Monday, November 30, 2015

Tamar Epstein Heter: New letter from Hisachdus HaRabbonim

Baltimore Beis Din: Tamar Epstein is still married to Aharon Friedman and is forbidden to remarry without first receiving a Get

update: Just added a letter written November 3 by the Baltimore Beis Din which addresses many of the short comings in the original letter which was written in July

update: I had removed this post a week ago at the direct request of Rav Mordechei Shuchatowitz of the Baltimore Beis Din. See Removal of post of Baltimore Beis Din

I did this for the sake of shalom bayis. That is to avoid side disagreements that would distract from dealing properly with the main issue of the phony heter. However it has become clear that whatever benefit for shalom bayis might have resulted from its removal - it is outweighed by the loss of critical information that is needed in the resolution of this crisis.

As this crisis winds down to the "end game" - it has become clear that various individuals feel a need to present the facts in a new more flattering way which smooths over certain difficulties.

Therefore aside from the need to accurately present the facts as to what has happened and why it has happened for the sake of Truth - it is needed to present the facts in order to know what to do to rectify the problem. Furthermore as Santayana wrote (in The Life of Reason, 1905): “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” or as eloquently and wisely expressed by Winston Churchill
“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”
—House of Commons, 2 May 1935, after the Stresa Conference, in which Britain, France and Italy agreed—futilely—to maintain the independence of Austria. (My book* page 490).

Letter written November 3, 2015

The following letter written in Tammuz from the Baltimore Beis Din was posted on Otzar Forums. 

After reading all the other letters against the heter of mekach ta'os - this one is clearly not a protest against a heter. In fact it doesn't acknowledge that there was a heter or a remarriage. It simply says the Baltimore Beis Din knows nothing about a divorce  either that they were involved in or that others did. Consequently according to their level of knowlege Tamar Epstein is still married to Aharon Friedman. It is a letter which shows extreme reluctance (timidity? or cowardice?) to even acknowledge that something has happened and therefore it refuses to criticize directly or indirectly Rabbi Greenblatt, the Kaminetskys and Tamar Epstein

Because the description  of events in the Beis Din's letter is truncated and missing critical information - a detailed description of events is available here  in this revised Procedural Summary.

 It is important to know why Aharon Friedman is named as the plaintiff in the civil courts. it was not because of his desire to have the case handled by the secular courts [contrary to the assertions of the Beis Din's letter] but was the result of a psak he received from Rabbi Breitowitz that he needed to take action quickly in the secular courts to avoid losing his daughter. As the Summary clearly shows - he actually cancelled a trial in civil court in October 2008 in order to bring the case to beis din. He also ultimately agreed to entirely cancel the secular lawsuit when the beis din later ordered him to do that - but Tamar refused. In fact a major posek who has been deeply involved in this case stated recently that Aharon showed too much deference to the beis din and rabbinical adivisors and that he should have gone to the police when Tamar abducted their daughter and moved to Philadelphia in April 2008 and should not have canceled the October 2008 trial to being the case to Beis Din - for the reason that Tamar had established facts on the ground by relocating the child out-of-State that would effectively pre-determine the outcome of any court case (if postponed any further), and beis din, even with a binding arbitration agreement would have no legal ability to change that.
As both Rabbi Landesman's letter to Rabbi Feldman, and the letter from the Rabbi Rabinowitz's Beis Din Ezer Mishpat make clear, Tamar violated the Beis Din's  orders and brought the case to trial in civil court. Tamar's actions in this regard also violated the parties' mediation agreement (pursuant to which Aharon agreed to dismiss a pendete lite trial in October 2008), and violated the shtar beirurin [binding arbitration agreement] signed before the Beis Din, both of which bound the parties to have the case decided by the Baltimore BD.
It is true that Aharon participated in the civil court trial.  But once Tamar refused the Beis Din's orders and insisted on taking the case to trial in civil court, Aharon had no choice but to participate in that trial -- and even the Beis Din did not ask Aharon not to.  Although courts must generally respect binding arbitration agreements regarding other matters, if one party to a binding arbitration agreement regarding custody insists on the court deciding the case, the court may not defer to the arbitrator and must decide the case from scratch under the doctrine of parens patriae. 
This is the rule in Maryland under a case called Kovacs, which specifically ruled that the Maryland courts may not enforce a binding arbitration agreement before the Baltimore BD with regard to child custody where one party objected.
The Baltimore Beis Din is still the only beis din that has been authorized by both sides to deal with the issues. And they state they are willing to continue.

It simply affirms that Tamar Epstein still retains the status of being the wife of Aharon Friedman and can not remarry with first receiving a Get.

