Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Part 2: The 1979 Flatbush Kol Korei Exposed

I believe that in Part 1 I have conclusively established that the text of the 1979 Flatbush kol korei is specious, and I will now present evidence that Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l did not sign the kol korei either (before continuing further, I implore you to read Part 1).

There are two copies of the 1979 Flatbush kol korei that include handwritten signatures, the prevalent one that has been widely disseminated [heretofore referred to as the second kol korei], and a copy that I have obtained from a rav who, when asked to sign the kol korei, made a photocopy of it for himself [heretofore referred to as the first kol korei].

To begin, with I would like to establish that both kol koreis are actually the same document; in both kol koreis the signatures on the top half of the documents are the same and are identically lined up with the text and each other. However, the second kol korei was considerably modified when most of the bottom half was lopped off and many signatures were added, moved around, or otherwise altered.

While there are glaring signs of tampering in the second kol korei, including obvious cutting and pasting (with some of the paste marks even still visible), the changing of the order of some signatures and different signatures for the same person, I would like to focus for now on the most important signature of them all, Rav Moshe’s.

To begin with I find it puzzling that Rav Moshe’s signature is missing from the first kol korei. As Rav Moshe’s signature would have been the main draw to petition other rabbanim to join in the cause, I would think that the askanim would have solicited him from the get-go and not at some later point in time. I realize that there are those who will suggest that maybe someone just removed Rav Moshe’s signature from the first kol korei, and Rav Moshe was actually the first to sign onto the kol korei since his signature was the first one below the text.[1] However, the first kol korei was published in Der Yid (November 12, 1999, section 2 p. 21) so obviously the anti-eruv group maintained that this kol korei was authentic even though it was lacking Rav Moshe’s signature.[2]

Others have also argued that Rav Moshe was the first to sign the second kol korei, and then the askanim copied and pasted all the other signatures from the first kol korei onto the second one (which, in itself, raises the question of the veracity of these askanim and the kol korei). However, this cannot have been the sequence of events. As I established above, besides for the bottom halves, these kol koreis are exactly the same, the only striking difference being Rav Moshe’s signature at the top of the second kol korei.[3] Therefore, if the first kol korei did not include Rav Moshe’s signature, there is no doubt that his signature on the second kol korei was a later addition. Moreover, if Rav Moshe had been the first to sign the second kol korei, he would not have needed to place his signature so close to the text that it would appear forced into place. In any case, this argument is illogical. If this was actually the case — that there existed a kol korei with Rav Moshe’s signature on it — why wouldn’t they have shown this kol korei to all the rabbanim since Rav Moshe signature was the strongest draw to solicit others to sign? Why didn’t they have the rabbanim sign this kol korei directly? It follows then that Rav Moshe’s signature was, at the most, a later addition.

An additional argument that I have heard is that the first kol korei was copied prior to Rav Moshe signing it, and the second kol korei was simply a later edition that Rav Moshe had signed. However, this argument does not follow logically. If Rav Moshe’s signature was solicited for this kol korei, faced with the scarcity of space below the text, he would not have forced his signature between the text and the Bluzver rebbe’s signature. He would have simply signed at the conclusion of all the signatures.[4] Consequentially, it is obvious that Rav Moshe did not sign this document or at least not in that spot. Moreover, as mentioned above, I would think that Rav Moshe’s signature would have been the first one that they would have solicited. [Actually, I have been told by someone who was involved that the askanim were very concerned because Rav Moshe did not want to sign onto this kol korei.]

The most probable sequence of events regarding how and when Rav Moshe’s signature was placed on this kol korei is as follows: After collecting all the signatures for the kol korei, those doing the paste job were faced with a dilemma, namely where to place Rav Moshe’s signature. They could not place it at the conclusion of all the signatures because to them Rav Moshe’s stature and importance merited a position at the head of the signatories. However, they could not insert it right under the text as there was no space. Therefore, they reduced Rav Moshe’s signature and forced it into the space right below the text of the kol korei and above the Bluzver rebbe’s signature.

As there is no doubt that these askanim collected many of the signatures on the final kol korei by copying and pasting and even resigning signatures, why should we take them at their word that Rav Moshe signed this kol korei at all? Maybe Rav Moshe’s signature was filched from a different document that did not pertain to the matter of eruvin? Alternatively, maybe someone just signed Rav Moshe’s signature as they did with many others on this kol korei?

Furthermore, there is a deceitful claim in this kol korei regarding Rav Moshe. In this kol korei, which was issued in 1979, they write that Rav Moshe had already prohibited in his Igros Moshe an eruv in New York and Brooklyn. There is no chronological basis for this reference. They cannot be referring to Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim vol. 4, containing the Flatbush teshuvos since it was first published in 1982. If they are referring to Orach Chaim vol. 1 (1959), where Rav Moshe did write that he was personally opposed to an eruv in Manhattan, he did not write there that he maintained that an eruv cannot be established in Brooklyn. Rav Moshe only took issue with Rav Weissmandal’s use of the elevated train line as a mechitzah in Brooklyn (see here). It is incomprehensible that Rav Moshe would have signed a kol korei that claimed things in his name that were simply untrue.[5]

In light of the aforementioned inconsistencies in this kol korei, it follows that one can only be confident in what Rav Moshe actually stated in his teshuvos (see Kol Koreis Versus Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l’s Teshuvos) and not in what is merely written on a flyer. The most unabashed chutzpah that these askanim have is that they disseminate an obviously specious document containing many inaccuracies and then argue that the world is compelled to follow it.

One last thought: When examining these kol koreis, why not try your hand at playing a game of “How many differences can you spot between the two pictures?”

First Kol Korei: This kol korei was the original document that was shown to the rabbanim and does not include Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l’s signature.


Second Kol Korei: This kol korei demonstrates obvious signs of tampering and includes some paste marks. Notice as well, in comparison to the first kol korei above, the shuffling of the signatures and that some of the signatures were resigned by different hands.

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[1] If Rav Moshe’s signature was actually the first one on the kol korei, he would probably have signed on the far left, as is conventional. As the signature on the far left of this kol korei was that of Rav Moshe Bick zt”l, his was probably the first signature. I will add that the fact that Rav Bick is the only one to have written נאום (signed by) before his name suggests, as well, that he was the first to have signed this kol korei. This follows what is widely believed to be the fact that the main rav opposing New York eruvin was Rav Bick.
[2] However, the text has been newly typeset, and for some reason, they omitted the last two signatures. It is possible that the Yid purposefully made use of this copy of the kol korei because Rav Moshe’s signature is lacking and served no purpose for the Satmar community, ve’hamavin yavin.
[3] The Mattersdorfer rav’s signature and the resigning of Rav Simcha Elberg’s name are later additions, as well. The Mattersdofer rav’s signature does seem to be legitimate. However, I believe that the Mattersdofer rav was probably asked to sign right below the text in order to fill up that space so that Rav Moshe’s signature should not look out of place.
[4] Moreover, even if there was some room, Rav Moshe would not have signed right under the text; he would have simply signed below all the signatures or in the larger gap between the Bluzver rebbe and the Tenka rav. It is hard to imagine Rav Moshe, who was known for his modesty, seeking to be the first signature on a document when other rabbanim had already filled most of the available space.
[5] It is also strange that Rav Moshe would sign a kol korei in which the text refers to his Igros Moshe which states that he had issued a p’sak din that it was prohibited to establish eruvin in New York and Brooklyn. I think that Rav Moshe would have told these askanim that he had already made his opinion heard in his teshuvos and that it was more than sufficient.