To: Howard Witkin
Los Angeles Community Eruv
I am responding to your letter in which you seek clarification as to Rav Moshe’s position regarding an eruv in Los Angeles; and did he say that “Los Angeles cannot have an eruv”. As the executive director of the Los Angeles Community Eruv you are entitled to know what Rav Moshe did and did not say.
In the 70s, the “frum” LA community decided to establish an eruv. To this end, Mr. Zvi Ryzman imported Rav Zundel Kroizer, the rabbinic authority of the eruv in Yerushalayim, and a world-renowned eruv expert. Mr. Ryzman, for the unlikely possibility that you may not have heard that name before, is an outstanding talmid chochom (Talmudic scholar) and a renowned philanthropist in Los Angeles who contributes to scholarly causes.
During Rabbi Kroizer’s stay in LA, I was amazed to discover that he knows the entire tractate (volume) Eruvin by heart, word for word. I was able to ascertain that, as he was my guest during his visit in Los Angeles.
When the eruv was completed, I called Rav Moshe to ask him how I should announce the eruv in my shul, Young Israel of Los Angeles, and through it to the community. This is what he told me: “Anyone who wishes to rely on the eruv has enough halachic authorities to rely on; anyone who wishes to be stringent, may be blessed.” These are the exact words I quoted in my announcement that Shabbos.
On Monday I received a telegram with Rav Moshe’s name on it, stating that one cannot have an eruv in Los Angeles. I immediately called the person who I knew had forged the name of Rav Moshe, and told him that if I did not receive a telegram the very next day saying that the first telegram was sent in error, I would make it known in the entire Jewish and Anglo-Jewish press in America that he, that person, has falsified Rav Moshe’s name. I received that telegram the next day. Based on this eruv, the congregations of Beth Jacob of Beverly Hills’ Rabbi Maurice Lamm and of Sha’arei Tefillah’s Rabbi Nissan Shulman officially adopted that eruv and urged the congregants to use it.
Now, two points must be made. One, Rav Moshe was not referring to a specific eruv in Los Angeles; he was referring in general to any eruv in a large city. The merit of any particular eruv rests entirely with the halachic authority who endorses that eruv. Secondly, the present eruv in our community is vastly superior halachically to the eruv endorsed by the ga’on Rav Zundel Kroizer zt’l.
With blessings in your endeavors, sincerely,
Rabbi Pinchos Gruman
P.s. I am still in the possession of both telegrams.