Since the copy is not very clear I retyped it, in what I hope is the correct text. Any corrections will be appreciated. It is signed by the dayan hak'vuah Rav Mordechai Shuchatowitz, Rav Moshe Heinemann and Rav Yaakov Hopfer. Rav Aharon Feldman added a note that Tamar Epstein is clearly still married to Aharon Friedman and signed as well.

Letter written July 2015

THE BALTIMORE BAIS DIN -       בית דין קבוע מטעם ועד הרבנים דבאלטימאר 

נשאלנו בעת על דעת הבית דין אודות המעמדה בהלכה של מרת תמר (עפשטין) פרידמן שתחי', אשתו שלר' אהרן פרידמן שיחי', והנה זה כבר כמה שנים מאז באו הצדדים הנ"ל לפנינו בשנת תשס"ט וחתמו על שטר הבוררים שלנו לדון בעניני נישואיהם וגירושיהם כולל החזקת הבת שלהם וביקוריה והמסתעף,וטענו דבריהם בשלשה מושבי הב"ד במשך שלשה חדשים, והורינו אז להם שלדאבוננו אין עוד תקוה עלשלום בית ומוכרחים הם להתגרש לאחר שיסתדרו עניניהם ובפרט הענינים המתייחסים אל בתם,והשתדלו אז לסדר ענינים אלו אצל יועץ ומתווך מסוים, ושוב פנו אל הערכאות שלא ברשות בית דין ועלאף שהתרינו בהם שצעדם זה הוא שלא ושלא כדין, ולאחר שיצא משפטם שמה הודיענו להם שאף שלא יזדקקו הב"ד לדון שוב בדיונים שקבלו עליהם הכרעת בית המשפט, תיק הב"ד עדיין פתוח לדון עלמה שלא הובא שמה, דהיינו גירושיהם כהלכה ושום תביעות ממוניות שביניהם, אמנם מאז ועד עתה לאהגישו לא זה ולא זו שום בקשה לב"ד דידן, וגם לא הודיעונו לא הם ולא אחרים על סידור גט פטוריןביניהם ולא שמענו ולא ריאנו שום היתר נשואין מאיזה בית דין אחר כלל, ולכן כפי ידיעתנו אשה זועומדת בחזקת אשת איש גמורה ואסורה לכל אדם עד שתקבל ג"פ כדת וכדין.

ואמנם אם יש לשום אחד איזה ידיעה שלא ידענו או איזה טענה בהלכה שלא שמענו, הננו מוכניםומזומנים להושיב ב"ד מיוחד לדון על דינה דהאי איתתא לאמתה של תורה, ומי בעל דברים יגיש דבריואליהם, ובזה נזכה להסיר מכשול מביננו ולהרים קרנה של תורה ולתרבות שלום בעולם בעזה"ש ית"ש.ועכ"ז בעה"ת ביום ששי בשבת תשעה ימים לחדש תמוז תשע"ה לפ"ק

מרדכי שוחטוביץ
משה היינמאן
יעקב האפפער

הנני מצטרף לנ"ל ושפשוט שהאשה הנ"ל אשת איש גמורה
אהרן פלדמן

Tamar Epstein's Heter: Protest of the Eidah Charedis against her remarriage without a Get

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rav Nota Greenblatt: Problem of relying on others for the facts that determine psak

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

There is a tragic situation I have been trying to do something about for several years. Perhaps your recent endeavors can help.

In January 2014 I spoke to Rabbi N. Greenblatt of Memphis, TN who confirmed the Halachos of Orech Chaim, siman 366  require that if anyone is prevented from access from the food component of the community eruv, the eruv is invalid. There are several people in Las Vegas that the Young Israel does not allow on the property, most notably a widow (! It appears that Rabbi Greenblatt's son Rabbi Yaakov Greenblatt, who participated in construction of the eruv, was not informed of the situation in the area the eruv was to encompass. 

When I called Rabbi Greenblatt in Memphis it was very clear he knows the Halacha of eruv that the Kollel failed to fulfill. He said he was going to check into it. When I called him back he said that he had been assured by the "Bnei Torah of the Kollel" that everything is all right. He didn't know about the widow, he didn't know what happened to Rabbi Peltz ( and he has no idea how Rabbi Edgar Gross, z'tl was threatened if he dare try to enter the shul (
Rabbi Greenblatt simply put his trust with "the Kollel", a kollel that disregarded a seruv on the excommunicated leader of the shul, that everything is all right so to him the eruv erected by his son is ok.

Any way you can help with this situation would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Asher Kaufman

Fax number, 763-322-2342

If anyone wants to speak with me they can either email or fax their number to me and I will call them back.

