Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Part 4: A Critical Analysis of Rav Yisroel Hirsch’s Critique of Eruvin in Brooklyn

Continued from part III

Page 5 comment 12:
“We have already mentioned R’ Ahron’s position (comment 10) that מכוון is not a necessary condition. R’ Moshe raised objections similar to R’ Ahron’s and arrived at the same conclusion. This is all explicitly stated in Iggeros Moshe (Orach Chaim 1:140).”

This is incorrect, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l maintains that mefulash u’mechuvanim m’shaar l’shaar is a criterion of a reshus harabbim; however, he is of the opinion that it’s only a condition of a walled city (Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:28:7, 1981). He posits that in the diglei hamidbar, the encampment was circumscribed by the ananei hakavod, which served as mechitzos. This is in contrast with Rav Aharon zt”l who maintained that mefulash u’mechuvanim is dependent solely on mechitzos and is not a criterion of a reshus harabbim. Actually, the teshuvah (ibid., 1:140, 1952) that Rav Hirsch cites is Rav Moshe’s first teshuvah regarding mefulash and there he states that he is not clear about the criterion of mefulash at all. Only in the aforementioned 1981 teshuvah (ibid., 5:28:7) does he clarify that he understands the criterion of mefulash u’mechuvanim as being dependent on a walled city. Rav Hirsch cites the earlier teshuvah which doesn’t mention a word about mefulash u’mechuvanim being conditional only of a walled city and fails to note the last teshuvah from vol. 8 (ibid., 5:28:7) where Rav moshe formulated his chiddush in mefulash probably because he questions the veracity of this volume.


Page 5 comment 13:
“That there are those who disagree with R’ Moshe is beside the point. What is important is that R’ Moshe disagreed with them! This means that even after knowing the מ"ב etc., R’ Moshe when considering New York City still upheld his own p’sak. Why shouldn’t we? Especially since halacha ke’basrai.”

To begin with Rav Moshe zt”l in his teshuvah to the rabbanim of Flatbush (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:87) didn’t want to issue a p’sak since he realized that the Achronim didn’t agree with him. So how could one demand of others that they must follow Rav Moshe’s p’sak. Furthermore, many rabbanim who allow an eruv today do not agree with Rav Moshe’s shitos in eruvin (e.g. Rav Yisroel Yaakov Fisher zt”l in Even Yisroel, 8:36; Rav Shmuel Wosner shlita in Shevet HaLevi, 6:41; and all the rabbanim that signed in support of the Boro Park eruv) so if the halacha is ke’basrai we can rely on these rabbanim. [Particularly since they all know Rav Moshe’s shitos; see Pischei Teshuvah, Choshen Mishpat siman 25.] Additionally, there is an overarching flaw in Rav Hirsch critique. The kuntres Eruvin in Brooklyn was organized into many sections, the first ones dedicated to the way most poskim pasken and the latter sections dedicated to the way Rav Moshe paskens. It’s clear from the kuntres that there are those who believe that Rav Moshe would allow an eruv in Brooklyn today. In fact Rav Tuvia Goldstein zt”l maintained that nowadays Rav Moshe would allow a Brooklyn eruv.


Page 5 comment 14:
“This information is incorrect. The approximate populations of Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak is in excess of 650,000 and 200,000 respectively (although unverified).”

If Rav Hirsch admits that Yerushalayim’s population is greater than shishim ribo then, according to those who claim that shishim ribo is conditional on a city and not a street, why are they allowed to establish eruvin there? Additionally, the kuntres is talking about, “Bnai Brak and all its connected neighborhoods,” the Gush Dan where the population is well over a million people.


Page 5 comment 15:
“This is untrue. R’ Moshe never said that they “could do as they saw fit”. In fact, he was dissatisfied and unhappy about the whole idea. What he did say was that, since his position was not mentioned by the early achronim and was contrary to the Aruch Ha’Shulchan, that he could not give forth a “definite opinion” on the matter. Meaning that he would not come out against them.”

Nowhere in Rav Moshe zt”l’s words do we see that, “he was dissatisfied and unhappy about the whole idea.” On the contrary Rav Moshe clearly stated that he didn’t want to be involved with the issue of Brooklyn eruvin at all (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:87). Therefore, this is pure conjecture on Rav Hirsch’s part. More so, Rav Moshe zt”l told Rav Tuvia Goldstein zt”l ― after the 1979 kol korei was published ― that, not withstanding his opinion of the matter, if the rabbanim of Flatbush wanted to erect an eruv they could do as they saw fit. It’s important to note as well that Rav Hirsch would have to admit that Rav Moshe couldn’t have signed the 1979 Flatbush kol korei since Rav Hirsch admits that what Rav Moshe meant when addressing the rabbanim of Flatbush was that, “he would not come out against them.”

Part V