Friday, November 29, 2013

Schlesinger Twins: Discovery of source of false rumors about Beth's competence

Jewish Telegraph   TUG-of-love mother Beth Alexander, who is fighting in Austria for custody of her four-year-old twins, now knows the source of the untrue story about her mental health. It was that which led to a court granting her husband custody of Samuel and Benjamin after a flawed psychiatrist’s report concluded that she was incoherent, inarticulate, had disjointed thoughts and was paranoid.

Now Mancunian Beth, 29, who is divorced in Jewish law from her Austrian husband Dr Michael Schlesinger, has confirmed what she had suspected for the past three years — that her former Viennese best friend, herself an Orthodox mother of five, had tricked her into attending Ezra, a Jewish support centre, to discuss weaning her babies on to solids.

Unknown to Beth, the support worker had been briefed that Beth was suffering from post-natal depression, which she was not, and was the reason the appointment had been arranged.

In her friend’s presence, the worker confirmed that Beth was not suffering from depression. But in an emotional telephone conversation this week — their first contact for more than three years — the friend admitted that she had then told four other close friends that Beth did have post-natal depression and needed to support her husband.

The story spread throughout the close-knit Vienna Jewish community and gave Beth’s husband useful ammunition in his eventual custody case.

Her former friend says that not a day has passed that she has not thought of Beth nor regretted what she did. She added that she had no idea why she did it. As we reported last week, Beth is allowed to see her twins for just six hours a week and on alternate Sundays, but Samuel and Benjamin are not permitted to stay overnight with her.[...]

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Latke Tasting Before Chanukah Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Aside from on Thanksgivukah, by the time most people usually get home from work, the time to kindle the Chanukah lights has already arrived.  And by the time the whole family gets together to actually light, another ten to fifteen minutes may have elapsed.  What’s the story with sneaking in a quick taste of those latkes before dinner?

The source of the prohibition of eating before the performance of certain Mitzvos is a Gemorah in Sukkah (38a).  From there we derive that the prohibition exists not only for Biblical Mitzvos but also for Rabbinic Mitzvos.  The Poskim extend the various prohibitions from the discussion found there.  Our interest now, of course, is Chanukah.


Before we get to Chanukah lights, let’s create some categories.  There are some Mitzvos where it is both forbidden to eat and even to taste before we perform them.  We will call these Category One No Pre-Food – Mitzvos. (We don’t want to call them Category One Mitzvos because the issue of eating before them is not synonymous with the type or level of the Mitzvah per se).

There are also Mitzvos where, it is forbidden to sit down to a meal before you do them, and ideally, one shouldn’t taste anything, but there is room to be lenient if one is feeling weak or one is sick.  We will call these Mitzvos Category Two No Pre-Food – Mitzvos.

Finally, there are some Mitzvos where the halacha is not to sit down and eat before we perform them, but we are allowed to taste something before we perform them, and there is, in fact, no problem in tasting. We will call these Category Three No Pre-Food Mitzvos. [...]

Lev Tahor sect: Judge orders 14 children placed in foster homes

Windsor Star   A Quebec Court judge has ordered the removal of 14 children aged two months to 16 years from the ultra-orthodox sect Lev Tahor, to be placed in foster homes.

Judge Pierre Hamel issued the ruling Wednesday night, ordering the children be removed from the community and placed in foster homes immediately, for at least 30 days.

The ruling comes after about 200 members of the sect fled to Chatham Nov. 18 to avoid a youth court hearing.

Hamel ordered members of the Lev Tahor community to refrain from contacting the children in any way, except for their parents, whose contact will be supervised by youth protection officials.

Among the children ordered removed are a 16-year-old girl and her two-month-old baby.[...]

Weiss-Dodelson: Proposal to clarify who is preventing final settlement

Guest post by Foncused   [I have no idea whether this proposal makes sense legally or whether it would be helpful. In addition while Foncused is challenging the Weiss's - I would say that the Dodelson's should have the same challenge]

It seems that there is a disputation over what exactly the Weiss family, specifically Avrohom Meir, Yosaif Asher & Yisroel, are truly demanding in order to give Gital a Get. Commenters on this site, while denying any connection to the Weiss family, seem to be fairly sure what is, & isn't true regarding those demands (See: whether Weiss is asking for $350,000, nothing, money for expenses including paying Yisroel Weiss or only legal fees that their attorney billed). 

The Dodelson family & friends say that they are desperate enough to bargain with the Weiss's, but say that they keep changing their demands whenever something is conceded. They don't feel like they have been bargaining in good faith. Outside third parties (I will not name names) have confirmed that this has been true in the past - but at this point, that's water under the bridge. Anonymous Weiss supporters factually say that they are only demanding minor things, but Dodelson disputes this account, & say Weiss is always asking for more. I have, however, came up with a proposal, that can solve this issue once and for all- as it will expose who exactly is the party that is being unreasonable.

Let's call a spade a spade here. Many of you Weiss affiliated commenters think that I am somehow related to the Dodelson's or the Kotlers. This is untrue. But what is clear to anyone who reads this blog is that the Weiss family reads it carefully- if not participates in the comments. (Who else would be able to get in to the minutiae about the back and forth if they weren't intimately involved?) 
So I'd like to issue a challenge to the greater Weiss/Feinstein mishpacha- including R Dovid HaKoton Ben R Reuven, who has submitted letters to this site in the past.

If the Weiss family would send via their lawyer a signed consent form detailing what Dodelson needs to give up in order to get the get (acc to "Truth" earlier it is only being allowed to go to Staten Island, 12PM on Fridays in the summer months, & Dodelson signing an agreement to cease "bashmutzing" him) and post it on this blog, we will know that Dodelson is being Meagen herself, because all she needs to do is sign his paper to get him to sign his.