Rav Nota Greenblatt featured at conference about Gittin - teaching about sensitivty to the individuals involved

Jewish Link    [This article is genuine]

Most of the active mesadrei gittin (get administrators) in the United States gathered in Manhattan last week for a day-long conference. It was a fantastic event. We had the privilege and opportunity to hear from leading halachic authorities such as Rav Nota Greenblatt, Rav Hershel Schachter, Rav Mordechai Willig and Rav Mendel Senderovic (listed in order of age). The focus was on addressing the manifold halachic challenges involved in gittin administration, such as securing the cooperation of recalcitrant men and women.....

One vignette stands out, though, in my mind as most memorable and insightful. Rav Nota Greenblatt, the country’s senior get administrator who has been administering gittin since 1952(!), related how he dealt with a particular challenge he encountered in a midwestern city. The woman insisted that she should hand the get to her husband instead of the Torah-mandated procedure of the husband handing the wife the get. She argued that since it was he who misbehaved during the marriage and not she (a fact that went unchallenged by the husband) then she should be the one to deliver the get.

This poses a serious challenge since a get delivered in such a manner is unquestionably halachically invalid, yet the woman was unwilling to cooperate in the traditional procedure. Rav Greenblatt patiently sat down with the woman and told the following story. His wife’s first delivery was an extraordinarily difficult one, with labor taking over thirty hours (!). When coming for the delivery of the next child, the Greenblatts (who reside in Memphis) hired the finest OB-GYN in the state of Tennessee. Rav Greenblatt told the wife that he asked the doctor if this time he could deliver the baby considering the difficulty of the prior delivery (by this time, the wife was already laughing). Rav Greenblatt noted that it is not fair for the husband to sit by on the side while his wife does the labor. It would seem far more equitable if the wife delivers the first child, the husband delivers the second and they flip a coin to decide who delivers the third.

Rav Greenblatt explained that God has ordained that it is the woman who delivers the children, notwithstanding our sense of fairness. So, too, Rav Greenblatt explained, if it were up to him, the husband should deliver the get to his wife if she misbehaved and vice versa if he acted poorly. However, God revealed at Mount Sinai a specific procedure in which the get is to be delivered under all circumstances. Laughing heartily and appreciating the insight, the wife then readily consented to receive the get in the halachically prescribed manner. What a fine example of sensitively bridging culture gaps with humor and wit! ....

Tamar Epstein's Heter: Is R Nota Greenblatt or R Shalom Kaminetsky going to inform Tamar that she needs to separate from her new husband?

Considerable progress in dealing with the phony heter has been made. In fact it is no longer a question of how many people support the heter. The answer is absolutely no one!

At this point - even Rabbi Greenblatt is fully aware that the heter that he gave is invalid. He blames R Shalom Kaminetsky for putting him in a very unpleasant situation where not only the Rabbanut wants to disqualify his future Gittin - but there is such talk also here in America.

Even without publishing his teshuva - enough people have read it to be aware that it is nonsense and was based on his blindly accepting everything that the Kaminetsky's told him. Even he is aware that the facts are false and that he permitted Tamar to be in an adulterous relationship.

The present question is who has the obligation to inform Tamar that her new marriage is invalid? Is it Rabbi Greenblatt who provided the heter to remarry and in fact was the mesader kedishin or is it Rabbi Shalom Kaminetsky who manipulated Rabbi Greenblatt - through his father  - into giving the heter and marrying Tamar and Adam.

Perhaps it should be the gedolim of the Agudah who stood silently by and voiced no objection even after it was clear that a horrible perversion of Torah had happened at the highest levels? Maybe it should be Rav Herschel Schechter who publicly announced that the word of Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky in Tamar's quest for a divorce should not be questioned? There are clearly other candidates.

In short, we have a situation where Tamar Epstein is living in sin because of unquestioned obedience to the doctrine of Daas Torah of Gedolim. Who is going to tell her that the Emperor has no clothes and that she has been horribly betrayed? Each minute that she stays together with Adam, there are rabbis who will be paying the price for their hesitancy.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tamar Epstein's Heter reaches the press- "Former ‘chained’ woman remarries in Memphis"

A former Silver Spring woman who was a central figure in the ongoing efforts to reform how the Orthodox community deals with men who refuse to grant their wives a Jewish divorce has remarried.

Tamar Epstein married Adam Paul Fleischer on Sept. 24, in a ceremony in Memphis, Tenn....

Because they are still married in the eyes of Jewish law until they receive a get, such women are known as “chained” women, or agunot in Hebrew. With several religious authorities viewing a husband’s refusal to grant the document as tantamount to spousal abuse, Friedman had been banned from communal activities in several locales, including in the Washington area, pending the Silver Spring man’s granting of a get....

