Saturday, June 30, 2012

Military Conscription for Ultra-Orthodox Jews & Arabs

NYTimes  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supersize coalition was showing its first serious signs of stress on Friday in its quest for a more universal draft system in Israel

An effort that has so far focused on phasing out mass army exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews suddenly became more charged as right-wing nationalist parties decided to press the equally — if not more — contentious issue of national or civilian service for Israel’s Arab citizens.  

The issue is highly provocative. While most Jewish Israelis, and Druze men, are conscripted at 18, Israeli Arabs are generally not required to perform mandatory military service, though they may volunteer. 

Recent polls have shown that despite a rise in the number of Arabs volunteering for civilian community service, a growing majority of Arab youth are opposed.  A survey published in May by Haifa University found that 40 percent of Arab youths in Israel were willing to volunteer for civil service in 2011, compared with 53 percent in 2009. The Haifa University study also found that 90 percent of the Arab volunteers were girls providing educational and welfare services in their communities. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mondrowitz with D.A. Hynes in hot pursuit?!

NYTimes  For years, Avrohom Mondrowitz counseled children out of his home in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. He was host of a call-in radio show popular among ultra-Orthodox Jewish listeners, claiming to be a rabbi and psychologist. But law enforcement officials say Mr. Mondrowitz, who fled to Israel in 1984 to avoid arrest, was also something else: “a compulsive pedophile.” 

The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, has repeatedly said that since taking office in 1990, he has vigorously tried to extradite Mr. Mondrowitz. Mr. Hynes has said his office was instrumental in bringing about a change in a treaty between the United States and Israel in 2007 that had thwarted early extradition efforts.  

But newly disclosed documents from Mr. Hynes’s office cast doubts on his accounts of his role in the case, suggesting that for many years, the office paid little attention to it. 

“There isn’t a single e-mail, a single letter, a single memo, either originating from the D.A.’s office or addressed to it, that so much as mentions any attempt by the D.A. to seek a change in the extradition treaty,” Mr. Lesher said. “It’s just inconceivable that such important negotiation on such a detailed issue could have taken place and not left a trace in the documentary record.”

Keeping cool in modest clothing

NYTimes  When the mercury passes 90, most New Yorkers start to wilt. Many resort to shorts and tank tops, even in the office. More than a few bankers and lawyers reach for their seersuckers. 

Yet amid all the casual summer wear, in some neighborhoods more than others, Hasidic men wear dark three-piece suits crowned by black hats made of rabbit fur, and Hasidic women outfit themselves in long-sleeved blouses and nearly ankle-length skirts. To visibly cooler New Yorkers, they can look painfully overdressed.

In the Hasidic world, the traditional fashion code and interpretations of ancient Jewish law dictate modesty for a woman — a concept known as tzniut — so even on sizzling days women conceal their necks, arms and legs, and married women don wigs, head scarves or turbans to hide their real hair. While Hasidic men do not feel the modesty obligation to the same degree, they believe that it is a mark of humility and respect for others to dress formally when encountering the world.

In Borough Park, women snatch up neckline-hugging shells that allow them to wear thin, long-sleeved and open-necked blouses from, say, Macy’s. Hasidic men seek a frock coat made of lighter-weight, drip-dry polyester, without a shape-holding canvas lining, and lightweight weaves in the fringed, four-cornered, woolen poncho known as tzitzit, a daily version of the prayer shawl that is worn over a white shirt. Also, men will go jacketless when working or driving, though any substantial stroll along a public sidewalk requires a suit jacket or frock coat, known in Yiddish as a rekel or in its longer and fancier Sabbath version as a bekishe. 

Child abuse rates higher in Israel

JPost   Reports of child abuse in Israel have steadily grown over the past three years, as the number of reported cases in the US is decreasing, according to recent data the Jerusalem-based Haruv Institute collected and provided to The Jerusalem Post this week.

The data presented by the institute, which not only researches the phenomenon but also provides training to professionals working in the medical, educational and community fields, shows that in Israel in 2010 the number of reported child abuse cases was 18.9 for every 1,000 children, compared to 8.7 for every 1,000 children in 1995. The US figures for 2010 were 10 reports for every 1,000 children, compared to 14.7 reports for every 1,000 children in 1995.

While part of the rise in reporting of child abuse cases in Israel stems from greater awareness among professionals and society as to what constitutes abuse and how to report it, Haruv Institute director Prof. Asher Ben-Arieh said it has more to do with an alarming increase in violence throughout Israeli society in general.

Not to call wife by her name?

The following are sources which deal with the fact that a wife's name is often not used by her husband [ and also a husband's name is not used by the wife]. Various reasons are given from 1) the wife is the foundation of the home and thus it is a praise to refer to her as "my home" 2) A wife belongs in the home and not outside  so saying "my home" is a reminder of her place 3) It is a lack of modesty to for spouses to use first names - especially before others 4) It is a way of preventing the children from calling their parents by their first names. 5) Rav Yosse's wife was bad so he didn't want to mention that she was his wife. 6) Wife should not use husband's name out of respect for his authority while husband may use her name. 7) This is done to praise and motivate the wife to do her housework 8) this practice applied only to Rabbi Yosse because the wife was a yevama and he was establishing a house for his brother.
Shabbos(118b): R’ Yossi said, I have never called my wife “my wife” or my ox “my ox”, but rather I called my wife “my home” and my ox “ I called “my field.”

Rashi(Gittin 52a): I called my wife my home – that is because all the necessities of the home are done through her and thus she is the main entity of the home. Similarly the ox is the main part of the field.

Meiri(Shabbos 118b): A person should always  use refined language. An example is that one talmid chachom said, “I nevr call my wife “my wife” nor my ox “my ox”. Rather I call my wife “my home” and my ox “my field.”

