Friday, January 20, 2017

At Trump Hotel in Washington, Champagne Toasts in an Ethical ‘Minefield’

NY Times   With sirens blaring, a fleet of limousines and security personnel raced down Pennsylvania Avenue twice in less than the last 24 hours to deliver Donald J. Trump to inauguration events.

But he was not heading to the White House. He was going to Trump International Hotel.

It was a telling destination for those visits Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. Perhaps more than any other location in Mr. Trump’s far-flung real estate empire, this 263-room hotel epitomizes the convergence of Donald Trump the global businessman and Donald Trump the president-elect.

Conflicts that for months have been theoretical are now about to become real — most immediately a possible challenge by the federal government. It owns the building that houses Mr. Trump’s hotel and has granted him a 60-year lease. From the moment he is sworn in as president at noon Friday, Mr. Trump may be in violation of that lease, given a provision that appears to prohibit federal elected officials from renting the Old Post Office building, the Pennsylvania Avenue landmark that houses the hotel, from the government.

Guests at the hotel include foreign diplomats and politicians who could be looking to curry favor with Mr. Trump — but even the act of paying their bills as they check out after the inauguration may open Mr. Trump to a challenge that he has violated the United States Constitution, which prohibits federal government officials from taking payments or gifts from foreign governments.[...]

“That building is symbolic of the minefield that President-elect Trump has decided to walk through,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, who is the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is charged with investigating any potential wrongdoing by government officials. “We are going now from the hypothetical to reality — and I myself am not sure where it is going to lead.”

Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s press secretary, defended Mr. Trump’s continued close ties to the hotel. “That he’s going to his own hotel? I mean, I think that’s pretty smart,” Mr. Spicer said. “I think the idea that he’s going to his own hotel shouldn’t be a shocker. It’s a beautiful place. It’s a place that he’s very proud of.”[...]

The Post Office project is valued at roughly $200 million, much of it financed by Deutsche Bank, a favorite lender of the Trump Organization. The bank agreed to lend up to $170 million. The deal requires a Trump company to pay the government $3 million a year in rent from the hotel’s opening date. [...]

The lease between the General Services Administration and the Trump company includes a clause — “no member or delegate to Congress, or elected official of the government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia, shall be admitted to any share or part of this lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom” — that federal contract experts say makes clear that Mr. Trump will be in violation of the deal as soon as he is sworn in.

“The basic integrity and credibility of the president of the United States of the federal procurement and contracting regime is at risk,” said Steven L. Schooner, a professor specializing in government procurement law at George Washington University. “We are about to have a legitimate scandal on our hands.”

Representative Cummings, the Maryland Democrat, said he expected the G.S.A. to declare the Trump Organization in breach of the contract. Renee Kelly, a spokeswoman for the agency, would not confirm that it intends to take such a move, saying only in a written statement that the “G.S.A. won’t have an update until Friday after the inauguration.”

That a company Mr. Trump controls is a prominent tenant of the federal government is just the beginning of it.

His administration will assume oversight of Wall Street regulation, which includes policing Deutsche Bank’s activities.[...]

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have said he would donate any profit derived from foreign government hotel guests to the United States Treasury. But Mr. Trump’s critics say that would not eliminate the risk he would be violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which some legal experts say prohibits federal employees from taking gifts or payments from foreign governments.

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of University of California, Irvine, School of Law, said, “There is no doubt he will be benefiting financially from foreign government officials who are patronizing the Trump Hotel in Washington and other facilities around the world.” [...]

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Oral appellate argument of Binyamin Stimler (Epstein/Wolmark gang) scheduled for next Wednesday

Everyone Is Falling For This Frighteningly Effective Gmail Scam

Security researchers have identified a "highly effective" phishing scam that's been fooling Google Gmail customers into divulging their login credentials. The scheme, which has been gaining popularity in the past few months and has reportedly been hitting other email services, involves a clever trick that can be difficult to detect.

Researchers at WordFence, a team that makes a popular security tool for the blog site WordPress, warned of the attack in a recent blog post, noting that it has been "having a wide impact, even on experienced technical users." (See these people, whose accounts were targeted.)

Here's how the swindle works. The attacker, usually disguised as a trusted contact, sends a boobytrapped email to a prospective victim. Affixed to that email, there appears to be a regular attachment, say a PDF document. Nothing seemingly out of the ordinary.