However, If Weiss declines to do this, we can be pretty sure that that is not all that he is asking for, & he is lying to us as readers of DT. 

There is no downside to Weiss pursuing the strategy I am proposing- unless he doesn't want people to know what he really is asking for. 

I look forward to all the comments by Weiss/Weiss supporters saying how dumb this idea is & he has no chiyuv to do it. It will reenforce my suspicion that he has no interest in resolving this, & does not want to be meShabed himself to anything.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weiss-Dodelson: Weiss's view - What is holding up the Get?

Guest Post:by Truth a Weiss supporter
[update rebuttal by Foncused a Dodelson supporter below - November 27, 2013]

There is a phrase called pilpula shel hevel...loosely translated this means sophistry that gets you nowhere. I humbly think we are seeing a lot of this here. We have a situation of a former couple that are arguing over a child's custody. The court order is still unfinished hence the need for further mediation...

Anyone who understands the concept of bra kara d'avuha understands that just like to a mother her child is one with her so it is with a loving father ..thus the mantra just give a get is a fallacy. The father once he gives the get has no recourse to salvage a lifetime relationship with his child...

Believe it or not the issues stopping Gital from getting her get are 
1. She wants to control where Avrohom Meir takes his child on his weekly visitation 
 2. She is battling giving Avrohom Meir from noon on erev shabbos when it is his shabbos so he can go to the country etc with his child 
3. She is haggling over a statement to stop mud slinging once the get is given...
These are the core issues by not agreeing she is branded an aguna. A lot different than a woman anchored isn't it? ...

Thus people of reason such as Rabbi Bender, Rabbi Greenwald and now Rabbi Sholom Kaminetsky were brought in to seal the deal. Why should the Dodelsons rebel against these attempts? 

While these attempts were going on the Dodelson's during all mediation attempts have been slinging arrows at the Weiss's and the Feinsteins...mass mailings where they live...protests at their home...vilifying them in the global press...and what have the Weiss's and Feinsteins done? sheker needs to keep pounding emes is recognizable without saying a word....the Weiss's are out of parnassa...while the achieve 3000 war machine hacks away mercilessly...

There was a kol korei...people forget that the first one was signed by Rav Kotler..that disappeared because it made no sense at all. (Note that Rav Dovid did not say a word because of negios until he finally wrote one sentence as a gilui milsa balma.). The next kol korei was signed by people who never talked to the Weiss Feinstein camp to hear their side of the story..Yes they are gedolim but we are taught ki hashoced yaveir einie chachomim visaleif divrei tzadikim-bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous There are all kinds of bribery all roads lead to Lakewood especially Philly and most shidduchim come from Lakewood and most young men go to Lakewood ...the power brought against Avrohom Meir is scary

Hoping for a speedy resolution for Avrohom Meir and Gital

Hashem yracheim

update: ===========Rebuttal by Foncused a Dodelson supporter===============

I am not privy to the details of the negotiations, but obviously some people here either are, or are being fed information to make them feel that way. As we all know, any Machlokes has two sides & it all depends on what perspective you look at this from. Therefore, I will use the post recently submitted by "truth" [above] as a basis for how I see this.

Believe it or not the issues stopping Avrohom Meir from giving the get are 
1. He wants to to change the court order so that he doesn't have to remain in New Jersey for his visitation. 
 2.  Avrohom Meir is battling to expand his weekend custody from noon on erev shabbos when it is his shabbos so he can go to the country with his child 
3. He is haggling over a statement as to what exactly she is allowed to say once the get is given & what penalties she should face if she says something to his displeasure.

If he would just be mevater on these 3 simple things, he would have no reason not to give a get, according to "truth".

Something tells me that there's more to this story, because if it is true, there is no reason for Weiss to keep holding this up over minor issues.  
1) he has the child during a school week until 7:30. Playgroups let out 2-2:30. Iyh the child will be in school, and by 3rd grade will be letting out at 5:30. How important is it that he be able to go to Staten Island for the next two years already? 
The child won't even be able to get out of the car! 
5:30- pickup from Cheder
Drive to Staten Island
6:30- say hi to Bubby & Zeidy Weiss- remember to keep your seat belt on because we need to rush back to Lakewood so we can be back at
7:30- drop off by Mommy.
Come on!
2) Weiss needs to be able to go to the country every week of the year, or is he saying that when he wants to go she should let him? 
This is laughable because this sort of minor detail is the reason why the court usually appoints a third party to coordinate the custody issues & special circumstances. Is there one here? What is his opinion on this?
 Two things are clear about this demand. If the relationship hadn't been made toxic by his withholding a get, this wouldn't have to be bargained, & he's not being honest about this demand. He probably wants every other Friday to begin at 12, & that's why he's not giving a get???
3) suffice it to say that the "mudslinging" hadn't started before he was withholding a get for 2+ years. It's disingenuous to say that that is his justification. Obviously this is a ploy to make him look more reasonable.

Bottom line: 
Dodelson has a clear endgame- a get. 
Weiss has a clear strategy- say that Dodelson is to blame for the Get not being given because she won't cave to these simple demands (which are neither simple, or the only demands.)
I'm looking forward to all the comments you all will be posting bashing ORA, the NY Post, and Gital's frumkeit. Just rest assured that the people who read it see it as your inability to answer the content of my words. 
Do you want this to be resolved? Act as if you do.

Thank you for posting that- hopefully it will have some positive effect on this parsha.

Weiss-Dodelson: The end is in sight for Gital to receive her Get

Update and revised:  See- "What is holding up the Get?"
I have been hearing from insiders - on both sides of this horrific fight - that the differences between Gital and Avraham Meir are now small and bridgeable. In other words the end is in sight. Hopefully in the very near future we can all put down the clubs and keyboards and celebrate the end to this horrible affair.

