Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Part 5: A Critical Analysis of Rav Yisroel Hirsch’s Critique of Eruvin in Brooklyn

Continued from part IV

Page 5 comment 16:
“R’ Moshe (Iggeros Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:94, 5:19) was not discussing the laws of eruvin and made mention of ששים רבוא only as it was tangentially pertinent. He therefore did not see a need to clarify its intricacies."

Rav Moshe zt”l permitted a blind women who resided in Boro Park to use a walking stick on Shabbos because today we rely on the fact that there is almost no true reshus harabbim (Kovetz Am HaTorah, 1986 no. 11; see Rav Moshe zt"l and the walking stick). Rav Moshe objected to an eruv in Brooklyn because he maintained that Brooklyn is a reshus harabbim but from this teshuvah we see that he maintained conclusively that Boro Park is not a reshus harabbim. Therefore, there is no reason why an eruv can’t be established.

Page 6 comment 18:
"I am unaware of the circumstances which surrounded the eruv in Paris. But the information provided herein proves, ostensibly, that the authors of this work are not better informed. No meaningful point can be extrapolated from this case until all its specifics are revealed."

There are many significant points that can be garnered from this Achiezer (4:8). The Achiezer clearly states that the situation in Paris was that there was more then shishim ribo traversing it’s streets (1936, population 2,829,746; Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968 vol. 17 p. 355). However, since there was mechitzos encompassing the city an eruv could be established. On the other hand there were many pirtzos in these mechitzos and some were even ten amos. The Achiezer then goes on to declare emphatically that we pasken lo asu rabbim and that pirtzos esser is only d’rabbanan. The situation in Brookyn is no different then Paris and the Achiezer would allow an eruv in Brooklyn as well.

Page 6 comment 20:
"There are no detractors of eruvin – a rabbinic precept promulgated by the court of Shlomo Ha’Melech. There are only those – as in this case – who feel that many cities do not meet the necessary conditions within which the construction of an eruv would be plausible."

Unfortunately there are detractors of eruvin. There are those who claim that an eruv negatively impacts the sanctity of the Shabbos by encouraging unbecoming behavior. These statements are in fact blanket statements against all eruvin and are proof that the anti-eruv campaign would like to uproot eruvin the world over. These arguments can be used against eruvin in both large and small cities and even eruvin in bungalow colonies, not just an eruv in Brooklyn. More so, why are there so many lies spread regarding eruvin ― such as the claim that Rav Henkin zt”l signed on the 1962 Manhattan kol korei or the fact that when they published vol. 8 of Igros Moshe they omitted the place of residence Boro Park ― if not that there are people who don’t believe in eruvin.

Page 6 comment 21:
"[What is stated in the kuntres that Rav Moshe zt”l maintained that a city requires five times shishim ribo] is inaccurate."

Rav Hirsch is mistaken (see Part 2: Shishim Ribo According to Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l).

Page 6 comment 22:
"[What is stated in the kuntres that Rav Moshe zt”l maintained that 12 mil by 12 mil is approximately 8.5 by 8.5 miles] is inaccurate."

Actually, Rav Moshe zt”l’s shiur for a amah was anywhere from 21 ¼ to 23 inches so 12 mil could be either more or less than 8.5 miles (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:136).

Page 6 comment 23:
"[What is stated in the kuntres that Rav Moshe zt”l was led to believe that a million people come into the borough to work] is inaccurate."

Rav Hirsch is incorrect. Rav Moshe zt”l states clearly (see the end of Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:88) that Brooklyn’s population is a little less then 3,000,000 and that together with the nearly one million people who come into the city to work, Brooklyn is definitely a reshus harabbim. Actually, Rav Moshe was misled; there is nowhere near one million people who work in Brooklyn. The approximate number according to NYC statistics is 236,000 people (NYC Department of City Planning, Table CTPP P-6, P-7, 2003).

Page 6 comment 24:
“R’ Moshe lived for 90 years and published 5 volumes of responsa without giving any (written) number for what would constitute ששים רבוא. It wasn’t until his very last volume of responsa that he suggested a general, but not absolute, number. The reason for this was simple. The determination of a mobile ששים רבוא is the product of an educated estimate, subject to fluctuating contingencies. What needs to be determined is: how many people must reside in a city for the human traffic to be 600,000? There is no fixed number! It depends on demographics, climate, the health of the inhabitants, and other factors. Even before giving a general numerical range, R’ Moshe says this explicitly: “It would seem as probable that not all cities are equal in this matter” (Iggeros Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:87). However, in that very responsum, he does formulates the ratio of inhabitants to traffic as 4:1 or 5:1. This translates precisely to 2,400,000-3,000,000….”

If one were to study all of Rav Moshe zt”l’s teshuvos where he discuses his chiddush in shishim ribo he will see that it evolved incrementally. Therefore, if Rav Hirsch admits that Rav Moshe in the end does formulate a general ratio for shishim ribo, why didn’t Rav Hirsch mentioned the last two teshuvos (Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:28:5, 5:29) where Rav Moshe clearly codified his chiddush in shishim ribo that the requirement is 3,000,000 people (see Part 1: Shishim Ribo According to Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l)? Additionally, Rav Dovid Feinstein shlita would not agree with Rav Hirsch. Rav Dovid maintained that his father’s shita in shishim ribo was that it necessitated a population of 3,000,000 (West Rogers Park Eruv, 1993 p. 23) and therefore Rav Dovid allowed an eruv in Chicago.

Part VI