Thursday, August 24, 2023

English translation of Rav Gestetner's letter regarding Tamar Epstein's heter to remarry without a Get

 Hebrew original

The following translation was sent to me by a reader of this blog - he acknowledges that it is not a precise translation. But he felt that the basic ideas needed to be presented to those who don't read Hebrew and therefore don't grasp the significance of the protest of talmidei chachomim against the heter to remarry without a Get.. Hopefully translations of other letters will be made available in the near future.

Protest and warning by Beis Din against the violation of Jewish Law regarding a married woman living with another man without a Get

Our Beis Din has already issued a statement on Sivan 24, 5772 [Thursday of the week in which the Torah reading is Shlach, in which Moshe asks “why you are violating the word of G-d, and she will not be successful”], on the Friedman-Epstein matter, as to how Tamar Epstein left her husband, Aharon Friedman, without any grounds under Jewish Law.  She herself stated in her own handwriting before she left him that she has pleasant feelings towards him, that he is a loyal husband to her, loving, sweet, gentle, and appreciates her, such as her taking of their daughter, allows her to spend money, is honest, makpid on [careful in his observance of] kashrus [eating kosher], davening [praying], and shmiras halashon [not speaking ill of others].  However, she decided to leave him because he is not adequately sociable.  And we previously explained that according to our holy Torah, she has the Jewish Law status of a woman wrongfully leaving her husband, and that all opinions under Jewish Law require that she return to her husband.  Furthermore, there is no mitzvah or obligation of any sort to ever give a get to her.  And certainly, there are no grounds to coerce a get.  All of this was explained with strong sources in Jewish Law.

However, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, because of his mistaken propensity to follow the current opinion of the masses and also because of the benefits he has received from the Epstein family conducted himself as her lawyer and took advantage of his standing as a gadol to wage a destructive war against the husband (who refused to give a get until an appropriate custody schedule could be arranged), and together without other rabbis without standing, issued a phony seruv  [contempt] declaration without any basis in Jewish Law against the husband, that was publicized around the world.  This slandering of the husband can never be atoned for.  This action was in and of itself enough to invalidate any get given in this case.

On Tisha B’Av 5772, several gangsters hired by the wife physically attacked Aharon in an  attempt to force him to give a get.  They threw him to the ground at the entrance of the Epstein home while Aharon was returning their daughter.  But the efforts of these thugs were unsuccessful and the husband was able to flee.  After this incident, and shortly after the Mendel Epstein gang was arrested [several members of the gang, including ringleaders Mendel Epstein and Mordechai Wolmark, have either plead guilty or were convicted by a jury at a trial at which the attack against Aharon was alleged to be part of the Epstein gang’s criminal conspiracy], the ignoramus “ORA” organization, known for being disreputable, announced that Tamar had become free to remarry under Jewish Law without a get.

It was later announced that Tamar was married to Adam Fleischer by Rabbi Nota Greenblatt from Memphis, Tennessee. We protest at this terrible breach of the walls of our holy Torah that was heretofore unheard of amongst the Orthodox, but known only amongst the Reform. Anyone taking any part of this breach to permit what has been prohibited throughout the generations completely rejects the Torah and mocks the words of the Sages.

Therefore, pursuant to our holy Torah, we announce that the Rabbi Nota Greenblatt is an uprooter of the Torah, similar to the Reform movement.  He must be completely separated from the Jewish community, and his Jewish Law teachings, his bread and his wine are prohibited.  This is also the status of Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, as all who have the authority to protest this matter and do not do so are held culpable.  Without his approval this would not have happened and it is clear that he bears responsibility for this terrible matter.

We also announce: Jewish Law is clear that Tamar is still married to Aharon and that Tamar and Adam Fleischer are violating the prohibition of another man living with a married woman. Any children born to Adam and Tamar will be considered complete “mamzerim” until the end of generations.  And there is an obligation to pronounce this.

