Thursday, March 17, 2016

Memories Play Tricks: Rav Reuven Feinstein Shlita Remembers His Father (Ami Magazine)

In Ami Magazine (Issue no. 259, March 9, 2016) there is an interview with Rav Reuven Feinstein shlita called Growing Up in the Shadow of Greatness, where he discusses his father. 

As there are some shocking accusations made on page 72 regarding the Flatbush eruv, I feel a need to refute these comments. Unless Rav Reuven did not actually say what is stated therein, I would have recommended that he read through his father zt”l’s teshuvos (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:87-88) on the Flatbush eruv prior to the telling of these tall tales. 

The following is a line by line refutation: 
“For example, when he was first asked about the possibility of constructing an eiruv in Brooklyn he refused to answer. He maintained that the local rabbi should answer the question. But they kept on asking, insisting that unless he issued a psak no one would follow it.” 

The first part of the statement is accurate as can be discerned from Rav Moshe’s teshuvah (ibid., 4:87). However, the last sentence is pure fiction. 

There is no doubt that, from the start, Rav Moshe did not want to be involved in the Flatbush eruv. He wrote that he told the Flatbush rabbanim who had visited him earlier regarding the Flatbush eruv, “I do not want to join you in this matter, because there are many opinions on this topic, as we see in the Shulchan Aruch.” 

However, it was not because of people insisting that he issue a p’sak that led Rav Moshe to finally investigate the matter. Rather, as Rav Moshe detailed in the above teshuvah, his reason for examine the efficacy of a Flatbush eruv was only because at the time there was a misunderstanding concerning his personal conviction and some people mistakenly supposed that he was even in support of an eruv; hence, he saw a need to clarify his opinion on the matter. 

“What did he do? He sent someone down to Borough Hall to find out the exact size and population of Brooklyn. Once he determined that Brooklyn was a reshus harabim d’Oraisa so you cannot make an eiruv, those who tried to attack him were not matzliach – which is not to say that they didn’t try.”

This sequence of events is specious. If Rav Reuven was correct that his father sent someone down to Borough Hall to examine the Brooklyn statistics, then how is it possible in the second teshuvah regarding the Flatbush eruv (ibid., 4:88) Rav Moshe admitted that the statistics that he based his first teshuvah on (ibid., 4:87) may not be accurate. Rav Moshe wrote in the second teshuvah that now he was told that the population over an area of twelve mil by twelve mil in Brooklyn was definitely less than shishim ribo. Following this information, Rav Moshe stated that his opposition to a Brooklyn eruv would only be because some may think that the population was actually greater shishim ribo (thus a Brooklyn eruv was only a matter of a gezeirah). [However, at the end of the second teshuvah, Rav Moshe stated that there was no doubt that there was shishim ribo in any twelve mil by twelve mil area in Brooklyn. He states that he was now told that more than a million people come into the borough to work and visit, and that the population was near three million. In fact, those who told Rav Moshe these statistics made it up out of whole cloth; see here.] 

It is simply not believable that Rav Moshe sent a shliach to Brooklyn Borough Hall to inform him regarding the statistics and was lied to. It was more likely that the anti-eruv cabal made up facts out of thin air. There was a group headed by a Boro Park rav who was extremely anti-eruv and was willing to go to any extreme in order to negate the possibility of the establishment of an eruv. This cabal was in cahoots with those who were Rav Moshe’s gatekeepers (this point is validated by the fact that the teshuvah regarding the Boro Park eruv in ibid., 5:28, which was in response to Rav Menashe Klein’s teshuvah, was instead addressed to these gatekeepers). [For more about this rav listen to the recording of the Hisachdus HaRabbanim convention on April 30, 1980 and read the teshuvah in Kerem BeYavnah, 3:3, dated July 3, 1980. Rabbi Avrohom Blumenkrantz zt”l told me that, when he established the eruv in Far Rockaway, he was called by this Boro Park rav who insisted that he be asked in addition to Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l and Rav Simcha Elberg zt”l for permission to establish an eruv. Rav Blumenkrantz then went to his rebbe Rav Moshe for a letter of approbation. Rav Moshe told him that he was right to establish the eruv but refused to issue a letter because he was scared of this Boro Park rav.] 

After the first teshuvah was written, where we see that Rav Moshe was misinformed, it was the Muzay rav who sent Rav Moshe statistics (from the then District Manager of Community Board 12, Brooklyn, Noach Dear) demonstrating that an area of twelve mil by twelve mil in Brooklyn contained a population less than three million (I was given a copy of these documents by the Muzay rav and hope to publicize them in the near future). [As mentioned above, this cabal then misinformed Rav Moshe about the number of people who come into Brooklyn, in order that Rav Moshe’s opposition to a Flatbush eruv should not only be a matter of a gezeirah.] 

“A lot of people stood to benefit financially from having an eiruv so they tried bashmutzing him!” 

Really people stood to benefit financially from having an eruv? I have been involved with many city eruvin and have never seen an eruv that has financial benefits for anyone (Rav Reuven is obviously not referring to the construction company). As anyone involved with eruvin will attest, it is very difficult to raise funds for community eruvin. This claim is simply dubious, and so is the rest of the sentence. 

Who tried to bashmutz Rav Moshe because he opposed the Flatbush eruv? Rav Reuven must be conflating the issues, as he writes, “They even paid someone off to write a sefer against him! But once they saw it wasn’t working, they backed off and treated him with respect.” No one was ever paid to write a sefer opposing Rav Moshe’s shitos in eruvin. Rav Reuven is probably referring to Ma'aneh Leigros, in which case there is a claim that the author was paid to write against Rav Moshe. However, this has nothing to do with the issue of eruvin at all. 

