Sunday, January 31, 2016

Rav Avraham Chaim Sherman :Kaminetsky-Greenblatt heter







הובאו לפני דבריהם של הרבנים הגאונים דייני בית הדין קבוע דבאלטימור שליט"א, ראש ישיבת נר ישראל הרב אהרן פלדמן שליט"א, ראב"ד דמאנסי כבוד הרב שמואל יהודה לייב לאנדסמאן שליט"א אודות המעשה הנורא של התרת אשת איש לעלמא בלא גט רח"ל דבר שפוגע בקדושת הנישואין וקדושת עם ישראל.
מאחר והתרת אשת איש לעלמא בלא גט לא נעשתה ע"י בי"ד חשוב ובלא הסכמתם של גדולי תורה ופסיקה והושתתה על הפקעת קידושין בלא גט מכח מקח טעות.
חובה להקים בי"ד חשוב של דיינים מומחים, ובדחיפות שיזמינו את האיש והאשה ????? (אולי וזאת?) ע"מ לאפרושי מאיסורים חמורים, ושמירה על קדושת הנשואין וקדושת עם ישראל.
באתי על החתום להיות שותף לפסיקתם ומחאתם של גדולי התורה והפסיקה, <חתימה>

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chazon Ish: Understanding of Jewish thought and Agada requires knowledge of halacha


אמונה ובטחון
השלמה לפרק ג'   כח

אלה שלא זכו לאור הגמ' בהלכה המה משוללים גס מאגדה באפי' האמיתי כי בהיותו חסר לב חכמהו אי אפשר לו לקנות מושגים שמימים אמיתים, גם אינן מסוגל ללימודים מישרים ומה שהזכירו בגמ' בעלי אגדה היינו חכמים בהלכה שהוסיפו עיונם גם באגדה אבל לא יתכן להיות ריק מהלכה ולהיות בעל אגדה, ויתכן אנשים שעסקם בהגיונות בני אדם כעין פילוסופי' ריקנית פעם במדות פעם בקורות הדורות ועוד כיוצא בהם ומשתדלים לקבוע הגות לבם במסגרות התורה, ויתכן שיצליחו למשוך לב השומעים ולהנעים זמירות באזני המקשיבים, ואמנם אלה אין להם חלק בתורה לא בהלכה רלא באגדה כי כיסוד ההלכה יסוד ההגדה, אין הגדה הגיון לב. ההגדה היא חלק התורה שקיבלנוה דור אחר דור אשר מסרה משה ליהושע ויהושע לזקנים וכדתנן באבות ולהיות בעל הגדה החובה להיות בקי במקרא בתורה בנביאים וכתובים, להיות בקי בכל אגדות שנאמרו בגמ' בקיאות נאמנה להיות בקי במדרש בקיאות שנונה ומסודרת, ואחר כך לשאת ולתת בה בהבנת המסקנות שבהם. וכמו שלא יתכן חכם בהלכה בלא קנין הבקיאות המרובה, ואמנם אלה החפצים בהתגלות לבם מורגלים בידיעות מקוטעות קטע מכאן וקטע משם עד שנאסף בידם ילקוט של מאמרים ספורים המשמשים בם לברוא הרצאות להשמיע לרבים (ומהם מופלגים בבורות וריקנות אינם יודעים לתרגם התורה נו"כ אינם יודעים את הכתוב בראשונים ידיעה מספקת, ומהם שלא למדו כלל תנ"ך ואינם מבינים ללמוד אגדה בבמ' ברוב מקומות הש"ס) ובכל זאת המה מחנכים לצעירי הצאן, ומטיפים לקח במידות ומוסר ולפעמים גם במדע ומתק שפתים ) ואם אמנם המה גורמים לעתים להטות לב הרכים ליראה ולמוסר, ולבנו רוחש להם כבוד והערצה על מעשיהם הטובים, אבל אין שמחתנו שלמה בהם כי סוף סוף חסר לנו תורה ויש כאן עניות דתורה, ויצירתם בלתי מתוקנת בהחלט, וכמו שכתוב בפרקים הקודמים, אם אין תורה אין חכמה אין עצה ואין תבונה.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Prenuptial Agreement:Rabbi Shalom Spira proposed correction to RCA resolution

Be-chasdei Ha-Kadosh Barukh Hu, Yishtabach Shemo


Shalom Aleikhem Ha-Rav ha-Ga'on R. Daniel Eidensohn, shlit"aBishvilo Nivra ha-Olam, u-Mimenu Ein Raz Ne'elam,

I think that Kevod Torato ha-Rav will appreciate this letter I sent to the President of the RCA two months ago regarding how to rectify the RCA prenuptial agreement.

Todah rabbah ve-khol tuv,

Shalom Spira
Montreal, Canada




From: Shalom Chaim Spira
Sent: November 24, 2015 16:38
To: rabbibaum@ketertorah.org
Subject: RCA Resolution entitled `ORA; Kayama; and, Illegal Halachic Relationships`

Be-chasdei Ha-Kadosh Barukh Hu, Yishtabach Shemo


Shalom Aleikhem R. Shalom Baum, shlit"a, Nassi shel Histadrut ha-Rabbanim de-America, Yehi Noam Ha-Shem Alav, ve-Al Kol ha-Nilvim Elav,

Congratulations to Kevod Torato ha-Rav upon his appointment as President of the RCA. 

With the kind permission of Kevod Torato ha-Rav, I would like to respond to the recent RCA resolution entitled  `ORA; Kayama; and, Illegal Halachic Relationships`, available here: http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105834

The resolution calls upon every RCA member to utilize the prenuptial agreement available at <theprenup.org> for every wedding where he is mesader kiddushin. However, what the talmidei chakhamim who voted in favour of this resolution may not have realized is that R. Moshe Sternbuch recently wrote a responsum disqualifying this very same prenuptial agreement. The responsum is available at https://www.scribd.com/doc/273292099/Rav-Moshe-Sternbuch-condemns-prenuptial-agreements?secret_password=tfA9agf8H8M7dDE9Hk4N. R. Sternbuch`s responsum vindicates Section A of my prenuptial agreement essay at http://www.scribd.com/doc/176990434/Prenuptial-Agreements , which reached the same conclusion prior to R. Sternbuch (based, as my essay is, on R. J. David Bleich, Be-Netivot ha-Halakhah Vol. 1, the latter having been published two decades ago).

Of interest to Kevod Torato ha-Rav will be that my prenuptial agreement essay (which diamond-polishes R. Jacob Kamenetzky`s proposal how to rescue agunot; R. Kamenetzky having been presented with the original idea by his disciple R. J. David Bleich) was even more recently publicized in the Canadian Jewish News (Nov. 12, 2015; p. 32) in honour of Parashat Toldot, a scan of which is presently enclosed. 


Given these developments, I hope that Kevod Torato ha-Rav will encourage the RCA to reformulate its resolution to call upon every RCA member to abandon the (well-meaning albeit unfortunately disqualified) prenuptial agreement at <theprenup.org>  and to instead employ the kosher prenuptial agreement presented by my essay.

I thank Kevod Torato ha-Rav for his kindness in receiving my recommendation.