The process by which Epstein was allowed to remarry has come under scrutiny, according to several sources. At issue is whether her marriage to Friedman was satisfactorily annulled....

Several people told Washington Jewish Week that Tamar was told she was a free woman by a Philadelphia rabbi who declared that Friedman had severe mental issues that existed prior to the couple’s marriage, including paranoia and obsessive compulsive disorder, and that had she known of these conditions, she would not have married him. Therefore, halachically she could move on with her life, the rabbi declared....

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, vice president of the Rabbinical Court in Israel, wrote a blog post in protest of Epstein’s remarriage.

A decision by some rabbis that the Epstein-Friedman marriage was over even though Epstein “had lived with her first husband for an extended period of time and she had borne a daughter from him,” is not the way it works, he said.

“I saw the [ruling] that ‘freed’ her. I hate to say this, but the [ruling] is total nonsense. Taking the approach of this [ruling], it is possible to destroy the whole framework of halachic marriage,” he wrote. “Such an approach is destructive to Judaism and uproots the basic laws governing Jewish marriage.”

According to Sternbuch, Epstein is still married to Friedman “in every respect.”...

[Rabbi] Kranz, who believes Epstein must receive a Jewish divorce before she can go on with her life, called the matter “a tragedy, a really big tragedy.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

Why aren't Rabbi Jeremy Stern and ORA protesting the false heter that has resulted in Tamar committing adultery?

Over the years we have had many discussions of the problem of women who want to leave their marriages but their husband refuses to give them a Get for various reasons. While we have some significant disagreements in the realm of halacha, I acknowledge there has always been one person - Rabbi Jeremy Stern and his organization ORA - that has consistently taken the side of the woman. He has sincerely devoted much effort to try and help anyone who claims to be an aguna. He has organized public demonstrations of hundreds of people to try and help a wife obtain her Get. He is very knowledgeable about the use of the media and how to create maximum pressure on the husband and his family to produce a Get. The common denominator in all those that he tries to help is that they are all women. They are viewed by Rabbi Stern and his halachic advisor Rav Herschel Schecter  as being victims of the husband, apathy of the public or rabbis who lack their commonsense human sensitivity to suffering.

In short, I am sure if I called up Rabbi Stern at 3 a.m. and told him there was a woman who needed help – he would immediate start working on finding a solution.

So why haven't we heard from him, ORA or Rav Herschel Schecter regarding the false heter that Tamar received? Why haven't they organized public demonstrations against Rav Greenblatt or the Kaminetskys? Why doesn't the fact that Tamar is now committing adultery as the result of rabbinic incompetence cause them to be outraged? Isn't Tamar also a suffering victim? Aren't they bothered by the major corruption of the halachic  process that has taken place. Why don't they heed the call of Rav Sternbuch and other rabbis to protest the disgrace to the Torah?

It can't be that they don't know about it. It can't be that they are unaware of the elementary halachic errors used to justify the "heter". Even more obvious is that they can not be unaware that the  psychological "evidence" used to justify the "heter" is total nonsense.

Perhaps they claim they are working behind the scenes to rectify the error? Or perhaps that they are worried for the loss of emunas chachomim because big rabbis made a terrible error? Perhaps they think the case should be covered up to prevent a chilul haShem of Titanic proportion? Highly unlikely.

Or perhaps they are afraid to publicize that the advice that rabbis give to women sometimes is wrong. Perhaps they don't want to acknowledge that not every strategy that seems to help women get out of a marriage is correct.

It seems that they are paralyzed because the protest against the heter is a protest against their categorical feminist focus and they simply can't do it. If this "heter" is wrong – people might starting thinking other heterim are also wrong.

Rabbi Stern - please prove me wrong. Please stand up and protest Tamar's plight.


Guest post by Ploni

Allow me to point out another serious problem with Tamar’s היתר. I believe that this problem points to the total lack of responsibility involved in attempting to use the רופא מומחה as a so called "עדות" that AF is a חולי רוח שמפריע לנשואים, as stated in Rabbi Greenblatt’s recent letter.


Got that? In cases like that of AF, the mental health practitioner has a legal obligation to disclose that both the reliability and the validity of his “product”, namely his evaluation, is of “limited” value!

A well-known fact in this case is that Tamar’s Friends and Family (TFF) are relying on a secular DSM diagnosis to prove AF’s purported mental illness. We are not privy to the personal communications between MHP and TFF. Perhaps the MHP DID disclose to TTF the “limitations on the reliability and validity of their professional products”. Unlikely, but possible.

