements like these lead to zealots acting on it.  And that’s just plain wrong. Lubavitch does not own Crown Heights. While there is no evidence that a Lubavitcher did this, I think it’s a reasonable assumption. At the very least Chabad should condemn this and any future vandalism. They need to realize and accept that there are a growing number of observant Jews moving into their neighborhood that are not Lubavitch. And have needs and Poskim of their own. It would be a great gesture showing that their Ahavas Yisroel extend to Jews of their own neighborhood. They need to just let it go and welcome them into the neighborhood. Because at the end of the day vandalism in the cause of sectarian stringencies is a Chilul HaShem.