Todah rabbah ve-khol tuv,
Shalom Spira
Montreal, Canada

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jeremy Stern - I quit my shul when the rabbi came out against prenuptial agreements


Two weeks ago, I rescinded my shul membership. The rabbi had made a public statement against the use of halachic prenuptial agreements. For me, he crossed a red line. I cannot identify with an institution whose religious leader opposes rectifying one of the worst desecrations of G-d’s name that currently plagues the Orthodox community. 

Get recalcitrance is not only a violation of Jewish law, but a form of domestic abuse in and of itself. Domestic abuse is not just about black-and-blue marks, but about a repeated assertion of power and control from one spouse over the other. That is precisely what goes on when an estranged husband vindictively and sadistically refuses to issue a get long after the marriage has proven to be irreconcilable. 

We cannot stand idly by while such abuse is perpetrated in our midst, and we cannot simply point fingers at others — rabbis in particular — to “fix” the problem. Simple solutions are rarely the cures for complex problems, and the agunah crisis is no exception. However, while a comprehensive solution to the agunah crisis may be beyond our grasp, there is one solution which has been extremely effective in preventing this problem going forward, and it is in our hands to implement: the halachic prenuptial agreement.

At the end of the day, we choose our rabbis, our rabbis don’t choose us. We hire our shul rabbis. We are the ones who vote them in and sign their contracts. It is up to us to make this a red-line issue. We must hire rabbis who will not only encourage the use of halachic prenups throughout the community, but insist upon their use whenever they officiate. [...]

Until the phony seruv of Rav Kaminetsky's beis din is removed - he and his beis din are in cherem

update: The correct term is nidoi - but I used the term cherem in the title as the general non-halachic term for ostracizing and thus the term is explained as being a form of cherem in the post below.

I confirmed with Aharon's law school classmate who spoke to R' Herschel Schachter and R' Sholom Kaminetsky in December 2010 (which I believe is before the Seruv was issued) that the two Rabbis were aware of the Baltimore Beis Din's involvement and they intentionally ignored the Beis Din's involvement". He said he is willing to discuss this with Rov who needs to know the information.


 Guest Post

Rabbis Aryeh Ralbag, Yisrael Belsky, Mordechai Wolmark, Shmuel Kamenetsky, Gavriel Stern and Hershel Schachter are in [nidui] [cherem] 

The issuance of a purported "seruv"[contempt] against Aharon Friedman was outrageous from the very beginning.  The Union of Orthodox Rabbis did not bother to issue even a single hazmana [summons} before purporting to issue the "seruv."  In addition, the parties had previously signed a shtar beirurin [binding arbitration agreement] with the Baltimore Beis Din.  Furthermore, as ,the Baltimore Beis Din recently noted even putting aside those two points, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis had no right to issue a "seruv" against Aharon because he lives in a different State than the location of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis.

It is hard to imagine that the signatories of the "seruv" were not very well aware of these points and deliberately signed the "seruv" knowing that the "seruv" was baseless.  If the signatories were not knowledgable about the rules for issuing a "seruv", they should have not been involved in issuing seruvim.

In any case, even if the signatories were not previously aware of these rules and had some excuse for nonetheless involving themselves in a matter concerning which they had woefully inadequate knowledge, it has been several days since the Baltimore BD issued its letter clarifying matters, so there can no longer be any confusion or the least bit of doubt about this matter. One who wrongfully issues a seruv, or signs in support of such seruv, himself has the status of being in [nidui][cherem] as pointed our by Rav Reuvain Feinstein's recent letter, and has been previously noted by others concerning this case.

 The refusal of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, Rabbi Ralbag and the other signatories to retract the "seruv" is well beyond outrageous and makes a mockery of halacha, beis din and the Jewish community.  They must immediately retract the "seruv" - or they have the status under halacha [Jewish Law] of being in [nidui] [cherem].

R Shlomo Rechnitz speaking out about children rejected by Lakewood schools




Monday, January 25, 2016

Rav Reuven Feinstein proposes a Takanah - How does it deal with the disaster of the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt heter?

This letter was written as an approval of the 3rd Baltimore bais din letter and is clearly critical of the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt heter though it doesn't mention it.

Rav Reuven makes several important points. 
1) that a takanah should be made that no one is allowed to get involved in a case when there's a reputable bais din presiding on a case, otherwise the koach of bais din gets diminished and causes anarchy.
Meaning that since the Baltimore Beis Din was already dealing with the case.  The Kaminetsky Beis Din had no right to get involved and usurp its right to deal with the case. To prevent this from happening in the future a Takana needs to be made and agreed by the rabbonim not to take over cases that are already being dealt with by a competent beis din
2) that no letter should be signed without listening to both sides.
This again is a criticism of the high handed tactics of Rav Kaminetsky (that was endorsed by a letter by Rav Herschel Schachter) and the Kaminetsky Beis Din which issued a false seruv and demanded that Aharon give a get and called for demonstrations against Aharon -- without hearing his side of the story and furthermore directly contradicting the ruling of the Baltimore Beis Din that there was no requirement for Aharon to give a Get at that time
3) that in this case only the Baltimore bais din has the full picture.
This again is a direct criticism of the Kaminetsky and the Kaminetsky Beis Din - which only heard Tamar's side of the story. It is a refutation of the Greenblatt heter - which was based on a phony psychiatric report written by a therapist who did not speak to Aharon on the allegations of Tamar. It is also a criticism of the  Kaminetskys who went heter shopping with a letter which contained false and distorted information which did not seek out Aharon's perspective on events - which they ran around the world to find poskim who would agree to it. Finally getting Rav Greenblatt and Rav Feurst to agree to the heter - even though neither consulted the Baltimore Beis Din but relied entirely on the lies and distortions provided by the Kaminetskys








========================================================
Questions regarding Rav Reuven Feinstein's proposal (by a number of readers)

1) Why is there a need of a Takana when what he is proposing is stated in the Shulchan Aruch?

שולחן ערוך חושן משפט הלכות דיינים סימן יז סעיף ה
אסור לדיין לשמוע דברי בעל דין האחד שלא בפני בעל דין חבירו. הגה: ודוקא שיודע הדיין שיהיה דיין בדבר, אבל אם שמע טענת האחד ואחר כך נתרצה השני לדון לפניו, מותר להיות דיין בדבר (תשובת מהרי"ל קצ"ה). ולא יכתוב שום חכם פסק לאחד מבעלי הדינין בדרך א"כ, או שיכתוב לו דעתו בלא פסק, כל זמן שלא שמע דברי שניהם, שמא מתוך דבריו ילמדו לשקר; גם משום שאח"כ יטעון השני בדרך אחר ויצטרך לכתוב להיפך, ואיכא זילותא לחכם. (רשב"א וריב"ש סימן קע"ט /ה'/). וכן הבעל דין מוזהר על כך. ותלמיד שיש לו דין לפני רבו, לא יקדים לבא קודם בעל דינו, שלא יהא נראה כמקדים כדי לסדר טענותיו שלא בפני חבירו. ואם יש לו עת קבוע לבא ללמוד לפניו, ובא העת ההיא, מותר.

