Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sex and kiruv: Problem of the charismatic rabbi

Elimelch Meisels
This post appeared 5 years ago but it is relevant to our current discussion. It is also a chapter in my Child and Domestic Abuse volume I.

In our previous discussion concerning mikve ladies not accepting the validity of a convert or wife - an associated problem was brought up. This, like child abuse, is something which strikes at the heart of our spirituality and Torah values and yet is just being ignored or swept under the carpet.

There was a case in my neighborhood several years ago that I want to use as an illustration of the problem. Some of the facts have been altered simply for poetic license but the essential facts are correct. I am bringing this up simply because it illustrates well what I am wrestling with in my critique of religious society - there may or not be a direct connection with the previous discussion.

There was a very well known kiruv personality. Perhaps you could say that he was a poster boy for kiruv. Warm and wise and very articulate in expressing the wisdom of the Torah. He was much in demand as a speaker - and as a consequence he spent much time flying between speaking engagement. Wherever he went he brought the light of Torah. It warmed his heart to see all the people he was influencing and he was a role model of humility and service of G-d. One day he was flying the long and boring stretch across the Atlantic when the stewardess asked him if he needed anything. He realized that she might be Jewish so he engaged her in light banter - seeing if she might be susceptible to becoming frumer. He mentioned that he was a kiruv rabbi and that she probably should avoid him since he was a fundamentalist ultra-orthodox rabbi. She had never met a charming and intelligent religious fanatic so she decided to play along. It turns out she wasn't Jewish - but she really enjoyed the discussion. The conversation deepened and she was really taken with this man. There was something about him that was different than all the men she had ever met. He of course was in this totally leshem shamayim. The fact that she was stunningly beautiful and was quite intelligent and asked really good questions - just made it more of an interesting challenge. By the end of the flight they exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in contact.

To make a long story short - he realized that she really made him feel alive. It was a wondrous thing watching her come up with a really deep question in the Ramchal he told her and the joy on her face when he took the question and connected with chassidic stories and kabbalah. It was an amazing thing realizing how much this beautiful woman benefited from everything he said. He realized that he once had that relationship with his wife of 20 years - but they hadn't had a deeper issue than - whose coming for Shabbos - for at least 10 years. Besides his wife wasn't so beautiful anymore.

After much soul searching he realized that for the sake of his spirituality and hers he needed to drop his wife and marry this stewardess. The stewardess had readily agreed to convert - to marry him. Nonetheless it wasn't easy breaking his wife's heart and destroying his kids - but he was willing to make the sacrifice for the sake of G-d. After all spiritual growth is the prime value and all his wife could do was have babies and keep house. This woman pushed him to spiritual heights and understanding. He just couldn't believe the insights coming out of his mouth when he spoke with her. He would make a break with his old family and he was young enough to start a new family.

He did in fact divorce his wife, the stewardess converted and they married. The wife, family and community was totally devastated. But he moved elsewhere and is happily starting life over again - leshem Shamayim of course.

This story is not rare unfortunately. It goes on all the time in kiruv or with teachers in seminaries. The first recorded case was in fact Zimri - who was the first kiruv rabbi who fell in the line of duty - trying to convert the non-Jewish princess. I spoke to a kiruv rabbi this morning and he says that he has many such stories - but no one is even addressing the issue.

Anyway to tie this back to our original discussion. If you were good friends with the first wife and were asked to supervise the tevila of the second wife - would you be justified in saying no?

Or would you simply point out that a man can legitimately divorce a wife for any reason and thus according to the halacha - there is absolutely nothing wrong with what he did. Perhaps you would even admire (even be jealous) of this man who was willing to sacrifice so much for spiritual growth?

37 comments :

  1. Which teveila?

    Again are we talking teveila l'giyur or family purity?

    If it is teveila l'giyur, than yes absolutely you can decide that you would rather not oversee the teveila for personal reasons. Presuming that you are capable of making such an abstention without violation halacha through lashon hara or impinging upon the honor of the B"D doing the conversion. There is no problem. I know of no halacha demanding that someone help a person convert, only how we treat converts after the fact.

