Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Italy court overturns paedophile conviction because 11-year-old girl 'in love'

ndtv     Italy's highest court has overturned the conviction of a 60-year-old man for having sex with an 11-year-old girl, because the verdict failed to take into account their "amorous relationship".

Pietro Lamberti, a social services worker in Catanzaro in southern Italy, was convicted in February 2011 and sentenced to five years in prison for sexual acts with a minor. The verdict was later upheld by an appeals court. But Italy's supreme court ruled that the verdict did not sufficiently consider "the 'consensus', the existence of an amorous relationship, the absence of physical force, the girl's feelings of love". [...]

Monday, December 30, 2013

Lying for Shalom – the Sake of Peace by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

5 Towns Jewish Times     “Of course, I did my homework, Mom..”

“No, honey, that donut wrapper belonged to a co-worker to whom I gave a ride.”

“Yes, I will go on the treadmill this afternoon as soon as I come home while you are shopping.”

“No dear, that dress does not make you look fat.”

We have all heard the expression before – mutar leshanos mipnei HaShalom – one is permitted to, well, “change” or obscure the truth in order to maintain the peace.  And lately, it seems that we hear it more and more.

A number of questions arise about this concept.  Is it still something that we should avoid doing – or is it possibly a Mitzvah?  Is it an across the board heter?  Do people have complete carte blanche in these areas?  Or are there, perhaps, some caveats?

Firstly, let’s look at the source.  The Talmud (Yevamos 65b) cites Rabbi Eelaah in the name of Rabbi Elazar the son of Rabbi Shimon.  Rabbi Elazar derives this principle – that one may “change” to maintain the peace from the fact that the brothers told Yoseph that Yaakov their father had instructed them to tell Yoseph to forgive their sin against him.  In fact, Yaakov did not leave any such instruction.  Rav Nosson even goes further – it is not just that permission is granted – it is even a Mitzvah!  How do we know this?  Because Hashem instructed Shmuel the prophet to lie to Shaul the king by telling him that he was bringing something to slaughter to Hashem.  In fact, Shmuel was going to anoint Dovid as king in his stead. [...]

Perhaps the real reason why the Poskim who rule like Rabbi Nosson and yet do not use the language of “Mitzvah” is so that one not get accustomed to lying as a way of life.  Let’s not forget as well that in the first three illustrations above, the lying is, in fact, very counterproductive.  In illustration number one the mother wants the son to do well in school.  In illustrations two and three the wife is concerned for her hsuband’s well-being.  It seems pretty clear that the permission to “change”was never granted to lead a decadent lifestyle.  When it says that one can change to maintain peace it never meant just to avoid arguments when the other person is, in fact, correct.  Such uses of this Gemorah undermine the true meaning of Torah and are an abuse and mischaracterization of the very ideals espoused in this ruling of halacha.  The conclusion is that the only recommended use of the leniency is for illustration number four.  And yes, there is no doubt that this is a Mitzvah.

Should the wife be sacrificed for the marriage or the marriage sacrificed for the wife's happiness?- there is a third way!

Guest post Ploni  December 27, 2013 at 7:13 PM 
update December 30, 2013 - Ploni added important clarifications that I put in the comments section
Michelob says:

" If a woman says she's done, very rarely will you be able to hold a gun to her head and live happily ever after. ... If she is not into it, and is dragged to the therapist kicking and screaming, you are both wasting your time and energy.

Michelob; Your words are very rational, BUT ONLY TO A CERTAIN POINT.

The fellow here does indeed seem to be faced with two very unpalatable choices:

A. Be over and done with it.

B. Fight for fairness, family integrity, reputation, the fact that someone so close to him is waging a smear campaign & using tools that clearly include some extremely serious Halachic & Hashkafic transgressions.

But in actuality, I think that there's actually a THIRD option, too:

To understand the third option, we need to "back up" a bit, and we need to ponder:

What's REALLY behind the current epidemic of broken homes. We read comment after comment of hair-raising מעשה רשעות. How can it be?

Men & women that have lived & built lives together for decades, been through so many joys and sorrows... to have everything disintegrate before their very eyes.... the men here grapple to understand the sudden change -  in reality & feel understandable wrath & frustration...

These women [usually] weren't evil when these men married them. What did someone surreptitiously put into their woman's drinks? What changed these women into veritable WITCHES? The man knows that he WASN'T abusive, and if he was, nobody's interested in telling him where he went wrong, and how he should fix it...

I posit that behind this phenomena there is usually ONE simple motivator:


She cried out & expressed her pain to others; perhaps relatives, perhaps strangers ... and those "helpers" connected her with "professionals", and those "professionals" based on their own inflated egos, personal vendettas, political agendas, etc. KNEW the source of the woman's pain.

The "professional" instinctively knew whom to blame:


These "professionals", trained in the art of influencing others, succeeded in changing the woman's world-view. The woman's friends, influenced by popular writings, easily concurred... empathized with her... offered her "resources" in her "plight"....

But they forget to hear the husband's side of the story..... So self assured were they in their world-view, that it wasn't necessary to hear his side.

But everything I've written thus far isn't really my main point, because even if they HAD attempted to mediate between the two... even if the woman HAD gone to therapy ... chances are that it would be too late - as the damage had already been done.

And this leads me to what I believe is the REAL solution....

Please read on...

