Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Part 6: Things You Have Always Wanted to Know About the Flatbush Eruv (But Were Never Told)

Continued from part V


Q. Isn’t it stated in the anti-eruv brochure [65] that some Gedolei Eretz Yisroel such as the Gerrer Rebbe shlita and Hagaon Harav Shmuel Wosner shlita endorsed the position of the anti-eruv signatories?
A. In The Community Eruv kuntres [66] there is a letter from Hagaon Harav Berish Schapiro shilta, the Naroler rav, in which he recounts discussing with Hagaon Harav Shmuel Wosner shlita the supposed claim that he had aligned himself with these emissaries from Brooklyn against his son Hagaon Harav Benzion Y. Wosner shlita, the Baal Machsher of the Flatbush eruv. Rav Wosner senior asserted that chas v’shalom he would never say anything against his son who is a major talmid chachom and that the Naroler rav could publicize this fact. This is contrary to what the anti-eruv brochure reported and thus calls into question the veracity of the responses of any of the other Gedolei Eretz Yisroel to these activists. Additionally, it is well known that the Gerrer rebbe refers all halachic issues to the poskim and doesn’t involve himself with matters of halachah. Consequently, despite what the brochure alleges, the Gerrer rebbe refrained from commenting on this matter. The Gerrer rebbe shlita, however, did question Hagaon Harav Benzion Y. Wosner shlita about the Flatbush eruv and was pleased when Rav Wosner answered that it consists of mechitzos.

Additionally, if a Brooklyn eruv is so severely prohibited these activists should have returned with letters of substance from these Gedolim in Eretz Yisroel instead of merely statements that the Gedolim supported their position? Can these statements be accepted at face value when until now there have been so many questionable kol koreis from the anti-eruv group?[67] [Sadly enough, when they finally do publish a letter of some substance, e.g. from Hagaon Harav Dovid Feinstein shlita, it is obvious from its contents that Rav Dovid has been misinformed.[68] Another example is the letter from Hagaon Harav Shmuel Aurbach shlita where we see that he was told that laypeople had erected the eruv even though the anti-eruv group themselves admitted that there were rabbanim supporting the eruv.[69]] Furthermore, isn’t it unlikely that Gedolim in Eretz Yisroel would oppose eruvin in large cities when every city in Eretz Yisroel has eruvin? 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 more than shishim ribo?[70]

In the interest of fairness, however, it would have been appropriate for the anti-eruv delegation to invite the Flatbush rabbanim who are supportive of the eruv [or even Hagaon Harav Yechezkel Roth shlita who is asked many shailos by Flatbush residents] to join them to ensure that both sides would be equally represented when they consulted with the Gedolei Eretz Yisroel.

Q. But didn’t Hagaon Harav Berish Schapiro shlita the Naroler rav retract his support of the Flatbush eruv in a letter published in the anti-eruv brochure?[71]
A. The Naroler rav was pressured to issue a letter, which was left unsigned. This letter now boasts a signature that is identical to the signature on a letter printed in the The Community Eruv [72] where the Naroler rav wrote that Hagaon Harav Shmuel Wosner shlita never said a word against his son’s hechsher on the Flatbush eruv. This original letter was addressed to the Muszay rav shlita and the Naroler rav’s signature included the familial title of cousin [shaar bsari] and the time of year, shana tovah u’msuka [5765]. This greeting was lifted from the original letter printed in the The Community Eruv and incongruously reprinted along with the signature on his letter in the anti-eruv brochure [Iyar 5765].[73] Tampering with signatures and other acts of deception have unfortunately been associated with the anti-eruv campaign in the past — such as the forged signature of Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l on the 1981 Boro Park kol korei and the purported signature of Hagaon Harav Eliyahu Henkin zt”l on the 1979 Flatbush kol korei.[74]

Moreover, the Naroler rav’s letter printed in the anti-eruv brochure does not contradict his original letter in the The Community Eruv,[75] where he explained that Hagaon Harav Shmuel Wosner shlita never said a word against his son’s hechsher on the Flatbush eruv. Apparently the Naroler rav told the anti-eruv activists that he couldn’t contradict his first letter since it’s the straightforward truth.
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[71] Page 8.
[72] Page 20 of the Hebrew section.
[73] See Questions and Answers Regarding the Flatbush Eruv, Appendix 4.
[74] See The 1979 Flatbush Kol Korei Exposed and The 1981 Boro Park Kol Korei Exposed.
[75] Page 20 of the Hebrew section.