Last night, Mt. Sinai hosted an evening with R. Ben-Zion Wosner, the “rabbinic advisor” of the new Washington Heights Eruv. On the whole the evening was light on the halakhic details of eruvin, but focused more on addressing and mitigating the communal disagreements with the Eruv. The Breuer’s community has long been opposed to the Eruv and there are authorities such as R. Moshe Feinstein who hold that there cannot be an Eruv at all in Manhattan.
R. Wosner was extremely cordial and concilliatory and basically said that the Eruv follows “rov poskim,” and no one has to use the eruv if they don’t want to. R. Wosner continued to appeal to the amorphous “rov poskim” in the question and answer session, but given the circumstances I’m not sure he could have done more. Considering the communal tensions and the diverse educational background of those in attendance, a detailed shiur in Eruvin would not have been well received or appreciated and not entirely appropriate.
In terms of what halakhic content I did hear, I was not always in agreement, but again, his intent was more to quell communal tensions. For example, one woman asked why/how he could rule on the community’s Eruv when other Rabbis in the community would not. R. Wosner responded that like being asked a question in tzitzit, as a rabbinic advisor he could give halakhic advice which is not bound by geography. Although the question raised a serious issue of mara de’atra and local authority, R. Wosner would not have had the time to give a more detailed answer.
All things considered, the shiur went over very well and was extremely well attended for a Monday night. I also think R. Wosner and R. Schnaidman should team up more often, but that’s a different story.
Personally, I will not be using the eruv for reasons which apply to just about every eruv I’ve seen. I did ask R. Wosner one question, but was not impressed with the truncated answer he was forced to give. There is one more Rabbi I wish to consult before I post in detail my thoughts on Eruvin.