Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Part 3: Things You Have Always Wanted to Know About the Flatbush Eruv (But Were Never Told)

Continued from part II

Q. What about the claim that there are no mechitzos surrounding Brooklyn?
A.
That there are mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn is verifiable as they are easily accessible to the general public.

These mechitzos were evaluated by the following rabbanim:

  • Hagaon Harav Yechezkel Roth shlita sent Members of his Bais Din.
  • Hagaon Harav Shlomo Gross shlita, Belzer Dayan of Boro Park.
  • Hagaon Harav Tuvia Goldstein zt”l sent a select group from his kollel Emek Halacha.
All were in agreement that these mechitzos are valid mechitzos, even according to Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l.[37]

Q. Some declare that the mechitzos have pirtzos [gaps], some of which are even ten amos wide, and therefore the mechitzos are not sufficient.
A.
These three groups of rabbanim who took the time and effort to evaluate every segment of these mechitzos know about all these issues and unequivocally declare that these mechitzos are halachically valid. Their reasoning is that we paskin that mechitzos which are omed merubeh al haparutz [that is, at least 50 percent of the length of each side must actually consist of an unbroken wall] are considered whole for halachic purposes, lo asu rabbim u’mevatlei mechitzta.[38] Our mechitzos are more than 95 percent omed [closed] and are definitely halachically valid. Additionally, even if there are a few pirtzos that are ten amos wide, since most poskim including Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l [39] paskin that a pirtzos esser is only a rabbinical proscription, they do not invalidate the mechitzos.[40] This misplaced concern regarding the kashrus of our mechitzos is disingenuous. Most other eruvin in large cities don’t even have mechitzos, relying only on tzuras hapesachim, and the few cities that do have mechitzos [such as Toronto] have many more pirtzos than we have. Perhaps the reason why these individuals are questioning our mechitzos is because their objective is to forbid eruvin. Shouldn’t the objective be to hear the truth, even if it would allow an eruv?

Q. But what about the kavod of Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein’s zt”l?
A.
The above-mentioned rabbanim took the time to inspect the mechitzos only because they were concerned about the kavod of Rav Moshe. After examining the mechitzos, they were all in agreement that with these mechitzos Rav Moshe would have allowed an eruv in Brooklyn. Moreover, Rav Moshe did not consider it a slight to his kavod if others disagreed with him.[41] Rav Moshe was once asked [42] if it was disrespectful to disagree with the shitos of the Chazon Ish, the Moreh D’Asra, in his hometown Bnei Brak. Rav Moshe stated that it’s unquestionably allowed, and he added that it was even a kavod for him [the Chazon Ish] when one debated Torah in his name. By extension, Rav Moshe would definitely permit and consider it a kavod for us to debate his piskei halachah in his name.[43]
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[37] The Community Eruv, note 30.
[38] See The Community Eruv, page 13 for a list of poskim (see also The Overwhelming Majority of Achronim Maintain Lo Asu Rabbim U’Mevatlei Mechitzta).
[39] Igros Moshe, O.C. 2:89-90.
[40] See The Community Eruv, page 42 for a list of poskim (see also Pirtzos, Biblical or Rabbinical proscription?).
[41] Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:109.
[42] Ibid., Yoreh Deah 3:88.
[43] See also the hakdamah to Igros Moshe vol. 1.