Saturday, June 1, 2013

Get Me'usa: An apparent contradiction between Igros Moshe and Tendler's Mesoras Moshe

I have raised the issue of the usefulness and reliability of Tendler's recently published Mesoras Moshe as a source of knowing Rav Moshe Feinstein's views. Mesores Moshe: What is it?   [see also Review of Mesoras Moshe by Rabbi Hoffman]  Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst writes in his haskoma to Mesoras Moshe that he went over the material to make sure that there was nothing that contradicted the Igros Moshe [something I found rather strange]. However in spite of Rabbi Fuerst's efforts I found something of importance that seems to be an apparent contradiction that has serious consequences. I would appreciate it if someone can explain why my understanding is incorrect.

The issue is, What type of pressure invalidates a get and produces a get me'usa? In the following teshuva from the Igros Moshe (vol 7), Rav Moshe clearly states that pressure that is done for punishment such as financial pressure, jail or beating is unacceptable. However in contrast pressure caused by a bribe to give a get rather than punishment is acceptable. Similarly a promise of help to get the husband out of jail on an unrelated charge is a legitimate way of motivating the giving of a get - but punishing with jail for not giving a get is not acceptable. Even conditioning the giving of a civil divorce on the giving of a get is acceptable because it is viewed as a benefit that he can choose to forgo. 

In sum in the Igros Moshe he says that punishment produces a get me'usa while reward or bribe does not. In apparent contrast in Mesoras Moshe he is alleged to have said, if the husband is tortured to do something he really doesn't want to do by beating or imprisonment in a jail where he will be beaten or killed - then it is invalid as ge me'usa. However all other types of coercion -  if he can withstand the pressure and not give a get unless he wants to - then it is not a get me'usa. There are significant differences between these two sources as what type of pressure can be used. According to the Mesoras Moshe it should be permitted to publicly embarrass the husband as ORA is doing. While according to the Igros Moshe it would clearly be wrong. The Igros Moshe is also in accord with the use of harchas of Rabbeinu Tam while the Mesoras Moshe is definitely not.

The translations of both the Igros Moshe and the Mesoras Moshe are mine and can not be used without my written permission.
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Igros Moshe( E.H. 4:106): This that there is an effort being made to pass a law in the state legislature that whenever a Jew becomes divorced in a secular court he is also obligated to give his wife a valid get in beis din – this is definitely a very major accomplishment. Such a law does not constitute an illegal coerced get (get me’usa) because of the involvement of non‑Jews. That is because the husband has the free will not to divorce his wife according to the secular law. It is only because he wants to obtain a secular divorce in order to be exempt from the financial obligations of his wife and that he will be able to legally marry another woman – and the secular government will not give it to him unless he has given a valid get to his first wife. Therefore he is giving the get of his own free‑will. This is exactly equivalent to one who doesn’t want to give his wife a get but when they give him thousands of shekel – suddenly he becomes willing to give it. This is not considered coerced (me’usa) since he has the free will to decide whether desire for the money is more important to him than the desire not to give the get.  It is a daily occurrence amongst the Jewish people that a husband is given this choice.

The coercion which invalidates a get is when he is beaten or imprisoned or given some other affliction in order that she be given the get. Such cases are considered that he is being forced to give the get – only then is it in invalid. Similarly even in the case of financial pressure in a case where the government obligates him to pay as a punishment for not giving the get is considered as a get given with financial coercion because he doesn’t want to lose the money. An additional case is if someone takes a large sum of money from the husband and refuses to return it unless he gives a divorce – is also considered to be illegal coercion. [See the Shulchan Aruch E.H. 134.4 in the Rema and Pischei Teshuva (E.H. 134.11)] In contrast if the husband is given money to motivate him to want to give the get – it is obvious that this is not considered coercion and it is a daily occurrence. So this concern for obtaining a benefit is exactly the same thing as giving a get in order to obtain a civil divorce. Even if he is imprisoned for a different matter and the wife has someone who is willing to intervene to obtain his freedom on the condition that he give her a get – this is not considered that he was coerced to give a get. That is because the cause of his suffering was not caused by his not giving a get – but because of an unrelated matter. The giving of the get only provides a remedy for removing the suffering. Therefore a get given to stop suffering from an unrelated matter is considered to be total free-will. This is quite simple and logical. This is a valid get even in a situation where he has no obligation to divorce her. [...]
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Mesoras Moshe (Even HaEzer #133 page 440): ... Rav Moshe was asked ... Is it permitted to force a disgusting and criminal husband to divorce his wife by beating him as some are accustomed to do. Rav Moshe replied that a get given as the result of a beating is a get me'usa and it is prohibited to do such. However all other types of pressure are permitted to do since the husband has a true choice concerning what he wants. In other words when he can decide that he would rather not lose money or kavod [that is not considered a get me'usa]. In contrast regarding torture even though he doesn't wnat to give a get but it is impossible for them to handle the pain. We see this in the statement of Chazal, "That if Chananya, Mishal and Ezarya were beaten" [Thus torture produces a get me'usa]. [in a footnote it states] ( And he viewed that only a beating given by beis din was legitimate but that which was given by laymen it is not clear that the consideration that a person really wants to listen to the chachomim applies). I then asked Rav Moshe when prison is considered to be torture [and thus would produce an invalid get]. He replied that in Europe there is no question that it would invalidate the get since it was such a horrible place that involved torture and possibly death... However  here in America perhaps there are types of jail that are not so horrible [and thus would not invalidate the get]