Even more telling is Rav Reuven’s omission of his father’s final pronouncement in the above cited teshuvos. Even when clarifying his position, Rav Moshe did not want to issue a p’sak din barur since, as he wrote, his chiddush was not mentioned in the Achronim, and moreover the Aruch HaShulchan would not agree with him. This is the final opinion of Rav Moshe that the anti-eruv cabal conveniently omit. 

It is a shame that Rav Reuven is perpetuating these myths regarding eruvin. It seems that Rav Reuven believes that eruvin is an issue of his father’s kavod, when in fact it is far from the truth. If anything, it is those who oppose the Brooklyn eruvin who are besmirching his father’s name. They claim things in the name of Rav Moshe that are truly not becoming (such as Rav Moshe dropped a sefer on the floor because it was pro-eruv, quoted by Rav Belsky zt”l in a shiur in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath). They make up halachic arguments in the name of Rav Moshe when in fact they do not follow Rav Moshe’s shitos in eruvin (such as the reason why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv in Queens as opposed to Brooklyn was because Queens is not conceptualized from a halachic perspective as one city, whereas Brooklyn is; this in fact does not follow Rav Moshe’s shitos in eruvin which only reckoned with a twelve mil by twelve mil area and not conceptualizations). On the other hand, there were rabbanim who supported an eruv in Brooklyn who did so only after they were satisfied that it would meet Rav Moshe’s shitos.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Reestablishment of the Manchester Eruv

To begin with, I use the term “re”establishment of the Manchester eruv because the original eruv was established over a hundred years ago by the foremost posek to have lived in Manchester Harav Avraham Aharon Yudelovitch, author of the Bais Av (Harav Fishel Hershkowitz shlita maintains that the Bais Av's teshuvos are in a league of their own).  Anyone who would like to learn the intricate halachos of eruvin would do well if they studied the second volume of the Bais Av titled Kerem Av. There is no sefer on hilchos eruvin that is its equal. Clearly, those seeking guidance regarding the establishment of an eruv in Manchester, should look no further. As can be noted from his teshuvos on the matter, the circumstances then in Manchester were similar to the current situation and nevertheless, Rav Yudelovitch allowed an eruv there (in fact, the population of Manchester was even greater in his times than it is currently). There is no reason why anyone in Manchester would not follow this towering posek regarding this matter. 

I greeted the news of the reestablishment of the Manchester eruv with great joy. However, as my experience with city eruvin taught me I tempered my joy with trepidation at the perils that lie ahead.  Unfortunately, my familiarity with these situations proved right. The Cabal (Chevrah Hilchos Issurei Eruvin) reared its ugly head. 

While it is understandable and commendable that rabbanim who seek to establish an eruv for their town to confer with experts regarding the extremely intricate halachos of eruvin, today there are rabbanim who call on yungerleit who specialize in combating city eruvin. In their zeal to impede eruvin, these yungerleit have a penchant to collect all shitos yechidos under one roof. If the Cabal would mean it l’shem shamayim, Manchester would not be on their radar at all, since an eruv for Manchester is no different than most towns that have erected an eruv and the issue of reshus harabbim there should not be an impediment. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l would not have an issue with a Manchester eruv nor would 99.99% of all poskim have an issue with a Manchester eruv (see below for a more detailed analysis).

The fact that there is resistance to the eruv in Manchester just proves my point. There is a misplaced antipathy towards city eruvin. The Cabal believes that an eruv is a trick and needs to be stopped by any means available, so much so that, in their eagerness to negate city eruvin, they include non-halachic arguments, such as an eruv is likely to lead to michsholosIn fact, these secondary allegations would negate all eruvin, even private ones. It seems that these people are not troubled that an eruv is a mitzvah me’d’rabannan, and as such, they should be labeled, modern day Tzedukim or Apikorsim. Furthermore, those yungerleit who argue that halachically city eruvin are problematic are negating a mitzvah. Today’s city eruvin are an outgrowth of the halachos of shtufei mavaos which is a separate mitzvah classified in the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 395:1). Therefore, by negating all city eruvin, at the minimum they should be labeled as eino modeh bshtufei mavaos.

Moreover, the Bnei Yissachar (Nimukei Orach Chaim, 394:1) and the Chidushei HaRim (Siddur Tefillah Likutei Yehudah, p. 186) were makpid to carry in a kosher eruv in order not to be included with those who are eino modeh b’eruv, or Tzedukim. I think that the Bnei Yissachar and the Chidushei HaRim had the foresight to know what was to come and even anticipated the Cabal. It is ironic that Rav Yudelovitch when he established the original Manchester eruv had to deal with a rav who made similar arguments in opposition to his eruv. Rav Yudelovitch (Kerem Av, 1:25) did not mince words; he stated כי בפנימיותם רבנים כאלו הם כופרים בכל דבר הקדוש, והן לא יאמינו.  It seems that we are back to where we started.

Furthermore, with all the chaff that is being bandied about regarding eruvin, most people do not realize that our forebears carried even in large cities, where the eruvin were nowhere near as mehudar as the Manchester eruv.  Therefore, there is no reason to follow the Cabal over the experts who established the North Manchester eruv. Halevai that everything else we did benefitted from the same level of halachic certainty.

What follows is part one of this essay in which we will examine the halachic issues that are relevant to the Manchester eruv. I will b”n post part two shortly where I will dissect a shiur given by a yungerman who was brought in from Eretz Yisroel to negate the Manchester eruv. His lecture is typical of the Cabal, full of half-truths and outright lies.

A Discussion of the Halachic Issues Regarding the Manchester Eruv

A lot of halachic misinformation has been promulgated regarding the kashrus of the Manchester eruv, in particular regarding the issue of whether the area it encompasses constitutes a reshus harabbim, which would render an eruv of tzuras hapesachim invalid. It should be made clear that the eminent rabbanim supporting the eruv are following the overwhelming majority of poskim, and as such, no one should in any way feel that they are relying on kulos by making use of it.

