Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Flatbush/Williamsburg Eruv Imbroglio Continues

Part of an ongoing commentary on the bias against city eruvin.


Recently (April 28, 2011), Rav Moshe Scheinerman shlita, rav of Kollel Bnai HaYeshivos in Flatbush, gave a speech at an asifa opposing the eruv in Williamsburg. [Since he maliciously attacked and was mevazeh the rav who gives the hechsher on the Flatbush eruv, I will not (as of yet) disseminate the audio clip.] Much can be said regarding many of the points raised (and those not mentioned) by Rav Scheinerman in his speech; however, to illustrate the irrationality practiced when the subject is eruvin, I will raise a few rhetorical questions.

  • All the Satmarer rabbanim gave their approval for an eruv to be established in Williamsburg from the years 1972-1981 (Part 1: The Truth About the Satmar Rebbe and a Williamsburg Eruv). Does Rav Scheinerman know better than these rabbanim what the Satmarer rebbe’s opinion regarding eruvin really was?
  • Until the current group of eruvin was established no one ever claimed that the Satmarer rebbe maintained that Brooklyn is a reshus harabbim. On the contrary, the fact that the major Satmarer rabbanim allowed an eruv and that street eruvin were always erected in Williamsburg is clear proof that the rebbe did not maintain that Brooklyn is a reshus harabbim. Does Rav Scheinerman know better than these rabbanim what the Satmarer rebbe’s opinion was regarding reshus harabbim? [The fact that some in Satmar believe today that the rebbe was of the opinion that Brooklyn is a reshus harabbim demonstrates how good the anti-eruv cabal is at rewriting history.]
  • Is Rav Scheinerman arguing that one should not follow his rav? Isn’t the halachah k’basrai?
  • Didn’t Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l maintain that when one follows one’s rav on any issue, even on issurei chilul Shabbos, albeit the halachah is not like his rav’s interpretation, no aveirah is transgressed (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:186)? In light of this Igros Moshe, does Rav Scheinerman still maintain that one should be mocheh against those who are just following the ruling of their rav?
  • If Rav Scheinerman has the right to preach his anti-eruv rhetoric which is in opposition to the rabbanim hamatirim, in Williamsburg [note that the Williamsburg eruv is supported by the foremost halachic authority in America], why doesn’t Rav Benzion Y. Wosner shlita ― an expert on the construction of eruvin, who was summoned by the rabbanim supporting an eruv in Flatbush (see Questions and Answers Regarding the Flatbush Eruv, p. 8) ― have the right to give a hechsher on the Flatbush eruv, despite the fact that there are rabbanim haossrim?
  • Surely there are many matters regarding Yidishkeit in Flatbush that the rabbanim of Williamsburg would protest against. Would it be appropriate for the Williamsburg rabbanim to protest against these perceived laxities in the Flatbush community?
  • Does Williamsburg, a neighborhood with fifty years of protest experience against issues that they maintain are important to Yidishkeit, need to import a rav from Flatbush to teach them the importance of protest?
These inconsistencies ought to come as no surprise to those who have followed the bias against the establishment of city eruvin.

It is telling that he claims victory in Flatbush but yet feels the need to viciously attack those who disagree with him. Clearly he believes that the issue of eruvin only belongs to those who he deems are the gedolim.

Finally, the anti-eruv group was mostly content with publicly harassing the layman who use the Brooklyn eruvin and only subtly denigrating the rabbanim who support the eruv. However, Rav Scheinerman has brought the war down to a new level — he is willing to publicly flog the supporting rabbanim.

[It is of interest to note that Rav Scheinerman proved what I have argued all along that the anti-eruv cabal lied to Rav Dovid Feinstein shlita. He claims that after the cabal consulted with Rav Dovid, he declared conclusively that his father never retracted his opposition to a Brooklyn eruv, when in fact no one ever argued otherwise. The only claim that the supporters of the Brooklyn eruvin made was that if Rav Moshe would have known the facts, he would have allowed the current eruvin.]

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l: A New Discovery, Part 2

After having read part 1 of this post, the significance of my discovery can be more readily understood. Lately  I happened across Rav Yecheskel Grubner’s Kenesses Yecheskel (vol. 1, 2009) where he documents the proceedings of the Detroit eruv. His account validates my understanding of Rav Moshe’s shita regarding distinguishing a neighborhood that contains a population of less than shishim ribo with a tzuras hapesach.