Then I asked Rav Moshe if the husband was beaten but no one told him that the beating would stop if he agreed to divorce his wife but rather he was simply told "you think you can handle this torture. Perhaps now you understand the torture you have caused your wife by making her an aguna" and then stop the beating. If he gives the divorce after this without mentioning the beating..." Rav Moshe laughed and said that maybe the would be valid under these circumstances since the husband isn't t explicitly giving the get because of the beating it would not be considered a get me'usa. However in terms of actually poskening that way Rav Moshe did not want to take the responsibility for such a psak. He said, "Practically speaking it would be impossible for me to permit such an action."

24 comments :

  1. Is it true that Reb Moshe wrote that his responsa are not to be translated?


    -ben dov

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    1. שו"ת אגרות משה יורה דעה חלק ג סימן צא

      איסור לפרסם קיצורי דינים ופסקים מספרי תשובות וגם לתרגם תשובות ללשון המדינה בע"ה מע"כ נכדי אהובי הרב הגאון מוהר"ר שבתי אברהם שליט"א שלו' וברכה לך.

      אף שאני כותב עתה תשובה ארוכה בדבר השמות אבל מכתבי זה הוא בקצור בדבר ששמעתי שאחד עשה ספר בלע"ז בהעתקת דינים מהספר אגרות משה שלי, והוא איסור אף אם היה התרגום ראוי שבזמננו ליכא מי שיכול לומר ולהדפיס פסקים בלא באור ומקורות, וכבר בקש ממני רשות איזה אינשי מכאן ואמרתי שאיני נותן רשות על זה. וגם נמצא שלא העתיק כראוי ויש כמה דברים בטעותים וכמה דברים שגורמים לטעות שזה עוד גרוע ביותר, וגם להעתיק התשובות ממש פשוט שהוא חסרון גדול ליתן הפסקים לאינשי דעלמא שאינם ת"ח שיבואו לדמות מלתא למלתא ולכן אני מוחה בכל תוקף שיש למחות. והנני זקנך אוהבך בלו"נ, משה פיינשטיין.


      Mordechai Tendler told me that this was in reference to an index to the Igros Moshe that was made by Rabbi Rakefet to the first 5 volumes of the Igros Moshe. He wrote an introduction describing the nature of the teshuva literature in general and he summarized the final psak of the entire Igros Moshe in English. Rav Moshe was concerned that someone was turning the Igros Moshe into a new Shulchan Aruch and he felt that no posek today has the ability to do so. Because of this objection Rabbi Rakefet's index was never published. By the time he was able to alter the text - the 6th volume had come out and he didn't wan't to start again.


      He explained that while Shemiras Shabbos is in fact a Shulchan Aruch based on the psakim of Rav Shlomo Zalman - but that was only on Orech Chaim. however he claimed that Rav Moshe was more concerned about the work of Rav Feivel Cohen.

      A clear problem to the simple understanding of this teshuva is the sefer Piskei Teshuva by Rav Padwer which is a summary in
      English of the Igros Moshe and the psakim of the Debricziner and has a haskoma from Rav Moshe! That too was explained as being only on Orech Chaim and in addition the sources of the psakim are given.

      Rav Moshe Tendler has published translations of a number of teshuvos l'chovod his father in law involving very sensitive issues - and Rav Tendler said that it was not a violation of Rav Moshe's wishes.

      Bottom line is that the teshuvas I am translating deal with issues that it is not a problem that an ignoramous will mistakenly posken for himself - rather I want to make clear that the problem is that rabbis are claiming things in Rav Moshe's name that he didn't say. This is similar to some who objected to my indexing the Igros Moshe by saying that the ignorant and incompetent will now have access to Rav Moshe and poskin incorrectly for themselves. Rav Moshe thought that only talmidei chachomim read the Igros Moshe. In fact the Igros Moshe has long been read by yeshiva bachrim and baalei baatim. The real problem was the rabbonim who were misquoting the Igros Moshe and getting away with it because no one could find the original tehsuva.