    Now if we are talking about teveila for family purity than that is is different story. As much as I might find what the person did morally repulsive, one should still not hinder another Jew from keeping the mitzvot. When you talk about communities outside of Eretz Yisrael, mikvaot start to become extremely rare. And thus such a thing can impose a serious tircha on someone.

    For instance let's see you live in Anchorage Alaska, and the mikva lady decides not to let you toivel. The next nearest mikvah is Seatle WA, only a five hour plane flight away. You can't convince me that the 14+hrs of travel time, as well as the cost of a round trip ticket(up to a $1000 depending on the time of year) is not a blockage to the mitzvah. Those things need be considered.

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  2. This is a sad story. It seems apparent that one of the dangers of kiruv is that some of the Rabbis who are involved do not always know where the boundaries are with those whom they interact with, and some of them seem to get a sort of high off of the attention they get for their charisma and charm.

    I don’t know what the solution to this is exactly, but developing stricter criteria for establishing who may and who may not be Jewish would be a good start. What does it mean exactly that he “realized that she might be Jewish so he engaged her in light banter”? What made him decide this? Because she was a stewardess on a flight that flew to Israel? If that was his rational then that’s ridiculous!

    I happen to be a giyores and one of the things which bothered me during my geirus process was the sheer number of conversion candidates who were converting for lust, love, marriage, whatever you want to call it. Not to be self-righteous since some of them were truly committed and sincerely devoted to Torah and also some single individuals who decide to convert are not so committed. However, I found in general the commitment to a Frum lifestyle and the love for Torah and Yiddishkeit to be much less among these individuals. Despite this often they would receive almost preferential treatment by some Rabbis seeing as though they were in a relationship with a Jew. I remember being very disheartened by this.

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  3. mekubal said...

    Now if we are talking about teveila for family purity than that is is different story. As much as I might find what the person did morally repulsive, one should still not hinder another Jew from keeping the mitzvot.
    ==============

    It was common in the times of the gaonin and the Rashba (244 - attributed to Ramban) mentioned it was still done in his day - that someone who did something morally repulsive was placed in nidoi. This meant: "It is the practise in these lands that someone who has done something reprehensible and doesn't listen to our chastisement - he is placed in nidoi. He is not counted in a zimun, nor a minyan nor do we bury his family in a Jewish burial - even if it is child or someone born after the nidoi - and we don't do mila on his sons...And you might question this not burying his family in a Jewish cemetery or not doing mila - that it is doing something to nullify a mitzva... The answer is that since this is being done to correct and preserve society (migder milsa) it is not considered uprooting that which is required by the Torah."

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  4. D"T said,

    It was common in the times of the gaonin and the Rashba (244 - attributed to Ramban) mentioned it was still done in his day - that someone who did something morally repulsive was placed in nidoi.

    Beseder, however niduy is something enacted by a B"D not a mikva lady with a grudge. It is not as if niduy has stopped being put into place. In fact we have the exact halachot of niduy brought down to us in simanim 333 and 334 of Yoreh Deah in the Shulchan Aruch.

    The key is that is done by a B"D and the actions of a Beis Din Tzedek are to be considered l'shem shmayim. The mikva lady wanting to make life difficult for the lady she perceives to be her friend's rival is hardly doing this l'shem shmayim.

    If a valid B"D bars the woman from using the mikva until she meets their requirements for teshuva, you will find no argument from me. However, I do have a problem with vigilante mikva ladies.

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  5. I am glad you have brought this issue up. I hope it will lead to some serious soul searching. The question of does the goal justify the means in kiruv is a hot debate. I know of a relative who was once by HoRav Segal Zatzal, the Manchester Rosh Hayeshivah, who told him not to compromise any halachic ruling for the sake of kiruv. These stories show more and more how correct this is. I have heard in Har Nof inYerushalyim, there are arguments between the many kiruv groups working there as to how much do they have to take into consideration the sensitivities of the local populace in their strive for Kiruv. I have heard many people in kiruv who just speak on a different wave length, thinking that Kiruv has different laws and one may transgress a prohibition if that may bring someone else closer to Judaism. This is a false outlook, which I haven’t seen justified by any major halachic authority, and will continue to reap destruction if it isn’t stopped very soon.

