Monday, December 31, 2012

Rav Lazerson: Water meters on Shabbos/ Rav S.Z.Auerbach

This is a kuntres by Rav Simcha Bunim Lazerson regarding the recent and ongoing dispute between Rav Chaim Kaneifsky and Rav Mordechai Grossman  [click here] and others - regarding the problem of digital electric meters on Shabbos - as welll as clarifying the views of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and the Chazon Ish. He concludes there is no problem! Rav Lazerson had a very close relationship with Rav Auerbach, is the editor of Shulchan Shlomo, and is the author of many halachic works.

Rav Sternbuch:Taking care of senile ex- wife?

Teshuvos v'Hanhagos (5:316): A woman who has Alzheimer's  and her husband wants to divorce her.

Question: Regarding a woman who has Alzheimer's and the husband wants a normal married life and even though they have children - he is not able to live without a healthy wife. Therefore he was given permission to marry a second wife after he deposited a get and kesuba with beis din and guaranteed support for his first wife. However he feels pity for his first wife and wants with the agreement of his second wife to take care of his first wife when she needs it and to deal with her medical issues. Thus the question is since he has married a second wife and thus the first wife is prohibited to him - is it prohibited for him to have yichud and physical contact with her? Answer: It would seem that since it is prohibited for him to have two wife and therefore sexual relations with the first wife is prohibited it should also be prohibited for him to touch her as is explained in Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 615), It is prohibited on Yom Kippur to have sexual relations and therefore it is prohibited to touch one's wife as if she were Niddah. However a distinction can clearly be made since on Yom Kippur there is concern that he will have desire for his wife and therefore if he touches her then he might transgress and have sexual relations. However in the present case one can argue that because of his wife's condition she is not capable of sexual relations and in addition he has a healthy wife that he will be thinking about. Therefore perhaps there is no basis to be concerned about sexual relations?

 We see that Rabbi Akiva Eiger (#44) cites the Tzemach Tzedek [hakadmon #67] that it is obvious that if the first wife is cured that beis din will force him to divorce her in order that he should not have two wives. Rabbi Akiva Eiger finds this conclusion questionable and asks what is the justification for this psak since the first wife was his original wife and he married the second women with rabbinic permission. According to his words that in a case where the wife becomes senile and he then marries a second wife legally then he should be able to keep both wives. That is because Rabbeinu Gershom did not prohibit such a situation and therfore he would be permitted to have two wives.

However Otzer HaPoskim (vol 1 page 18) brings the words of the great poskim that disagree with Rabbi Akiva Eiger and insist that the husband can not have two wives and therefore he must divorce the first wife as soon as she recovers. It seems that the reason for this is that Rabbeinu Gershom made his prohibition against having two wives to avoid conflict and arguments. Thus the problem is that the second wife is likely to claim that the husband is interested only in the first wife and not her. Therefore the decree of Rabbeinu Gershom is still applicable that it is prohibited to have two wives. Consequently it seems that the cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom prohibits sexual relations  with the sick first wife but would not prohibit yichud. Concerning hugging and kissing my opinion is that it should be prohibited - not because the decree of Rabbeinu Gershom but because it is likely to cause lust. And thought about sin is worse than the sin. Therefore the husband should make an agreement with the second wife and receive her permission to visit his first wife and to deal with her needs and medical treatment when needed. However if the first wife is a Niddah it is not permitted except if there is no one else and it is not done in an affectionate manner.

However it is necesssary to clarfiy what is the basis for abrogating the cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom when his wife is sick with Alzheimer's.  Because even according to those authorities who allow what is prohibited by Rabbeinu Gershom when the wife is insane even when the husband has fulfilled the mitzvoa of having children - is because they are concerned with his sexual thoughts. That doesn't apply so much in the present case. The husband is already in his sixties and she is living quietly with him in their home. But she is senile and doesn't know what is going on. Therefore he wants to divorce her and marry another woman so that he have a healthy wife who can take care of him and he can fulfil the mitzva of sexual relations.

However I am concerned about the issue of chilul HaShem that people will say that his first wife was with him all this time and took care of him and now when she is old and sick and can not do anything for him he is throwing her  out and taking another wife.  I am also concerned that if he is permitted to take a second wife - even in these unique circumstances - it will cause a breakdown of the observance of the prohibition of Rabbeinu Gershom. Therefore the matter needs to be considered carefully by great poskim. I personally would not agree to allow him to remarry. However this needs to be throughly thought through and perhaps if he is permitted to take care of her and he does so then there wouldn't be a chilul haShem. This require further careful thought..

