by Rabbi Eliyahu Uminer
As I embark on my analysis of the Rebbe’s letter about the Manhattan Eruv (recently published on COLlive.com by Rabbi Nochum Zajac), I would like to emphasize that it is a well-established fact that the Rebbe provided enthusiastic support and financial contributions to multiple public eruvin in cities both small and large. Therefore, attempts to apply the concerns expressed in this letter to ALL eruvin are both wrong and misleading.
In order to truly grasp the Rebbe’s viewpoint regarding eruvin, it is imperative to delve into the specific type of eruvin that elicited his concerns. This requires a dedicated and thorough examination.
Additionally, there are two other important statements of principle made by the Rebbe that must be mentioned before we proceed.
The Rebbe stated (Igros Kodesh, chelek 24 amud 19): “That a letter written to one individual may not be relevant to another, even if the content of the questions are identical, as most of my letter’s contents are contingent upon the manner in which the question was asked, the inquirer’s temperament, and other factors etc. “
The Rebbe stated (Otzar Hamelech, amud 210): If my letter is against Shulchan Aruch it is nullified.
The Rebbe further stated (Otzar Hamelech, amud 212) “I announced at farbrengen it is foolish to say in my name something that is against Shulchon Aruch, and only a fool would believe it.“
The reason why the Rebbe was empathic regarding these principles is, in fact, demonstrated by the various interpretations given to this letter of the Rebbe. With these interpretations both of the Rebbe’s principles have been disregarded in such a brazen way, requiring us to reiterate the Rebbe’s statements.
The letter written by the Rebbe is not a new one contrary to the claim made, and its contents have been previously published (Junior code of law page 206) and addressed by the rabbanim who signed the kol kore.
The concerns addressed in the letter are not unique to the Rebbe, but rather based on a gezeira of Chazal brought in the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch.
This gezeira by Chazal only applies to eruvin that rely on the ocean as a mechitzah, and do not extend to eruvin that are comprised of manmade mechitzos, such as actual walls and tzuras hapesachim. This can be seen in the Rebbe’s letter when read in depth, where he states that his concerns are regarding “I have in mind the precaution which such an eiruv calls for under the best of circumstances, and certainly here and now.” The Rebbe emphasized the relevance of this gezeira of Chazal in our generation, and that we should not be lenient on this issue, even according to the poskim who were lenient in the past. The rebbe’s concerns are echoed of those expressed by Chazal, which are particularly relevant in today’s reality. The rebbe did not make any new gezeiros.
The Rebbe may not have been more explicit in specifying that his remarks do not pertain to eruvin established to the highest standard, The Rebbe likely didn’t imagine that anyone would interpret his comments in a private letter as creating a new gezeira to negate the rulings of previous poskim, which would prohibit the establishment of an eruv.
As can be gleaned from how the Rebbe began the correspondence with the intention of emphasizing that “First of all, as a matter of principle, my opinion is that where according to the din an eiruv can be instituted, it should be instituted.” This was to ensure the specificity of the subsequent considerations regarding the implementation of such an eruv.
Especially, considering that the Rebbe when asked by Harav Moskowitz what is the proper approach to eruvin today? The Rebbe answered emphatically by quoting the Gedolei Haposkim, Rosh, Tashbatz, Chassam Sofer, Shita Mekubetzes, Beis Av, asserting beyond any doubt that eruv is a mitzvah that must be fulfilled and is also aimed at enhancing the enjoyment of the Shabbos. Additionally, the Rebbe encouraged many public eruvin.
This accounts for why Harav Moskowitz zt”l and Harav Eisenstat zt”l pursued the establishment of an eruv in Manhattan despite opposition from the highly regarded posek, Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, who lived in the city. This may evoke the query of audacity, as to why establish an eruv in a location where Harav Moshe was residing, but not in their own communities of Flatbush and Crown Heights. The differentiation in the practicalities of the two cities, with Manhattan being fully enclosed as an island and Brooklyn necessitating the formation of many tzuras hapesachim, provides an explanation for their behavior.
Eruvin that the Rebbe Supported
The Rebbe demonstrated support for several public eruvin, as documented in his letters.
(1) Kfar Chabad (Igros Kodesh, chelek 13 amud 396)
(2) Miami (Igros Kodesh, chelek 22 amud 265.)
Additionally, there is testimony of the Rebbe’s support for four additional public eruvin:
(4) Beverly Hills, California, where he donated $18 to Harav Tzinner shlita on the condition that a vad would be established to oversee and maintain the eruv, as related by Harav Tzinner shlita.
(5) Queens, as related by Harav Simcha Piekarski shlita, and with the same condition that a vad would be established to oversee and maintain the eruv.
(6) Rockaway, NJ, as related by Harav Asher Herson shlita. https://www.youtube.com/
(7) Bnei Brak, established by Harav Yaakov Landau zt”l, as reported in “Kol Kore,” by Harav Yehuram Ulman shlita, Harav Moshe Dovid Gutnick shlita, Harav Pinchos Feldman shlita, who were informed by Harav Moshe Landau zt”l that the Rebbe encouraged Harav Yaakov Landau to establish eruvin.
2 Igros Kodesh chelek 9 amud 42-43 and amud 166
5 Orach Chayim simman 99include
Rather what we see is that the Rebbe’s stance on eruv is