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." [....]


  1. It is a bit rich reading this article, considering that one of the greatest mamzer factories was created by Dayan Sherman who decided - without protest from Gedolim - to annul thousands of giurim, without looking at them individually; and his colleague Dayan Attias who told a married woman she doesnt need a get. So, as far as the Dei'ah ve Dibur/Yated world is concerned, there are good mamzerim and bad mamzerim. the good mamzerim are teh ones they produce themselves. Another mamzer factory was R' Elyashiv's grandson in law R Kook, who involved himself in numerous gittin, producing invalid gittin and unknown numbers of mamzerim. These are good mamzerim, because of the protekzia the factory owners have. i.e. halacha is flexible, when you knwo the right people.

    1. That incident is all Druckman's fault. Though there were never any issues of mamzeirim anyways in all that. Druckman was vacationing in Europe all the while he was signing documents that he supposedly converting Russian goyim in Israel in beis din in Israel while he was vacationing in Europe. And these Russian goyim, to boot, never kept their first Shabbos or a single mitzvah after their alleged conversion.

    2. Ben Torah,
      Each case has to be evaluated individually. ROY approved of the Druckman conversions. Certainly the approval of someone of his stature should give you pause before declaring them all void.

    3. This is not a judgement on a particular case, it's on an entire class of geirus. When an entire class of people (based on origin and motivation, in this case) do not keep mitzvos, it is a fair assumption that the geirus was a sham to begin with Ariel Sharon set quotas for Russian immigrants to convert, in order to maintain the state's "Jewish" identity. The Russians' motivation for going along with it was for citizenship and army purposes. The Russians' motivation for going along with it was for citizenship and army purposes. Their "kabalas ol mitzvos" was a complete formality and a sham. Their insincerity was evident from the outset, and they were completely nonobservant from the moment their "conversions" were done. Their "kabalas ol mitzvos" was a complete formality and a sham. Their insincerity was evident from the outset, and they were completely nonobservant from the moment their "conversions" were done.

    4. No Ben, there was one clerical error when R' Druckman was in Europe. So you expand it, giving eidut sheker, that Druckman was always in Europe.
      Next, "he supposedly converting Russian goyim in Israel in beis din in Israel ". Yeah, right, Since you can't convert jews, then the object of a conversion, by necessity, must be a goy.
      Oh, so you "know" that none of the thousands kept a single mitzvah? How do you know this, by survey? Or by reading yated? Even Dayan Sherman didnt know this, he did not look at the files of any single convert, and he nullified en masse, cases that he had know knowledge of. This is a mockery of the entire Hareid world, its over-reaction to the Langer case, and it calls into question whether Sherman is actually carrying out his duties of dayanut according to halacha.

    5. M and Ben,
      You raise some serious concerns which, if true, would be very problematic. However, when ROY was made aware of those concerns, he did not feel they were legitimate. He backed up R' Druckman. None of the other people even spoke to him.

      R' Druckman's conversions are way way more legitimate than Langer and in that case, the very case which caused Rav elyashiv to quit the rabanut.

    6. Langer kept 100% from the time of his conversion. There was never even the slightest doubt of his Jewishness until Mr. Goren needed some kind of tool to kasher his mamzers.

    7. Tuli,
      That is not true at all. Read the facts of the case. He couldnt even finish the sentence "Shema Yisrael..." Surely a man who kept 100% would have said that pasuk thousands of times a year. There is overwhelming evidence against what you are saying. Even so, I am not supporting Goren. I am saying that Sherman and Elyashiv are invalidating conversions that are much stronger than Langer and that is a hypocrisy.