Megila(13a): And with the death of her father and mother, Mordechai took her as his own daughter. A Tanna taught in the name of R’ Meir, Don’t read for a daughter (l’bas) but for a house (l’bayis). Similarly it says (Shmuel 2 12:3), And  the poor  man had nothing  except one lamb which he had bought and raised together with him and his children. From his own bread it ate and it drank out of his own cup and it lay in his bosom and it was like a daughter to him. But why did lying in his bosom make it like a daughter (bas) to him? Rather what is meant it was like a wife (bayis) so here also it means a wife (bayis).

Maharasha(Megila 13a): Don’t read it that Mordechai took Esther as a daughter but rather for his home... In other word he tooks her for his wife as they say in general (Shabbos 118b), “I  called my wife my home.”

Shabbos shel Mi(Shabbos 118b): I have never called my wife “my wife” or my ox “my ox” but I called by wife “my home” and my ox I called “my field.” Rashi explains that he was saying that, “even from my mundane talk one can learn wisdom.” The Maharal asks in Chidushei Agados, how can he rejoice and praise himself in the manner? He give an alternative explanation that he was attempting to motivate his wife and his slaves in doing their jobs.

Daf ahl Daf(Shabbos 118b): ... The reason why he always referred to his wife  as “my home” is because all the honor of the woman is to be inside (Tehilim 45) and it is not the manner for a woman to go out of the house. Therefore she is the principle member of the home and that is why he called her “my home.”

Daf ahl Daf(Berachos 27b): In Minhag Yisroel Torah (O.C. 240:1) he notes that the Minhagei Maharil states, “That when Mahari Segel spoke about his wife with other he would say in German, ‘Mein hoiz frau’ (my house wife) as we see in Shabbos (118b) that he never called his wife ‘my wife’ but rather said ‘my home’). Rashi there says it was because she was the principle member of the home. When he would call her he would say in German ‘hert ihr nit’, which is the accepted practice in the world that husband and wife don’t mention their spouses name.”  This that the  Maharil did not say “my wife” when speaking in the presence of others or use her name, see Magid Ta’aluma, “Regarding Berachos (27b) where R’ Eliezar ben Azarya said, ‘I will go and consult with the members of my household’ and he went and consulted with his wife. This informs us that it is not correct to mention his wife’s name before others and therefore he referred to as “my household” when he meant his wife.” However this that the Maharil was careful not to call his wife at all by her name, see Redak (Lech Lecha) who notes the change in description. For Avraham it says, Your name will no longer be called Avraham while for Sarah it says, “You should no longer call her name Sarai.” That is because a man calls his wife by her name but the wife doesn’t call her husband by his name but rather in a respectful manner that reflects authority. (See Toldos Kol Aryeh who brings many sources for this).

Daf ahl Daf(Gittin 52a): Maharam Shif explains that it was specifically R’ Yosse who did call his wife “my wife” because she was a bad woman as it mentioned  in Bereishis Rabba (17:3), I will make for him a help-mate  - If he merits she will be a helper and if not she will be against him. Rabbi Yehoshua said that if he merits to have a wife like the wife of Rabbi Chanina but if not he will have a wife like Rabbi Yosse. We thus see that Rabbi Yosse had a bad wife.
However the Netzutzei Ohr expresses surprise at his words since the one who says that he didn’t call his wife “my wife” was Rabbi Yosse bar Chalafta who is cited in Rus Rabba (2:8). However the Rabbi Yosse who had a bad wife was Rabbi Yosse haGalili. Therefore the Netzutzei Ohr gives a different explanation as to why Rabbi Yosse called his wife “my home.” This is based on Shabbos (118b), Rabbi Yosse said that he had sexual intercourse five times and he planted 5 cedars in Israel. He cites Tosfos in the name of the Yerushalmi that these were Yevamos and therefore he called them “my home” since with each one he established the house of his brother [and he only had intercourse once with each of them – Tosfos]

Child Sexual Abuse Rate Declining

NYTimes   Anyone reading the headlines in recent weeks has come away with an unsettling message: Sexual predators seem to lurk everywhere.

In a single day last week, juries deliberating 200 miles apart in Pennsylvania delivered guilty verdicts against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, for sexually molesting boys, and against Msgr. William J. Lynn, a clergy secretary, for shielding predatory priests. In New York, accusations of sexual abuse at Horace Mann, an exclusive preparatory school in the Bronx, recently spurred two law enforcement agencies to open hot lines and an 88-year-old former teacher at the school to admit to having had sexual interactions with students decades ago

But if the convictions of Mr. Sandusky and Monsignor Lynn represent a success story, the furor surrounding them tends to obscure what may be an even more significant achievement, albeit one that receives little publicity: The rates of child sexual abuse in the United States, while still significant and troubling, have been decreasing steadily over the last two decades by several critical measures. 

Overall cases of child sexual abuse fell more than 60 percent from 1992 to 2010, according to David Finkelhor, a leading expert on sexual abuse who, with a colleague, Lisa Jones, has tracked the trend. The evidence for this decline comes from a variety of indicators, including national surveys of child abuse and crime victimization, crime statistics compiled by the F.B.I., analyses of data from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect and annual surveys of grade school students in Minnesota, all pointing in the same direction.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Abuse:Beware of men in costumes

NYTimes   The man in the red Elmo costume was back to work in Central Park on Tuesday, but under the mask, he was not smiling. He was behind in tips he earns by posing for photographs with tourists. He said he had gotten a late start because he was not released from a psychiatric evaluation at a nearby hospital until midmorning. 

The man, who said his legal name, if not an original one, is Adam Sandler, was handcuffed by the police and escorted from the park on Sunday afternoon after he was heard — and videotaped, by an English tourist — shouting anti-Semitic remarks outside the Central Park Zoo. 

The police put him into an ambulance bound for Metropolitan Hospital Center, but he was not arrested. The video spread quickly on the Internet, bringing out the dark humor, to some, of a cuddly children’s character engaging in a violent-sounding rant. Others thought it was just plain scary.