What is preventing the agreement now seems to be that both sides view themselves as The Victim - which is only partially true.  There is only one victim. That is the individual who at present doesn't even know about the battle that has been going on around him - that is their son. No matter how they divide custody and time - he is going to be torn between the two parents that he loves. Hopefully his parents will understand that they have to commit themselves to work together as his parents for their son's sake and act as if they are friends.

In addition one insider told me to that it is very important to mention on my blog that the figure of $350,000 is false. There has been too much yelling and screaming of about this large sum of money and the false claim that Avraham Meir is an extortionist who only cares about money. While it is true that both sides have spent at least that amount in the legal battles and the Weiss would have liked to be compensated in full for the crushing legal expenses - the Weiss's are willing to give the Get without being paid that amount.  What they are demanding is only compensation for being forced to go to court initially to regain partial custody of the baby when Gital ran off with the child. That is considerably less than $350,000.

Finally we all realize at this point that the system is seriously in need of repair. There are too many examples of what can be described as corruption and insensitivity. Halacha is not being observed or being observed selectively. It is clear that some significant changes must be introduced to not only prevent women from being trapped in bad marriages - but also husbands. But the changes need to be universally accepted as operating within the bounds of halacha. This fight has raised the awareness of all of us as to how urgent the problem is. Hopefully this won't be forgotten after Gital has her Get. It is also important to note that if this was not Gital Dodelson (Kotler) versus Avraham Meir Weiss (Feinstein) - nobody would have paid attention. There are significant issues of marriage and divorce which need to be addressed - but why was there been a media circus only in this case?

Update: In response to the assertion that the giving of the Get will be proof that the only reason she received it is the interviews in the NY Post and others media - it simply isn't true. The final settlement will probably be not significantly different than that proposed by Rabbi Greenwald and accepted by Avraham Meir before the media blitz. In other words, Gital's leaving the negotiating table for her media blitz against Avraham Meir - has gained her nothing! Even her supporters such as Rabbi Malkiel Kotler are disgusted by the NY Post article and Newsweek interviews - and especially by her joking comment that maybe she should live together with a guy for five years before marriage. Others were horrified by her statement "I am looking for a stepfather for my son." Rabbi Greenwald mentioned to someone that negotiations in this affair have been much harder than those that he conducted to get Sharansky's freedom.

Rabbi Greenwald - who has had a long and distinguished career in negotiating disputes -  has also noted that in dealing with important people he will often ask that neither side go public with the details of negotiations. Playing to the media severely detracts from the ability to negotiate honestly and make the painful but necessary concessions. Unfortunately he apparently didn't think it was necessary to ask for it here.

It is critical to understand that if in fact Gital had bludgeoned Avraham Meir into submission by the roar of the outraged masses - the resulting Get would be posul. One of the reasons for my extensive coverage of this dispute - is to ensure that when Avraham Meir gives the Get - it will be of his own free will and not because he has a gun to his head. So a knock-out victory by Gital would be devastating to her,  because she would never be able to marry without the concern for mamzerus.

For those of you who think Gital has the right to receive a Get on demand - that simple is not the Torah position. The Torah has a more nuanced position involving the concern for the stability of the family and the well being of children. In particular our Sages have noted that a readily available Get - produces the undesirable consequence that the couple is less likely to work hard to make the marriage work.

Gital definitely has won the support of secular and Modern Jews who view this case primarily as one of human dignity and the freedom of the individual to be happy. But she has lost the support of  Yeshiva Jew view this as a severe chilul hashem and attack on halacha. Even for many of the rabbis who apparently supported her cause - it was primarily for political reasons - and they cringe when you mention "NY Post".

In sum, for those of you who are asking for a scorecard as to who won this fight - the simple answer is no one.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oxytocin might be neurobiolgical basis for monogamy

LA Times       Come for the romance, stay for the oxytocin. That’s the neurobiological bottom line on monogamy, according to a new study. 
Men spritzed with oxytocin, a hormone from the pituitary gland, showed a renewed attraction for the faces of their romantic partners, but not for equally attractive strangers, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And the men weren’t just saying so. Their brains were hyped up in areas associated with reward and motivation, according to the study.

“Monogamy is actually quite costly for humans, so there must be some form of benefit,” said Rene Hurlemann, a psychiatrist at the University of Bonn in Germany who led the study. “We’d expect humans, especially males, would disseminate their genes. That would be a very strong evolutionary force driving male behavior. But what drives males to stay in a monogamous relationship?”

The answer may lie in a steady diet of oxytocin that triggers dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward, motivation and addiction, according to the study.
In humans, overtures of social support, hugs, massages and sexual intercourse all release oxytocin. And oxytocin, in turn, has been shown to induce pro-social behavior –- we tend to trust each other and feel more attached to others in response to the chemical. [...]

6 school employees charged in Steubenville rape case - for not reporting the abuse & obstructing justice

CNN   A grand jury investigating the 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, has indicted four school employees, including the school superintendent, who faces felony charges, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Monday.

Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey faces three felony counts: one charge of tampering with evidence and two counts of obstructing justice. He also is charged with making a false statement and obstructing official business, both misdemeanors, DeWine said.

Also indicted was elementary school principal Lynnett Gorman and wrestling coach Seth Fluharty, both of whom are charged with misdemeanor failure to report child abuse. Volunteer assistant Steubenville football coach Matt Belardine was charged with four misdemeanors: allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, making a false statement and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child.

This brings to six the number of people the grand jury has indicted after two students were convicted of rape, DeWine said. A school technology director and his daughter were indicted in October. [...]

