Friday, May 30, 2014

Rav Dovid Eidensohn: Stories about Rav Moshe Feinstein

Capitalism Eating Its Children

NY Times    Guildhall at the heart of the City can be a lulling sort of place after a long day. The statuary and vaulted timber ceiling of the medieval great hall lead the eye to wander and the mind to muse on Britain’s strangest quirk — its centuries of continuity. Grace is said, claret is served, glasses clink and dreaminess sets in. A keynote speech from a central banker is all that is required to complete the soporific effect.

Or so one would think, until Mark Carney, the Canadian governor of the Bank of England, lays into unfettered capitalism. “Just as any revolution eats its children,” he says, “unchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself.”

All ideologiesa, he continues, are prone to extremes. Belief in the power of the market entered “the realm of faith” before the 2008 meltdown. Market economies became market societies. They were characterized by “light-touch regulation” and “the belief that bubbles cannot be identified.”

Carney pulls no punches. Big banks were too big to fail, operating in a “heads-I-win-tails-you-lose bubble.” Benchmarks were rigged for personal gain. Equity markets blatantly favored “the technologically empowered over the retail investor.” Mistrust grew — and persists.

“Prosperity requires not just investment in economic capital, but investment in social capital,” Carney argues, having defined social capital as “the links, shared values and beliefs in a society which encourage individuals not only to take responsibility for themselves and their families but also to trust each other and work collaboratively to support each other.”

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rav Perlow - head of Aguda - condemns Reform, Conservative & Open Orthodox Movements




Forward   The leading rabbi of Agudath Israel of America, the ultra-Orthodox umbrella group, condemned non-Orthodox streams of Judaism and called the religiously progressive Open Orthodox movement heretical at the group’s annual gala.

“The Torah must be guarded from the secular forces that seek to corrupt its values and the lives of [Jews], from intruders who sometimes in the name of Judaism completely subvert and destroy the eternal values of our people,” said Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, the Novominsker rebbe and the rabbinical head of Agudath Israel, at the May 27 dinner.[...]


NY Times   Tests of courage are found in unexpected places.

On Tuesday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio attended a gala for Agudath Israel of America, a premier event for the black-hat leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Jews of New York. The mayor is a gregarious fellow, and as my colleague Sharon Otterman reported, he chatted and joked on the dais with numerous rabbis, some of whom endorsed his mayoral campaign.

Let’s assume the best. Perhaps the mayor was enjoying himself too much to listen as Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, a top rabbi with Agudath Israel, delivered keynote remarks laced with Yiddish and Hebrew words.

Rabbi Perlow offered a shower of condemnation for Reform and Conservative Jews, who he said were among those who “subvert and destroy the eternal values of our people.” These movements, he said, “have disintegrated themselves, become oblivious, fallen into an abyss of intermarriage and assimilation.”

“They will be relegated,” he added, “to the dustbins of Jewish history.”

This was a striking statement because a majority of the Jews in this city identify as non-Orthodox. The mayor himself proudly celebrates his own mixed-race marriage. [...]

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rav Sternbuch protests against the get given to the wife of man in vegetative state.


This is Rav Sternbuch response to the case of a woman getting a get from her husband who is in a vegetative state - that had been reported  here. Freeing an agunah whose husband is in a vegetative state

Updated version In response to Rav Zalman Nechmiah Goldberg. Added letter from Rav Zalman Nechmiah Goldberg and Rav Shlomo Fischer. Rav Zalman Nechmiah Goldberg writes that he only discussed the topic from a theoretical aspect and never permitted such a type of get to be given. Rav Fisher writes that the get is a worthless piece of paper and the woman is an eishes ish

Rav Dovid Eidensohn: Personal lessons from Rav Aharon and Rav Moshe

 Go to torahtimes.com  to see three videos, two on Reb Aharon and one on Reb Moshe. Some download and some play.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky: Bean counting - Non-Jewish woman vs niddah?