He said the doctors at Metropolitan told him he was “a little paranoid.” It was obvious from talking to him that he is troubled. But he told a lucid and detailed account of his life, and he told of his own dark past, one that might alarm parents whose children have posed with him. The tale he told underscored just how little is known about the men and women who dress as various children’s characters in tourist-clogged areas, looking for small tips. This tiny industry is unregulated.

Stand-your-ground defense falls short in Texas

CSMonitor  A man who claimed Texas' version of a stand-your-ground law allowed him to fatally shoot a neighbor after an argument about a noisy party was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years for murder.

Rodriguez, a retired Houston-area firefighter, was angry about the noise coming from a birthday party at his neighbor's home. He went over and got into an argument with 36-year-old elementary school teacher Danaher and two other men at the party.

In a 22-minute video he recorded on the night of the shooting, Rodriguez can be heard telling a police dispatcher "my life is in danger now" and "these people are going to go try and kill me." He then said, "I'm standing my ground here," and fatally shot Danaher and wounded the other two men. 

Chareidim & Democarcy by Dr. Marc Shapiro

Seforim Blog   From the haredi leadership’s perspective, while at the present time the haredi world is forced to take part in the democratic process, they assume that if haredim ever became a majority they would dismantle Israel’s democracy and institute a Torah state (i.e., a theocracy led by the haredi gedolim).[2] Since that is their goal, stated explicitly, we have to wonder what such a society would look like. To begin with, if haredim were ever the majority, funding for non-Orthodox (and perhaps even Religious Zionist/Modern Orthodox) schools would be halted. There would be massive decreases of funding for universities, with the humanities taking the biggest cuts, and money for the arts, culture, and institutions connected to Zionism would dry up. Freedom of the press would be abolished, artistic freedoms would be curbed, and organ transplants would almost entirely vanish. Public Shabbat observance and separate-sex public transportation would likely be required. There would also be restrictions on what forms of public entertainment and media are permissible and on public roles for women. Of course, women’s sporting events would no longer be televised and men would not be permitted to attend them. From the haredi perspective, these steps are all halakhic requirements, and no one who reads haredi literature can have any doubt that these sorts of things are intended when haredi writers refer to the time when it will be possible להעמיד הדת על תלה. How many non-haredim will be affected by this is questionable, because as soon as the haredi numbers come close to a majority, the non-religious and non-haredi Orthodox emigration will begin (followed no doubt by the yeridah of some haredim as well). No one who has lived in a Western style democracy will want to live in a society where cherished freedoms are taken away.

Defending Rav Gestetner's bitul seruv

t Rav Gestetner wrote in his nullification of the seruv   where he  strongly attacks the language of the fourth paragraph for too strongly criticizing the beis din of Machon l'Hora'ah and by inference - the gedolim who agreed with the seruv.
In fact this fourth paragraph makes little sense taken in isolation from the context of the rest of the letter. Consequently because ignored the context of the rest of the document he ended up mistranslating "gate of fraud" rather than "gate for those who are tormented by the words of others." In fact the fourth paragraph follows logically from the preceding paragraphs

Let's go back to the beginning paragraphs. First paragraph: Rav Weiss (the husband) received a summons from Machon l'Hora'ah at the instigation of his wife who is in the middle of a suit in secular court against him. Rav Gestetner explains that according to the halacha the husband is not required to go at the same time to beis din until she pays him for the expenses incurred in secular court... Nevertheless the husband acted beyond what he was required to do and responded to the summons and informed Machon l'Hora'ah that he was prepared to participate in a din Torah with his wife and specified two dayanim who were prepared to judge for his side[and thus he responded correctly according to halacha]. Second Paragraph:In spite of this compliance ,Machon  l'Hora'ah responded as if he had ignored their summons and reversed what Rav Gestetner understood to be the facts of the case and claimed that the husband - and not the wife had initiated the lawsuit in secular court. Based on what Rav Gestetner claims were these false claims the beis din issued an invalid seruv which publicly slandered Rav Weiss - despite his total innocence of these claims and he had fully complied with every halachic requirement of the original summons. Rav Gestetner lamented the injustice done to the husband. Third paragraph: Rav Gestetner states that he has the obligation from lo ta'amod" to forcefully defend Rav Weiss and declare that he is a kosher Jew who has in fact complied with the demands of the beis din - beyond that required by the halacha. Consequently Rav Gestetner asserted that there is absolutely no basis for issuing a seruv - which by definition is an assertion that there was a failure to comply with beis din. Thus the issuing of the seruv constitutes slander and therefore the seruv by definition can have absolutely no validity and is null and void.

It is in this context of declaring that Rav Weiss  has been unjustly subjected to public disgrace and ridicule based on false charges that Rav Gestetener wrote the fourth paragraph. It is simply a collection of statements of Chazal regarding the consequence of those who embarrass and torment other Jews with words. This includes 1) malbin pnei chaveiro - extreme embarrassment, 2) slander which Chazal say causes loss of Olam HaBah. 3) that they are deserving of nidoi since they are placing an innocent man in nidoi (seruv). 5) He notes that Chazal also say that all gates to Heaven are blocked except from those who cry out because of being tormented by words and these victims are answered immediately.

In sum - there really isn't anything unusual about Rav Gestetner's nullification of the seruv issued by Machon l'Hora'ah.  The seruv is issued for failure to comply with beis din's summons - and in fact Rav Gestetner says that there was more than full compliance. The language that is upset about - are  simply citation from Chazal. An additional point is that Rav Gestetner - despite  claims - is not a one man beis din. There are in fact other dayanim.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ORA rally against Weiss - Chareidi attendees?

