Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rabbi Ruven Feinstein on His Father’s Shitos in Eruvin

In the Israeli chareidi newspaper HaMevaser (Parshos Tzav, 12 Adar II, Torani Gilyon 117) commemorating the twenty-fifth yarzeit of Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, there is a fascinating interview with his son Rav Ruven shlita.


When asked about his father’s opinion regarding establishing eruvin in a section of a large city in America, Rav Ruven answered that it was not his father who opposed the establishment of these eruvin but the Agudas Harabbanim, and that his father went along with their objection. Rav Ruven expounded on his father’s shitos that in a borough the size of Brooklyn whose area is 63 square miles and whose population is greater than four million, each twelve mil by twelve mil section would contain a population of more than shishim ribo. Consequently, an eruv cannot be established in any section of Brooklyn.

There are a few issues that I would like to clarify:
According to Rav Moshe, twelve mil by twelve mil is over 64 square miles (in regards to Shabbos, Rav Moshe maintained that an amah is 21.25 inches). Brooklyn covers an area of 71 square miles and not just 63 square miles as Rav Ruven stated (71 square miles is exclusive of inland waters, and I believe that, according to Rav Moshe’s shita, we should include inland water in the twelve mil by twelve mil area). Rav Moshe himself stated that Brooklyn is somewhat larger than twelve mil by twelve mil (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:87-88). Consequently, the population of any twelve mil by twelve mil area in Brooklyn would be less than the entire population of Brooklyn.

Rav Moshe’s shita is that if the population of an area of twelve mil by twelve mil is roughly 3 million then any section of that area cannot erect an eruv (ibid., 5:28:5; 5:29). Brooklyn’s population is not greater than four million, as Rav Ruven declared, but is approximately 2.5 million. It is possible that Rav Ruven is repeating what was told to his father that the population of Brooklyn is approximately 3 million and that over a million people come into the borough to work daily (see the end of ibid., 4:88). However, this is simply incorrect. Brooklyn’s population is approximately 2.5 million, and around 235,000 people come into the borough to work daily (see Part 2: The Permissibility of a Brooklyn Eruv According to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l). Consequently, according to Rav Moshe, there is no reason why an eruv cannot be established in Brooklyn. Furthermore, there are two additional reasons why an eruv can be established in Brooklyn (see Part 3: The Permissibility of a Brooklyn Eruv According to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, Part 4a: The Permissibility of a Brooklyn Eruv According to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l).

The most illuminating statement by Rav Ruven is that the issur on all eruvin in large cities in America was from the Agudas HaRabbanim and not his father. In fact, the only issur from the Agudas HaRabbanim was for an eruv in Manhattan in 1962. It was this kol korei that Rav Moshe signed onto because, as he mentioned, Rav Aharon Kotler zt"l and other Roshei Yeshivos made a takanah not to erect a Manhattan eruv (ibid., 4:86 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89). The issur on eruvin for the rest of New York and America was an invention of the 1979 Flatbush kol korei and not the Agudas HaRabbanim (see The 1979 Flatbush Kol Korei Exposed, Part 2: The 1979 Flatbush Kol Korei Exposed). This statement by Rav Ruven’s demonstrates what I have been arguing all along that there was a lot of deception used by those who oppose eruvin.

Finally, the above proves my point ─ many people (even family members) may argue points in Rav Moshe’s name regarding eruvin, but they actually do not know his shitos very well.