2) While Rav Reuven obviously means well his proposal, he ironically undermines the beis din system. It is a letter calling for total hefkerus!
a. If a duly constituted BD ruled—it should be over. Of course that BD should be supported in every which way.
b. Acccording to what he writes anyone can now say—and if so, you can be sure that anyone will now say—if they on one party’s “side”—that the BD’s pesak “is a din me’uvas”!
c. It is illogical to call for any person who wants to help when there is already a pesak BD to first hear both sides— that is what the BD did! Why would this person do a better job than the BD? How will this person ensure that HE will “hear “all the facts” from “all the parties”...? And if he comes to a different conclusion—he should help defy the BD?

3. Let’s be clear---The problem with the false seruv in the Epstein case was that it was anything BUT a duly-constituted BD!! But if it is a duly constituted BD?Absolutely support the pesak—or you are part of the evil!

4. The basic issue is that if you refuse to mention that there is a current problem then you need to pretend that the system itself needs fixing instead of the particular incident

Baltimore Beis Din: Apologizes for many wrongs against Aharon Friedman including their claim that he went to secular court without permission. Affirms that he has no obligation to give a Get at present That the Kaminetsky Beis Din issued a false siruv That there is no heter to publicly shame him That the actions and demonstrations against him exceeded Rabbeinu Tam



update:New signatures added of Rav Miller , Rav Saltz and Rav Reuven Feinstein

Signature added by Rav Saltz Rosh Beis Din, Kollel Even Haezer of Lakewood


======================================
Rav Reuven Feinstein added the following: (I'll put the original text on later).
================= Guest Post ===================
Although there is some new information in the letter from the Baltimore BD, many of the key points in the letter have been the Baltimore BD's position from the beginning. 
---
On December 22, 2010, the Baltimore Beis Din stated in the Washington Jewish Week: ”Currently, the Epstein-Friedman case remains open but dormant, as “neither party has approached” the Baltimore beit din, requesting that it reconvene, according to Rabbi Mordechai Shuchatowitz, a rabbi on the court. “Right now,” he said, “the ball is in [Epstein’s] court” because, as the party seeking the get, she is responsible for reinitiating proceedings. Since the court has yet officially to order a get, Shuchatowitz said, it’s “a bit premature” to be holding rallies and other events meant “to pressure [Friedman] because he’s not been given his day in court.” After all, “you can’t disobey something you’ve not been told to do.”
 --------------
It has been the position of the Baltimore BD from the beginning that Aharon has done nothing wrong, that he is not obligated to give a get, and that it is wrong to demonstrate against him.  The Baltimore BD refused Tamar's demands to order that a get be given.  So Tamar turned to Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, who has extremely strong and long-standing financial and personal ties to Tamar's family.  Instead of respecting the BD's position, and urging Tamar to return to BD and/or agree to a reasonable custody arrangement, Rabbi Kamenetsky abused his position as a "godol" to try and override the BD.  Rabbi Kamenetsky wrote a series of letters beginning in May 2010 purporting to rule that Tamar is an agunah and that everyone should pressure Aharon (and even pressure Aharon's family) into forcing Aharon to give a get. Rabbi Kamenetsky coordinated with the ORA organization of which Rabbi Hershel Schachter serves as posek.  Rabbi Schachter endorsed Rabbi Kamenetsky's letters, including a letter written by Rabbi Kamenetsky to encourage attendance at a public demonstration by ORA against Aharon and also against the Washington Vaad in December 2010.

As noted above, the Baltimore Beis Din publicly stated in response to the December 2010 demonstration that the demonstrations against Aharon were wrong. Again, that could have been and should have been the end of the matter.  Instead of organizing public protests and demonstrations against Aharon, all rabbis involved should have encouraged Tamar to agree to a reasonable settlement on custody or bring the matter to Beis Din where it would have been resolved.

Instead, Rabbi Schachter and Rabbi Kamenetsky doubled down on their evil -- and, as they should have realized at the time -- and counterproductive actions.  

On December 23, 2010, Rabbi Schachter responded to the Baltimore BD by writing a letter claiming that because Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky had purported to rule that Tamar was an agunah and that Aharon was obligated to give a get, the fact that no beis din had issued any such ruling was irrelevant.  Rabbi Schachter completely contradicted his own public position that one may not take any actions with regard to trying to convince someone to give a get without the involvement of the beis din that has jurisdiction of the matter. Instead, Rabbi Schachter wrote that Aharon must be pressured to give a get because Rabbi Kamenetsky had said so.  Rabbi Schachter explained that the basis of his ruling to follow Rabbi Kamenetsky was “sod hashem le’ruv” and “kvar horah zaken,” essentially meaning that Rabbi Kamenetsky’s word must be treated as the word of G-d.  Furthermore, Rabbi Schachter wrote that Aharon's situation is the same as "a slave whose master provides for him a Canaanite maidservant, that until now it is has been permissible, and now it is forbidden" who should be beaten until death. Furthermore, Rabbi Schachter specifically wrote that any person can take the law into his own hands to beat Aharon to death. 

It is important to stress that these actions by Rabbis Kamenetsky and Schachter were not just a completely unjustified attack against Aharon and his family.  The two parties signed a binding arbitration agreement before a beis din, participated in several hearings before that beis din, but one party did not like the beis din's ruling.  Because that party comes from a wealthy and well-connected family, and has strong financial and personal ties to the head of the Mo'etzes Gedolai Hatorah, that party can just overturn the Beis Din?  This constitutes corruption of the worst sort. These actions by Rabbis Kamenetsky and Hershel Schachter were a brazen attack against the Baltimore Beis Din, but even more importantly an attack on the very concept of Beis Din and din Torah. -- and that make a mockery of the mo'etzes and entire Jewish community.  

The refusal of the other rabbonim to stand up to this travesty of justice carried out by Rabbis Kamenetsky and Schachter -- outrageous behavior that only got worse over the next five years -- emboldened the Kamenetskys to believe that the annulment would be accepted.  After all, Rabbi Schachter argued that if Rabbi Kamenetsky says something, anything, it must be correct because “sod hashem le’ruv” and “kvar horah zaken.” 

Rav Schachter joining with Rav Kaminetsky in disregarding the Baltimore Beis din and saying that Aharon should be forced to give a Get

update: added a link to the audo recording

This letter is being reposted because Rav Schacter published it as a response to the  Baltimore Beis Din's 2010 public declaration of Aharon's innocence.  The Baltimore Beis Din's declaration was a response to public attacks and demonstrations against Aharon, his family, (and the Washington Beis Din, which at the time refused to condemn Aharon), by Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky and Rabbi Schachter. Aside from the horrifying implication that Aharon Friedman could be beaten by any vigilante lynch mob - it clearly indicates Rav Schachter's contempt for the views of the Baltimore Beis Din and his automatic agreement with whatever Rabbi Kaminetsky did and said. Which we have clearly established has no basis in halacha.



From April 6, 2012  and January 23, 2014


Reposted because of the current interest in evidence that Rav Schachter called for or alluded to the appropriateness of violence against Ahron Friedman. Please click the link for an explicit discussion of the question based on Rav Schachter's recorded comments. Please keep in mind that there is no beis din that has heard both sides and issued a psak. In particular they both signed an agreement to follow the Baltimore Beis Din which has not issued any statement demanding that Ahron Freidman give Tamar a Get.
 