Concerning men & women that have lived & built lives together for decades, been through so many joys and sorrows … & the woman was convinced that it’s time to go…. I posited that …

THE WOMAN IS SEARCHING FOR HAPPINESS, OR AT LEAST SEARCHING TO ESCAPE HER OWN EMOTIONAL TURMOIL, whether depression, anxiety, etc, etc. … and that her pain is being blamed on HER HUSBAND.

The woman’s mindset seems to be that “happiness” is something she needs to receive from the outside - her husband, or “someone” needs to “give” it to her, and that she “deserves” to receive it… Once the marriage is irrevocably broken, perhaps she feels that her husband CAN’T and / or surely doesn’t want to give it…..

Might she be mistaken?

Could it perhaps be that…?

… The only AUTHENTIC happiness she’ll ever have is the type she’ll find INSIDE HERSELF. Perhaps someone can convince her to stop looking OUTSIDE for something missing INSIDE?

Perhaps she’s looking for the wrong KIND of happiness… and the RIGHT kind is actually free for the taking?

Here are the 5 types of happiness, according to Martin Seligman (I’m cheating a bit, because he talks about well-being, while I’m calling them happiness).

Perhaps she should stop looking for types 1 & 3, and start looking for types 2, 4 & 5?

In fact, maybe they can still … look…. Together?!

1- Positive emotion: pleasure, rapture, ecstasy, warmth, comfort, and the like. A life lived with these aims; he calls the “pleasant life.”

2- Engagement: is about flow - being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity. Engagement is different, even opposite, from positive emotion; for if you ask people who are in flow what they are thinking and feeling, they usually say, “nothing.” A life lived with these aims; he calls the “engaged life.”

3- Relationships: He doesn’t explain it here, but I think it seems self-explanatory.

4- Meaning and purpose: belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self. Humanity creates all the positive institutions to allow this: religion, political party, being Green, the Boy Scouts, or the family. A life lived with these aims; he calls the “meaningful life.”

5- Accomplishment: success and mastery. People try to achieve just for winning’s own sake 

DT. An example a couple came to me seriously considering divorce. The husband though a brilliant and successful talmid chachom and businessman was very focused on the lack of respect he got from his wife and children. He had become very controlling - insisting for example that the whole family sit attentively for a half an hour drasha every Friday night. His wife took the children's side when they got bored in the middle and left the table. The wife objected to the control he insisted over every aspect of her life and that of the children. At the same time he had become very hurt by her criticism and claims that he was unreasonable and out of touch with normal human feelings. In short the husband and wife blamed each other for their unhappiness and that of the children. The obvious solution was they should get divorced after 20 years of marriage. But they couldn't do that because several of the children were either looking for a shidduch or would soon start. 

Solution. I suggested that the husband was too focused on getting respectful for his genuine spirituality from his family in a manner which was inappropriate. I suggested he spend more time with genuinely spiritual people that would appreciate his insights and analysis. That he did and his need to control and demand respect eased up. At the same time he became more sensitive to his family and realized that he was not presenting appropriate material and issues for them to be able to appreciate. This backing off actually produced the respect he had been craving all along.

At the same time both the husband and wife felt that the other would let lose an emotional attack at inappropriate moments - such as at the Shabbos table or at a time when they didn't feel up to defending themselves. The normal response was to yell back which only escalated the conflict. I suggest a simple technique. No matter how strong their upset - they could not lecture their spouse if the spouse raised up an index finger to signal now was not the time - but later. Surprisingly that was really all that they needed to create a sense of control and respect and the yelling and screaming disappeared.

In sum, this family of genuinely loving and generous people  - who were imbued with deep spiritual feelings - was self-destructing because their spiritual and psychological needs were not being fulfilled through each other. A rather minor adjustment from 2 sessions created the proper conditions for mutual growth and appreciation. It didn't solve everything - but it did enable them to get nachas from each other and for the children to regain respect for their parents.

A.D.H.D. Experts Re-evaluate Study’s Zeal for Drugs

NY Times    Twenty years ago, more than a dozen leaders in child psychiatry received $11 million from the National Institute of Mental Health to study an important question facing families with children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Is the best long-term treatment medication, behavioral therapy or both? 

The widely publicized result was not only that medication like Ritalin or Adderall trounced behavioral therapy, but also that combining the two did little beyond what medication could do alone. The finding has become a pillar of pharmaceutical companies’ campaigns to market A.D.H.D. drugs, and is used by insurance companies and school systems to argue against therapies that are usually more expensive than pills. 

But in retrospect, even some authors of the study — widely considered the most influential study ever on A.D.H.D. — worry that the results oversold the benefits of drugs, discouraging important home- and school-focused therapy and ultimately distorting the debate over the most effective (and cost-effective) treatments. 

The study was structured to emphasize the reduction of impulsivity and inattention symptoms, for which medication is designed to deliver quick results, several of the researchers said in recent interviews. Less emphasis was placed on improving children’s longer-term academic and social skills, which behavioral therapy addresses by teaching children, parents and teachers to create less distracting and more organized learning environments. 

Recent papers have also cast doubt on whether medication’s benefits last as long as those from therapy.  [...]

Medication helps a person be receptive to learning new skills and behaviors,” said Ruth Hughes, a psychologist and the chief executive of the advocacy group Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. “But those skills and behaviors don’t magically appear. They have to be taught.”[...]

A subsequent paper by one of those, Keith Conners, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Duke University, showed that using only one all-inclusive measurement — “treating the child as a whole,” he said — revealed that combination therapy was significantly better than medication alone. Behavioral therapy emerged as a viable alternative to medication as well. But his paper has received little attention. [...]

