13th of Tishrei 5782, Budapest
To the Rav Mottel Krasniansky
The Rav of Congregation Ohr Chodosh Melbourne, Australia
I read your letter attacking the kol korei that was published by sixteen Chabad Rabbanim, those who pasken, and roshei yeshivos, regarding the possibility and obligation to establish eruvin wherever you can make one properly according to the piskei HaShulchan Aruch, the Alter Rebbe and the Tzemach Tzedek, and our Rebbe zy”a, and you renounce their psak, in a strident manner, not the way a Torah scholar comports himself. And therefore, I am writing the following to strengthen the rabbanim’s psak, and to reveal your mistakes.
In order to make it easier for the reader I split this in to six chapters: First chapter why would you hide the details of the Melbourne Eruv whose details illuminate the Rebbes answer? Second chapter: It’s an explicit mitzvah to make an eruv everywhere. Third chapter: The Rebbes opinion that even in our generation we should establish eruvin in the big cities. Fourth chapter: An additional reason to make eruvin is, that women should not become dejected. Fifth chapter: When you have two letters of the Rebbe contradicting one another do we just delete the first one? Sixth chapter: Do we rely on rumors that are contrary to Shulchan Aruch and against the letters the Rebbe wrote and signed?
Why would he hide the details of the Melbourne Eruv whose details illuminate the Rebbes answer?
In his letter he brings the answer that the Rebbe gave regarding the Melbourne Eruv:
“My position is widely known” that making an eruv ” is a great travesty, since it is impossible that there will not be one Shabbos that the eruv will be possul…,” and then he accuses the rabbonim who signed the kol korei “that they don’t even have a scintilla of integrity” since they didn’t contact him to hear his opinion on the matter.
What a shock that he ignored the teachings of our Mishnah (Avos, 4:8) “don’t be a judge on your own etc, and don’t say except my opinion,” especially when all that he wrote here is mindboggling, and poorly explained, as we shall see later.
First of all, how can he deny the reality that one of the people involved with eruvin called him a few months ago in order to hear his opinion, and on most of the questions that he was asked, he didn’t have what to answer.
As to the actual matter at hand, the rabbonim that wrote the kol korei spent much time to understand this answer of the Rebbe to Melbourne, since multiple questions arise from this letter, the most crucial of them: (1) How an eruv made properly according to the Torah law can be deemed a travesty, just because there may be one Shabbos that the eruv will be invalid? (2) If the eruv is established according to Torah law, why is it impossible for it to never become invalid? It is possible to maintain its cheskas kashrus, just as the eruvin from Boro Park to Yerushalayim are always fixed and kosher in time for Shabbos.
Therefore, it makes much sense like the Rebbe wrote and emphasized many times, that every answer is directed at a specific circumstance, meaning the Melbourne Eruv, which seems to have had many halachic disqualifiers. Following this it makes sense why the Rebbe would say it’s a travesty.
We tried to find out the details of the Melbourne eruv. We looked at the kuntreis that you publicized in the as an halachic analysis of community eruvin, and was publicized as a teshura for the wedding of your son-in-law and daughter on the 19th of sivan 2006. We looked and we didn’t find all the details about the eruv that this kuntreis was written about. This was a mystery to us. But after much research and investigation we managed to acquire with G-D’s help the first edition of your kuntreis that we mentioned earlier which was published in 1988, and we realized that in the second printing you hid the pertinent details about the halachic disqualifiers present in the Melbourne Eruv, with which the picture was clarified.
And I will present here the details that you hid in the second printing of the kuntreis, which is the edition that everyone has (as the first edition wasn’t digitalized).
In the introduction of the kuntreis (second edition does not have the following):
Page 24 (in the second edition missing from page 26):
Page 28 (in the second edition missing from page 30):
Page 34 (in the second edition missing from page 36)
I don’t know what your goal was in hiding all the halachic flaws of the Melbourne Eruv in your second edition (and you didn’t even mention the fact that you took out crucial information in the second edition!) but now it’s easy to understand why this eruv was deemed” a travesty,” since for example there is a din that the ocean doesn’t qualify as a mechtizah according to rabbinical decree, as the waves may rise and push aside the mechitzah (Shulchan Aruch of Alter Rebbe, Siman 363:35 based on the Rema, ad loc sif 29). Furthermore, from others we heard regarding Melbourne Eruv, there were breaches in the mechitzos by the river whose gradient was not ten tefochim within four amos, so they needed to rely on the lenient opinions regarding this issue (Responsa Maharit, 1:94, and others)
From the above another detail is obvious, that the Melbourne eruv was not established with permission from the governments, rather they established the eruv based on existing mechitzos. Following this we can understand why it is impossible that the eruv will always be kosher in time for Shabbos, since if they didn’t have permission from the government to make an eruv, then even if they see something wrong with the eruv before Shabbos, they may not be able to rectify it.