 This was originally posted in September 22, 2008 see also halacha is not bean counting

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky(Emes LeYaakov Parshas Yechi page 237): A practical example of zealousness which is not based on a correct reading of the halacha is found in the following question. A person has the choice of marrying a Jewish woman who doesn’t observe the laws of family purity or a non‑Jewish woman. Which is preferable? A student who has not properly served an apprenticeship with an experienced posek will say that it is obvious that the person should chose to marry the non‑Jewish woman. That is because sexual relations with a nidah is punished by kares while sexual relations with a non-Jew is only a violation of a negative commandment of the Torah which is not punished by kares. The truth is not this way. Rambam (Hilchos Issurei Bi’ah 12:7-8) states that even though sexual relations with a non-Jewish maidservant is only a rabbinic prohibition he rules that, "This sin [of sexual relations with a non‑Jew] even though beis din does not impose the death penalty should not be viewed as minor because there is a loss associated with it. Contrary to all other sexual transgressions in which the son of the relationship is still his son in every respect and has the status of a Jew – even if the child is a mamzer – but the child from a non‑Jewish mother is not his son as it says in Devarim (7:4): For they will turn away your son from following Me.” That means that the son has been removed from following after G‑d. This activity causes him to attach himself to non‑Jews which G‑d has separated us from them so that we would follow after Him and thus he is rejecting G‑d. “ It is clear from this that the person should choose the relationship with the Jewish woman even though she doesn’t observe the laws of family purity.



[1] רב יעקב קמנצסקי (אמת ליעקב פרשת ויחי ע' רל"ז): דוגמא מעשית לקנאות שלא לפי הדין ניתן להביא מהשאלה הבאה: אדם שיש לו ברירה בין לישא בת ישראל שלא תשמור על טהרת המשפחה ובין לישא גויה, מה עדיף? התלמיד שלא שימש כל צרכו בודאי יאמר: הלא איסורי נדה הם בכרת, ואילו בעילת עכו"ם אינו אלא לאו בעלמא שאינו ענוש כרת, בודאי אם כן עליו לבחור בגויה. האמת היא לא כן. הרמב"ם, אף שדעתו היא שביאת שפחה אינה אלא מדרבנן, פוסק [הלכות מאיסורי ביאה יב:ז-ח] בזה"ל: עון זה אע"פ שאין בו מיתת בית דין אל יהי קל בעיניך אלא יש בו הפסד שאין בכל העריות כמותו שהבן מן הערוה בנו הוא לכל דבר ובכלל ישראל יחשב ואע"פ שהוא ממזר והבן מן הגויה אינו בנו שנאמר כי יסיר את בנן מאחרי מסיר אותו מלהיות אחרי ה' ודבר זה גורם להדבק בגוים שהבדילנו הקב"ה מהם ולשוב מאחר ה' ולמעול בו עכ"ל. ברור לפ"ז שעליו לבחור בבת ישראל אע"פ שהיא אינה שומרת טהרת המשפחה.

Schlesinger Twins: How an outside observer feels about Beth's plight

This letter was forwarded to me by Beth. The author wants to remain anonymous
=============================

Monday, May 26, 2014

Rav Moshe Feinstein : A man is more of a slave to his wife than she to him


I noticed this comment of Rav Moshe Feinstein this morning while I was looking through the 9th volume of the Igros Moshe. I found them puzzling since he is commenting on the gemora which itself says that a wife is similar to a slave. [Eliyahu G wrote: these exact words have already been written by R. Moshe in Dibros Moshe Gitin page 511]  Text available on Hebrew Books here

Menachos (43b) It was taught: R. Judah used to say, A man is bound to say the following three blessings daily: ‘[Blessed art thou . . .] who hast not made me a heathen’, ‘. . . . who hast not made me a woman’; and ‘ . . . who hast not made me a brutish man’. R. Aha b. Jacob once overhead his son saying ‘[Blessed art thou . . .] who hast not made me a brutish man’, whereupon he said to him, ‘And this too!’ Said the other, ‘Then what blessing should I say instead?’ [He replied,] . . . who hast not made me a slave’. And is not that the same as a woman? — A slave is more contemptible.1 [Rashi- nevetheless a slave is on a lower level than a woman Or alternatively, ‘nevertheless go on (including the blessing concerning the slave)’, so as to make up the three blessings.]

