Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Neglected Point In the Tamar Epstein Case

Guest post

I would just like to precede with an analogy to help clarify this issue. If one were to go to a Bais Din with a claim that he just purchased a car from a dealer and there was no engine inside. If the Bais Din were to declare this a Mekach Tois without speaking to the dealer and giving him the opportunity to express his position. The Bais Din would be considered at best a Bais Din Shel Hadyotis and their ruling would be null and void. The reason being that it is impossible to decide an issue without hearing both sides of the story. The dealer could very well counter with a claim that he only sold the car for parts and bring a bill of sale proving his claim. The same is true here, it is impossible for any Rov or Bais Din to declare a Mekach Tois without hearing from the husband. Since this ruling was done without the presence of the husband it is null and void. There is no heter or excuse for a UNILATERAL decree of Mekach Tois.

In my opinion discussions of the validity of the grounds claimed for Mekach Tois detract from the issue that it is impossible to unilaterally declare a Mekach Tois. All claims made for Mekach Tois are invalid unless the husband is given the right to refute them.


  1. Had Aron F. been invited, he would have burst their soap bubble.

  2. I'm still uncertain that the basis was mekach taos. Or that Tamar really even married someone. Perhaps the rabbis put on a dog and pony show to scare her husband.

  3. If the 'hedyotot' ruled against the seller without inviting him (her) to their din torah, can the seller take the 'hedyotot' to a din torah over embarrassing him (her) in public, without giving a chance to prove wrong (assuming you can find a proper bet din.)

  4. While this may be a good point, I am not sure if it is relevant. In your example, the reason why the seller must be consulted is because the buyer is trying to nullify the dale and get his money back. As you said, if the seller could prove it was, e.g., sold for parts, there are no grounds for forcing him to return the purchase money. Here, Tamar is not asking that her husband #1 refund the money her family spent on the wedding, or something like that. She is presenting circumstances which she thinks make the wedding a mekach ta'us as far as she is is concerned, allowing her to get married, the the poskim who issued the heter apparently agree with her. Her husband #1 is not part of this din Torah at all.
    Of course, I think it would be criminally negligent for anyone to simply take her word for matters without clarifying with the husband and/or the Beis Din that was overseeing the case, but I don't thank that would, in and of itself, be a disqualification of the pesak, as it would in the case of the car.

  5. The_Original_Bored_LawyerOctober 12, 2015 at 2:38 PM

    While you are certainly correct that a beis din has to hear all sides, it is not clear to me your analogy holds. People sell cars for all kinds of reasons -- as you say, they could sell it for parts, and the buyer could acknowledge it does not work. Here the two entered into a marriage, and I think the general presumption is that each side was capable of functioning as a normal husband and wife.

    When Rav Moshe Feinstein was mattir certain agunos on the basis of mekach taus, did he hear the husband? If memory serves, in some of those cases the husband was not available or not interested in appearing at all.

  6. עכו"ם מסיח לפי תומו
    For the record: Marriage licenses issued in Shelby County
    Adam P. Fleischer, 38; Tamar E. Epstein, 32

  7. “There
    is no heter or excuse for a UNILATERAL decree of Mekach Tois.”

    We can be sure that
    Rabbi Moshe Feinstein sought out where possible the husband to hear his
    side. These feminists want to show that
    women can do without men. That women
    decide and men must kow-tow to them.
    Women have all the rights and men nothing. The militant feminists make war of the sexes. Rabbi Eidensohn, I commend you on your
    battle: “There is no heter or
    excuse for a UNILATERAL decree of Mekach Tois.” In NYS, feminists just love how easy women
    can get a civil divorce over the objections of their husbands. In the 1980’s I heard a prominent rabbi say,
    that, after a NYS civil divorce, we must pressure the man to give a get. In halacha, basically, just as it takes 2 (willing)
    to marry, so it takes 2 (willing) to divorce.

  8. We have here a חזקת אשת איש. The husband is accorded halachic rights based on this fact. To attempt to מוציא these rights from him without halachic due process is an exercise in futility.
    שמוע בין אחיכם

  9. Of course, you have heard Rav Kamenentsky's and the other matirim's side before criticizing him..... (yes, I know you have 'invited' him to respond, but that is not the same thing.)

  10. "We can be sure that Rabbi Moshe feinstein sought out where possible the husband to hear his side"...."where possible" are interesting wiggle words because the statement you were supporting was an unqualified one.

  11. In theory, if this was all a show being put up, they could get a secular marriage license and do nothing with it, and not marry.

  12. Dangers of doing a din torah without inviting all sides:
    see section V.

  13. Why isnt it the same thing? If they invite a response and none is forthcoming, the world should just sit back and say nothing?