But the attachment is actually an embedded image that has been crafted to look like a PDF. Rather than reveal a preview of the document when clicked, that embedded image links out to a fake Google (GOOGL, +0.31%) login page. And this is where the scam gets really devious.

Everything about this sign-in page looks authentic: the Google logo, the username and password entry fields, the tagline ("One account. All of Google."). By all indications, the page is a facsimile of the real thing. Except for one clue: the browser's address bar.[...]

As soon as a person enters her username and password into the fields, the attackers capture the information. To make matters worse, once they gain access to a person's inbox, they immediately reconnoiter the compromised account and prepare to launch their next bombardment. They find past emails and attachments, create boobytrapped-image versions, drum up believable subject lines, and then target the person's contacts. [...]

Shemot 75 - Setting a Personal Example by Allan Katz

Setting a personal example is said to be crucial in the parenting or educating children. Albert Einstein said - “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”
For sure the ' Do as I say and not Do as I do ' attitude and approach of care givers just undermines the credibility and authenticity of a parent and teacher. However, there are many kids and students who are being raised and educated in an environment where parents and teachers are setting great personal examples and yet it has no impact on these kids or on students. So what is the problem?

The problem is the behaviorist nature of ' setting a personal example'. Education is not about a passive student or child absorbing information but a child and student actively noticing what is happening around them and then making meaning of this. In order to learn from the personal example of a parent, teacher or Rabbi, the child needs to notice and to be sensitive to the nuances and the motives behind the behavior or personal example set by his parent, teacher etc. One can only benefit from ' Shimush Talmeidi Chachamim ', being an apprentice to great sages or being exposed to them if one keenly observes and is sensitive to the example they set. Education is not only noticing the inconsistencies and incongruent passages or words in a text, but to notice them in situations and on peoples' faces. Kids and students don't learn from 'personal example ' because they are simply not sensitive enough to be aware of what is happening and certainly they are not in a position to reflect and learn from personal example.

The portion-parasha of Shemot has examples where actively noticing something peculiar in the environment actually changed history. Pharaoh's daughter noticed a basket hidden among the reeds. This led her to being a mother to Moses – the future savior and redeemer of the Israelites in Egypt. Moses himself while looking after Yitro- Jethro's flocks in the desert noticed a fire, a burning bush. This excited his curiosity. He went to investigate and he saw that the bush was burning but not being consumed .If he would not have noticed the bush, he would not have experienced God's revelation and accepting the leadership role to take the Israelites out of Egypt. As they journey towards Mount Moriah, the place where the 'Akeidat Yitzchak' – the binding of Isaac would take place, Abraham and Isaac notice a cloud hovering over the mountain. Abraham says – do you notice what I see and Isaac says yes. Abraham asks the same question to his 2 attendants and they did not see anything unique. This ability to notice reflected on Isaac's spiritual insight which made him fit to be an offering, while the attendants who did not notice could not continue the journey.

Kids and people have a problem about being grateful and expressing gratitude. As a sign of gratitude, Moses does not execute the plague of blood that turned the Nile and other water resources into blood, and the plague of lice that infected the dust and ground, because he was saved by the Nile and he hid the dead Egyptian in the sand. In order to be grateful and express gratitude - ha'carat ha'tov in Hebrew, one has to be aware and recognize the good that was done. People simply are not aware and don't see the good done to them. This is reinforced by the fact that people don't like to feel indebted to others so we tend to subconsciously minimize or ignore the good done to us.

We are told in the Ethics of our Fathers that a wise person learns from every person. The difficulty people have in learning from the example of others is that they tend to be very judgmental and only notice things that already fit in with their world view and justify their opinions about people and events. This is very true if kids don't have a good relationship with parents and teachers and don't see them as their teachers and guides. Kids must have a good relationship with parents and teachers and seek relationship in order to benefit from the example set by care givers and teachers.

Setting an example is not enough. We have to bring kids ' behind the scenes ' and share our thinking, our motives and values behind our decisions and actions. We can share our dilemmas, our concerns and perspectives and get a kid's input as well. Kids can also pick up our attitude, enthusiasm and why we feel joy and privilege in what we do. The best way to set an example is to get them involved with us, cooperating and collaborating when appropriate and solving problems in a collaborative way. In this way, we teach them the skills needed for their lives, adult life and marriage.