אגרות משה (אורח חיים ו:ב.ה): מעיר על מה שפירש רש"י שאשה שפחה לבעלה כעבד
 ]ועיין ברש"י [מנחות מג:] שפירש בפירוש ראשון על הקושיא היינו אשה, דאשה נמי שפחה לבעלה כעבד לרבו. ולולא דמסתפינא הייתי אומר שצריך למחקו דח"ו לרש"י לומר דברי הבל כזה, דמן התורה הא ליכא שום שעבוד על האשה לבעלה חוץ מתשמיש, ולענין תשמיש הוא משועבד לה יותר דהא עליו איכא גם איסור לאו, ורבנן שתיקנו שמעשה ידיה לבעלה הא  כנגד זה חייב במזונות ואינה מחוייבת לעשות רק עניני הבית ולא עבודת שדה ומעט עשיה בצמר שהיא מלאכה קלה ממלאכות שדרכן של בנות העיר בזה, עיין בש"ע אהע"ז ריש סיי פ,' והמזונות מחוייב שלא לגרוע מכפי דרך משפחתה ודרך משפחתו ובכל אופן  לא פחות מכפי שהוא אוכל, וכן שמחוייב בכסות לפי  מנהג בנות העיר ולפי דרך המשפחות שלו ושלה  דעולה עמו ואינה יורדת עמו ומחוייב לכבדה ואינו  יכול לילך מביתו בלא רשותה רק למלאכתו הידוע לה,  והבעל אדרבה מחוייב לעשות כל המלאכות שצריך האדם לפרנסה כלשון שתיקנו לכתוב בכתובה, ואף להשכיר עצמו סברי התוסי בשם רי אליהו בכתובות  דף ס"ג ד"ה באומר שהוא מחוייב, ונמצא שאדרבה  הוא יותר עבד לה מכפי שהיא שפחתו וצע"ג[.    

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Brooklyn Rabbi and His Child Porn Collection

Daily Beast      Samuel Waldman, one of the main alleged child porn purveyors named in ‘Operation Caireen,’ is only the latest in a series of scandals buffeting Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox community.

Among the 71 people charged in Wednesday’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement child porn ring bust, there are more than a handful of surprising offenders, including a Little League coach and a former Westchester police chief. But for those familiar with the Brooklyn ultra-Orthodox community’s repeated failure to report sexual abuse, seeing Rabbi Samuel Waldman arrested for the alleged possession of child pornography is no shocker.

It was Waldman’s own disturbing collection of child pornography, law enforcement officials say, that helped lead them to uncover dozens of other purveyors in “Operation Caireen.” His was one of two initial investigations—the other was of Brian Fanelli, a one-time Mount Pleasant police chief—that eventually led to Wednesday’s announcement of 71 arrests. On March 5, Waldman, 52, was charged with the transportation and distribution of child pornography. According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Waldman shared multiple child pornography files on publicly available peer-to-peer networks out of his home in the Kensington section of Brooklyn. These files, the complaint alleges, included a video of girls “between the ages of approximately four and eleven years of age” performing oral sex and being anally and vaginally penetrated by older men, and a clip of a naked prepubescent boy “being masturbated by another unknown person until the child ejaculates.”[...]

Friday, May 23, 2014

Indictments in 3 coerced divorces

NY Times   When several rabbis and ultra-Orthodox men were accused in October of being a part of a ring that kidnapped and tortured Jewish husbands who refused to grant divorces to their wives, the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey said the number of victims might run into the dozens.

But the authorities would not discuss any of those cases. Initially, the charges against the accused kidnappers were based only on an F.B.I. operation involving an undercover agent who posed as a wife wanting to leave a deteriorating marriage. In headline-grabbing detail, court papers described how the agent infiltrated a world of “special rabbis” willing to authorize the torture of recalcitrant husbands until they agreed to a divorce, which under Jewish law cannot occur without the man’s consent.

On Thursday afternoon, after months of investigation, an indictment was unsealed in Trenton that bluntly detailed three actual kidnappings that preceded the operation. The indictment charges five men, including the accused ringleader who was arrested after the operation, Mendel Epstein, of Brooklyn. Among the other defendants are one of his sons, David Epstein; a rabbi who presides over a yeshiva in Monsey, N.Y., Martin Wolmark; and two other men. [...]