From the above, we see that Rav Moshe was apprised of the fact that the city of Detroit proper is built up and contiguous with these two neighborhoods, and they were not delineated from Detroit proper in any way. Additionally, while Rav Moshe knew that the whole area including the two neighborhoods are part of Metropolitan Detroit, nevertheless, he allowed the establishment of these eruvin.

Furthermore, Rav Grubner included an unpublished teshuvah of Rav Moshe Stern, the Debrecener rav author of Be’er Moshe regarding the Detroit eruv.

From this teshuvah we see that the Debrecener rav clearly agreed and understood that Rav Moshe’s shita was that one can demarcate a neighborhood from a large contiguous built up city even though it’s under the rubric of a metropolis. Furthermore, the Debrecener rav maintained that not only was it permissible to establish an eruv in these cities, it was even a mitzvah. [This teshuvah confirms the well known fact that the Debrecener rav’s objection to the Brooklyn eruvin was for hashkafic and not halachic reasons. Since there is no difference halachically between Brooklyn and Detroit, the only reason why the Debrecener rav would have objected to a Brooklyn eruv was because of a matter of hashkafah. It is a known fact that those who fought the establishment of the Brooklyn eruvin used all means to negate them. Because the Debrecener rav and the Pupa rav (and others) did not believe that there were any halachic issues, they were told that there were problematic hashkafic issues in these communities which an eruv could exacerbate. There is a corroborating letter from Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Neiman zt”l from Montreal (Agurah B’Ohalecha, vol. 2 siman 56) stating that his rebbe, the Pupa Rav zt”l, only objected to the Brooklyn eruvin on hashkafic grounds which do not pertain to us today. Moreover, the Debrecener rav clearly maintained that Brooklyn is a karmelis (Be’er Moshe, 1:40), which proves that the matter was not halachic.]

In summation, there is no doubt that had Rav Moshe known that the populations of both Boro Park and Flatbush was much less than shishim ribo, he would have allowed a tzuras hapesach to distinguish them from their respective neighborhoods because no one would have mistaken them as a reshus harabbim. Furthermore, those who claim that Rav Moshe’s shitos would negate eruvin in other cities such as London are simply incorrect. If Detroit can establish an eruv because a tzuras hapesach can demarcate a neighborhood therein no doubt Rav Moshe would allow the same for London.

A few more points that need to be expounded on:
1) There are people who attempt to rationalize why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv to be erected in Queens. For example, some claim that Queens is not conceptualized from a halachic perspective as one city while others allege that Queens was not incorporated into the city as a whole unit, but rather as a set of disparate neighborhoods. Therefore, they argue, the population of Queens is considered divided and each neighborhood is independent of the other, which is why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv to be erected there.

These assumptions are an excuse after the fact. Rav Moshe never said that Queens is not conceptualized as one, only that Kew Garden Hills is a small neighborhood in Queens (ibid., 4:86 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89). Rav Moshe never said that Brooklyn is conceptualized as one, only that Boro Park and Flatbush individually contain shishim ribo, and therefore, an eruv can’t be erected (ibid., 5:28:5 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89). Additionally, Kew Gardens Hills is part of Queens just as Boro Park and Flatbush are part of Brooklyn, as can be seen on any map of the area. Every neighborhood in Queens is built up to the adjoining neighborhood and forms one contiguous borough just as all neighborhoods do in Brooklyn.

Moreover, as mentioned above, according to Rav Moshe, it makes no difference whether or not Queens is considered as one city since Rav Moshe’s main thesis is that we look at an area of twelve mil by twelve mil and not how the boroughs are conceptualized. If the twelve mil by twelve mil area contains a population of three million, an eruv cannot be erected in any part it (ibid., 1:139:5, 4:87-88). Kew Garden Hills is part of the twelve mil by twelve mil area of Queens just as Boro Park and Flatbush are part of the twelve mil by twelve mil area of Brooklyn. If the population of Queens doesn’t meet the requirement of Rav Moshe’s chiddush to be classified as a reshus harabbim, neither does the population of Brooklyn.

