Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Weiss Dodelson: A reader questions my objectivity and asks about blindly following rabbinic authority

The question of whether I am biased in the Weiss  Dodelson case has been raised a number of times - primarily from Dodelson's supporters. I just received a letter which clearly expresses this concern so I have copied it from the comments section to a separate post. It also asks what happens when moral imperatives contradict rabbinic pronouncements as expressed by the Tzitz Eliezer (14:98) as posted elsewhere

 R Eidensohn, u seem so great when it comes to the scourge of child abuse, yet here it seems like you are nogea be'davar. can u disclose whether you have a horse in this race (whether as family to the Weiss's or more generally with respect to withholding Get's in the case of Ma'os Aly?). Per your point here from the Tzitz Eliezer, i wonder if u would have a problem if a Rebbe said that its a mitzvah to molest little boys (and your da'as should just be batul to the torah). if something is morally wrong in someone's eyes (assuming he isnt nogeah be'davar and cant adequately judge), Do you believe that Hashem will have Tayna for his refusing to accept that the Torah and Hashem's will is different than the way that a bunch of man have decided how to interpret words that can clearly be interpreted otherwise? This is not clearly biblical/divine, but many drashot and interpretations.
 My answer:
To answer your first question my concern is with halacha and yoshrus. The Torah requires you not to stand idly by the blood of your fellow man. In this case the issue is a clear halacha that when a woman unilaterally leaves her husband taking their child and saying "you are not a bad person just not for me" that there is no obligation for the husband to give a get. The kol koreh that was produced as well as the siruv that was issued is halachic nonsense.
I am not related to the Weiss's and I have posted over the years criticism of Rav Reuven Feinstein's involvment with Tropper. I have criticized Rav Ahron Schecter for his involvment in the Hersh case. I have criticized Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky regarding Tropper, reporting child abuse and support of Tamar Epstein etc etc.

Why aren't you accusing the signers of the kol koreh being nogea be'davar? Why aren't you accusing Lakewood's leadership of going out of their way to support a relative - when there is no halachic justification? Why aren't you criticizing the Dodelson's for conductng a smear campagin which has no precedent in American Jewish history?

Why is your only suspicion
that I must be nogeah be'davar because I am presenting both sides of the story - including the massive halachic material which supports the Weiss's?! Perhaps you are noge'ah bedavar because you are supporting the Dodelson's and can't understand that there is another side of this story?

If you have been following this blog you are aware that I have extensively covered the Friedman Epstein case for the same reason.

Your second point is a very important question. The simple answer is that of course it is wrong as I have fully documented in my books on child abuse and my postings on this blog. In fact this goes back to your first question. I am concerned with the abuse of rabbinic authority when it is used to demand that people do things which are against the halacha.

Rabbi Rakeffet once told me that Rav Solveitchik was upset by the passive acceptance of rabbinic authority in Europe that led to the death of many during the Holocaust and therefore he encouraged independent thinking.

There has to be a balance between obeying rabbinic authority which is unsupported by halachic texts or mesora and following moral principles and halachic knowledge. That balance is what I am striving to ascertain in the various cases presented on this blog.

There is a Kotzer maaseh that a major talmid chachom was visiting the Rebbe. When he came to shul Shabbos morning the Rebbe gave him a kiddush cup and told him to make kiddush before davening. He initially protested but was ordered in front of the entire shul to make kiddush by the Rebbe himself. He took the cup and started in a shaky voice to say kiddush. The Rebbe knocked the cup out of his hand and said,"Don't you know this is not the time for kiddush?"

Bottom line we are all soldiers in G-d's army but sometimes one is required to disobey orders from one's commanding officers - that are clearly wrong. Of course one has to be prepared to suffer the consequences if he is wrong and sometimes even if he is right. 