Most recently, a paper from the study said flatly that using any treatment “does not predict functioning six to eight years later,” leaving the study’s original question — which treatment does the most good long-term? — largely unanswered. 

“My belief based on the science is that symptom reduction is a good thing, but adding skill-building is a better thing,” said Stephen Hinshaw, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the study researchers. “If you don’t provide skills-based training, you’re doing the kid a disservice. I wish we had had a fairer test.”

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Withholding A Get: Between Leverage And Extortion

Jewish Week    All too commonly, we read about a man who refuses to grant his wife a Jewish writ of divorce (a “get”). We are told her story, culminating in her demand for a get and a plea to help pressure the recalcitrant husband to grant it. As for the man’s version of events – they do not matter; according to the approach promoted by the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (“agunah” refers to a woman chained to a failed marriage by a husband unable or unwilling to grant her a get) and numerous others, it is never justified for a man to withhold a get as leverage during the divorce settlement.

The zero-tolerance attitude toward get-withholding is an adaptation of Jewish law to a relatively new social reality. This in itself does not make it wrong; on the contrary, new circumstances demand that the application of halachic norms be reconsidered. Yet this attitude implicitly adopts certain core attitudes toward marriage and divorce that are largely alien to Jewish tradition. It behooves us to consider whether it is possible to retain the traditional system but tweaking it to prevent abuse, instead of adopting the regnant divorce paradigms relegating the get to a mere religious technicality. [...]

Mutual consent implies, by definition, the ability to withhold consent, which is inherently a form of leverage within divorce negotiation. This sort of leverage is present in many negotiations and works against the party most eager to reach an agreement; a thirsty man is willing to pay a higher price for a bottle of Coca Cola. Of course, there is a point at which leverage becomes extortion, and that point must be defined, but we must take care not to treat leverage as though it is extortion.

The mutual-consent paradigm seems reasonable in principle, but in practice the traditional system of Jewish divorce has become unacceptable. Despite the best efforts of the medieval rabbis, the playing field is not really level. The deck is stacked against women in several ways. This imbalance has become a central issue as awareness of it has grown and demands for an equality in divorce have become almost universal.

Another reason for the turn against traditional norms of Jewish divorce is the adoption of a unilateral divorce paradigm. This has shifted perceptions about the nature of marriage and the process of its dissolution. The marriage is deemed over once one spouse deems the differences between the spouses unbridgeable. Under this paradigm, withholding a divorce is perceived as a denial of one’s basic rights and freedoms, and if the purpose is withholding is to negotiate a more favorable division of the marital pie, it becomes extortion. The same act that is a legitimate tool of negotiation under the mutual-consent paradigm is a weapon under the unilateral paradigm. [...]

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Schlesinger Twins: Debate in House of Commons?

Jewish Telegraph   Graham Stringer MP is to ask Foreign Office minister David Liddington to make representations to Austria about the case of Manchester tug-of-love mother Beth Alexander.

He will also seek a debate in parliament when the Commons returns in January. Mother of four-year-old twins, Beth, who is estranged from her Viennese husband, has access to the children for only six hours a week and on alternate Sundays.

Now, a leading Australian educationist has joined in the calls to right the injustice many feel she has suffered at the hands of the Austrian courts. Rabbi James Kennard, who was head of Manchester's King David High School Yavneh, has hit out at Vienna Chabad which forbids Beth to see her children at their kindergarten, or even to be kept abreast of their progress - or lack of it, as she insists.[...]

Why secular Israeli's don't care about Chareidi poverty

NY Times   In mid-December, a report by the National Insurance Institute and the Central Bureau of Statistics reported that Israel’s poverty rate was shamefully high: 23.5 percent. It found that one-fifth of families — and one-fifth of retirees — in Israel are officially poor, as well as one-third of children.
Israel’s income gap is one of the highest in the world (following Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the United States). Israel, as O.E.C.D. reports have already indicated more than once, somehow manages to be a “start-up nation,” with high economic growth; yet, at the same time, it remains a backward nation with many extremely poor families. [...]

Israelis already know the numbers, and most have already formed opinions on this topic. Many middle-class Israelis are convinced that the poor themselves are at fault — and unless they do something about it, there’s not much that the state can do for them. 

Two segments of Israel’s population stand out as the poorest of the poor: “ultra-Orthodox Jews” and “Muslim-Arabs.” Unemployment rates for ultra-Orthodox Jews (mostly ultra-Orthodox men) and Arabs (mostly Arab women) are very high. So are birth rates. The result: 59 percent of the ultra-Orthodox (also known as Haredim) are poor. Similarly, 58 percent of Arab Israelis are poor. Other groups with notably high rates of poverty are the elderly and new immigrants — but the numbers for these two groups are much lower, 23 percent and 17 percent, respectively.[...]

