Rav Pearl shlita:
But the emes is the Rambam had a different shita also that even without samach ribo. There was no samach ribo in too many places in the world in those days, but the road was sixteen amos, twenty-eight feet. All our streets are twenty-eight feet from one end of the sidewalk to the other. There was no roof over the street, it was mefulash, there was no obstruction, so this is reshus harabbim according to shitas HaRambam and a dozen other gedolei haposkim. It was more than a dozen — eighteen, twenty-two, it depends how you figure. So a dozen poskim held you didn’t need samach ribo. Sixteen amos, it was not mikora, it was mefulash, so this is a reshus harabbim. Shitas Rashi and a dozen other gidolei Rishonim all brought down by the Bi’ur Halachah, 345, that you need samach ribo.
Actually, we know today that the count is forty-two Rishonim who accept shishim ribo as a criterion of a reshus harabbim and eleven who do not (Part 12: Meoz U’Mekedem – Exploring the Historical Roots of the Machlokas Regarding Eruvin). Hence, there is no reason why we do not accept shishim ribo as a fundament of a reshus harabbim l’chatchilah.
Rav Pearl shlita:
So Rav Moshe held samach ribo in the street. So the whole sha’alah was, Paris had an eruv, Chazon Ish was matir the eruv. Amsterdam, Vienna, Antwerp and all these places had an eruv. In Europe before World War II gedolei Yisroel lived there. So Rav Moshe said you know how they lived there, because there was no samach ribo. The population in any of these places was 1.3, 1.5 million. No one had 2.4 million. So there was never 600,000 in the street. So that was the heter.
To begin with, Rav Moshe is only answering why one cannot ask on his shitos since eruvin were allowed in these cities. However, Rav Moshe admitted that his shita is a chiddush (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:139:5). Hence, we can ask why did all the other gedolim allow eruvin in their cities? The answer is that either they upheld that shishim ribo is conditional of a street (Divrei Malkiel, 4:3) or it was because the streets were not mefulash u’mechavanim m’shaar l’shaar (ibid., and Divrei Menachem, O.C. vol. 2, pp. 42-43). Consequentially, according to these gedolim, there is no reason why an eruv cannot be erected in Brooklyn, as well.
In a handout of a shiur (number 333) that Rav Pearl gave on January 9, 2000, he wrote that Paris was approximately forty-one square miles, which is considerably less in area than twelve mil by twelve mil and contained a population of close to three million (at the time that they were going to establish an eruv in 1938). Rav Pearl argues that since they were going to establish the eruv by relying on the Chazon Ish’s chiddush of mechitzos habatim, Rav Moshe would not have agreed to this eruv. However, Rav Pearl is mistaken; the Paris eruv was going to rely on mechitzos by its waterfront and not mechitzos habatim at all (Achiezer, 4:8). Therefore, it is possible that Rav Moshe would have agreed to this eruv — unless he would have had an issue with it because he considered Paris similar to Yerushalayim (of course Rav Moshe would have required that the tzuras hapesach that was going to be used to close the pirtzos should be included in the mechitzos). However, there is no doubt that Paris is proof that no one thought of Rav Moshe’s chiddushim at the time, and no doubt these poskim would have allowed Brooklyn eruvin, as well.
Rav Pearl shlita:
But a dozen gedole Rishonim held there is no such heter of samach ribo but a dozen held there was. But bezman hazeh we say “ain lonu reshus harabbim,” we’re somech on the maikilim. So they all ask, what do you mean we are somech on the makilim, this is a sofek d’Oraysa? According to the Rambam, to carry in some of the places where an eruv exists today, like Monsey, in Far Rockaway, you just name it, you can’t carry in any of these places, because it’s a sofek d’Oraysa. There is no samach ribo, but you don’t need samach ribo, it’s a sofek d’Oraysa. But others held you needed samach ribo, but it’s a sofek d’Oraysa. On a sofek d’Oraysa, you want to be maikil? How can you do that? So the Mishnah Berurah says a Baal Nefesh, a Yirai Shamaim, shouldn’t carry in these places. But the Magen Avraham says b’zman hazeh ein lonu reshus harabbim? Gedolei haposkim pasken you can carry, and there was an eruv in Vienna, Paris, Antwerp, and most major cities in Europe, but how can you be somech on the maikilim if it’s sofek d’Oraysa? So the Aruch HaShulchan says, it’s like a bas kol came from the shomayim to tell us that Rashi was right. Anyone hears that bas kol? And even if you heard it, ein shomin l’bas kol. So how can you do this?
As I mentioned above, the matter is no longer a sofek d’Oraysa since the overwhelming majority of Rishonim maintain that shishim ribo is a criterion of a reshus harabbim. Thus, even the Mishnah Berurah would agree that a Baal Nefesh can rely on shishim ribo l’chatchilah. Moreover, we follow the Rema who, according to the poskim, accepted shishim ribo as a criterion l’chatchilah (see Taz, 345:6). Furthermore, as I mentioned above, Rav Moshe accepts shishim ribo as a fundament l’chatchilah.