It is amazing that you yourself when you spoke with the person involved with eruvin (like we mentioned previously that we had someone call you) you agreed that the Rebbe’s answer to Melbourne has to be understood for that specific place, and not as a general answer.
It is a undeniable mitzvah that you must make eruv wherever possible
There is a clear p’sak in Shulchon oruch (Orach Chayim, Siman 366:13) and the Alter Rebbe upholds the same (ad loc, sif 18) “It is a mitzvah to go out of your way to make eruvin in order that people shouldn’t come to carry against halachah” and the source of this p’sak is the Tur (Siman 395) and so too the Mordechai (Eruvin, Siman 515) based on the Gemora in Eruvin (68a, and the Rebbe mentioned this as well as I will elaborate later) and like the Beis Yosef quoted ad loc.
And in the responsa of the Tashbatz (2:37) he was asked “Is there a risk in making city eruvin that can lead to an aveira” and there he answered:
“G-d forbid whoever rushes to make eruvin is praised, on the contrary the Gemora is shocked at someone who can make an eruv yet doesn’t… and we learn from here that if not for the difficulties it’s the approach of a Torah scholar to establish eruvin, anyone who has misgivings in his heart about this demonstrates utter illiteracy – or he has become influenced by heresy. It is a great merit to build eruvin and in the second chapter of Beitza (16b) regarding making an eruv on Yom Tov, and we say there that someone who says you can’t make eruv on Yom Tov, is placing a stumbling block as people will come to carry without an eruv.”
And in the responsa of the Chassam Sofer (Orach Chayim, Siman 99) he wrote:
“I was asked by my friend rabbi N”Y to clarify for him with proofs from Chazal that it is befitting and appropriate for every community of Jews wherever they may reside to erect tzuras hapesachim on their street or other halchic adjustments [needed for an eruv] etc, in order that they will not come to carry inadvertently, carrying from domain to domain on Shabbos.
Response: This does not need any proofs as its logical and explained explicitly in the words of Chazal.
Logic dictates since its known that keeping Shabbos is from our most important mitzvos, and someone that doesn’t keep Shabbos properly is like a heretic and mumar in the entire Torah (as explained in Eruvin, 69a), therefore, every intelligent man will understand intellectually that it is utterly impossible for the communities of Jews to make sure that all their young household members, wives, and those of weak mind that they will not come to carry their keys outside, small things, hats, children, and how much pain and suffering will the adults endure those that are careful about not carrying…. Therefore, simple logic decrees that it is appropriate and obligatory to establish eruvin in our backyards and our streets that permits carrying… that you should not be lazy about establishing eruvin around your streets in order to prevent the community from ruined Shabbosim all year long. And this obligation lies on the rabbi Torah scholar of the city to make an eruv for the city, and if not the resulting issurim is on his shoulders (like we say in Eruvin 68a)
See the Gemara in Eruvin (21b) that when Shlomo Hamelech enacted eruvin, and washing ones hands, a heavenly voice called out and said if my son is smart I will also be happy.
And its obvious that that my dear friend Harav N”Y will try with all of his might to make an eruv for his community….”
And in the responsa of the Beis Av (2:1:24) he wrote:
“And certainly we shouldn’t be stringent not to make eruvin because of the fear of G-d with strange logic, saying that it will cause a disgrace in the holiness of Shabbos, and perhaps people will carry things that are muktzah, and similar concerns. And we can rely on the words of the Tashbatz who said that if he isn’t an utterly illiterate then he has become influenced by heresy, since he is arguing on the Talmud and poskim that permitted making an eruv without being concerned for these silly concerns.”
The opinion of the Rebbe is that also in our generation we should establish eruvin
The sources that I quoted above are some of the sources the Rebbe zy”a quoted himself in Igros Kodesh “in the matter that it is a mitzvah to make eruvin “(Chelek Tes, page 41-42, and page 165).
And this is what you took umbrage with in your letter: “The rabbonim stipulated that the Rebbe was pro establishing eruvin , basing it on the fact that the rebbe quotes this tashbatz” and this misleading to use this to convince people that it is a mitzvah to establish eruvin according to the rebbe even in our generation.”