Trump's ethical train wreck - Emoluments: Trump's Coming Ethics Trouble

The president-elect’s lawyers have explained why they don’t think he’ll violate the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause—but their arguments fall apart under closer scrutiny.

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump’s lawyers issued a brief, largely unnoticed memo defending Trump’s plan to “separate” himself from his businesses. We believe that memo arbitrarily limits itself to a small portion of the conflicts it purports to address, and even there, presents claims that depart from precedent and common sense. Trump can convince a lot of people of a lot of things—but neither he nor his lawyers can explain away the ethics train wreck that will soon crash into the Oval Office.

It’s been widely acknowledged that, when Trump swears the Oath of Office, he will stand in violation of the Constitution’s foreign-emoluments clause. The emoluments clause forbids any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting any “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” (unless Congress explicitly consents).

By “emolument,” this provision means any benefit derived from dealing with a foreign government. It is well-settled that receipt of such emoluments is strictly prohibited for persons holding positions of trust with the U.S. government. A U.S. official need not also have an “office” with a foreign government in order to receive an emolument from it.

The Framers included this provision in the Constitution to guarantee that private entanglements with foreign states would not blur the loyalties of federal officials, above all the president. Yet that lesson seems lost on Trump, whose continued significant ownership stake in the Trump Organization forges an unbreakable bond between Trump and a global empire that will benefit or suffer in innumerable ways from its dealings with foreign governments. Trump’s actions in office will thus be haunted by the specter (and perhaps reality) of divided interests.

As we have argued, the only adequate solution to this and other conflicts of interest, taken by presidents of both parties for the past four decades, is divestiture into a truly blind trust or the equivalent.

At last week’s unusual press conference, Trump—lawyer in tow—refused to take those steps. Instead, after marveling at his own generosity, Trump finally explained his big plan: keep an ownership stake in the Trump Organization, but resign from management and have his adult sons (joined by an executive) run the business during his presidency.

Trump’s lawyer then elaborated: The Trump Organization will make no new foreign deals while Trump is president; all new domestic deals will be subject to internal ethics review; Trump will not receive regular updates about the business; and the profits that Trump hotels make from foreign governments will ultimately be donated to the U.S. Treasury.

Several hours later, the law firm Morgan Lewis issued a memo entitled “Conflicts of Interest and the President.” In three short pages, this memo outlined why Trump’s plan purportedly complies with the Foreign Emoluments Clause.

First, it’s worth noting a critical concession in the memo. While somecommentators have taken the extreme view that the emoluments clause doesn’t apply to the president—a claim that doesn’t withstand scrutiny—Trump’s lawyers did not rely on that position. In fact, they squarely rejected it, stating that the president’s “obligations under the Constitution” include “the obligations created by the … Foreign Emoluments Clause.”

From this promising start, however, the memo goes badly awry. It bases its defense of Trump exclusively on the proposition that the president may engage in arms-length, fair-market-value exchanges with foreign powers—on the theory that the phrase “emolument” covers only “payment or other benefit received as a consequence of discharging the duties of an office.”

There are two specific problems with this defense: First, it utterly fails to account for the many other ways in which Trump will still violate the foreign emoluments clause; and second, it is wrong on its merits.

The first problem alone is fatal. Trump has promised not to enter any new foreign deals, and, at the end of each year, to return “profits” from “hotels and similar businesses” to the U.S. Treasury. But this arrangement leaves open a vast universe of ways in which Trump will, by virtue of his continuing ownership interest, foreseeably benefit (or suffer) personally from how foreign nations interact with the Trump Organization. This is the core evil that the foreign emoluments cause sought to address. [...]

In sum, the Morgan Lewis memo—by focusing on hotels and “similar businesses,” and defending only fair-market-value transactions—simply misses a huge part of Trump’s constitutional violation.

But even with respect to this limited set of transactions, the Morgan Lewis memo is lacking.

The fundamental problem is that it loses sight of the purpose of the foreign emoluments clause. As then-Assistant Attorney General Samuel A. Alito, Jr. emphasized in 1986, the “answer to [an] Emoluments Clause question must depend [on] whether the [arrangement] would raise the kind of concern (viz., the potential for ‘corruption and foreign influence’) that motivated the Framers in enacting the constitutional prohibition.”

