Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Case of the Missing Missive

Some friends of mine asked me why I would position myself and Rav Kimchi shlita in a situation where the cabal could possibly place us in a bad light by conjuring up a letter which, to the ill informed (or to those who are looking for fodder to do away with my arguments), shows us to be not on the level. Indeed, I had recognized the possibility that this supposed letter existed even prior to their posting of it, and had suggested in an earlier comment that they had penned it themselves years ago. Despite the cabal’s insistence that they had a letter, the fact that Rav Kimchi never received this letter makes it worthless. Anyone can type a letter and then append a letterhead and signature to it. I don’t doubt for a second that the cabal would make use of such tactics. They did so with kol koreis in Brooklyn many times. This is the modus operandi of all anti-eruv campaigns to negate an eruv at all costs. I realize that one can make an argument that the pro-eruv group has an interest in suppressing this letter since it negates the eruv because it mentions the issue of reshus harabbim. However, I believe that the cabal has been dishonest regarding so many issues that they have no credibility whatsoever. Even regarding Rav Eider zt"l's letter to Rav Chaim Halpern shlita (parts of which were conveniently translated in this disreputable letter), they lied and claimed that Rav Eider argued that according to Rav Moshe zt”l no eruv could be established in the face of opposition. In fact, Rav Eider only said that Rav Moshe recommended to him that he should only explore the possibility of establishing an eruv if the rabbanim are all in agreement. However, Rav Moshe never said that a rav can’t establish an eruv in his own city in the face of opposition as the cabal would have you believe. With these sorts of shenanigans, why would anyone believe the cabal at all? Furthermore, if the letter never reached Rav Kimchi, maybe it was because Rav Eider regretted what was stated therein and, therefore, never sent it. Moreover, does anyone truly believe that Rav Kimchi imagined that the letter would not somehow leak out since the eruv is such a contentious issue? If Rav Kimchi was willing to go out on the limb and publicly declare that he never received this letter, it’s simply more plausible that he never obtained it at all.

To begin with, I guessed that Rav Eider was terrorized because when I sent a friend of mine to speak to him regarding the NW London eruv he seemed very agitated and did not want to speak about it at all. [Later, I was supposed to have a meeting with him regarding the state of eruvin in the USA, and one of the issues I was going to ask him about was the matter of the NW London eruv. However, this meeting never materialized as he was unfortunately nifter prior to it.] Moreover I know for a fact that he was constantly pursued whenever he was involved with establishing eruvin. Lately, I have confirmed that this was the case regarding the Golders Green eruv as well; after Rav Eider left London he was terrorized by the cabal to stay out of the London eruv matter.

There are a few possible scenarios of how this letter came to be:
1) Rav Eider did write the letter - He wrote this letter under great duress from the cabal. This could possibly answer why he never sent a copy of it to Rav Kimchi since Rav Eider would have been very uncomfortable with its contents. However, this possibility does not explain the many inconsistencies in this letter that I will discuss in number three.

2) Rav Eider did write the letter – He wrote the letter under his own free will. Even if we could discount all of the difficulties that I mention in number three and the fact that somehow the letter never reached Rav Kimchi, I don’t understand why the cabal is so pleased with this letter. To begin with, this letter (and the letter to Rav Chaim Halpern plus I know of two other letters) confirm that Rav Padwa zt”l had no halachic objection to the eruv. Therefore, all other arguments such as reshus harabbim, karpeifos and sechiras reshus (which Rav Padwa allowed for Amsterdam; see Noam, 11 1979) should be discounted for they were only added afterwards by people whose ulterior motives were to negate the eruv at all cost. (I would add that the fact the reshus harabbim matter was not mentioned by Rav Eider until this much later second letter is proof that it was either not Rav Eider’s letter or he only wrote it under pressure.)

Furthermore, one of the most vociferous members of the cabal constantly mentioned this letter and quoted from it without starting from the beginning of the pertinent quote. The full [relevant] passage of Rav Eider is, “At the time of my visit, I did not personally determine whether there was any problem of shishim ribo because I was there to determine feasibility and present this to the Bais Din. Therefore, initially I relied upon information supplied by yourself [Rav Kimchi]. I recently received statistical information which seems to indicate that the area of the Eruv meets the specification of a reshus harabbim d’Oraysa according to Maron Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l.” This member of the cabal started the quote from,”the area of the Eruv meets the specification of a reshus harabbim d’Oraysa according to Maron Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l,” opportunely leaving out that Rav Eider’s objection was dependent on statistics supplied by members of the cabal which of course are debatable and would have influenced Rav Eider’s opinion. Additionally, the shishim ribo issue is a non-starter. Rav Eider is either referring to the cabal’s quoted statistics that the population of the twelve mil by twelve mil area which includes the eruv is greater than Rav Moshe’s requirement of 3,000,000 people or that the eruv encompasses roads that contain shishim ribo traversing them. In essence, as stated above, Rav Eider’s information is only as good as the people who are giving it to him. Each one of these suppositions can be debated, and no doubt, the LBD could argue otherwise so it is not a definitive statement from Rav Eider regarding Rav Moshe’s opinion.