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  6. Mekubal's comment invites the question of exactly what is a "Beis Din Tzedek"? Should a "Beis Din Tzedek" convert a woman under these circumstances?

    Besides, is finding stimulation in a younger, more fresh, goya a valid reason for divorce and abandonment?

    Is this what Torah values are? Would the woman who is converting to marry such a man be considered to be someone who has accepted the yoke of Torah and Mitzvos?

    What message does this send to the other men in their mid 40s who are beginning to feel their age and mortality and hope to find a second life in a younger mate?

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  7. I would like to supervise the "tevila" of the man. I understand that in order to marry the "converted" Gentile woman he lusts for he needs to immerse under the mikveh waters for at least 5 minutes.

    One of my dearest friends and neighbors, who has been married to a kiruv "pro" found right after this past Pesah that her husband had left her in a similar situation.

    She hosted 15 strangers he brought home last minute on Pesach night for the Sedarim. She frantically cooked enough food for his unplanned minute guests while her "big kiruv" husband led an inspirational 2 1/2 hour seder.

    For years she has hosted his dozens of guests every Shabbat and Yom Tov. She has also worked tirelessly in his business so he would be free to do his beloved kiruv work while still earning enough to give ample tzedakka that he can sit on the board of the shul. He is well "known at the gates" as a Baal Hesed and Baal Hachnasset Orchim thanks to his Aishet Hayim

    She has also raised wonderful, respectful children, kept a spotless house and she herself looks like a fashion model.

    My friend, the Aishet Hayil is now working in the kitchen for a caterer so that she and her children will not starve. Her children will go to public school next year and she will most likely move into a cheap apartment, which is all she can afford on a kitchen worker's salary.

    He is living in a luxury waterfront apartment with his "kiruv" project.

    At least he is afraid to step foot in the synagogue where he sits on the board since he was nearly skinned alive last time he did.

    I have seen these men parade their "converted" 25 year old Gentile wives into the same synagogue that the first wife and her children attend. The man has the money and gets the kavod while the Jewish wife and her usually teenaged children are too devastated to participate in communal Jewish life at all.

    I wish this were an isolated case, but it is an epidemic.

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  8. We can discuss what constitutes a BD"Tz, however one thing I can say for sure it is not is a mikva lady,
    Choshen Mishpat 7:4,
    אישה פסולה לדון
    That is fairly cut and dried. Vengeful mikva attendants that chase after lashon hara and motzei shem ra, who do things according to their grudges as opposed to halacha are not in a position to judge a case based both on the above halach and also
    Choshen Mishpat 7:7
    אסור לאדם לדון למי שהוא אוהבו אע"פ שאינו שושבינו ולא ריעו אשר כנפשו ולא למי ששונאו אע"פ שאינו אויב לו ולא מבקש רעתו
    Giving such a din into the hands of a mikva lady is a chilul Hashem. Her decision is not based in the bounds of halacha, but on lashon hara, at best.

    Take the story that JerseyGirl posted above. I will give her the benefit of the doubt that she truly believes what she wrote to be true. However, that does not make it true. I have been in enough Batei Din, as sofer, eid, dayaan, and one time divorcee to know that what happens within a B"D and what gets touted around the synagogue the following Shabbat are often complete opposites.
    Spouses are not always happy about the circumstances of their divorce, or the outcome of the B"D's decision, and thus try to ruin the other's reputation by various means. At other times a real moral travesty has taken place where the B"D's hands are essentially tied by means of halacha.
    The thing is that only a B"D can truly decide that. For the record when I sat with the B"D of Philadelphia years ago, if either spouse was accused of inappropriate mingling with a member of the opposite sex the Av B"D would inform them that if they later find themselves in a relationship with said person, they would be placed into niduy. This threat was carried through twice to my knowledge. Once upon someone who lived in the community, and once upon someone who thought they could escape it by moving off to another community.