Weiss-Dodelson: Sorting out the major points of dispute

Guest Post by Kevin in Chicago[update: Added comments]

Dear Rav Eidensohn,
[...] Some readers are misunderstanding your position, to point out that a moral obligation is not necessarily a halakhic obligation, and to make clear your overriding concern that a misunderstanding of halakhah not lead to improper pressure on husbands and questionable gittin. So please accept these comments for what they are worth, and feel free to use or not use any part of them in any way you see fit.

Divorce is an emotionally-charged subject, and it does not help to mix in the antagonism between liberal and conservative wings of Orthodoxy. One can argue with the recent RCA pronouncement, but it is not an endorsement of "get on demand," nor does it purport to be a statement of halakhah -- although this should have been made explicit.

It seems that some commenters are talking past each other. I have no halakhic expertise, but perhaps I can help separate the issues. DT is concerned with the well-being of both parties to this divorce. But more importantly, he is concerned with a serious halakhic issue that extends far beyond this case. I understand this is basic halakhah: a get must be given willingly. If given under duress, it is invalid. If a get is invalid, the wife cannot lawfully remarry and her subsequent children are mamzerim; if the get is of doubtful validity, her subsequent children are safek mamzerim. This is a very serious stigma and disability extending to her children's children down the generations.

If a beit din issues a valid decision that a husband is required to give a get and he refuses, the beit din may authorize "persuasive" measures, although their extent is disputed among poskim. But the precondition is a judgment of a beit din that the husband is obligated to give a get; a civil divorce judgment is not a substitute.

The pressures the Dodelsons have brought to bear have been quite public. If they were not halakhically justified, and R'AMR gives a get appearing to have succumbed to them (although not directly admitting it, which would void the get ab initio), the get would be of doubtful validity or worse. The problem risks being multiplied many times over if it becomes acceptable to similarly pressure a husband to give a get before a beit din has ordered him to do so.

The belief has been spreading in some Orthodox circles that if there is a civil divorce, the husband is obligated to give, and the wife to receive, a kosher get. But absent a halakhically valid agreement, any obligation to give a get following a civil divorce is a moral obligation, not a halakhic one. The two should not be confused. It has long been acknowledged that one can be a "naval bir'shut ha-Torah," that a Jew can act shamefully without actually violating halakhah. The concern is that because of the specific and unusual requirement that a get be given willingly, pressure on the husband to "do the right thing," if the pressure is not in conformity with halakhah, could result in the wife receiving a doubtful or invalid get. This concern has nothing to do with condoning "extortion" by withholding a get. It is a concern that the get, when given, be universally accepted as valid, and avoid the risk of creating mamzerim.

The timing of the RCA's recent pronouncement made it look like a capitulation to pressure from the Dodelson camp and advocates for agunot, and it may have been. But it was not, and did not claim to be, a halakhic ruling. It was a statement of policy and moral exhortation. The RCA stated that,"when the marriage is functionally over and the relationship between the husband and wife has irreversibly ended ... the withholding of a get under such circumstances [is] an exploitation of the halachic process and a manifestation of domestic abuse." "Exploitation of the halachic process" implies something not actually forbidden by halakhah. The assertion that the RCA's statement purports to overturn millennia-old halakhah is mistaken. And in fairness it should also be noted that saying a get should be given and received once "the relationship between the husband and wife has irreversibly ended" (which it clearly has in the present case) is not the same as
requiring a get "on demand."

On the other hand, the "Kol Koreh" authorizing coercive measures against R'AMW and his father and uncle, which clearly DOES purport to be a halakhic ruling, is far more troubling. This proclamation, which DT called "halakhic nonsense" in his November 18 post, purports to be based, not on the judgment of a beit din, but on a seruv that, as "Joseph" explained in his guest post, is invalid and/or moot. I am a "nobody," but as I can't imagine that DT is brazenly ignorant, I can't imagine an explanation for respected rabbis signing off on "halakhic nonsense" that reflects well on them -- or on American Orthodox Judaism.

Update: Three additional thoughts:

Poor Rabbi Greenwald must have been painfully reminded of Mishlei 26:17:  מַחֲזִיק בְּאָזְנֵי־כָלֶב עֹבֵר מִתְעַבֵּר עַל־רִיב לֹּא־לֹו׃ 

Re the "Kol Koreh" -- Should it be understood that the credibility of a rabbinic pronouncement is inversely proportional to the number of rabbis signing it?  How many of the signatories would have individually signed off on teshuvot to the same effect?  Do "shepherds" have a "herd instinct"?  A wolf-pack instinct?  "Lo tihyeh acharei rabb[on]im l'ra`ot"?

At this point, neither member of this couple appears to be a desirable marriage partner.  Perhaps this period in which neither can remarry is a hidden blessing, an opportunity to mature.  When two people have a child together, neither should treat the other as disposable.  IY"H, they will come to the point of asking forgiveness of each other, and if not reconciling as husband and wife, at least treating each other respectfully as co-parents.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weiss Dodelson: Dodelson's did begin binding arbitration proccess with Rabbi Greenwald

Update: Full document posted
The Dodelson's have been claiming that they were not involved in working out a binding arbitration agreement with Rabbi Greenwald. They assert that Rabbi Greenwald simply offered a proposal and they rejected it. Thus their side is claiming that Rav Dovid Feinstein's psak that according to everyone Avraham Meir could not be considered mesarev - is at best mistaken and worst is false.

The reality is different. There was a lot of negotiation involving the Dodelson and their lawyers as well as the intervention of Rabbi Ahron Koter and it was coordinated by Rabbi Greenwald.

This is a document which was received by Rabbi Greenwald from the Dodelson's lawyer to sign on the binding arbitration that they claim they never were involved in. 

This is clear proof that the Dodelson's did in fact start the binding arbitration process with Rabbi Greenwald. Binding arbitration was later abandoned for legal reasons and they focused on a consent order.