Moreover, it is more likely that Rav Eider was only interested in the area enclosed by the eruv than the issue of the twelve mil by twelve mil area. Rav Kimchi mentioned to me that when Rav Eider originally came to London to inspect the feasibility of an eruv, Rav Eider called his office to obtain a copy of Rav Moshe’s teshuvah regarding the Detroit eruvin. At the time, this teshuvah was only available as a ksav yad since Igros Moshe volume eight where this teshuvah is presently published was first printed in 1996. After the ksav yad was faxed to Rav Eider in London, he joyfully stated that the circumstance in Detroit where Rav Moshe allowed an eruv is analogous to the situation in Golders Green. I too have argued (and baruch sh’kevanti) that similar to the circumstances of Golders Green, the Detroit neighborhoods are built-up to the city of Detroit proper, and nevertheless, Rav Moshe considered them as distinct neighborhoods and did not reckon with the matter of the twelve mil by twelve mil area at all. Consequently, Rav Eider declared that Rav Moshe would allow an eruv in Golders Green. It is therefore improbable that Rav Eider would even consider the statistics of the twelve mil by twelve mil area pertinent to the efficacy of the eruv. So, we are only left with the issue of roads containing shishim ribo, and regarding this statistic, it is easy to verify that the cabal is totally incorrect.

Furthermore, this letter contradicts another tenet of the anti-eruv cabal. In this supposed letter Rav Eider mentions that he went to Rav Elyashiv shlita regarding some questions he had with the Sydney eruv, and Rav Eider states that, “Before [Rav Elyashiv] responded to these questions, he wanted to know whether Sydney meets the criteria of Maran Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l. Only after determining that there was no problem of a reshus harabbim according to these criteria, did I agree to visit.” However, the Chevrah Hilchos Issurei Eruvin declared that Rav Elyashiv is more stringent and disagrees with Rav Moshe regarding the application of shishim ribo. Rav Elayshiv, they argue, either (they can’t even get their arguments straight) upholds that the criterion of shishim ribo is conditional of a city or that the possibility that shishim ribo traversing a street would suffice to classify the road as a reshus harabbim. However, from this letter it would seem that Rav Elyashiv does accept Rav Moshe shitos in eruvin l’halachah. Clearly something is wrong with this letter or what the Chevrah Hilchos Issurei Eruvin alleges in the name of Rav Elyashiv.

3) Rav Eider did not write the letter – Members of the cabal told Rav Eider after Rav Kimchi published The Foundation of the North West London Eruv which stated that, “All this has been done according to a map drawn by Rav Shimon Eider shlita of Lakewood,” that he has to publicly declare that he had nothing to do with the eruv. Rav Eider complied, and a notice was published in The Jewish Tribune at the time. Moreover, they insisted that Rav Eider pen a public letter of rebuke to Rav Kimchi. At this point, Rav Eider said that they should write a letter, and that he would sign it.

This possibility would clarify why the letter is, except for the addition of a paragraph regarding reshus harabbim and the Sydney eruv, mostly a translation of the original Hebrew letter sent to Rav Chaim Halpern in 1995 (the last paragraph is a word for word translation from a letter written eight years prior). As Rav Eider never wrote this letter, the cabal did the typical thing and based their letter on Rav Eider’s original missive but updated the issues (reshus harabbim) to suit their needs. This scenario can also explain why Rav Kimchi never received this letter; it served the purpose of the cabal to be in possession of such a letter and be able to use it when they desired.

Moreover, that Rav Eider did not write this letter would explain why there is a fundamental mistake in this letter regarding the understanding of Rav Moshe zt”l’s shitos in eruvin. Rav Eider states in this purported letter that, “I recently received statistical information which seems to indicate that the area of the Eruv meets the specification of a reshus harabbim d’Oraysa according to Maron Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l and requires delasos in many areas, tzuras hapesach would not be sufficient.” Anyone familiar as Rav Eider would be with Rav Moshe’s teshuvos would not argue that delasos would be needed in many areas but that delasos would be necessary to close every single area requiring a tzuras hapesach. Once Rav Moshe labeled a city a reshus harabbim, a tzuras hapesach would never suffice. Sure, some would try to excuse this damming evidence that this letter was not penned by Rav Eider because there is a possibility that a cul-de-sac was included in the perimeter of the eruv, and then, even according to Rav Moshe, delasos would not be required. However, this is clearly incorrect and an excuse after the fact. Rav Eider was cognizant of the boundaries of the eruv as he was the one who established them, and he would have recognized that there was no cul-de-sac involved in the limits of the eruv. In any case, according to Rav Moshe, a cul-de-sac in an area classified as a reshus harabbim would suffice with a tzuras hapesach since it is encompassed by three mechitzos. However, if a cul-de-sac was part of the boundaries of the eruv, it would, in essence, not be part of the eruv since it opens to the outside of the eruv boundaries; hence, Rav Eider would not be referring to such a situation. In the end, we will never know if Rav Eider actually signed this letter or not.

In summation, there are many inconsistencies in this letter, and since Rav Kimchi never received the original for us to examine its veracity, there is no reason to rely on this letter at all. I should add that, notwithstanding this supposed letter stating Rav Eider’s opinion that Rav Moshe would not allow an eruv in Golders Green, the LBD does not have to agree with Rav Eider’s interpretation of Rav Moshe’s teshuvos as they are available for all to analyze. Of course, the cabal would argue that Rav Eider was a talmid so he knows Rav Moshe’s shitos in eruvin better than all. However, this is similar to the situation that I mentioned regarding Rav Dovid Feinstein shlita allowing an eruv to be established in Chicago according to his father, but the ossrim there argued that his was not the last word regarding his father. However, when those supporting an eruv in Brooklyn argued that Rav Moshe would allow an eruv, those opposing the eruv argued that Rav Dovid was the biggest expert in his father’s shitos, and he maintained that his father would not allow an eruv in Brooklyn even in its present construction. I guess that when the issue is eruvin, the leading experts are always those who are against eruvin. What is particularly galling is that there are people out there who, after reading these arguments, will recognize that what I presented rings true but will never concede that these arguments undermine the validity of the letter.