Sunday, August 20, 2023

Baltimore Beis Din: Tamar Epstein is still married to Aharon Friedman and is forbidden to remarry without first receiving a Get

update: Just added a letter written November 3 by the Baltimore Beis Din which addresses many of the short comings in the original letter which was written in July

update: I had removed this post a week ago at the direct request of Rav Mordechei Shuchatowitz of the Baltimore Beis Din. See Removal of post of Baltimore Beis Din

I did this for the sake of shalom bayis. That is to avoid side disagreements that would distract from dealing properly with the main issue of the phony heter. However it has become clear that whatever benefit for shalom bayis might have resulted from its removal - it is outweighed by the loss of critical information that is needed in the resolution of this crisis.

As this crisis winds down to the "end game" - it has become clear that various individuals feel a need to present the facts in a new more flattering way which smooths over certain difficulties.

Therefore aside from the need to accurately present the facts as to what has happened and why it has happened for the sake of Truth - it is needed to present the facts in order to know what to do to rectify the problem. Furthermore as Santayana wrote (in The Life of Reason, 1905): “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” or as eloquently and wisely expressed by Winston Churchill
“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”
—House of Commons, 2 May 1935, after the Stresa Conference, in which Britain, France and Italy agreed—futilely—to maintain the independence of Austria. (My book* page 490).

Letter written November 3, 2015

The following letter written in Tammuz from the Baltimore Beis Din was posted on Otzar Forums. 

After reading all the other letters against the heter of mekach ta'os - this one is clearly not a protest against a heter. In fact it doesn't acknowledge that there was a heter or a remarriage. It simply says the Baltimore Beis Din knows nothing about a divorce  either that they were involved in or that others did. Consequently according to their level of knowlege Tamar Epstein is still married to Aharon Friedman. It is a letter which shows extreme reluctance (timidity? or cowardice?) to even acknowledge that something has happened and therefore it refuses to criticize directly or indirectly Rabbi Greenblatt, the Kaminetskys and Tamar Epstein

Because the description  of events in the Beis Din's letter is truncated and missing critical information - a detailed description of events is available here  in this revised Procedural Summary.

 It is important to know why Aharon Friedman is named as the plaintiff in the civil courts. it was not because of his desire to have the case handled by the secular courts [contrary to the assertions of the Beis Din's letter] but was the result of a psak he received from Rabbi Breitowitz that he needed to take action quickly in the secular courts to avoid losing his daughter. As the Summary clearly shows - he actually cancelled a trial in civil court in October 2008 in order to bring the case to beis din. He also ultimately agreed to entirely cancel the secular lawsuit when the beis din later ordered him to do that - but Tamar refused. In fact a major posek who has been deeply involved in this case stated recently that Aharon showed too much deference to the beis din and rabbinical adivisors and that he should have gone to the police when Tamar abducted their daughter and moved to Philadelphia in April 2008 and should not have canceled the October 2008 trial to being the case to Beis Din - for the reason that Tamar had established facts on the ground by relocating the child out-of-State that would effectively pre-determine the outcome of any court case (if postponed any further), and beis din, even with a binding arbitration agreement would have no legal ability to change that.
As both Rabbi Landesman's letter to Rabbi Feldman, and the letter from the Rabbi Rabinowitz's Beis Din Ezer Mishpat make clear, Tamar violated the Beis Din's  orders and brought the case to trial in civil court. Tamar's actions in this regard also violated the parties' mediation agreement (pursuant to which Aharon agreed to dismiss a pendete lite trial in October 2008), and violated the shtar beirurin [binding arbitration agreement] signed before the Beis Din, both of which bound the parties to have the case decided by the Baltimore BD.
It is true that Aharon participated in the civil court trial.  But once Tamar refused the Beis Din's orders and insisted on taking the case to trial in civil court, Aharon had no choice but to participate in that trial -- and even the Beis Din did not ask Aharon not to.  Although courts must generally respect binding arbitration agreements regarding other matters, if one party to a binding arbitration agreement regarding custody insists on the court deciding the case, the court may not defer to the arbitrator and must decide the case from scratch under the doctrine of parens patriae. 
This is the rule in Maryland under a case called Kovacs, which specifically ruled that the Maryland courts may not enforce a binding arbitration agreement before the Baltimore BD with regard to child custody where one party objected.
The Baltimore Beis Din is still the only beis din that has been authorized by both sides to deal with the issues. And they state they are willing to continue.

It simply affirms that Tamar Epstein still retains the status of being the wife of Aharon Friedman and can not remarry with first receiving a Get.

Since the copy is not very clear I retyped it, in what I hope is the correct text. Any corrections will be appreciated. It is signed by the dayan hak'vuah Rav Mordechai Shuchatowitz, Rav Moshe Heinemann and Rav Yaakov Hopfer. Rav Aharon Feldman added a note that Tamar Epstein is clearly still married to Aharon Friedman and signed as well.

Letter written July 2015

THE BALTIMORE BAIS DIN -       בית דין קבוע מטעם ועד הרבנים דבאלטימאר 

נשאלנו בעת על דעת הבית דין אודות המעמדה בהלכה של מרת תמר (עפשטין) פרידמן שתחי', אשתו שלר' אהרן פרידמן שיחי', והנה זה כבר כמה שנים מאז באו הצדדים הנ"ל לפנינו בשנת תשס"ט וחתמו על שטר הבוררים שלנו לדון בעניני נישואיהם וגירושיהם כולל החזקת הבת שלהם וביקוריה והמסתעף,וטענו דבריהם בשלשה מושבי הב"ד במשך שלשה חדשים, והורינו אז להם שלדאבוננו אין עוד תקוה עלשלום בית ומוכרחים הם להתגרש לאחר שיסתדרו עניניהם ובפרט הענינים המתייחסים אל בתם,והשתדלו אז לסדר ענינים אלו אצל יועץ ומתווך מסוים, ושוב פנו אל הערכאות שלא ברשות בית דין ועלאף שהתרינו בהם שצעדם זה הוא שלא ושלא כדין, ולאחר שיצא משפטם שמה הודיענו להם שאף שלא יזדקקו הב"ד לדון שוב בדיונים שקבלו עליהם הכרעת בית המשפט, תיק הב"ד עדיין פתוח לדון עלמה שלא הובא שמה, דהיינו גירושיהם כהלכה ושום תביעות ממוניות שביניהם, אמנם מאז ועד עתה לאהגישו לא זה ולא זו שום בקשה לב"ד דידן, וגם לא הודיעונו לא הם ולא אחרים על סידור גט פטוריןביניהם ולא שמענו ולא ריאנו שום היתר נשואין מאיזה בית דין אחר כלל, ולכן כפי ידיעתנו אשה זועומדת בחזקת אשת איש גמורה ואסורה לכל אדם עד שתקבל ג"פ כדת וכדין.

ואמנם אם יש לשום אחד איזה ידיעה שלא ידענו או איזה טענה בהלכה שלא שמענו, הננו מוכניםומזומנים להושיב ב"ד מיוחד לדון על דינה דהאי איתתא לאמתה של תורה, ומי בעל דברים יגיש דבריואליהם, ובזה נזכה להסיר מכשול מביננו ולהרים קרנה של תורה ולתרבות שלום בעולם בעזה"ש ית"ש.ועכ"ז בעה"ת ביום ששי בשבת תשעה ימים לחדש תמוז תשע"ה לפ"ק

מרדכי שוחטוביץ
משה היינמאן
יעקב האפפער

הנני מצטרף לנ"ל ושפשוט שהאשה הנ"ל אשת איש גמורה
אהרן פלדמן

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