  1. Dont stand idly by the blood of your brotherDecember 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    A beautifully articulated response to your critics Rav Eidesohn. You have shown courage in defending the truth when so few show any willingness to stand for righteousness. And you have also shown fairness by giving your most vitiolic opponents a forum to be heard on you blog. May Hashmem bless you for your steadfastness in defense of yashrut halacha and justice

  2. Yasher Koach R. Doniel Eidensohn.

  3. R Eidensohn-
    I apologize if this was something you addressed in an earlier post. Can you clarify the position you maintain regarding a woman who feels trapped in a marriage.
    I think everyone can agree on a few salient points:
    a- The pressure to marry early, and often after only a few weeks of meeting a person, will yield many "wrong" matches.
    b- It is better that when a couple have irreconcilable differences both sides deserve freedom to go on with their lives.
    c- the corruption of batei din is a "davar yaduah" and many people are concerned when dealing with a B"D.
    With these ideas in mind (if you disagree with these assumptions, please respond) what is a woman supposed to do if she is trapped in a loveless marriage? Is she supposed to remain trapped? Is applying terms "moredet" really applicable? Do we really believe nowadays a woman is "commanded" to "obey" her husband? Can she only apply for divorce if he agrees? Another term that I have seen on your site and others is "maus aly." I also think that term is antiquated in our society. Meaning, a woman who doesn't want to live with her husband should not be forced to. Also her choice not to remain married in no way compromises her claims to custody and support. Also using a get as financial leverage is inherently unfair because the bias is on the man's side.
    Towards a solution, I don't understand why every B"D can not demand a get and then hold the p'tur until the the resolution of the conflict? Lastly, when there is no unified B"D system what koach does one court have over another to force anyone to do anything? What are your solutions to preventing the next agunah?

    1. you use the term nowadays. sorry but torah hasn't changed nowadays. torah is for all days. what is a person supposed to do if he is born a mamzer nowadays. what is a person supposed to do if his milk falls into meat nowadays. what does nowadays have to do with anything. what is a person supposed to do if she is born a woman and wants to be a rav or rosh yeshiva nowadays. if the torah says maus alai is not entitled to a get then she is not entitled. she should work to make a get appealing to her husband - give him custody - give him support...and by the way it is very obvious that rabbi eidensohn has a tremendous bias. he has a bias against fraud, fakers and anyone who doesn't respect totah misinai and against anyone who doesn't understand that torah applies to everyone even rosh yeshivas and rich people. such bias such chutzpah rabbi eidenson has

    2. yes Daniel your questions have been discussed in great detail in previous posts

      I am not going into a repeat that which is readily available by reading past posts and discussion. Let me just state something which you have failed to include in your list of important concerns.

      When two people marry - whether it is because of an arranged match, 6 dates, 4 years of dating or living together for 5 years - there is a possiblity that one or both will feel that they could do better after 1 day or 20 years. The question now is what should be the response if your daughter or son come to you after 6months or a year after marriage and say - "I don't want to spend the rest of my life with him/her. He/shey bore/irritate/repulse me and I feel I can do better because obviously this is not my beshert."

      You refer to such couples as "trapped". You might be aware there is a profession called marital counseling which in fact deals with couples with such problems. Many times it is possible to change the relationship to a positive one. Marriage is usually not something that works without effort. For some that effort has to be primarily in the beginning and others need constant vigilance and others have marriages fall apart after 30 years. Rav Shlomo Zalman once agreed that a particular couple with mental health issues could get married but only on the condition that they agreed to go to marriage counselling for 20 years. I know a young lady who decided she had made a mistake after a week of marriage because she thought her husband's nose looked funny.

      It is clear that the halacha does not accept the idea of divorce on demand - something which according to secular society for the last 20 years - is a G-d given right. It is expected in halacha that a couple who have married - especially if they have children - will not simply walk about from marital difficulties but will work on shalom bayis or marital harmony. This is important because it is clear that there is no such thing a divorce which doesn't have negative consequences - especially on children. Your question is really only relevant after all avenues to achieve shalom bayis have failed.

      In the present case Gital walked out of the marriage after 10 months and one child. Dispite the pleading of her husband to make the marriage work - she agreed only to go to a therapist of her choice for no more than 4 sessions. The therapist said the marriage could be saved. Gital said she wasn't interested in saving the marriage. She left him saying "you are not a bad person just not for me".

