Friday, January 30, 2015

Rabbi Frederick Karp Arrested, Accused of Sexually Abusing a Minor

WBALTV   Frederick Martin Karp, 50, of Beachwood, Ohio, is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center. The state wanted no bail, saying Karp is a flight risk, but after his attorney explained Karp was not fleeing, the judge set bail at $500,000.

Karp's wife and brother-in-law traveled to Baltimore and sat in on his bail-review hearing. In court, Karp sat with his head down, at times rocking back and forth.Karp was brought back from New York, where he had fled after charges of sexual abuse of a minor, perverted practice, and second- and third-degree sex offense were brought against him in Maryland earlier this month.

Baltimore County police said they learned on New Year's Eve that a girl had been abused by Karp. According to the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office, the abuse occurred from July 2009 to early December 2014 when Karp visited the girl's family, with whom he was friends. The alleged abuse occurred from the time the girl was 7 until now. The prosecutor said in court Thursday that the 12-year-old's two sisters disclosed that they too had been inappropriately touched. [...]

Pew Poll: Scientists and Public disagree about Evolution and Vaccinations

Pew Research Center







Thursday, January 29, 2015

Troll Your Kids Into Doing Their Chores With This Router That Makes Their Internet Impossibly Slow

Business Insider    What's worse the worst than having no internet connection?

Having an incredibly slow internet connection.

If you've ever dealt with a slow, choking internet connection, you know how annoying it can be compared to the glorious broadband speeds we've grown accustomed to lately. 

Now, a company is intentionally trying to make internet speeds worse for kids as a way of getting them to do school work instead of Snapchatting and texting.

Meet Vexbox — a router created for annoyed parents to kick down their kids' internet to a speed reminiscent of dial-up. [...]

Rav Moshe Sternbuch: Sikrikin bullies demonstrate in front of his house

זעזוע נורא: אמש הגיעו קומץ סיקריקים מארגון אתרא קדישא להפגנה מבישה מול ביתו של ראב"ד העדה
החרדית מרן הגר"מ שטרנבוך שליט"א.

זו תקופה ארוכה שאותם גורמים קיצוניים ושוליים מהינים לתקוף רבנים בישראל שאינם "מישרים קו" עם גחמותיהם, רק לא מזמן התפרסם כיצד תקף סיקריק מאתרא קדישא את הגר"נ קופשיץ שליט"א מרא דאתרא בבית שמש, וכמו כן העיזו לשלוח ידם בגדולי האדמורי"ם ותקפו כבר כמה פעמים את כ"ק מרנן האדמורי"ם מתולדות אהרן דושינסקיא ורחמסטריווקא שליט"א.
אותם נערי שוליים שאף אינם נמנים על ציבור העדה החרדית הגיעו אתמול ברוב חוצפתם ועזותם להפגין מול ביתו של מרן הגר"מ שטרנבוך שליט"א, כשהם נושאים בידם כרזות נאצה נגד הראב"ד מהסוג הגרוע ביותר, "רבאיי רפורמי" ועוד סיסמאות נבזיות, וזעקו דברי בלע וגנאי נגד הראב"ד שליט"א.

המדובר כעת בענין פרוייקט "מרום ירושלים" במתחם שנלר בירושלים, כאשר בד"ץ העדה החרדית החליטו בשני דיונים נפרדים למנות בתור מפקח במקום את הרב רפאל ליפשיץ הי"ו, מומחה ותיק בעניני קברים ומערות קבורה שידיו רב לו בהצלת קברי ישראל כבר עשרות בשנים.
לעומת זאת אנשי אתרא קדישא לא הסכימו עם החלטת הבד"ץ, ודרשו למנות דוקא את אחד מאנשיהם בשם ישראל אייזנבאך למפקח במקום, וכהמשך למאבקם מול העדה החרדית ורבניה הגיעו אמש קומץ סיקריקים מאתרא קדישא ברוב חוצפה ועזות פנים להפגנה נבזית נגד מרן הראב"ד שליט"א, העומד בחוד החנית של המאבק נגד ארגון אתרא קדישא ובראש המלחמה למען שמירת חומות התורה וההלכה.

בתוך כך בד"ץ העדה החרדית מגיעים כעת בהרכב מלא בהשתתפות הגאב"ד הגרי"ט וייס והראב"ד הגר"מ שטרנבוך שליט"א לבדיקת השטח במתחם שנלר, זאת כפי שהוחלט בישיבת הבד"ץ ביום חמישי האחרון בלשכת הבד"ץ בבנייני זופניק של העדה החרדית.
נוסיף, כי בעדה החרדית אומרים היום כי ההפגנה המבישה שקיימו אמש קומץ סיקריקי אתרא קדישא נגד מרן הראב"ד שליט"א, מטרתה באופן ברור להוות אמצעי לחץ נגד הראב"ד שליט"א ובד"ץ העדה החרדית שלא ישתתפו בביקור המתוכנן היום במתחם שנלר אשר נקבע בהחלטת הבד"ץ בשבוע שעבר.
נמשיך ונעדכן בהמשך בעז"ה
.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

11 year old Chareidi girl raped by her uncle - speaks out 6 years later

YNET
נערה חרדית: "נאנסתי ושתקתי. לא עוד"
אסתי, נערה חרדית, נאנסה על ידי דודה. המשפחה ידעה אך העדיפה לעצום עיניים, ואסתי הלכה ודעכה, עד שהגיעה לעמותת תל"ם המסייעת לצעירות חרדיות במצבה. לאחרונה אזרה כוחות לשים את התוקף מאחורי סורג ובריח - וגם לדבר על זה, "כדי לתת אומץ לאחרות לקום ולעשות מעשה"
 
לפני שש שנים השתנו חייה של אסתי מהקצה אל הקצה: הנערה הצעירה - כמה חודשים לפני בת המצווה - נאנסה באכזריות על ידי הדוד שלה, סמוך לביתה שבעיר החרדית מודיעין עילית. הנערה הפגועה לא מצאה אוזן קשבת בקהילה הליטאית הסגורה שבה חיה ואף לא בקרב בני משפחתה, ומצבה הלך והידרדר.  
 
אבל גם חבל ההצלה הושלך אליה מעומק המגזר החרדי, בדמות עמותת תל"ם – מרכז חדש שהוקם במטרה לסייע לנערות מהמגזר החרדי שמצאו את עצמן מחוץ למסגרות משלל סיבות – רבות מהן, על פי עדותה של אסתי, נפגעות תקיפה מינית.  
 
הטיפול והשיקום שעברה ועוברת, הביא את אסתי לעשות צעד בלתי שגרתי למגזר, ולהתלונן על הדוד האנס – וגם לדבר על מה שעברה, מתוך מטרה "לתת אומץ לבנות אחרות שנמצאות במצב הזה או במצבים דומים לקום ולעשות מעשה", כדבריה.
"גדלתי בחברה חרדית 'רגילה", היא מספרת ל-ynet. "קצת לפני בת מצווה שלי, דוד שלי לקח אותי לסיבוב ברכב ליד הבית. בהתחלה הוא דיבר איתי: 'נכון שכיף להיות ערומים, לישון ערומים'. נבהלתי. זה דבר לא רגיל במגזר שמדברים על דברים לא צנועים. ואז הוא התחיל לגעת בי, ובהמשך אנס אותי".
 
 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Leah Kaufman - Holocaust survivor: "My mother told me that I must live to remember and tell the world"

YNET
היא עמדה בפני כיתת יורים, נשלחה לצעדת המוות, שרדה ברעב ובקור. לאה קאופמן איבדה הכל בשואה, ובנתה עצמה מחדש - תוך שהיא מתבצרת בשתיקה ארוכת שנים. עד לאחרונה: "אמא שלי אמרה לי שאני חייבת לחיות, לזכור ולספר לעולם. לא הבנתי את המילים, ידעתי רק שאסור לי למות"

במלחמה הזאת, להישאר יהודי היה קידוש ה', כי זאת הייתה מלחמה על היהדות", היא אומרת ל-ynet ו"אורות - טלוויזיה יהודית". כילדה במשפחה של שבעה ילדים, לאה הקטנה כלל לא הבינה שפרצה מלחמה, אף שבביתה אירחו פליטים נסערים שהגיעו מפולין. באחת השבתות, באמצע הקידוש, החרידו דפיקות חזקות וזעקות ברומנית את שלוות השבת. "אבא שלי סימן לנו לברוח ולהתחבא, אבל זה לא עזר", היא נזכרת. "הרומנים דרשו את הילדים. הוריי הוציאו אותנו".