In any case, this discussion is beside the point. Rav Moshe declared that both the Boro Park and Flatbush neighborhoods independently contain shishim ribo without including the population of Brooklyn. Evidently, Rav Moshe did consider the neighborhoods in Brooklyn as distinct entities, and nevertheless, he objected to an eruv therein because their populations were greater than shishim ribo (ibid., 5:28:5 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89).

2) Some argue that the above rationalizations (see number 1) of why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv for Kew Garden Hills comes from reputable sources, so why shouldn’t we accept their oral explanations? Furthermore, they claim that those who disagree with these oral explanations of why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv in a neighborhood in Queens are undermining his teshuvos because this is the only reason why he could have allowed an eruv there as opposed to Brooklyn. Consequently, they are denigrating Rav Moshe’s kavod by undermining his position.

I reiterate, these arguments are excuses post facto. Rav Moshe clearly set forth his chiddushim in eruvin in his teshuvos. To argue that we should accept what someone claims Rav Moshe verbally expressed when it contradicts what he had clearly written is dangerous to advocate. If so, maybe Rav Moshe verbally discounted all of his teshuvos and none of them are reliable, chas v’shalom (see also Noda B’Yehudah, Tinyana, Y.D. 29-30).

Moreover, all these purported, “oral explanations,” differentiating between Brooklyn and Queens were clearly fabricated in order to justify why Rav Moshe allowed an eruv in Queens but not in Brooklyn. However, those people generating these fictitious accounts did not fully study all the pertinent teshuvos in Igros Moshe and didn’t realize that their excuses contradict his written words. In essence, these people are arguing that we should believe that Rav Moshe did not know his own shitos in eruvin. I would rather believe that these claims were created after the fact by people who do not know Rav Moshe’s shitos. In any case, there is no need to rely on hearsay since Rav Moshe indicated in his teshuvos why he allowed an eruv in a neighborhood in Queens — because he allowed the neighborhood to be delineated with a tzuras hapesach.

It’s fascinating that those promoting these contradictory statements as an excuse for an eruv in Queens have the temerity to claim that those promoting an eruv in Brooklyn are denigrating Rav Moshe’s kovod. In fact, they are making Rav Moshe look as if he did not know his own teshuvos. Clearly, they are the ones who are denigrating Rav Moshe’s kavod. Don’t they see the irony in the situation? In their campaign to argue against Brooklyn eruvin, they are quick to make claims in Rav Moshe’s name even if they contradict his teshuvos. Contrast that with the rabbanim supporting the eruv who spent a considerable amount of time studying Rav Moshe’s teshuvos and investigating the mechitzos in order to satisfy Rav Moshe’s shitos in eruvin. So who is more respectful of Rav Moshe’s kavod — the proponents of eruvin who study every word he wrote or those objecting to eruvin whose arguments contradict his teshuvos?

3) There are those who tried to argue that Rav Moshe mentioned in this teshuvah the highways in Queens because he was making use of the mechitzos that bounded them.

This is a total fabrication, as Rav Moshe never refers to mechitzos in any teshuvah concerning Kew Gardens Hills (ibid., 4:86 and Addendum to O.C. 4:89). Nor does anyone else mention mechitzos regarding Kew Gardens Hills (see Minchas Chein, siman 24 and Minchas Asher, 1:51-52, 2:56-57, 2:59). More so, since Brooklyn is encircled with mechitzos as well, why should it be any different than Kew Gardens Hills? If mechitzos are adequate for a Kew Gardens Hills eruv, so too would they be sufficient for Boro Park and Flatbush.

4) Some try to debase my above clarification of Rav Moshe’s shitos claiming that it’s not possible that Rav Moshe allowed a tzuras hapesach to demarcate an area containing less than shishim ribo in Kew Garden Hills because a reshus harabbim cannot be delineated with a tzuras hapesach.

They are mistaken. Rav Moshe is not the only one to maintain as such. There are Rishonim and Achronim who posit that a tzuras hapesach can demarcate an area containing less than shishim ribo (see Tosfos Rid, Eruvin 22a; Or Zarua, Eruvin 22a; Rav Yonasan Stief zt”l in Mahari Stief, siman 68; Rav Chaim Michoel Dov Weissmandel zt”l in Toras Chemed, p. 93, and Rav Elya Meir Bloch zt”l in Kol Tzvi number 7).