For middle-class Israelis to care, the message from the state should be quite different — one that could be called compassionate cruelty. The state should be telling its citizens: We don’t much care if the poor-by-choice get even poorer and get even less from the state. We don’t much care about poverty rates that take everybody into account without much consideration of personal and communal decisions and their consequences. But we will ensure that those willing to work and pay their dues are properly assisted, and the government will make sure that they are the only ones to be raised above poverty level on the government’s dime

הח"כ החרדי שגרם ליהודי אנגליה להזיל דמעה


חבר הכנסת הדהים השבוע את יהודי הממלכה כשעמד בלבוש חרדי על בימת כנס 'לימוד' ונשא דברים בעד ברית הזוגיות, אוטובוסים בשבת ולימודי ליבה. "סוף-סוף מישהו שבא לאחד", הגיבו בקהל, "זו ישראל שכולנו רוצים להאמין בה

כשמאות מיהודי בריטניה נכנסו לאולם ההרצאות באוניברסיטת ווריק שבעיר קובנטרי הם היו פסימיים. הם באו לשמוע הרצאה של "חבר הכנסת החרדי ממפלגת יש עתיד", הרב דב ליפמן, וכבר הכינו את השאלות הנוקבות על נושאי דת ומדינה, גיור, 'נשות הכותל', ברית הזוגיות ועוד. אך שום דבר לא הכין אותם לכך שליפמן יסכים איתם בכל אחד מהנושאים, ויותר מכך - יגרום להם להתרגש ואפילו להזיל דמעה כשדיבר על נושאי דת ומדינה אקטואליים ברוח שהייתה שונה מאוד ממה שהמאזינים ציפו לו.  

ליפמן דיבר על כל הנושאים הבוערים בישראל, והציג עמדה מורכבת ומתקדמת בענייני דת ומדינה ובנושאים שבין דתיים לחילונים. כשדיבר על ברית הזוגיות השיב להומוסקסואל שישב בקהל ש"התורה מתייחסת למעשה בחומרה, אך היא אינה אומרת שצריך להתנהג לאנשים כאלה בצורה לא נאותה"; כשתמך בהפעלת תחבורה ציבורית בשבת אמר ח"כ ליפמן שהוא רגיל לכך שיש תחבורת ציבורית בשבת, ו"זה לא מפריע לי ברמה האישית"; על לימודי הליבה הוא אמר ש"אם בארה"ב גדולי הרבנים החרדים מעודדים לימודים של מתמטיקה ואנגלית - למה לא בישראל?"

במהלך הנאום הצדיק ליפמן את זכותן של נשים להתפלל בכותל, הסביר את הבעיה הגדולה של השתלטות החרדים על שכונות עירו, בית-שמש, וסיפר על חוויית העלייה המרגשת שלו. "אני אמנם אופטימי מאוד, אבל לא נאיבי", אמר ליפמן כשנשאל אם טרם למד את חוקי המשחק בכנסת ישראל. עם תום נאומו עמדו הנוכחים בקהל על רגליהם ומחאו כפיים במשך דקות ארוכות.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

BOO-AH ! Letting go of a dead marriage

A response to a commenter on MH's post about divorce-impasse by Faithful

I would like to relate to a commenter named "M", who wrote, on December 26, on MH's post:
The bottom line here is that we must fight DIVORCE itself. We must stop the divorce racket. We must stop divorce-on-demand. We must encourage and push and even pressure couples to remain married and not divorce.

Many many many Gedolim and even sociologists have said divorce is far far too easy and far far too frequent. Rav Avigdor Miller zt"l said many times that 99% of divorces in the Orthodox community were avoidable and should not have happened.

My perspective is very fresh and very real, having been dragged into the Israeli state divorce courts, kicking and screaming, over the last three years, with the claim that I can't grant my wife of over 25 years a unilateral divorce if she refuses to first go to counseling with me about it. Now, for the first time, just this week, my wife has agreed to consider the counseling. 

The surrealism of how "the system" was intent on ramming a divorce down my throat reached its zenith about a month ago, when I went to visit the great, virtually mythic sage of Bnei Brak – HaRav Chaiim Kanievsky. I'm not in the camp of those who revere his every word and gesture, but I have a neighbor who is, in a quite sober way, and offered to take me to him for a quick question and answer on my tortured topic. He offered to write it up for me in Hebrew and to present to him as a brief note, in order to respect the Rav's proverbial penchant for curt.

So we did. His note basically said: "this avreich has had a long and blessed marriage, with successful chareidi kids, bli ayin ha'ra, but now his wife suddenly wants out. She even turned to a notorious modern orthodox feminist organization to help her heap wild claims against him in the state rabbinical court. He wants advice."

We get to his apartment on motzei Shabbos and are amazed to easily walk in to see him. He's hunched over his shtender, of course, learning. Note is presented, he asks a tiny clarification: Am I a Cohen? I say no. Not whatsoever. He frowns and makes a wave of dismissal. "So what do you need this for? Let her go."

I'm taken aback. I respond under my breath, and my neighbor will repeat it loud enough so he can hear it, that I'm worried about the integrity of my family, about my reputation, about the fact that someone so close to me is waging a smear campaign against me in court, with the help of some quasi-religious ideologues. And last but not least – I still feel love for her.

He frowns some more and tells me to daven. Then says the clincher: "BOO-AH"! 

Whoa. It felt like a bad joke, with a razor blade. My neighbor urges us to leave, and while on the way out explains: Its short for "Bracha v'Hatzlocho!" 


Ok. Gottit. But it really didn't feel ok. So I let it sink in, eventually realizing how symbolic it was. It's actually riveting in its clarity. The message: "I couldn't give a damn! You shouldn't either."

Truly mind-boggling to get such a message from a "Gadol". But there it was. "Why hold on to a woman who doesn't want you? Why not just let her go already. Boo-ah!"

To be sure, many far from Gadolim say it too. I heard divorce court judge say: "it doesn't matter if she's right, and it doesn't matter if you feel your life and that of the children will be seriously diminished if the marriage is dismantled the way she wants. If she wants out, you’re ABUSING HER to stand in her way!!"