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  9. To also note. I know a certain kiruv Rabbi here in Jerusalem that was a recognized Dayyan by Rabbinut, who is currently on his fifth wife. He apparently had the minhag of marrying a girl between the ages of 18-20, and divorcing them when they were 28-30. His major draw is that he teaches women Kabbalah(the halachic problems of that can wait for another time). It took a while but he finally slipped up and was seen publicly dating his current wife, before separating from the former, or starting the proceedings for a Get.

    Rabbinut has since stripped him of his Dayyanut, and invalidated numerous conversions that he performed in the intervening four years.

    So yes given halachic evidence for something like this a B"D will act. It just needs the evidence, and it needs someone to bring it to their attention.

    PS Jersey Girl, I can hold my breath underwater for 8:35. In summer camp I used to freak the lifeguards out by laying on the bottom of the lake or pool and timing them to see how long it would take to get a reaction. All I can say is sometimes it was good that I was not an actual drowning victim.

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  10. the Monsey TzadikJune 11, 2009 at 8:22 PM

    I wish this were an isolated case, but it is an epidemic

    [...] He used to say, jokingly or not that Rabbi Akiva matir to divorce your wife if you find a pettier one.

    Unfortunately he was not criticized by the community and even became a greater macher than before.

    The problem is not that this is common, the problem is that it is acceptable if you have money and influence.

    However repulsive as it is the Mikvah lady has a job and a responsibility and like the rest of us cannot refuse to take assignments she does not approve of.

    What she can do is to take the day off , if possible.

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  11. the Monsey TzadikJune 11, 2009 at 9:02 PM

    The sad / outrageous side of it that now this person wants to be the posek and the macher of the conversion business.

    Rabbis of previous generation who were not happy in their marriage still stay married not to set an example but now ish kol hayashar b'einav yaase.

    And the chuzpa of taking a line from r' Akiva and make it a psak (even as joke)

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  12. Recipients and PublicityJune 12, 2009 at 8:52 AM

    Zimri was not the first "kiruv" rabbi, because kiruv is not about reaching out to gentiles, and if so it was Avraham avinu and his wife Sarah who did that first. Why slander kiruv by associating it with Zimri? Avraham converted the "nefesh asher asu becharan" (Breishis 12:5) to monotheism and he worked mightily to mekarev Yishmael till the very end.

    The issue that Rabbi Eidensohn/da'as torah has now placed before us is not in essence one of religion or of Yiddishkeit simply because any position of power, especially when involving the emotional, psycholigical, religious and spiritual power of a leader or anyone in power quite often leads to abuses of that power with people in power either forcing themselves upon their underlings or seducing them due to with deminished resistance.

    It happens mainly in cults on a large scale. The girls and women and boys are often eager to give themselves over to seduction. Seduction and sex are powerful aphrodisiacs, naturally.

    This is a core problem of the human psyche relating to the libido and the yetzer hara and it will not go away by only punishing offenders or legislating against it, and certainly not by handwringing over it.

    Like all the wiles of the hidden deep of human behavior the best defense is that these matters finally see the light of day and be discussed openly in a mature and responsible fashion and that they not be shoved under the covers.

    I recently heard of a case from a frum doctor who told that in the course of filling out a form, one question asked the child if there was any inappropraite touching, to which the child answered yes, and upon further research the sex-offender was unmasked, confronted in that community and sent packing.

    This example shows how much the medical and mental health field is way ahead of the rabbinical and kiruv field in openly talking about and tackling such problems, but the frum world is having great difficulty in devising a set method that will help keep all talmidim and talmidos, and all congregants of any gender and age, safe from the predatory and seductive advances of libidinous rabbis and rebbetzins and those in leadership positions.

    The Torah community has only begun to look itself in the mirror, and it's not clear if it is willing to face the music entirely.