5) It’s important to note that, in the end, Rav Moshe objected to a Brooklyn eruv not because of his gezeirah but because he was led to believe that while Brooklyn’s population is actually somewhat less than three million there were over a million people who came into Brooklyn to work and visit (see the teshuvah below). Thus, the total population of Brooklyn would be much greater than three million, and the prohibition to establish one is no longer a matter of a gezeirah, but of a d’Oraysa.
שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ד סימן פח
אבל עתה נודענו במפה שניתן מהעיריה (הסיטי) ונמצא שכל ברוקלין הוא רק י"ב מיל על י"ב וקצת יותר ודרים שם בקביעות קרוב לשלשה מיליאן ועוברים ושבים ממקומות אחרים למסחר ולהתראות עם קרובים ולעבודה קבועה קרוב למליאן שא"כ יש ממש יותר הרבה מס' ריבוא ברחובות שודאי בהי"ב מיל על י"ב מיל יש ג"כ יותר מס' ריבוא, ולהשוות בריבוע הוא בהכנסת מקצת מנהעטן שנכנס שם האיסט סייד שהוא גם וואל סטריט וסיטי האל והסביבה שהוא עוד איזה מיליאנים, אבל כיון שמופסק בהנהר אין לצרף זה לברוקלין ולכן נחשב כמעט כל ברוקלין שג"כ איכא הרבה יותר מס' ריבוא וא"כ הוא רה"ר דאורייתא דודאי אין לתקן עירובין מדינא
However, this is obviously incorrect. The number of people who actually commute into the borough to work is approximately 235,000 people (NYC Department of City Planning, Table CTPP P-6, 2003); thus, the total falls far short of the required three million. Had Rav Moshe known these facts, he would concur that Brooklyn does not have the status of a reshus harabbim of shishim ribo.

6) Finally, it’s important to note that Rav Moshe’s gezeirah was not thought of as a reason in and of itself to negate eruvin. Both Brooklyn and Chicago have a population of approximately 2.5 million people over a twelve mil by twelve mil area. Despite this number of people, Rav Dovid Feinstein shlita agreed that, according to his father, an eruv could be established in Chicago (West Rogers Park Eruv, 1993 p. 23). This gezeirah was not considered a serious enough issue to impede the construction of an eruv in Chicago and should not interfere with an eruv in Brooklyn either.

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l: A New Discovery, Part 1

The following background information is necessary reading before I discuss my new discovery in part two.

Those who read my blog know I have consistently argued that there are three reasons according to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l why the current Brooklyn eruvin would be allowed:
1) The population of a twelve mil by twelve mil area in Brooklyn, including the people who commute into the borough to work, is less than the three million inhabitants required by Rav Moshe.
2) Even if the total population of Brooklyn would be more than three million, since the tzuras hapesachim erected in our neighborhoods encircle a population of less than shishim ribo, Rav Moshe would have allowed an eruv to be erected in our neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
3) Even if Brooklyn would have a population of three million and the eruv would encircle more than shishim ribo, since there are mechitzos encompassing Brooklyn, Rav Moshe would definitely have allowed an eruv to be erected in any neighborhood in Brooklyn, without the need for delasos at the pirtzos.

While I have discussed and expounded on all three of the above premises, people always argue that reason number two is the weakest of all my rationales, being that Rav Moshe did not elucidate that a tzuras hapesach can demarcate an area of less than shishim ribo. I strongly disagree because this underlying principle is the only rationale that neatly sums up Rav Moshe’s shitos in eruivn, and there is no other coherent explanation why Rav Moshe allowed the eruvin in Queens and Detroit and why it mattered to him that both Boro Park and Flatbush independently contain a population greater than shishim ribo.