Now let's get this clear. I'm not trying to knock Gadolim, chv"sh, and I certainly am not trying to belittle the idea that there are times to move on past a dying marriage. But I am devastated to realize that men within our holiest communities are being warned, on one extreme, that if their wife might feel that she is fed up with him – run after her and say: "here dear, please take this Get, with my blessing." 

On the other extreme –"Booh-ah". Spit on the marriage, and move on. 

Now, my friends – this is the rub. While I agree with the claim that women have the right to end an unhappy marriage, and men certainly have the right to sneer back, that's only if that's ALL she's seeking. Unfortunately, many women are claiming much more. They are using hyper sensitivities over how halacha makes them unfairly vulnerable, in order to demonize their man. For women with deep wounds in relation to the men of their childhood – that feels reeeel good. The Kabbalists call it klippa. 

Klippa, literally peel, is an energy which obstructs our capacity to deal with the "fruit" of a spiritual challenge. In our case, this klippa of divorce-on-demand mania deflects genuine problem solving intentions into dog-eat-dog legalities. Like when your formally very good friends and rabbonim, who once fully supported your pursuit of Sholom Bayis, start whispering: "why do you need this hassle?" 

My response, over and over again, is: "Because it's a MITZVAH. Sholom Bayis is in fact a MAJOR Mitzvah. Then there's the possibility, like in our case, that a marriage b'kedusha has an established positive track record which screams against the ethic that when the going gets rough – escape! How about the profound ingratitude to our Creator it is to chuck out such a blessing like a marriage without serious examination of the issues that led to its breakdown? Last but not least - I believe that divorcing with all the slander and demonization that my wife wants would cause irreparable damage to the kids and quite possibly our future generations."

They all hear. But eventually they sigh and say: "But is it really worth the hassle?"

And I know, deep inside, in their religious conscience, that they agree with my position. Some even admire it. It's just that in their outer, more "realistic" side, they can't resist the klippa of saying…                     BOO-AH.

My Experience with the Doubtful Mamzer by Rav Dovid Eidensohn

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pa. court reverses church official's landmark conviction for sexual abuse

USA Today     A Roman Catholic church official who has been jailed for more than a year for his handling of priest sex-abuse complaints had his conviction reversed and was ordered released Thursday.

In dismissing the landmark criminal case, a three-judge Superior Court panel unanimously rejected prosecutors' arguments that Monsignor William Lynn, the first U.S. church official ever charged or convicted for the handling of clergy-abuse complaints, supervised the welfare of any particular child.

Lynn, 62, is serving a three- to six-year prison sentence after his child-endangerment conviction last year. His lawyers will try to get him released as early as Thursday from the state prison in Waymart.

Prosecutors had argued at trial that Lynn reassigned predators to new parishes in Philadelphia while he was the archdiocese's secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. [...]

Making raped teens relive trauma is therapeutic

AP       [JAMA article]  It almost sounds sadistic - making rape victims as young as 13 relive their harrowing assault over and over again. But a new study shows it works surprisingly well at eliminating their psychological distress.

The results are the first evidence that the same kind of "exposure" therapy that helps combat veterans haunted by flashbacks and nightmares also works for traumatized sexually abused teens with similar symptoms, the study authors and other experts said.

After exposure therapy, 83 percent no longer had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. They fared much better than girls who got only supportive counseling - 54 percent in that group no longer had PTSD after treatment.

Girls who got exposure therapy also had much better scores on measures of depression and daily functioning than girls who got conventional counseling [...]

Dr. Helmreich's interviews with various Roshei Yeshiva

Allan Katz - summary - the differences between conditional and unconditional parenting

Guest post from Allan Katz
I posted a summary- chart on the differences between conditional and unconditional parenting -  ( short !!)

I think it is relevant to the parenting discussion. I don't mind parents or mechanchin choosing different educational or discipline styles  that focus on different things - compliance or autonomy/ intrinsic motivation. But not to confuse the goals or the parenting philosophy involved 
Here is a chart  summarizing the differences between conditional and unconditional parenting


Differences between Conditional and Unconditional Parenting

Conditional Parenting
Focus                                                    Behavior
View  of  Human  nature                     Negative
View of Parental Love                         A privilege to be earned
Strategies                                            ''  Doing to ''  - control via rewards , punishments etc

Unconditional Parenting
Focus                                                  Whole child ( including reasons, thoughts, feelings )
View of Human nature                       Positive or balanced
View of Parental love                         A gift
Strategies                                            ''  Working with '' (  collaborative problem solving )

Conditional Parenting or Typical View of Difficult Children:

 Guiding Philosophy: “Children do well if they want to”.
  Explanation: Children’s difficult behavior is attention-seeking or aimed at coercing adults into “giving in”.
 Goal of treatment: Induce children to comply with adult directives.
  Tools of treatment: Use of reward and punishment programs to give children incentive to improve behavior.
 Emphasis: Reactive focus on management of problematic behavior after it has occurred.
Unconditional Parenting -Dr. Greene,Ablon  Collaborative Problem Solving Approach  View:
  Guiding Philosophy: “Children do well if they can”.
  Explanation: Children’s difficult behavior is the byproduct of a learning disability in the domains of flexibility, adaptability, and frustration tolerance.
  Goal of treatment: Teach children lacking cognitive and emotional skills.
  Tools of Treatment: Teach children and adults how to work towards mutually satisfactory solutions to problems underlying difficult behavior.
  Emphasis: Proactive focus on solving and preventing problems before they occur.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Erosion of trust is the root of all Divorce impasses.

guest post by  MH

I am a man who for the past year has been personally enveloped in a contentious disputed divorce initiated by my wife. In recent weeks I have met and spoken to several men who for one reason or another are refusing to give their wives a religious divorce, effectively creating a religious equivalent to, self-directed and self- imposed civil contempt.