Assuming the following report of last Sunday's rally is true - this seems to represents a major change in the debate of Get Me'usa and what is permitted by Rabbeinu Tam's harchakos. It is the first time of claims of support for ORA's from the yeshiva world. As I have noted before - there is no statement of Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky, Rav Yisroel Belsky or Rav Aryeh Ralbag supporting public demonstrations or ORA. ORA's list of supporters does not include a single chareidi rav.
It also remains to be clarified whether this is a simple case of ma'os alei like the Friedman-Epstein case or whether it is one of those cases where force is in fact permitted by everyone?
You Cant Handle The Truth has left a new comment on your post "Rav Gestetner: Bitul Seruv or Nidui?":

Emes, that's a great answer to my challenge. But regardless, I was told that The Lakewood Roshei Yeshiva were asked by the family not to attend so as not to overshadow the purpose of the rally. Rabbi Kotler's mother attended as did his brothers in law, Rabbi Krupenia, the rosh kollel of lakewood & Rabbi Reich. As for Rabbi Schustal, his oldest son, a Shoel Umashiv in BMG, was the one who led the tehillim, and another son was more or less directing the rally. So if that's all the egg I have on my face, I'm cool.

Now how about you stop distracting from the issues we are discussing and answer a single challenge put before you?

Yehuda Kolko aquitted of violating Order of Protection

NYPost  Eight minutes!

That's all the time a Brooklyn jury needed to acquit a notorious ultra-Orthodox rabbi today of charges that he leered at a boy who years earlier had accused him of being a pervert.

Joel Kolko was looking at two years behind bars if convicted of violating an order of protection by eyeballing the boy and his dad twice as they walked past his Flatbush home in 2010.

"We believe justice was served," said Jeffrey Schwartz, a defense lawyer for Kolko. "Really, there was no evidence to support anything."

The boy had accused Kolko of molesting him in 2006, when he was a first grader - but the rabbi dodged sex-offender status by pleading guilty two years later to misdemeanor child endangerment.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Supreme Court: No mandatory life sentence for Juveniles

NYTimes The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that states may not impose mandatory life sentences without parole on juveniles, even if they have been convicted of taking part in a murder. 

The justices ruled in a 5-to-4 decision that such sentencing for those under 18 violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling left open the possibility of judges’ sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without parole in individual circumstances but said state laws could not automatically impose such sentences.  

Nearly 2,500 juvenile offenders are serving life sentences without parole in the United States. Human rights groups say there are almost no other countries that put teenagers in prison and keep them there to die without the possibility of parole. 

That number was at the core of an angry dissent written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who asserted that if something was common it could not, by definition, be “cruel and unusual.” He wrote: “Put simply, if a 17-year-old is convicted of deliberately murdering an innocent victim, it is not ‘unusual’ for the murderer to receive a mandatory sentence of life without parole. That reality should preclude finding that mandatory life imprisonment for juvenile killers violated the Eighth Amendment.”

New Leadership at Yated

JPost   Recent upheavals at the influential haredi newspaper Yated Ne’eman, official mouthpiece of the Degel Hatorah faction of the ultra-Orthodox community, appear to have been consolidated with new management taking control of the paper.

Although the old management team took legal steps to prevent their ouster, haredi public opinion and the rabbinic leadership seems to be shoring up the new administration.

Ten days ago, the newspaper’s outgoing director Rabbi Yaakov Labin and incoming director Shimon Glick filed mutual complaints in the Ramat Gan police station, accusing each other of assault during an incident at Yated Ne’eman’s offices on Jabotinsky Street in Bnei Brak.

The details of the confrontation are disputed, but center around the fight for control of the newspaper.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yehuda Kolko faces 13 year old accuser

Jewish week  A 13-year-old boy who alleges he was molested by Rabbi Yehuda Kolko told a Brooklyn jury on Thursday that he felt “scared” when the rabbi -- whom he identified from the stand -- stared at him on the street on two occasions in late 2010.

Rabbi Kolko is currently on trial for violating an order of protection requiring him to refrain from having any contact with the boy. The order was part of a 2008 plea deal stemming from charges that Rabbi Kolko sexually abused the boy when he was a first grader in Kolko’s class (charges were also brought against the rabbi for allegedly abusing another boy).

Rabbi Kolko -- who has been dogged by child molestation allegations for over 30 years -- ultimately pleaded to lesser charges of child endangerment and received probation; he was not required to register as a sex offender.

Ropshitzer:Explaining shelo asani isha - to his wife

The Ropshitzer Rebbetzin was an intelligent, educated woman who was not at all reluctant to challenge her husband in matters of halacha or Chasidus. One day, she asked him to explain the meaning of the daily brocho shelo asani isha where men bless Hashem for not having been created as women. What disturbed her particularly was the notion that that there were many ignorant, boorish men who had no knowledge of the Torah, but who apparently were given the opportunity each day when saying this brocho to arrogantly claim that they were "better" than women, all women, even a woman such as she. who was so obviously on a higher spiritual and educational level than they. The Ropshitzer assured her that she needn't feel inferior to any of these men by virtue of this brocho. When each man says shelo asani isha in the morning, the woman he is referring to as the object of his gratitude is none other than his own wife. While he may feel somewhat superior to her when uttering those words, upon further introspection he will realize that he is offering thanks for not having been the wife, with a spouse such as he.

RCA: Must report abuse to police & secular authorities

Rabbinic Council of America    This statement adds requirement to comply with mandated reporting compared to what I had previously reported Daas Torah 2011 and the declaration of 2010 which is included in Child& Domestic Abuse Vol I.

Consulting with experts in a case of uncertainty whether rabbis and legal - is merely to clarify and does not make the rabbi the gatekeeper as it does in the case of the Aguda. I assume that this view also is that of  Rav Herschel Schachter 2006- even though he says to got to a rabbi in case of doubt

Jul 25, 2011 -- The Rabbinical Council of America has today reaffirmed its position that those with reasonable suspicion or first hand knowledge of abuse or endangerment have a religious obligation to report that abuse to the secular legal authorities without delay. One of the unique features of Jewish law is that it imposes upon every member of the community an obligation to help others avoid danger. The biblical verse “do not stand by while your neighbor’s blood is shed" is understood by Jewish Law to mandate that one must do all in one’s power to prevent harm to others - even if monetary harm, but certainly physical harm.