Saturday, January 24, 2015

YWN posts a seriously flawed translation of MK Gafni claiming he said that those who work are not Chareidi

The following seriously flawed translation of an interview with MK Gafni published by Yeshiva World News  was sent to me. It mistakenly claims that MK Gafni says  that you can't be a chareidi and work. Recording of interview is here http://www.kol-barama.co.il/live/75872/
===this is an excerpt from YWN incorrect  translation=====

Yeshiva World News Breaking Headlines
Speaking with Mordechai Lavi of Kol Berama Radio on Tuesday morning 29 Teves, MK Moshe Gafne explained from his perspective there is no such thing as ‘working chareidi’.
Following is excerpts from the radio interview which lasted over 20 minutes.
Gafne
I do not accept the categorization. There are those who opt to leave yeshiva and join the working community.
KB
Are they called chareidim?
Gafne
No they are not. I do not accept this. It does not exist. One who does not learn in kollel and works has left.
 =====================

Here is the version published in the Hebrew Mishpacha where MK Gafni clearly says that Chareidim are not defined on the basis of whether they work or learn in Kollel - but rather their allegiance to gedolim

 My translation of MK Gafni's words 
....There is no such thing as "working chareidim" There are simply people who are chareidim. A person who educates his children the obey the gedoim is charedi. Why should it make a difference whether he works or not
============================This is Mishpachah's transcript of the interview======



מה רוצים מכם מי שמכונים יהחרדים העובדים?'
"כל הסיפור הזה של חרדים עובדים הוא פיקציה. שקר. תעלול שהתפתח מעבר לכל פרופורציה בגלל אינטרסים צרים ומקומיים. אין דבר כזה חרדי עובד יש חרדי. נקודה. מי שמחנך את הילדים שלו לציית לגדולי ישראל הוא חרדי. מה זה משנה אם הוא עובד או לא? הרי ידגל התורהי הוקמה על ידי אנשים עובדים. כל המוסדות החרדיים הוקמו על ידי חרדים עובדים, מה זו הבדיחה הזו? את מי אני מייצג אם לא את העובדים?"

אתה מתעלם מבעיות של קבלה למוסרות שיש בעיקר לאנשים שעובדים.
"אני בכלל לא מתעלם. יש בעיות קשות. חלק מהבעיות אי אפשר לפתור. צריך להקים מוסדות שיתאימו לכל הסוגים באוכלוסייה, וזה מה שאנחנו עושים. השבוע נחנך מוסד לימודים חדש באלעד שמיועד לציבור הזה וישבתי עם נציגי אותו ציבור על מוסד דומה בפתח תקווה, אני חושב שצריך לסייע להם באמת וזה בדיוק מה שאנחנו עושים.

"אני רוצה לחדד נקודה נוספת: בסופו של דבר, גם מי שיצא מהכולל בשל אילוצים כאלה ואחרים,יודע שעולם התורה זה חוד החנית של העם היהודי. הם האליטה שלנו. להם אנחנו צריכים לדאוג. אני בטוח שכל אחד מאתנו מוכן לוותר לא מעט בשביל שעולם התורה ימשיך לפרוח. בסוף-בסוף, אנחנו צריכים לדאוג לעולם התורה, לאברכים, לעמלי התורה".
 

Commonsense morality and Japanese hostility towards Japanese hostages facing beheading

CNN   Fighting back tears, Junko Ishido stood before dozens of television cameras, just hours before an apparent ISIS deadline to execute her son, Kenji Goto -- one of two Japanese hostages who appeared in a shocking propaganda video days before.

One of the first statements she made, before making a direct plea to ISIS to spare her son's life, was an apology to the Japanese people.

"Thank you for your great kindness and I apologize for the tremendous inconvenience and trouble that my son has caused," she said.

The apology is understandable in the context of Japanese society, says Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University's Tokyo campus.

"In Japan when you inconvenience people, it's important to respect them and ask for forgiveness," Kingston says.

Ishido conveyed several times how badly she feels about her son's capture causing trouble for the Japanese government and alarm for its people. 

To her, it doesn't matter that her son was likely trying to rescue his friend and fellow hostage Haruna Yukawa. It doesn't matter than he has been praised by friends, colleagues, and strangers for reporting sensitively from war zones like Syria with strong, respectful determination. 

If she were to say such things publicly in Japan, she could be perceived as a selfish individual who touts the righteousness of her son. [...]

In 2004, three young Japanese hostages were released by militants in Iraq. Instead of being welcomed home, they were shunned for "causing trouble" for Japan. The former hostages, including one who was in Iraq helping children before her capture, were even billed by the government for their airfare.

"They got the frostiest unwelcome you can imagine. It was essentially government-encouraged bullying," Kingston says -- adding the trauma of their return was in some ways worse than their capture. [...]

The Orthodox Sex Guru's crusade for the acceptance of pleasure

NY Times   Update See rebuttal
How widespread sexual aversion is among ultra-Orthodox women is impossible to say, and the question is made especially difficult because there is a host of movements and sects with varying statutes and customs. But there is an erotic ideal that all these cultures share. After a young woman marries — often, like the Satmar wife Marcus told me about, to a man she has met and spoken with only once before the wedding — she’s supposed to feel that sex is a blessing, a union full of Shekinah, of God’s light, not just a painful or repellent reproductive chore. Quietly, rabbis refer struggling wives to Marcus’s care. Her task is to instill desire in them. [...]

Below her brown bangs, Marcus’s eyes fill with tears sometimes when she talks about how Orthodox Judaism — and above all the most restrictive branches of Haredi Orthodoxy — can quash female eros by imbuing a physical shame and a nearly apocalyptic sexual terror, by teaching that if the laws of tzniut, of modesty, are broken, calamity will come. One Haredi rabbi I met likened eros to “nuclear energy”: Sex could bring disaster to the world, but, he said, “the careful regulation” of it can connect a couple to God and beckon “transcendent experience.” [...]

One morning at the burnished round table where she talks with her patients, Marcus handed me a bride’s manual given out by kallah teachers. This particular book was written for the modern Orthodox; it is relatively progressive. The clitoris, for instance, is mentioned twice. Even so, the overwhelming emphasis is on the wife’s responsibility to keep the relationship on the right side of the law. The Talmud “indicates that during marital relations, the husband may not look at or kiss the wife’s makom ervah,” her private place, the manual warns. The lights should be off, a sheet should cover the couple, the position should be missionary — the wife is charged with keeping sex spiritual, keeping it chaste.

If she doesn’t, a parable in the introduction implies, God’s Chosen may “fall over the edge” of a cliff. “And that book,” Marcus reminded me, “is modern.” Her Haredi women seem to feel that their bedrooms are all but laced with Talmudic “trip wires,” she said, where one wrong move can cause destruction. [...]

The logic of rabbinical rulings can be counterintuitive and confusing to Marcus, and the decrees vary from rabbi to rabbi, but a line seems to be drawn between the physical and the psychological. A vibrator can be viewed merely as a piece of machinery to be applied medically to the body; racy literature or lingerie might damage the mind. (To finesse her way around the prohibition against reading soft pornography, Marcus once hired a cousin who majored in creative writing to produce some Haredi supersoft porn, and soon she was handing women a printout culminating in a Hasidic husband’s running his hands over his wife’s fully clothed hips and giving her a “meaningful kiss.” But the tepid scene didn’t seem to do much for her patients.) [...]

“I tell them our values are the same,” Marcus said about winning over her Haredi patients, “but in a way, I’m being disingenuous.” In addition to working one on one with women, she holds seminars for kallah teachers. She is on a kind of crusade, a fledgling effort to carry new ideas about eros into Orthodoxy, to educate the educators, to persuade them to give brides an abundance of detail about the anatomy of pleasure, about orgasm. [...]

Friday, January 23, 2015

Colorado baker faces complaint for refusing anti-gay message on cake


A dispute over a cake in Colorado raises a new question about gay rights and religious freedom: If bakers can be fined for refusing to serve married gay couples, can they also be punished for declining to make a cake with anti-gay statements? 

A baker in suburban Denver who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding is fighting a legal order requiring him to serve gay couples even though he argued that would violate his religious beliefs.

But now a separate case puts a twist in the debate over discrimination in public businesses, and it underscores the tensions that can arise when religious freedom intersects with a growing acceptance of gay couples.

Marjorie Silva, owner of Denver's Azucar Bakery, is facing a complaint from a customer alleging she discriminated against his religious beliefs.

According to Silva, the man who visited last year wanted a Bible-shaped cake, which she agreed to make. Just as they were getting ready to complete the order, Silva said the man showed her a piece of paper with hateful words about gays that he wanted written on the cake. He also wanted the cake to have two men holding hands and an X on top of them, Silva said.
She said she would make the cake, but declined to write his suggested messages on the cake, telling him she would give him icing and a pastry bag so he could write the words himself. Silva said the customer didn't want that. [...]

Religious women hold trailblazing conference on family sexuality

Some 150 religious Jewish women, most of them wives of rabbis affiliated with the Tzohar organization, gathered this week in Holon to talk about sexuality. 

The event, entitled “Guf Rishon” (First Person) was the first of its kind in Israel. Spearheaded not by the rabbis of Tzohar – which seeks to promote Jewish identity from a religious Zionism standpoint – but their wives, the gathering allowed these Orthodox women to discuss their own sexuality and that of their families in a public, supportive atmosphere.

“Sexuality is a topic that we should begin to address starting from a very young age. We need to make sure it is treated as a legitimate issue and educate our children accordingly,” said Tzofia Hirschfeld, who moderated the event. “We were pleased to find the openness of the participants, their willingness to talk about it and their acknowledgment of its importance.” [...]

Sheldon Silver, New York Assembly Leader, Is Arrested on Graft Charges

NY Times    The speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday and accused of using the power of his office for more than a decade to secure millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks and then covering up his schemes, according to court documents.

Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, is accused of a range of corrupt dealings that capitalized on his official position. They include using his position to obtain corrupt payments misrepresented as referral fees from a law firm, funneling state research funds and other benefits to a doctor who in return referred asbestos claims to the law firm where the speaker worked, and secretly helping real estate developers win tax breaks.

In recent years, a steady parade of lawmakers in Albany have been charged with corruption, and the complaint against Mr. Silver outlines a capital culture rife with back-room dealing, where money and influence shape public policy for the benefit of private agendas. [...]

The complaint maintains that for more than a decade, Mr. Silver devised a scheme “to induce real estate developers with business before the state” to use a real estate law firm controlled by a lawyer who had once worked as Mr. Silver’s counsel. That lawyer, according to the complaint, orchestrated payments to the speaker for referrals to the firm.

The complaint, referring to the personal injury firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, also said that “there is probable cause to believe that Silver received approximately $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position.” [...]

Thursday, January 22, 2015

תדהמה בלייקווד: הרב הבכיר יילך לכלא

bhol

תדהמה בלייקווד: הרב פישל טוד, הממונה על הרבנים הצבאיים בצבא ארה"ב, ומבכירי העסקנים ובעלי החסד בלייקווד, נידון בבית המשפט הפדראלי בניו ג'רזי ל-46 חודשי מאסר, ולשלוש שנות מאסר על תנאי.

הרב הורשע על חלקו בפרשת ההונאה הגדולה שביצע אליהו וינשטיין - איש העסקים החרדי תושב לייקווד.

Schlesinger twins: Smearing Beth's reputation and intimidation of those who try to help


This is testimony from a member of a prominent Viennese family - who unfortunately is afraid (with good cause) to have her identity known. 

October 11th 2011

I write as a woman , mother and friend of Ms. Beth Schlesinger, because it hurts that she is completely alone because of lies being spread about her. However, I post anonymously because I do not want the same thing to happen to me that happened to two other ladies in the Jewish community .

The two ladies were contacted by a third party on behalf of family Schlesinger, with the request that they should stop "helping" Mrs. S.

One of these women is actually friends with Mrs. S. . The other lady knows Mrs. Schlesinger only as an acquaintance. This person was accused of giving Mrs. Schlesinger financial support and claimed that only through this help did Mrs Schlesinger succeed in getting the court to agree to longer visits with her children at home in September 2011. A member of the Schlesinger family even (falsely) accused this lady of paying for lawyers who will ensure that " Beth gets the kids now. "

The current situation that Mrs Schlesinger doesn't have her children and even the visits with her children have not taken place as specified , is in itself alone deeply sad and shocking. Adding 'salt to the wounds' is not only cruel but purely malignant.

There are rumors going around that have completely isolated Mrs Schlesinger from the Jewish community - portraying her as some kind of terrible mother or even a monster. For example, it would be dangerous to leave the children in her care , she must see the children only under constant supervision and should she be granted unsupervised access, the children would be in danger.  

Another example, she brought her children to a psychiatric hospital and implored them to take the children from her because she could no longer cope with them. Even though I do not know the details of this dispute, I find it laughable to spread such stories. Mrs Schlesinger is fighting to her last breath for custody of the children, why would she do such a thing (if these malicious rumors were true)? Unfortunately, however, most of the members of the community believe these lies and think Mrs. Schlesinger is evil.

If the children's father's family really wished to " protect " the children then such malicious rumors and lies would not be necessary (to spread around). Obviously, this is not about the welfare of the children but purely a way of punishing the mother.

The Jewish concept of slavery and morality?

Moshe Ahron has asserted that slavery is immoral and always was so but that we have advanced over our ancestors who were not aware of its immorality. 
Here is what I mean. The Torah didn't create slavery. Slavery existed before the Torah was given on Har Sinai. The Torah dealt with the situation as it was - slavery already existed. The Torah improved this bad situation by regulating slavery with the goal that slavery would eventually be eradicated.
To be clear, slavery was always immoral, but slavery was never the Torah's fault, the Torah was trying to improve the situation of the slave by regulating it.
Had the Torah outlawed slavery from day one, perhaps it would have been too difficult for people to comply, so Hashem didn't do that. This is similar to the Eishes Yefas Toar, where Rashi says that the Torah couldn't prohibit marrying her as the Torah won't prohibit what people can't refrain from doing.
However as can be seen from the following sources there is no criticism of slavery in the Bible, Talmud or Rabbinic literature and the institution of slavery as described in the Torah basically ceased to exist in Talmudic times. I think a more reasonable assertion that better fits the halachic sources is that slavery is clearly immoral in our present society - but that in the ancient world it was not (especially with the conditions the Torah required compared with secular law). It is not the superiority of our moral sense over that of our ancestors but the change in society which is the critical element. 

In sum, Moshe Ahron's view is very problematic in stating that the Torah itself accepts an immoral practice. While the Rambam does states something like this - in Moreh Nevuchim regarding animal sacrifices (which contradicts his Mishna Torah) - he clearly does not say any such thing regarding slavery. Moshe Ahrons attempt to assert a similar judgment regarding divorce laws in Shulchan Aruch and Poskim is similarly flawed.

See also "Biblical Slavery and Morality"
See Hakirah - Biblical view of Slavery - Then and Now


Professor Judah Rosenthal (The Slavery Controversy and Judaism – Conservative Judaism 31:3 pages 69)

The structure of ancient society was built on slavery, and the old social order ofIsrael was no exception. The Torah, however, distinguishes itself by demanding a humane treatment of slaves. It often repeats the admonition not to forget that the Israelites were once slaves in Egypt.! It is the obligation of the master to let the slave rest on the day when he himself is resting'' and it is forbidden to maim a slave. If a master maims a slave he has to let him go free." There does not exist in all the codes of the ancient world a more humane law than the one which forbids turning over a fugitive slave to his master.  The Hammurabi Code of Laws, unlike the Torah, prescribes that a man who does not turn over a fugitive slave to his master is to be punished by death."
The Talmud, too, contains many laws demanding a humane treatment of slaves. Maimonides (Hilchos Avadim 9:8) sums up the attitude of Rabbinic Judaism towards slavery in the following words:
It is permitted to work a slave with rigor. Though such is the role, it is the quality of piety and the way of wisdom that a man be merciful and pursue justice and not make his yoke heavy upon the slave or distress him, and give him to eat and to drink of all foods and drinks.
The Sages of old were wont to let the slave partake of every dish that they themselves ate of and to give the meal of the cattle and of the slaves precedence over their own. Is it not said: As the eyes of slaves unto the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female servant unto the hand of her mistress (Psalms 123:2)?
Thus also the master should not disgrace them by hand or by word, because scriptural law has delivered them only unto slavery and not unto disgrace. Nor should he heap upon the slave oral abuse and anger, but should rather speak to him softly and listen to his claims. So, it is also explained in the good paths of Job, in which he prided himself.
Cruelty and effrontery are not frequent except with gentiles. The children of our father Abraham, however, i.e., the Israelites, upon whom the Holy One, blessed be He, bestowed the favor of the Law and laid upon them statutes and judgments, are merciful people who have mercy upon all.
Thus also it is declared by the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, which we are enjoined to imitate: And His mercies are over all His works (Psalms 145:9).
Furthermore, whoever has compassion will receive compassion, as it is said: And He will show thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee (Deuteronomy 13:18).

We do not find either in the Bible or in Rabbinic literature a prohibition against slavery or a negative attitude towards slavery as a social institution. Judaism did not consider slavery a social evil nor did it consider a slave owner or slave trader to be a sinner. Slavery was accepted as part of the social order.
 

Elon, Menachem. "Human Dignity and Freedom." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 9. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 585-588. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. Document URL

Human Dignity and Freedom in Jewish Tradition


Human dignity and freedom are fundamental values of the Torah and the rabbinic literature. The Torah states that man was created "in the image of God": "And God created man in his image; in the image of God He created him" (Gen. 1:27). Respect for the Divine image in man serves as an important source in the Torah for the preservation of human dignity. The Torah states the following concerning a person who has sinned and is liable to the death penalty: "If a man is guilty of a capital offense and is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, you must not let his corpse remain on the stake overnight, but must bury him the same day. For an impaled body is an affront to God and you shall not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess" (Deut. 21:22–23). The Sages expound these verses: R. Meir asks – what is the meaning of the words "an impaled body is an affront to God"? This can be likened to two identical twin brothers, one of whom became king over the entire world while the other went out to pursue highway robbery. After a while, the latter was caught and crucified, and passersby seeing the body said "the king himself has been crucified!" This is the meaning of the words: "for an impaled body is an affront to God."