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    2. "Rav Moshe was more concerned about the work of Rav Feivel Cohen"

      What is this referring to?

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    3. his sefer on hilchos niddah

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  2. classic case of divrei horav divrei hatalmid divrei mi shoymin

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  3. The feminist MO biryonim do not accept the torah and wish to amend it. However unlike the reform they are intellectually dishonest and still wish to claim they follow Halochoh which clearly they don't. So instead they twist the halochoh, put words not just in people's mouths but even in their writings, and then abra cadabra they have a new mesorah with a new set of halochohs.

    Furthermore I have spoken to some rabbonim about rav moshe's teshuvah which you quote. Apparantly the phenomenon in those days was not for the wife to run to arko'oys for a divorce but to do the right thing and go to bais din or settle the case. That is the background to reb moshe's teshuvah they claim. They claim that reb moshe would be horrified by the breach of halochoh today and would not argue that a woman who went to arko'oys and whose husband wants an end to the marriage is obligated to give her a get until she is tzias dina. In fact he has another teshuvah speaking about a moredes which is what a holeches arko'oys is, in which he explicitely claims husband does not ahve to give her a get.

    Hence the claims in Tendler's book can assumed to be totally misleading.

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    1. Rabbi Tendler in general has some extremely problematic views. Nevermind his remembrance of what Rav Moshe Feinstein said, I have heard him say things that no competent Rav would.

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    2. That is a bit unfair. If you are going to malign Rabi Tendler, at least provide examples of these "problematic" views and no competent Rav would say.

      RMF and Rabbi Tendler were quite close. RMF would spend alot of time in his son-in-law's shul in Monsey and there is no reason to believe that he is anything but accurate in his recollection of what his father in law wrote and held.

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    3. @James

      If I can find the recording I will do one better and request that Rav Eidensohn post it. However to answer your question, two of the many items that he mentioned and which were problematic were:
      1) He said that one could take a frozen kishke and drop it into the cholent pot on Shabbat(and specifically dealing with a case where the person did so with gefilte fish instead of kishke). His claim is that there is no cooking after cooking and so long as the fish was wrapped in plastic, simply rinse off the plastic and everything is fine. I'm sorry but that shows a basic lack of understanding of the concept of bishul acher bishul in the case of wet things.

      2) He gave this riddle(which seems to be popular amongst his students from RIETS): "What is it that you have two items one thing that starts off Kosher and ends up non Kosher by putting something that starts off non kosher and ends up Kosher?" With the answer being salt and meat. However, again it shows a basic lack of understanding. Raw meat(that which we salt) is not unkosher. Only if we are to cook it does it become unkosher. The Shulchan Arukh states quite plainly that raw meat, unsalted is kosher, as we are only worried about blood that travels from place to place.

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    4. I will wait to listen to the recording in which he speaks about bishul achar bishul but why do you consider gefilte fish wet?

      I give no weight to the technical halachic problems of a riddle. Its a riddle!

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    5. Fish isn't, but cholent is. I don't care if it is a kishke(what was intended) or gefilte fish(what accidentally happened) if you drop it into a boiling pot of stew, there is cooking according to the Shulchan Arukh.

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  4. So James please explain how R Mordechai Tendler can express an opinion in the name of reb moshe which is in utter contradiction of what Reb Moshe wrote?

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    1. 1. I still dont see the contradiction. I think they are complementary. The problematic phrase in IM (and it really is just a small part of the teshuva) is referring to government action or theft in which there is no choice. You must follow the law and stolen property is not in your possession. The new sefer is not reffering to those cases. Basically, RMF holds that so long as there is an element of choice and no physical beating directed at eliminating that choice, the get is kosher. That is why you see in the last paragraph he was reluctant to pasken a case in which there was a beating but no direct connection to forcing a get. The problem there is that according to RMF's view of psak, that would not be a problem since the beating is not directly related to forcing a GET and therefore, does not technically limit the man's "choice". Of course, he cant actually allow that - hence the reluctance to pasken.

      2. This sefer has haskamas from Rabbis MD Tendler, both Feinstein brothers, and students of RMF. Unless you are prone to conspiracy theories, that is sufficient evidence of its reliability.

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    2. Nope you are avoiding the clear and obvious reading of the Igros Moshe. In the Igros Moshe he clearly is concerned with the motivation as to whether the money is a bribe or a punishment whether jail is punishment for failure to give a get or for another reason. The Igros Moshe is saying bribes don't make a get me'usa while punishment does. It is not a question of how severe the pressure is. In contrast in the Mesoras Moshe anything which is not torture and can be resisted is not called force. Totally different reasoning!

      What you and I are bothered by is the fact of the haskamas. If it weren't for the haskamas I would say without any doubt that the two sources were written by two different people. Given the haskamas I am presenting the apparently contradictory material to the public and asking for a reconciliation.