===========From  Set Gital Free website

The Weiss Family has put out several statements.  This page is intended to refute their accusations and misinformation point by point.
Rabbi Dovid B. Feinstein put out a statement explaining the Weisses’ current position.  This is the gist of his statement:
1.      The two sides accepted Ronnie Greenwald as binding arbitrator
2.      The arbitrator rendered a decision
3.      The Weisses accepted the decision
4.      The Dodelsons rejected it
5.      Hence, the Get is on the table and the Dodelsons are unreasonably refusing to take it

First, before getting into the details, one note of importance:  This case was decided by the judge after three years in court and after hearing from both sides and both custody experts.  Weiss is not satisfied with that decision (despite the fact that he was the one who chose the venue of court), and he is withholding a Get until we go to arbitration for a new decision, totally discarding the judge’s decision.  That alone is extortion and totally unacceptable – withholding a Get in an attempt to obfuscate the court's ruling and a second chance to obtain better terms.

Our Response to the Statement:Ronnie Greenwald was never accepted as binding arbitrator.  Ronnie himself sent out an email: “It is unfortunate that due to many legal conditions regarding binding arbitration the proposal that I become the binding arbitrator was not accepted” (see email below).  

Most importantly, however, Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald has issued this letter to clarify any misunderstandings:
If there had been binding arbitration, it would be enforceable in court.  There would be no need to post on the internet asking anyone to “accept the decision.”  Hence, the many statements made by Dovid Feinstein alluding to "arbitration" and a "decision" are beyond meaningless.   
There was no arbitration.  There was no decision.  Rabbi Greenwald, acting as a mediator of his own volition, passed along the demands of the Weiss family.  Gital, however, has no intention of giving in to extortion.

Now you know why we need your continued support.  The court rendered its decision and the case should be over.  Withholding a Get to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars and better terms – be it through new arbitration or new negotiations – is pure extortion.

Expectation grows for repeal of Beit Shemesh elections

Times of Israel   Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is considering going to court to overturn the results of October’s Beit Shemesh municipal elections over allegations of widespread fraud.

A police investigation into allegations that some supporters of Mayor Moshe Abutbul had voted multiple times has led, according to a Justice Ministry official, to the realization “that there is no alternative to new elections, as things appear now.” 

Officials, speaking anonymously to Israel Radio, cited the growing body of evidence related to instances of fraud, including the discovery of some 200 identity cards in an apartment and car believed to belong to Abutbul supporters and the finding of a cache of clothing that apparently served to disguise individuals who voted multiple times on election day.[...]

In light of the close vote and growing evidence of fraud, and after holding several meetings on the issue in his office in recent weeks, the attorney general is expected to appeal the vote and ask the courts to order a new municipal election.

The decision to appeal is expected soon, likely before the weekend, after which appealing the election will be prohibited by law.

The Aveirah Song - Halachic Analysis by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Five Towns Jewish Times   [YOUTUBE As of this writing, it has about 170,000 hits on YouTube. It was uploaded in February of 2013 and it has already spawned a sequel.  Out of 1000 people who watched it and rated it, it has an eleven percent disapproval rating.  None of the comments are pareve – either the listener is bowled over or deeply offended and characterizes it as a grave Chillul Hashem.

What is the Aveirah song?  What is it’s appeal?  What has been the reaction to it?  And what do Torah sources have to say about the matter?

The Aveirah song is either a satire or parody that pokes fun at, well, something.  The disclaimer at the end of the video claims that it pokes fun at those who perform sins.  Its detractors claim that while this is what the producers claim that this is what it does, in reality it just parodies contemporary Orthodox culture, and has no redeeming spiritual benefit whatsoever.

As a background, the parody was produced by a very worthy Yeshiva in Israel that works with American high school graduates and not only gets them into learning, but catapults these young men into some very serious Torah growth.  Many of their graduates go on to the most prestigious Yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel.  The singer pronounces the lyrics with a Chasidic accent, and they are set to a modern rap tune. To get a feel for it, some of the lyrics are below.

I eat a gid hanasheh every bite,
I put on my left shoe before my right,
You think I don’t do aveiros? Don’t even wonder,
I never make a brucheh when I hear the thunder,
My wife wears a sheitel, not a tichel,
I eat the herring without the kichel,

I drink every night ad delo yudeh,
I never sing zemiros at the shabbos sudeh,
I hang around with a goyishe oilem,
I never do bikur cholim,
Yeah I hang out with goyim vus iz nisht gemalet,
I don’t put on my paper, beis samech daled. [...]

A proposal for solving the problem of get me'usa by Rav Dovid Eidensohn

Years ago, somebody told me he was upset with his wife. He had no specific complaint against his wife, but he was very upset. Finally, I asked him who he was talking to that got him in such a mood. He told me so and so. I asked, isn’t that person recently divorced? He said yes. I told him, “Get that person out of your house.” After that it was quiet. 

There was an article in the New York Times about an apartment building in Manhattan peopled by the up and coming. Those people had the good jobs,  great futures, and wonderful marriages. One day, people in the building were shocked to discover that a couple divorced. After a while, a neighbor of that couple divorced. And so it spread like a contagion. Those near a divorced person began to divorce, until the entire building was shaking with divorce. The purpose of the article obviously is to describe the poison that emanates from a bitter person who wants to spread the salvation that divorce brought to them. But this is wrong. If you talk to somebody filled with hate, you are going to learn hate. Never talk to such a person. Your marriage and your life hang in the balance.

Now let’s talk about the average couple in the Torah world who have a problem.  The husband or wife is very angry, but who can they talk to about it? Well, the closest people to them such as parents soon are brought into the secret. Maybe the way the complaint is expressed, filled with bitterness, influences the parent or close friend. Somebody has just lit a match in a very sensitive area. Eventually, the bitterness becomes open and both parents jump in and the marriage is over with.

