The R. Moshe Feinstein Eruv Opinion No One Likes Quoting

Last Saturday night I gave a class as part of the Jewish LES discussion series on the very topic of “Halakhic Ramifications of Eruv Disputes.” Most of the class was an abbreviation of my earlier three part series on eruvin in general.

The issue of eruv on the Lower East Side is particularly contentious. R. Moshe Feinstein, a preeminent decisor of Jewish Law, used to live on the Lower East Side and his son and many students of his still do so. R. Feinstein was particularly strict in prohibiting the construction on any eruv in Manhattan for reasons too complicated to discuss here, and it is allegedly out of allegiance to R. Feinstein’s position on eruv which has precluded its construction to this day.

However, R. Moshe Feinstein has another fascinating responsa regarding the opposition of eruvin in Manhattan, though in conversation it is rarely quoted by his most ardent followers. In response to the question if one ought to protest constructing eruvin in Manhattan, R. Feinstein states that while he personally cannot endorse it, one should not oppose it either since the positions allowing its construction are still legitimate. By all accounts this ought to be considered a very reasonable, respectful position and were it stated 30 years later might even be classified as “pluralistic.”

Here is the responsa in the original with my translation, for which I assume responsibility for errors.

Regarding the “Kol Korei” issue see this wonderful post form Eruv Online.


שו”ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ד סימן פט
אם למחות ביד המקילים לעשות עירוב במאנהעטן ג’ דחנוכה תשכ”א. מע”כ ידידי החשוב והנכבד הרב הגאון מוהר”ר אליהו יונג שליט”א.

הנה בדבר מאנהעטן הרי בארתי באריכות בספרי אגרות משה או”ח ח”א בסימן קל”ט כל הצדדים שיש להקל ושיש להחמיר, והמסקנא לע”ד דמאנהעטן ל”ד למה שנהגו להקל בשאר מקומות וא”כ אין בידנו להתיר נגד השיטות שאסרו, וגם ראיה גדולה ממה שבירושלים לא עשו עירוב להתיר ולכן איני רואה דבר שישנה דעתי בזה, אבל הא כבר אמרתי שאין בידנו למחות ביד המקילין וכשיתקנו הרי יהיה מותר לאיזה שיטות, גם הם רבנים גדולים ומי ימחה בהם מכיון שסוברים לפי הכרעתם שיכולין לתקן והם ראוים להוראה. אבל אני בעצמי איני יכול לסייע בזה דאף שיהיה תקון לגבי אלו המטלטלים שם ומוציאין מרה”י =מרשות היחיד= לשם שלא כדין ובהתקונים ירויחו שיהיו מותרין לאיזה שיטות, מ”מ הא לעומת זה יהיה קלקול לגבי אנשים כשרים שרוצים לעשות כהוגן ואינם מטלטלין במאנהעטן שמעתה יטלטלו שהוא שלא כדין להרבה שיטות שבארתי. אבל רבנים הסוברין שיש לתקן רשאים לעשות כמו שהם סוברים כדלעיל. ידידו, משה

Iggrot Moshe O.C. 4:89
Q. Should we protest those who are lenient regarding erecting an Eruv in Manhattan? (Dec. 16th 1960).

A. Regarding the issue of Manhattan, I have already explained in at length in Iggrot Moshe O.C. 1:139 all the sides for leniency and stringency, and the conclusion in my opinion is that Manhattan is not comparable to other places where the practice was to be lenient, and therefore it is not in our hands to be permissive in opposition to those who forbid. And also there is a great proof that they did not make an Eruv in Jerusalem to be permitted, and therefore I have not seen anything to change my mind on this. However, I have already said that it is not in our hands to protest those who are lenient such that when they build [an eruv] it is done under the permissibility of those opinions, those too are great rabbis and who can protest them when they are following their opinions which state that [an eruv] can be erected, and those individuals are worthy of making such a halakhic decision re’uyim lehora’ah. However, I myself cannot support this [putting up an eruv based on those who disagree with me] for even if it was erected for those who are already carrying inappropriately and in putting up an eruv would permit their carrying according to certain authorities, in any event following this logic would negatively impact those kosher/appropriate people who want to do what is proper and not carry in Manhattan, for they would be carrying against the law according to the many sources I have explained. However, those rabbis who reason that one may erect [an eruv] are permitted to do as they reason as I have mentioned earlier.