 The principle of human dignity even requires respecting the dignity of criminal offenders. The Torah imposes a penalty on a person who steals an ox and later slaughters or sells it, in the amount of five times the value of the ox, while for stealing a sheep under similar circumstances, one is required to pay only four times its value (Ex. 21:37). The difference between the fine imposed for stealing an ox and that for stealing a sheep is explained by the Sages as follows: "R. Johanan b. Zakkai states: The Holy One blessed be He is mindful of the dignity of mankind. For [stealing] an ox, which walks on its [own] feet, the payment is fivefold; for [stealing] a sheep, which has to be carried on one's shoulders, the payment is fourfold" (Mekhilta de-R. Yishmael, Mishpatim 13). The difference between the fines stems from the sense of shame suffered by the thief in the case of the stolen sheep, which is usually carried away on his shoulders. Hence, the Torah was more lenient in the case of stealing a sheep than with stealing an ox, in which case the thief can simply lead the ox to his home and need not demean himself by carrying it on his shoulders.< The origin of human rights in Judaism lies in the fundamental notion of man's creation in the image of God. This basic axiom is the origin, not only of a person's right to dignity and freedom, but also of man's duty to protect his own dignity and freedom. This principle is given clear expression in a fundamental rule stated by the amora Rav: "A worker can withdraw from service even in the middle of the working day… for it is written (Lev. 25:55): 'for the children of Israel are My slaves [i.e., whom I took out of the land of Egypt'] – and not slaves to other slaves" (BK 116b; BM 10a). According to this law, an employee who hired himself out for an entire working day may withdraw his agreement in the middle of the day (and in such case only receives payment for the time he worked – see *Labor Law ), by virtue of the principle that a person's obligation to work for another person, even if he agreed to do so out of his own volition, constitutes a violation of that person's freedom, and a type of slavery. The principle that a person's subservience to God requires that he not be subservient to another human being receives expression in the principle of the Hebrew slave.

According to the Torah, a person may be compelled to work for another individual if he is convicted of theft and is unable to pay his fine, or if he is in a state of absolute poverty and sells himself to another person. In both these cases, his term of service is limited to a maximum of six years, and the goal of this period, during which the slave's employer owes numerous duties towards his slave, is to facilitate the rehabilitation of the offender, who would otherwise remain homeless, as an alternative to imprisonment or remaining on the streets without a roof over his head. According to the Torah, a slave who refused to go free at the end of his term would have his ear pierced by his master using an awl, and would thereafter remain a perpetual slave to his master (Ex. 21:6). The Sages questioned the underlying principle behind this commandment of piercing the slave's ear: "R. Johanan b. Zakkai was asked by his disciples: Why, of all limbs, was the ear [of the slave who refused to go free] chosen to be pierced? He replied: 'The ear that heard at Mount Sinai: "You shall have no other gods but for Me" (Ex. 20:2), and rejected the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven, and in its stead accepted the yoke of a human being; the ear that heard at Mount Sinai (Lev. ad. loc.) "for unto Me the children of Israel are servants" and yet this person went and acquired for himself another master; therefore, let his ear come and be pierced because he disregarded that which his ear heard'" (TJ Kid. 1.2).

The slave is punished for having waived his right to freedom. Perpetual enslavement to another person involves a kind of idolatry. As explained by the aforesaid words of the Sages, the first commandment states: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods but Me" (Ex. ad loc.). This commandment exhorts a person to be free, and he cannot release himself from this obligation, neither in favor of an idol, nor in favor of another human being. The slave, the worker and the master, are all servants of God, before whom all creatures are equal. Therefore no person is entitled to be the slave of another person, when the latter himself is merely a servant of God. Even this institution of a Hebrew slave, which is in essence an act of hire for a limited period for the purposes of rehabilitation, has not been practiced, according to all opinions, for close to two thousand years, and this too is compatible Page 587

Schlesinger Twins: One Jewish Mother's International Custody Fight

Forward  In an apartment in the Austrian capital, Beth Alexander is deleting hundreds of photos of her 5-year-old twin boys from Facebook.

In one picture, Benjamin and Samuel are laughing as they hold a toy. In another they are waiting to be served lunch in their native Vienna.

The ordinary snapshots are the kind uploaded by countless mothers all over the world. Yet Alexander, a British-born modern Orthodox mother in her 30s, is barred from displaying them by order of an Austrian court, which in November ruled in favor of her ex-husband’s motion claiming the photos violated the twins’ privacy.

“Removing these pictures is painful to me,” Alexander told JTA this month in an interview via Skype. “They allow my family back in Britain to sort of keep in touch with the boys and they show that despite all that has been said about me, I’m a good mother and the children are happy when they are with me.”

The injunction is the latest in a series of legal setbacks that have left Alexander with restricted access to her boys and declared barely fit to be a mother – rulings that have led to mounting international criticism and claims of a colossal miscarriage of justice.

Leaders of the British and Austrian Jewish communities have spoken out about what they consider to be a highly unusual case that has unfairly limited Alexander’s maternal rights. Her case even made it to the floor of the British Parliament, where lawmakers last year described it as a Kafkaesque situation that has wrongly maligned Alexander as mentally ill and an unfit mother.

“I have no reason to assume that Alexander is in any way incapable of being a mother,” Schlomo Hofmeister, a prominent Viennese rabbi who knows the Schlesinger case well, told JTA. Hofmeister said it was tragic that the children were deprived of equal access to their mother and called on both parents to “find a time-sharing arrangement in the interest of these children, who are suffering.” [...]

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Problem of Get on demand and Stealing money through secular courts: Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz

JLaw     Section One
Apart from the bill's flaws with respect to the validity of Gittin, there are three other anti-halachic effects. In the opinion of this writer, these effects are so manifest, so incontrovertible, that it is mystifying that any Orthodox Rabbi, much less any rabbinic institution, can be in favor of it.

I. The first basic flaw in the Get Bill is that it is intended to aid in procuring a Get -- even if there is no reason according to Jewish law to assume a Get to be appropriate.

Halacha does not sanction a Get on demand. True, by biblical law, a man can divorce his wife against her will, without giving any reason whatsoever (although it is "religiously forbidden for him to do so until he has "due cause").6 The woman, on the other hand, cannot initiate the act of divorce, although she can claim to have certain specific grounds for a divorce. In other words, she can become the plaintiff in a Din Torah (a legal suit before a Bet Din), claiming that a Get is due her. If she wins her case, the Bet Din will order the husband to give a Get. [...]

Without this halachic process, no one is justified in assuming that a Get is obligatory or even appropriate. Halachically, the marital state cannot be rent asunder on a mere whim, or because of boredom or lack of excitement or inconveniences. Rather, there must be halachic grounds for a Get.[...]

These laws which govern the grounds for a Get are the same as all Torah laws which govern our lives: Just as the laws governing Tzitzit, Tefillin, Shabbat, Lulav and business dealings are those dictated to us by Shulchan Aruch, so, too, are the halachic rules which concern grounds for divorce. Anyone purporting to live a life governed by halacha must orient his/her thinking in this direction. Therefore, action taken by anyone to facilitate a Get for a man/woman if the Get is halachically unjustified, even if that action does not halachically invalidate the Get, is anti-halachic. [This does not refer to friendly persuasion. Surely an outsider, considering it irrational for a spouse to continue a marriage when the other spouse wants a divorce for any reason, would consider it correct to advise a partv to take/receive a Get. But any action beyond such friendly persuasion is morally wrong.]

Lack of appreciation of this basic premise -- that a Get is not to be obtained merely because one wants one - explains much of the erroneous thinking of the proponents of the Get Bill. Nothing in the bill limits its effects to where a competent halachic authority -- a Bet Din -- has found a Get called for. Surprisingly, the proponents of the bill have not felt a need to address this issue, although it seems that it is a call for "Get-on-demand" -- an anti-Halachic statement! (Try to imagine a bill passed in the New York State legislature which mandates that A pay B money, even when their monetary dispute is unresolved -- and A maintains vehemently that he owes no such money!) [...]

III. As we have noted, the prohibition of resorting to the secular courts holds true even if every court action happens to follow all the rules of the Shulchan Aruch. If there are any differences, the additional issue of out-and-out theft arises, if the courts award money or privileges to either party.21 (Even in circumstances where one had received permission from a Bet Din to "use the courts" one is prohibited from keeing any monies he is not entitled to according to halacha.)

The Get Bill encourages a woman to use the civil courts to set rates of maintenance and "equitable distribution despite the fact that she might not be entitled to that money according to Jewish law. For example, let us say a woman has no due cause (halachically) for a Get, but has opened a case as the plaintiff in the civil courts for a divorce. Rabbi Akiva Eiger discusses just such a case, and compares this woman to a classic Moredet (a rebellious wife) who is not entitled to receive any support whatsoever. Certainly, too, "equitable distribution" has no halachic equivalent, but is merely the transference of property from one party to the other by state fiat; this money, then, does not belong to the acquiring party al pi din.24 (The chances of "equitable distribution" being covered by the rule of Dina D'malchuta Dina are almost nil. [...]

Monday, January 19, 2015

Redefining Mental Illness:No strict dividing line between psychosis and normal experience

NY Times    TWO months ago, the British Psychological Society released a remarkable document entitled “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia.” Its authors say that hearing voices and feeling paranoid are common experiences, and are often a reaction to trauma, abuse or deprivation: “Calling them symptoms of mental illness, psychosis or schizophrenia is only one way of thinking about them, with advantages and disadvantages.”

The report says that there is no strict dividing line between psychosis and normal experience: “Some people find it useful to think of themselves as having an illness. Others prefer to think of their problems as, for example, an aspect of their personality which sometimes gets them into trouble but which they would not want to be without.”

The report adds that antipsychotic medications are sometimes helpful, but that “there is no evidence that it corrects an underlying biological abnormality.” It then warns about the risk of taking these drugs for years.