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    3. The Igros Moshe is clear. Beatings which totally eliminate rational choice invalidate a GET. Read it carefully. The problem with his position, which gives rise to the Mesoras Moshe question is the qualification "in order that she be given the get." IOW, you can not beat someone in order to elicit a GET because that eliminates the choice from the husband.

      The basic question in Mesoras Moshe is "OK. So we cant beat him to force him to give a GET. What if we just beat him because he is wicked and dont mention anything about stopping the beating if he gives a GET." What is lacking is the intent to elicit a GET. To that, RMF refused to pasken.

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  5. TO EVERYONE; NO BEATINGS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TODAY BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN SHOWN THAT IN SOME CASES THE WOMAN IS AT FAULT FOR HER DIVORCE AND HAS VIOLATED OTHER TORAH LAWS IN THE PROCESS. WHAT NOBODY SEEMS TO STATE IS THAT ANY DIN RELATING TO FREEING AN AGUNA IS ONLY APPLICABLE WHEN THE WOMAN IS 100% GUILTLESS OF HER STATUS.JUST AS WE SEE IN THE DIN OF SOTA, THAT THE MAN HAD TO BE GUILTLESS FOR THE SOTA WATERS TO WORK ON HIS WIFE. WHEN YOU HAVE A WOMAN THAT GOES TO CIVIL COURTS, OBTAINS GAG ORDERS AGAINST THE HUSBAND SUCH AS THE LONNA KIN CASE AND THE HUSBAND HAS LEFT HER A GET WHICH SHE REFUSES TO PICKUP, THEN CHAZAL WOULD NOT ALLOW SUCH LENIENCIES. THERE ARE MANY REPORTED CASES OF MEN LEAVING A GET, AND THE CORRUPTED BRIBE ACCEPTING RABBIS ARRANGED FOR THE KIDNAPPING AND BEATING OF THE MAN BECAUSE THESE CORRUPTED RABBIS WERE PAID HANDSOMELY AND WILL MAKE UP ALL SORTS OF LIES THAT THESE GITTIN WERE PROCURED AT INVALID BAIS DINS. ADDITIONALLY CHAZAL'S ENACTMENTS TO FREE AN AGUNA IS ONLY APPLICABLE WHEN THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO SOLVE HER AGUNA STATUS. YET ONCE AGAIN, WE FIND TODAY THAT MANY OF THESE CASES ARE SOLVABLE TO OBTAIN A GET BUT THE WOMEN REFUSE TO NEGOTIATE BECAUSE ORA AND CORRUPT RABBIS ENCOURAGE THESE WOMEN NOT TO NEGOTIATE IN ORDER TO KEEP THE AGUNA MOVEMENT ALIVE AS WELL AS KEEP THE CORRUPTED RABBIS IN BUSINESS. AS AN ENDING THOUGHT, I FIND IT VERY INTERESTING THAT EVERY AGUNA STORY IN THE TALMUD, REPRESENTS WOMEN THAT CRY AND LONG FOR THEIR HUSBANDS' SAFE RETURN HOME. IN CONTRAST TO THE MODERN DAY AGUNA WHO ONLY WISHES THAT HER HUSBAND WOULD DROP DEAD!!!

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  6. Shmuel, please click your cap lock off.

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  7. Frankly the Feinstein brothers have given a haskomah to their nephew not to his views and even if their haskomas say otherwise that is really what is going on here.

    DT, your interpretation of the Teshuvah of Reb Moshe seems spot on not that you need my haskomah or any other haskomah for that matter.

    James can make any claim he likes. If my memory serves me correctly, the poskim in the shulchan oruch clearly say that ones momon is an ones. That the MO world has decided to alter halochoh and still make fanciful claims of following the Torah is a joke. Why not be intellectually honest and just open a new version of Judaism called halachic when it suits us Judaism.

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  8. http://torahmusings.com/2013/05/mesirah-two-contemporary-views/

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  9. BH
    DT,
    I saw the book review on voisis.... i was wondering if you could comment the the teshuvah on page 293. or since i have not been able to see the book in person, maybe you could post part of the teshuvah.
    thanks.

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    1. there are two teshuvahs - one on magic the other medical tests - which one are you referring to and why do you want either posted?

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    2. from the book review, it seems that there is something about a kohen marrying a bt from russia. i might be in a similar situation as to what is described there. I am speaking with a rav, and having another meeting soon. Since this book was recently published i want to make sure all the available information is taken into consideration before his psak.

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    3. found the teshuva it is was not on page 293 but 393. However this sefer was not written to posken from. Realistically if your Rav has questions it is best to speak directly with Rav Dovid Feinstein to clarify the halacha.

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