Consistent with that Torah obligation, if one becomes aware of an instance of child abuse or endangerment, one is obligated to refer the matter to the secular authorities immediately, as the prohibition of mesirah (i.e., referring an allegation against a fellow Jew to government authority) does not apply in such a case.

As always where the facts are uncertain one should use common sense and consultations with experts, both lay and rabbinic, to determine how and when to report such matters to the authorities. False accusations are harmful to those falsely accused – but unreported abuse or endangerment can be life-threatening, as we have recently been tragically reminded.

In addition and as a separate matter, those within the Jewish community whom secular law deem to be “mandated reporters,” must certainly obey the particular reporting requirements, which vary from state to state in the US. A person covered by mandatory reporter laws must comply with those laws, even in a case in which Jewish law might otherwise not require a person to report such child abuse or endangerment.

Rav Sternbuch: Get for civil & Reform marriages?

Rav Moshe Sternbuch (5:327): The poskim have much discussion about the issue of civil marriage because the matter is complicated and deals with the issue of a married woman which is amongst the most severe prohibitions. There are many different aspects and questions. A look at the writings of recent poskim will see that there is no general psak in this matter because the actual halacha varies depending upon place and time and the couple involved. Therefore it is necessary to investigate carefully every single case with calm deliberation and the final halacha is given to the authority of beis din or at least to the gedolim.
The fact is that it is accepted practice today that a couple who have a civil marriage require a get when possible. However in difficult circumstances when it is impossible to obtain a get the practice is to permit remarriage without a get. And surely this is true if she is remarried already without a get and has a child – that the child is not considered a mamzer. And this is what Rav Chaim Ozer (Igros Rav Chaim Ozer #30) has written that one can rely on the great poskim such as Maharam Shick (#21), Beis Yitzchok (#29), Beis Ephraim (#41) to permit the woman to remarry – in time of need – without a get. However it is important to know that there are also gedolim that are machmir in this matter, See Even Haezel (Rav Issur Zalman Meltzer) who discusses this a great length (Chapter 6 Hilchos Ishus). He concludes, “In conclusion, kiddushin from another person after previously living together as man and wife is the severe prohibition of adultery. Therefore one should not make halachic rulings that permit this even by combining various leniencies to nullify kiddushin after a couple has been living together. Anyone who insists on being lenient in these circumstances – makes absolutely no sense and he requires atonement for his errors in deciding halacha concerning a prohibition that involves capital punishment and mamzerim and he must correct what has been done.” In sum he writes very strongly that one should not permit remarriage without a get. We find a similar view expressed by Ohr Someach (Hilchos Geirushin 10:19) who shows that the principle that a person doesn’t have sexual intercourse without marriage is not because of a prohibition but because living with a woman shows that he wants her to be his wife and thus they are halachically married.
However their words seem astounding. It is obvious that if a person gets a civil marriage and not a religious one – he is clearly indicating that he has no interest in a religious marriage. So how can you claim that such a person should be considered married according to Jew law? This is not equivalent to someone who gets married with less that a peruta – because that at least shows he wants to be married according to the Torah. If so then when he has sexual relations with his wife afterwards that finalizes the status of marriage according to the halacha. In contrast when he clearly indicates that he has no interest in a Jewish marriage. Elsewhere  (2:642) that basis for concern that civil marriage might be valid is according to the view of Rav Huna that chuppah acquires in marriage (Kiddushin 5a). Rabbeinu Chananel rules according to Rav Huna’s view. In Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 26:2) he writes as minority opinion that if one brings a women into chuppah there is a question as to whether it is valid. Therefore we might say that by taking a woman into his house for the sake of marriage there is a concern that they are married. However this can be answered by saying that it is true if they wanted a valid marriage according to the Torah. However if he only had a civil marriage – that shows that he doesn’t want a religious marriage and therefore the kiddushin has no validity.
All of the discussion so far only applies to a civil marriage, but if they want a religious ceremony but they decided to have a Reform marriage  because they have been misled into thinking that Reform also provide a religious marriage and they think that the Chareidim are just being strict and exaggerate the importance of their ceremony. They simply don’t understand that the Reform have cut themselves off totally from the Jewish religion. If that is what they are thinking then in truth their intent is to have a genuine religious marriage and then it would seem that the Reform ceremoney would be valid since there is the principle that , “ A person doesn’t have intercourse outside of a genuine marriage.” However that is not clear because the Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 7) writes, “There is a presumption that a religious Jew would not have intercourse outside of marriage when he has the opportunity to be married.” Obviously this principle does not applies to those who reject G‑d’s mitzvos. Along with this problem the validity of a Refom marriage is undermined by the lack of valid witnesses and questions regarding the nature of kiddushin they perform and the presumption of virginity. Consequently my view is that if the couple remarried without first obtaining a Get it is possible to be lenient regarding the doubt regarding mamzerim which in this case is only rabbinic. However to permit them to remarry without a get – I believe it is necessary to distingush between civil marriage and Reform marriage. While a civil marriage does require l’chatchila a Get however it is possible to allow them to get remarried without a Get when it is of great necessity. In contrast a Reform marriage in which they intended to be married according to religion but they were mistaken – then the obligation to obtain a Get is much greater. Therefore it is possible to allow remarriage without a Get in such a case - only when it would result in the woman remaining unmarriable. In such a case the permission to remarry must be made by beis din. In another place, I mention that in a situation where there is a dispute amongst poskim and a heter is needed - e.g., a marriage which was done not in accord to Torah law – than it is proper to receive permssion to remarry from beis din or at least three major rabbis.

Israeli Torah view on NY internet asifa

One of the most important and influential Israeli chareidi talmidei chachoim made the following judgment regarding the significance of the recent New York internet asifa.

