This post is for you 5-Towners. While on the topic of Rav Kornmehl's tshuvos, let me mention another interesting one. Some background: In the 5 Towns we enjoy a large eiruv that extends from Far Rockaway all the way down to Woodsburgh, up to North Woodmere, and beyond (actually it is multiple eiruvin linked together -- map here). The eiruv I believe is now maintained under the auspices of the Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns and was inspected a year or two ago by R' Hershel Shachter (don't trust me 100% on any details -- I honestly am the last person who knows anything about the community I live in). While my kids are all now beyond needing a stroller, I am fully appreciative of the benefit an eiruv provides for parents who need strollers, diaper bags, goody bags, and what-not to bring with their kids to shul. And why shouldn't Shabbos davening be a family experience? Not to mention not having to worry about carrying keys, tissues, etc. Eiruvin make our Shabbos and our communities that much more family friendly and easy to live in.
All that being said, the blessing of an eiruv has it downside as well. One example to illustrate the point: On the occasion that I go for a Shabbos walk, I sometimes deliberately pass one particular house to see what is going on there because my wife and I noticed once they have an interesting Shabbos minhag. They have a regular basketball game going on, the players dressed in appropriate bigdei chol, a big cooler set up in the driveway with drinks, different teams rotating chances to play, etc. My wife and I have seen the name thing multiple times -- it's like a minhag kavua. B'shlama kids who are dressed in their bigdei chol and come to the park to play baseball with their bats, mitts, and gloves, like Shabbos is Little League day -- well, it's hard to have ta'anos on kids. But this basketball game is older teens and adults, so its a bit strange, at least to me.
Chachaim adif m'navi - Rav Kornmehl saw it coming. He writes (Tiferes Tzvi II:65 here) that he was approached by the Rabbanim of the 5 Towns and asked his view about whether an eiruv should be constructed. He replied that although he appreciates the benefit an eiruv would provide to mothers with young children and the potential of the eiruv to circumvent chilul Shabbos by those who would carry anyway, nonetheless, it is a tikun that will bring great kilkul . "Rabim yaschilu l'hakeil b'kol inyanei Shabbos al y'dei hischadshus ha'zos." He thought little of the ability of the American community "medina meshubeshes b'boros, kalei hada'as gavru l'ma'alah...," to understand the mechanism of eiruv, and felt that it would be seen as a joke -- a means of circumventing Shabbos, a legal trick, which would lead inevitably to the question of what else can be circumvented and how. Besides which, he wondered how the eiruv would be maintained and checked and by whom.
The language is quite strong -- Rav Kornmehl pulled no punches -- but in the end, it was to no avail. In the very next tshuavh relates how the Rabbanim and ba'alei batim begged and pressed him until he gave in and sent a letter to R' Moshe asking how to best make the eiruv k'halacha (he had questions about using the overhead elecrtic wires, which is another topic). So the eiruv came to be. Interesting, none of this background appears on the history page of the 5 Towns Eiruv website, which starts its story 27 years ago with Rav Eider being the one consulted. Rav Kornmehl doesn't even get a mention -- I'm not sure why.
So what has changed (if anything) in the intervening years and are we better off or worse? Well, the community has changed. The level of Jewish education and observance has increased across the board, for those on the right as well as those on the left. Supposedly (heard second hand, so take it with a grain of salt) once upon a time a local 5T synagogue asked Rav Soloveitchik his opinion about having a car driven by an aku"m pick members up to take them to shul on Shabbos. I think by and large such shaylos are a thing of the past. The chain that blocks the parking lot on Shabbos is hardly necessary anymore. The technical details of how an eiruv works are probably not much better understood today by the general populace than they were decades ago, but there is a certain respect for the process of halacha that has (baruch Hashem) seeped into our communal psychology. And we have in the Five Towns a Yeshiva Gedolah of bnei Torah and others who check the eiruv every week. Rav Kornmehl, coming from a European background, did not seem to put much faith in the knowledge of his American ba'alei batim. That was then, and this is now -- I don't know if Rav Kornmehl could have envisioned the degree of growth of Torah in suburban America.
And yet, Rav Kornmehl's concerns still ring true to some degree. The technical details of hilchos Shabbos are better known, but is the spirit of kedushas Shabbos improved?