I spoke with a major rabbi in Israel not long ago and told him that telling parents of your problem with your spouse is very dangerous, because parents have no balance and can really mess up a marriage. He agreed enthusiastically. 

Now let us go to the solution.

Let us assume that every marriage has its problems. The key to survival is to know what to do with these problems. We just described the folly of getting parents to back your hate, until both parents are firing away and the marriage is dead. So what should be done? Our solution is as follows.

First of all, marriage today is too delicate to wait until it falls apart to look for counseling. Then it may be too late. My idea is that before marriage and surely in its early phases the couple sign up with a Shalom Bais Beth Din. Now, this is not the ordinary Beth Din that enters the picture after all of the dishes have been smashed. This Beth Din does not deal with divorce or punishment for destroyed marriages. This Shalom Bais Din is only about Shalom. What is its function and how does it do its work to make Shalom?

The couple signs up with the Beth Din preferably before the marriage. A program of education is begun. Education covers those areas that impact upon Shalom Bayis, such as earnings, being tired or exhausted, unrealistic ambitions and expectations, etc.  We straighten out the road before it is filled with potholes.  We don’t ignore the basic problems that make pressures and confusion and disappointment in marriage, but we educate that they are here and must be faced and dealt with. And we educate the couple how to face and deal with them.

In other words, the Beth Din looks for trouble before it erupts. Most of the trouble is easily identified and can be dealt with, so we are far ahead of our program in the initial educating process. But yet, there can still be problems of personality, sensitivity, family, etc. So we come to phase two, not anticipating trouble, but leaning about it and dealing with it. As soon as husband or wife has a complaint, they are taught how to deal with it, and if they can’t settle it themselves, they must bring it to the Shalom Beth Din. The Shalom Beth Din will try to organize things, although this is easier said than done. Nonetheless, the fact that a Beth Din is involved, not in dividing up the children and money, but in settling things and making shalom, puts us far ahead of the usual process of problems in marriage.

We thus have phase one of pre-marital and early education, phase two of dealing with problems that erupt despite the education, and we come now to phase three, when one of the couple doesn’t listen to the Beth Din and the marriage is in trouble. Phase three is the power to fine, not to force a GET, because this Beth Din is not about divorce, but about Shalom Bayis. The fine is levied for violating Shalom Bayis. The couple signs a paper that is legal in Jewish and secular law that they will obey the Beth Din’s suggestions to make Shalom in the house. And if someone defies the Beth Din, the Beth Din has the power of fining the guilty party.

Now let us jump ahead to a marriage where the husband is tough and continues torturing his wife and refuses to listen to the Beth Din. He is fined, and fined again, and fined again. If it continues, and these legal obligations pile up, threatening his car, his house, his gulf clubs, his seforim, he may decide that he can’t afford this marriage and ask for a divorce. Note, he asks for the divorce to spare himself the fines. At least, this marriage will not make an Agunah. There is no problem of GET MEUSO  a forced GET because the Beth Din is not interested in divorce; it wants Shalom and its fines are directed at creating Shalom not at creating Gittin.

In very rare cases a husband may be a candidate for a forced GET, but this is not the purpose of the Beth Din, whose purpose is Shalom. If the husband is a candidate for a coerced GET, which is extremely rare, the Beth Din can make recommendations how to proceed, but its basic function is to make Shalom, and if it makes a GET it is a failure and a wrong turn in the process. Thus, there is no problem of forced GET because the Beth Din does not want a GET. Preferably, if there is to be a coerced GET another Beth Din should be involved, and should be under the direct guidance of Gedolei HaDor, as a letter from Rav Wosner states.

To summarize, one should not marry with Kiddushin unless they are cognizant of the chance of being an Agunah and the sin of doing something in violation of accepted halacha to coerce a GET or to annul the marriage. My brother told me that this was the opinion of HaGaon Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”o head of the Beth Din of the Ado in Jerusalem.

Each community should establish a Shalom Bais Din and see that various procedures are implemented to improve the marriages and prevent broken marriages and Agunose.

Such a Beth Din should be founded with the guidance of senior Gittin poskim, although the purpose is not to make a GET but to make Shalom Bayis.

If anyone is interested in such a project they can contact me at 845-578-1917.

Dovid Eidensohn

Musmach from Posek HaDor HaGaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l  to be Rosh Beth Din of Gittin

Weiss Dodelson: Background on the siruv from Machon Lehora

Just received this comment from a distinguished talmid chachom. He said I can publish it but to delete his name from the comment. Even though he is fully aware that it will be obvious  from the comment - to the Lakewood establishment - who he is.

Rabbi Eidensohn,

I just wish to point out that over two years ago Rabbi Malkiel Kotler asked me how he can convince Machon Lehora to issue a siruv in this case. 

My response was, if a siruv is warranted why do you need my assistance, and if not why should I assist. His response, "ihr veist doch vee es geit" [my translation - "you know very well how things are done"]

Please don't quote in my name.

Custody Battle Raises Questions About the Rights of Women - or divorce is unfair to someone

NYTimes    The relationship did not last long — but she did become pregnant. And now the skier, 36, and Ms. McKenna, 27, a former Marine and firefighter who is attending Columbia University with G.I. Bill support, are locked in a cross-country custody fight that has become not only tabloid fodder but also a closely watched legal battle over the rights of pregnant women to travel and make life choices. 

In December, when she was seven months pregnant and already sparring with Mr. Miller about their future relations, Ms. McKenna moved to New York to start school. Mr. Miller accused her of fleeing to find a sympathetic court, and a New York judge agreed, castigating Ms. McKenna for virtually absconding with her fetus. This allowed a California court to subsequently grant custody of the baby, a boy, to Mr. Miller and also set off alarm bells among advocates for women’s rights. 