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  13. I think the whole question makes no sense. No one has the right to keep someone from teviallh - even for geirus, much less TH, for the sake of revenge. On the other hand, given the circumstances, one could see a real possibility that one might seriously doubt the validity of the conversion, in which case, the issue is far more complicated. But, in that case, it also makes no difference if you were friends with the former spouse or her enemy.

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  14. Maybe we should matir poligamy so these kiruv guys can take on thier new found love and not ditch thier families to starve?

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  15. what does all the time mean? is it commom?
    please clarify 2%.5%, 10%, 25%, 50%or more. Chachamim be careful with your words. sounds like a leftist Haaretz genrazation of the religious world.

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  16. Racheli said...


    I happen to be a giyores and one of the things which bothered me during my geirus process was the sheer number of conversion candidates who were converting for lust, love, marriage, whatever you want to call it. Not to be self-righteous since some of them were truly committed and sincerely devoted to Torah and also some single individuals who decide to convert are not so committed. However, I found in general the commitment to a Frum lifestyle and the love for Torah and Yiddishkeit to be much less among these individuals. Despite this often they would receive almost preferential treatment by some Rabbis seeing as though they were in a relationship with a Jew. I remember being very disheartened by this.
    ========================
    You are 100% correct. What bothers you is the approach of R' Tropper which has been strongly condemned by the Bedatz

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  17. I actually know a case very similar to this one.

    In the case I know, a respectable rabbi, to whom the first wife complained, tried to keep the "second wife in spe" from converting by all means.

    Back then, the "convert to be" said she did not want to marry him, she just wanted to convert leshem shammayim.

    As soon as she had the giur, they got married.

    Now, about 14 years later, she is a well-respected member of a hareidi community, albeit not the one with the rabbi who wanted to keep her from converting.

    I have a bit an ambivalent position in this case.

    On the one hand, I clearly think what the man and the second wife did was wrong (towards the first wife), and I condemn it strongly.

    On the other hand: if she had been jewish from the start, who could have kept them from marrying, in exactely the same circumstances?

    Therefore, I think it is not really justified that the Rabbi tried to take advantage of the fact that she needed a Giur in order to avoid the marriag.

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  18. "However, I found in general the commitment to a Frum lifestyle and the love for Torah and Yiddishkeit to be much less among these individuals. Despite this often they would receive almost preferential treatment by some Rabbis seeing as though they were in a relationship with a Jew. I remember being very disheartened by this."

    I am in a similar situation and am also a bit disheartened by this, all the more as the official policy of our community Rabbi (who is not Rabbi Tropper) consists of taking only converts who already have a jewish partner whom they can marry after the Giur.

    This is the exact contrary if what Halacha says.

    On the other hand: he is not completely wrong. Many single converts in our community could not find partners, and some solved the problem by marrying non-jews, although they were very committed to judaism when they took their giur. Many of those who do not remain alone and a bit miserable and disappointed...

    On the other hand, many of the "converts for love" were very sincere and built a beautiful frum jewish family, giving the community the children it needs so desperatly...

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  19. I think this story and most of the comments show the complete disconnect that has developed between frumkeit and common sense.

    The rabbi in this story, if the details are true, is a scumbag. If he continues to pose as an Orthodox rabbi doing kiruv, he's a hypocrite. Intellectually thinking about this simply obscures the obvious.

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  20. Mekubal wrote :

    "Take the story that JerseyGirl posted above. I will give her the benefit of the doubt that she truly believes what she wrote to be true. "

    I will email R"DE names and details so that he can verify.

    The husband is with a goy in Aventura and she is alone with her kids in Hollywood. She is one of many many 40 something year old single observant mothers I know whose husbands have left them for Goyim.

    I will email , bli neder R'DE a list and also which synagogues and which Rabbis they are welcomed in.

    Make all the phone calls you want.
    It's true.

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  21. "Racheli said...