The custom of erecting eruvin in cities with a population greater than 600,000 [shishim ribo] has existed for generations. Almost all large cities prior to World War II, including the renowned kehillos of Warsaw and Lodz, erected eruvin. Bnei Brak [including its interconnected neighborhoods] and Yerushalayim, both of which contain more than shishim ribo, are enclosed with eruvin under the hashgacha of Rav Landau shlita and the Eidah Hachareidis. In 1938, the Achiezer, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski zt"l, and the Chazon Ish zt"l allowed the establishment of an eruv in Paris [1936, population 2,829,746] with exactly the same conditions as in Manchester: three mechitzos, omed merubeh al ha'parutz.

To begin with, it is an incontrovertible fact that, according to the Gedolei Haposkim, the Manchester eruv is not a matter of a d’Oraysa. The overwhelming majority of poskim maintain that me’d’Oraysa a tzuras hapesach would reclassify a reshus harabbim as a reshus hayachid (see further regarding the requirement of delasos me’d’rabban).  Accordingly, the Cabal’s main argument that a Manchester eruv would be a safek d’Oraysa is vacuous. This point cannot be stressed often enough; the Gedolei Haposkim maintain that once a tzuras hapesach is established, the area in question is never a matter of a d’Oraysa. If people would be acquainted with this extremely important fact, maybe then the gratuitous call of the Cabal to be stringent in all matters regarding city eruvin would be ignored.

The following is a list of poskim who maintain that a tzuras hapesach is sufficient on a d’Oraysa level: Prei Megadim, Rosh Yosef, Shabbos 6b; Shulchan Aruch HaRav, O.C. 364:4; Rav Chaim Volozhiner, Shu"t Nishmas Chaim, p. 1; Gaon Yaakov, Eruvin 11a; Tzemach Tzedek, Eruvin the end of Perek 5; Aishel Avraham, siman 345; Yeshuos Malko, O.C. 21; Avnei Nezer, O.C. siman 273:16; 279:2; 289:2; Aruch HaShulchan, O.C. 364:1; Kanah V’Kanamon, 5:56; Livush Mordechai, 4:4; Kaf HaChaim and O.C. 364:12.

Once a tzuras hapesach is established for an area classified as a reshus harabbim, since the requirement of delasos is only me’d’rabbanan, we can be lenient [safek d’rabbanan l’kulla] and apply any additional heter to remove the requirement of delasosYeshuos Malko, O.C. siman 21; Avnei Nezer, O.C. 273:16, 279:2; Kanah V’Kanamon, 5:56; Livush Mordechai, 4:4, and Bais Av, 2:9:3.

Now let us explore if Manchester could even be categorized as a reshus harabbim at all.

In fact, the overwhelming majority of poskim maintain that the area enclosed by the eruv in North Manchester would not be classified as a reshus harabbim for the following three reasons:
1) None of the streets, including Bury New Road, are traversed daily by 600,000 people ― there is no shishim ribo ovrim bo b'chol yom. Nor does the area encompassed by the eruv meet Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l's criteria for a reshus harabbim of shishim ribo.

It should noted that only regarding this criterion is there an argument if a Baal Nefesh should be stringent, the reason being that the criterion of shishim ribo is mired in a machlokas Rishonim. [In fact, we know today that the overwhelming majority of Rishonim (over 40) maintain that shishim ribo is a criterion of a reshus harabbim, hence there is no reason for a Baal Nefesh to be stringent: see The Reprinting of the Berlin Edition of the Behag.] However, the Mishnah Berurah (Bi'ur Halachah, 345:23), quoting the Elya Rabah, states that even in conjunction with a tzad l'heter, a Baal Nefesh may be lenient and rely on the fact that the street does not have shishim ribo traversing it.

Even if one would not accept the above criterion, an eruv can be established in Manchester l’chatchilah for the following reason:
2) The streets do not run straight from one end of the city to the other ― they are not mefulashim u'mechuvanim m'shaar l'shaar.

Even if one would not accept the above criteria, an eruv can be established in Manchester l’chatchilah for the following reason:
3) As the area enclosed by the eruv is circumscribed by mechitzos, it is fundamentally a reshus hayachid.

Consequently, since each of the above conditions which are upheld by the majority of the poskim would constitute sufficient grounds to permit an eruv of tzuras hapesachim l’chatchilah, there is no reason why one could not rely on the eruv in Manchester. Moreover, since the eruv's validity rests on fundamental mitigating factors like the streets not being mefulash and the area being bounded by mechitzos, there is no doubt that under such circumstances the Mishnah Berurah ― and the overwhelming majority of poskim as well ― would agree that a Baal Nefesh could be lenient and utilize the eruv of North Manchester.

Furthermore, even if one would allege that according to a few poskim the above fundaments would not allow an eruv, nevertheless, they would have to agree that each issue is still at the very minimum a safek. Consequentially, we are left with a sfek sfek sfeika, and we would therefore go l’kula even if the matter was a d’Oraysa.

The following is an elaboration of the three criteria mentioned above:
1) It was the mesorah through the ages that shishim ribo is dependent on a single street. The Divrei Malkiel (4:3) stated when writing to the people erecting an eruv in the city of Odessa, which had approximately shishim ribo, that, "the minhag is to erect eruvin even in the largest of cities and it does not concern us that they have shishim ribo since the shishim ribo is dispersed over all the streets." New York's population in 1905 was much more than shishim ribo and the rabbanim who were involved with the eruv then relied on the fact that there was no street that had shishim ribo traversing it (Oznei Yehoshua, 1:18 and Tirosh VaYitzhar, siman 73). This is one of the reasons why in Eretz Yisroel eruvin are maintained in Yerushalayim and in the Gush Dan [Bnei Brak with all the interconnected neighborhoods] even though these regions have shishim ribo as well (Rav Yisroel Yaakov Fisher zt"l in Even Yisroel, 8:36 and Kinyan Torah, 4:40).