What I personally learned early on in the divorce process is that when a woman today asks for a divorce, what they are really trying to accomplish is to divorce from the husband not only themselves but their children, property and future earnings. In the secular courts a man has no voice, with a few lies and twisted truths a woman can easily accomplish her divorce, effectively reducing the man to visitor status (often supervised) in his children's life and financial ruins.

The question begs how the situation erodes to the point where a husband refuses to give his wife a religious divorce?

The answer can be summed up into three words “erosion of trust”.

Jewish law dictates that a man does not have to give his wife a divorce just because she demands it, this is a power and property given to man by G-d and no one has the right to question G-d. If we chose to be religious then we chose to abide by G-d’s laws period!

There are situations where a legitimate Beis-Din can try to coerce a man to grant his wife a divorce but it seems legitimate Rabannim are scarce, the laws regarding those situations are very strict and the correct lawful coercion methods are very limited and mostly ineffective.

A common theme among all the men I have spoken to whom are in this (Agunah \ civil contempt) stalemate situation, have all with their own words and stories described to me a similar process. They were all forced unwillingly to travel a path in the gender biased secular courts that systematically and effectively destroyed them personally whilst simultaneously eroding any and all trust in their wives to the point where they can no longer trust them at all. Just like the civilized world has learned that we cannot negotiate with terrorists, trusting their wives has  become impossible much akin to terrorists.

The secular courts open door policy to all women especially to the orthodox women that they see as repressed, creates a state where once trust has evaporated a man has almost no other alternative other than to use the one G-d gave him.

The deeper a man proceeds into the bowls of the corrupt, skewed and gender biased secular courts, the more the trust erosion proceeds uninhibited. There is a point during this process that I have termed uncivil-divorce critical mass, once that point is reached there seems to be almost no way to return and trust has probably gone for good.

Without trust negotiations are futile. Without trust there is no point in arguing because without trust the wife is viewed as a terrorist and therefore any and all attempts to negotiate is futile. If a woman has tasted the sweet waters of the secular divorce court very little can be done to stop her from returning even after mutually agreed settlement's.

The solution to all these divorce stalemates on both sides of the sexes is to prevent the erosion of trust before it can even begin and in the cases that it has already occurred to try and fix the trust breach before attempting to negotiate or mediate a settlement.

To Correct or Not to Correct by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

“Er Zogt!”

“No he didn’t.  I was listening!”

“Whaddya talking about?  It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine.  Why are constantly butting your nose into..”

Most of us have heard this conversation countless times in Shuls across the country.  The conversation deals with the Shabbos morning reading of the Torah and addresses the issue of whether it is necessary to correct the reader of the Torah or not.  

The Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim 142:1) writes, “If he read and erred, we make him go back.”  The Ramah adds the qualification that it is only if it changes the meaning of the matter.  If there is no change in meaning, however, we do not make the correction.

What is an example of changing the meaning?  If the error was changing Yaaseh to Ye=awe-she, or vice versa, we do correct it. [...]

If it is a Shabbos morning and it is a Bar Mitzvah bochur who is reading, the shul should make every effort that on the Gabbaiim in the front standing next to the Bar Mitzvah bochur should be correcting.  Young men are usually quite embarrassed when they are the recipients of corrections.

So what should we do during the weekday? The issue, of course, should be presented to the Rav of each respective Minyan.  However, here are some suggested guidelines: If the reader is a person who will not be embarrassed, and he is not just saying this but really means it, then he should be corrected in order to fulfill the latter part of the Biur halacha.  If there is any question whatsoever, however, then we should not do so.  If there are not ten verses otherwise, then we should make the correction. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rav Chaim Kanievsky allegedly invalidates all witnesses to marriage and divorce - who have an iPhone

Kikar haShabbat  update by a reader - "He also said that if the Hashaka in a Mikva was done by someone with a smart phone - he is posul for the job. Not clear if the Mikva is Pasul. This would apparently create many many Bnei Nida. I dont know if the tevila was done by someone with an iPhone, if the Tevila works. and what about a Mohel? Mashgiach Kashrut (they all have)"

פסק הלכה שמיוחס למרן שר התורה הגאון רבי חיים קנייבסקי, קובע כי משתמשי מכשירי אייפון פסולים לעדות נישואין וגירושין. "אם היה עד, אפילו בדיעבד, צריך לקדש או לתת גט עוד פעם" כתב יו"ר הוועד לטוהר התקשורת ששמע את הפסק מפיו של הרב קנייבסקי. האם אלפי נישואין וגירושין לא תקפים הלכתית?