And the report says that it is “vital” that those who suffer with distressing symptoms be given an opportunity to “talk in detail about their experiences and to make sense of what has happened to them” — and points out that mental health services rarely make such opportunities available.

This is a radically different vision of severe mental illness from the one held by most Americans, and indeed many American psychiatrists. Americans think of schizophrenia as a brain disorder that can be treated only with medication. Yet there is plenty of scientific evidence for the report’s claims. [...]

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Disneyland measles outbreak: Rapid spread by non vaccinated individuals

LA Times    The measles outbreak that began at Disneyland during the holiday season is now spreading beyond people who contracted the disease at the theme park, with those patients now exposing others after returning to their hometowns, health officials said Saturday.

There are now 51 confirmed cases of the highly contagious virus across California, three other states and Mexico, and the Orange County Health Care Agency said the reports of new cases “indicate the measles outbreak will continue to spread.”[...]

Officials say that many who have become ill were not vaccinated for measles. In the San Diego County cases alone, nine out of the 10 who fell ill did not get the measles vaccine.  [...]

But health officials have long expressed fears that progress against measles was threatened by a growing anti-vaccination movement in the United States, based on parents’ fears that the vaccine causes autism -- a theory that has been thoroughly discredited by numerous scientific studies.

“The greatest threat to the U.S. vaccination program may now come from parents’ hesitancy to vaccinate their children,” Dr. Mark Grabowsky, a health official with the United Nations, wrote last year in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.-Pediatrics. "Although this so-called vaccine hesistancy has not become as widespread in the United States as it appears to have become in Europe, it is increasing."

“Many measles outbreaks can be traced to people refusing to be vaccinated; a recent large measles outbreak was attributable to a church advocating the refusal of measles vaccination.”

A Times analysis published last September reported that the rise in vaccine exemptions among kindergartners because of parents’ personal beliefs was most prominent in wealthy coastal and mountain communities, such as southern Orange County and the Santa Monica and Malibu areas. [...]

דרמה: הגר"א שכטר פרש ממועצת גדולי התורה

update January 17: Just spoke with someone who discussed with Rav Ahron Schecter his threat to resign from the Moetzes

Reb Ahron is concerned about a number of issues 1) the dispute in Israel between the followers of Rav Shteinman and Rav Auerbach 2) the fact that certain yeshivos and individuals have been destroyed or messed up as a result of this dispute 3) that it is no longer accepted in Israel that gedolim disagree and that it is legitimate to follow the gadol a person wants 4) the attempt of the Aguda and other American rabbis to take sides in the dispute - when traditionally American gedolim have stayed out of Israeli disputes of this nature 5) his health is not optimal and he doesn't want to squander it in dealing with disputes of this type.

BHOL

(see also Kikar HaShabbat)

דרמה באגודת ישראל בארה"ב: זקן ראשי הישיבות הגאון רבי אהרן שכטר, ראש ישיבת רבינו חיים ברלין וחבר מועצת גדולי התורה, הודיע על פרישתו ממועצת גדולי התורה על רקע הפילוג הליטאי.

לפני כשבועיים התקיימה אסיפת חירום של גדולי התורה בבית ראש הישיבה הגר"א שכטר בפלטבוש בניו יורק, בה הועלתה על ידו דרישה נחרצת להפסיק כל התערבות ולא לתת דריסת רגל בארה"ב לפילוג הליטאי, שכבר גבה מחיר כבד מנשוא בארץ ישראל.

האסיפה התקיימה לאור טענות קשות שהועלו בדבר התערבותה של אגודת ישראל בארה"ב בפילוג הליטאי בישראל.

כידוע, מידי שנה מתקיימת ישיבת 'ירחי כלה' מטעם אגודת ישראל במלון רמדה בירושלים. כשמאות בעלי בתים מגיעים מארה"ב, להשתתף בשיעורי ה'ירחי כלה' מפי גדולי התורה, ראשי ישיבות ומרביצי תורה.

הרבנים משתתפי האסיפה הביעו צער על כך, כי למרות המצב הסבוך, ממשיכה אגודת ישראל לקיים את "ירחי כלה" בירושלים דווקא, כשעל האירוע מעיב צל כבד של מחלוקת וביזוי כבוד התורה.

הגר"א שכטר ציין כי אגודת ישראל באמריקה מאז ומתמיד הייתה מאוחדת ונזהרה מכל שמץ של התערבות במחלוקת. לדבריו היה נחוץ להעביר את ה'ירחי כלה' למיקום גיאוגרפי אחר עד יעבור זעם.

הרבנים ציינו כי בתקופת ייסוד מפלגת "דגל התורה" ע"י הרב שך זצ"ל, הקפידה אגודת ישראל בראשות הרב משה שרר זצ"ל, ובהנחיית הגראמ"מ שך זצ"ל ועמו כל גדולי ישראל שלא לנקוט צד במחלוקת, "באשר כל מהותה של אגודת ישראל היא ליכודם ואחדותם של כל החרדים לדבר ד'".

בשיחה טלפונית שהתקיימה במהלך האסיפה, הבהירו גדולי התורה ליו"ר אגו"י בארה"ב הרב חיים דוד צוויבל כי על אגודת ישראל לסלק את ידם מכל התערבות ונקיטת צד במחלוקת הליטאית, וכי כל פעולה כזאת תכניס את היהדות החרדית בארה"ב לסחרור קלחת המחלוקת המכלה כל חלקה טובה. על כן דרשו הרבנים לבטל את התכנית המקורית של ה'ירחי כלה'.
[...]

Another rabbi ignores halacha: "Withholding a Gett: Unjewish and Evil "

Update: Please read this lenient teshuva. I will be adding others which clearly indicate the complexity of the matter. Contrary to what Rabbi Brackman writes - that it is a clear cut moral issue - Rav Yosef says it is justified for some cases and some times in history - especially when there is a reasonable possibility that she will commit adultery. That is the view of the Tzitz Eliezar also. Other contemporary poskim don't accept the view that the husband can be forced to give a get to save her from committing adultery [to be continued]

Update Jan 17: Rav Sternbuch states that if it is clear to the beis din that there are objective reasons why the woman can't stand her husband and they paskened that the husband should give a Get - he says it is cruel and sinful for the husband to not divorce his wife out of spite and hatred. This is clearly not saying that a woman has the right to leave the marriage for any reason and that the husband must give a get immediately when the Get is request as R Brackman mistakenly states. If the husband is refusing to give a Get because issues have not been resolved - and not because of cruelty and spite - Rav Sternbuch,. Rav Ovadiah Yosef and Rav Eliashiv are not condemning such a person.

Force husband to prevent wife from committing adultery - not as a right to get on demand or because it is immoral to withhold a Get and only if he is objectively repulsive

Rav Ovadiya Yosef (Yabiya Omer 8:2.2): In previous generations the husband was given permission to take an additional wife if his first wife was declared to a moredes (rebellious wife). The first wife would remain an agunah for the rest of her life until she became an old lady with white hair as punishment for rebelling against her husband. An example of this is found in Shut Mishpat v’ Tzedaka b’Yaakov (2:36).... Similar cases are  found in other Achronim. Nevertheless our contemporary society has weakened and there is now a strong possibility that the agunah will deviate from religious observance because of her aguna status. This is a dissolute generation and people do not obey authority. And if the woman makes up her mind later to accept the get from her husband there is a clear concern that her husband will refuse to give her a get out of spite because he is already married to another woman and it is impossible to force him to give a get to his first wife and therefore she will just reject religion and go on a bad path. Because she is still married however, any children she subsequently has with another man will increase the number of mamzerim in the world. A possible solution is that before he can remarry he needs permission from the beis din and thus it is relatively easy to use that to influence him to deposit a get for his first wife with beis din. Only when he has deposited a get then can we give him permission to remarry according to halacha. After I thought of this, I saw that Rav Masas wrote in  his sefer Tevuos Shemesh (E.H. 30), “Even though in all the seforim of the Achronim concerning previous rabbinic courts (beis din), the beis din ruled that in the case of moredes she remained an agunah her entire life until she became an old lady with grey hair and the husband was allowed to marry another woman if he wanted – without first divorcing her. This was a common ruling and the first wife remained unable to remarry until the day that she died. However this approach was appropriate in previous generations when the spirit of Judaism permeated the people and there was no one who would dare do a serious sin – in particular not to openly transgress the serious sexual sins. But it is no longer true true in our day which to our great sorrow the spirit of individual freedom has become dominant and faith has weakened. We no longer have the power to have people properly comply with religious rulings and there is a great concern that people will go off the path of religious observance. There is no question that all our rabbis acknowledge that all efforts need to be made to have the get deposited with beis din...He concludes his words by saying that in the year 1950, all the rabbis of Morocco gather together and they made a decree through the official rabbinical confederation – that no man could remarry until he divorced his first wife who was a moredes and had declared that she couldn’t stand living with him (ma’os alei). This decree was accepted and it became a regular occurrence for the beis din to rule accordingly. This get that the husband was required to give before remarrying was not considered get me’usa ( a coerced get). That is because he had the choice of not remarrying and therefore he didn’t have to give the get. However with a moredes who simply wanted to afflict him and torture him and consequently refused to accept the get – there was no choice but to require that the get be deposited in beis din as we mentioned before....Click link for rest of the teshuva