    8. Tuli - you are talking nonsense, Firstly, Langer was the jewish by birth guy who maried the woman and was hence suspected of producing mamzerim. The "ger" was called Borokovsky. he was a Polish goy, who kept nothing.
      He kept 100% treif. They lived in the jewish girl's parent's attic, and cooked chazir in the bathroom.
      Next, he was tested by Bosei Din, he was unable to complete the sentence "Shema Yisrael...". So he knew less, and kept less than the alleged "russian goyim" that Mr Sherman has posulled.
      Borokovsky was just a pawn caught up in a game between old enemies , R Elyahsiv and the Steipler on one hand, and R Goren on the other.
      It is clear that this kind of machlokes is still goign on today, but now it it within the Litvish camp, eg between R Kanievsky jr. and R' Auerbach jr. The insults going back and forth between these Lithuanian towns are more severe than what they ever dared to crack against R Goren.

    9. Borokovsky, although a non observant goy who ate treif, did have a Jewish son, since his "wife" was Jewish. His son had a barmitzvah. From this, the BD considered him to be Jewish. I have no desire to criticise the original BD in this case - it was formed of 3 major Gedolim who represented 3 important sectors of Orthodoxy - ROY - sephardic; RSYE - Haredi ashkenazi, and R' Shaul Yisraeli - Dati Leumi. If anything I would be critical of R' Goren's chutzpah of going against such a mega-BD. My point is that you can't have it both ways - if Langer kids were mamzerim, then thousands of Sherman kids may also be mamzerim.

    10. Borokovsky always kept halacha. There was never any question as to his religiosity. It only became an issue when Goren was looking to invent an issue.

    11. Dress - from where do u get your facts? The Yated story? Yes, they claim he was a Jew in every respect, but it is untrue to say he always kept halacha. He was treif and didnt know anything. He went to shul sometimes, but that doesn't mean he kept halacha - was a social club for him. the issue is that in those days, dayanim did not like to annul giur, but today they do it willy nilly.

      Now it is an old story and quite a long one. Nobody has said that Borok'y kept halacha. The dispute is over whether or not his giur was valid or not.
      The proof that this is political is from dayan Sherman's wholesale annulments of geirim he knew nothing about. If you were to be intellectually honest - which I know is difficult for Yated readers, you would see that Dayan Sherman did exactly what R Goren did, but 1000x as much - and he still had support form Dayan Elyashiv.
      I say it's all political - and by the way, so did Rav Henkin.

    12. Eddie is correct. I think ROY is the only one consistent on this issue. He opposed the annulment in the Langer case and in the Sherman case.

      That said, we should not be disrespectful of Goren. He was an illui. Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer stood up when he walked in the room at the age of 18!

    13. Mr. Borokovsky was fully shomer Torah u'Mitzvos from the time of his conversion until his death.

    14. Sorry Joe, you havent read the facts of the case. Even RYSE would agree that he was no longer shomer Torah. Nobody disputed that.

    15. Actually a long time ago I did speak to Rav Eliashev, and he personally said in my presence that Borokovsky was fully shomer Torah u'Mitzvos from the time of his conversion until his death.


  3. What is the difference, if any, under halacha between a get that is coerced without proper halachic grounds and a marriage that is ruled invalid without proper halachic grounds?

    1. Puzzled:

      A get that is coerced without proper halachic grounds means the original marriage is still in effect and she remains an eishes ish.

      A marriage that is ruled invalid without proper halachic grounds means the original marriage is still in effect and she remains an eishes ish.

  4. Lakewood YeshivahmanDecember 23, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    על אלה אני בוכיה. עיני עיני ירדה מים.
    How ironic. The same malkiel kotler who subscribed to ORA's dubious methods in the Dodelson saga.
    And yes the same Shlomo Miller who added his support to malkiel kotler's underhanded campaign to procure a non kosher Get for Dodelson.
    אוי לאותה בושה אוי לאותה כלימה.
    What times we are living in. ICH!
    If Moshiach doesn't come soon, I'm afraid he will have nothing to come to.

    1. I have never seen Rav Miller support Dodelson. What makes you think he did?

  5. Shaarei dmo'os lo ninaluDecember 23, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    R' Kamenetsky and R' MIller have already retracted the Kol Kore of machon lehoyro'o, and declared AMW is NOT a sarvan. AMW is truly entitled to a Mehadrin get, and does not want his son should be open to have psulin step-siblings in any case. Since doodle does not call the shots, she cannot pick and choose where and under what conditions, therefore, is not an agunoh. In fact, she is MEGAEN AMW, and ORA YSV should protest and have her comply!