Freeing an agunah whose husband is in a vegetative state

 update:  Rav Sternbuch's objection & R Z N Goldberg's clarification

update:  Original Psak

update Haaretz     Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg approves


בעקבות סירוב הרב יוסף להצטרף לפסק הדין, הדיינים בראשות הרב אוריאל לביא פנו לדיין בכיר מחוץ למערכת הרשמית של המדינה, הרב זלמן נחמיה גולדברג, העומד בראש בית דין רבני פרטי בירושלים. גולדברג כתב, כי לאחר שקרא את פסק הדין של לביא, כי "דבריו נכונים מאוד ואני מצטרף לדעתו להתיר במקרה המיוחד שלפנינו". ל"הארץ" נודע, כי בשבועות האחרונים פנו גורמים רבניים לרב גולדברג, בדרישה שיחזור בו מתמיכתו בפסק הדין

בין המתנגדים לפסק הדין ישנם דיינים במערכת הרשמית, שאחד מהם אמר אתמול כי"פסק הדין הזה שווה כקליפת השום". בשבועות הקרובים צפוי להתפרסם פסק דין של בית דין רבני מחיפה שהתבקש להתיר עגונה שבעלה נמצא במצב של "צמח" לאחר ניסיון התאבדות כושל. גורמים במערכת בתי הדין אומרים, כי פסק הדין מחיפה הולך להיות גם תגובה נוקבת נגד הדיינים מצפת על עצם השימוש בגט זיכוי

בינתיים, מי שיצא באופן נחרץ נגד פסק הדין הוא הרב עו"ד דב הלברטל, מומחה למשפט עברי שהיה גם מקורב למנהיג הליטאי המנוח הרב יוסף שלום אלישיב. "זו שערורייה ליברלית", אמר הלברטל על פסק הדין. "אין צורך אפילו לקרוא את פסק הדין כדי להבין את זה. לא ייפלא שהרב אלישיב לחם נגד רבנים מהציונות הדתית שהם דיינים והנה אנחנו רואים תוצאה שהרכב של בני ציונות דתית מוציא תחת ידו פסק דין מרחיק לכת כזה. הרי הבעל הוא אדם חי, והאשה היא אשת איש. זה כבר מעבר למדרון החלקלק של הפקעת נישואין, מייצרים כאן פתרון קל לכל בעיותיהן של עגונות או של אומללות בחיי נישואין. לא היה פסק דין כזה למעט אולי פסק הדין של הרב גורן הממזרים (1972), לא היה פסק דין חמור כזה שמשחק לידי הליברלים. יכולות להיות לו השלכות חמורות ביותר".
   kikarhashabat


פסק דין תקדימי של בית הדין האזורי בצפת התיר עגונה שבעלה מוגדר כצמח. הדיינים נעזרו בהליך שנקרא "גט זיכוי", על פיו, הדיינים קובעים כי רצון הבעל הוא להתיר את אשתו, ובכך לאפשר לאישה להינשא מחדש. ההחלטה, שפורסמה לראשונה ב"הארץ", ניתנה לפני כחודשיים, ואמש פרסמה הנהלת בתי הדין הרבניים את פסק הדין מאת הרכב הדיינים בראשות הרב אוריאל לביא 
.
הראשל"צ, הרב יצחק יוסף, נשיא בית הדין הרבני הגדול והרב הראשי לישראל, סירב להצטרף לפסק הדין התקדימי, כמו גם מספר דיינים חשובים נוספים. עם זאת, הדיינים פסקו בלעדיו, כשהם מסתמכים על אסמכתות מהרב צבי פסח פראנק והחזון אי"ש, ומוסיפים אסמכתות מעשרות מקורות אחרים 
.
הדיינים ציינו כי פסיקתם הובאה גם לפני הרב עובדיה יוסף בסוף ימיו, אבל מפאת מצבו הבריאותי לא זכו לתשובה. יחד עם הרב לביא, ישבו והחליטו על פסק הדין הרבנים חיים בזק ויוסף יגודה 
.
בפסק הדין כתבו הדיינים כי "על יסוד החומר שבפנינו ושמיעת חוות הדעת הרפואית, הגענו למסקנה ברורה שאין בה ספק - הבעל במצבו הנוכחי אינו כשיר לחלוטין לכל סוג של תקשורת עם הסובב אותו, אינו מודע ואינו מבין ברמה המינימלית והבסיסית ביותר אף את צרכיו הבסיסיים שלו 
".
בעקבות כך, החליטו הדיינים כי האישה היא "ספק אשת איש", וחובותיה כלפי הבעל, המוגדר "שוטה", אינם מלאים 
.
בית הדין ניסה בתחילה להתיר אותה בטענה ל"פסילת קידושין", אך לאחר שמצא כי לא היה פגם בהליך הנישואין לא אפשר את התרתה על בסיס זה.