======================================================
The audio of Rav Schachter mentioned below where he says that it is permissible to beat someone with a baseball bat into giving a Get has been removed from the YU site.

In the letter, Rabbi Schachter says that Friedman's situation is the same as "a slave whose master provides for him a Canaanite maidservant, that until now it is has been permissible, and now it is forbidden." In the audio, he explains that in such a situation the slave, or Friedman, as he writes in the letter, should be beaten, and that any person can take the law into his own hands to deliver the beating.

It is also very telling that at 42:45, Schachter says that in the case of someone desiring a get, it is wrong to pressure the other spouse without the orders of a beis din - when Schachter wrote the December 2010 letter, there was no beis din that had stated Friedman had done anything wrong or that a get should be given.


see in particular:
4:00 - beat someone over a get (citing Rabbi Akiva Eiger)
4:30 - beat a slave for wrongfully remaining married to maidservant, analogizing this case to the get case, and that anyone can take upon himself to take the law into their own hands to beat the person
9:10 - beat someone up over a get
10:20 - bludgeon someone to death over a get
13:33 - have right to beat someone over a get (citing Rabbi Akiva Eiger)
26:50 - beating for a get with a baseball bat


Rav Sternbuch:Husband should not be spiteful and should give a Get if there is no chance of reconcilliation and all issues are resolved

This is being reposted from 4/12/12

Rav Sternbuch (4:301): Question: I received a question from America where -  due to our many sins - it is common that women rebel against their husbands and afterwards go to secular courts - Gd forbid! The secular court makes a judgment in her favor - through coercion and not in accord with the law of the Torah. The judgment  obligates the husband to pay very high support payments and carries a penalty of prison for failure to comply. In addition she is typically awarded custody of the children. The husband is asking for a heter of meah rabbonim to be able to remarry without giver her a get since she is a moredes and has transgressed the religious laws. On the other hand she claims that the heter of meah rabbonim is not relevant since she in fact is willing to accept the get. She also claims that there are rabbis who support her position. So she wants to benefit twice by obtaining a get according to the Torah and also a judgment from civil court which steals money from from her husband even after the get.

Answer: In my humble opinion there is no validity to her claims and therefore the husband should be given a heter so he can marry another woman. The only limitation is that he needs to deposit the get with beis din as is the established practice. The reason for this is complex. 1) first of all since they are coercing him financially not in accord with the halacha regarding the support payments which are much higher than the halacha - that constitutes theft. Thus the get itself is a forced get. The gedolei poskim are worried about get me'usa. Thus the get is not actually valid and we have the problem that she is still a married woman who thinks she can remarry. Therefore it is necessary to exempt him from all financial obligations that were done against his will in order that the get itself be valid. Furthermore if the wife refuses to go to beis din, then that itself gives her the halachic status of moredes as is clear from Divrei Chaim (E.H. 51) and he cites the Chavas Daas who ruled that a woman who refused to go to beis din  was a moredes and the gedolim agreed with him. ... According to this if she goes with him  only to beis din then he is obligated to give her a get. However when she goes to secular court in addition to make monetary claims - she is not able hold on to both sides. In other words she can't go to the secular court with monetary claims and at the same demand that he give her a get in beis din. If she forces him to accept the rulings of the secular court in marriage matters he has no obligation to give her a get. We need to state in addition that the essence of the Decree of Rabbeinu Gershom was for the benefit of the wife.  However this benefit is only available when she doesn't abrogate her halachic obligations. But in the present case she has created serious devastation in the marriage in that she has rebelled against him and went to secular court where she received excessive judgements concerning maintenance and also the custody of the children. Her husband must give her a get in beis din so that she can remarry. So in the case of moredes the decree of Rabbeinu Gershom which was meant to benefit women was not intended and the husband can remarry with the heter of 100 Rabbis and he deposits the get with beis din until the judgment of the secular court is nullified. When that happens- if he has not yet remarried - then it is prohibited for him to do so until he gives his first wife a get.

In reality your question is a local issue of America and it is the job of American rabbis to decide. However my view is in agreement with the rabbis there who permit the husband to remarry without any difficulty and he needs to deposit a get with beis din. But when the judgment of the secular courts has been nullified then it is prohibited for the husband to remarry until he has properly divorced the first wife.

You should be aware that we are obligated to fight against her going to secular courts and we prevent her from remarrying if she does and if the get is given under these circumstances there is a suspicion that it was coerced (me'usa). Nevertheless in a case where she claims she can't stand him (ma'us alei) and there is no reason to believe they can be reconciled and the man is simply being cruel to her and is being spiteful by not to giving her a divorce - then even though it is prohibited for us to exert any force- G-d forbid! - nevertheless it is correct to notify the husband that the view of many of the gedolim (e.g., Rambam, Ravad, Behag, Rashbam, Rashi etc) is that he is sinning and they would encourage him to give her a get. Because even these poskim are concerned about creating [an invalid get] which would leave her as a married woman even bedieved - so G-d forbid that we should use any type of coercion. Regarding the issue of tormenting her and leaving her an aguna - it is correct for him to be concerned for her claim that she finds him revolting (ma'os alei) and it is prohibited for him to leave her as an aguna - even if she is not correct. But we are not to coerce him G-d forbid with any type of coercion that would possibly bring about a get me'usa. Rather [once we have informed him that it is wrong for him to withold the get] he needs to come the the realization himself that he must conduct himself like a descendant of Avraham and the verse says that the ways of Torah are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace and that he will find happiness with someone else.

All of this we need to explain to the husband. That leaving her as an aguna is a transgression of a severe sin of onas  devarim - not to torment his wife. That refusing to divorce her serves no purpose except to get revenge against her. He doesn't want to live with her and he shouldn't think her life is worthless and he should be fully aware that in Heaven there is judgment and there is a Judge. He should also be informed that to many of the early gedolim it is correct even to force him to divorce. Unfortunately there are many beis dins that when they see that the husband doesn't want to divorce his wife they simply remain silent. But that is not acceptable. They must inform him that he is unjustifiably tormenting her and this is not correct. This of course is assuming that the beis din is convinced that there is no hope for reconciliation....
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Teshuvos v'Hanhagos (1:389): Question: A woman has suffered for a number of years from her husband who refuses to divorce her - how can he be forced to give a get?  

Answer: It is an established halacha that if the wife refuses to live with her husband because she claims he is disgusting to her (ma'os alei) that it is impossible to force him to divorce her. This is explicitly stated by the Rema (E.H. 77:3). And even if it has been a number of years that they have separated and he is being spiteful and cruel in refusing to divorce her it is clearly stated by the Teshuvos haRosh (43:6) that if we force him to give the get there is the concern that it is a get me'usa and therefore invalid and it only serves to increase mamzerim. However while it is stated in the Rema (E.H. 154:21) that nidoi (cherem) is considered force and is prohibited, nevertheless he says it is permitted to decree that no Jew should do him a favor or should do business with him or even to circumcize his sons or to bury them - until he divorces his wife. But the Pischei Teshuva (E.H. 154:30) says there these shunnings (harhakos) are equivalent to nidoi (cherem) and are not permitted to be imposed today and the only recourse is to tell him that it is permitted to call him a sinner  and he says it is best to be strict according to this opinion. This is agreed to by the Chazon Ish (E.H. 105:12). He concludes in the name of the Rashba that it is not permitted to humiliate the husband or to torment him - examine this well.