And I don’t know whether you wrote this inadvertently because you didn’t read the Rebbes letters, or you intentionally meant to distort the words contrary to halachah. Because it was the Rebbe who wrote this in 1954 to Harav Hagaon Rav Menachem Tzvi Eisenstat and to the saint Harav Hagaon Rav Yosef Dovid Moskowits, who were establishing an eruv for the large city of Manhattan (see Minchas Tzvi chapter 4 and Kuntreis Tikkun Eruvin of Manhattan) and they asked the Rebbe whether it’s a mitzvah to establish eruvin, because there were rabbanim that wrote that in our generation in America “best to sit back and not act” and the Rebbe in his response refuted this opinion by quoting these sources we quoted earlier (and as he wrote in his kuntreis cited earlier page 67: “and this is a response to my question from him [the Rebbe] to know the proper and appropriate path in this matter”). So how can someone even entertain the thought that that according to the Rebbe the words of the Tashbatz were intended for the generation of Shulchan Aruch and Alter Rebbe but not for our generation, it is crystal clear from the Rebbes words that even in our time it is an obligation to establish eruvin in our large cities.
And I should add what the Rebbe said during the visit of the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi Shapiro and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu ob”m in their visit to the Rebbe on the 27th of adar 1986, when they spoke about establishing eruvin in our generation in America and Israel: “There are many that cast doubt on establishing eruvin, however it’s obviously a mitzvah according to the Gemara, and you must make a brocha etc etc, and we see that thru this people are saved from serious issues.” (I quoted this word by word from a recording of the Rebbe, however in the written discourse they don’t include these details about their conversation regarding eruvin – see Toras Menachem, 1986 second volume page 850)
An additional reason to make eruvin is, that women should not become dejected
We should mention another source as a reason that we must establish eruvin that is connected to our time right after Yom Kippur, the Alter Rebbe wrote in his Shulchan Aruch (88:2)
the women took upon a custom not to go to the synagogue, nor to see a Sefer Torah, while they have status of nidda, and also when they are praying they don’t stand next to their friends, and because of custom and respect they do this, and not because of the halachah… and in the days of the holidays from the first days of slichos and further, that many gather in the synagogue, they may go to the synagogue even though they have status as nidda, like the rest of the woman who are not in status of nidda, since it will be very depressing that everyone is gathering in the synagogue and they will not be able to attend…
So we see that he allowed the women to go the synagogue against their custom, since “it would be very depressing for them, since everyone is attending synagogue and they can’t participate” and this is relevant not only for the first day of selichos, rather even for the night of kol nidrei and neila etc, that the saintly women can’t go to the synagogue, since they are stuck at home with their babies. However if they establish an eruv, they will be able to attend synagogue for prayers in these holy days and all year round.
When two letters contradict one another – do we erase the first one?
You continued in your letter by quoting multiple letters that the Rebbe is not supportive of establishing eruvin, and you attempt to prove that this is the position of the Rebbe. In the end of your letter you plead with those that may have answers from the Rebbe to publicize them, “in order to stop those that want to explain the Rebbes position in a different manner.”
And again I can’t ascertain whether you said this inadvertently or on purpose. Did you not see all the letters of the Rebbe where he explicitly supports establishing eruvin?!
For example the letter to Moshav Bar Giyura in the year 1961 (published in Igros Kodesh volume 20 page 149 and page 306) where the Rebbe even sent his personal check as a symbolic partnership in the expenses of establishing the eruv there,” and there are other letters like this that were publicized.
Is this the way of our Torah when we have two contradictory letters, to erase and ignore one, and decide that only the other counts? Isn’t this a distortion and an embarrassment of our holy Torah?
If you approach this matter without any preconceived ideas, then our explanation of the Rebbes position as explained in the kol korei is satisfactory, that the Rebbe was against public eruvin: (1 When they are not kosher l’chatchila and, hence, they are a travesty. (2 When you don’t have permission from the government, so then many times you’re not able to fix the eruv even if you see that it’s breached. There is no contradiction between all the letters since they are all referring to different types of eruvin.
It’s extremely perplexing as to why you quoted what the Rebbe wrote in 1958 to the saint Hagaon Harav Rav Yosef Dovid Moskowitz (Igros Kodesh, volume 16 page 307 – 308) “and in my opinion it’s a great merit to you even if you say that according to some opinions there is room to argue on some halachic issues. With all this I am certain that you shouldn’t publicize the eruv” and you quote this as if we see from this that the Rebbe opposed using eruvin, while even according to the simple reading of these words the Rebbe was opposed to publicizing this eruv since it wasn’t kosher l’chatchilla. And whomever learns this letter carefully and the letter from 1954 will be certain that this was the only reason for the Rebbe opposing the publicity of this eruv.