    1. Shaarei: Where have you seen the rabbonim shlita retract the siruv or say he is not a sarvan?

    2. Lakewood YeshivahmanDecember 23, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      I saw a letter signed by Miller supporting the Dodelson position and calling AMW a me'agen. It ess circulating in Lakewood.

    3. Right here on this blog, couple of blogs back. They stated that serious negotiations have been going on that last two weeks, although it has been so since Adam, as pointed out by Rav Dovid Feinstein. Rabbi Miller was stated as a R' of Lakewood, and clarified by a blogger as from Toronto CA.
      @ L. Yeshivaman, after this blog disclosed rebuttal of R' Dovid, R' Miller retracted as per Daas Torah blog. I will try to search which blog soon soon.

    4. Daer Bloggers,
      Here is a partial of what I retrieved from past blog.

      Wednesday, December 11, 2013
      Weiss-Dodelson: A relative of the Weiss family protests against Dodelson's chilul Hashem
      Please keep in mind that Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky has declared that the Dodelson's need to stop their "smear campaign" against the Weisses. The facebook page is still up. The website is still up. The Dodelson's are making public that they used Reb Shmuel's Halachic knowledge to support their cause, and discarded and disregarded it when they had no further use for it.

      We need to stand against the Dodelson's not for the Weisses sake, but for the sake of our Torah and the Halacha that they are trampling.

      Please call the Dodelson's at the following numbers and ask them to follow Reb Shmuel's psak and take down the website and facebook page. If you are brave (or foolhardy?) post your name, your actual name on this webpage. Let us band together and show each other that those who follow Halacha can succeed.

      Please forgive, it is a painstaking search, and this is yet not the best snapshot, veidach zil ugmor. I am sure some bloggers can attest, as well as help you out.

      veitcha haslicha!

    5. Anything written can only be considered retracted via the written word. Anything less is plainly insufficient. The fact that a blogger claims there was a retraction is meaningless.
      I am sure there are many of rabbi Miller's supporters/family who were highly embarrassed by his position (a feeling they may be used to having) and, in an attempt to cover up for his abjectly pathetic "follow malkiel at all costs" position, will claim to have heard a retraction.
      Sorry, insufficient. If you want to be taken seriously, produce a written retraction, otherwise this claim will be banished to the scrapheap of hearsay.

    6. Sharei emes veyatzivDecember 24, 2013 at 4:51 AM

      Sorry, but I have read R' K's letter in it's entirety, in the original, signed by him yes, here on this very blog, you can ask both R' Eidensohns. No need to ask bloggers. I cannot use the general search, only by blogging each and every one in prior of this abovementioned date. You are more than welcome to do it yourself, as the good book says, mitzva boi yoiser mibeshlicho, fershteist. If you still don't care to believe me, ich vell blaiben un kein babben. And just one more request, once you have it confirmed, please acknowledge it, thank you.

    7. Shaarei demoos: Asher yomar alav ki hu zeDecember 24, 2013 at 6:09 AM

      Yogato motzoso taamin.
      Kindly google, and SEE Document of R' Kemenetsky of cease and desist.
      Bemide deavidei leisgaliyei, lo meshakrei inshei, vechi ma li leshaker?

      Monday, December 2, 2013
      Weiss Dodelson: Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky "Smear campaign against the Weiss Family should cease and desist"
      Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky released this letter on Friday November 29, 2013

      ..... LETTER .....

      Guest Post from a concerned friend of the Weiss Family

      This letter is far more important than one may think

      Rav Shmuel writes that “as of two weeks ago, serious negotiations have been underway to resolve the Weiss-Dodelson, dispute” and therefore the “public smear campaign against the Weiss family...should cease and desist. It is unacceptable."

