The topic of eruv in New York City and the Lubavitch view has been much discussed in recent times. But a newly uncovered newspaper clipping shows that the issue was addressed by a student of the Tzemach Tzedek nearly 120 years ago.
By Anash.org reporter
The topic of eruv in New York City and the Lubavitch view has been much discussed in recent times. But the issue of carrying on Shabbos in New York and the position of Lubavitch rabbonim is quite old.
A newly uncovered newspaper clipping from nearly 120 years ago shows how Harav Chaim Yakov Vidrevitz, a chossid of the Tzemach Tzedek and Rebbe Maharash and a rov in New York, weighed in on the topic.
As a bochur, Harav Vidrevitz was an exceptional ilui and a yoshev by the Tzemach Tzedek. In 5636 (1876), after serving as rov in several Russian towns, he was sent by the Rebbe Maharash to be the Chassidishe rov of Moscow. He served there for 15 years, earning him the title, the “Moskver Rov.”
During that time, Harav Vidrevitz was tasked by the Tzemach Tzedek’s revered children to organize the ksovim and to print the tshuvos of the Tzemach Tzedek. He spent a period of two years toiling over the Tzemach Tzedek’s writing and clarifying his words.
After upheavals in Russia and an attempt on the Czar’s life, a large portion of Moscow’s Jews were expelled, and in 5652 (1892), Harav Vidrevitz decided to head towards the American shores. There he was appointed as rov of the Lubavitcher-Nyezhiner shul on Henry Street on the East Side of New York.
In New York, he began to shine even more and he accomplished much in the realm of strengthening Yiddishkeit, specifically in the areas of kashrus and mikvaos. His wit and genius were well-known throughout the land.
During that time, Rabbi Yehoshua Seigel, known as the Sherpser Rov, created the first eruv in New York, covering the Jewish area of Manhattan. The eruv counted on existing riverbanks and train trestles, and it ignored the large population of Manhattan which, at the time, numbered around 2 million.
In a public letter, published in the Yiddish newspaper Der Teglicher Herald from July 21, 1905, Harav Vidrevitz responds to the “Chevra Shomrei Shabbos” about using an eruv in New York City. In his letter, he writes that carrying in the streets is a “sofek issur d’oraisa” and one who carries is considered a “mechalel Shabbos b’farhesya.”
יום ב’, י”ד תמוז תרס”ה.
כבור “חברה שומרי שבת” בעיר נויארק!
אייער פראגע אויב מעז מעג טראגען אום שבת אין שטאדט ניו יאָרק. גלויבט ניט אז דער שעֶבשער רב האָט געפסק’ט אז מעו מעג. אין דיא האללען טאַר מען אויך ניט טראָגען. מען מוז האבען א עירוב חצרות אוז דאס קען היער ניט זיין ווארום אין יעדע הויז איז בעוה”ר פאראן מחללי שבת ווער רעדט אין סטריט איז א ספק איסור דאורייתא און ווער עס טראגט אום שבת אין סטריט איז ער א מחלל שבת בפרהסיא. המודיע לאפרושי מאיסורא,
חיים יעקב ווידרעוויץ. ממאָסקווא החופ”ק
Special thanks to Rabbi Shmuel Super for sharing this clipping with us.