    I happen to be a giyores and one of the things which bothered me during my geirus process was the sheer number of conversion candidates who were converting for lust, love, marriage, whatever you want to call it. Not to be self-righteous since some of them were truly committed and sincerely devoted to Torah and also some single individuals who decide to convert are not so committed. However, I found in general the commitment to a Frum lifestyle and the love for Torah and Yiddishkeit to be much less among these individuals. Despite this often they would receive almost preferential treatment by some Rabbis seeing as though they were in a relationship with a Jew. I remember being very disheartened by this".

    It is indeed something that is really bothersome. as you write about those who are less committed. Actually R' Tropper's approach attempts to remedy that, by raising the standards of commitment of the convert. This is the reason why many Rabbis (like Rav REuven Feinstein or Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky support his efforts).In such cases, one can understand that they earn to some degree respect, as (those who) transform their lives with some difficulty.

    What should be even more bothersome and disconcerting to you and actually Klal yisroel is the sheer number of conversions made for these ulterior motives and there is no commitment whatsoever (or very little) to keep shabbat, kashrut and taharat hamishpacha. That is why many vehemently do not accept the validity of such conversion's by such Rabbi. this is why, for instance, R' Bomzer's conversions are not accepted by lots of people. (As an example we have had this Rabbi recently (two years ago) converted a known wealthy person who contributes to a lot of causes (some of them good causes) who contributed and pumped large sums of money so that the Rabbis recognize his wife as a giyoret when she is not one at all! She rejected to keep any shabbat by her conversion. but the above mentioned rabbi converted her, and for a large fee making this an even bigger sheker and avera).This may be a problem even for those who are converted under such Rabbis even when they are committed as the RAbbi may become disqualified as a kosher dayan. And obviously this put's to shame the fact that they get "preferential treatment" (sometimes with $$$ attached) while sincere Gerim and Giyoret TZedek do not really get what they really deserve!

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  22. JerseyGirl,

    You missed the point of my statement. I do not doubt you. I do not doubt that the mother is alone, or that the husband is with a convert. However, what is not certain is the reason for their split. Only a B"D can truly determine that. What you have is people's feelings and their stories, that revolve around an actual event.

    For instance, one case that I am intimately familiar with. Where a husband and a wife got divorced, and the wife was in Shul the following Shabbat telling everyone how her husband could not support them financially and other things such as this as to why he was a bad husband and a bad person. What she failed to tell people in the assassination of her husbands character was that she has been knowingly bringing non-kosher food into the home for months, was spending in excess of $40,000 a month of entertainment and things, and had shacked up with a goy co-worker(male) when her husband confronted her about it. Her behavior was so bad that the B"D(I was an eid) relieved him of having to pay her Ketubah.

    Fortunately, at least somewhat, his rabbi was able to defend him in his shul. However, enough people thought that the rabbi was just covering for him, and that he really was this bad husband, that he still needed to move to a new community.

    My main point was and still is, just because the external facts seem to agree with the stories that we are hearing. Does not make those stories any less true, or any less lashon hara, until they are investigated and dealt with by a legitimate Rabbinic body.

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  23. Mekubal, the husband is not with a convert. He is with a goy.He left his wife and children for a Gentile.

    The problem I bring up is that he will have no problem finding a "Rabbi" to convert the Gentile woman and legitimatize his choice.

    The husband has told members of the community that he left his wife and children because this is what makes him happy.

    This woman is my neighbor. I know firsthand that she is not bringing in non kosher food. She is not shacking up with a goy. She is an Aishet Hayil and half of the world has been a guest at her table and knows this.

    She has never gone out and has never done anything but help in his business, cook, clean the house, take care of the children and host his guests.

    She never even learned English despite living in the US for 15 years which should show you how much time she has spent at home taking care of him.

    I also know firsthand that he is not supporting her.

    She is working as a waitress and kitchen helper for a kosher caterer because that is the only work she can get.

    The Rabbi of our community has mobilized community members to help her. But there is not enough help to go around due to the bad economy.