These are some of the additional poskim who maintain that shishim ribo is dependent on the street: Pnei Yehoshua, Shabbos 5b; Bais Meir, Shabbos 5b; Bais Yaakov, Eruvin 6a; Yad Dovid, Eruvin 55a; Bais Ephraim, p. 46; Mishkenos Yaakov, p. 126; Chiddushi Harim, siman 4; Yeshuos Malko, siman 27; Mishnah Berurah, Shaar HaTziyun, 345:25 [the Mishnah Berurah indicates this by the usage of the phrase, "derech hamavoi hamefulash," ― it is important to note, the Mishnah Berurah's (345:24) primary issue is whether the shishim ribo are required to traverse the street every day of the year or whether occasional use of the street by 600,000 people would be sufficient, see also Toldos Shmuel, 3:86:10]; Minchas Elazar, 3:4; Bais Av, 2:5:2; Maharshag, 2:25; Chazon Ish, 107:6; Mahari Stief, siman 68; V'yaan Yoseph, 131:1, 155:1, 195:2; Divrei Yatziv, 173:4; Rav Shmuel Wosner shlita in Shevet HaLevi, 6:41; Rav Yechezkel Roth shlita, in Emek HaTeshuvah 5:19; (see also the sheilah to the Chacham Tzvi in siman 37).

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:109) originally accepted as fact that shishim ribo is dependent on the street and only later (ibid., 1:139:5, 4:87-88, 5:28:5, 5:29) formulated his chiddush that in a city, shishim ribo applied to an area of twelve mil by twelve mil. According to his shita, in order for a city to be classified as a reshus harabbim, there must be 600,000 people collectively traversing the streets at the same time over a twelve mil by twelve mil area. In his final two teshuvos on the subject, he clarifies that this would require at least five times this number of people (i.e. roughly three million people) to be living in an area of twelve mil by twelve mil square (approximately sixty-four square miles). Thus, there is no doubt that Rav Moshe’s understanding of the criterion of shishim ribo is not met in North Manchester. Consequently, Rav Moshe would not classify Manchester as a reshus harabbim and would allow an eruv to be established.

Most importantly, the Bais Av (2:5:2), in order to allow an eruv in Manchester, made use of the argument that the criterion of shishim ribo is conditional of the street. As I mentioned above, the Bais Av was the greatest posek to live in Manchester and he allowed an eruv there for this reason. I believe the choice is obvious. 

There are those who argue that in order to classify the street as a reshus harabbim, we do not require that the shishim rbo traverse the street itself; it is adequate if the street would just service 600,000 residents. Therefore, they claim that Bury New Road meets this definition of shishim ribo and would be classified as a reshus harabbim.  However, this is clearly in opposition to the simple understanding of the Shulchan Aruch and the overwhelming majority of poskim. Since the Shulchan Aruch uses the term shishim ribo ovrim bo b’chol yom, it implies a thoroughfare in continuous use and not merely the presence of 600,000 people in the vicinity who would have the ability to utilize the street. It is patently clear from the following poskim that the shishim ribo would need to actually traverse the road itself in order to be classified as a reshus harabbim: Bais Ephraim, O.C. 26; Mishkenos Yaakov, siman 121 as he explains the shitos of the Shulchan Aruch; Michtam L’David, siman 2; Divrei Chaim, Addendum 3; Zivchei Tezdek, siman 102; Maharsham, 3:188; Sefas Emes, Shabbos 6b; Yeshuos Malko, siman 27; Minchas Elazar, 3:4; Tuv Yehoshua, p. 8, and Minchas Yitzchak, 8:32.

Even Rav Moshe zt”l (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:139:5, 4:87) interpreted the criterion of shishim ribo ovrim bo to mean a thoroughfare in continuous use, such as an intercity road, which he maintained would need to have 600,000 people traversing the same section of the road (ibid., 5:28:16) on a daily basis in order for it to be classified as a reshus harabbim.

Furthermore, this issue is a moot point according to most poskim since Bury New Road does not continue straight [mefulash u'mechuvan] into these other roadways, and they are therefore not halachically considered as one. Consequently, even Bury New Road would not be categorized as servicing shishim ribo.  Additionally, Rav Moshe (ibid.,) maintained that in order for any section of an intercity road to be classified as a reshus harabbim, the shishim ribo would have to traverse that particular section of the road on a daily basis. Accordingly, we would not include vehicles entering the roadway at different points in the total count, as they are each traveling along different segments of the roadway. Since Bury New Road has much fewer than shishim ribo traversing it at any point, there is no question that Rav Moshe would not classify the segments of it that extend outside of the city as a reshus harabbim (see also Bais Shearim, siman 132).

Finally, regarding the criterion of shishim ribo, it is important to note that most poskim maintain that the occupants of a car are not tallied in the shishim ribo: Bais Ephraim, O.C. 26; Maharsham, 1:162; Yeshuos Malko, siman 26-27; Harei B’samim, 5:73; Bais Av, 2:9:3; Mahari Stief, siman 68; Satmar Rav, Kuntres Meoz U’Mekedem p. 27; Divrei Yatziv, 2:172:13; V’yaan Yoseph, 1:155:1; Kuntres Tikkun Eruvin Manhattan, siman 12 p. 105; Kinyan Torah, 4:40:6, and Rabbi Eliezer Y. Waldenberg zt"l, author of the Tzitz Eliezer, as cited in The Contemporary Eruv, 2002 p. 54 note 119. The reason is either because a vehicle in itself is considered a reshus hayachid and therefore its occupants are not part of the total or because we only include pedestrians (holchei regel) who traverse the street in the tally. [It’s important to note that the concept that only holchei regel creates a reshus harabbim is already mentioned in the Rishonim: Teshuvos HaRambam, siman 310; Rabbeinu Avraham ben HaRambam in Birchas Avraham, siman 15, and Or Zarua, Hilchos Erev Shabbos siman 4.]