Regarding Kew Garden Hills, Queens, Rav Moshe wrote:
שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ד סימן פו

הכשר העירוב בקיו גארדענס הילס, ט' ניסן תשל"ד, מע"כ ידידי הרה"ג מוהר"ר פרץ שטיינבערג שליט"א

הנה בדבר העירוב אשר תיקן כתר"ה סביבות קיו גארדענס הילס והיה זה בהסכם כל הרבנים אשר בקיו גארדענס הילס ונעשה זה באופן שלא נכנס הדרך הכבושה לרבים הנקרא היי וויי וגם נעשה באופן שהחששות ליפסל ע"י איזה קלקול הם רחוקים מאד וגם העמידו משגיח שיראה בכל ערב שבת קדש, הנני רואה בזה תועלת גדולה והצלה ממכשול בשוגג ובמזיד, ואין דומה כלל לנוא יארק שלא היה זה ברצוננו ורצון הגאון ר' אהרן זצ"ל ועוד גדולי תורה מאגוד"ר כי נוא יארק עיר גדולה מאד וכדבארתי בתשובה בספרי א"מ אבל קיו גארדענס הילס היא קטנה לענינים אלו וליכא הטעמים שכתבתי שם דלכן הוא טובה גדולה ותועלת לשמירת שבת ואני אומר שיפה עשיתם
In the same vein Rav Moshe wrote:
שו"ת אגרות משה יורה דעה חלק ג השמטה לאו"ח ח"ד סי' פ"ט

וכן לא שייך לקיו גארדענס הילס שהסכמתי להעירוב שתיקנו (לעיל או"ח סי' פ"ו) שהיא עיר קטנה ודרך הכבושה לרבים הנקרא היי וועי לא הכניסו בתוך העירוב, שהוא פשוט וברור שבערים כאלו עושין צוה"פ ועירובין ולא שייך לטעות כלל
Rav Moshe wrote likewise regarding Detroit:
שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ה סימן כט

תיקון עירוב ליד דעטראיט, בע"ה ח' אלול תש"מ, מע"כ ידידי הנכבד מאד הרב הגאון כש"ת מוהר"ר יחזקאל הלוי גרובנער שליט"א

נתאחרתי במכתבי מחמת שנדמה לנו שכתר"ה עוד יכתוב לנו מביתו בזה, אבל כיוון שלא נתקבל יותר, אראה לכתוב רק במה שחתמו כל חברי ועד הרבנים, שהוא אם לעשות תיקון עירובין במקום שדרים רוב היהודים, שאין זה בדעטראיט שהיא העיר הגדולה שנחשבת בין הערים הגדולות, אלא בשני מקומות קטנים. ואף שבמכתב מיום ד' מנ"א שחתמו כולם לא הוזכר זה, אבל כתר"ה אמר לי זה אשר כמעט כל היהודים ובפרט שומרי תורה דרים כולם בשני מקומות הקטנים, שכל הציבור הוא פחות ממאה אלף …אבל עתה שהנידון הוא על שני מקומות שביחד יש שם פחות ממאה אלף תושבים, וגם עוברים ושבים ממקומות אחרים אין שם אלא מעט
For those who believe that Rav Moshe would never allow an eruv in Brooklyn, the Kew Gardens Hills teshuvah is the most disquieting of all of Rav Moshe’s eruvin teshuvos.

Rav Moshe argues that Kew Gardens Hills is a small town in comparison to Manhattan, thus he allowed an eruv there. However, Rav Moshe’s main thesis in eruvin was that we examine an area of twelve mil by twelve mil, and if the area contains a population of three million (see Part 2: Shishim Ribo According to Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l ), an eruv cannot be erected in any part of it (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:139:5, 4:87-88). Kew Garden Hills is part of the twelve mil by twelve mil area of Queens just as Boro Park and Flatbush are part of the twelve mil by twelve mil area of Brooklyn. Consequentially, it follows that if an eruv can be established in Kew Gardens Hills, since the population in a twelve mil by twelve mil section of Queens is less than three million, so too can an eruv be established in a neighborhood of Brooklyn since its population is also less than three million. [Regarding not including the highways in the parameters of the eruv, there is no difference between Kew Gardens Hills and Brooklyn since highways are not included in Brooklyn’s eruvin either. Additionally, there are those who claim that the reason Rav Moshe permitted an eruv in Kew Gardens Hills was because, as he mentioned, there was a rabbinical consensus supporting an eruv. This excuse was created after the fact, because this issue did not play a major role in Rav Moshe’s thinking. Had the position of all the other rabbanim been a vital consideration, Rav Moshe would not have allowed the Manhattan rabbanim to do as they saw fit and establish an eruv (ibid., 4:89 and HaPardes, 33rd year, vol. 9). Moreover, even regarding the Flatbush eruv, we see from Rav Moshe’s teshuvah (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:87) that he did not argue with the rabbanim who erected an eruv that this issue would negate the eruv there.]

