Monday, January 27, 2014

Yeshivat Chovevei Torah sponsors: Exploring New Halachic Solutions to the Agunot Crisis

Considering the sponsor I found it important to note that ORA's Rabbi Stern is a featured speaker. Obviously my posting should not be considered an endorsement of the conference, its speakers or the proposed solutions.

Yom Iyun: Exploring New Halachic Solutions to the Agunot Crisis

Sponsored by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School

Beginning February 01st, Ending February 02nd
Special_Event - Daily
Time - 9:30am till 11:40am
Location - OSTNS

Mark your calendars! Ohev Sholom will be hosting a significant Yom Iyun on Sunday, February 2. The speakers will be Rabbi David Bigman of Yeshivat Maale Gilboa in Israel, Rabbi Dov Linzer, Rosh Yeshiva and Dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, and Yaakov Roth of Jones Day. Our speakers will share their experiences working to help agunot, and present new solutions to the crisis plaguing the international Jewish community.

We will also have a Shabbaton that Shabbat, February 1, with Rabbi Jeremy Stern, who is the Executive Director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. Rabbi Stern will give the Dvar Torah on Shabbat morning, on "Hearing the Cry: The Role of the Community in Combating Abuse," and give a shiur during Seuda Shelishit, titled "Breaking the Chain: A Roadmap to Resolving the Agunah Crisis."

Schedule9:15 AM Bagel Breakfast9:30 - 10:15 AM Rabbi David Bigman10:20 - 11:05 AM Rabbi Dov Linzer11:10 - 11:40 AM Yaakov Roth

About our SpeakersRABBI DAVID BIGMAN
"Getting Out Without the Get: New Halachic Frontiers in Addressing the Agunah Crisis"
Rav David Bigman moved from suburban Detroit, Michigan to Israel to work the land in the spirit of the Zionist pioneers and to make it his home. Soon after his arrival, the leadership of the Religious Kibbutz movement took note of his prodigious knowledge, his open-mind, and his moral sensitivity and appointed him to head the movement's most important educational institutions. Rav Bigman was a founder of Midreshet Ein Hanatziv (one of Israel's first women's yeshivot), Rosh Yeshiva at Ein Tzurim, and for the last 17 years has served as Rosh Yeshiva at Ma'ale Gilboa. The combination of his classical Talmudic training as a student of Rav Israel Zev Gustman and Rav Aryeh Leib Bakst with Rav Bigman's intellectual curiosity and breadth makes for a fascinating approach to Torah study. In Rav Bigman's Beit Midrash, Rav Nachman of Bratzlav, Yishayau Leibowitz, Martin Luther King Junior and David Grossman -- to name just a few -- are all in dialogue. The creativity and innovation of Rav Bigman's teaching has drawn hundreds of students searching for a sophisticated and intellectually honest path in Torah. Rav Bigman currently resides on Kibbutz Maale Gilboa with his wife Ariella and family.

"The Threefold Cord is Not Easily Broken: Bringing the Proposed Solutions Together"
Rabbi Dov Linzer is the Rosh HaYeshiva and Dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, a groundbreaking Orthodox smicha program. Rabbi Linzer spearheaded the development of YCT to create an innovative four year smicha program which provides its students with rigorous Talmud Torah and halakhic study and sophisticated professional training in the context of a religious atmosphere which cultivates openness and inclusiveness.
Rabbi Linzer has published Halakha and machshava articles in Torah journals and lectures widely at synagogues and conferences on topics relating to Halakha, Orthodoxy, and modernity. Rabbi Linzer writes a weekly parasha sheet, and teaches a Daf Yomi shiur which is widely watched and listened to on YouTube and iTunes. He is most recently the awardee of the prestigious Avi Chai Fellowship and was the convener of the 2012 Modern Orthodox Siyyum HaShas.

"Agunot and the Role of Secular Courts"
Yaakov Roth graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2007, and subsequently clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is currently an Associate in the Issues & Appeals group at Jones Day, where he has worked on a number of matters relating to religious freedom and the First Amendment, including a pending challenge to New York City's regulation of ritual circumcision and an appeal on behalf of Kentucky prisoners seeking to exercise religious liberties. He and his wife, Arielle, are members of Ohev Sholom.

(Shabbaton Speaker)
Rabbi Jeremy Stern serves as the Executive Director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), an international nonprofit organization which advocates against the abuse of the get (Jewish divorce) process. Rabbi Stern received a B.A., a Master's in Jewish Education, and rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University, and a Master's in Public Administration specializing in Nonprofit Administration from Baruch College. With ORA, Rabbi Stern has been instrumental in resolving over 100 contentious Jewish divorce cases and in leading community-wide initiatives to assist women who are victims of get-refusal. Rabbi Stern lectures frequently on issues of domestic abuse, the interplay between the Jewish and American legal systems, and the role of the Jewish community in preventing and counteracting get-refusal.