However it appears that what is prohibited is to humiliate him and to shun him in a manner similar to cherem - i.e, not to do business with him and not to do him a favor - and that is not done today. (Chazon Ish understands the Pischei Teshuva differently). But when he is not actively humiliated but that he is only not given honors for example he is notified that he will not receive an aliyah in his shul or any other shul and that he will not be allowed to be the shliach tzibor - then this is not like cherem at all even though it causes some humiliation. The only pressure permitted is that he should know that the community does not approve of his conduct of being cruel to his wife - but this is not called force at all.

I recall witnessing an incident involving Rav Yechiel Weinberg (Seridei Aish) concerning a husband who spitefully refused to divorce his wife after a number of years and he directed that it be known and publicized that this husband was not to get an aliya in the shul. That is in accord with what I have written that this type of pressure is not called force. It is also done here in Yerushalayim to publicize notices in the street that a particular person is a sinner and has made his wife an aguna. In my opinion 1) if she has solid justification for her desire to be divorced then it would be possible and appropriate to force him  actively with humiliations to give her a get. We learn from Kesubos (71a) if it is clear that he hates her then he is obligated to divorce her. 2) On the other hand if there is no apparent reason for her being repelled by him we can distance him.  I am inclined to permit humiliation in such cases but it is necessary for beis din first to be very careful and thorough in evaluating the situation as to whether it is appropriate. Similarly one should not spare any efforts to encourage that she live with him when she requests a divorce and there is no clear reason except she says she doesn't like him. 3) But if there is a clear reason - then even if we don't force him with a beating we are accustomed to be lenient to pressure him with notices  in shuls as I mentioned above.

This that the wife creates pressure with the claim that he is tormenting her and she can not stand the situation any more and that she is ready to go to "rabbis" who are lenient in divorce - that is still not justification for us to make rulings against the Torah. The ways of G-d are hidden and some suffer physically while other suffering financially and some suffer in their marriage. We need to hope to G-d that the end of suffering has arrived and that he will divorce her. On the other hand, to force him with high payments for food or to humiliate him when it is not permitted - it doesn't help because this pressure only produces a get me'usa - G-d forbid - which has no validity. But concerning cruelty and spite which is characteristic of Sedom - only Heaven can punish him.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The unpleasant details of how Tamar Epstein deliberately destroyed her marriage with the encouragement of the Kaminetskys

The terrible travesty of justice in this case is not just that Tamar decided to have custody litigated in court instead of in Beis Din – although this decision by itself is extremely troubling and contrary to halacha. The terrible travesty in this case is that the destruction of a family with a young child could have been avoided. And even if divorce was going to occur, it could have been settled amicably and quietly. 

Instead of pursuing either of these two outcomes, the Kamenetskys encouraged the Epstein family to engage in no-holds barred warfare against Aharon, the Baltimore Beis Din, and even the very notion of halacha, and a Jewish community. This has included kidnapping the parties’ child and then getting that kidnapping to be treated as a fait accompli by violating several agreements between the parties, tricking Aharon into canceling a pendete lite civil court trial in which it was likely that the child would be returned in order to bring the case to Beis Din, committing perjury in court and the Baltimore Beis Din, violating the Baltimore Beis Din’s orders regarding dismissing the civil court case, and then successfully arguing in civil court that Aharon couldn’t contest the kidnapping because he had voluntarily cancelled the pendete lite trial to bring the case to Beis Din. 

There is no low to which this campaign would not stoop or any level of crime in which they would not engage, including a vicious Tisha Ba’av assault (in which Cheryl Epstein [Tamar’s mother] signaled her henchmen to attack by telling the child to give Aharon a kiss) that endangered the life of the child, Federal capital crimes, and a capital crime under halacha.

The following is an overview of what occurred prior the case being brought to the Baltimore Beis Din:

Tamar and Aharon were married in April 2006, and resided in Silver Spring. They were blessed with a child, C, in November 2007.

In March 2008, on Aharon’s birthday, Tamar told Aharon she was divorcing him. Tamar told Aharon she wanted to relocate C to Pennsylvania (PA). Aharon objected. Tamar told Aharon that if he didn’t move out of their apartment, she would take C to PA. Aharon told Tamar that she may not relocate C to PA. Aharon moved out of the apartment.

On April 10, 2008, Tamar unilaterally relocated C from Silver Spring to PA. When Aharon arrived in the parties’ apartment on April 10 to see C and she was not there, he phoned Tamar. Tamar said that she had taken C to PA, and if Aharon didn't like it, Aharon should call her lawyer. Tamar did not ask a Court or Beis Din [Rabbinical Court] to rule that she could relocate C. Instead, Tamar likely acted upon legal advice to take C and establish residency in PA, and then delay adjudication for as long as possible so that the relocation would be a fait accompli.

It is not generally a criminal offense for one parent to unilaterally relocate a child. However, such action is regarded extremely negatively by the law and the courts. The unilateral relocation of a child by one parent is “reprehensible” and the law in virtually every state is meant to “ensure[] that abducting parents will not receive an advantage for their unjustifiable conduct” – including a “parent who abducts the child pre-decree.” Comment to Section 208 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act [codified by nearly every State, including MD and PA].

Tamar’s family immediately started spreading false rumors about Aharon, in order to justify Tamar’s unjustifiable behavior, including criticizing his parenting. This effort was led in Silver Spring by Tamar’s sister and brother-in-law, Yael and Rabbi Ranan Cortell, who are long-time residents of Silver Spring. Yael is an extremely popular teacher in a local Jewish high school. Rabbi Cortell was a top talmid in Silver Spring’s yeshiva, and remains very close to many of the rabbis in the Washington area. They have engaged in an extremely nasty campaign to isolate Aharon. This campaign has included pressuring families in Silver Spring and elsewhere not to let their children play with C during periods that C is with Aharon.

Tamar claimed that she would consider reconciliation, which Aharon wanted - but only if Aharon allowed her to temporarily keep C in PA. Aharon later agreed to temporarily let Tamar keep C in PA after several rabbis, including Rabbi Sholom Kamenetsky, promised they would work to foster reconciliation and urged him to agree to this arrangement– despite Aharon’s lawyer warning that this was likely a trick to keep C in PA permanently.

On May 5, the parties signed an agreement, titled Separation for Purposes of Fostering Reconciliation, providing that Aharon would let Tamar keep C in PA for two months, but only because she made that a precondition for considering reconciliation. The agreement provided that this arrangement would not affect jurisdiction or be detrimental to Aharon with regard to child custody.

During those two months, Tamar refused to as much as attend marital counseling with Aharon. After the two months were over, Tamar informed Aharon on the phone that their marriage was over. Tamar refused Aharon’s repeated requests to bring C back. Tamar said that for several years, she would, at most, generally only allow C to see Aharon on Sundays during the daytime.