What does Judaism mean by happiness?

Happiness in Premodern Judaism Virtue, Knowledge, and Well-Being

by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson
Properly understood, I contend that in Judaism happiness does not mean possessing material goods, having fun, feeling content, or enjoying physical pleasures, although some of these elements may be part of the happy life. 

Happiness is not a subjective feeling manifested in a given moment or for a short period of time. Instead, it means flourishing, thriving, and experienc­ing well-being appropriate to human beings. It is an objective state of affairs that pertains to human nature and to the quality of a human life as a whole,from the perspective of its entire duration.

Moreover, the intrinsically good life is inseparable from a set of religious beliefs, the most important of which is that God, the creator of the world, has a special relationship with the People of Israel, to whom God revealed His Wisdom and Will in a form of law: the Torah. The challenging question, then, is not "How can Judaism be concerned with happiness?" but rather, "Can the notion of happiness in Judaism make sense independent of the belief in Torah and the life that flows from it?" I answer that question in the negative. Until Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza in the mid-seventeenth cen­tury, all premodern Jewish thinkers held that Jews could flourish only if they lived the life of Torah and devoted themselves to fathoming God's Wis­dom. Nonetheless, their views were not all struck from one mold. Over time, those thinkers gave different answers to the basic questions "What does Torah mean?" "How does the Torah ensure human happiness?" "How does Torah relate to Wisdom?" and "What results from following Torah and pursuing Wisdom?

Review Commission for purported Marranos - Oporto, Portugal

   

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Schlesinger Twins: Beth urgently requests Chabad to let her attend her sons' birthday party

The following is a letter that Beth Alexander asked me to publicize. I am greatly saddened and disgusted that she had to publicize this request. It is inconceivable to me that anyone who  has a Jewish heart would refuse her - and yet so far she has been unable to get permission from Chabad. This is especially troubling given the importance that the Rebbe and Rav Moshe Feinstein held of birthdays. 

Furthermore I have been informed that my publicizing Beth's plight irritates members of the Vienna community - including its rabbis.  I have been told that there is muttering about "Why air this on the Internet?" I in fact share your concerns but I see no alternative at present. I welcome any suggestion that would take care of these matters of common decency - without publicity. So far private requests have accomplished nothing!
=================================== 
update - The Law of Austria regardiing child custody European Commission

http://www.help.gv.at/Portal.Node/hlpd/public/content/10/Seite.100022.html
In the case of sole custody, the non-custodial parent has the following minimal rights.

The right to information, statements and representation

The custodial parent is obliged to inform the non-custodial parent about important matters and changes in the life of a child of both parties (eg change of school, change of address, illnesses which are not just minor, success at school).

The non-custodial parent has the right to make a statement about these topics. The custodial parent also has these rights, ie the parents are obliged to inform each other about these things. The non-custodial parent also has to care for and rear the child and represent him/her in everyday matters, as long as circumstances permit, e.g when the custodial parent is not present and the child is lawfully spending time with the non-custodial parent.
====================================

I address this simple request to Chabad International; to every Chabad Shalich, Rabbi, Rebbetzen and Chabadnik, in every country and in every continent of the world:

You are the so-called emissaries of the Rebbe. You have chosen a very noble role; to publicly take upon yourselves the onus of 'caring for' and 'reaching out' to Jewish souls all over the world. Your ethos: when you hear a cry of distress, you rush to help. When you see suffering, you do everything in your human power to relieve the pain.

Samuel and Benjamin Schlesinger will be 5 years old this Shabbos. I've been told the normal procedure on a child's birthday is as follows:

The Chabad kindergarten in Vienna, Rav Biderman's school, celebrate with a party in the class and crown the child a birthday 'king or queen.' The child's parents are invited to be there to join in.

Since my twins' birthday is on Shabbos, I assume this party will take place on Friday.

My little princes will have their turns as the birthday 'kings.' Their class will sing 'yom huledet sameach' and their friends will congratulate them and give them gifts. There is just one thing missing from this wonderful occasion: the life source who carried them and brought them into this world: their mother.