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Why did Yosef say G-d caused his selling? Bereishis (50:20)

Bereishis (50:16-21): 16. And they sent a messenger to Joseph, saying, Your father did command before he died, saying,17. So shall you say to Joseph, Forgive, I beg you now, the trespass of your brothers, and their sin; for they did to you evil; and now, we beg you, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father. And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.18. And his brothers also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we are your servants. 19. And Joseph said to them, Fear not; for am I in the place of God? 20. But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it to good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21. Now therefore do not fear; I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke kindly to them

One obvious explanation is that everything is from G‑d (i.e., hashkofa protis – Berachos 33b, Kesubos 30a) and everything is for the good (i.e., Berachos 60b – “R. Huna said in the name of Rab citing R. Meir, and so it was taught in the name of R. Akiba: A man should always accustom himself to say,Whatever the All-Merciful does is for good”), and that Yosef was either reminding his brothers of these elementary hashkofa principle or they didn’t know it and thus he was teaching it for the first time. 

But that can’t be because that was not their father Yaakov’s view of hashgacha protis. Berachos (4a) asks why despite G‑d’s promises to Yaakov, he was described in Bereishis 32:8 as being very afraid of Esav. It answers because he was afraid that he had sinned and thus not deserving of G‑d’s promises. Thus Yaakov felt that hashgacha protis providing protection only applied if he were without sin. This is in fact the view of the Rambam (Shemona Perachim Chapter 7) that Yaakov himself was lacking in Bitachon. Similarly Rambam (Morech Nevuchim 3:18) notes that only if there is absolutely complete cleaving to G‑d is a tzadik protected by G-d. The Ramban (Emuna and Bitachon Chapter 1) said that Yaakov didn’t want to rely on bitachon but only wanted what he deserved according to din. In fact the Netziv notes (Bereshis 37:13) that a man can be hurt by the free will of another – even though he doesn’t deserve the suffering. He cites the Zohar in support of this idea.

In sum, Yaakov did not hold that everything is from G-d  - because man can use his free will to cause harm not desired by G‑d and that only a perfect tzadik can count on G-d protection.  Therefore this could not be the message that Yosef was conveying to his brothers.

What he was saying instead was referring to an old dispute he had with his brothers after he reported his dreams which indicated that he was destined to rule them. Yosef was saying that what had happened including his being sent to Egypt was part of a Divine plan for the Jewish people for which he served as the agent. This was not normal hashgacha protis of an individual but rather hashgacha protis of the representative of the Jewish people. He was thus telling them that this was clear proof that the dreams were valid and proof that he was the leader of the Jewish people and thus it was G‑d’s will that he rule over them.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Malbim - why a loving relationship turns into divorce

Malbim[1](Devarim 24:1):  And if she doesn’t find favor in his eyes because he found in her something digusting (ervas davar)... We have already said the language of finding teaches that it is obvious to people. Therefore it is necessary to understand after he has already married her and had sexual relations with her – there is no question that he had previously seen her and he liked her and that is why he married her.[to be continued]