The same can be asked regarding the eruvin Rav Moshe allowed in the two Detroit neighborhoods, Oak Park and Southfield. Rav Moshe established that Detroit would be classified as a large city, but argued an eruv would be allowed since it was only encompassing two small neighborhoods. Certainly, if an eruv can be established in these Detroit neighborhoods, since the population in a twelve mil by twelve mil section of Detroit is less than three million, so too can an eruv be established in a neighborhood of Brooklyn since its population is also less than three million.

However, Rav Moshe added a caveat regarding large city eruvin:
שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ד סימן פח

הנה כבר בארתי בעל פה הטעם שאני סובר דאין לעשות תיקון עירובין בברוקלין אפילו בחלק אחד כהא דפלעטבוש, אף אם נימא שמשך י"ב מיל על י"ב מיל כשיתחילו למדוד מאיזה צד דתחלת העיר דברוקלין אין שם סך גדול כמספר בני ישראל שהיו במדבר על משך כזה, דהאומדנא היתה שנמצאים ברחובות בחוץ ס' ריבוא, משום דכיון דעיר גדולה כברוקלין צריך לברר מי שאומר שאין שם סך ס' ריבוא כשרוצה להתיר, דהא הרבה אינשי הם באומדנא שיש בברוקלין בכל חלק כזה די"ב מיל על י"ב מיל ס' ריבוא ויותר מאחר דכמובן הבתים גדולים שיש בתים דהרבה קומות בעלי ארבע וחמש ושש שהם כמעט רוב הבתים ואף הנמוכים הם בעלי שתים ושלש ונמצאים גם בתים גבוהים ביותר ומגיעין גם לבעלי עשרים קומות, נגד מחנה ישראל במדבר שהיו באהלים שהוא רק אהל בקומה אחת על הקרקע, שלכן אף שהרחובות הם רחבים ערך פי שנים מרחובות דבמדבר שהיו רק ט"ז אמה מ"מ הוא לפי אומדנא דסתם אינשי שהם יותר מכפי שהיו במדבר במשך שטח זה, שלכן אם הוא פחות לענין המציאות צריך לברר זה, ומכיון שצריך לברר זה אף שהאמת הוא שאין שם ס' ריבוא וגם אפשר לברר זה, הרי ודאי רובא דרובא מאינשי לא ידעו מברור זה לא רק מעלמא אלא אף הדרים כאן לא ידעו זה ויאמרו דמותר לעשות תיקוני עירובין דצורת הפתח ברה"ר גמור דיש שם ס' ריבוא ויותר ויבא לקלקולא

וזה אמרתי אף כשאמרו לי שלפי ידיעה הברורה אין במשך י"ב על י"ב מיל ס' ריבוא בברוקלין, והוא טעם לאסור על כל כרכים ששייך לאמוד לסתם אינשי שיש שם ס' ריבוא ברחובות מחוץ להבתים, דאפילו אם האמת שלאחר הברור נתברר שאין שם ס' ריבוא אין לתקן עירובין דרובא דאינשי אין יודעין הברור
Rav Moshe reiterates the above in his Detroit teshuvah:
שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ה סימן כט