Every other child takes it for granted that their 'mama' is invited by the kindergarten to their birthday party, that their 'mama' brings them in the morning and picks them up in the afternoon. Sammy and Benji are not that fortunate.

Michael Schlesinger cancelled my visit this Tuesday without giving any reason and the visiting centre cancelled my visit this Sunday.

I therefore have ONE request from you:

TO ALLOW SAMMY AND BENJI TO HAVE THEIR MOTHER AT THEIR BIRTHDAY PARTY IN THE CHABAD KINDERGARTEN IN VIENNA

Such a simple request yet one which would mean all the joy and happiness in the world to me and my boys. Do not turn me away. There is no court order prohibiting me from attending the kindergarten. No law will be broken if I am present and yet how many Chabad principles will be broken if I'm denied this simple wish?

It is not my intention to inconvenience anyone. I only want to be there for my babies - the children to whom I GAVE BIRTH - on their BIRTHday.

Please have compassion. See our tears and hear our cries. Let the twins' 5th birthday be a happy memory we can look back on and cherish.

Such a lofty mission as you embraced was never meant to be easy. You can choose to take the easy route and ignore me, letting us suffer further, or you can take on the challenge like warriors and honour the name of the Rebbe throughout klall Yisroel.

I charge you, every single Chabadnik around the world, to do EVERYTHING in your power to make Rav Biderman's Chabad school in Vienna do the right thing by Samuel and Benjamin and let my two little boys enjoy their birthday party in the presence of their mother.

Thank you.

Beth

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dozens Arrested in New York State Child Pornography Investigation

NY Times In what law enforcement officials have described as the largest-ever enforcement operation in New York going after people who “possess, produce or distribute sexually explicit images of children,” 70 people have been arrested across the state and charged with crimes involving the exploitation of children.

The people arrested include two police officers, two registered nurses, a paramedic, an au pair, and an individual who served as both a den master with the Boy Scouts of America and a Little League baseball coach.

The arrests, made in recent weeks, came after investigators were able to surreptitiously infiltrate peer-to-peer file-sharing networks in the New York City metropolitan area used by people seeking to distribute and acquire images and videos of children engaged in sexually explicit activities.

During the course of the investigation, known as Operation Caireen, law enforcement officials monitored activity on some 150 Internet Protocol addresses for more than a month, from April 4 to May 15. [...]

On Jan. 23, Brian Fanelli, chief of the Mount Pleasant Police Department in Valhalla, N.Y., was arrested and charged with the possession of child pornography.

The charges stunned the small northern Westchester County community where Mr. Fanelli was well liked and had taught children in religious classes at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Shrub Oak, N.Y., how to be alert to sexual abuse.

On March 5, Samuel Waldman, a rabbi and an instructor of Judaic studies, was arrested at his residence in Brooklyn. He was also charged with possession of child pornography.

Law enforcement officials said those two cases provided critical information that led to the broader operation.

Schlesinger Twins: Letter of British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis


Epstein-Friedman divorce: Actions of Rabbis Kamenetsky and Schacter

Guest Post by Izzy

The actions of Rabbis Kamenetsky and Schachter in the Epstein-Friedman matter unfortunately illustrate the severe problems caused by rabbonim and roshei yeshiva who have very close family and/or financial and personal connections to one party in a dispute intervening in a one-sided fashion to further inflame the dispute – all the while being treated as impartial and neutral arbiters and judges in such dispute.

Epstein and Friedman brought their dispute to the Baltimore Beis Din, which held several hearings into the case and did not require that Friedman give a get or issue any other ruling against him. Epstein violated the Baltimore Beis Din’s orders regarding dismissing the civil court trial that Friedman had delayed by eight months in order to bring the case to the Baltimore Beis Din. Epstein successfully argued in civil court that her unilateral relocation of the child from Maryland to Pennsylvania should be treated as a fait accompli because of the time that had elapsed between the relocation and the trial. Epstein also successfully asked the court to arrange a custody schedule where much of the child’s time with Friedman was rendered moot because of Shabbos.

Epstein then involved the Washington Beis Din, which ruled that it could not get involved given that the parties had brought the matter to the Baltimore Beis Din whose orders Epstein had violated.