[1] מלבי"ם (דברים כד:א):  ...והיה אם לא תמצא חן בעיניו כי מצא בה ערות דבר - כבר כ' של' מציאה יורה שנתגלה הדבר לעיני האדם בב"א, לכן יש להתבונן אחר שכבר לקחה לאשה ובא עליה אין ספק שראה אותה מקודם ומצאה חן בעיניו וע"כ לקחה. ואם יכוון הכתוב לומר שאבדה החן היה כותב בלשון המורה ע"ז, לכן מכאן תשובה להמתלוצצים מאבותינו שהיה דרכם בקחתם נשים לבניהם חקרו רק על המשפחה ועל הנהגת אביה ואמה ועל מדות הנערה. ורק קודם הנשואין היה החתן רואה את פני הנערה, אבל נביטה צור מחצבתנו א"א ע"ה כשרצה לקחת אשה לבנו יחידו אשר אהבו העיקר היה אצלו רק משפחת הנערה וארצה, וחפץ שתהיה ממשפחתו ומבית אביו שידע צניעותם, ויותר מזה שסמך בזה על עבדו זקן ביתו ולא שלח את בנו עמו. וכתיב שם ויבאה יצחק האהלה שרה אמו, ואח"כ ויקח את רבקה ותהי לו לאשה, ואח"כ ויאהבה, וכן היה מנהג בנ"י בשבתם על אדמתם. ואהבתם היתה כנטיעת עץ אשר הוא מגרגיר קטן וע"י מים יתדבק בארץ ובכ"י יגדל ויתעבה יותר, כן היתה אהבתם שבתחלה היתה רק זיק האהבה שתול על תלמי לבו, וע"י כשרון המעשה נתוסף בו כ"י אהבה, ונמצא שעקר האהבה היתה נגלית רק אחר הנשואין, וז"ש והיה אם לא תמצא וגו' שע"י שמצא בה ערות דבר שהוא דבר גנאי ומאוס או מומין שבסתר או איזה פריצות לא תמצא חן הנחוץ לה שתמצאנה, וגם השכל יחייב שטוב היה מנהג אבותינו. שאחרי שקודם הנשואין לא ידע האיש בבירור מזג האשה וכן האשה לכן בהכרח היה אצלם ההסכם שנכון גם אם יהיה ע"ד הממוצע, אבל כפי מנהג החדש יתלמדו הבנים מקודם איך לתפוס בלבבם זא"ז שיראו זל"ז אהבה אשר אין על עפר יסודה ורק במשלים ובמחזות על במת ישחק, ולכן כשיתודע להם אח"כ שהטעו זא"ז תתקרר אהבה מעט מעט עד שיתכן שתהיה לאין ואפס, ואשר שאז היה הגרושין מצוי יותר יש טעם אחר בזה כי אז אחרי שראו שלא יחיו באהבה עוד חשו יותר מזה לתכונת הבנים שיולדו שלא יהיו בני שנואה. וד"ל. ומה שלא אמר הכתוב ושנאה כמ"ש באיש האחרון מפני שעיקר בא הכתוב ללמד שלא ישוב לקחתה. ואם היה ביניהם שנאה רחוק הדבר אחר שכבר היתה לאחר שישאנה. אבל אחרי שלא גרשה רק מפני העדר מציאת חן בנקל שישתנה דעתו. זהו ע"ד הפשט. ועתה נבאר הכתובים ע"פ דרשת הספרי והש"ס, שלב"ש יקשה ג"כ מ"ש שאחר הנשואין לא תמצא חן בעיניו כנ"ל. וע"כ יפרשו שהוראת חן הנאמר בכאן הוא כמו ונח מצא חן, שפי' שמצא חן וחסד שינצל ממי המבול והרבה כזה בתנ"ך. ויתפרש שלא תמצא חן בעיניו שירחמנה לעבור על מדותיו, שהדבר מובן שבודאי עשתה איזה דבר שבשבילה נתעורר לגרשה, והכתוב יבאר למה לא יעבור על מדותיו בשביל שמצא בה ערות דבר, ופי' דבר ערוה, ומדלא כתיב כי ראה בה ערות דבר, כמ"ש לעיל כי יראה בך ערות דבר, וכבר נתבאר לעיל שלשון מציאה הוא כשנתגלה הדבר בב"א, כמ"ש בספרי כי ימצא בעדים שפי' שאיך יוכל להגלות הדבר לב"ד הלא הם יושבים על מדין אלא ע"כ בעדים. וכן כאן דכתיב כי מצא שנודע לו ע"י אחרים ואמר עוד דבר כדכתיב ע"פ שנים עדים יקום דבר שיהיה עדות בדבר, נמצא שלא התיר לגרשה רק ע"י ערוה ובדבר היינו ע"י עדים (ובזה יתיישב מה שהקשו למה הוזהר שלא ישאנה אחר שנשאת הלא כיון שנמצא בה דבר ערוה ובעדים בלא זה אסורה לו לעולם, אבל לפי דברינו שלא אמר הכתוב שראה בה רק שמצא ע"י עדים ונתברר אח"כ ששקר הדבר ולכן הוא רוצה להחזירה, ומ"ש שהמגרש מפני ש"ר לא יחזירנה עולמית הוא רק תק"ח) ודעת בית הלל שא"כ היה נאמר כי מצא בה ערוה בדבר כדאי' בגמ' שם לכן יפרשו או ערוה או דבר כדאי' בספרי, וכונת הכתוב שמפני זה לא יעביר על מדותיו שהוא אדם שגם כשהקדיחה תבשילו לא יעביר על מדותיו, ור"ע יפרש שמציאות החן בעניני אישות יורה על היופי וא"כ מה ענין החן אחרי הנשואין, לכן יפרש לשון מציאה הנאמר כאן כמו (במדבר יא כב) הצאן ובקר ישחט להם ומצא להם שתרגומו היספקון להון. ופי' שהחן שהיה לה מקודם לא תספיק עתה מפני שראה אחרת נאה הימנה, וז"ש בעיניו פי' בשביל שראה בעיניו יפה ממנה, ומ"ש כי מצא בה ערות דבר הוא כמו או מצא בה ערוה או דבר כנ"ל. ולהסביר הדבר מה שיתכן שבנות ישראל יהיו קלות הערך אשר אם יראה אחרת נאה הימנה או שהקדיחה תבשילו שתתיר התורה לגרשה, אבל משפטי ה' אמת כנ"ל ורצה השי"ת שבני ישראל יחיו יחד עם נשותיהם חיי רצון ולא חיי הכרח. ואם לא היה יכולת בידו לגרשה היה כ"א מתאונן על חייו שבהכרח יחיה עם אשה אשר לא תמצא חן בעיניו, אבל כשי"ל יכולת לגרשה כ"ז שלא תאבד כל החן שהיה לה תספיק למנעו מזה, בחשבו שאם ישא אחרת גם היא לא תהיה טובה הימנה, וכ"ז שלא גרשה בהכרח הוא חיי רצון. ונסביר הדבר במשל קטן. אם יחרצו לאיש שישב בבית יום א' לעונש יחשב לו, ומרצונו ישב כלוא בבית כמה ימים ותחשב לו עוד לענג ונחת: וכתב לה ספר וכתב לה מיותר דהו"ל לכתוב ונתן ספר כריתות נלמד שצריך לכתוב הגט בשבילה וז"ש בספרי וכתב לה לשמה: עוד שם וכתב אין לי אלא כתב בדיו בסם וסיקרא וכו' ת"ל וכתב לה מ"מ. ואינו מובן. ונ"ל דבכל מקום שנאמר כתיבה שענינו על ספר הוא רק בדיו ולמדו חז"ל מהנאמר (בירמיה לו יח) ואני כותב על הספר בדיו אבל בכל מקום בא הכתיבה להתקיים לכן צריך דיו שהוא דבר המתקיים (אף דאמרינן בסוטה (יז ע"ב) שאינו כותב בקומוס וקנקנתום מפני שאיננו יכול למחוק לא שהם מתקיימים יותר מדיו אלא שרושמים בגוף הקלף או הנייר ואף אחר המחיקה נשאר הרושם אבל להתקיים במראיתו הוא רק דיו) אבל הגט כתיבתו אינו שיהיה לראיה ביד האשה שאם כן למה צריך כתיבה לשמה אלא שהכתיבה הוא לשעת הגט שבלעדו לא תתגרש וא"כ אחרי שהוא רק לשעה אין ללמוד משם שרק בדיו משום ששם היה נכתב להתקיים (ובזה יתיישב הא דממעטינן שלא בדיו במשנה משום ומחק ולמה לא נלמד מדכתיב שם וכתב וגם בספר אלא משום ששם ג"כ אין הכתיבה להתקיים רק למחוק משום הכי צריך למעט מומחק) וזה שאמר בספרי וכתב לה פירוש שמזה למדנו שהכתיבה תהיה לשמה מזה נלמד שאינו להתקיים ואפילו הכי ממעט אם כתב במי פירות ובכל דבר שאינו מתקיים שדבר שאינו מתקיים כלל לא מקרי כתיבה כלל: עוד שם אין לי אלא ספר מנין עלי קנים ת"ל ונתן מ"מ ופירש דספר מקרי קלף אבל מדלא כתיב ונתנו בידה רק ונתן נלמד מ"מ היינו כל מה שיתן: עוד שם אין לי אלא בידה מנין לרבות גגה חצרה כו' פי' דלפעמים יבא שם יד על היד ממש ולפעמים גם על הרשות כמו ויקח את כל ארצו מידו אבל אם כפשוטו היה לומר ובידה יתן להקדים יד לנתינתו שאז היה נלמד שהעיקר הוא קבלתה ומדהקדים ונתן לידה נלמד שהעיקר הוא נתינתו וקבלתה אף ביד שהוא רשותה. ומ"ש ר"ע אומר וכי במאי החמירה תורה כו' פי' אם גרשה וא"ל הרי את מותרת לכל אדם חוץ מפלוני ומת המגרש ואותו פלוני שנגדו לא גירשה הוא כהן ונמצא שהאשה הזאת היא לכ"ע גרושה ולגבי כהן הזה היא רק אלמנה ואפ"ה אסור הכהן לישא אותה משום דהוה גרושה לגבי אחרים, והוא נלמד מדכתיב ואשה גרושה מאישה אף שאינה מותרת לכל אדם רק שנתגרשה מבעלה אסורה לכהן וכ"ש שאם המגרש חי שתהיה אסורה להנשא לכ"א מפני שהיא באיסור א"א לגבי האחד שאינו מגרשה נגדו: ושלחה מביתו מיותר דמדכתב וכתב לה ספר כריתות וגו' ש"מ שנתבטל הקשר שביניהם ואח"כ והיתה לאיש אחר, אלא למדרש דאף אם נתן לה ספר כריתות צריך גם לשלחה מביתו והוא הדבר שאומר שנותן לה הספר בתורת גירושין:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Divorce: When wife is disgusting or useless