Given the undisputed purpose and sweeping text of the clause, it makes no sense under any approach to constitutional interpretation to say that an otherwise forbidden foreign payment to the president is allowed, but only if the president is not engaged in the specific duties of his office when he gives that foreign government its money’s worth in services. Imagine if the president owned a company that made billions of dollars annually, all as a result of profitable, fair-market-value transactions with Russia and China. Is it really conceivable that such an arrangement would be constitutional, given the basic purpose of the foreign emoluments clause?

For this reason, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has, in its well-reasoned opinions, prohibited federal government employees from accepting any sort of payment—fair market value or otherwise—from a foreign government. Trump’s legal team doesn’t distinguish the logic of these opinions; it just asserts that they involve “different factual circumstances.” Of course, that could be said about pretty much any precedent, especially since Trump represents a sui generis conflicts maelstrom.

The underlying concern here is that it is precisely Trump’s beneficial government services that foreign powers may hope to purchase for their money whenever they patronize or advantage his businesses. That is, foreign powers (and their agents) may pay Trump, in his capacity as owner of valuable business assets around the world, so that Trump, in his capacity as president, will play in their interest and push U.S. policies in their direction. It may be impossible to prove this on a case-by-case level, given the complex and often hidden motives guiding presidential conduct, but the whole theory of the foreign emoluments clause is to guard against the very possibility of transactions raising this creeping danger.

Trump’s lawyer, Sheri Dillon, has said that “Trump wants there to be no doubt in the minds of the American public that he is completely isolating himself from his business interests.” But if that were actually true, Trump would have done more—much more—to separate himself from his global business empire. Instead, he adopted the mere shell of a plan, utterly inadequate to the demands of the Constitution.

Trump will thus place himself in clear violation of America’s basic charter from the very first instant of his presidency.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Obama's commutation of 35 year sentence for transgender traitor causes outrage

Top Congressional Republicans condemned Tuesday the decision by President Barack Obama to commute former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified documents.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., blasted the decision, calling it “outrageous.”

“Chelsea Manning’s treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets. President Obama now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won’t be held accountable for their crimes,” Ryan said in a statement.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the decision was a “grave mistake.”

"It is a sad, yet perhaps fitting commentary on President Obama’s failed national security policies that he would commute the sentence of an individual that endangered the lives of American troops, diplomats, and intelligence sources by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive government documents to Wikileaks, a virulently anti-American organization that was a tool of Russia’s recent interference in our elections."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, went on further to echo the statements of Ryan and McCain.

“It is shameful that President Obama is siding with lawbreakers and the ACLU against the men and women who work every day to defend our nation and safeguard U.S. government secrets.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Fox News that while pardons are a Constitutional tool in the president's repertoire, Obama is "undermining our ability on criminal justice reform by granting clemency at an alarming rate."

According to ABC News, Defense Secretary Ash Carter was one of the U.S. officials who were also opposed to the White House’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence.

Manning is more than six years into a 35-year sentence at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for leaking classified government and military documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Her sentence is now set to expire May 17.[...]

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Maharal - Why a husband can go to Gehinom for listening to wife's advice about the world or spirituality

Maharal (Avos 1:5 ):One who frequently has idle talks with his wife will inherit Gehinom.... The woman is attached to deficit and when he frequently has idle talks with his wife he deviates from his level and heads toward negativity. Therefore he inherits Gehinom because Gehinom is the absence of reality as we have explained. But this is not equivalent to the woman herself who is attached to deficit because we don’t say about her that she is inherently going to Gehinom. In fact her portion is in Gan Eden just as the man. But when the man deviates from his level to increase idle talk with his wife who is attached to deficit relative to the level of man – concerning him it says that in the end he will inherent Gehinom. That is because Gehinom refers to the loss of man and the absence of reality of the man. Gehinom has various names all of which indicate teach that one who goes to Gehinom is one with a definite deficit. And this matter doesn’t require additional discussion,. Consequently that is why it says that in the end he will inherit Genhinom. 

