Friday, December 11, 2015

Tamar Epstein's heter: Another Troubling Dimension … Is Aharon Being Pressured For A Quid Pro Quo?

Guest post by Ploni

First, a definition: Quid pro quo ("something for something" in Latin) means an exchange of goods or services, where one transfer is contingent upon the other.

Word is that there’s pressure for some “deal” that might work something like this: Aharon should be משליש a Get in Bais Din … in return he’ll receive better visitation, a semi-apology from Tamar and her family … and the Chillul Hashem will hopefully sink into oblivion.

Even assuming that sufficient safeguards were placed to insure that the “other side” sticks to its promises (a big if!), here are THREE REASONS why כל אשר נגעה יראת ה' בלבבו should protest against such an approach:

1) This won’t rectify the real problem. The most pressing issue is no longer visitation and obtaining a semi-apology for totally irresponsible character assassination that relied on non-existent evidence. Rather, the real issue is the wholesale dismissiveness towards the very principle of TRUTH, as defined by the basic concept of fact checking and due diligence. TRUTH is an extremely highly cherished principle of our faith, so much so that the רבינו יונה in שערי תשובה states that “sticking up” for truth is the ONLY antidote of חילול ה', which has no כפרה as long as a person is alive:

שע"ת לר"י, שער א' מאמר מ"ז: כאשר האדם משתדל לתמוך ביד האמת. ויעזור אחריו ויתעורר בדבריו. והופיע אורו לעיני בני עמו. ויחזק ידי אנשי האמת. ונשא ראשם. וכתות השקר ישפילם יגיעם עד עפר. הנה אלה דרכי קדוש ה'. והוד והדר לאמונתו ועבודתו בעולם. ועוז ותפארת במקדש תורתו.

שער ד' מאמר ה': ואמר שלמה המלך עליו השלום (משלי טז) בחסד ואמת יכופר עון וביארנוהו בשער הראשון מן התשובה וענין אמת שהזכיר ביאורו שיכין החוטא לבו לחזק ידי האמת. ולעזור למבקשי אמונה ולהסיר השקר והעול. כי הודעת האמת והשיבו לבצרה כבוד אלקים.

2) We are supposed to be מחזק those that endeavor to act ע"פ תורה, because doing so strengthens the כבוד of Torah. The evidence points to the fact that Aharon has suffered PRECISILY BECAUSE he tried doing the “right thing” . Instead, what he got in return … again and again … was just ביזוי בזיונות.

Evidence shows that the core issue of socializing originally separating the couples worldview was very much intertwined with not wanting to talk לשון הרע and דיבורים אסורים. Why hasn’t this issue been properly addressed in therapy and through Tamar’s Rabbinic advisors? It is not far-fetched to say that had this been dealt with properly, the whole tremendous חילול ה' never would have started.

Evidence shows Aharon’s concern with ethics and morals. This is not only highly valued ע"פ השקפת התורה but also seen as a tremendous asset for sustainable intrinsic wellbeing / happiness in cutting edge psychology. Why hasn’t this issue been properly addressed in therapy and through Tamar’s Rabbinic advisors?

Evidence shows that Aharon listened to his Rabbinic advisor and took his disagreement to Bais Din instead of ערכאות (after getting the היתר ערכאות for only emergency purposes), which later ended up costing him dearly. Why hasn’t this issue been properly addressed through Tamar’s Rabbinic advisors? Shouldn’t they, OF ALL PEOPLE, be concerned with upholding the intuition of B”D? Why, to this day, has the Bais Din never issuing a Siruv against Tamar? Why have רבנים חשובים had to send private messages of support to Aharon, while stating that doing so publicly would only damage them and not do anything to help him?!

It is important to note that our obligation is to be מחזק those that ENDEAVOR to act ע"פ תורה. It has absolutely NOTHING TO DO with whether or not their concerns ultimately end up being accurate. Judaism is wholly centered on השתדלות to do the right thing. Failure to be משתדל is what counts, and therefore the punishment for being dismissive of a ספק איסור is greater than that of a וודאי איסור:

תלמידי רבינו יונה בשם רבינו יונה ברכות א: מדפי הרי"ף: עיקר היראה ליזהר מהספקות ושלא לעשות המצות על דרך ההרגל שעונש הספק יותר מהודאי וכן מצינו שעל הודאי מביא חטאת ... דמי כשבה או שעירה שיביא לחטאת ... היא מעה ... ואם מביא אשם על הספק .... צריך להביא ב' סלעים שהם מ"ח מעין ... והטעם בזה למה החמירו על הספק יותר מן הודאי אומר מורי הרב שהוא מפני שעל הודאי משים האדם החטא אל לבו ודואג ומתחרט עליו וחוזר בתשובה שלימה אבל על הספק עושה סברות ואומר ... אולי היתה מותרת, ולא ישית אל לבו לשוב, ולזה החמירו בו יותר.

3) It is disgusting, unethical and against Halacha to “barter” for removing the stain of defamation / הוצאת שם רע. We should resist such “bartering” even if only monetary matters were at stake, and surely when the issue is defamation. Furthermore, pressuring Aharon while offering only muted criticism of the process used in Taamr’s heter only adds indescribable insult to injury.

Even in regards to simple monetary matters, Halacha prohibits the advancement of a false claim so as to improve the strength of a party’s self-interest. This is a prohibition for Dayanom (חו"מ ס' י"ח ס"א), Witnesses (חו"מ ס' כ"ח ס"א), and litigants ((חו"מ ס' ע"ה ס"א, ס' י"ב ס"ו וע' תרה"ד, עונג יו"ט ותומים

How low must one stoop to use this unethical approach in matters that are so serious as הוצאת שם רע, for which the following is written in שו"ע או"ח ס' תר"ו ס"א

וְהַמּוֹחֵל לֹא יִהְיֶה אַכְזָרִי מִלִּמְחֹל (מַהֲרִי''ל) ... וְאִם הוֹצִיא עָלָיו שֵׁם רַע, אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לִמְחֹל לוֹ. מָרְדְּכַי וּסְמַ''ג וְהגה''מ פ''ב מֵהִלְכוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה וּמהרי''ו). מג"א ס"ק ה': משום דאיכא דשמע בהואצת שם רם ולא שמע בפיוס ולא נפק האי גברא מחשדא.

Yes, there are evil men .. just like there are evil women. Like EVERY PERSON – male or female - Aharon deserves the basic human right of being judged only based on meticulous fact-finding which is congruent with Halacha, Hashkafa and if using psychology …only the most congruent and only following widely recognized “best practices” and solid, cutting-edge research.


BUT WHAT ABOUT CHAINED WOMEN? Concerned Members of Greater Washington Jewish Community write: “We wish to live in a community wherein interpersonal relationships are conducted not only upon the basis of the letter of Halakha, but also upon its spirit of empathy, sensitivity & mutual respect”. Yes, they’re very right … and very wrong … but that is IY”H for another post.

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