Chinuch (#579): Divorce requires a document:  [see post of Abarbanel]   The basis of this mitzva is that since a woman was created to help her husband and she is to him like an desirable utensil. A similar idea is expressed in Sanhedrin (22b), A woman does not make a covenant except with one who makes her into a utensil. Since a woman is there to serve a purpose, it is the will of G‑d that when he is disgusted with this utensil he should remove it from his house. Because of this reason there are some of our Sages who say in Gittin (90a) that even if she burns his food he is able to divorce her i.e., for a trivial matter since she is nothing but a valued utensil in his house. However others Sages say that since she is in G‑d’s form and image and G‑d prepared her for her husband’s needs and honor – with eyes to see and ears to hear and intelligence – it is not right to reject her and send out of his house except for a major reason. This is as the verse says, “Because he found in her ervas davar (something disgusting).” Nevertheless according to all the Sages, if he finds some major problem with her it is correct to divorce her. That is because of the reason I mentioned, that she was only created for his sake. And since she is causing him upset and he is disgusted with her there is no necessity for him to remain with her. The Jewish approach is not that of some of the non-Jews who make a strong binding commitment to marriage that is only ended by death. A man should not be afraid to divorce his wife if she does something repellent and destroys all that is in the house and burns down all of his possessions. However the Torah commands that when she is sent away that it shouldn’t be done by words alone because this can lead to much trouble and immorality in our society. Because a wife who is committing adultery could simply claim that she was already divorced. In addition if divorce is too easy to do then it becomes very common. Consequently the Torah requires that a divorce be based on a written document and that there be witnesses who testify and that all those who claim to be divorced can show it. An additional advantage of a complicated written procedure over an oral agreement is that the delay and effort can cause the man’s anger to dissipate sometimes and he will decide not to divorce his wife and great is peace...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz: Update - Re: Weberman Trial