    Meanwhile, he has a successful business and a good income. He is living waterfront in a posh commmunity. I guess I could make a few phone calls and find out if he is getting honors in the shul he is praying in now but the thought sickens me.

    This is only the dozenth situation like this that I can think of.

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  24. Roni said...

    It is indeed something that is really bothersome. as you write about those who are less committed. Actually R' Tropper's approach attempts to remedy that, by raising the standards of commitment of the convert. This is the reason why many Rabbis (like Rav REuven Feinstein or Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky support his efforts).In such cases, one can understand that they earn to some degree respect, as (those who) transform their lives with some difficulty.

    -------

    It happens that the Beis Din which I converted through is a well respected, accepted Beis Din with very high standards (Bli Ayin Hara). However, creating higher standards does not necessarily bear a stronger connection, commitment, and love of Torah within the individual conversion candidate.

    Those feelings and commitments are something which exist in the person or do not, can be roused or can’t be – but in my opinion they cannot be forced upon the person or implanted in them. You could say that higher standards weed-out people who are less committed and serious, who are lacking these internal convictions, and perhaps this is true in some cases. However, if someone has an ulterior motive that is strong enough, it also could push them through a rigorous geirus process.

    I do not believe (at least from what I have witnessed from the people I have seen go through conversions) that higher standards make for a better Ger. There is a lot of change involved in a conversion. It is not as simple as learning how to keep Shabbos and kashrus…. A Ger needs to completely resocialize themself to a different culture and lifestyle. You don’t learn all the social norms and nuances which make the Jewish people as a community so unique and JEWISH by taking a shiur on Kashrus.

    Conversion should be viewed as a holistic change for the person. It is not just a change in halachic status from non-Jew to Jew; from not keeping Shabbos, to keeping Shabbos. In my opinion it takes a high commitment and drive for an individual to properly integrate and join the Jewish people successfully, and holistically.

    All I am trying to say is that higher standards, although necessary, should not be viewed as some sort of panacea for preventing poorly integrated, insincere or wayward converts. It’s not a year or two year course in Orthodox Judaism that create well integrated, committed Jews; it’s an internal conviction and drive toward living a life dedicated toward Avodas Hashem which continues to drive that individual long past the geirus process is finished.

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  25. Racheli's above comment was made into a post

    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2009/06/ejf-higher-standards-isn-enough.html

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  26. JerseyGirl,

    My fault I thought that you had said that the woman had converted.

    IF the woman see want to convert, should she be allowed to? Yes!

    If she wants to marry him afterward should she be allowed to? No! Yes a B"D can make that kind of tikun.

    That the husband does not support his family, is as much the fault of the B"D that performed the divorce as it is the fault of the husband. From this I can gather that one of (at least) two possibilities has occured.
    1) Assuming that the B"D was made up of valid Dayyanim, then there were probably marital issues that you were not aware of.
    2) If the B"D was made up of Rabbis and not Dayyanim(which does often occur in the US)then they were probably incompetent to handle the complexities of a proper Get. Thus allowing an injustice to happen. BTW the woman can seek a ruling from another, preferably higher, B"D, and if all the details that you have given are completely accurate(as in there is not another side hidden in the closet somewhere that even you may not know about) than she should definitely do that.

    The husband should NOT be recieving honors. That is also pshat in the Shulchan Aruch.

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  27. A Mikva woman should ask all her שאלות to a Rov or find another vocation - isn't that obvious?

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  28. Just like there is little problem finding a (otherwise valid) orthodox rave to do chuppa vekidushin for a cohen / divorcee, no problem for a divorcee to marry his / her paramount, it isno problem finding a rav to do questionable giyur.

    As for the waterfront home resident getting kibudim, etc if he didn't violate an order if bet din (not paying alimony? Shouldn't have gone to civil court, should have gone to bet din in this issue), what grounds does she have to prevent kibydim?

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  29. I was doing business years ago in a central american country, and got friendly with someone who knew to learn torah, etc. He would complain the community was makin g him trouble, etc. His wife was a giyoret who converted to marry someone who "left her on the altar". He subsequently married her, and they're happy, etc.