A man was walking down the street when he noticed someone deep in thought. He stopped and asked him, "What are thinking about that is so important?" The thinker responded," I have been thinking about some very important ideas. I was thinking about what would happen if all the water in the world joined together - what a massive ocean it would make. Then I was thinking, what if all the trees in the world joined together - what an awesome tree it would make. That lead me to think about what if all men were joined together into one man - what a huge man would result.  But then I got an ever more profound thought. What if the mega-man of all humanity took the mega-tree of all trees and threw it in the mega-ocean of all water - what a tremendous splash it would make."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cardinal’s Aide - Guilty in Abuse Case

NYTimes   Msgr. William J. Lynn, a former cardinal’s aide, was found guilty Friday of endangering children, becoming the first senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States convicted of covering up sexual abuses by priests under his supervision.

The single guilty verdict was widely seen as a victory for the district attorney’s office, which has been investigating the archdiocese aggressively since 2002, and it was hailed by victim advocates who have argued for years that senior church officials should be held accountable for concealing evidence and transferring predatory priests to unwary parishes.

The trial sent a sobering message to church officials and others overseeing children around the country. “I think that bishops and chancery officials understand that they will no longer get a pass on these types of crimes,” said Nicholas P. Cafardi, a professor of law at Duquesne University, a canon lawyer and frequent church adviser. “Priests who sexually abuse youngsters and the chancery officials who enabled it can expect criminal prosecution.”

Jerry Sandusky - Convicted on 45 abuse charges

Time Magazine    Jerry Sandusky, the 68-year-old former assistant coach of Penn State’s football team, was convicted Friday evening on 45 out of 48 counts of sexual abuse. According to the Associated Press, Sandusky stood expressionless in the Bellefonte, Pa. courtroom as the jury, seven women and five men, read the verdict. He was convicted of 25 felonies and 14 first degree felonies and faces 442 years in prison. Following sentencing in three months, he will likely spend the remainder of his life behind bars.

Along with Sandusky, the scandal implicated former Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley, both of whom were allegedly informed about the abuse but failed to investigate it properly. Schultz, as the administrative head of the Penn State campus police department, would have had the power to take criminal action against Sandusky. He and Curley are currently facing charges of perjury and failure to report. Both have denied all wrongdoing.

Sandusky’s misdeeds also ruined the careers of Penn State President Graham Spanier, who was forced out by the Board of Trustees, and storied Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football and the college town’s biggest hero, who was fired. Riots broke out on the campus of 45,000 students after the decision was handed down to remove the coach. Paterno, 85, died of lung cancer on January 22, 2012, just two months after he was removed from the team.

R' Avrahom Meir Weiss - bitul seruv

Friday, June 22, 2012

Men have priority over women - even for lost objects

[updated with Mishna] Rav Sternbuch(Teshuvos v’Hanhagos 4:217): In the Mishna at the end of Horios it is taught, A man take priority over a woman in regard to returning lost objects. The reason for this is because the man has a greater obligation to do mitzvos than a woman. We also find in Shulchan Aruch concerning tzedaka that a man comes before a woman. This is very strange. I can understand that a Torah scholar takes precedence to a woman because it is showing respect for the Torah. However there is no obligation to honor every man because of the mitzvos that he fulfills. I can understand that in saving of life that a man comes before a woman because he can serve G‑d more since he has much more mitvos and thus is sanctified more. However what does that have to do with returning him his lost objects before returning a woman her lost objects – there simply isn’t a general obligation of honoring each man? I could not find this din in the Shulcha Aruch or the Rambam, but it is explicit and clear in the Mishna. This question requires additional study. Perhaps you can answer that since the man is obligated in more mitzvos, when you give priority to the man you show with this the importance of mitzvos. Therefore even though there is no requirement to honor him, but in a situation where you have both a man a woman that you need to returnsomething, we give priority to him because he is obligated in more mitzvos. With this we cherish and show the importance of mitzvos. Therefore the Sages required in such a case to give preference to the man. However this still requires clarification.

Horious(13a): Mishna: A man takes precedence over a woman in life and death matters and the return of lost objects [ because of greater holiness resulting from having more mitzvos]. A woman takes precedence over a man regarding being clothed [because she suffers more from embarrassment and shame of being naked] and redemption from captivity. If they are both faced with rape then a man takes precedence over a woman [because rape is unnatural for a man and thus more degrading than for a woman].

4 arrested for $500k bribe & intimidation in Weberman case

NYTimes  The Brooklyn distt attorney, facing an avalanche of complaints about his handling of sexual abuse allegations in the ultra-Orthodox community, on Thursday charged four men with attempting to silence an accuser by offering her and her boyfriend a $500,000 bribe, and threatening her boyfriend’s business. 

The district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, alleged that the men were part of an effort by the community to protect a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic community, Nechemya Weberman, who has been accused of 88 counts of sexual misconduct, including oral sex with a child younger than 13 years old. The charges all involve a single victim, a young woman who was referred by her school to get counseling by Mr. Weberman, and then alleges she was abused by him during therapy sessions. 

The executive bureau chief of the district attorney’s rackets division, Josh Hanshaft, said the men had been “telling witnesses to forget what they know, not to come to court, to disappear,” and said prosecutors had “clear, substantial evidence” that part of the plan to silence witnesses involved offering money to dissuade their testimony. He said of Mr. Rubin, “He has no regard for the system. He thumbs his nose at the system,” and of the Berger brothers: “They have gone and destroyed property. There have been threatening phone calls.” He said prosecutors were concerned that the men might now flee to Israel.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rav Schachter - When to call police - 2006

Read this in context of RCA Declaration of 2011

Rabbi Hershel Schachter - Should I Call the Police? Mesira & Chilul Hashem from on Vimeo.

Beis Yaakov warns about Jerusalem molester


במוסדות החינוך החרדים מחליטים להלחם בתוקפי הילדים, ולעשות סוף לתופעה הבלתי נסבלת שמחללת את נפשותיהם של ילדים תמימים.
בעקבות הפרסומים ב'כיכר השבת' על מקרי תקיפה קשים שהתרחשו בשכונות חרדיות בתקופה האחרונה, נרשמת התעוררות בנושא

לידי 'כיכר השבת' הגיע מכתב חריג שנשלח להוריהם של תלמידות בית הספר 'בית יעקב' הפועל בשכונה מסוימת בירושלים, ונחשב לבית ספר מפורסם.