 The following is from a private mailing of Rabbi Yakov Horowitz that he gave me permission to post.

December 24, 2012

With Nechemya Weberman convicted and awaiting sentencing, here are some reflections upon the trial and why Project YES supported his victim in a very public manner.

We got involved in the spring when it became clear that a young victim still within the statute of limitations was actually committed to pressing charges and testifying against her molester. In the process of doing due diligence, I personally heard from four additional victims of Weberman, all of whom were terrified to come forward and press charges because of community intimidation. They didn't know each other, but they all told the same stories, described similar forms of physical abuse - some of which became public knowledge during the trial.

Just one horrific example: Those of us close to the case heard from the victims that Weberman was burning many of them on their abdomens with cigarette lighters and candles as part of his warped fantasies. However, this was only discussed at a side bar during his trial and did not become public knowledge until this New York Post Article ran a few days after the verdict.

Two chassidish men, both in their thirties and well integrated into the community told me that Weberman burned their wives on their abdomens while violating them. One of the fellows said that he first discovered the abuse when his wife screamed and nearly fainted when he inadvertently passed a (havdala) candle close to her midsection. It was only then, that she told him the story of what she had gone through in her "counseling sessions" with Weberman.    

Weberman's other victims revealed details that matched those of the plaintiff in this case, which in the aggregate indicated that he was conducting an evil, calculated, and highly successful Grooming Process. This included humiliating his victims, and telling them that no one will ever believe messed-up kids like them. He deliberately turned the parents against their children, telling them, among other things, that their son or daughter was a pathological liar, in order to have his defense in place should the kids ever reveal his abuse.   
Weberman even told some of the girls he was abusing that (hold your stomach) they were reincarnated separately, but they had been married to him in a previous gilgul (lifetime), and that the intimate acts he was performing were intended as a form of te'shuva (repentance) for sins committed in their previous lifetimes. Keep in mind that many of his victims were innocent, pre-teen girls who were raised in a very sheltered environment, and that Weberman was presented to them by their school as a distinguished rabbi - lending credence to whatever story he spun to them.

Weberman carefully selected his victims from a pool of families who had marital issues or an elder child who was on drugs or no longer observant, correctly assuming that those parents would lack the self-confidence to do battle with him should they suspect anything wrong.

He was also very cautious not to abuse the children of well-connected families. None of his victims who have come to our attention are very wealthy or named Teitelbaum or Twersky (dynastic rabbinic families) - only from what Leona Helmsley famously called the "little people."
Once it became clear that Weberman appeared to be a serial pedophile, we recognized that this was a unique opportunity to break the wall of silence about abuse in the Charedi world. The "Establishment" responded to the accusations by holding a huge fundraiser  to raise a half million dollars for Weberman's defense.

Shortly thereafter, we were notified from those close to the case that the victim's family was under unbearable pressure from the community after the fundraiser. The DA was concerned that she would do what so many others before her had done - buckle under to the pressure and refuse to testify. Indeed, four men were subsequently arrested for attempting to bribe the victim to the tune of $500,000 to drop the charges.

