Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Part 5: Things You Have Always Wanted to Know About the Flatbush Eruv (But Were Never Told)

Continued from part IV

Q. If local Flatbush rabbanim are against the eruv, why should we erect an eruv?
A.
1) Many local rabbanim want an eruv. At a meeting called by a group of local prominent rabbanim in the Flatbush Bais HaMedrash of the Muszay Rav shlita [one of the most senior rabbanim of Flatbush] on March 20, 2004, it was resolved to establish an eruv and to bring in a world-renowned expert in hilchos eruvin, Hagaon Harav Benzion Y. Wozner shlita to oversee the kashrus of the eruv. The fact is countless rabbanim who are in favor of the eruv are fearful to say so publicly because they have been intimidated by individuals who are against erecting an eruv. [We know of some instances where individual congregants have threatened not to daven in their rav’s shul or to support their rav if he were to sign a proclamation in support of an eruv. This interference in a rav’s right to pasken as he sees fit is unprecedented.]

2) There is no such halachah that a local rav can claim exclusive authority over a neighborhood when there are other rabbanim in the neighborhood. Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l states that one can follow the minhag of his ancestors and there is no such halachah of bais din kvua or rav ha'ir today.[59] To claim that certain rabbanim have the absolute right to decide the minhag of Flatbush, when there are many other poskim who disagree with them, is presumptuous. [Hagaon Harav Yechezkel Roth shlita who has given shimush to many Flatbush rabbanim is a supporter of the Flatbush eruv.[60] Additionally, since Flatbush residents ask Rav Roth many shailos, his p’sak should be respected in the community.]

3) Just as it is the responsibility of each individual rav to insure that there be a kosher mikveh in his community, it is incumbent on each rav to erect an eruv as well.[61] In light of this, even if only one rav would want to erect an eruv, he has a right and a responsibility to erect one.

In response to those who argue that only the rabbanim who live in Flatbush have a right to express an opinion regarding an eruv in Flatbush, the question arises: Why then did the very same rabbanim have no qualms when they signed a proclamation forbidding an eruv in Boro Park; they obviously don't live in Boro Park? Evidently these rabbanim must feel that there are no geographical limitations for a posek and every rav in New York has a right to express his opinion on the matter.

Q. But isn’t it stated in the anti-eruv brochure [62] currently circulating Flatbush that, “there were a number of meetings between Rabbonim including some who were supportive and some who were opposed to the notion [of a Flatbush eruv],” and there was even an, “exchange of letters between the Rabbonim,” and it was agreed upon that an eruv should not be established?
A.
Ever since The Community Eruv kuntres published letters from rabbanim supporting the eruv,[63] the editors of this anti-eruv brochure were left in a quandary, as their official line had always been that no local rabbanim support the eruv. The mention of meetings makes it seem as if both sides agreed not to establish an eruv. In truth, there unfortunately never was a meeting, and there never was any exchange of letters. If there had actually been an exchange of letters wouldn’t they be extant? Why haven’t any of these letters been published?

While there was no meeting between the two sides, there appears to have been a unilateral decision, without any halachic debate whatsoever, by the rabbanim who were against the eruv not to allow the eruv to be established, even if it were erected with a first-rate hechsher. This was in stark contrast to their position before the eruv was established when it was understood that if the rabbanim who supported the eruv were to find a Baal Machsher the other rabbanim would not object to the eruv as long as there was a reliable hechsher.[64] However, after Hagaon Harav Benzion Y. Wosner shlita agreed to become the Baal Machsher, the resistance became vocal and fierce. Apparently they had not believed a rav would be able to withstand the pressure from the anti-eruv camp and agree to give a hechsher.
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[59] Igros Moshe, O.C., 1:158-159 4:33.
[60] See his letter of support in The Community Eruv, page 17 of the Hebrew section.
[61] Teshuvos V’Hanhagos, 1:844; see also Chasam Sofer, O.C. 99.
[62] English section, page 3 and Hebrew section, page 10.
[63] Pages 3-22 of the Hebrew section.
[64] See the letter of supervision for the Flatbush eruv from Rav Wosner shlita in Questions and Answers Regarding the Flatbush Eruv, page 13.