Under halacha [Jewish Law], custody matters are supposed to be adjudicated in Beis Din [Rabbinical Court]. But any specific Beis Din generally only has jurisdiction if both parties agree. The matter was extremely time-sensitive. Tamar was allowing C to spend very little time with Aharon. Tamar’s continuing to hold C in PA would transfer jurisdiction over the matter to PA, unless the case was filed in MD court. In addition, Tamar’s continuing to hold C in PA would be extremely prejudicial in any eventual adjudication, no matter what the forum. Tamar refused to negotiate or mediate. Tamar also refused to see a rabbi together with Aharon to find a way to resolve custody issues according to halacha. Aharon certainly had as much legal right to physically seize C and bring her back to MD, as Tamar did to physically seize C and relocate C to PA. But Aharon did not do so. Aharon received a psak [Jewish Law ruling] to bring an emergency child custody motion in Court, but only on the condition that after the emergency motion Aharon would bring the matter to Beis Din for the case to be decided, before any further proceedings in Court. Aharon brought an emergency custody motion in late July 2008, at which point Tamar had not allowed C to spend any time with Aharon on Shabbos [the Jewish Sabbath] or Yom Tov [Jewish Holidays] for almost three months.

The emergency custody hearing was held on August 1, 2008. Tamar violated the parties’ Reconciliation Agreement by arguing that the Maryland courts did not have jurisdiction. Tamar also violated the Reconciliation Agreement by extensively arguing that the custody arrangement during the time covered by the Agreement should be prejudicial. Tamar falsely claimed that she had taken C to PA with Aharon’s consent. The Court recognized Tamar was depriving Aharon of “meaningful access” to C but said that the matter was not an emergency because “the kid's not in any danger” and “nobody's bleeding.”

The Court said that the emergency hearing was not a trial on the merits and that the custody order after a trial would be different than the custody order at the emergency hearing. The Court ruled – perhaps because Tamar had convinced the Court that “Well, they agreed that she would leave” – C would remain in PA in the interim, with C to be with Aharon every other weekend. The Order was to be temporary; for example, it did not address holidays in any way.

The Court indicated that at trial (the pendete lite trial was subsequently scheduled for October 6, 2008) there was a good chance that C would be returned to Silver Spring. In addition, the Court said that if Tamar had unilaterally taken C, the Court would look upon that badly. Even Tamar’s lawyer, after falsely claiming that Tamar had not unilaterally taken C (“This [taking C unilaterally] was not something that was done”), acknowledged: “as you said, the Court would look badly on this if she just packed up and left.”

Tamar filed suit in MD court for limited divorce. Aharon opposed Tamar’s claim for divorce.

In September 2008, the parties signed an agreement to cancel the October trial and bring the matter to the Baltimore Beis Din (if the parties could not reach a settlement through mediation), and providing that custody arrangements before any litigation would not be prejudicial.

Aharon agreed to cancel the October 2008 trial only because that was required by the psak and Aharon wanted to follow halacha. Aharon followed the psak to cancel the trial even though it was to his own severe disadvantage as: (1) Aharon had every reason to believe that the Court would have ruled in Aharon’s favor at the October 2008 trial; and (2) even if Aharon prevailed in Beis Din (or the Beis Din would not decide custody – as turned out to be the case), he would be at risk that the Court would ultimately decide the issue at a later date (the Court may not show deference to a Beis Din decision in custody cases, even if the parties have agreed to binding arbitration), and Aharon would be severely prejudiced in such a later proceeding by the fact that C would have been in PA for a much longer period.

Tamar rejected as a basis for negotiation the mediator’s proposal that C mostly live in PA, and be with Aharon about one-third of the time; equally split marital property; and a get given and accepted. Tamar ended mediation.

Rav Zalman Nechmiah Goldberg to Rav Shalom Kaminetsky - Establish beis din to evaulate heter

Contrary to rumors which have been circulating Lakewood recently, Rav Goldberg has not given his approval to the heter.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Brothers and Sisters in Silver Spring - Wake up! It is deal time for Tamar and you are messing it up big time

Some of you might be aware that the  Baltimore Beis Din  just issued an astounding courageous and honest apology for mistakes which have caused Aharon Friedman much grief. Some of you might have figured out that this is part of a push to persuade Aharon Friedman to give Tamar a Get - which she desperately wants and needs at this point. And you would be right.

So what are the sticking points? There are in fact simply two.

 1) Aharon wants his daughter in Silver Spring. Aharon has requested that Tamar move back to Silver Spring so he will be in close proximity to his daughter. Tamar in fact is willing to do so. However he is concerned that she will move back to Philadelphia  the day after she receives the Get. Fortunately the gedolim involved think they can solve that problem both halachically and legally.

2) Aharon wants his name and reputation restored. For many years Tamar, together with ORA, Rav Herschel Schachter and the Kaminetskys have been publicly slandering him and have done their best to make him a hated outcast. This despite that their actions clearly violated the halacha as stated by the Baltimore Beis Din. (In fact the halacha is that a Beis Din that issues a false seruv - which they clearly did - is itself considered to be in cherem.) Aside from the fact that Tamar never has had the halachic status of Aguna or Aharon having the obligation of giving a Get - they have arrogantly lied and deceived the public and apparently themselves as well.

They cooked up at psychiatric report which is such a basic violation of professional ethics that the author refused to have his name published because he probably would lose his license to practice if it became known. Tamar and the Kaminetskys were well aware that the report was full of lies and yet they ran around the world trashing Aharon as "a total lunatic" and someone who is incapable of marriage. They persuaded Rav Greenblatt to give a heter with false allegations. We are not talking about honest mistakes. We are talking about evil actions - done out of arrogance and a feeling of entitlement to destroy a man - in order to do a favor for the daughter of  a close donor and supporter.

Taking the menchlich formal apology of the Baltimore Beis as an example - the above individuals needs to publicly ask Aharon for forgiveness. The way it stands now - if Aharon gave Tamar a Get - Tamar would be viewed as a heroine for taking something she says she doesn't need and for being so brave all these years in her public fight as Aguna Number 1. This is incredibly perverse and a mockery of truth.

Sorry - but it is absolutely certain that she can not come out of this as the heroic victim. She is the source of all this evil and she needs to acknowledge it. Aharon would be perceived as simply giving into public pressure for giving the Get - but he would continue to be viewed as the vile man who cruelly tormented his wife for years. He wants the truth acknowledged that he and his daughter are the victims. He is not seeking revenge but simply yoshrus and simple justice.

However even if all the above is fulfill, Aharon tells me there is a major problem. Assuming that Tamar moves to Silver Spring with their daughter, the above publicly apologize and assuming Aharon gives a Get - what will life be like for Aharon the day after? 

The answer is it will still be hell for Aharon. The Silver Spring community has placed Aharon in cherem for not giving a Get. This despite being informed by the Baltimore Beis Din that he has no obligation to give a Get and that all sanctions and pressure are against halacha. They were formally sent the recent letter with a request to allow Aharon to enter into the shuls to be able to pray. This trivial request was rejected by these paragons of social justice and political correctness! Aharon tells me these "wonderful" people of Silver Spring will not even let their children play with his 8 year old daughter because he is in cherem. They are torturing his daughter because of their societal values which they view as being superior to Torah values. In fact there are only 2 families that have the elementary human decency not to harm his daughter.

If the Silver Spring community really wants Tamar to receive a Get - then starting this Shabbos they need to welcome Aharon Friedman and his daughter. They need to acknowledge that they were wrong in ostracizing him. If he is not made welcome then that is the end of the story - there is no Get and Tamar will be giving birth to a mamzer. Think about it!