Keep in mind that this brave young victim, not yet eighteen, had been repeatedly molested by Weberman from the young age of twelve until she was fifteen. (For all those asking what defense attorney Mr. Farkas kept raising during the trial - why didn't she come forward earlier - take a careful look at the size and maturity level of the precious 12-year-old kinderlach in your neighborhood. That ought to answer your question.) Knowing she would need help, we went public and urged our readers to Stand With the Victim and offer her emotional support in a post on our website two weeks after the fundraiser (May 30, 2012). We asked our readers to post comments of encouragement and to contact the Brooklyn DA requesting police protection for her family as needed.

Sadly, in the Williamsburg community there seemed to be almost universal support for Weberman (which is not at all unusual in child abuse cases - the abusers frequently get away with it for so long since they are otherwise well-respected, upstanding, charismatic members of the community) flinging slings and arrows at the victim attempting to ruin her reputation and totally undermine her credibility.

We then decided to embark on a campaign to educate the public about Weberman's wildly inappropriate methods of counseling the young girls in his care with this post What Went Terribly Wrong. We pointedly highlighted his flagrant violations of Hilchos Yichud (if these young girls had been in a locked apartment containing a bedroom with an "outsider" for counseling  sessions for four hours a day, three times a week instead of with Rabbi Weberman, the community would have been in an uproar). Hearing about his eleven hour car trip alone with her to the Catskills caused many to rethink their position on what was really going on.

In the lead-up to and during the trial, we posted Clear and Present Danger explaining the halachic reasons that predators need to be reported to the police, and The Halo Effect explaining how predators get away with their abuse.

Most people simply do not want to know about child abuse, as the entire subject makes them feel ill. Therefore, if just makes it harder to educate parents about abuse overall and how the grooming process works (here is a fantastic piece by Malcom Gladwell, In Plain View on grooming. A must read for parents.) Additionally, the cultural norms that have not allowed the Charedi press to cover the Weberman trial just adds to the disconnect and Cognitive Dissonance which is causing such harm to our kids.

Weberman's supporters are running a $1,000,000 campaign for his appeal, and they are going all out in a public relations effort, including this past week's Ami magazine where George Farkas, Weberman's attorney, graced the front cover and asserted Weberman's innocence.   

It is heartening that many of Weberman's other victims are now finding their voices - albeit only whispering to friends and family members. But the deadly wall of silence is showing growing cracks. Mr. Heinz, the Brooklyn DA went on record in several interviews  that there is "at least one more victim," (who has come forward but is afraid to testify), and his ADA's have previously stated that they are in conversations with six of Weberman's victims.   

In the charedi community, respected people are stepping forward. Ezra Friedlander, just released a column where he mentions a second Weberman victim and we will probably hear much more of this in the near future. There are simply too many survivors of his to keep this quiet forever. If or when they decide to go to the DA, the press, or to join in a class action law suit, the lid will probably come completely off.

Weberman is a monster who had incredible access to young girls and boys and married women for many, many years. What is so frightening is that those who are coming forward now are the married women, as the single girls are afraid of ruining their shidduch prospects. We shudder to think of how many single victims of his are out there continuing to suffer in silence.

Research shows that the average pedophile molests 50-200 children in his lifetime. With the level of access that Weberman had, and the naiveté' of the kids he worked with, ... may Hashem have mercy.     

The ongoing publicity proclaiming Weberman an innocent man is a dagger in the already broken hearts of his survivors. According to firsthand reports I received from professional therapists, even those survivors of Weberman's abuse who are grown and married are traumatized by these fundraisers to the extent that they are exhibiting signs of PTSD. It is for this reason alone that I feel it is a matter of pikuach nefesh (a matter of life and death) to give voice to his voiceless victims and publicize the true story of what transpired.

Standing with the victim and speaking truth to power the way we did was not a pleasant task, nor is it one that is risk-free, but we are determined to see this through.

My family spent this past Rosh Hashana with 200 Jewish recovering drug and alcohol addicts - the vast majority of whom ended up that way after being molested in their formative years. After listening to their horror stories and seeing the hell each and every one of them is undergoing, I promised myself that during the coming year I will redouble my efforts and do whatever it takes to keep today's kids safe. 

May it be Hashem's will that we finally succeed.

Best and warmest regards,


Strange Side of Jewish History - from Yated Neeman

 Strange Side of Jewish History

For the past few years I have been writing the “Strange Side of History” Jewish history for the Yated Neeman newspaper of the United States. It is now the longest running Jewish history column in Jewish history. So far it has 200 articles

David Hoffman

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dina was a gadabout because she was really a boy

Alschich(Bereishis 34:1): And Dina went out.It is incredible that the holy offspring such as Dina would be a gadabout – something which is not acceptable for woman and especially not young virgins. Our Sages (Bereishis Rabba 80:1) say that the reason that the verse says that she was the daughter of Leah was to explain that just as her mother was a gadabout as it says that Leah went out to meet her husband... However the fact is that the behavior of Leah was not comparable to that of Dina because Leah went out to meet her husband. Furthermore our Sages say that it was because she was withheld from Esav that she was captured. But all of this doesn’t explain  the fact that Dina was a gadabout. I think that when the Torah says that she was Leah’s daughter it to explain why she was a gadabout.... It says in Berachos (60a) ...that after Leah became pregnant with a boy she prayed that it be a female so as to not further disgrace her sister Rachel to have less male children then the maidservants and have only one boy to complete the expected number of 12 male children. We see from this gemora that Dina when she was conceived was a boy but she was changed into a girl before being born. Therefore someone who is in essence a male – it is not surprising that she should be a gadabout because that is a male characteristic and everything follows from the essence....