    Once he tells me they wouldn't let her in the mikva. Foolish, she is probably the only person who uses the mikva regularly. I complained to the elderly rav, who started up how do we even know she is jewish, or that they are married (he is Syrian)?

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  30. Strictly speaking, there's probably no halachic problem with what he did, but there is a potential spiritual and ethical problem. I once saw a Q&A with a Chabad rabbi, in which the person asked the rabbi whether he should avoid looking at women while talking to them, even though it would be rude, in order to avoid sinning by deriving pleasure from looking at women other than his wife and stimulating inappropriate thoughts. The rabbi's answer was: sometimes you have to sacrifice your own spiritual growth for the sake of other people's needs and feelings. (The Rebbe made similar statements in several places, quoted I believe in the Gutnick chumash.)

    I think this situation is similar. He might have believed that marrying her was the only way he could grow spiritually, or generate certain insights. But shouldn't he have sacrificed his own potential growth to avoid pain and suffering to his family? After all, who says there is only one way to achieve spiritual growth (though a particular beautiful woman no less?) The yetzer hara, that's who!

    As an aside, perhaps this is a validation of the Chabad kiruv couples model: the men try to mekarev the men and the women try to mekarev the women.

    In any case, I hope that you're wrong that this is a relatively widespread phenomenon. In general, however, this kind of thing happens all the time to good-looking, outgoing and charismatic people of any faith. I would assume that genuinely G-d-fearing Jews who are good-looking, outgoing and charismatic (such as kiruv wonder-workers) are less likely to stray from their wives than their secular counterparts.

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  31. The blog post states:
    "This story is not rare unfortunately. It goes on all the time in kiruv or with teachers in seminaries."
    This sounds like a rather extreme exaggeration. What qualifies as "not rare"? Exactly how often is "all the time"? What percentage (a rough estimate is fine) of rabbis in kiruv and seminaries have been involved in such a story? Stories like this circulate, but I have yet to ever actually meet someone involved in such a story.

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  32. The_Original_Bored_LawyerJuly 17, 2014 at 1:53 AM

    "Nonetheless it wasn't easy breaking his wife's heart and destroying his kids"

    Destroying his kids is not muttar al pi halakha, if I understand you correctly to mean abandoning their chinuch. That is a clear violation of halakha.

    As for his wife, while divorcing her because he met someone younger and prettier is technically muttar, I cannot believe that daas chachamim approve this.


    As for "spiritual growth," sorry what he engaged in was spiritual narcissism. If he thinks that coming close to God consists in feeling good about a Ramchal, then he knows nothing about spirituality or Avodas Hashem. Nadav and Avihu also felt a high, and we know what happened to them.



    Did this "kiruv rabbi" bother to ask a Rov about his "spiritual" decision? Because if there ever was a case of being nogeiah be davar, this is it.

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  33. The problem with kiruv is not only, or even mainly, sexual abuse. It is psychological, emotional and and intellectual abuse, and geneivas daat. Many of the kiruv rabbis are themselves BTs who were recruited by Bts, and have an unhealthy extremism and cynicism, and have not developed their middos, and are very dishonest.

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  34. @Eddie - in your opinion did kiruv workers ever do anything goodor do you think they are largely evil and twisted people?

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  35. based on your question and your post above, i could ask you the same thing - did kiruv workers , in your opinion , ever do anything good, or are they all rapists and sex molestors?

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  36. @Eddie your comment was an inappropriate and gross exaggeration. It is totally inconsistent with your typically perceptive and well thought out comments.

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  37. I appreciate your feedback. My point is that the sexual abuse part and its relation to charismatic Rabbi is a manifestation of the other psychological manipulations of the same charismatic type. it is just that these are under the radar, and there are no complaints. For example, one such rabbi advise me that it is better to have a homosexual relationship, as long as it did not end in penetration, than to have any physical contact with a girl, when i was a student. Would you consider that healthy advice and daas torah?

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