Epstein turned to Rabbi Kamenetsky who issued public letters attacking Friedman and his family. Rabbi Kamenetsky has longstanding personal and financial relationships with Epstein’s family, which are widely known and have actually appeared in various newspapers. Rabbi Kamenetsky should have been widely condemned for weighing in on this matter in favor of a family to whom he has such close ties, and his completely contradicting the decision of the Beis Din to which the parties had actually brought the matter. Instead, many in the Orthodox community simply disregarded the Baltimore Beis Din and gave credence to Rabbi Kamenetsky’s denunciations of Friedman.

Rabbi Hershel Schachter and ORA, of which Rabbi Schachter serves as posek, then jumped into the matter claiming that the position of the beis din chosen by the parties should be disregarded because Rabbi Kamenetsky had taken the opposite position. Even while the Baltimore Beis Din said that Friedman had not committed any wrongdoing and that actions against him were wrong, ORA insisted upon demonstrating against Friedman and also against the Washington Beis Din for refusing to intervene against Friedman.

Think about this: two parties brought a matter to a beis din. One party didn’t like the beis din’s decision, so that party gets a rosh yeshiva with whom that party has close personal connections to publicly attack the other party?! And then Rabbi Schachter declares that the beis din is irrelevant because the rosh yeshiva is a godol and incites communal attacks on the other party?! This outrageous behavior makes a mockery of halacha, the very concept of a beis din, and the Orthodox community.

If the tactics were meant to coerce a get, the tactics were not working. But the fact that Rabbis Kamenetsky and Schachter were able to get away with such outrageous behavior, not only against Friedman and his family, but against the Baltimore Beis Din and the Washington Beis Din, just incited them to more outrageous behavior.

Eventually, Rabbi Kamenetsky was able to cobble together a so-called beis din to purport to issue a “seruv” against Friedman. The “beis din” did not even pretend to function as anything other than a kangaroo court. The “beis din” did not bother issuing even a single hazmana, but started off with a “hasra’a acharona” [final warning] demanding that Friedman give a get, thus issuing its ruling before even commencing any proceedings. Rabbi Kamenetsky signed the purported “seruv” while Rabbi Schachter added his signature. Another signatory was Rabbi Moredchai Wolmark, who was recently arrested by the FBI, along with several others, on charges of ordering a kidnapping and beating of a man in order to obtain a get. Several of the co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty. The competence of Rabbi Wolmark, or the complete lack thereof, was demonstrated by the fact that Rabbi Wolmark ordered the kidnapping and beating of a fictional husband regarding a marriage that did not exist. Two other signatories have been alleged to be involved in similar beatings in the past. That anyone would assign any credence to the actions of this “beis din,” particularly given that the parties had previously brought the matter to another beis din, is beyond absurd – but yet many did.

Subsequently, Friedman was attacked by several masked individuals while returning the child to Epstein’s house on Tisha Ba’av in July 2012, in an apparent attempted kidnapping and beating. The attack endangered not only Friedman’s life but that of the child. But still, few rabbonim were willing to denounce the outrageous behavior, and instead many continued to publicly attack Friedman and his family instead.

This just further emboldened Rabbi Kamenetsky to believe that any actions he undertakes, no matter how directly contrary to halacha, will receive wide acceptance if those actions are undertaken on behalf of a wealthy and influential family. But all the public attacks against Friedman were not working. And the attractiveness of ordering another assault against Friedman apparently diminished after the FBI sting operation. The idea that Epstein should come to a reasonable resolution of all matters, despite the fact that she is part of a powerful family accustomed to getting its way, seems to be something that Rabbi Kamenetsky never even considered, proclaiming that there was nothing to negotiate. When another rav in Philadelphia attempted to initiate negotiations, he was told in no uncertain terms by the Epsteins to mind his own business.

So it should not be that surprising that in December 2013, two months following the aforementioned FBI arrests, ORA publicly announced that Tamar is “free” although she has not received a get – apparently approved by Rabbi Kamenetsky. Given the acceptance of his outrageous behavior until now, it should not be surprising that Rabbi Kamenetsky would believe that this too will be accepted.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tamar Epstein is free according to the Kaminetsky's - how they explained it.

ORA has suddenly proclaimed that Tamara Epstein - after a number of years as an "aguna" because her husband would not give her a get  - was actually free to marry without receiving a get from Aharon Friedman. The obvious meaning is that she and her rabbinical advisors decided that she didn't need a get.