Monday, December 24, 2012

Chaim Halpern's shul expelled from Orthodox Union

Update: Apparently the cancelation of expulstion has been cancelled

Update: Apparently the expulsion has been cancelled.

Times of Israel   In an unprecedented and potentially explosive move, the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, the umbrella organization for Britain’s Orthodox institutions, has expelled a synagogue led by a rabbi accused of sexual misconduct.

Beth Hamedrash Divrei Chaim, in the London neighborhood of Golders Green, is headed by Rabbi Chaim Halpern, a former religious judge in the Union and one of the city’s most senior Haredi rabbis. He was forced to resign all of his public positions in November following allegations that he had engaged in “inappropriate” conduct with about 30 women coming to him for counseling, but retained leadership of his shul, which is located in his house.

Since then, a group of local rabbis and religious judges have called on him to resign from his pulpit as well, to no avail. In response to intense pressure from the Haredi public, the Union agreed to set up a beth din, or religious court, to try the case, but it has yet to convene.

According to one source, the expulsion of Divrei Chaim means that the beth din is now unlikely to go ahead, as Halpern is no longer affiliated with the Union.

It will also remove the issue of Halpern’s conduct from the agenda of the local rabbis, as he has effectively become a private individual.

Rabbi Bakshi-Doron indicted for giving phony semicha

YNET  Former chief Sephardi Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron was indicted for fraudulent receipt of goods or services under aggravated circumstances on Monday for his role in the so-called "rabbis' file" affair, in which hundreds of security forces officers were ordained as rabbis in order to qualify for a pay raise.

According to the indictment, which was filed with the Jerusalem District Court, between 1999 and 2003 some 1,500 police officers, soldiers and cadets attended various religious colleges for a number of hours a week but were granted diplomas for completing five years of studies. The certificates enabled the individuals to receive pay raises from the State.[...]

The Jerusalem District Prosecutor's Office claimed that when he instructed Ohana to issue the certificates Bakshi-Doron was aware that the security officers did not meet the criteria.

The indictment further claimed that Bakshi-Doron was aware the diplomas would grant the officers significant State-funded salary increases. The former chief rabbi authorized the illegal operation to avoid a confrontation with those who sponsored and managed the religious colleges attended by security personnel, according to the prosecution. 

Editor of HaPeles attacked - 2 suspects detained

BHOL updated  After months of violence against rabbis and public figures, due to the Lithuanian public split, this morning (Sunday) Yated Ne'eman newspaper published an impeachment ad, on the front page of the newspaper.

Under the heading "protest and vibrant condemnation," are the following: "We were asked by Maranan and Rabbis sages of Israel Shlit"a to voice their protest and condemnation vigorously against severe violence, verbal and physical, that were made in recent months against Torah figures, public figures and politicians, by low life's. These acts the opposite of the way of Torah and as it is know has fallen stranger violence in our camp.

From the Rashi interpretation it is easy to understand, that the violence has crossed a red line, and the fact that the attack on the editor of Hapeles, which took place on that same evening against a mashgiach at the Ohr Yisrael Yeshiva, Rabbi Goldwasser, gained headlines is shocking.

During the past few months, both Reb Yitzchak Roth 'Yated' editor, and Reb Yisrael Friedman, editor of the Shabbos supplement, were attacked. A few weeks ago, physical abuse was made towards the Mayor of Bnei Brak-Yaakov Asher. The peak was when the mashgiach of Ohr Yisrael Yeshiva in Petach tikva, Hagaon Reb Pinchas Yitzchak Goldwasser, was attacked last Thursday night, on the same night that the former editor of Yated was attaxked at the entrance to his home.


Haaretz    The senior editor of a daily ultra-Orthodox newspaper was assaulted late Thursday night outside his Jerusalem home in what is thought to be a politically motivated attack. 

Witnesses said two men, one who appeared to be Haredi, and a second, whose face was covered, ambushed Hapeles editor in chief Nati Grossman. at the entrance of his home, in the capital's Bayit Vegan neighborhood. [...]

He was discharged on Friday afternoon, before the start of Shabbat. 

