Last week, Mahwah Councilman David May went before the Bergen County Freeholders and requested that they work with various parties to create a county-wide eruv, here in Bergen County. Despite the serious issues initially identified with the proposal, Mr. May and Mahwah’s Council President, Rob Hermansen, insisted on pursuing it. They asked for dialogue and questioned why anyone would be against such a plan.
Eruv Litigation went to one of the foremost authorities on eruvin and posed the question as to whether such a plan was even possible.
Here is his analysis:
The Ritva (Eruvin 22b) and his Rebbe the Ra’ah hold that walls are not valid when they enclose too broad an area. The Nishmas Adam Klal 49 and the Maharsham 4:1 write that the extent of a person’s unaided eyesight is sixteen mil (mil = 2000 amos). However, scholars have noted that the curvature of the earth prevents one standing at ground level from seeing much further than six mil; and, therefore, that it is questionable whether the source upon which the Nishmas Adam bases his ruling may be applied to the Halachos of Eruvin.
Besides for the issue of size, there is the issue of what the eruv would enclose. Within a large eruv there are likely – nay, there are inevitably – karpeifos (uninhabitable areas that invalidate an eruv) and intercity highways (which are considered reshuyos ho’rabbim – public thoroughfares that invalidate an eruv).