See Rav Ovadia Yosef 3:20


Rav Ovadiya Yosef (Yabia Omer E.H. 3:18.13) : And in truth even according to the view of the poskim who hold that one does not force the husband to give a get when she claims ma'us alei, nevertheless there is a view that says there is a mitzva for the husband to divorce her and surely when there is a concern that because of the delay in get a get she will go off the derech. As we find in Shita Mekubetes (Kesubos 64)," Rabbeinu Yona wrote, "Even though we don't force a man to give a get when the wife says he is ma'us alei (disgusting to me) - that is only referring to forcing him by beating him with staffs. However beis din informs him that he has a mitzva to divorce her and they advise him to divorce her. And if he doesn't not in fact divorce her then this is a case of when a person transgresses the words of the rabbis that it is permitted to call him a sinner. However Rabbeinu Tam disagreed and said that even this we don't say to him but if he should come to ask whether he should divorce her without her getting the kesuba then beis din gives him the advice that he should divorce her immediately." Furthermore the Rema (Y.D. 248:20) writes that when the wife says ma'us alei the husband is obligated to divorce her. The Taz notes that the Rema here is only reporting the view of the Rambam but the Rema's true view is recorded in E.H. 77 where he doesn't mention that the husband should be forced to divorce her. But according to what we have said the words of the Rema (Y.D. 248.20) has a solid basis and that is the words of Rabbeinu Yonah. This is also noted by my friend the Tzitz Eliezar (5:26.4) based on the Noda B'Yehuda Kama (YD 68) who brings the words of the Rema as halacha l'maaseh and foundation principle. He notes that there is a basis to utilize this view at times of need according to the specific facts and needs of the time and appropriateness - depending on the evaluation of the beis din. I also say that in contemporary society with the degradation of the generations in free countries where every man does what he thinks is correct and there is a great increase in arrogance in the world and experience has taught that when a woman leaves her husband with the claim of ma'us alei and she is in limbo without receiving a get - that she will go and live with other men without the slightest shame or sense of embarrassment. As a result there is an increase in mamzerim in the world. In such a case we say that their degradation is to their benefit. This is expressed by the Ramban (Kesubos 63b), "Chas V'Shalom I am not arguing against the decree of the Gaonim to force him to divorce his wife and not only that but I strongly criticize those who say that it is not correct to follow their decrees but only the law as stated in the Talmud. In fact it is correct to listen to the Gaonim and to follow their decrees. Nevertheless now it is best to be very concern not to follow their decree because it has been abrogated because of the immorality of the generation." In other words in the time of the Ramban, even though women then had the brazenness to claim ma'us alei but they did not reach the extreme of chutpza to live with another man without receiving a get as we find in our days. But in the days before Moshiach as we are in now it is extremely relevant to considering returning to the decree of the Gaonim. And this is surely true when she is young and there is a real concern that she will go off the derech and there isn't much chance that she will return to her husband. Therefore it would appear that those who want to do something to force the husband to give a get have a solid basis for that decision. That is because the concerns that existed at the time of the Gaonim that the woman might go off the derech have returned. [In the time of the Gaonim the concern was that the woman would convert to Christianity for Islam rather than face end her days as an aguna]. Thus we see that whether the get should be forced or not is dependent on the particular time and era. And thus I have seen the gedol hador - Rav Chaim Palaggi in his Chaim v'Shalom (2:35) where he writes regarding forcing the husband that the view of a number of poskim including the Beis Yosef that the husband should not be forced to give a get. He writes, "Nevertheless according to everyone agrees that the woman is not forced to live with the husband. Therefore after a year or two after the time that they have separated from each other it would appear that he should be forced to divorce her. That is because there are two factors.  The man is not able to exist without a wife and the wife herself is not able to be without a husband. And this is surely true where she is young that we have to be concerned for disastrous results when she is chained as an aguna. Just look at how lenient the poskim are concerning preventing agunos in particular when she is young until they even go the extreme of relying on a minority opinion.  And surely the obligation lies on every dayan to be lenient is this manner in order to avoid trouble for both the man and the woman." Rav Chaim Palaggi is a great tree that one can rely on and surely in our day. And it is the same thing in cases where it is possible to combine various disputes of the poskim besides the claim of ma'us alei to be lenient. Also study Chaim V' Shalom (2:112), If there is a dispute between a husband and wife and the wife wants to be divorced and the husband refuses - one should establish a limited time for the matter to be resolved. And if we wait until 18 months  and we have despaired of reconciliation and it appears to beis din that there is nothing more than can be done for the marriage - they should separate the couple and force the husband to give a get until he proclaim,I want to give it.All of this that I have written is for the honor of G-d and His Torah." It is possible that Rav Palaggi is not talking about forcing with clubs but rather just calling him a sinner or similar techniques which is in accord with the view of Rabbeinu Yona and the Rema which we mentioned before.


Husband is not forced to give get when wife demands one- even if wife might commit adultery

Rav Eliashiv (Kovetz Teshuvos 174): Question: We are dealing with a case in which it apparently has been shown that the wife hates her husband – heart and soul – because of his behavior which is simply abnormal. The woman therefore has the claim of ma’us alei with a clear basis. This couple has lived separately for over 6 years. The question is whether the beis din will comply with the request of the wife and require him to give her a get. Answer: Even if you grant that this woman has the status of one who says ma’us alei with a clear justification, that in itself does not require that the husband give her a get. Look at Shut HaRashba (# 135 - attributed to Ramban), Question: When a woman claims ma’us alei... is the husband obligated to divorce her....? Answer: ... You should know that she is not able to force her husband to divorce her since  a woman goes out of the marriage sometimes according to her desires and sometimes not according to her desires. On the other hand the man only leaves the marriage only when he want to leave it... From all these you see that when a woman claims ma’us alei we do not force the husband to give a divorce... Even though the Rambam writes that when a woman says ma’us alei the husband is forced to divorce her – the Rambam is not correct in this matter... Concerning the kesuba and dowry that she brought him – according to the din she does not lose anything unless she insists on being a moredes for 12 months and all these 12 months she is not forced... However if she remains a moredes for 12 months and her husband wants to divorce her – she loses everything.... That is her din when her husband divorces her according to his wishes after 12 months. But if the desire to divorce comes from her – as we said before – he is not forced to divorce her. The words of the Rashba imply not only is the husband not forced to divorce her when she claims ma’us alei but that he has no obligation to give her a get! This is also apparent from the words of Tosfos(Kesubos 63).... Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 77:2): If she says that he disgusts me and I can not have relations with him – if the husband wants to divorce her she does not get any money from the Kesuba at all. Rema (E.H. 77:2)... All of this is only when she doesn’t give a reason and justification for her words as to why she finds him repulsive. But if she does give a reason for her words... And we don’t force him to divorce her  nor do we force her to remain with him. And if you want to claim that he must divorce her – it is obvious that since we don’t force her to remain with him then of necessity that there can’t be an obligation of the husband to give her a get. It is the same thing.

update Jan 17


Rav Sternbuch(5:345): Question:  A woman who has been separated from her husband for a number of years and she claims ma’us alei and there is a clear basis for this claim which has been verified. It is clear that there is no chance that they will reconcile. The husband is close to one of the chassidic rebbes who gives him great honor.  The beis din has met with the couple  many times and is firmly convinced that there is no possibility of reconciliation. Therefore they asked the husband to give his wife a get. However the husband has acted cruelly and refused. Even though I am presently traveling but since this is an emergency situation I will answer briefly.  You should know that many of the Rishonim including the Rambam and Rashi ruled that in a case of ma’us alei we force the husband to give a get. And some say that we force the get because of a decree of the Geonim. In contrast, Rabbeinu Tam and the Ri as well as other Rishonim disagreed and they held that a get can not be forced in a case of ma’us alei. The Rosh writes (43:6) that since there is a major dispute as to what the halacha is we don’t stick our heads between the great mountains. He also writes that whoever is lenient and forces a get results in an increase in mamzerim. The Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 77:2) also says not to force the get. So even  though we agree that the halacha is that the get can not be forced when there is a claim of ma’us alei, nevertheless such a husband should not be given honor. Therefore it is necessary to inform the rebbe who is honoring him that he is giving the husband help to torment his wife which is a severe sin.

However prior to putting pressure on him through the rebbe, this the couple should be given 12 months during which efforts should be made to convince them to reconcile and expert marriage therapists should be used to deal with their issues. However when the beis din is convinced that there is no chance that they will reconcile and they paskened that it it appropriate for him to divorce his wife and not leave her an agunah – and nevertheless the husband refuses to divorce her. If we see there is no hope that he will give her a get – then his rebbe should be contacted and requested to stop honoring him. If he will listen to daas Torah he will not lose anything and one who observes mitzva will not know harm.