דרמה הלכתית: פסק הלכה חדש שיוצא ממעונו של מרן שר התורה רבי חיים קנייבסקי, קובע כי יתכן ואלפי עמך בית ישראל שנישאו והתגרשו דרך הרבנות אינם נשואיםגרושים על פי ההלכה. הסיבה? חלקם של אנשי המועצות הדתיות מחזיקים במכשיר האייפון.
במכתב שהוציא הרב אהרון פיינהנדלר - יו"ר "הוועדה לטוהר התקשורת" והגיע לידי 'כיכר השבת', הוא מצטט את הגר"ח קנייבסקי שאמר כי: "כל מי שיש לו אייפון, אינטרנט פרוץ וכדומה פסול לעדות קידושין וגירושין, אם הנ"ל היה עד, אפילו בדיעבד, צריך לקדש אותו או לתת גט עוד פעם".
הגר"ח קנייבסקי הוסיף ואמר - לדברי הרב פיינהנדלר, כי "מי שעושה הכשרה (השקה) למקווה של טבילת נשים, וכן האישה המטבילה, פסולים לתפקיד שלהם אם הם מחזיקים במכשירים הנ"ל".
יצויין, כי חלק ניכר מאנשי המועצות הדתיות שלא בהכרח משתייכים לזרם החרדי השמרני, מחזיקים במכשירי אייפון או באינטרנט שאינו מסונן. כמו כן, בחתונות רבות, ובמיוחד במגזר שאינו חרדי, האנשים שמתכבדים בעדות עשויים להחזיק ברשותם טלפון חכם, לפי דברי הגר"ח קנייבסקי אותם מביא הוועד לטוהר התקשורת, הקידושין (או הגירושין) אינם תקפים.
Rabbi Feinhandler in action

Monday, December 23, 2013

HaRav Eliashiv Protests Improper Methods Of Coercion In Gittin

Dei'ah veDibur   9 Sivan 5765 - July 6, 2005 

A number of serious incidents have sparked a stormy debate among the halachic authorities of America and gedolei haTorah have asked HaRav Eliashiv to express his opinion. He responded, "They have permitted married women to remarry contrary to Torah law Rachmono litzlan . . . I join the aforementioned rabbonim and geonim in protesting this breach in the ranks of Beis Yisroel. It is quite clear that any discussion about coercing a husband to grant a get should only be held in a beis din composed of rabbonim who are expert Torah scholars, that has an established reputation and whose authority the public accepts."

The furor currently rocking American Jewry has long since spread beyond America and Canada. It has now reached Eretz Yisroel, where the opinion of HaRav Y. S. Eliashiv was sought with the intention of preventing serious damage to the yichus of the Jewish people through the activities of American rabbinical figures who have been scandalously granting married women permission to remarry on the basis of gittin obtained by coercion.

"The situation in America is absolutely terrible in this respect; it is possibly worse than the case of the mamzerim that took place in Eretz Yisroel around thirty years ago," says a pained HaRav Shlomo Eliyahu Miller, Rosh Kollel and Av Beis Din of Kollel Toronto, Canada, in a special interview with Yated Ne'eman. HaRav Miller has undertaken the task of rectifying the situation in order to avert tragic long-term consequences.
Several weeks ago Rav Miller sent HaRav Eliashiv a letter to which many American gedolei Torah and halachic authorities affixed their signatures: HaRav Eliyahu Levin, Rosh Kollel Choshen Mishpot of Lakewood, HaRav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshivas Lakewood, HaRav Eliyahu Dov Wachtfogel, rosh yeshivas South Fallsburg, HaRav Meir Hershkowitz, rosh yeshivas Stanford, HaRav Yechiel Tauber Av Beis Din of Kollel Machon Hora'ah of Monsey and HaRav Dovid Shustal, rosh yeshivas Lakewood.

The issue under discussion — serious practices involving gittin, to the point where married women have been permitted to remarry while they are halachically not yet divorced.

The text of HaRav Miller's letter reads:

I am writing to Maran with a request that we hear his opinion on a matter of the utmost importance. Untenable things have already been done in America to free married women through coerced gittin after a beis din convened and deliberated in the husband's absence and ruled that he should be coerced, though he was not present (even in a case where he was agreeable to appearing before another beis din that the woman's side did not want to go to).
"Maran has already ruled that no discussion should take place in the absence of the parties, following the ruling of the Shach in Choshen Mishpat siman 13:8. Such a get [extracted after an unlawful discussion] is therefore an unlawfully coerced get, even if there were halachically valid reasons for the coercion. In fact, it seems that the coercion itself was carried out unlawfully, apart from the [problem of the] discussion about it having been held in the husband's absence, in that they conduct their deliberations in secret and do not reveal their reasons for [allowing] the coercion. Now everything is done in secret, without [even] revealing the name of the beis din that permitted the coercion.
"If we do not issue a public declaration stating that no discussion on [implementing] the law of coercing the husband may be held in his absence, the time will soon come when it will be considered permissible to do just that. We will have a situation where it will be absolutely impossible to repair the breach. The situation in America with regard to permitting married women to remarry is dreadful. Irresponsible individuals dissolve the serious prohibition of a married woman's entering into another relationship on the basis of retroactive dissolution of her first marriage, invoking all kinds of feeble supports as well as by issuing rulings in the husband's absence that he should be coerced and by invoking a whole range of weak arguments.
"I am therefore asking Maran his opinion, to be issued as a notice in a similar form to the above, announcing publicly that any and all rulings to coerce the husband that beis din issued in his absence are unlawful and have no validity, to be signed by roshei yeshiva and rabbonim who obey the Torah's call.[...]
After giving the matter extensive consideration, HaRav Eliashiv sent his reply to the American and Canadian rabbonim. He wrote:

"The gaon HaRav Shlomo Eliyahu Miller and the rabbonim and geonim with him wrote to me about the terrible breach whereby people who are not fit to do so, presume to become involved in coercing the giving of gittin and that there have already been cases where they have ruled that the husband should be coerced when he has not been there to hear the case against him, and they have unlawfully permitted married women to remarry Rachmono litzlan. They have asked me to join them in publicly protesting this breach.

"I join the above rabbonim and geonim in this protest against the breach in the ranks of Beis Yisroel. It is quite clear that any discussion about coercing a husband to grant a get should only be held in a beis din composed of rabbonim who are expert Torah scholars, that has an established reputation and whose authority the public accepts."