But on Nov. 14, a five-judge appeals court in New York said Ms. McKenna’s basic rights had been violated, adding, “Putative fathers have neither the right nor the ability to restrict a pregnant woman from her constitutionally protected liberty.” 

The appeals court also ruled that jurisdiction belonged in New York. 

On Monday, a New York City Family Court will start proceedings that could switch custody of the boy, now nine months old, back to Ms. McKenna.[...]

Once the boy was born, Ms. McKenna filed in New York for temporary custody. But on May 30, a Family Court referee refused, rebuking Ms. McKenna for “unjustifiable conduct” and “forum shopping” and making the unusual decision to leave the case in California even though the baby was born and lived in New York. 

While Ms. McKenna “did not ‘abduct’ the child,” the court said, “her appropriation of the child while in utero was irresponsible, reprehensible.” 

The Family Court in San Diego proceeded to grant primary custody to Mr. Miller. On Sept. 4, as Ms. McKenna described it, choking up, Mr. Miller and his wife came to her apartment, “took the baby out of my arms, dropped it in a car seat and drove away.”

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rabbi Zweibel: Aguna supporters are creating halachic problems

Rabbi Dovid Zweibel  said at the Aguda convention:

"There are so many issues, the Agunah issue, which has been in the news for all kinds of terrible reasons... 'We have to do something about it!' Unfortunately we discover that sometimes 'doing something about it' without the proper hadracha of Gedolei yisroel, can be so terribly counterproductive and can create shaalos about the validity of Gittin." See minute 19:52

Motzoei Shabbos Address from R' Chaim Dovid Zwiebel from Agudath Israel on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weiss-Dodelson: Did the Weiss family lie about Rabbi Greenwald's involvement?

Update November 23, 2013: Rabbi Greenwald's letter to me below
Besides the hostility of the Dodelson's towards the Weiss family because Avraham Meir has not given their daughter a get - there are strong accusation by Dodelson supporters that the Weiss's are lying about Rabbi Greenwald's involvement to try and find a resolution of the crisis. A more polite version of this accusation is found on the Dodelson's website in the section refuting Weiss statements. The critical issues is whether the families were in negotiation with Rabbi Greenwald prior to Gital going to the New York Post and publicly shaming the Weiss family and Orthodox Judaism. She claimed she had no alternative to get her freedom. In response Rav Reuven Feinstein's son Rav David claims they were in the midst of negotiation with Rabbi Greenwald and thus Gital had no need for the interview.

Inititally I thought that Rabbi Greenwald would simply explain whether he thought the Weiss's were liars. In response to my questions in this matter I did receive a letter from him - but it just repeated what his third letter said without explaining the contradition with the first two letters He did not respond for my request for further clarification. Because the Weiss family decided not to get involved in a public debate,  contrary to my expectation they did not issue a public rebuttal.  Because of the continued sneering comments I am getting from Dodelson supporters - that not only accuse the Weiss's of dishonesty but also Rav Dovid Feinstein -  I have decided to make the efforts to explain the matter. This explanation has not be reviewed or authorized by anyone - I take full responsibility for it.  Rabbi Greenwald's 3 letters - full text
Rav Dovid Feinstein (Rav Reuven's son) letter
The first two letters written by Rabbi Greenwald were on October 2013 and November 7th.
In the October letter he wrote the [3rd parties],
It's 4 months ago that both of you [3rd parties] asked that I serve as binding arbitrator ... and bring about a get. ... It is unfortunate that due to many legal conditions regarding binding arbitration the proposal that I become the binding arbitrator was not accepted....
In the November 7th letter he wrote to Rabbi Weiss:
I want to make it clear that I appreciate the fact that you and Avrohom Meir agreed to the proposal I had suggested on Oct 15 so that the get could be given without delay. The Weiss and Dodelson familes came to me in June 2013 asking me to undertake this process. Since then I have consulted with the families, their advisors and outside experts, which led to my carefully considered proposal. You accepted my proposal provided it included 2 provisions....Once the proposal was accepted by the Weiss family, I advised the Dodelsons of your acceptance. I was informed that they didn't accept my proposal and I'm still waiting to hear from them of a counter proposal. I believe that once I have both proposals in hand, some compromise can be worked out so that this tragic situation can be resolved.
We learn from these letters
1) 3rd parties asked Rabbi Greenwald to serve as binding arbitrator
2) Legal conditions made the proposal of binding arbitration unacceptable [and not because the parties refused]
3) Both the Weiss and Dodelson familes came to Rabbi Greenwald and asked him to undertake this process.
4) Rabbi Greenwald put in a lot of effort consulting with the families, their adisors and outside experts.[which the Dodelson's fully participated including having their lawyer evaluate the proposals]
5) Rabbi Greenwald drew up a proposed solution which was accepted by the Weiss family [end of October 2013]
6) The Dodelson's didn't accept the proposal
7) Rabbi Greenwald was expecting a counterproposal.
8) The Dodelson's did not offer a counterproposal but Gital went to the NY Post and gave her interview in the beginning of November – in which she claimed she had no other option for obtaining the Get.