Rav Sternbuch (4:301): Question: I received a question from America where -  due to our many sins - it is common that women rebel against their husbands and afterwards go to secular courts - Gd forbid! The secular court makes a judgment in her favor - through coercion and not in accord with the law of the Torah. The judgment  obligates the husband to pay very high support payments and carries a penalty of prison for failure to comply. In addition she is typically awarded custody of the children. The husband is asking for a heter of meah rabbonim to be able to remarry without giving her a get since she is a moredes and has transgressed the religious laws. On the other hand she claims that the heter of meah rabbonim is not relevant since she in fact is willing to accept the get. She also claims that there are rabbis who support her position. So she wants to benefit twice by obtaining a get according to the Torah and also a judgment from civil court which steals money from from her husband even after the get. Answer: In my humble opinion there is no validity to her claims and therefore the husband should be given a heter so he can marry another woman. The only limitation is that he needs to deposit the get with beis din as is the established practice. The reason for this is complex. 1) first of all since they are coercing him financially not in accord with the halacha regarding the support payments which are much higher than the halacha - that constitutes theft. Thus the get itself is a forced get. The gedolei poskim are worried about get me'usa. Thus the get is not actually valid and we have the problem that she is still a married woman who thinks she can remarry. Therefore it is necessary to exempt him from all financial obligations that were done against his will in order that the get itself be valid. Furthermore if the wife refuses to go to beis din, then that itself gives her the halachic status of moredes as is clear from Divrei Chaim (E.H. 51) and he cites the Chavas Daas who ruled that a woman who refused to go to beis din  was a moredes and the gedolim agreed with him. ... According to this if she goes with him  only to beis din then he is obligated to give her a get. However when she goes to secular court in addition to make monetary claims - she is not able hold on to both sides. In other words she can't go to the secular court with monetary claims and at the same demand that he give her a get in beis din. If she forces him to accept the rulings of the secular court in marriage matters he has no obligation to give her a get. We need to state in addition that the essence of the Decree of Rabbeinu Gershom was for the benefit of the wife.  However this benefit is only available when she doesn't abrogate her halachic obligations. But in the present case she has created serious devastation in the marriage in that she has rebelled against him and went to secular court where she received excessive judgements concerning maintenance and also the custody of the children. Her husband must give her a get in beis din so that she can remarry. So in the case of moredes the decree of Rabbeinu Gershom which was meant to benefit women was not intended and the husband can remarry with the heter of 100 Rabbis and he deposits the get with beis din until the judgment of the secular court is nullified. When that happens- if he has not yet remarried - then it is prohibited for him to do so until he gives his first wife a get.

In reality your question is a local issue of America and it is the job of American rabbis to decide. However my view is in agreement with the rabbis there who permit the husband to remarry without any difficulty and he needs to deposit a get with beis din. But when the judgment of the secular courts has been nullified then it is prohibited for the husband to remarry until he has properly divorced the first wife.

You should be aware that we are obligated to fight against her going to secular courts and we prevent her from remarrying if she does and if the get is given under these circumstances there is a suspicion that it was coerced (me'usa). Nevertheless in a case where she claims she can't stand him (ma'us alei) and there is no reason to believe they can be reconciled and the man is simply being cruel to her and is being spiteful by not to giving her a divorce - then even though it is prohibited for us to exert any force- G-d forbid! - nevertheless it is correct to notify the husband that the view of many of the gedolim (e.g., Rambam, Ravad, Behag, Rashbam, Rashi etc) is that he is sinning and they would encourage him to give her a get. Because even these poskim are concerned about creating [an invalid get] which would leave her as a married woman even bedieved - so G-d forbid that we should use any type of coercion. Regarding the issue of tormenting her and leaving her an aguna - it is correct for him to be concerned for her claim that she finds him revolting (ma'os alei) and it is prohibited for him to leave her as an aguna - even if she is not correct. But we are not to coerce him G-d forbid with any type of coercion that would possibly bring about a get me'usa. Rather [once we have informed him that it is wrong for him to withhold the get] he needs to come the the realization himself that he must conduct himself like a descendant of Avraham and the verse says that the ways of Torah are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace and that he will find happiness with someone else.

All of this we need to explain to the husband. That leaving her as an aguna is a transgression of a severe sin of onas  devarim - not to torment his wife. That refusing to divorce her serves no purpose except to get revenge against her. He doesn't want to live with her and he shouldn't think her life is worthless and he should be fully aware that in Heaven there is judgment and there is a Judge. He should also be informed that to many of the early gedolim it is correct even to force him to divorce. Unfortunately there are many beis dins that when they see that the husband doesn't want to divorce his wife they simply remain silent. But that is not acceptable. They must inform him that he is unjustifiably tormenting her and this is not correct. This of course is assuming that the beis din is convinced that there is no hope for reconciliation....
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Rav Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 1:389): Question: A woman has suffered for a number of years from her husband who refuses to divorce her - how can he be forced to give a get?  

Answer: It is an established halacha that if the wife refuses to live with her husband because she claims he is disgusting to her (ma'os alei) that it is impossible to force him to divorce her. This is explicitly stated by the Rema (E.H. 77:3). And even if it has been a number of years that they have separated and he is being spiteful and cruel in refusing to divorce her it is clearly stated by the Teshuvos haRosh (43:6) that if we force him to give the get there is the concern that it is a get me'usa and therefore invalid and it only serves to increase mamzerim. However while it is stated in the Rema (E.H. 154:21) that nidoi (cherem) is considered force and is prohibited, nevertheless he says it is permitted to decree that no Jew should do him a favor or should do business with him or even to circumcize his sons or to bury them - until he divorces his wife. But the Pischei Teshuva (E.H. 154:30) says there these shunnings (harhakos) are equivalent to nidoi (cherem) and are not permitted to be imposed today and the only recourse is to tell him that it is permitted to call him a sinner  and he says it is best to be strict according to this opinion. This is agreed to by the Chazon Ish (E.H. 105:12). He concludes in the name of the Rashba that it is not permitted to humiliate the husband or to torment him - examine this well.

However it appears that what is prohibited is to humiliate him and to shun him in a manner similar to cherem - i.e, not to do business with him and not to do him a favor - and that is not done today. (Chazon Ish understands the Pischei Teshuva differently). But when he is not actively humiliated but that he is only not given honors for example he is notified that he will not receive an aliyah in his shul or any other shul and that he will not be allowed to be the shliach tzibor - then this is not like cherem at all even though it causes some humiliation. The only pressure permitted is that he should know that the community does not approve of his conduct of being cruel to his wife - but this is not called force at all.
I recall witnessing an incident involving Rav Yechiel Weinberg (Seridei Aish) concerning a husband who spitefully refused to divorce his wife after a number of years and he directed that it be known and publicized that this husband was not to get an aliya in the shul. That is in accord with what I have written that this type of pressure is not called force. It is also done here in Yerushalayim to publicize notices in the street that a particular person is a sinner and has made his wife an aguna. In my opinion 1) if she has solid justification for her desire to be divorced then it would be possible and appropriate to force him  actively with humiliations to give her a get. We learn from Kesubos (71a) if it is clear that he hates her then he is obligated to divorce her. 2) On the other hand if there is no apparent reason for her being repelled by him we can distance him.  I am inclined to permit humiliation in such cases but it is necessary for beis din first to be very careful and thorough in evaluating the situation as to whether it is appropriate. Similarly one should not spare any efforts to encourage that she live with him when she requests a divorce and there is no clear reason except she says she doesn't like him. 3) But if there is a clear reason - then even if we don't force him with a beating we are accustomed to be lenient to pressure him with notices  in shuls as I mentioned above.

This that the wife creates pressure with the claim that he is tormenting her and she can not stand the situation any more and that she is ready to go to "rabbis" who are lenient in divorce - that is still not justification for us to make rulings against the Torah. The ways of G-d are hidden and some suffer physically while other suffering financially and some suffer in their marriage. We need to hope to G-d that the end of suffering has arrived and that he will divorce her. On the other hand, to force him with high payments for food or to humiliate him when it is not permitted - it doesn't help because this pressure only produces a get me'usa - G-d forbid - which has no validity. But concerning cruelty and spite which is characteristic of Sedom - only Heaven can punish him.


Yachin uVoaz(1:124):[15th Century Algeria] You should know that there are two different types of moredes and they have different laws. There is a moredes who despises her husband and she asserts that he is disgusting to her. On the other hand there is a moredes who says she wants her husband but she wants to torment him In the case of ma'us alei the view of the Rambam is that the husband is forced to divorce her immediately and he learns this from a deduction from the gemora as the Rosh writes. The Rambam states in Hilchos Ishus  (14:8) that if a wife refuses sexual relations that the husband is forced to give a a get since she is not like a prisoner who can be forced to have relations with someone she hates. However there has long been an outcry against the ruling of the Rambam by all the commentators and poskim such as Rabbein Tam, Ramban, Rosh, Rashba and many others. They agree concerning forcing the husband to divorce. Whoever forces the husband to divorce in accordance to the ruling of the Rambam increases mamzerim in the world. And they reject the view of the Rambam with clear proofs from the Talmud as the Rosh does. And many proofs are brought to refute and reject the words of the Rambam. And even the Magid Mishna who normally devotes  himself in all places to justify the words of the Rambam and to firmly establish their validity with clear proofs - in this case he refutes the Rambam and goes into detail with proofs to contradict the Rambam's reasoning and to reject it. It is unnecessary to repeat them here. The halachic view that has become univeral is that one does not force the husband to give a get when she claim ma'us alei and we do not rely on the ruling of the Rambam nor others who agree with him in this matter. And furthermore that even if the halacha was in accord with the Rambam it would be correct to make a protective fence in this matter to prevent immorality amongst the woman because of the degradation of the contemporary generation. Because woman have become haughty and arrogant in their immorality. We are therefore concerned that a wife might have become interested in another man and she wants to discard her husband by declaring he is disgusting to me (ma'us alei). If it became known that that would be sufficient to have her husband forced to give her a get then it would surely cause problems. But in fact the Rambam is not the halacha because of the proofs that the opponents of the Rambam bring [And even in Algeria where they always follow the Rambam there are three exceptions and this is one of them and not those who agree with the Rambam...]. However I saw in the Rosh who writes that if in fact the psak of the Rambam was followed and the woman was divorced by force and she remarried - we don't force her leave the second marriage. However many others disagree with the Rosh and they say that if she remarries after a forced get - she must leave the second marriage.
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update: added my rebuttal in yellow

 I don't have time now to write a rebuttal of this article. Hopefully next week - but I thought it would be helpful to read this well written - though mistaken - piece. One of the comments summarizes the problem well.