  1. The issue is not Rabbi Stern, although he is a disciple of modern Orthodoxy. The issue here is much worse, because Yeshivat Choviveh Torah is Avi Weiss, who would be considered by people like us as outside of Orthodoxy. See Wikipedia about Avi Weiss who founded Yeshivat Chovivei Torah, and the comments there:
    Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, a trustee of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) on the Board of the Beth Din of America,[9] argues that Weiss' approach closely resembles early 20th century American Conservative Judaism and in his opinion would more aptly be called "Neo-Conservative" rather than "Orthodox" Judaism. Concluding an opinion piece in he states that "clarity and honesty at least demand that we recognize before our eyes the creation of a new movement in Jewish life outside the Orthodox world, one that we have seen before. It can be termed ... Neo-Conservatism. 'Open Orthodoxy' is a deceptive brand name, an advertising slogan, and an attempt to remain tethered to the Torah world to re-shape it from within, but far from the reality. The reality is that we are living through the rise of the Neo-Conservatives." [10] Chicago Rabbi Moshe Averick, a columnist for the Jewish magazine The Algemeiner Journal and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist, agrees with Pruzansky that Weiss has created a new Jewish movement in America, comparing him with Isaac Mayer Wise (founder of Reform Judaism) and Solomon Schechter (founder of Conservative Judaism in the United States). He compares Weiss's ordination of three women as Maharat on June 16, 2013, with the so-called Treif Banquet of 1883, which marked the split between Reform and Traditional Judaism in America. Says Averick: "Weiss' movement, a form of Judaism that enthusiastically embraces the ideologies of feminism and liberal-progressive-modernism while coating it with a strong Orthodox flavor, could accurately be labeled as Ortho-Feminist Progressive Judaism," but "the term coined by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky ... Neo-Conservative Judaism ... has managed to fit neatly into the slot to the left of Orthodox Judaism and to the right of Conservative Judaism

  2. Who really cares what these Reform YCTers come up with.

  3. R' Bigman is the most powerful force here, it seems to me. He was recently reported to be looking at setting up a new BD for solving agunot problems.
    The question is what will they actually propose?

  4. This is an interview with R' Bigman. He makes an interesting point about Mussar, and how it is different from the strictly Halacha only view of the CI.

  5. R' Landa on Aguna and Get

  6. There is a major person in that movement that I understand kisses the bride. I heard this from a rabbi who was at a wedding the major person officiated at. Is it true? Maybe the person just told me a lie. But as they say, "About you and me they don't make up such stories." True or not, if they make Orthodox weddings and use "new solutions" when there is no GET, they are making not new solutions, but mamzerim. Better that they live without kiddushin than to marry with kiddushin and make mamzerim. Does that mean I would perform a ceremony without kiddushin? I mean that I would tell these very leftist and modern people never to take Kiddushin, never. If they want to get married anyway, I would tell them to make a wedding ceremony of partnerships, the two, husband and wife, make a marriage ceremony whereby they both give each other rings or whatever, equals, equals, and each has half of the "marriage" which is not recognized by the Torah. But even so, people living together are assumed to want kiddushin so the act of being in the same house might make kiddushin, so the couple must get a Beth Din to insure that they clearly state and even sign a document with witnesses and accepted by the Beth Din that they do not want Kiddushin marriage. And furthermore, they should say that Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn told them that it is a sin to marry with Kiddushin and is a lesser sin to marry without kiddushin. And if you have a choice between eating two ham sandwiches or eating one ham sandwich, eat one ham sandwich, which is disgusting, but I would rather be disgusting than to make mamzerim. Now, that is really disgusting.

  7. I just finished a post about something "disgusting." Well, here is more. I got a phone call today from a single who has spent some part of his life looking here and there, and it seems he is not alone. But the news he told me is that people his age can't take it, and even Haredi looking Jews are showing up at hideous dances, etc. because they just can't take it any more. He is frum, but the former Orthodox or Haredi Jews who couldn't take it anymore and made the dances, etc., are the only place for people like him to go, or so he tells me, so some of them are really desperate and go. He asked me what a Haredi Jew can do when he can't take it any more? I told him that since we are talking about disgusting things, I am right at home in telling what I think has to be done. One, without marriage, it is a sin to do anything, period. And once somebody who was Haredi or who is haredi starts with filthy dances, etc., it is only a short way down the road to the worst things. I am an old man and a great-grandfather, but if I went into one of those places for two minutes, I would not come out whole. Such a place is abizrayhu digilui arayose and there is a serious question what you do when you can't control yourself from going to such a place. I don't want to talk about it. But it is about a bad as you can imagine, if that makes any sense.
    I suggested to this gentleman that he find somebody who is just as desperate as he is, but is a good candidate for maybe pleasing him as a person, and to get back to me. I told him that to go on like this without marriage is against the Torah. And here it is, the crux of what I said: Divorce is not a big sin, but people who live in sin without marriage live a process of Torah destruction. I told him that if there was a social situation that he described, it is real, and it requires a Rov to give guidance. Maybe we have to invent procedures and processes and blah blah blah, but only with marriage. And if there is a fear that the marriage will break down with no GET, I don't suggest marriage. Rather, I told him to find somebody that I can talk to and let us work out what we can.
    I once told some Orthodox leaning Conservative rabbis never to make kosher Kiddushin because there will not be kosher Gittin. And they accepted my idea about making a marriage of partnership which is invalid but there won't be mamzerim. I never said it wasn't a sin, but it isn't mamzerim.