Since it is clear that no roads including Bury New Road within the Manchester eruv meet the criterion of shshim ribo, an eruv of tzuras hapesachim can be established.

2) Most poskim understand mefulashim m'shaar l'shaar as meaning mefulashim u'mechuvanim m'shaar l'shaar, open and running straight from city gate to city gate: Bais Yosef, 345:8; Tosfos Shabbos, 345:13; Elya Rabah, 345:13; Magen Avraham, 345:6; Pri Megadim, Aishel Avraham, 364: 2; Bais Ephraim, O.C. 26; Tiferes Yisroel, introduction to Shabbos; U'Bacharta B'Chaim, siman 123; Shoel U'Maishiv, 2:87; Yehudah Yaaleh, O.C. siman 54; Mahari Slutsk, O.C. siman 11; Minchas Elazar, 3:4, Mishnah Berurah, 345:20, Shevet Halevi 8:177:2.

These sources do not differentiate between a walled city and an open city. Since this is a very important distinction and has a great impact in how we apply the criterion of mefulash, we can garner from this omission that there is no difference halachically whether or not the city is walled.

The following is a partial list of poskim who are clearly not referring to a walled city, and as such would definitely uphold that no street in North Manchester would qualify as a reshus harabbim:
The Mishnah Berurah (364:8), when describing the cities of his times, stated that there were streets that were sixteen amos wide and mefulash u'mechuvanim m'shaar l'shaar. Therefore, a Baal Nefesh should be stringent since to erect an eruv in these cities they had to rely on the fact that the street did not have shishim ribo traversing it. As we know, most towns in the Mishnah Berurah’s times were not walled ― even in earlier times most cities were not walled (Pri Megadim, Mishbetzes Zahav 362:17) ― consequently, we can deduce that he accepted the criterion of mefulash as not being dependent on a walled city.

The Divrei Malkiel (4:3) states that to find a street in a large city which is mefulash, open from one end of the city to the other is unheard of, and that is why the minhag is to erect eruvin even in the largest of cities. He wrote this teshuvah regarding Odessa, a city that was not walled.

Rav Shlomo Dovid Kahane zt"l (Divrei Menachem, O.C. vol. 2, pp. 42-43), one of the main rabbanim of Warsaw before World War II, posited that the heter to erect an eruv in a large city such as Warsaw, which was not walled from the year 1877 (Encyklopedia Warszawy, 1994 p. 187), was universally accepted as the streets were not mefulashim u'mechuvanim m'shaar l'shaar. More so, he claimed, a small city would have a greater problem establishing an eruv since its streets would be mefulash. In a small city there is usually one main street running straight through the center of the town as opposed to a large city where the streets are generally not straight from city gate to city gate.

Most significantly, the Bais Av (2:9:1) made use of the criterion of mefulashim u'mechuvanim m'shaar l'shaar as one of the heterim to allow an eruv in Manchester. I reiterate that the Bais Av was the greatest posek to live in Manchester, and he allowed an eruv there for this reason. We should follow his guidance regarding this criterion, as well.

Since it is clear that no roads within the Manchester eruv meet the criterion of mefulash u'mechuvanim m'shaar l'shaar, an eruv of tzuras hapesachim can be established.

[It is important to note that Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l (Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:28:7) disagreed with the above poskim and maintained mefulashim u'mechuvanim m'shaar l'shaar is a criterion that can only be utilized in a walled city, which some would claim is not the case in North Manchester. (In fact, since the Manchester eruv makes use of mechitzos, there is no reason not to regard the area as being circumscribed by mechitzos.) Nevertheless, an eruv would be allowed according to his shitos in eruvin, for the additional reasons discussed here.]

3) A fundamental reason why there is no concern regarding a reshus harabbim within the Manchester eruv is that the vast majority of the eruv's circumference is made up of mechitzos and not tzuras hapesachim (over 90% of the perimeter of the eruv is composed of buildings, brick walls, fences and other structures).

While there may be some pirtzos [gaps] in the mechitzos, once the walls are omed merubeh al haparutz on three sides [that is, more than 50 percent of the length of each side must actually consist of a wall] practically all poskim maintain that the multitudes do not negate the enclosure: Chacham Tzvi, siman 5, 37; Knesset Yechezkal, siman 2:3; Mayim Rabim, siman 34-36; Maharit Tzahalon, siman 251; Tosfos Shabbos, siman 363; Pri Megadim, Rosh Yoseph, Shabbos 6b; Even HaOzer, Eruvin 6b, 22a; Bais Ephraim, O.C. 26; Noda B'Yehudah, O.C. Mahadura Tinyana, 42 and Teshuvah M'Ahavah, siman 112; She'eilas Yaavetz, siman 7 and Mor U'Ketziyah, siman 363; Shulchan Aruch HaRav, O.C. 363:42, 364:4 and Kuntres Achron, O.C. 345:2; Keren Oreh, Eruvin 7a; Michtam L'David, siman 1; Tiferes Tzvi, siman 11; Chasam Sofer, O.C. 89; HaEleph Lecha Shlomo, siman 181; Aishel Avraham, siman 345; Chai Adam, klal 71:15; Gaon Yaakov, Eruvin 11a, 21a; Chesed L'Avraham, siman 39; Maharam Shick, O.C. 171, 181; Maharia HaLevi, siman 94; Bais Shlomo, siman 43, 51; Tzemach Tzedek, Shabbos 100a and Eruvin, the end of Perek 5; Nefesh Chayah, siman 25; Avnei Nezer, O.C. 273:16, 279:2, 289:2; Aruch HaShulchan, O.C. 364:1; Maharsham, 3:188, 9:18; Yeshuos Malko, siman 21; Harei B'samim, 5:73; Imrei Yosher, siman 102 and Minchas Pitim, siman 364; Kaf HaChaim, O.C. 364:12; Divrei Malkiel, 3:10, 14; Rav Chaim Berlin in Tikkun Shabbos Odessa, p. 28 and in Nishmas Chaim, siman 29; Achiezer, 4:8; Even Yikrah, siman 58, and Chazon Ish, O.C. 74:10, 107:4.