We are however EXTREMELY CERTAIN that TFF did most definitely NOT notify any of the Rabbonim about this lack in validity and reliability. What makes us so sure? NO Rov with even one iota of ירא שמים – including both Rabbi Kaminetsky and Rabbi Greenblatt – would ever be מתיר אשת איש, had they known from the get-go that said evaluation is of questionable worth. To the contrary, TFF made EVERY EFFORT to prove that the evaluation IS valid and reliable. Rabbi Greenblatt’s letter pretty much says the same thing.

What we see here is לפענ"ד mind boggling. A היתר based on secular “science”, while that very “science” states unequivocally that it lacks validity and reliability! שומו שמים!!!

Who is responsible for this obvious lapse in judgement???? Did none of the מתירים have the אחריות to ascertain the validity and reliability of the diagnosis? Is this what סוד ה' ליראיו has come to???

This monumental חילול ה' could easily have been avoided, had we only had people with both יראת שמים and working KNOWLEDGE OF SECULAR LAW pertaining to mental health diagnosis and treatment.

This knowledge gap needs to be fixed quickly.

The issues at stake are not just relevant to this particular fiasco with Tamar. They are much, much more wide-ranging. Outdated secular theories of mental health at loggerheads with Torah values have made serious inroads into our communities in areas like Marriage counseling/שלו' בית, parenting/education/חינוך … The list is long. Ironically, more recent theories with strong backing from those at very pinnacle of their respective scientific fields are MORE CONGRUENT with Torah thinking - yet they are all but ignored.

Let us band together to turn this terrible חילול ה' into a tremendous קידוש ה', by dedicating the time and resources necessary to really get a “handle” on these complex issues.

Rav Moshe Sternbuch: It is required that we protest the "heter" to remarry without a Get

This is a selection from Rav Sternbuch's weekly parasha sheet. He denounces the "heter" to remarry without a Get and says that there is not sufficient public protest against it. Furthermore the "heter" needs to be protested even if the protest doesn't seem to be effective.

מאמר שבועי בדרכי עבודת ה' וענייני הזמן 

מפי מרן רבינו   

הגאון רבי משה שטרנבוך שליט"א 

פרשת וישלח תשע''ז

אין לי מנוחה כשעה כזאת שהפרצות כעיקרי הדת מתגברות והולכות בארץ ובחו"ל, ואין שומעים מספיק קול מחאה על חילול ה' ותורתו, ובאמריקה נתנו 'היתר' :'בטל קידושין בלא גט בטענת מקח טעות, ואף שנבלה נעשתה בישראל כמו פילגש בגבעה מ"מ לא פורסם מספיק קול מחאה.

הדבר פשוט שאין כאן הוראה אלא טעות מעיקרא, שכל בחור ישיבה יודע שאם לאחר שידע מהמום המשיך להשתמש בו אח"כ, אין דין מקח טעות, ולכו"ע תצא :מזה ומזה והוולד ממזר .

וחובה להצטער ולהוקיע מה שנעשה בעו"ה, והחילול ה' הוא נורא מאוד כשרבנים עוקרים בשם התורה יסוד דיני אישות, וכבר כתב מהרש"ל בפ"ק דב"ק שהוא ביהרג ובל יעבור שלא יעקרו דין תורה. ובארץ ישראל בשעה שהתיר הרב ראשי ממזר, ולדבריו חתמו עמו עשרה רבנים, צירה הגאב"ד בעל מנחת יצחק וגדולי ישראל זצ"ל לכנוס את כולם וישבו בארץ ואמרו קינות, ורבים קרעו עמו בגדיהם על חילול כבוד ה' ותורתו, ואף שהוא התיר ממזר שהוא באיסור לאו, וכאן הפרצה היא על איסור אשת איש שחמור יותר, מ"מ לא שמעו עדיין קול מחאה מספיק. ומצווה למחות אף אם לא יוכלו לפעול, שעצם הדבר שמוחים הוא זכות רבה מאוד, וישוב חרון אף ה' על עמו שפוגעים בתורתו, שהרי קיבלנו ערבות לשמור התורה לנצח לעולם וועד.

ומפי מו"ר הגה"צ רבי משה שניידער זצ"ל שמעתי כמה פעמים שבשמים מצפים ושואלים האם נשמע קול מחאה, ואם נשמע קול מחאה, אז מתקיים מאמר הכתוב (מלאב' ג' ט"ז) "ויקשב ה' וישמע ויכתב ספר זיכרון לפניו ליראי ה' ולחושבי שמו", ויהי רצון שיהא חלקינו עמהם".