  14. Not really, cause he would have insisted on his own bet din (?vaad of baltimore?) And they would never had agreed to it.

    And or, he would unilaterally agree to a get in exchange for visitation. Bursting their bubble.

  15. Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn spoke to Rabbi Greenblatt, who

    confirmed that he
    had performed the ceremony.

  16. Shimon - I gather you are still trying to be nasty and express contempt towards me as you have in the past. However in the slight chance that you might actually pay attention to response I off the following.

    First of all my brother spoke to Rabbi Greenblatt - he refused to divulge his side. In the past various people have called up Rabbi Kaminetsky - both of them - and they have refused to explain their side. I have offered them the opportunity to explain themselves - and they haven't taken advantage of the chance.

    Second of all - what is written as commentary on a blog is not psak halacha and does not change people's halachic status. When rabbis issue pronouncements which destroy a man's ability to get married in order to avoid giving a GET - the victim of the psak has a right to defend himself. When rabbis's decide a Get isn't needed - they have a requirment according to the halacha to explain that astonishing ruling.

  17. Maybe he doesn't want his side posted all over your blog. Maybe he is dealing with things the quiet way. The way it used to be. Just maybe.

  18. It's not called a "din Torah" if all sides aren't present. It's called "din kangaroo", as in "kangaroo court".

    To borrow from Joseph Heller's book "Catch-22"

    "The case against [Friedman] was open and shut. The only thing missing was something to charge him with.”

  19. Shimon he is dealing with things so silently that not even his fellow rabbis know what his justification is. That is not the way it used to be done. Rav Moshe Feinstein published teshuvos to explain his decisions about mistaken marriages - where are their teshuvos?

  20. In order to keep up the appearance of it being a real marriage, since Rabbi Greenblatt would be an integral part of the show, he would have to "confirm" there was a marriage to give the impression it was real.

    I don't know that is the case, but I don't know that isn't the case and it seems at least plausible.

  21. Even RMF requires a get for a secular marriage, especially for a dog and pony show. If cannot get a get, we can do away with it, but if its being done that way on purpose, maybe not.

    But a pony show is much more like a 'kiddushin' ceremony.

    As is a couple known in town at one time as married, needs a get.

  22. Maybe he will publish a teshuvah in several years. Rav Moshe did not instantly answer his critics and suffered much redifos over some his teshuvous. From Satmar and others. And there are numerous unpublished teshuvous of rav moshe as well.

  23. Reb Moshe did not keep his psakim ***secret*** - even when they weren't published.

    The issue isn't - why this isn't being published? it is why it is being kept secret - as well as the names of the rabbis involved.

  24. Case A) Insisting his rights for the place of the Nitva, a slippery soap bubble would cause him to slip out of their grips.
    Case B) Had all parties agreed to his legitimite visitation rights, no bubble necessary.
    In any which case) Ein hachay makchish es hachay. Ledovid beshanoisoi es taamo, was putting up an act. If one goes batty, you cannot put up an act as if NORMAL. That is exactly why they did everything hush hush without his presence and without his knowledge. However, Hashem has his own ways, va'atsas H' hi sokum. Sof dovor hakol nishma, and with due pressure they will succumb, only to declare that she is NOT FREE FREE after all. There are NO FREE lunches. She is a qualified Eishes ish lemehadrin min haMehadrin with all bells and whistles. This whole saga seems saruach meikro, every day it is getting even better, that nothing was done al pi haHalacha. This shall put Epstein veSiyato Barred, all Gitei meusse outlawed, and iskei bish of hafkaot kidushin lemafrea, anulled keafra deara'a. Chodosh ossur min haTorah!

  25. Because 1) It's only been a few days 2)They are under no obligation to respond to individual members of the public however influential they believe their blogs are. Maybe they don't want stuff posted all over the Internet. It's not the traditional way of Talmidei Chachomim and Yirei Shomsyim to have all aired in public like this. It can take months for teshuvous to be prepared and written up properly. For all we know they have responded to other talmidei chachomim who are also not prepared to have it all aired to all and sundry over the Internet and operating b'hatznia leches. That's why.

  26. Shimon - you are spouting nonsense. You simply have no clue what is going on. As the Titanic sinks you keep muttering - "but it unsinkable. There must be some explanation why it looks like it is sinking other than that it is sinking."

    No they haven't responded to other talmidei chachomim - not sure they have even explained it fully to themselves.

  27. Thank you for your insults (not). Not very refined. I am always careful to avoid personal attack. Anyway, how would you know whether they have spoken to talmudei chachomim or not.

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