      What I am saying is that the halacha puts great emphasis of a stable family. That is really the issue - not the involvement of beis din. If obtaining a get is easy - there is no stability to family life. (And that has a negative ripple effect on the community.) There is no motivation to work at marriage. It is the Hollywood values system. As long as bells are ringing and birds are singing you know that this the right relationship.When the excitement dims that proves that it is time to move on to another relationship. One Californian said, "When your wife turns 30 it is time for a change." That is not the Jewish way!

    3. I made this question and comment into a new post


  4. You can't be saying that the interpretation of halacha is subject to one's feelings of justice and fairness even if the person is not fit to judge the issue from a Torah and lomdus point of view. This would permit the evil of allowing a bent towards feminism to twist halacha such as removing the bracha of osani keritzono and would constitute following chukas haakum according to Rav Dovid Cohen.

    The Torah is pure and complete and allows for broad interpretation when one is at a high enough level to interpret it in the light of the Gedolim of previous doros and proper respectful analysis by competent Talmidei chachomim. However, external impure gut feelings and impulses from external points of view are purely traif.

  5. There are two things. One is the process of halacha, say the process of the Mishne and the Gemora, and those who review the opinions about a topic and make a decision how to behave. In this, the rule is to follow the greatest of the opinions, or the majority of the opinions, or the most logical of the opinions, or we may be influenced by how urgent the issue is. Another issue is when we have an established Torah authority who is accepted by the community. In such a case, when the Rov says something, it may be binding on everyone because of Kovode HaTorah, as the Rashbo says in I:253. There is a story when the Vilna Gaon told someone that the food was not kosher and the Rov of Vilna said it was kosher. The Rov came to the Vilna Gaon and demanded that he eat it and the Gaon began to eat it, but tallow from a candle fell into the food and it became treifeh. Thus, the Vilna Gaon was obligated to follow the opinion of the Rov who was accepted by the community, even though the Vilna Gaon was much greater. Another issue is when we know that the Rov erred. We find a masechteh Horiyuse about Beth Din HaGadol making errors. The Noda Biyehuda says that such a pesak, a mistake, is not a pesak, it is nothing. If so, why did the Gaon not eat? But he would have violated the honor of the Torah by insulting the Rov publicly. But in private, perhaps there is no obligation to obey the Rov when you know he erred. I once asked Reb Yaacov Kaminetsky about these halochose and he told me that we can obey the Chasam Sofer and Noda Bieyhuda even if we think they are wrong, because they were accepted by all Israel. But not the Chazon Ish or Mishneh Berura. Perhaps today, the new generation may treat the Mishneh Berurah and the Chazon Ish with a respect that includes them, but that is just a thought to be studied.

  6. Regarding holding a ptur in "escrow', oftentimes the hudband remarries while the wife cannot. Extreme feminist groups thus opppse this procedure besides those that harras the rov/bet din holding the get.

    Also, there is a case pending now where the rov's assistsn decided on his own to get theget out of the rov's office and give it to the wife (there was a few million dollars in real estate involved.) When the husband (and the rov) found out, the wife was told the get is not valid, but the truth is if she marries , its perfectly valid

    1. I don't know the story but if the husband left it in escrow it can only be given by the designated messenger. If someone gave her the get and was not the designated person the get is not valid. Again, I don't know the story. If however the get was already given and the paper that was given was merely the ptur then you are correct.

  7. I could understand you if you fought mainly against the firing of the uncle and father from artscroll.

    But the emphasis of your campaign, as you explicitely state in this thread too, is that a wife should stay in a marriage when she feels trapped. And that is wrong. And it is the precondition for domestic abuse.

    And the problem is that the husband has more power to unilaterally trap the wife than vice-versa.

    A man whose wife withholds the get can still have affaires, in some cases he can even get married.

    A wife whose husband withholds the get can do nothing. But her husband, while withholding the get, can have affairs and even get married.

    So under the bottom line, what you preach will have the effect of retaining trapped wives, but not trapped husbands, since they have more liberty to start with.

    Hence my conclusion that you promote domestic abuse.

    1. Per Halacha, a wife is not entitled to a divorce simply because she wants to end the marriage.

  8. If there are children, who decided that they have no rights? The gemora clearly feels that they do have rights.

  9. Very interesting -
    but how did the Tzitz Eliezer justify some of his decisions which apparently were teleological rather than strict adherence to established halacha?


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