Friday, October 16, 2015

Tamar Epstein:Why was R' Greenblatt mesader kiddushin and why was the wedding in Memphis?

With the continued silence of the Kamenetskys and Rav Greenblatt concerning why Tamar Epstein was told she could marry without a Get, I think it is important to present an interesting conjecture that answers the question. It must be noted that this is only conjecture at this point - but it has the ring of truth.

One of the critical unanswered questions is who is the halachic authority behind the heter? Rabbi Greenblatt has acknowledged that he was the mesader kiddushin but he says he relied on a heter to remarry without a get from GEDOLIM - that he refuses to name because of the chilul haShem.

I propose that the heter is from Rabbi Greenblatt himself - though I assume he found some rabbis who agreed to his ruling. 

Support for this conjecture is the rather strange fact that Tamar and her new husband went to Memphis for the wedding - but neither of them is from Memphis and they haven't lived there. Now why would two busy people from New York and Philadelphia go to Memphis for a wedding - it can't be because it was convenient for their friends and family - most of whom don't live there.

While it could be argued that at the age of  90, Rabbi Greenblatt would be seriously inconvenienced to go to New York - it doesn't explain why he was mesader kiddushin. After all, Rav Shmuel as well as Rav Sholom know how to perform a marriage - so why didn't they? In fact there is no lack of rabbis who could have done it and have more connection to the family.

The simply and obvious answer is that Rabbi Greenblatt was mesader kiddushin because he was the one who gave the heter to remarry. However that doesn't explain why he had to personally marry them - couldn't he simply give the heter and let some other rabbis be mesader kiddushin?

The logic of the conjecture is that the heter of Rabbi Greenblatt rests strongly on his authority as a posek - not on his servora. Obviously he is relying on his understanding of the rulings of Rav Moshe Feinstein - but that is subject dispute. Any rabbi can claim that he is based on Rav Moshe - such as Rabbi Rackman did - but it simply wasn't accepted. Rabbi Greenblatt needed some basis of authority above the claim that this was Reb Moshe's psak. 

The critical fact - that as he himself has noted - that while he is not a world class posek he is clearly moreh d'asra. Furthermore in his part of the country he is viewed as the highest posek. So just as the Sanhedrin had no authority when it left its chambers - Rabbi Greenblatt views his authority to posken on this issue dependent on being in Memphis.

In sum, I conjecture that the foundation of the heter to marry is from Rabbi Greenblat. The authority comes from his status as posek not only of Memphis but of the South. As such he doesn't feel a need to justify himself since most frum Jews in that part of the country have accepted him as the highest authority - without the need for explanation. Thus the Shach (Y.D. 242) that requires explanation when giving a seemingly strange psak -is taken care of. That is only when the psak will be questioned. Rabbi Greenblatt is not questioned in the South

 Tamar Epstein needed to go to Memphis to be included in his halachic community - which she did. He needed to be Mesader Kiddushin to clearly establish that this was his psak and thus protect her - at least in the South - from criticism.

At the same time he was telling the truth that he was relying on other gedolim. He relied entirely on the Kaminetsky's to tell him that Aharon Friedman had some serious blemish that was unknown before the marriage, clearly manifested itself after marriage, was something that most women could not accept and that she left him as soon as she was informed of this "fact". He was also relying on the gadol - Rav Moshe Feinstein - for the concept of Mekach Ta'os. Finally I assume there were at least two other major poskim who agreed to his psak. Taken together, he did in fact rely on other gedolim which he refused to name. BUT HE IS THE SOURCE OF THE HETER! 

An interesting question arises  from this conjecture, according to Rabbi Greenblatt - is Tamar's marriage only valid as long as she remains in Memphis? This is similar to Rav Goren's ruling that certain gerim were only Jews as long as they were living in Israel.

However even if the above analysis is correct, there still remains one insurmountable barrier to the validity of the heter. The heter is only valid if and only if Aharon Friedman has very serious mental health issues that existed prior to the marriage and that Tamar Epstein was unaware of. It is only valid if this mental health disorder manifested itself after the wedding to such a degree that most women could not live with it. This is obviously what the Kaminetsky's had to have told Rabbi Greenblatt - since he never spoke with Aharon Friedman. But the claim of serious mental health issues is simply not true - IT IS A LIE - as I can testify from speaking with Aharon Friedman personally and the complete absence of any mention of such in Tamar Epstein's diary listing his faults. 

 Rabbi Greenblatt clearly was naive and irresponsible in not investigating Aharon Friedman's mental state. As a minimum he should have spoken with him and he should have insisted on an independent expert to evaluate him - but he didn't.  Thus even if Rabbi Greenblatt has the authority to give a heter - since it is based on false information - it is invalid and Tamar Epstein is still married to Aharon Friedman.

I welcome evidence that either confirms or refutes the above conjecture - but it does explain Rabbi Greenblatt's reasoning as to why Tamar could marry without a GET.

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