Beshalach; Was The Land Of "Moav" Originally For The Jews By Rabbi Shlomo Pollak



At the end of the Bris Bein HaBesorim (בראשית טו, יח-כא) , Avrohom Aveinu was promised the land of 10 nations, including קיני קנזי & קדמני, which Rashi there explains is אדום עמון ומואב......

"ביום ההוא כרת ה' את אברם ברית לאמר לזרעך נתתי את הארץ הזאת מנהר מצרים עד הנהר הגדל נהר פרת. את הקיני ואת הקנזי ואת הקדמני. ואת החתי ואת הפרזי ואת הרפאים. ואת האמרי ואת הכנעני ואת הגרגשי ואת היבוסי"

We, of course, only  got the 7 lands, and Rashi explains the other three we will get לעתיד לבא......

There is, however, an apparent contradiction in the words of Rashi himself, if that was the original plan, or if we lost those three, after the  חטא מרגלים.......

For questions and comments please email salmahshleima@gmail.com

Rabbi Brodksy strongly criticizes Rav Moshe Sternbuch for calling for public protests against gedolim (i.e. Rabbi Kaminetsky) regarding the heter

 update: added audo recording
Rabbi Brodsky - a rosh yeshiva in Toronto - expresses the view of many rabbis that one can not publicly criticize gedolim and he says Rav Sternbuch's words should be ripped up and thrown away. The layman should not talk about the issue at all since it is being handled properly by rabbis behind closed doors. In contrast Rav Sternbuch has clearly and strongly stated that it is the obligation of every Jew to protest against this corruption of halacha.

The fact that Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky has not rejected the heter for adultery and that Rav Nota Greenblatt has not publicly acknowledged that the heter for adultery he gave is invalid - deserves criticism - as the Rambam (Hilchos De'os 6:8) has clearly stated. It is not as if this is a complex halachic problem. They simple continue to refuse to acknowledge the obvious - that they have made a serious mistake in giving a heter for adultery - and need to publicly acknowledge it

audio recording January 16 2016


Tefillos for a refuah sheleima for Rav Chaim Yisroel Belsky

 

Rav Yisroel Belsky is a brilliant talmid chochom, treasured rosh yeshiva, tzadik and poseik.
 
He is hospitalized in very serious condition and is desperately in need of our tefillos.
 
Please daven for him besoch shar cholei yisroel for a refuah sheleimah b’mheirah.

Hespeidim Thursday night at 9 p.m. for Rav Refoel Shmulewitz zt"l

Jerry Finkelman wrote

There will be a live audio-hookup of the "Hespeidim" tonight (Thursday) following the petira of Rosh Yeshivas Mir, Moron Hagaon Rav Refoel Shmulewitz zt"l, which will iy"h take place at the Yeshiva Gedolah of Toronto.


To connect to this live broadcast,

Dial-In number: 605-562-3107
Participant access code: 941091#
The broadcast will begin at 9:00pm

Beshalach 76 - Questions and Discovery lead to Song and Faith by Allan Katz


The climax of the Exodus from Egypt was the splitting of the Red Sea and the prophetic song at the sea – shirat ha'yam which the Israelites sang expressing gratitude, trust and total belief in God- Hashem. The midrash notes that no one before ,had broken out in song when saved by a miracle performed by God and now since the singing of the song , God's presence in the world had become more established. So what was different about the miracle of the splitting of the Red sea? Miracles in the past, like those performed for Abraham and the Israelites in Egypt were performed to save people or get them out of trouble. The splitting of the Red sea was different. The route taken out of Egypt most probably raised many questions. There was a shorter route - the route they came to Egypt, which also meant that they did not have to cross the Red Sea. After travelling 3 days and reaching Succot , they back-tracked and started moving in the direction of Egypt . This encouraged Pharaoh and his army to pursue the Israelites as they seemed to be now trapped between the Sea, wilderness and an army going after them.

It seemed that God was putting them into trouble so that He could perform a miracle which would glorify and sanctify His Name in the world. Previously, miracles were performed to get people out of trouble, now God put the Israelites into trouble so that He could perform a miracle. After the witnessing and experiencing the miracle at the sea, the Israelites gained a flash of insight, a deep understanding of how God conducts the world, how all apparently unrelated and contradictory phenomena meld into a coherent, merciful, comprehensible whole. They saw and heard how every note, instrument and participant in the symphony of creation plays its role and the result is song. The Israelites came to the realization that their purpose in the world and the purpose of the creation was to create a partnership with God in order to glorify and sanctify His name by the way they live their lives in this world. At the sea the suffering of the Egyptian exile, their hopelessness and helplessness when surrounded by Pharaoh, the sea and the wilderness and the deception that led Pharaoh to pursue them took on a new meaning as being part of the Divine plan.

When one has unanswered questions and doubts and then one expereiences a flash of insight and deep understanding about one's purpose and relevance in the world, it not only touches the mind but also the heart and soul. When the understanding is both intellectual, intuitive and comes from revelation and discovery, the knowledge is understood also in an emotional way. And this leads to faith –emunah and deep trust in God.

The process of discovery and not telling, leads to both intellectual and emotional understanding. This cornerstone of authentic education is played out again in our parasha with the miracle of the 'manna from heaven '. The manna was covered with a layer of dew and did not become noticeable until the sun melted the upper layer of dew, whereupon people saw something of the likes that they had never seen before. Their reaction was one of surprise – ' mun hoo ' what is it ? and they guessed that it was some type of food. Moses informed them that it was indeed food that they would receive every day except for the Sabbath.

'Education is not a filing of the pail, but lighting the fire of learning' – Yeats and that is how the Torah instructs parents and teachers to transmit the message of the Exodus from Egypt. We do this by creating an environment that promotes discovery, curiosity and the asking of questions. The questions of the 4 sons from the Pesach seider are examples how learning and discussion is driven the curiosity and questions of children. And we can help them by sharing our questions and focusing on even deeper questions and the ideas and values behind them.

Things today are going terribly wrong with pre-school education with the focus more on academic readiness like reading, writing and arithmetic at the expense of intellectual skills.' “Young children enter the classroom with lively minds–with innate intellectual dispositions toward making sense of their own experience, toward reasoning, predicting, analyzing, questioning and learning,” says Dr. Lilian Katz. “But in our attempt to quantify and verify children’s learning, we impose premature formal instruction on kids at the expense of cultivating their true intellectual capabilities – and ultimately their optimal learning.” In this respect we can learn from the Finns, who don’t begin formal reading instruction until around age 7, have to say about preparing preschoolers to read: “The basis for the beginnings of literacy is that children have heard and listened … They have spoken and been spoken to, people have discussed [things] with them … They have asked questions and received answers.” It is all about relationship and conversation – encouraging young children to use and hear complex language , paying close attention to their thought processes and finding ways to make children think aloud. Preschool years should be not just on vocabulary and reading, but on talking and listening.

The Torah is also referred to as a song – 'write down this song for you'. A song is not only an expression of gratitude and joy but an expression of faith and trust. If we want the Torah to be a song for ourselves and our children, our learning and living should be focused on discovery and making meaning in our lives, being of service to man and serving God. The focus for kids should be on what they are learning and doing and not on how well they are learning and doing.

Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter: CLARITY; REAL ISSUES, SEMI-ISSUES AND NON-ISSUES

This is a guest post from someone I respect. However in this case I think he has missed the boat because he is basically saying the scandal is simply a machlokes haposkim. But in fact there is no halachic dispute - there are no poskim who think this is a valid heter.

The fight is over whether this is a public issue where everyone is invited to protest a major scandal or whether it should be left for the rabbonim to clean up this disgusting mess behind closed doors and the rest of us should act as if nothing happened.
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Guest Post

I am a layman, with no connection to any of the parties, and I think we have reached the level of semi-mass hysteria. Professionally, I am an analyst, so I analyzed. My analysis turned up 12 possible issues. I rate them as follows; five are Non-Issues, two are Semi-Issues and five are Real-Issues, with the most important (the last one) possibly having the most impact, and being a result only of this semi-mass hysteria. So, Read On, and BE CALM

1. Using Rav Moshe’s Heter

NON-ISSUE; Each posek has a mesorah and his own ability to rely on the great poskim. If a posek is relying on a great posek’s psak (Psak A), another great posek can disagree with the original psak, but that doesn’t change any posek’s ability to rely on Psak A, especially if that is his mesorah, and especially if that great posek was his Rebbe.

2. Rav Shmuel Shlit”a and Rav Sholom Shlit”a Trying to help their Constituent

NON-ISSUE; Any person that has a halachic issue or another problem, should turn to those rabbanim with whom they have a relationship to ask for help. Thousands of people turn to the Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva they know every day.

3. Asking Other Poskim to join In The Heter (“Shopping Around”)

NON-ISSUE; This is a very old time-honored practice. If a Rav/Poseik is asked to pasken on a difficult shaila, he often would say, I would pasken this way, but only if other Poskim join in the psak. This is especially true in serious, complicated questions such as agunah, gittin, etc.

This often would entail discussing the Halachic issues with many poskim until some/enough agreed to the psak.

4. Relying On Professionals for Diagnosis

NON-ISSUE; Many situations in psak rely on professionals for their opinions. The poskim are not doctors, surgeons, engineers, physicists, etc. They need the professionals to explain the actuality of the situation, and then the posek can apply the appropriate Halacha. Once someone is established as a true professional, his description of the reality is usually relied on. And yes, there are differences of opinion, which the posek has to then deal with as well.

5. Paying for Professional Opinions.

NON-ISSUE; When professionals are asked for their professional opinion, be it for a second consultation for a diagnosis, or an expert opinion in a court, they are paid for their time.

6. How Did The Doctor Arrive At His Diagnosis?

REAL ISSUE: Can such a diagnosis be made without meeting the person being diagnosed? This issue is for professionals in the field of psychiatry/psychology to determine. Not for us layman, nor rabbis, nor avid internet connoisseurs, who know nothing about the field. And a few prominent people in the field who have an opinion, even if makes sense to us layman, does not yet tell us if their opinion is broadly accepted, or is a minority opinion.

7. Can We Rely On Psychiatry/Psychology To Determine A True Reality?

REAL ISSUE: Some areas of wisdom and knowledge are solidly based on facts, others are based on fact and educated guess. Many diagnoses in medicine are the latter, whereas many in electrical engineering are the former. In general, the greater the professional, the more his opinion/educated guess will count. Psychiatry/psychology fall into the second category, with wide differing opinions as to what percent are facts and what percent are educated guesses.

This is a very important issue because we know/see/hear of psychiatrists/psychologists diagnosing/treating/pontificating about our friends, relatives and our frum society. If their knowledge is more of educated guess, with less fact, should we be putting so much trust in them?

Only people intimately knowledgeable about these fields can guide us. We layman, rabbis, and avid internet connoisseurs, who know nothing about this field – our opinions are totally worthless.

8. How Do We Know The Diagnosis Was True At The Time Of The Wedding?

REAL ISSUE: In order to be a Mekach Taus, the problem has to be present at the time of the purchase/wedding. How did the professional know that? (See #9)

9. Why Wasn’t The Husband Given The Opportunity To Rebut?

REAL ISSUE: To me, the total layman, this seems like an excellent question. However, if I posed the question to the doctor who made the diagnosis, he might well have answered me - and calmed me - by saying, “This is such an obvious case, there is no need to talk to the patient.” And I, most likely, would bow to his well-deserved knowledgeable and professional opinion. Did the Rabbonim do just that

10. Why Wasn’t The Original Beis Din In Baltimore Involved?

SEMI- ISSUE: As far as I understand, they have the only “official” jurisdiction. However, since so much time had elapsed, and so many others were involved, it might have been the prudent thing to go in a different direction, even if not technically correct

11. Why Aren’t The Other Poskim That Agreed With The Heter In The Public’s Eye?

SEMI-ISSUE: It seems that there were other poskim involved, so, if there has to be a public debate, why aren’t they also involved? (See #12)

12. Private Or Public Matter?

REAL ISSUE; As we have seen, there are some real Halachic issues in this case. What should happen is that some rabbonim/gedolim should write a complete Teshuva about it, clarifying their disagreement (as some have), and then the poskim that did pasken, should write a rebuttal Teshuva, as has happened thousands of times in Torah history. A posek wouldn’t necessarily have to answer, but that would be the usual historical case

There is a large and significant difference between then and now. We are all aware of how in the past, historically, there were situations that went from Halachic differences between poskim, to open animosity and Sinas Chinom between communities, with far reaching negative consequences. Those were often caused by a few people who were not poskim, who made the weight of their opinions count.

Today, with internet access, everyone has an opinion, and everyone states their opinion so strongly, so forcefully and seemingly cogently, that public opinion is often easily swayed. Does a posek or Rav or any leader have to have all his actions judged by everyone? Does he have to answer to everyone? If, in this case, he answers and explains his Halachic opinion, will it then be another accepted machlokes between poskim? Will that be enough to end this? Will that calm the masses?

To put it another way, is this truly a “Machlokes L’Shaim Shomayim,” and therefore a halachic answer clarifying their position will be accepted as a true psak, even if not agreed with? Or is it mixed with “Shelo Le’Shaim Shomayim,” and nothing will be accepted except a total declaration of defeat?

A way to partially determine this is to look at the way people speak. Are Rabbonim, Roshei Yeshiva and Gedolim always being spoken of in ways of total respect? Even if one strongly disagrees, they should be disagreeing with the psak, not with the person, and total kavod should be the norm. This would be true if it is only a “Machlokes L’Shaim Shomayim.” By the often serious lack of kavod in these discussions, it sadly seems that mixed in is “Shelo Le’Shaim Shomayim” and therefore only total capitulation to the masses will suffice.

If that seems to be true, then any thoughtful posek would retreat into the safety of silence, depriving the Torah community from the free exchange of Torah ideas. If so, we have arrived at a sad state of affairs, and makes any situation like this infinitely more difficult to resolve.

Perhaps we should all back off, keep our opinions to ourselves, show true proper kavod, and create a free, open space where the poskim can continue to fight the Milchamta Shel Torah purely L’Shem Shamayim.