זהו מכתב חריג מאוד, המהווה תקדים בציבור החרדי, שכן עד עתה לא נרשמה התייחסות פומבית לנושא, בטח שלא בפירוט כזה.

Woman stoned in Beit Shemesh

YNET  "My heart was pounding and all I wanted to do was get out of there," Daniel described her ordeal. "I was terrified. I had my baby with me."

Daniel told Ynet she arrived in Beit Shemesh to purchase a stroller, for her seven-month-old twins. "I was opening the trunk – I was on the phone – when I was pelted. Soon, actual rocks followed. I was helpless."

Two religious women exiting a nearby store rushed to the car to help Daniel get her daughter out of the way and all of them then ran back to the store to take cover.

Heads roll as Chabad rape charges dropped

NYTimes   In a startling reversal in a case that raised questions about misconduct in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, defense lawyers for two of the four men from Crown Heights, indicted last year on charges of raping and forcibly prostituting a neighborhood woman for nearly a decade, said that prosecutors notified them on Wednesday that they were planning to drop all charges in the case. 

 The charges, brought against the men last June, created an initial shock not only because the victim complained of being attacked beginning at age 13, but also because she was a member of the Chabad Lubavitch community of Orthodox Jews and the accused were older black men in the same neighborhood, where those two groups coexist, but rarely interact. 

Shortly after the police report was produced, Abbie Greenberger, a prosecutor on the case who had quit her job, said that her boss, Lauren Hersh, the chief of the district attorney’s sex-trafficking unit, had pressured her to move forward despite concerns about inconsistencies in the case. Weeks later, Ms. Hersh herself resigned after facing questions from an internal ethics panel.

ORA vs. Rav R' Feinstein's grandson

Jewish Press  article taken down - thanks to Rabbi Tzadok for alternative
The letter and the seruv below - were part of the Jewish Press Article
Please note the disparity between Stern's claim for support for public demonstrations and the actual letter which just says to publicize the matter  - which can also be done with a letter on a bulletin board. 
 Jewish Press Archive  JP: Your latest case is against Rabbi Reuven Feinstein’s grandson. Are you afraid of going toe-to-toe with some of these leading rabbis?

JS: We don’t see it as us vs. them. It’s not ORA that’s doing it. We are the enforcement agent of the Beis Din and these rabbis are coming out and instructing the community to take a stand. Rav Reuven Feinstein, the grandfather of Avrohom Meir Weiss, is supporting him, but every rabbi is on the other side. We have Rav Malkiel Kotler, Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky, Rav [Hershel] Shecheter, Rav [Mordechai] Willig and Rav [Notta] Greenblatt — all these rabbis from different yeshivas are all coming together. We’ve tried to resolve this dispute but the community has to take a stand. It is unique to have such broad support.

5tjt interviews D.A. Charles Hynes

4 views of the Rabbinic role in abuse cases

The discussion of the role of the rabbi in dealing with abuse - reveals that there are four basic views. Without being aware of these different views - people tend to talk past each other even when they are using the same terms and citing the same halachic sources.

1) Rav Menashe Klein wrote a teshuva about how only rabbis know what to do. Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein asserted at a conference of psychologists (Click for recording) a year ago  that only a rabbi knows and understands what abuse is and only he can is competent to judge whether someone is an abuser. He apparently views that psychologists have a limited understand of abuse as well as guilt because they have a secular viewpoint. In short an exclusive Torah background is the prerequisite for being qualified to deal with abuse and identify abusers. However not every rabbi who feels this way is willing to admit it - especially in the face of complaints from the secular authorities

2) The Aguda rabbis  don't claim competence in understand the nature of abuse. But they do claim authority based on halacha to be the gatekeeper of the process. Thus the rabbis and only the rabbi is to decide based on reports or questioning of alleged perpetrator and victim and  possible consultations with psychologists and lawyers - whether the police should be contacted or whether the matter should be dealt with exclusively within the Jewish community. This group manifests various degrees of fear.Some are afraid to say to go to the police - while others are afraid that it become known that they have permitted going to the police. There are also rabbis who are in group one but publicly assert this view - when under pressure from secular forces.

3) There are a number of rabbis - such as RCA 2011 Rav Herschel Schachter 2006,   Crown Heights Beis Din ,  Vaad haRabbonim of Baltimore 2007 who have clearly stated that rabbis have neither the knowledge, competence or authority to deal with abuse. Those rabbis have stated that the secular authorities need to be contacted to investigate and punish the alleged or suspected abuser. These rabbis assert there is no prohibition of mesira in these cases and that the perpetrator has the status of rodef and thus it is simply an act of self-defense to contact the police. In addition - even if they are in agreement with view two - in the fact of mandated reporting laws = they publicly advocate compliance with the law of the land . Many of rabbis who accept this position -  ask not to be named - although others aren't afraid.

4) Various combinations of the above three positions.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Are Rabbis protected by Privileged Communications Laws?