    1. Reb Dovid, can you please be clearer what you are suggesting here may be possible bshas hadchak? I'm not following.

    2. Well, R' Dovid, it is fine for you to criticise and call things disgusting - and I know you criticize the learning only yeshiva circles, but there is a reality, and some of it is created by bad marriages; some by society , and some by bad rabbis.
      You call these dances "disgusting", but the shiduch crisis is also disgusting. so is the Yeshiva and Outreach rabbis who destroy people's lives and income, as if stealing. when people are left without income then they cannot get married.
      Next, the idea of separating sexes is also disgusting. It creates a virtual Homosexual society. And rabbis promote homosexuality by their so called "holiness" and separation, becasue young men and women should naturally meet each other and learn about the opposite sex. Homo is the most severe sin in the Torah, whereas mixed dancing is not even forbidden in the Torah.

    3. Eddie your logic is fraying badly. Why don't you start complaining about G-d putting man in an impossible situation and that it would have been better if we hadn't been created.

      Calling the separation of the sexes as disgusting is astounding. Folowling your logic we should have coed living arrangments for singles and coed yeshivos - since separated education is also "disgusting" according to your vision.

    4. Eddie,
      Reb Elchonon Wasserman came to Baltimore to raise money for his Yeshiva. He was told that the way to make money was to sponsor a mixed dance. He had all of the rabbis in Baltimore sign a paper that it was forbidden. And he quoted a Morech Nevuchim that a public practice like that was a capital crime. It is also avizrayhu digilyu arayose.

    5. I don't know about logic, but if you have a Talmud and a Shulchan Aruch, mixed dancing is a hideous crime. It may require martyrdom.
      To return to logic, some modern educators are beginning to realize that students do better in classes where the sexes are separate. Very few classes are separate, but the ones that are not could do better if they were separate.
      Somebody once told Rav Elyah Lapian that he was not distracted by women even if they are not dressed properly. Rav Lapian asked him for his mother's name to pray for a sick person. The man protested that he was not sick. Rav Lopian replied, "I am almost ninety years old and I am blind in one eye, and yet, women distract me. And you are a youngster and are not distracted? You must be very sick."

    6. RDE -+ your first post is essentially the machloket between RMFeinstein and rav EHenkin, thelatter saying a couple living together without chuppa vekiddushin needs a get, and rav moshe saying not. Rav Moshe was practical, otherwise, few BTs and others could marry, and etc other problems.

      The second comment is interesting in that even reform rabbis publically anounce at their weddings two "eidim " witnesses ( who arent kosher to us) and " no other eidim" meaning if you or I ( kosher eidim) are present, we are not appointed eidim. But your "marriage of partnership " might require aget per rav henkin.

  8. RDE- Are you suggesting to renew pilegesh?

    1. All marriages today are pilegesh ( per rashi) since the ketubah is meaningless, and rashi defines pilegesh as no ketubah ( see rashi on keturah pilagshim).

      Obvioisly, you mean second wife, which had nothing to do with pilegesh.

  9. Even though R' Pruzansky is quite outspoken, he is not the speaker for orthodoxy in America. He does not speak for the RCA for that matter either. I find the motzi shem ra about Rabbi Weiss to be distasteful. Does anyone really question his allegiance to halachah? Does he not keep kosher, shabbat, and every other mitzvah? Anyone who knows him is aware that he loves and keeps halachah. he consults with trusted rabbanim before embarking on his campaigns. There are major hashkafik issues that seperate Rav Avi from Hareidi orthodoxy. However there is precious few examples that really put him outside the fold. The future will judge him favorably as a courageous loving individual who was willing to sacrifice his own reputation in order to bring hundreds closer to Hashem and their fellow people.

    1. The RCA has either R Pruzansky or R Avi Weiss.

  10. Dan if claims that he demanded the Israeli govt to recognize conversions done by non orthodox clergy are accurate you are dead wrong.

  11. Read his statements. he was saying that Israel should not be a democracy not a theocracy. He was not asking the rabanut to bend their halacha. He was saying that there are many streams of Judaism here in the US and if someone converted via any recognized stream they should be able to move to Israel under the law of return. Also he advocates for marriage / civil ceremonies as an option. Just as a justice of the peace can officiate so too can a reform rabbi. He would not marry someone who did not have a halachik conversion nor would he write a letter in support of their Jewish status for rabanut issues. However vis-a-vis the interior ministry they are Jewish. It really is not that complicated Stan.

    1. Why would you want to accept people who are not halachically Jewish under the law of return? Why is democracy more important that Judaism?

  12. Now that we have a report on Chovevei Tumah, how about a report on what the Conservative Jews are doing?


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