The police are investigating various leads, but in the Haredi community the assumption is that the assault is connected to internal battles within the United Torah Judaism political party.[...]\

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Teshuva for capital crimes requires death & suffering

Teshuva for capital crimes requires death & suffering

Rambam(Hilchos Teshuva 1:4):Even though that repentance (teshuva) atones for everything and the Day of Yom Kippur itself atones, there are sins for which atonement comes immediately and there are others which the atonement comes later. For example if a person violated a positive commandment whose punishment does not entail kares and he repents. Then his sins are immediately forgiven…However if he transgresses a negative commandment whose punishment doesn’t entail kares or capital punishment and he repented, then the repentance is completed with Yom Kippur… If he commits a sin which is punishable by kares or death and then repented, there is not complete atonement even after Yom Kippur but rather he need to die to complete the atonement. Furthermore he doesn’t have complete atonement until he has experienced suffering… However all this is true only if he hasn’t caused the profanation of G‑d name (chilul Hashem) by his sin. However if he has caused chilul HaShem, then even if he has repented and Yom Kippur has passed and he remains repentant and he receives physical suffering – the complete atonement only happens when he dies….

Capital punishment still exists – but not from beis din

Kesubos(30a): Did not R. Joseph say. and R. Hiyya teach: Since the day of the destruction of the Temple, although the Sanhedrin ceased, the four forms of capital punishment have not ceased? They have not ceased, [you say]? Surely they have ceased! But [say] the judgment of the four forms of capital punishment has not ceased. He who would have been sentenced to stoning, either falls down from the roof or a wild beast treads him down. He who would have been sentenced to burning, either falls into a fire4 or a serpent bites him. He who would have been sentenced to decapitation. is either delivered to the government or robbers come upon him. He who would have been sentenced to strangulation, is either drowned in the river or dies from suffocation. But reverse it: Lions and thieves are by the hand of heaven, and cold and heat are by the hand of man

Bereishis Rabba (65:22): Jakum of Zeroroth was the nephew of R. Jose b. Jo'ezer of Zeredah.5 Riding on a horse he went before the beam on which he [R. Jose] was to be hanged,6 and taunted him: See the horse on which my master has let me ride, and the horse upon which your Master has made you ride. If it is so with those who anger Him, how much more with those who do His will, he replied. Has then any man done His will more than thou? he jeered. ' If it is thus with those who do His will, how much more with those who anger Him, he retorted. This pierced him like the poison of a snake, and he went and subjected himself to the four modes of execution inflicted by the Beth Din: stoning, burning, decapitation, and strangulation. What did he do? He took a post and planted it in the earth, raised a wall of stones around it and tied a cord to it. He made a fire in front of it and fixed a sword in the middle [of the post]. He hanged himself on the post, the cord was burnt through and he was strangled. The sword caught him, while the wall [of stones] fell upon him and he was burnt. Jose b. Jo'ezer of Zeredah fell into a doze1 and saw his [Jakum's] bier flying in the air. By a little while he has preceded me into the Garden of Eden, said he..

Suicide and teshuva?

Igros Moshe (C.M. 2:69.4): Also this view (Yaavetz 1:43) that someone who has deliberately transgressed a sin that is liable to the death penalty and he commits suicide that he is not only not punished but it is also a meritorious act – is clearly prohibited even if he had been halachically warned not to do the crime. It is a shameful thing that Rav Yaakov Emden stated and his view on this matter should be totally disregarded.

Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabiya Omer Y.D. 2:24.8)… In fact this issue is very confusing in my opinion. How is it possible that the mitzva of repentance can be done by means of the major sin of suicide? Our Sages have said that a person who deliberately commits suicide has no portion in the World to Come… This matter is an explicit verse (Yechezkeil 33:11): “Say to them, As I live, says the L‑rd G‑d, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked should turn from his way and live; turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die?” And there is nothing that repentance doesn’t help. So why would anyone think R’ Chiya attempt to kill himself in response to what he thought was a sin with an unmarried prostitute - was according to the halacha (Kiddushin 81b)? Look at Sefer Chasidim (#674) …How could he tell his students to do teshuva in a manner that caused them to be killed? It would seem that the Sefer Chasidim is a major support for the Shevus Yaakov. This is a very difficult issue that requires study. Nevertheless in my opinion one cannot learn halacha from stories such as these. Therefore it is prohibited to kill oneself – even for the sake of repentance. I also saw this point in Shevet Shimon (345) which expresses great astonishment at this Shevus Yaakov and he concludes that the halacha is in accord with the Yafos To’ar [and not the Shevus Yaakov]. This is also the conclusion of the Chida in Birchei Yosef (345:3), that even though normally the Shevus Yaakov is more authoritative but logic is in agreement with the Yafos To’ar. [There are many other sources that come to this conclusion and reject this Shevus Yaakov]…