Without any doubt, this is the correct way of understanding the words of our Sages and not like those who explain the words of our Sages as being mere conjecture and guesses. That is because these things which we said are words of wisdom, we explain elsewhere concerning the words of our Sages. Bava Metzia (59a), “Whoever follows the advice of his wife will fall into Gehinom...But people say if your wife is short then bend down and hear her whisper? That is not a contradiction because the one that says not to listen to you wife is referring to worldly matters while the other is referring to household matters. Alternatively do not listen to your wife in spiritual matters but it is permitted concerning worldly matters.” Now I will explain with this the words of the Mishna which says that a man who follows the advice of his wife will fall into Gehinom. 

The man who is compared to the Form, if he follows after his wife who is Substance and substance is inherently deficient and he obeys her advice then it is definitely fitting that he should fall into Gehinom. That is because as we explained before – Gehinom is complete deficiency – as the names of Gehinom teach... Therefore since the Form deviates from his proper level to be drawn after Substance he is attaching himself to deficit and falls into Gehinom as the Form is drawn to Substance. 

The question was raised from, People say If your wife is short then bend down and hear her whisper. The answer was given that one should not listen to her for worldly matters only for household matters. The explanation of household matters is that the man is not deviating after his wife when he listens to her in thes matters since the wife is the foundation of the home. And that is the way it has been in the order of the world. And consequently if he follows the advice of his wife in household matters we don’t say that the man is like the Form following after Substance and thus deviating from his spiritual level. That is because in this that the wife is the foundation of the home, from that aspect he is not attaching himself to deficit. In fact the opposite is true since the wife is the basis of the existence of the home and therefore she should be listen to in household matters. However in all other matters in which the wife is not the prime figure, if the man follows after her advice then he will be in fact going after deficit and will fall into Gehinom.

And even according to the alternative answer of listening to worldly matters and not to spiritual matters – he should listen to her in worldly matters because that would not be deviating towards deficit. That is because this world is materialistic which is relevant to the woman who is Substance and therefore for advice in worldly matters he will not fall into Gehinom. In fact the opposite is true – he should follow her advice in worldly matters since that involves material things and that is the wife’s domain. It is only in spiritual matters that he should not listen to her because concerning spritual matters he is the Form and she is only Substance to which is associated the deficit. Consequently if he listens to her in spiritual matters he is deviating after the deficit and he will fall into Gehinom because he is being brought into a deficit and a state of lacking. 

I am writing these things to explain to you that the words of the Mishna are clearly correct and are not mere conjecture.

Furthermore in Berachos (61a), They say that it is better to go behind a lion and not go behind a woman. In other words even though a lion can maul a person, nevertheless one who goes behind a lion is not in as much danger as one who goes behind a woman. That is because the lion is not deficit as is a woman. Because going after a woman is the Form following the Substance which causes completely loss to the Form when he deviates to follow after Substance. There is no question that it is worse for him then what the lion can do to him. Because even if the lion harms him, the lion’s main concern is to maul to eat and is nothing personal. But the deficit which is attached to Subtance - that involves his essence. Thus a lion will sometimes damage and sometimes not as is in all cases of accident which is not the case of following after a woman. I will offer addition explanations of this with G-d’s help.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Back Story on Trump and Vaccines

Donald Trump Picks Fight with Civil Rights Legend John Lewis on MLK Weekend

Daily Beast    President-elect Donald Trump would start a fight in an empty broom closet. As a candidate in the Republican primary and then later in a hard fought campaign against Hillary Clinton, the former real estate developer exuded precious little grace—preferring brickbats to olive branches. Without question, Trump is far less prone to rise above the bar of decency than he is to slither beneath it.

In a mere six days he will rest his briefcase in the Oval Office, where he will face a myriad of critical issues— both foreign and domestic. However, if his latest skirmish on social media is any indication, Trump will step onto the world stage and come face-to-face with his most formidable foe: himself.

His latest outburst—an attack on Congressman John Lewis just before the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day-- drew consternation from both sides of the aisle and social media erupted with indignation. That’s because Lewis was not only a King foot soldier. He was president of the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNCC) and is the youngest and only living member of “The Big Six.” Lewis was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, young people who risked their lives to challenge racial segregation in the South. He was arrested 45 times, beaten and bloodied in the name of human rights.

After one of the most divisive national contests this country has endured and with looming suspicions of Russian intervention, Lewis declared that he would not attend the upcoming inauguration. In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Lewis—clearly angered by intelligence briefings—said he did not see the former reality show personality as a “legitimate president.”