Rav Pearl shlita:
So the Igros Moshe says we don’t know what it was to live in those times. There was no refrigeration. The bathroom was outside. The water was outside. Could you imagine making Shabbos with no water in the house? No electricity in the house, etc. and you have to make Shabbos under these conditions. You can’t, it’s impossible. Under those conditions there were maikilim, they were gedolei yisroel. But like a bas kol came, we are somech on the maikilim, we can’t live under these conditions. But the Igros Moshe says the conditions have changed. The sofek d’Oraysa that we were maikil in previous generations does not exist anymore. We have refrigeration, electricity, the bathrooms, ovens in the house — we have everything in the house so what’s the heter now? The heter is that the ladies have carriages and they don’t want to stay in the house. They want to be able to take a walk in the street with the babies. So is that why we were matir the sofek d’Oraysa? Some of the women would have a nervous breakdown if they would have to stay in, but imagine how they would manage if they would have lived four hundred years ago with all these problems. The Arizal wasn’t machmir on eruvin. The Chasam Sofer says if you’re able to make an eruv and you don’t, the rav in charge is asid litain es hadin. But he lived generations before, and as we said, Rav Moshe said things have changed for the better, and the need to use an eruv today is not nearly as necessary as it was before, when we were matir issurei d’Oraysa in order to put up an eruv.
Rav Pearl is conflating Rav Moshe’s shitos. Rav Moshe’s argument that nowadays he does not perceive a need for an eruv is not relevant to being maikil on relying on shishim ribo which some argue is a sofek d’Oraysa. As mentioned previously, Rav Moshe accepted the criterion of shishim ribo l’chatchilah so obviously he did not consider relying on shishim ribo as being maikil. When Rav Moshe objected to an eruv it was not because he questioned the criterion of shishim ribo, but on the contrary, he argued that in fact the city’s populations fulfilled the criterion of shshim ribo. When Rav Moshe maintained that an eruv was allowed for Kew Garden Hills, we do not see that he argued that there is a need to be stringent because it is a sofek d’Oraysa. On the contrary Rav Moshe wrote that he sees a great purpose for an eruv there (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:86).
Rav Pearl cites Rav Moshe’s argument that the reason why the previous poskim allowed eruvin in their cities was because people did not have amenities in their homes. However, the fact is no posek ever mentioned that this is the underlying reason why they allowed eruvin. On the contrary, the Chasam Sofer that Rav Pearl cited stated that the reason why there is a chiyuv to establish eruvin is because it is impossible to be careful enough when it comes to carrying on Shabbos, and therefore, there is an obligation on every rav to establish an eruv. Other poskim posit that it helps to minimize chilul Shabbos (Nefesh Chayah, siman 25 and Bais Av, 2:1:25). Clearly these poskim would disagree with Rav Moshe and would uphold the need for eruvin even today. It is beyond comprehension how Rav Pearl can even make such an assertion that the previous poskim were matir issurei d’Oraysa because there was a great need for an eruv. No one could be matir issurei d’Oraysa to establish an eruv, no matter how great the need.
Rav Pearl is missing the point when he makes light of the fact that women do not want to be confined to their homes. Who says that this need is any less than the needs of the previous generations? Moreover, Rav Moshe admits in the Detroit teshuvah (Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:29) that if the women require an eruv there could even be a great need for one. Rav Pearl misses the point when he states, “but imagine how they [the women] would manage if they would have lived four hundred years ago with all these problems.” No doubt there were unique reasons for an eruv in previous generations, but there are also unique reasons for one today. While in previous generations people may have had smaller homes, it was simply easier for children to play outdoors than it is for children today who are growing up in large cities such as New York City. As a matter of fact, the Perishah maintains that one of the benefits of an eruv is that it helps increase our oneg Shabbos by allowing people to take a stroll (O.C. 395:1).
Rav Pearl states that the Arizal was not machmir on eruvin. On the contrary, the Arizal was machmir to carry in an eruv (Nimukei Orach Chaim, siman 394:1). In fact, there was reason for the Arizal to question the eruv of Tzfas. The, “lamdanim and some of the talmidi chachamim,” of Tzfas questioned the eruv since in the non-Jewish section of the city there was a street more than sixteen amos wide and some of the streets in the Jewish section opened on to it (Maharit Tzahalon, siman 251). On this issue the Maharit Tzahalon commented that we rely on the criterion of shishim ribo. Nevertheless, the Arizal was machmir to carry. In today’s day and age, we should follow the Arizal’s example and carry in order to demonstrate that we do not accept the anti-eruv cabal who, left to their own design, would do away with the mitzvah of eruvin entirely. We should not want to be perceived as the Tzedukim of yesteryear who were eino modeh b’eruv (or today’s Tzedukim who are eino modeh b’situfei mevo’os).
Finally, I fail to comprehend the confidence behind Rav Pearl’s objection to Brooklyn eruvin. After all, Rav Moshe did not want to issue a p’sak din barur because he realized that his objection to a Brooklyn eruv was a chiddush, and that the Achronim and the Aruch HaShulchan would not agree with him (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:87; see Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l’s Reluctance to Pasken Against the Establishment of an Eruv). Following this, how can anyone compel the world to follow Rav Moshe shitos in eruvin?