It is obvious that what these letters say is in total agreement with the assertions of Rav Dovid Feinstein and Rav Reuven's son Rav Dovid.  Thus those who have claimed that the Weiss's are liars and that Rav Dovid was less than honest regarding Rabbi Greenwald's involvedment are clearly wrong

1) Rav Dovid Feinstein wrote:
 "As Rabbi Greenwald's letter attests, both families agreed to come before him for a decision to resolve this matter Therefore, Avrahom Meir cannot be considered a mesarev or a me'agen." [This was not a claim of binding arbitration but as a mediator]
 2) Rav Dovid Feinstein (son of Rav Reuven) wrote:
Mrs. Dodelson, Saki, was actually the one around yomim noraim time this year, that reached out to my wife, to ask what we can do to get the process back on track.
Around Chol Hamoed Succos, I saw a chance. Avrom Meir Weiss reiterated clearly to me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, (and signed the document), that he would accept unconditionally the ruling of Ronny Greenwald, who was accepted to be the binding arbitrator. (Even if he does not like, or agree with the decision, he will accept it.} He made it clear (in writing), that he would accept the arbitration, and a get would be given forty five days after the decision is entered into court, so as the other side, the Dodelsons, cannot appeal. At that time, a get will be given.
The arbitration started in May. It stalled for five months, but Boruch Hashem it was restarted on Oct. 15 2013. According to Ronny Greenwald, even though the Weiss's responded in time, before the deadline Sunday the 20th of Oct. and it's not clear to me if and when the Dodelsons responded, the Weiss's, even today, are still accepting Ronny's decision, and will abide by his words as a non partial binding decision, and Avrom Meir is still willing to give the get, as stated above. [...]
I do not know who is behind the newspaper articles, and demonstrations that are going on while arbitration are still in progress,( to me it seems counterproductive). Also, I have no idea what can be said about the Chilul Hashem. Whoever's fault you want to say it is, how can we let the Kovod Shamayim be lowered like this? Does it make a Difference who's fault this is?

[This letter says that only Avrohom Meir accepted in writing that Rabbi Greenwald proposal was binding. It is important to note that while Rabbi Feinstein uses the term arbitration he apparently means mediation. Rabbi Feinstein objected to the Dodelson's going to the newspapers and having demonstrations when mediation is going on. Mediation had in fact been going on and Rabbi Feinstein assumed - as did Rabbi Greenwald - that even though they didn't like the proposal of Oct 15  they would come back with a counteroffer.
Thus apparently there is no problem or inconsistently between these two letters and the view of the Weiss/Feinstein family and the comment of Rav Dovid Feinstein.

Third letter from Rabbi Greenwald:
 However Rabbi Greenwald wrote a 3rd letter on November 11, 2013 which seems to  contradict his first two letters. This letter was apparently written to the Dodelsons or their lawyer. It was posted on the Dodelson's website click here-  refuting Weiss statements   which also incorrectly summarizes Rav Dovid Feinstein's (Rav Reuven's son) view as:
    Rabbi Dovid B. Feinstein put out a statement explaining the Weisses’ current position.  This is the gist of his statement:
1.      The two sides accepted Ronnie Greenwald as binding arbitrator
2.      The arbitrator rendered a decision
3.      The Weisses accepted the decision
4.      The Dodelsons rejected it
5.      Hence, the Get is on the table and the Dodelsons are unreasonably refusing to take it
Rabbi Greenwald wrote this letter immediately after the NY Post interview with Gital was released. He also fell and broken a number of bones and was suffering from strong pain and was on heavy medication. He also reported that he was inundated by calls and emails demanding an explanation of his position and he said he could not take it any more.

What was the purpose of this letter? The 3rd letter says in part:
[...] 3rd parties asked me to offer my services to the Weiss Dodelson Families to serve as Binding Arbitrator for their disputes...I was unable to set up such an arbitration format and the parties never agreed to my serving as Binding Arbitrator.
I have since then tried to step forward as a mediator. In this effort too I never received any agreement from the parties to serve as a mediator.    This leaves their disputes as they were prior to my efforts.  While I may cointinue to try to mediate, I am doing so strictly on my own initiative and not at the request or with the consent of the parties.  I regret if my previous letter of Nov. 7th created the mistaken impression that the parties had ageeed to my role as either Binding Arbitrator or mediator.
Rabbi Greenwald's letter clarification letter to me

 I wrote to Rabbi Greenwald regarding this third letter  On Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 3:34 AM,
I am writing a response to this letter and would like your input

Will you please confirm that his letter is genuine and accurately reports the facts.

If it is genuine do you have any comments that you would be willing to make public that might repair the severe damage this letter caused to the credibility not only of the Weiss-Feinstein families but to Rav Dovid Feinstein, shlita himself?
I received the following response:

From: Ronnie Greenwald
Date: Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 8:57 PM
Subject: Re: Retraction letter
To: Daniel Eidensohn

Rabbi Eidensohn,
Below are my comments:
I am sending you a letter which I sent to R Zlotowitz of Artscroll and R Aron Kotler in Lakewood. You and your readers should know that both of them have unceasingly dedicated themselves to assisting me to resolve the situation so that a get could be given. They were always available to help. I ask you Rabbi Eidensohn to only publish my letter to them if you feel that it de-escalates the hostility to these revered families and their friends.

It is also critical to note that my respect and reverence for the gadol, Rav Dovid Feinstein Shlita, has not been diminished one iota. I regret that my letter about my efforts as mediator may have allowed the impression that my role was sanctioned by both families thus leading to confusion.
Dear Meir and Aron,

You, Meir, and you, Aron, know that I consider you both among my closest and smartest friends, who have achieved amazing things in your lifetimes. When the two of you agreed that I would be a good mediator, shaliach, askan, arbitrator or whatever word you want to use, I accepted that awesome responsibility because after meeting both families I believed that a resolution was achievable. The last thing that I wanted to happen was that any comments I made would lead to newspaper articles, blogs, batei din and machlokes, and bigger machlokes.

My role was to make peace. The last thing I wanted was to increase hostility and animosity among two of the most highly revered families in klall Yisroel and in klall Yisroel, as well. I have therefore decided that from now on I will not take phone calls on this subject, even from my dear friends Meir and Aron since it has caused me terrible pain. I love you guys and respect you guys but you must give me some peace for a little while. I am sharing this note with the Weiss and Dodelson family and my family as well.

Sorry but we must all move on.
PS If you do post this, please include my preliminary remarks.

=================[to be continued]