That, of course, did not sit well with Trump.

He might have responded with some modicum of grace, urging the country to come together in perilous times. He might have thanked the venerated civil rights icon for his service, affirmed his own commitment to human rights and welcomed Lewis to meet with him to discuss the issues. I mean, if he has time for Ray Lewis, Steve Harvey and Kanye West, surely there is room on the calendar for someone who is steeped in public policy and who possesses decades of experience both building and crossing bridges.

Instead, Trump hit back in a pair of outlandish tweets, he saying, “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.”

“All talk, talk, talk — no action or results,” Trump concluded. “Sad!”

That Trump would respond in such a feckless and disconnected manner should surprise no one. That he appears to have a nascent understanding on our nation’s history—and Lewis’s critical role— should not raise an eyebrow. With skin as thin as unsweetened tea, surrounding himself with sycophants who dare not question him, it is abundantly clear that he has spent no time thinking about who Lewis is and even less time in Atlanta.

Lewis’s “results” are a proliferation of human rights, as well as increased economic and political opportunity. He was on the right side of history when it came to LGBT and reproductive rights, among other issues. In 1994, when the country was caught up in hysteria and pushed a crime bill that later destroyed whole communities, John Lewis was one of only eleven black members of the House to stand against it.

One can argue about the validity of a “dossier” strewn with behavior unbefitting the Oval Office, but there can be no dispute about the “good trouble” Lewis has gotten himself into over the course of his adult life. One of the “results” of his activism was the Fair Housing Act, the very legislation under which the Justice Department sued Donald Trump and his father.

While Trump was getting repeated military deferments for his sore feet, Lewis’s feet were on the avenues, highways and byways attempting to fashion a more inclusive society.

Let's be clear: Georgia’s 5th Congressional district is thriving. Comprised by a large swath of the city and cutting through two counties, it is home to the Georgia governor’s mansion, Spelman and Morehouse Colleges, Georgia Tech, the Buckhead business and entertainment district, and the world’s most travelled airport—Hartsfield Jackson International. Home to Fortune 500 companies, the district is both racially and economically diverse.

Migration to Atlanta from other regions of the country over last three decades tells a story of growing, comparatively broad based prosperity.

Like every other big city in America, public safety is a priority for local leaders. However, Atlanta is certainly not “infested” with crime. And nothing about my city says it is “falling apart.” In fact, just as the city seal implies, Atlanta has been rising from the ashes since General Sherman burned down the west end.[...]

The truth is Donald Trump is a lot like Bull Connor, only with much more bull. Connor, the Birmingham public service commissioner Lewis and others took on as Freedom Riders, at least understood the math. Trump is walking into the White House based on a 70,000 vote margin across three states. That’s no mandate. That’s a fluke.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Rav Herschel Schachter - A posek can give binding pesak concerning whom you must marry

Seforim Blog by Dr. Marc Shapiro

Among other interesting comments in R. Schachter's shiur  [“Da’as Torah – What are Its Parameters in non-Halachic Issues”]is that he states that a posek can give you a binding pesak concerning whom you must marry.[3] This too I find difficult, since where does a posek get the authority to tell someone whom he must marry? An individual can certainly consult with a posek for his advice in this matter, but since this consultation is done voluntarily by the potential groom, how do we go from there to a situation of pesak which binds the person asking the question? 
[Subsequent to writing these words I saw R. Schachter and asked him about this matter. He reaffirmed his position, stating that whom one marries is a halakhic matter and therefore a posek can indeed tell you whom you must marry. He added that this is almost always theoretical since in order to make such a ruling the posek would need to know both the bride and groom for many years so as to be sure that what he is saying is correct. But he also insisted that if the posek does have the requisite knowledge he can indeed give a binding pesak about whom one must marry.] 
3] At 1:14:30. The Lubavitcher Rebbe had a different perspective. See Joseph Telushkin, Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History (New York, 2014), p. 189, who quotes what the Rebbe told R. Leibel Groner: "When it comes to a marriage, not I can help you, not your father can help you, not your mother can help you, not your seichel [your intellectual faculties] can help you. The only thing that can help you is your heart. If you feel for her, go ahead. If you don't do not."