Thursday, August 17, 2023

The sick reality of gittin today

I recently received a letter concerning a divorce in America. The letter writer noted that  the beis din sent him a letter which said (this is my paraphrasing) :
A plan was being developed - if you had resisted giving the get - that would have prevented you from seeing your children for many years and you would have been severely beaten and tortured.

As the recent indictments of Mendel Epstein and associates have shown - the above was not a rare event and it was apparently common knowledge amongst American rabbis and those dealing with gittin. Why was it tolerated? 1) Was it simply an acknowledgment that justice for women requires ignoring halacha and secular law? 2) Was it too lucrative for rabbis and therefore they don't want to disturb another rabbi's parnossa? 3) Perhaps the rabbis were afraid of being called a moser or suffer other sanctions. The answer obviously is all of the above.

Furthermore while such activity is clearly illegal according to the law of the land (dina d'malchuso) it is also illegal according to halacha and produced an invalid get. Even if you want to argue that beis din has the ability to administer this type of punishment - I think that is only a community beis din which is appointed and supported by the community - such as existed in Europe. However in most cases the beis din in America that deal with these cases is an ad hoc entity which is not connected to the community and is certainly not authorized by it.


  1. I dont understand what your writing about. This is / was standard procedure in america for many years (still going on in some prominent batei din.)

    The only alternative the husband has is to respond with his own bet din. Perhaps call for a boycott of the jewish newspaper that prints false seruvim against men only (their policy, as stated just above the (supposed) seruv listing is seruvim against men omly).

  2. Rav Elishev decried the state of gittin in America years ago already. (And the status that many of the American gittin are pasul - get me'usa.) It certainly hasn't gotten better since.

    Since this threat was made in writing, the recipient of it should immediately forward a copy of it to the FBI office in New Jersey which currently has an open investigation in coerced gittin. They are in the midst of filing prosecutions against various parties on exactly this.

  3. Regarding a coerced Get, kofin oso, according to any opinion kofin oso can only be issued after the Besi Din heard the case with the husband present in Beis Din. If the husband never accepted the jurisdiction of the Beis Din, and never participated in its proceedings, there is no way under halacha, according to any shitta, that B"D can issue a kofin oso ruling.

  4. Regarding a coerced Get - kofin oso - according to any opinion kofin oso can only be issued after the Beis Din heard the case with the husband present in Beis Din. If the husband never accepted the jurisdiction of the Beis Din, and never participated in its proceedings, there is no way under halacha, according to any shitta, that B"D can issue a kofin oso ruling.

  5. Is there an other side to the story? Aren't they supported by R. Belsky who's a great posek?

  6. Yes, rabbi Belsky did seem to back Epstein.

    On the same note, the gedolim seemed to have very strongly and forcfully disagreed with Rabbi Belsky. See the next two links, among many others.

  7. Rav Eliashev said specifically regarding Epstein that his gittin were pasul and me'usa.

  8. Regarding your last paragraph, (almost) all batei din in America consider themselves to have all powers they want to have and will arrogate to themselves all such powers including forcing gittin.

    Besides, they have a constituency that wants this specific power (and no other, including no power to hear other or even the rest of a case.)

  9. Yes. But if you read through the links, you see how Rav Elyashiv was critical of Rabbi Belsky as well!

    The Rubin case had Rabbi Belsky explicitly admitting that he paskened that Rubin should be beaten and forced to give a "get". However, let's see who disagreed and publicly wrote that the get was completely invalid m'derosaya.

    Rav Moshe Sternbuch,

    Rav Meir Brandsdorfer,

    Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Ulman,

    Rav Yosef Rosenblum,

    Rav Shmuel Zev Lichter (Krasna Rov),

    Rav Menashe Klein,

    Rav Pinchas Hircshprung (Montreal),

    Rav Shlomo Blumenkrantz

    All these specifically named the Rubin case. Yes, they publicly and specifically disagreed with Rabbi Belsky. They wrote and paskened that she remained an eishes ish.

    Rav Elyashiv also wrote a letter, which was published in the Yated. While he doesn't name anyone specifically, it is obvious that he considered her an eishes ish.

    Now, anyone care to explain the RDW of the Five Towns story? The rabbonim of the Five Towns versus Rabbi Belsky.

    How about the Kolko junior case?

    Rabbi Belsky isa big tzadik and a genious who has done a lot of good in his life. That does not make all his psakim - those grounded in halacha, and those routed in emotion - be considered correct.

  10. How about a simple solution:

    Parties that are threatened כנגד ההלכה by a Bais Din or Rov, like this poster was, should forward corroborating evidence in the form of a photocopy or audio recording of the threat to R' Eidensohn.

    Concerned citizens should then start a phone and letter-writing campaign to the threatening Rabbi.

    I think this sort of bullying only thrives in DARKNESS.

    Some Batei Din would definitely dig in, stand their ground & use stonewalling and/or misinformation (thus trying to "prove" that they're privy to some "inside" information). This could be dealt with by counteracting their tactics with clearly defined subjective criteria, such as:

    The B"D / Rav would need to prove that there was a face-to-face meeting with the threatened party, otherwise, any Psak is invalid in places like the USA.

    Additionally, we should organize the Halachic מקורות clearly stating the limits of Rabbinic authority - and make sure that we always conform fully to ALL pertinent Halachos. This would include the proper "tone" of תוכחה, as "כך כתוב בתורה", etc.

    Would Rabbi Eidensohn be amenable to such an approach? Would he publicize it?

    To make it really worthwhile - this campaign should be coupled with a total revamping of the "marital counseling" system. I think that in most (but not all) cases, there are ways of changing counseling from a "zero-sum" game into one of "win-win". But that's another subject..

  11. Rabbi Michael TzadokJune 8, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    I think they should forward it to the proper local authorities. If a person is coming to do you bodily harm against halakha, that is pretty much the definition of a rodef.

  12. Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky paskened that the tortured/forced "Get" in Briskman (Lakewood/Israel) case was pasul and me'usa and the wife remains an eishes ish.

  13. These thugs who do the beatings, and the so-called rabbis that organize it, try their best to leave no fingerprints.

  14. There or other forced Gets that are just as bad

    I spoke to a well known Rav the son of a well known Rav in Monsey
    He related the following:
    His young nephew had martial difficulties
    So after hearing about this new 'Baisdin'

    created by reb Chaim Flohr
    and Shlomo Zalman Kaufman
    considered to use them he first spoke to Kaufman prior requesting him to try
    counseling first and ,Kaufman agreed and said sure will will try counseling
    So the young couple signed the four page beroorin /arbitration document this bais din requires to be signed before they will even hear the case .
    ink was still wet on the document and a sitting in front of Kaufman was
    scheduled , after not more then fifteen minutes discussion with each
    side Kaufman decided to not do counseling When the uncle of the Young
    boy called back Kaufman asking about this change , Kaufman responded
    Oh! I met them and spoke to them both and I see it is not a Match!! so
    am proceeding to a Get!!
    But you met them for fifteen minutes!!!!

    4 months later they were divorced and the young boy was also had payments large ones!!!
    This young marriage was destroyed by Kaufman..... ,

    When you ask him he says 'look at the paper the Beroorin you signed, I can do as I wish' !!!! I dont owe any answers
    And I say 'its not Match , so a Get it must be'

    Now bring the rest of the

    $10,000 to the bais din by the way (in cash) each side

    Again and again and again.... when will monsey wake up?
    This is also a forced get ?

  15. oh, and "in accordance with halacha", it is ok to do bodily harm?

  16. aeiou,

    What are you talking about?

  17. How would this guy contact the FBI office in NJ?


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.