אם לעשות תיקון עירובין במקום שדרים רוב היהודים, שאין זה בדעטראיט שהיא העיר הגדולה שנחשבת בין הערים הגדולות, אלא בשני מקומות קטנים. ואף שבמכתב מיום ד' מנ"א שחתמו כולם לא הוזכר זה, אבל כתר"ה אמר לי זה אשר כמעט כל היהודים ובפרט שומרי תורה דרים כולם בשני מקומות הקטנים, שכל הציבור הוא פחות ממאה אלף. ותמוה שעיקר כזה לא הוזכר בהמכתב, אבל זהו עכ"פ המציאות … והנה בשנה העברה כתבתי לפלעטבוש (ונדפס באג"מ אורח חיים חלק ד' סוף סימן פ"ח) אשר פשוט שבערים גדולות ששייך לאינשי לחשוב שיש שם שישים ריבוא בחוצותיה, אף שלפי האמת נודענו משלטונות (אפיס) העיר ומהמשטרה (פאליס) דהעיר שאין שם מספר כזה, אין לתקן שם עירובין, דהא אתי לתקלה, דהא רובא דאינשי אין יודעין הבירור. ומהאי טעמא לא היה אפשר בדעטראיט לתקן שם עירובין, כי היא נחשבת בין ערים הגדולות שיושביה עולה למיליאנים. אף שלפי האמת שמעתי שאינה כל כך גדולה, שיהיה שייך לאמוד שימצא בחוצותיה ששים ריבוא, דהוא שייך רק כשיהיו תושבי העיר עם העוברים ושבים ממקומות אחרים לכה"פ חמשה פעמים ס' ריבוא דהוא ערך שלשה מיליאן. מ"מ אין לתקן שם עירוב מאחר דיש הרבה שיאמרו באומדנא שלהם שהיא גדולה עד שוודאי איכא ששים ריבוא. וכן הוא בכל ערים הגדולות ששייך לאינשי לאמוד שאיכא ס' ריבוא … אבל עתה שהנידון הוא על שני מקומות שביחד יש שם פחות ממאה אלף תושבים, וגם עוברים ושבים ממקומות אחרים אין שם אלא מעט, ולא שייך לשום אדם לטעות כלל על יותר מכ"ה או שלשים אלף, שא"כ הוא ידוע ומפורסם שאין שם רה"ר, ואין לחוש לשום תקלה כשיתקנו שם עירובין שיבואו לתקן גם בערים גדולות
In these teshuvos, Rav Moshe added to his chiddushim in eruvin that even if a large city’s population is less than three million, an eruv should not be constructed since one may think that there is shishim ribo over a twelve mil by twelve mil area [clearly, this prohibition is no longer a matter of a d’Oraysa, but only of a gezeirah]. Consequentially, even after Rav Moshe was told that the total population of Brooklyn was somewhat less than three million, he argued that an eruv should not be established because of this gezeirah. Rav Moshe declared the same regarding Detroit, a city with a population of approximately 1.2 million (in 1980, at the time this teshuvah was written). Despite the fact that the population was only 1.2 million, Rav Moshe maintained that an eruv should not be established for the city of Detroit proper because of this gezeirah (as opposed to the two small neighborhoods where he did allow, see further).

Why then did Rav Moshe allow eruvin in Kew Garden Hills, Queens; Oak Park and Southfield, Detroit? A careful reading of the above teshuvos illuminates the basis for why Rav Moshe allowed these eruvin. Rav Moshe argued that these neighborhoods were only small sections of their respective cities and so they would not be mistaken as a reshus harabbim of shishim ribo.

This concept is reiterated in the following teshuvah:
שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ה סימן כח

ומווארשא שעשו שם עירובין, אף שהיה כרך גדול ידוע לפי חשיבות כרכים גדולים שברוסלאנד ופולין, לא היו בה ס' ריבוא ברחובות שהוא רק בעיר שדרים בה ערך קרוב לשלשת מיליאן נפשות. ובווארשא לא היו שם כל כך אינשי ואף המחצה מזה לא היו שם. ועוברים ושבים ג"כ לא היו כל כך שישלימו המספר. ובשאר הכרכים לא היו עירובין, אלא בחלק קטן בהעיר מקום שדרו שם רוב היהודים ושם לא היו ס' ריבוא
Rav Moshe states here that the reason why eruvin could be allowed in Europe (according to his chiddushim) was because the eruvin were only established in the Jewish quarters which were only a small section of the city and did not contain shishim ribo. Apparently, Rav Moshe considered the eruv, in and of itself, a separation of the shishim ribo. Consequentially, Rav Moshe was not concerned about the possibility that a twelve mil by twelve mil section of Queens, which includes Kew Gardens Hills, might be classified as a reshus harabbim, even though Queens ― like Brooklyn ― had a population of well over 2 million. The important issue was that in Kew Gardens Hills, a neighborhood in Queens, they were dividing only a part of Queens, which contained less than shishim ribo with a tzuras hapesach. This is clearly confirmed by Rav Moshe regarding the Detroit neighborhoods. Rav Moshe explicitly stated that his reason to allow an eruv there was because the two neighborhoods that were demarcated contained a population of much less than shishim ribo so no one would mistake them as a reshus harabbim. [Lately, some claim that Rav Moshe only allowed the delineation of these neighborhoods when the cities in question were not a matter of a d’Oraysa but only a gezeirah. Since Brooklyn’s population would classify it as a reshus harabbim, they argued that a neighborhood therein could not be delineated. This explanation was fabricated post facto and is false. In fact, when Rav Moshe allowed the eruvin in Queens and in Europe to be demarcated with a tzuras hapesach, he did not argue that since these cities are not an issue of a d’Oraysa (but only of a gezeirah) an eruv can be established. No doubt, even if these cities would have been a matter of a d’Oraysa, Rav Moshe would also have allowed them to be delineated with a tzuras hapeasch, and Brooklyn should be no different. Besides for which, Brooklyn is not a reshus harabbim to begin with since its population does not meet Rav Moshe’s requirement for shishim ribo, and an eruv could only be proscribed because of his gezeirah. Consequentially, since these neighborhoods in Brooklyn contain a population fewer than shishim ribo, they would be able to be delineated with an eruv, as well.]