 Update 6/20/2012 I received the following letter as a response to my post which now follows the letter:

Rabbi Eidensohn,

Thanks again for posting on a subject that's both important and fascinating. I have some sources about the situation in New York State, which makes them somewhat tangential to your blog post. (Though N.Y. is, obviously, an important jurisdiction with respect to, e.g., Jewish child abuse cases.) A number of years ago I suffered harm because my layman's intuitions about the clergy-penitent privilege (in New York State) were, as my elders might have said, "_punkt verkehrt_". For the situation in New York, the Court of Appeals decision (2001) in Lightman v. Flaum frames many of the issues quite lucidly:
Lightman v. Flaum, 761 NE 2d 1027 - NY: Court of Appeals 2001 - Google Scholar,33 The earlier litigation in the case makes it easier to understand:

Lightman v. Flaum, 179 Misc. 2d 1007 - NY: Supreme Court 1999 - Google Scholar,33

Lightman v. Flaum, 278 AD 2d 373 - NY: Appellate Div., 2nd Dept. 2000 - Google Scholar,33 It appears to me that it's not just the detailed provisions, but even the underlying _logic_ and _purpose_ of these laws, that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Every layman I know was surprise when they read Lightman v. Flaum.
P.S. A passage from Wikipedia's article ( might serve as a warning that things aren't necessarily intuitive: In twenty-five states, the clergyman-communicant statutory privilege does not clearly indicate who holds the privilege. In seventeen states, the penitent's right to hold the privilege is clearly stated. In only six states, both a penitent and a member of the clergy are expressly allowed by the statute to hold the privilege.

 This was my original post:
Privileged communication for clergyman is not clearly defined in New Jersey. In other words a determined prosecutor probably could get charges to stick. There is also the important distinction of whether it is a confession or that the beis din is aware from other sources. Confession is the most likely protected knowledge.

The following is a government report summarizing the issues of clergy as mandated reporting
Privileged Communications
As a doctrine of some faiths, clergy must maintain the confidentiality of pastoral communications. Mandatory reporting statutes in some States specify the circumstances under which a communication is “privileged” or allowed to remain confidential. Privileged communications may be exempt from the requirement to report suspected abuse or neglect. The privilege of maintaining this confidentiality under State law must be provided by statute. Most States do provide the privilege, typically in rules of evidence or civil procedure.4 If the issue of privilege is not addressed in the reporting laws, it does not mean that privilege is not granted; it may be granted in other parts of State statutes.
This privilege, however, is not absolute. While clergy-penitent privilege is frequently recognized within the reporting laws, it is typically interpreted narrowly in the context of child abuse or neglect. The circumstances under which it is allowed vary from State to State, and in some States it is denied altogether. For example, among the States that list clergy as mandated reporters, New Hampshire and West Virginia deny the clergy-penitent privilege in cases of child abuse or neglect. Four of the States that enumerate “any person” as a mandated reporter (North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Texas) also deny clergy-penitent privilege in child abuse cases.
In States where neither clergy members nor “any person” are enumerated as mandated reporters, it is less clear whether clergy are included as mandated reporters within other broad categories of professionals who work with children. For example, in Virginia and Washington, clergy are not enumerated as mandated reporters, but the clergy-penitent privilege is affirmed within the reporting laws. [which isn't true of New Jersey]

Molester killed by Father - case sent to Grand Jury

Chicago Tribune  A grand jury next week will consider whether to file charges against a Texas father who said he beat to death a man who was attempting to sexually assault his 5-year-old daughter, the district attorney for Lavaca County said on Friday.

A witness saw Jesus Flores, 47, "forcibly" carrying the girl to a secluded location and notified her 23-year-old father, who was attending a barbecue at the family's ranch outside Shiner, Texas, last Saturday, District Attorney Heather McMinn said.

The father, whose name has not been released because he has not been charged with a crime, heard his daughter's screams and ran to a secluded area, where he "removed Flores from on top of his child and, in the process, inflicted several blows to the man's head and neck area," McMinn said.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Series of attacks on girls in Jerusalem -

תוקף ילדים אכזרי מסתובב בשכונות חרדיות בירושלים, באין מפריע. אתמול הותקפה ילדה קטנה בגן שעשועים מרכזי בשכונת ארזי הבירה. הילדה נכנסה אל מגלשה סגורה, ובתוכה הותקפה ככל הנראה על-ידי אדם בעל חזות חרדית. עסקן שמטפל בפרשה: ההורים חוששים להתלונן (חרדים)....ו

עסקן תושב השכונה, סיפר לכיכר השבת: "אנחנו מקבלים לא מעט תלונות בתקופה האחרונה, אבל הבעיה היא שההורים מפחדים שהילדים יתלוננו במשטרה. הם לא רוצים שילדיהם ייחקרו. אפשר להבין זאת, אבל כך הבעיה מעולם לא תיפתר".

Yosef Kolko: A letter from a defender

I just received the following letter:

Your information is important. My interest is that I had a close friend that was one time accused of wrong doing and when his only accuser matured admitted that he was only accommodating the accusations of his parents. I understand the "two sides of a coin" very well. I visit Lakewood from time to time and observed the accused one Shabbos. You have many assumptions regarding the facts in the case as reported in the news. Many people in Lakewood including the Roshei Yeshiva say that there is no truth to any of the allegations. Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen said that "there was never any Bais Din involved in this case." I asked Horav Yisroel Belsky Shlita after hearing that he personally ruled that Kolko is innocent of any wrong doing why this is so. He responded that this is a case where the accused is the victim and the victim is the molester. I believe that for your own legitimacy you should reach out to properly understand the facts and dynamics of this case, as you seem to be condemning what might very well be an innocent man. I can be reached at [ deleted] You may want to clarify with Rabbi Simcha B. Cohen himself, this is his number: 732-370-2217. Rabbi Belsky: 718-941-5832. From what I understand the accused while on the quiet side, is not shy in his defense and speaks openly, perhaps contact him if you wish to hear his side. 
I responded:

Thank you for contacting me. I would be interested in publishing a post from you - or anyone else -  describing "the other side". I have been told that the accused has confessed to the social worker who evaluated him for the sake of the "beis din" which you claim never existed. That social worker was ordered to testify regarding his findings because the findings were no longer privileged information since he has shared them with the "beis din" that you claim doesn't exist.
I haven't said that Yosef Kolko is guilty - but that he has been charged with a serious crime , there is evidence to support the charges which I provided links to on my blog - and like many other cases e.g., Weberman - the victim and his family have been attacked. I am well aware that false accusations happen - but I am also fully aware that abuse does happen in the frum community.

I would like to talk with you to hear your view - I'll try calling this evening.

CNN: Abuse coverup in Orthodox community