Although some of the pirtzos may be ten amos wide, practically all poskim maintain that pirtzos esser is only a rabbinical proscription (thus, the need to close the pirtzos is only d'rabbanan, and a tzuras hapesach would suffice): Mabit in Kiryat Sefer, Shabbos Perek 16; Bais Meir, siman 364; Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos Zahav, 363:1; Shulchan Aruch HaRav, O.C. 345:11; Zera Emes, Eruvin 17; Keren Oreh, Eruvin 17b; Bais Ephraim, O.C. 26-27; Tiferes Tzvi, siman 11; Tikkun Eruvin Krakow, teshuvah 1; Melamed Leho'il, siman 68; Avnei Nezer, O.C. 265:13, 265:25, 276:1, 279:3; Aruch HaShulchan, O.C. 362:26; Mahari Slutsk, O.C. 11; Achiezer, 4:8; Chazon Ish, O.C. 107:5-8, 112:5; Chavatzeles HaSharon, O.C. 19; Kol Mevaser, 1:20:2, and Igros Moshe, O.C. 2:89-90.

Following this, the fact that the Manchester eruv is incorporating mechitzos that are omed merubeh al haparutz which would classify the area as fundamentally a reshus hayachid, there is no reason to be stringent and not make use of the eruv.

Of course, it is always possible to cite shitos yechidos to invalidate an eruv; however, ruling according to shitos yechidos is not an acceptable approach to halachah. The Chasam Sofer writes (Y.D. 37) that if we were to collect all the shitos ha'ossrim we would not be able to eat bread or drink water. Even more so, in hilchos eruvin, since all criteria have to be met for the area to be classified as a reshus harabbim, even if we were to employ a shitas yachid regarding reshus harabbim that would then disqualify the eruv based on only one criterion, the other conditions would not be met and an eruv would be permissible l'chatchilah. Consequently, to invalidate an eruv, one would have to selectively choose from disparate shitos yachidos ― which in many cases are contradictory ― and this approach is not followed regarding any other halachic issue. Why should eruvin be any different?

Monday, January 06, 2014

L’Hachzir Atarah L'Yoshnah: Manchester

Mazal Tov to the Jewish Community of Manchester on the reestablishment of their eruv. Please stay tuned for more on this matter. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In the Words of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l

In Rav Aharon Felder's recently published Reshumei Aharon volume 2 ois 9 he writes:

שני רבנים חשובים מפלאטבוש הגיעו לבית מו"ר זצ"ל וביקשו שיסכים להכשיר את העירוב שרוצים לתקן בשכונתם. ואמר להם מו"ר זצ"ל שהגם שאסר בשו"ת אגרות משה [בעינן עיר מנהטן] לעשות עירוב בכה"ג, אמנם אם יעשו את העירוב לא יצא נגדם בפומבי לאסור, היות שיודע שיש שיטות בפוסקים שיכולם לסמוך עליהם כדי להכשיר עירובם. לבסוף הלכו והכריזו בשמו שהיא מסכים לעירוב שרוצים לעשות..., ואז החליט מו"ר לכתוב תשובה לאסור את העירוב בשכונת פלאטבוש

While it is significant that a talmid muvhak of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l explicates the chain of events regarding the 1979 Flatbush eruv, it would have been more noteworthy if Rav Felder would have spelled out Rav Moshe’s conclusion.

You see, dear reader, it is not like Rav Felder’s quotation was a huge secret; on the contrary, Rav Moshe in his teshuvah regarding the Flatbush eruv writes likewise; albeit, as we shall see, with a notable difference:

שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ד סימן פז

הנה כשהיו אצלי הרבנים החשובים הרה"ג מוהרש"ז שארפמאן שליט"א והרה"ג מוהר"נ שרייער שליט"א בדבר תיקון עירוב בפלעטבוש ואמרתי שאיני רוצה להתערב בזה כי הרי כמה שיטות איכא בפירוש מה זה רשות הרבים ובפירוש דלתות נעולות וספרי הש"ע מצוים, אבל מאחר שיצא קול שאני הוא מתיר בעצם מצד לשון זה שאמרתי מוכרח אני לבא בזה לברר בקיצור מה שאני בעצמי סובר,

Clearly Rav Moshe’s summery of the chain of events is what Rav Felder recalled. However, Rav Moshe in his narrative did not declare from the start that an eruv in Flatbush, just like in Manhattan, was not permissible. On the contrary, when the rabbanim of Flatbush asked Rav Moshe about an eruv, he declined to state his personal convictions. He affirmed that he did not want to join them in the matter, because there are many opinions regarding reshus harabbim.

