Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Part 8: Things You Have Always Wanted to Know About the Flatbush Eruv (But Were Never Told)

Continued from part VII

Q. Okay, let's say that halachically an eruv is permitted in Flatbush, but won't the sanctity of Shabbos in the frum community be diminished by activities such as ballplaying on the streets and the mingling of couples, which would also create questions of tznius?
A.
No one is smarter than Shlomo Hamelech and our sages. If the aforementioned concerns were valid, then Shlomo Hamelech would not have established the mitzvah of eruvin. Furthermore, claiming that an eruv negatively impacts the sanctity of the Shabbos by encouraging unbecoming behavior is in fact a blanket statement against all eruvin and is proof that the anti-eruv campaign would like to uproot city eruvin the world over. These arguments against eruvin can be used against eruvin in both large and small cities and even eruvin in bungalow colonies and not just an eruv in Brooklyn. These issues did not concern Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l when he permitted an eruv in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, Detroit, Sea Gate and in other communities.[77] As always, to Rav Moshe establishing an eruv was a matter of halachah and not hashkafah.

Moreover, why aren’t there any complaints about ball playing and questions of tznius on yom tov when an eruv is not needed? If some feel it is a problem, then perhaps they should ban carrying on the streets on yom tov as well.[78] Let us remember that an eruv according to Chazal is a tikun not a michshol and serves to improve the spiritual quality of a community’s Shabbos observance. Concerning these hashkafah issues, why should Flatbush be looked upon any differently than any other Jewish community? Why should Flatbush be any different than Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak? It’s unfortunate that there is even a need to respond to these issues in order to validate a mitzvah.

Q. Why hasn’t all the information stated in The Community Eruv kuntres surfaced until now?
A.
The resistance to the Flatbush eruv in 1978-79 was led by a few individuals who took it upon themselves to impede the construction of any eruv in Brooklyn. It’s important to note, there was no meeting of rabbanim in 1979 against the eruv in Flatbush. These few individuals went about collecting signatures one by one and convinced rabbanim to sign on the kol korei. The most powerful tool that these individuals had was their access to Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l and this is the source of much of the inaccuracies and mistruths we are still facing today. Having misinformed Rav Moshe, these activists were then able to convince many rabbanim to sign the kol korei because of the kavod of Rav Moshe. To other rabbanim, they falsely claimed that Ocean Parkway had shishim ribo traversing it daily. They even cut and pasted different signatures on the 1979 kol korei since many of the rabbanim didn’t agree to sign on the same text.

It’s undeniable that Rav Moshe’s personal reasons not to erect an eruv in Boro Park and Flatbush were based on misinformation supplied to him by these individuals [e.g. that Brooklyn’s population is greater than 3,000,000 or that both Boro Park and Flatbush independently contained shishim ribo]. However, Rav Moshe really did not want to be involved in the issue of eruvin in Brooklyn at all since he realized that his chiddushim in eruvin was not mentioned in the Achronim.[79] This is why we are suggesting that if Rav Moshe had known the particulars of our situation, he would have allowed an eruv to be erected.[80]

In conclusion, we believe that if you keep an open mind when reviewing the above issues and the other material available regarding eruvin, you will conclude that the vast majority of poskim — including Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt"l — would permit the use of the Flatbush eruv. We trust that the intelligence of Flatbush’s residents will lead them to reject the anti-eruv campaign and its claim of exclusive authority over the Torah. We wish to enjoy the sanctity of Shabbos according to our gedolim with an eruv.

In the merit of this great mitzvah may we be found deserving of the special brachah of shalom that eruvin brings.[81]
_____________________________

[77] Igros Moshe, O.C. 2:89-90, 4:86, 5:29.
[78] See Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 529:4.
[79] Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:87; see also Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l’s Reluctance to Pasken Against the Establishment of an Eruv.
[80] See The Community Eruv, section two.
[81] Yerushalmi, Eruvin 3:2.