Rabbi Bleich in his discussion of Rabbi Rackman's "getless divorce" said Rabbi Rackman claimed that when a husband won't give a get on demand it "proves" he suffers from an unbearable blemish of cruelty  that no normal person would marry if she had known about it. Upon finding about it after marriage the marriage declared simply never having existed.

In fact a "getless divorce was approved by Rav Moshe Feinstein. But only if the following conditions were met. 1) There is a severe fundamental flaw(e.g.., cruelty or mental illness) in the spouse that preexisted the marriage that if known - the marriage would never have happened because 2)  no normal person could accept marriage to the person. 3) In addition he requires that the spouse leave immediately upon finding out about this "unbearable flaw".

These conditions clearly don't exist in regards to Aharon Friedman.    I have talked with Aharon and he manifested no sign of mental illness. Tamar Epstein has written that Aharon Friedman is a nice guy but just not for her. The head of the Baltimore Beis Din told me he doesn't understand why the marriage dissolved. They lived together long enough to have a child. It is hard to imagine what excuse the Kaminetsky's have other than the nonsense that Rabbi Rackman spouted that not giving a get indicates a fundamental flaw which shows that there never was a marriage.

A number of commentators have complained that before criticizing Rav Shmuel and Shalom Kaminetsky (her main rabbinical advisors) they should be contacted to hear their explanation. As has been reported a number of times - they were in fact contacted and they did not offer a meaningful explanation. The following is a report by one of our regular participants - Joe Orlow - of what happened when he called up for an explanation.  

Guest post - Joe Orlow

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Tamar Epstein is married to Aharon Friedman.

The Organization for Resolution of Agunot (ORA) proclaims "Tamar is Free".

So I called ORA.

I spoke to someone there. Apparently "Free" to them means that Tamar is no longer an "Aguna."

They weren't going to tell me much more.

I called the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia. It took several calls but I reached Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky. I told him why I was calling. His reaction was: "...Heter Meah Rabbonim". He seemed to be making light of the whole thing.

I'm not sure if "Heter Meah Rabbonim" meant he didn't have information about how she was "Free", or if he was aware how she became "Free" and was sending me a message that he didn't want to tell me the reason.

I felt like a joker.

Rabbi Kamenetsky indicated that his son, Rabbi Shalom Kamenetsky, is closer to Tamar than he is.

I called the Yeshiva again, got Rabbi Shalom Kamenetsky's home number. Called the home number. I got the cell number. At some point Rabbi Shalom Kamenetsky and I connected by phone.

In the course of the conversation he said something like Tamar is "Mutar". That Aharon should give a "Get L'Chumra." I asked him how Tamar could remarry without it being revealed how she is allowed to remarry.

He told me that when someone is set to marry her, that information will be revealed to that person.

He inquired of me if I was interested in marrying her.

I think he was serious. It was not that he was trying to put me off. It was as if it had occurred to him that the reason I was pestering him with questions about Tamar Epstein's marital status was because behind my words was a desire to marry her.

I was taken aback then, as I am now, and am filled with disgust, fear, shock and loathing even as I write this. Someone was asking me if I want a married woman. I felt like I was standing at the Gates of Hell.

I had one last question before we ended our conversation. I asked him if I could quote him as saying that Aharon has not given Tamar a Get.

"You said that," Rabbi Kamenetsky shot back. Strange, I thought.

Consider. If there is a Get, wouldn't he just say there is? And if he's telling me that Aharon should give a "Get L'chumra" isn't that tantamount to saying Aharon has not given a Get? So why was it necessary for him to emphasize that he never said a Get wasn't given?

Perhaps he just didn't want me quoting him at all.

In summary, it was apparent from the conversation that Rabbi Shalom Kamenetsky was saying that if anyone is interested in marrying Tamar that they should contact him. I think he even said that explicitly.

It is with great reluctance that I write this, because some misguided young man may actually now contact Rabbi Shalom Kamenetsky, and this young man could come to, Rachmona L'tzlon, desire a married woman or even Chas V'Shalom marry her. The benefit to the community of publicizing the shenanigans outweighs this remote possibility. The Ways of H' are straight and the righteous walk in them and willful sinners will stumble in them.