Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Consequences of public knowledge of divorce details.The day after the Tamar Epstein heter is univerally rejected by our Rabbis

The tragedy of the Tamar Epstein case has becoming apparent for everyone to see. Following her rabbinic mentors she has gotten remarried without a GET. This move is something which is widely - even universally rejected - from the most extreme Orthodox members of Bnei Brak and Meah Shearim to the Moderates and Left wing. It is acknowledged that there was no basis for a psak of kiddushei ta'os - and that by not receiving a Get before remarriage that she is committing adultery and has damaged the status of her future children. There will be a letter or letters released in the near future that publicly condemn her remarriage and affirm that she is still married to Aharon Friedman.

The question is what changes will result from this incident? Ironically one of the consequences is to damage the supporters of women to receive a Get on demand. By putting the spotlight on a particular woman - the manner that she gets out of marriage now becomes a public obsession. With this type of attention - any irregularities or halachic uncertainties - brand her and her children forever. In the past the details of divorce were generally not public knowledge - by the wishes of all parties concerned. Now women publish detailed accounts of all events.

I just received the following letter today expressing this problem.

Dear Rabbi,
I have followed your work for several years and respect you greatly.  I am by no means an expert on Gittin.  (I sat on a beis din once and that was because the other dayanim needed a body...)  Over Shabbos, I was discussing the Epstein matter with another of your followers and felt the impetus to write.  

Having perused the Epstein issue, I have one subtle, but quite important observation:  She who lives by the sword dies by the sword.  Whether or not you agree with ORA or any of these organizations that publicize agunah issues (or whatever their opposition claims), it is clear that these organizations have added a new dimension to the modern day agunah.  Once an Epstein-type case becomes public, we all look to see how it is resolved.  I dare say that the Epstein case isn't the first time when a rov has nullified kedushin- this is just the first time that we have heard and cared about it. 
This leads to two results:  First, women who otherwise publicize their agunah issues may be hesitant to air their issues to the community for fear of what happens if their ploy fails.  Second, women who have gone public may be stuck in a catch 22.  Regardless of whether or not you may consider Rabbi Greenblatt's actions halachically valid, I highly doubt that he did this without backing of those with seemingly broad shoulders.  
Again, I am not passing judgment on any of the parties involved in the Epstein case, I am merely bringing an important issue- one that may eventually overshadow all of what your blog has focused upon- to light for discussion

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