The Kuntres: Reb Moshe's Rulings
Maran Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein discusses one of the above points in two teshuvos.
The first teshuvah is dated beis adar rishon 5741 (1981) and deals with the issue of eiruvin in Brooklyn, NY. Under discussion were proposed eiruvin. Designed to incorporate large geographical sections of the city, such as Boro Park, or Flatbush.
Rebuttal: It is important to note from the get go that the Baal Hakuntres, by starting with Rav Moshe zt”l’s rationale for the need of eruvin and not his halachic rulings, illuminates how weak his arguments in opposition to a community wide eruv are. The fact that even Rav Moshe would halachically allow a community wide eruv leaves the Baal Hakuntres with few if any poskim who would oppose the eruv. This is also demonstrated by the fact that in the entire Kuntres he offers no halachic reason why Rav Moshe would oppose a community wide eruv.
Additionally, it should be stated that some of Rav Moshe’s justifications of why eruvin were needed for pre-war Europe is not shared by the poskim of that time. Even though the Perishah (O.C. 395:1) mentions one of Rav Moshe’s arguments that an eruv was needed for transporting food on Shabbos, the Perishah continues that an eruv unequivocally helps as well to increase our oneg Shabbos, namely the ability to take leisurely strolls. While Rav Moshe agreed that currently there may be a need for eruvin because women need to leave their small apartments with their children, nevertheless he believed that this necessity is not the equivalent of transporting food on Shabbos. However, the Perishah opined that taking a leisurely stroll is oneg Shabbos and the equal of any other requirement that necessitates an eruv.
Furthermore, Rav Moshe did not subscribe to the Chasam Sofer’s argument for the need of an eruv ̶ that it is not possible for an individual to ensure that all the members of his household do not carry on Shabbos inadvertently.
Additionally, Rav Moshe does not fully agree with the necessity that the Nefesh Chayah proposes for an eruv ̶ that it helps minimize chilul Shabbos by our Jewish brethren who are unfortunately not religious and carry on Shabbos without an eruv.
Hence, according to the poskim, there are many reasons to establish community wide eruvin, and as explicated in Section One, even Rav Moshe would agree to these larger eruvin.
The Kuntres: שו"ת אג"מ (או"ח ח"ה סי, כ"ח סקכ"א)
[In your letter] you elaborated on the requirement to construct eiruvin on the basis that an eiruv helps minimize Shabbos desecration, and enhances oneg Shabbos, as it enables people with little children to leave their homes on Shabbo and not be “imprisoned.”
[I say that] in this country there is no real tzorech, since all necessary Shabbos preparation can easily be taken care of before Shabbos [such as drawing enough water for the entire Shabbos; see next teshuvah] and indeed, that is what is customarily done. Thus, in terms of this [the necessity to bring things into the house on Shabbos] there is no tzorech for an eiruv at all, for anybody. However, there is certainly a tzorech in terms of the great desire of people-particularly the women-to be able to go out on Shqbbos with the children since many people [in Brooklyn] do not even have access to a small backyard. Also, many people are afraid to leave their homes without [locking their doors and] thereby carrying their house key in their pocket. This, too, can be deemed a tzorech [which would allow] for the construction of an eiruv, but certainly [these reasons] do not constitute the level of "need" that was present in Europe.
... However, these "needs" must be weighed against an opposing "need" [not to construct an eiruv], because [having an eiruv] will cause people to [end up] being completely unaware that there is a prohibition of hotzn'ah! And this is certainly the most severe prohibition-to cause [a law of] the Torah to be forgotten.
Now, granted, in our times we do not create new gezeiros (safeguards) that are not mentioned in the Gemara. [Therefore it may be unwarranted to say that it is forbidden to construct an eiruv in order to prevent the law of hotza'ah from being forgotten.] Nevertheless, one cannot say that [constructing an eiruv] is a worthy endeavor.
Reb Moshe's second teshuvah (או"ח שם סי' כ"ט) was written to the Rabbis of Detroit, regarding constructing an eiruv in that city. He states the following:
We find in Eiruvin 68a that the sages of the city are obligated to see to it that the people can carry in the city. Also, the practice in all Jewish communities [in Europe] was to construct an eiruv. [But] this was in our places, where it was impossible to be without an eiruv - because they had to feed the animals, and oftentimes the barn was not attached to the house, and they had to carry feed, etc., over to the animals. And for those who had horses, they would have to draw water from a well, classified as a reshus hayachid, and transfer it into [a watering trough which was on] the street ... For the needs of the people as well there was a great tzorech [to carry water on Shabbos] for it was difficult to prepare enough water in the house for the entire Shabbos. Many other important preparations were also difficult to adequately take care of before Shabbos. Even in the big cities these were concerns ...
But here [in America] in our times there is no need to make such preparations even during the week. Thus, constructing eiruvin is not a pressing need-it is just a matter of convenience, and is not an objective towards which [the community] must expend resources ...
Reb Moshe concedes [later in the teshuva to the Rabbonim in Detroit], that the inconvenience of a woman who must stay indoors all Shabbos with her little children, and similar situations, may indeed qualify, as a valid tzorech, even in our days. [As mentioned in the other teshuva as well].
Rebuttal: This pertinent teshuvah of Rav Moshe’s, regarding Kew Garden Hills, Queens, was omitted (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:86):
לשון האגרות משה חלק או"ח ד סימן פו :
הכשר העירוב בקיו גארדענס הילס וכו', הנני רואה בזה תועלת גדולה והצלה ממכשול בשוגג ובמזיד וכו', דלכן הוא טובה גדולה ותועלת לשמירת שבת,ואני אומר שיפה עשיתם.