This leaves us with the obvious question, why then didn’t Rav Moshe allow an eruv to demarcate Boro Park or Flatbush?

The following two Brooklyn eruvin teshuvos clarify this conundrum:
שו"ת אגרות משה יורה דעה חלק ג השמטה לאו"ח ח"ד סי' פ"ט

אבל על ברוקלין שתלוי בדין הס' ריבוא אם נמצאו בשטח דלא יותר מי"ב מיל על י"ב מיל וכיון שנתברר שפלעטבוש יש שם הרבה יותר אף שהוא עוד על שטח הפחות מי"ב על י"ב מיל וכן בארא פארק הוא אסור מדינא בלא דלתות.

שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ה סימן כח

אבל ברוקלין, הא כל חלק חשוב כמו פלעטבוש ובארא פרק וכדומה הם רה"ר בפ"ע, דיש בכל אחד על משך שעוד פחות מי"ב על י"ב מיל ס' ריבוא. שאף אם שייך לחלקם לשני מקומות חלוקין, הוי כל אחד בפני עצמו רה"ר דס' ריבוא
From these two teshuvos we see that the difference between Boro Park and Flatbush as opposed to the other neighborhoods where Rav Moshe allowed eruvin — Kew Garden Hills, Queens; Oak Park and Southfield, Detroit; and the Jewish quarters in Europe — was because Rav Moshe was led to believe that independently Boro Park and Flatbush have populations greater than shishim ribo; therefore, an eruv could not demarcate these Brooklyn neighborhoods. On the other hand, in those neighborhoods where Rav Moshe allowed an eruv, the population was less than shishim ribo. [Rav Moshe states that while each one of these Brooklyn neighborhoods encompasses an area less than twelve mil by twelve mil, nevertheless, they contain a population greater than shishim ribo. Conversely, Rav Moshe affirmed that Brooklyn includes an area of more than twelve mil by twelve mil (ibid., 4:87-88). Consequently, these teshuvos must indicate that each neighborhood independently has shishim ribo and not just the whole of Brooklyn.]

However, Rav Moshe was obviously misled since the area included in the Boro Park and Flatbush eruvin contains a population considerably less then shishim ribo (approximately 100,000 and 200,000 respectively − NYC Department of City Planning, Community District Profiles, 2002). Consequentially, no one would mistake that these neighborhoods are a reshus harabbim. Had Rav Moshe known these figures, he certainly would have agreed to an eruv of tzuras hapesachim for these Brooklyn communities, just as he allowed that an eruv in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens; Oak Park and Southfield, Detroit; and the eruvin for European communities set them off from their respective cities.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Eruvin in the News: Los Angeles, CA 3

Massive 405 Freeway project respects the boundaries of a Jewish tradition


By Mitchell Landsberg

Carmageddon, schmarmageddon.

Like just about everybody else, Orthodox Jews in Los Angeles have their issues with the 405 Freeway widening project. Unlike most people, however, their primary concern is not necessarily the impending closure of a stretch of the freeway on the July 16-17 weekend. Read on...