And we must add and emphasize that for making an eruv there are two reasons: (1 what the Alter Rebbe wrote that we quoted earlier : “that they shouldn’t come to carry against halachah” (2 what the Prisha wrote there (395 first small sif) ” for the need of his enjoyment in order to go for strolls [eruvei techumim] or to bring the things that he wants to eat [eruv chatzeiros] , and this is a mitzvah like it says (Yishaye 58, 13) and we call Shabbos joyful” and the Rebbe quoted this Prisha (lkutei sichos volume 11 page 64). And eruvin that are done secretly and the people don’t know about them, certainly serves to save Jews from the transgression of carrying, however it is missing the added critical benefit of the joy of Shabbos. And because of this when we talk about making an eruv we are referring to an eruv that enables people to be able to carry as they choose.
To rely on rumors against Shulchon Aruch and against the letters that the Rebbe wrote and signed?
Again you brought the rumor that is said in the name of the gaon Rav Sholom Ber Chaikin in the name of the gaon Rav Yitschok Hendel ob”m, that the Rebbe said not to establish eruvin.
However against this rumor we have the testimony of the gaon Rav Yosef Yitschok Feigelshtok which he just testified to one of the rabbanim, and he said that he heard from Rav Hendel “that the Rebbe told him that it’s a mitzvah to make eruvin everywhere that it can be made according to all opinions.”
And why would we rely on rumors when we have explicit halacha in the Shulchon Aruch of the Alter Rebbe that it’s a mitzvah to go out of your way to make eruvin, and we have the letters of the Rebbe written and signed by the Rebbe! And the testimony of Ravi Feigelshtok that fits the p’sak of what the Alter Rebbe paskened , and the letters that the Rebbe wrote.
It’s an explicit halachah in the Alter Rebbe Shulchon Aruch “that it’s a mitzvah to go out of your way to make eruvin in order that people shouldn’t come to carry inadvertently ” and the Chassam Sofer wrote: “this obligation lies on the rabbanim scholars in the city to make the eruv, and if he doesn’t the responsibility of the bad that comes because of it, rests on his shoulders”. And according to the Rebbe zy”a this applies even in our generation in both big and small cities. The point of the eruv is that people shouldn’t come to carry inadvertently, and to increase in the joy of Shabbos thru enabling carrying. An additional benefit of the eruv is that way women won’t be depressed that they can’t attend shul etc.
Regarding the eruv in Melbourne the Rebbe wrote “it’s a travesty” and for many years we didn’t know details of how this eruv was established, and it seems that people tried to hide these pertinent details, however now we have ascertained that this eruv was not kosher l’chatchilla, thereby the Rebbes answer to this eruv is fully understood.
The in-depth analysis of the Rebbes letters regarding eruvin and in order that there shouldn’t be contradictions, proves that that the Rebbe held that it is a big mitzvah to establish eruvin when they are kosher l’chatchilla, however if they aren’t kosher l’chatchilla , there is still a benefit in saving Jews from carrying inadvertently , however you shouldn’t publicize it, that way people shouldn’t use the eruv in order to carry.
We should not rely on different rumors that are said in the name of the Rebbe regarding eruvin, since we have explicit instruction from the Alter Rebbe in his Shulchan Aruch, and from the Rebbes letters, and according to this we must conduct ourselves.
And I want to add one more important point that irks me tremendously: that shluchim and Chabad rabbis all over the world go on mesiras nefesh in order to spread Judaism in every way possible, and sometimes they must rely on leniencies that are only according to one lone opinion etc, in order to help Yiddin to be able to do mitzvahs, but to my great dismay there is a major weakness among them regarding making proper eruvin, despite the fact that it would certainly save many Jews from chillul Shabbos that is severe whether those that that are doing in on purpose that aren’t religious Jews, or inadvertently to the shliach himself and his family that sometimes forget things in their pockets. And in my humble opinion this is extremely strange, and I hope that this will be corrected.
Since I am busy preparing for Yom Tov I must be curt, and even so I wrote more at length then I intended originally, and I ask you that if you would like to respond to this, it would be prudent to to study the articles quoted by the rabbonim in the kol korei, and you should study them in depth in the way of Torah learning thereby it will clarify everything to you appropriately.
And I’ll end with this, wishing you a blessed Yom Tov
Av of Beis Din of Budapest