Following this, as Rav Felder stated, Rav Moshe maintained that he had to clarify his own opinion as there were those who asserted that he would allow an eruv in Flatbush. And this leads me to my main issue with Rav Felder’s account, which is that he omits the following explicit remark of Rav Moshe’s regarding the Flatbush eruv:

עכ"פ אני סובר לדינא כדכתבתי אבל לא רציתי לומר זה לפס"ד ברור מאחר שלא הוזכר זה בפירוש בדברי רבותינו האחרונים ובעה"ש משמע שודאי לא נחית לזה... אבל בזה טעם שלא אמרתי למה שאני סובר לרבנים חשובים לפס"ד ברור

In summation, even after Rav Moshe clarified his personal opinion opposing an eruv in Flatbush, he did not want to issue a p’sak din barur, since his chiddush was not mentioned in the Achronim and, moreover, the Aruch HaShulchan would not agree with him. Consequentially, no one has the right to argue that by establishing an eruv in Flatbush one is belittling the kavod of Rav Moshe (unless one believes kol koreis over explicit teshuvos). 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

L’Hachzir Atarah L'Yoshnah

Mazal Tov to the Jewish Community of Vienna on the reestablishment of their eruv. Finally, there is a contemporary eruv in a city with considerably more than shishim ribo that was built with very little contention.

The following article regarding the eruv was published in the October 10, 2012 edition of Ami Magazine.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A New Low in the Eruv Imbroglio

This past Friday night, a terrible tragedy happened. A 62 year old man, R’ Elimelech Weiss z"l, was killed when a car hit him in Williamsburg. Brooklyn. R’ Elimelech was an exceptional individual who helped many people and was also involved with the establishment of the Williamsburg eruv.

Unfortunately, even before R’ Elimelech was a shochen afar, some miscreants threw out pashkevil (see here) stating that this calamity befell him because he made use of the eruv for which his punishment is death (a mechalel Shabbos receives skilah). These demented individuals who belong to the anti-eruv cabal believe that they are privy to the goings on in shomayim and are the Ribono Shel Olam’s policemen. That they have the temerity to add to the pain of the family in these trying times illustrates to what length the cabal would go and how perverted their cause has become. [In fact, it was to his benefit that he was using the eruv since he was identified by the keys that he was carrying.]

Clearly the liability lies with those rabbanim in Williamsburg who allow the vicious campaign of harassment against those who make use of the eruv. It is high time that they publicly reprimand these rabble-rousers. Furthermore, those rabbanim who were imported from Flatbush (see here and here) to lend credibility to the campaign against the eruv have a responsibility to be mocheh, as well.

However, I will not hold my breath. These rabbanim are actually the supporters of these scoundrels and want the campaign to continue. I am hoping that this new low that the rabble-rousers reached demonstrates to all rational minded people that the anti-eruv cabal are vicious and mean spirited people and that their campaign definitely has nothing to do with our Torah but only with mi brosh.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Fuzzy Math: False Claims in the Name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l

Part of an ongoing commentary on the bias against city eruvin.

In the cover article of Mishpacha (May 25, 2011), More Than Math and Marathons: How Mathematician Dr. Leon Ehrenpreis Became a Follower of Rav Moshe Feinstein, Dr. Ehrenpreis’s wife is quoted as saying (page 52):

Rav Feinstein knew he could consult with Dr. Ehrenpreis anytime a sh’eilah arose that involved mathematical calculations. Hence, when asked about the possibility of constructing an eiruv in Brooklyn, he sought his talmid’s input. As Ahava explains it, Rav Moshe said there can be no eiruv in a reshua harabbim, which is defined by the volume of people in an area. When her husband looked at the figures that had been given to Rav Moshe, he shook his head.
“If these are true, then I’m the fastest runner in the world,” he said, referring to his daily ten-mile run between Prospect Park and Brighton Beach — the amount of traffic said to pass through, given the distance, just didn’t seem high enough.
“So Eliezer and I went and stood on the corner of Avenue N and Ocean Parkway with a stopwatch, counting cars,” Ahava recalls. “The volume of cars was much higher than the initial estimates.”
Their “research” contributed to Rav Moshe’s ultimate psak about the eiruv, contending that it’s not halachically permissible in Brooklyn.  

As I mentioned in a previous post, Rav Shlomo Pearl shlita made a similar claim in reference to Dr. Ehrenpreis (without mentioning his name) in his shiur titled The New Eruv in Queens (Jan. 9, 2011):

One of the earlier teshuvos in chelek aleph, Rav Moshe seems to indicate that maybe even Brooklyn was only a shema yitu. And he says later that he was informed by chaver of mine who happened to be a marathon runner who knew exactly how many miles it was from one end of Brooklyn to the other. Rav Moshe thought that Brooklyn was more than twelve mil, but the runners knew exactly the size of Brooklyn and the map will also show you the size of Brooklyn and it was less than twelve mil, and if you wanted to create twelve mil it would probably go into Manhattan and part of Queens.

On Avodah (Volume 28, Number 76 — Wed, May 11, 2011 — see the thread Inviting Someone On Shabbos Who Uses the Eruv) there is a similar assertion about Dr. Ehrenpreis with some additional detail mentioned:
Here is an historical footnote that I know you will enjoy, because it involves Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Ehrenpreis, Z"L. Leon, as he was known, told me proudly that he and his wife were responsible for Reb Moshe saying that one could not make an Eruv in Flatbush for two reasons.
1.  Originally Reb Moshe was told that the distance from Prospect Park to Sheepshead Bay was 12 miles.  When Leon heard this, he said, "No it is not. I run this distance a few times a week and it is no more than 6 miles."
2.  Secondly, Leon told me that he and his wife stood on Ocean Parkway at the height of traffic and counted the number of cars that went by.  According to their count more than 600,000 people traveled on Ocean Parkway at this time.        
"I am responsible for Reb Moshe saying one cannot make an Eruv in Brooklyn," he told me more than once.