What has led to this uproar? Have matters in America really reached the point where rabbonim permit married women to remarry on the basis of gittin that have been unlawfully obtained?

"The letter only contains a small example of the terrible state of affairs in America," HaRav Shlomo Miller told us, in a special call to Yated Ne'eman from Toronto. "Various people exert pressure to permit agunos [women who are separated from their husbands but are still lawfully married to them] to remarry in such a way that it is done in a very serious manner, without witnesses." [....]

"Mamzer Factory" or "Making Mamzerim" - explaining the use of these terms

I received a letter strongly attacking my brother and others who used such terms as "making mamzer" for a beis din that gives a get after the husband has been strongly pressured.

This is a partial excerpt of the letter:
PLEASE ask you brother and others to stop using the expression “ making mamzerim” it is beyond idiotic and is just inflammatory if you study the sugyot on BB47b 48a and gittin [88 correction] 68b; rambam 2gerushin20 with the KM you will find that no matter how compulsory the Get, it is pasul NOT batel on a torah-level she is divorced, even if we make her arrange another Get on a torah level there can be no mamzerim here look at the language of the rambam: even if the BD are wrong,even if they are amateurs, the get is “merely” pasul [there is no such thing as mamzerim drabanan]
now you will say “we don’t hold like the rambam , he’s a daas yachid" he’s not! all the geonim hold like the rambam, just that rabeinu tam couldn’t possibly know that we hold like rabbeinu tam. true, so we don’t currently follow the rambam, but making mamzeirim??!! control yourselves.


Guest post replying to this letter by Rav  Dovid Eidensohn [a full discussion of mamzerus and force is found in the article at the bottom in scribd]
I have written previously that coercing a husband to divorce in a way that is not sanctioned by the poskim makes mamzerim. Somebody asked if this is so how can I explain four things: BB47b,Gittim 68b,Rambam Gerushin 2:20 with Kesef Mishneh. And he adds, “You will find that no matter how compulsory the GET, it is pasul NOT botel on a Torah-level she is divorced, even if we make her arrange another GET on a Torah level there can be no mamzerim here. The writer adds other remarks and then suggests that when it comes to mentioning that one who is coerced to divorce produces mamzerim I should “control myself.” Well, I will try to control myself, and I will try to respond to the above points.
Let us begin with the last item and work backwards. First, the Rambam and the Kesef Mishneh. The Rambam says that a coerced divorce is void only by rabbinical decree and is kosher by the Torah’s standards. My article answers this with the Kovneh Rov’s teaching that the Rambam agrees that a coercion to divorce only helps in the Torah if the husband accepts the opinions of the sages who consign him to coercion. “It is a mitzvah to obey the sages.” But if the coercers are not respected by the husband, say in the cases that we discuss here, that some rabbis demand that people humiliate the husband and force a GET, and I tell the husband that the Rashbo, Radvaz, Beis Yosef and Chazon Ish forbid this and that the coercing rabbis are ignoramuses or worse, in such a case the husband does not obey the coercing rabbis and does not think they are his authorities. Therefore, the GET is invalid by the Torah not just the rabbis. And if the GET is invalid by the Torah, the children are mamzerim diorayso.
Next to last is Gittin 68b. There is nothing there about Gittin. It is full of higadito.
Next are two pages of gemora Bovo Basro 47b and 48a. I don’t know exactly what he wants with these two pages. I don’t want to invent his question and then answer it if he may have another problem. Let him say clearly what his question is. The best I can do is to say that he found on these pages a source for the Rambam who says that if the husband respects the rabbis who coerce him then the GET is kosher by the standards of the Torah. However, if the husband does not respect the rabbis such as in the cases I am dealing with the Kovna Rov says that the GET is not valid by Torah standards. Therefore, the gemora says that coercion can help because “it is a mitzvah to obey the sages.” But if the husband does not respect the sages, especially if his rabbis tell him he should not divorce and should not be coerced, the GET forced on him by the rabbis he does not respect is invalid by the Torah’s standards. Furthermore, the major source for this law of coercing a GET is in Gittin itself, where the gemora clearly disagrees with the Rambam’s opinion and the pages in Bovo Basro mentioned above. Therefore, major poskim say that the final opinion is that the GET is invalid by the Torah standard, as I present in the article.

Friedman Epstein: Tamar Epstein claims she is free - but her husband denies giving her a get

Times of Israel   Last week there was a weird news report from ORA that announced that Tamar Epstein was now free of her marriage to Ahron Friedman - but they refused to talk about the senstive details.

It soon became obvious why they didn't want to talk, when her husband Aharon Friedman denied giving his wife a get.

That leads to the obvious conclusion that Tamar did not in fact receive a get from her husband but rather she found some rabbis who were willing to follow in Rabbi Rackman's footsteps and announce the  marriage was a mistake and that she had never been married.

It is going to be very embarrassing when the details come out - because there is no legitimate basis for saying the marriage was never valid.

!ברוך מתיר אסורים
With tremendous gratitude to G-d for freeing the chained!

After scores of rallies, thousands of letters, 
and years of persistent advocacy and hopeful prayers...
We are very excited to announce that 
We are so happy for Tamar and her family, and relieved that this tragic saga has finally come to an end.

We would like to thank you for your support
in our fight for Tamar's freedom.

ORA: The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot 
www.getORA.org | 551 W. 181st St, #123, New York, NY 10033