Furthermore, this relevant part of Rav Moshe’s teshuvah to the rabbanim of Detroit, Michigan, was minimized (ibid., 5:29):
לשון שו"ת אגרות משה חלק או"ח ה סימן כט:
אבל בשנים האחרונות התחילו לתבוע שיתקנו עירובין, מחמת שהנשים מצטערות הרבה בזה מפני שמניעת הנאה הוא צער גדול להם, מפני הרגילות להיות מפונקות. ואלו שיש להם תינוקות אין יכולין לצאת מהבית כל השבת וכדומה. ויש גם שאין יכולות להבליג על דעתן ורצונם, ועוברות. והתחילו בשביל זה בכמה מקומות לתקן עירובין. ושייך להחשיב כשאיכא הרבה תובעין, לצורך, ויש אולי מקומות ששייך להחשיב גם צורך גדול, ושייך להרב המקומי לידע זה. וא"כ וודאי לא שייך למחות, ואולי יש גם להשתדל בזה וכו'.
שלכן אם רוב הרבנים יודעים מקהילותיהם שרוצים ותובעין שיתקנו עירובין, שנמצא שהוא צורך גדול, יש גם להשתדל לתקן עירובין.
From Rav Moshe’s teshuvos, it appears that he would agree that if the rabbanim uphold that there is a great need for an eruv, they should strive to establish one.
Furthermore, it is discernable that when Rav Moshe allowed an eruv, such as in Detroit and in Queens, he maintained that not only is it virtuous to establish an eruv, but maybe even something to strive for.
The Kuntres: However, it is clear from the teshuva, that R' Moshe is far from convinced that this is a true tzorech. R' Moshe only agrees to clearly treat such types of situations as a tzorech, if most of the population of the community is demanding an eiruv because of such situations. Therefore, it is clear, that R' Moshe would remain with his earlier position in regard to a town where these types of scenarios are rare.
Rebuttal: This is simply incorrect. Rav Moshe states that if many congregants of a rav’s kehilah demand an eruv, he is inclined to say that it may even be something to strive for. Rav Moshe continued that if most rabbanim know that their congregants demand an eruv, it would be an inyan to strive for (but we do not need most of the population of the community to demand an eruv).
As I mentioned, previously, when Rav Moshe allowed eruvin, such as in Detroit and in Queens, he had no qualms about it. Contrary to the claim set forth in the Kuntres Eiruvin in Lakewood, since there is no difference between the Detroit and Queens’s eruvin and a community wide eruv in Lakewood, there is no doubt that Rav Moshe would have had no issue with it.
The Kuntres: Reb Moshe's teshuvos yield two important points:
1. In times past, and in the pre-war European communities, there was a very great tzorech to carry on Shabbos in order to attend to the needs of one's household - both the people and the domestic animals. Therefore, construction of an eiruv was considered an obligation.
Rebuttal: Rav Moshe admits that currently there may be a need for eruvin because women and their children need the ability to leave their small apartments on Shabbos.
The Kuntres: 2. In our times, when there is no pressing tzorech for an eiruv, there is no obligation to build an eiruv. R' Moshe adds, that it is therefore better not to construct a very large eiruv- even an eiruv that would be halachically flawless.
Rebuttal: This is inaccurate. Rav Moshe admits that, currently, if there aren’t any (and that one would not mistake that there are) halachic issues, then there may be a need for eruvin. According to Rav Moshe, only a very large city eruv (such as in Brooklyn and Manhattan) could have halachic issues. However, when Rav Moshe allowed an eruv such as in Detroit and Queens, we see that he maintained that not only is it virtuous to establish an eruv, it maybe even be something to strive for. As mentioned previously, Rav Moshe’s shitos in eruvin would allow a community wide eruv in Lakewood, since it is halachically no different than the small local eiruvin. Consequently, one can argue that Rav Moshe would say that it is virtuous to establish a community wide eruv in Lakewood.
The Kuntres: Reb Moshe's Rulings as they Apply to Lakewood
Reb Moshe's rulings were handed down "not so long ago, and not so far away," and they can certainly be applied to our present situation in Lakewood.
In today's Lakewood, except in rare circumstances, a small local eiruv, constructed in a halachically mehudar fashion, is more than adequate to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable Shabbos for the general population. In our day and age in Lakewood, an eiruv especially a large one, is more of a convenience than a necessity; there simply is no pressing need for the great majority of Lakewood residents to have more than a small local eiruv.
Rebuttal: This is called conflating the issues. Even according to Rav Moshe, as long as an eruv is halachically permitted, there is no difference between a small local eruv and a community wide eruv. If the small local eruvin are necessities, the same arguments can be made to necessitate a community wide eruv. As I mentioned in Section One, 1, there are benefits to a community wide eruv over local eruvin (and some of them, Rav Moshe could possibly agree, are virtuous).
The Kuntres: This is besides for the fact, that virtually all Lakewood homes have a pleasant backyard for the children to play in, oftentimes enclosed by a proper fence. In the absence of a fence, it is common for a few neighbors to construct a small eiruv, in a mehudar manner, to enclose at least several backyard areas. The many townhouse developments that have been built in Lakewood in recent years, can certainly construct a "eiruv mehudar'', and virtually all of them already have one.
Thus it would be reasonable to assume, that R' Moshe's concession in the abovementioned situations, would not apply to Lakewood.
Rebuttal: As I mentioned in Section One, 1, there are many benefits to a community wide eruv over local eruvin. Furthermore, these small eruvin are many times anything but mehudar and are reason enough to sanction a community wide eruv.The same “concession” that would allow a neighborhood eruv according to Rav Moshe would allow a community wide eruv. It’s important to note that Rav Moshe maintained that we accept the criterion of shishim ribo l’chatchilah (Igros Moshe, O.C. 3:94:3; 5:19, and 5:24:10).