      Weiss supporters are delighted that Rav Shmuel has taken a public stance after he and his son Rav Sholom have over the past two weeks experienced first hand how the Dodelsons “negotiate in good faith."


      Joe OrlowDecember 2, 2013 at 11:31 AM
      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
      Pursuit of HonestyDecember 9, 2013 at 6:47 PM

      Please answer some of the following questions: What were the hazmanos sent about? Did Weiss respond to those hazmanos or did ignore them? Was the bais din from Weiss' city? What right did the bais din have to write a siruv (based on the correct answers to the above questions)? Was there bitul siruv written? What was the Kol Korei based on? Who backed out of negotiations?
      Now in case you don't know the correct answers I'll gladly give you a short overview.
      The Bais Din sent hazmanos regarding Arkaos (not about a Get). Weiss responded to Bais Din saying that he chose a Borer. When Bais Din ignored his response - for some unknown reason - he said he would like to use Zablah. Halachicly both of those responses are enough to knock the Bais Din out, instead they ignored them and wrote a Siruv. Halachicly the Bais Din should be from the defendant's city, another reason why this Bais Din has no jurisdiction over this case. Since the Bais Din wrote a Siruv, the got a Bitul Siruv, so either way there is no current Siruv. So what was kol Korei written about? The case has nothing to do with a Get just yet. It's quite apparent that the Kol Korei was written with a complete misconception, and R' Shmuel's letter is testifying to that. There were negotiations going on for years but the Dodelsons chose to go to the post instead. See Rabbi Greenwald's 4 emails/letters, R' Dovid's psak, the hazmanos, the hasrah, the responses by Weiss to the bais din, the Siruv, the Kol Korei,
      R' Shmuel's letter, ====> R' Shlomo Miller's letter, <======

      the court documents, and most importantly the Shulchan Aruch, seder ha'Get with the Rama, for sources. And see ask of the above before responding!

      zehu ze! Yoter lo tuchal lachlov mimenu.

    8. Halo tishali Sharei dmoos ninali, palgei mayim yordi einay al lo shomru...December 25, 2013 at 4:56 AM

      @ Nat Sower,
      @ Lakewood Yeshivahman,

      Where is your hakoras hatov? Torah states veosiso es hayoshor vehatov. No thank you, no nothing? You were very makpid to see the written word, neise sefer venechzeh el mechzeh. I toiled, delivered the goods as promised and not even a toda? Ugh, ugh, ugh, vechi kach ossim libnei livay? Ayay yay yay....

  6. "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."

    Rav Gestetner disagrees. There are "some Rishonim" (we never found out who) who disagree and he has ruled that we follow those Rishonim, not the Shulchan Aruch or Rav Elyashiv.

    1. Rav Gestetner never said anything like that and he does not disagree.

    2. Read the Bitul Seruv for Aharon. He makes factual determinations on the basis of a diary entry without meeting or speaking to Tamar. I cited this as an example in which he is in violation of the Shulchan Aruch. Stan spoke to him and he said that if there is "raglayim ladavar" (her diary entry with no context whatsoever or chance to explain) he doesnt need to speak to her.
      He could have pointed out the procedural flaws and still be mevatel the seruv but he went further than that. He ruled and made determinations about Tamar without meeting the evidentiary standard Rav Elyashiv requires.

    3. It is funny how the haredi extremists disregard the SA when it does not agree with them or when they do not agree with it.

    4. The only ones I know who disregard S"A are the MO. And not even limited only to MO extremists; but rather mainstream MP pick-and-choose when to disregard S"A.

  7. We all know that, as he has stated many times, Rabbi Dovid Eidenson is an authority on everything because he is a musmach of Rav Elyashiv's. I wonder if anyone can tell me who the Rabbis who argue on his shitta in what is called a Get MeUsah are musmachim from, namely vis a vis Dodelson/Weiss, Rabbis Kamenetzky, Miller & say, Greenblatt?

  8. Reb Elyashev zt"l told me that any Beth Din that invents ways to coerce husband loses its assumption of being a kosher Beth DIn.


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