Rivka Gornall Leiner · Top Commenter · Graphologist and Counselor at Self-Employed
Adds nothing but one more snowball in the avanche of one sided articles written by those who sleep quietly while female get refusal, child alienation, false abuse accusations, monetary extortion (on both sides) and cruelty play out because of the woman's spite or greed. This might help your rabbi points in feminist pc Denver but it ignores reality.
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Times of Israel    by Rabbi Levi Brackman

In my fourteen years of practicing as a rabbi I have been asked numerous times to offer counsel and support to couples in failing marriages. Despite the fact that it takes two to tango, often the breakdown of a marriage is more the fault of one party than the other. Yet, no matter how the marriage ends and who is at fault, if the husband does not actively agree to give a Gett (Jewish religious divorce) immediately after the wife requests it he is always in the wrong no matter what.

Why? That is clearly not the view of the Torah. See Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 77:2-3). So what is meant by wrong no matter what? Does that mean that the husband should not request marriage counseling first? Does that mean a mistaken belief that the Torah requires a Get on demand? What if the wife takes the kids and moves to another state. He is simply supposed to give a Get and forget about his children? Or perhaps it mean that if all issues are settled, the is no basis for reconciliation and yet the husband out of spite refuses to give a Get that he is wrong? If it is the latter than I agree totally but if the former conditions - I disagree strongly.

From a religious perspective, the Torah is very protective about the feelings and dignity of women — even more so than that of men. The Talmud warns men to never hurt their spouses feelings and or cause them to weep. It cautions men to be exceedingly careful about their spouses dignity and honor (Baba Metzia, 59a) and to respect and honor them more than they honor themselves (Yevamot, 62b, Maimonides, Ishut, 15:19). These guidelines are based on Biblical sources and have been codified into Jewish law. Furthermore the Talmud tells us that in matters of worldly and household affairs the women’s opinion takes precedence to that of the man’s (Baba Metzia, ibid).

Yes it is true that the Torah is concerned out not hurting the feelings of others - especially one's wife. But the sources cited are not dealing with divorce - but rather the conditions for a viable marriage. Similarly it is well known that there are a variety of laws about not hurting other people's feelings. However there are also laws that require criticizing others as well as saying bad things about them - even if it hurts there feelings. We don't refrain from telling others not to steal because it might hurt their feelings. We don't refrain from punishing murderers - even though it hurts them and embarrasses their family. Chastisement is a mitzva as is loving your fellow man.  One can not legitimately claim  that the Torah categorically prohibits hurting the feeling of others - especially one's wife. If Rabbi Brackman has sources for doing so - I would appreciate see them. Like most things in life - the various Torah obligations need to be prioritized and balanced.

Clearly a man who refuses his wife’s request to give a religious bill of divorce for any period of time after it is made clear that from her perspective the marriage is over, is contravening these extremely serious sections of Jewish law in the most grievous manner possible. But refusing to give a Gett is also the mark of a man who lacks basic human empathy and common decency.[...]

The above statement is not supported by the gemora, Shulchan Aruch or poskim. As noted above - I would appreciate sources for what seems to be a declaration that the concern for a wife's feeling is more important than all the other Torah obligations and Torah rights that a person has as well as the welfare of her children. That simply is not so.

Some men hide behind Jewish law as a reason not to give a Gett. They argue that all aspects of the divorce needs to be settled before they are Halachicly (according to Jewish law) allowed to give the Gett. They then proceed to make any settlement as difficult as possible, allowing them to continue their abusive and controlling behavior. Tragically there are some Jewish courts that allow men to behave this way. Happily, however, most of the larger reputable Jewish courts will not allow narcissistic men to use religion as a tool to further abuse and blackmail their wives. The most obnoxious Gett refusers, however, seem to avoid reputable Jewish courts. As pernicious, are men who tell their wife, who is desperate for a divorce, that they “want to work on their marriage” and therefore won’t give a Gett. Again this ploy won’t work at most reputable Jewish courts.

Is Rabbi Brackman claiming that insistence that all aspects be settled before giving a get is not the halacha or is he saying that the halacha is unfair to women for requiring this? Or is he saying that women view this halachic fact as giving an unfair advantage to the men? Is he saying that some men take advantage of this halacha or that the wife often claims that they are - even when there are legitimate reasons not to. Again he is describing a complex situation in very simplistic terms and in addition is totally ignoring the possibility that there are sometimes legitimate reasons for continuing negotiations - even if it makes the wife unhappy. In fact it is clear from Rabbi Brackman's writing that he views the woman as inevitably the victim and the man the bully. That is simply an inaccurate picture and biased description. Likewise he fails to note that some courts are biased against men - and that men try to avoid using such courts - even though women prefer them. [...] 

Thus, in Judaism when a man refuses to give his wife a Gett he is taking away her most basic human right — her freedom to live and be who she wants to be. The moment the wife decides she no longer wants to be married to her husband human empathy and common decency dictates that he must let her free. By finding excuses for not doing so he is controlling her in a manner that contravenes every aspect of her basic human rights. There is only one apt description for that type of behavior — pure evil.
Rabbi Brackman's idiosyncratic understanding of get is well expressed  "in Judaism when a man refuses to give his wife a Get he is taking away her most basic human right — her freedom to live and be who she wants to be." He is conflating Judaism with secular values.  He does not show that the Torah requires Get on demand and in fact it doesn't. Obviously such a fact bothers Rabbi Brackman.
Western man places freedom to do whatever he/she wants as the highest values - but it clearly is not a Jewish values. I would like to see him present a source which says that Judaism says that man's most basic right is freedom to live and be who she wants to be. Judaism takes away the right of a married woman to commit adultery, of males to have sexual relations with males, of Jews marrying non-Jews etc etc. Why doesn't Rabbi Brackman explicitly acknowledge that the values of Judaism as defined by halacha and hashkofa - are simply not adequate for him.
In the final analysis, the refusal to give a Gett by a husband, for any reason, will cause pain to his wife and therefore is not only contrary to the spirit of Judaism it contravenes the letter of the law as well. But beyond that it is a terrible desecration of G-d’s name because it in essence is just another example of the cynical use of religion to hurt and control another human being. Tragically this is yet another case of women being especially disadvantaged in this regard. [...]

 The above statement as a categorically statement is false as is clear from the gemora, Shulchan Aruch and poskim.

As the Halachic Prenup, which ensures substantial monetary penalties for not giving a Gett, becomes more popular this problem will hopefully become a thing of the past. But until that happens there are still women who are chained and suffering and it is up to you and me to do all we can to ensure that their evil tormentors do not get away with it.

He fails to note that in the Chareidi world the prenup is understood to be an example of financial pressure and thus is problematic as Get Me'usa. If his intent is to proclaim that only the Modern Orthodox understanding of halacha is legitimate - then he should say so instead of giving the clear but false impression that all Orthodox poskim agree with his view
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Finally Rabbi Brackman posted a statement on Facebook criticizing those such as myself who have a "mistaken" understanding because we don't agree with his views concerning Get. 

He fails to note that such disagreement is not just that of the simple people such as myself - but is in fact the normative view of poskim through the ages as I have shown in many posts on my blog [just search for term "get me'sua" (or "get meusa" or "forced get") in the archives.

https://www.facebook.com/levi.brackman/posts/10205684977302618
There we go, it was bound to happen, Daniel Eidensohn, in his Daas Torah blog read my article and characterized it as a "well written - though mistaken - piece" and me as a "rabbi ignores halacha." I wonder what part is mistaken or against Halacha?
Perhaps the line that: "The Torah is very protective about the feelings and dignity of women — even more so than that of men."
Perhaps he thinks this is a mistake: "Refusing to give a Gett is also the mark of a man who lacks basic human empathy and common decency"?
Or maybe he disagrees with this: "the refusal to give a Gett by a husband, for any reason, will cause pain to his wife and therefore is not only contrary to the spirit of Judaism it contravenes the letter of the law as well."
He probably disagrees with the general idea that men should not be allowed to use the Get to further control and intimidate their wives.
Whatever it is he disagree with, the fact that his opinion is shared by so many of his circle is deeply troubling. What on earth is wrong with these people. It boggles the mind.