While these accounts differ somewhat from each other, they are in essence presenting two arguments: 1) Dr Ehrenpreis corrected the estimates of the traffic tally of Ocean Parkway, and this was a cause for Rav Moshe zt”l’s objection to a Brooklyn eruv. 2) Dr Ehrenpreis proved that Brooklyn was less than twelve mil by twelve mil in area, and therefore, Rav Moshe argued that the entire population of Brooklyn would be included in the tally (of the three million). This was grounds that, according to Rav Moshe, Brooklyn would be classified as a reshus harabbim.
I will address both these issues and prove that they are tall tales and moreover factually incorrect. We will only make use of Rav Moshe’s teshuvos as all the other claims made in his name are unsubstantiated and usually contradict his written arguments. As I mentioned previously, I do not believe that a posek such as Rav Moshe would want us to follow what some people — no matter who they are — say in his name, but only what he wrote in his teshuvos.  First, I want to establish the pertinent chain of events as set forth in Rav Moshe’s teshuvos:

After Rav Moshe wrote that Brooklyn’s population over a twelve mil by twelve mil area was more than he required for it to be classified as a reshus harabbim (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:87), someone (the Muzay rav) sent Rav Moshe statistics (from the District Manager of Community Board 12, Brooklyn) demonstrating that Brooklyn’s population was less than he required, and that the area that Brooklyn encompassed was greater than twelve mil by twelve mil (and so the entire Brooklyn population would not be included in the tally — see ibid., 4:88). [Nevertheless, Rav Moshe objected to a Brooklyn eruv because of a gezeirah — that some may think that, in an area such as Brooklyn, the population was over three million. However, as I have argued previously, when the matter is only a gezeirah, Rav Moshe would certainly allow a tzuras hapesach to delineate only a section of the area in question (see]
However, after Rav Moshe was informed that the area that Brooklyn encompasses is greater than twelve mil by twelve mil, he was lead to believe that, besides for a population of close to three million, over a million people come into the borough to work (ibid., the end of 4:88). Therefore, he argued that Brooklyn is osser l’dinah (me’d’Oraysa). These facts were made up out of whole cloth by people who simply did not want an eruv and were willing to lie to Rav Moshe in order to achieve their goals (for the source of this misinformation listen to the recording of the Hisachdus HaRabbanim convention on April 30, 1980 and read the teshuvah  in Kerem BeYavnah, 3:3, dated July 3, 1980, where this misinformation was also publicized).[These numbers are clearly untrue and are obviously incorrect. The number of people who actually commute into the borough to work is approximately 235,000 people (NYC Department of City Planning, Table CTPP P-6, 2003); thus, according to Rav Moshe, the total falls far short of his requirement of three million. Additionally, since Brooklyn is larger than twelve mil by twelve mil, we should not include the entire population of Brooklyn towards the tally (approximately 250,000 people should be subtracted from the total). Had Rav Moshe known these facts, he would concur that Brooklyn does not have the status of a reshus harabbim d’Oraysa.]

Now that we are informed what Rav Moshe’s arguments opposing a Brooklyn eruv was let us examine the above two claims Dr Ehrenpreis made in Rav Moshe’s name (or at least how people understood Dr Ehrenpreis’s claims).
Claim number one: Once Rav Moshe was informed about the correct traffic tally of Ocean Parkway, he classified Brooklyn as a reshus harabbim. This is simply fiction. There is not one teshuvah of Rav Moshe’s that mentions Ocean Parkway at all, the reason being that, according to Rav Moshe’s shita, it is irrelevant. Since Ocean Parkway was in Brooklyn, Rav Moshe included all the people traversing it towards the total population of a twelve mil by twelve mil section of Brooklyn.
Furthermore, this claim is factually incorrect. The DOT states that the traffic count of Ocean Parkway is less than 60,000 cars (this factors in two-way traffic, but if it’s the same people who are coming and going, they should only be counted once — see  Clearly there is nowhere near shishim ribo traversing Ocean Parkway.
Claim number two: Brooklyn is less than twelve mil by twelve mil in area. Consequentially, the entire population of Brooklyn is included in the tally. This is more hearsay. Rav Moshe clearly stated that Brooklyn is larger than twelve mil by twelve mil (and therefore the entire population of Brooklyn should not be included in the tally).
It is inconceivable (unless as I mentioned numerous times they do not know his teshuvos) that anyone would claim in Rav Moshe’s name that Brooklyn is less than twelve mil by twelve mil when Rav Moshe clearly stated otherwise in two of his teshuvos.
Rav Moshe stated the following (ibid., 4:87):

ולכן בברוקלין שהוא עיר אחת מלאה אוכלוסין אבל אפשר שהיא יותר מי"ב מיל על י"ב מיל

And then Rav Moshe’s final teshuvah on the matter (ibid., 4:88):

ונמצא שכל ברוקלין הוא רק י"ב מיל על י"ב וקצת יותר

Moreover, this argument is factually incorrect. Brooklyn is seventy-one square miles (without its inland water, which I think should also be included in the tally, and therefore would make it even larger). Twelve mil by twelve mil is sixty-four square miles (according to Rav Moshe’s shiur amah in regards to hilchos Shabbos). Consequentially, there is no doubt that Brooklyn is factually larger than twelve mil by twelve mil.

Dear reader, it is clear that Dr Ehrenpreis’s good name is being used in order to demonstrate that Rav Moshe’s p’sak was predicated on someone with great knowledge of the situation; hence Rav Moshe could not have been misled. However, Rav Moshe’s teshuvos prove these tall tales’ undoing. It’s about time these people learn through Rav Moshe’s teshuvos prior to making grand statements; maybe then they will become educated. Oh, but that would be terrible! They might then come to the realization that unlike them Rav Moshe was not anti-eruv. In any case, as I have argued many times, even those close to Rav Moshe did not know (or did not care to know) his shitos in eruvin.