Tamar must leave both men and is prohibited to either forever.  Before Tamar separates from Adam Fleischer through receiving a get, it is prohibited for Aharon to give a get to Tamar.  And even after Tamar receives a get from Adam there is no obligation on Aharon to give a get before Tamar agrees to an appropriate custody arrangement. Any children born by Tamar from Adam even after Tamar receives a get are mamzerim according to the rabbis.  There is an obligation to encourage them to separate. Signed, this first day of the week of “Vateshachais haaretz lifnei Elokim” [the earth was destroyed before Hashem] [Noach], 28 Tishrei, 5776,Monsey New York, Beis Din Shar Hamishpat


  1. Aha! This is the first of the letters to make furious attacks against the named rabbis, and to disapprobate the rabbis in question. So far , not even R Shternbuch has called Greenblatt et all "reform", and all the letters refer to RSK as HaGaon.
    If there was any mileage in this sad fiasco, there would be a letter of the Aguda signed by all (except for RSK) members, together with one from the Israeli Degel/Aguda leaders.

  2. If the document is from R Gestetner then it is logical that you should have a picture of R Gestetner and not of R Shmuel Kaminetzky.

    Also, while translating letters is helpful for people unable to read Hebrew, it does nothing to convince the Moetzes members who are the only ones who can do anything to R Shmuel Kaminetzky and get him to change his mind. That is what happened in the case when R Shmuel Kaminetzky supported a book written by a well-known rabbi from Lakewood who co-wrote a book with a Reform rabbi in an effort to do outreach, and only after fellow-Moetzes members put pressure on the author of the book to retract, were they able to get R Shmuel Kaminetzky to back down.

    Likewise, in the recent Dodelson case, as long as the side of the husband had the support of Moetzes member R Dovid Feinstein, he did not back down, but as soon as fellow Moetzes members put out a letter supporting the wife and allowing her to to take any measures to shame the husband, including going to the yellow press to shmeer her husband and harass her family at MTJ (the Feinstein's yeshiva) and at ArtScroll and get them fired, did the husband finally cooperate.

    So the ones to watch are the RSK's fellow Moetzes mebers and no matter how many letters come from Rebbelach and minor Roshei Yeshiva and rabbis in far-off Israel, nothing will happen, and RSK will remain firm and not back down, until a good part of the Moetzes mebers turn against him publicly, and so far that has not happened so RSk is safe for now, R Greenblatt can keep on running his Bais Din, and the woman at the center of the furor can sleep well at night knowing she has good enough rabbinic backing to ignore all the screaming and shouting, and spinning of wheels by recycling old letters and translating them into all the languages of the world, it will not help until the MOETZES takes action and right now they have not done anything really, just sent out R Aron Feldman on a "reconnaissance mission" to see how the wind is flying and what he can do to bring down his friend RSK.

    Stay tuned.

  3. "Therefore, pursuant to our holy Torah, we announce that the Rabbi Nota Greenblatt is an uprooter of the Torah, similar to the Reform movement. He must be completely separated from the Jewish community, and his Jewish Law teachings, his bread and his wine are prohibited. This is also the status of Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky.'
    In the original Hebrew, the title "rabbi" is not used in this paragraph. It says "that man Nota Greenblatt" and "this is also the status of Shmuel Kamenetzky."

  4. RaP you obviously live in a parallel universe.

    Dismissing the protests as merely coming from Machmerim and "so far nothing has happened" is like a person who has been run over by a 18 wheeler saying " Nothing happened to me - I can still open my eyes"

    You are totally clueless about what is going on. Why not ask the Kaminetsky's whether "nothing has happened so far"?

  5. Only providing a "commentary" and trying to be as detached and objective as possible.

    Obviously since you are conducting this digital war against the Kaminetskys you feel a strong sense of bravura, but the question is what is happening at ground zero so to speak, meaning in the Agudist world where the Kaminetskys are respected and popular leaders much sought out by almost everyone, while your blog, while it may be very principled and have noble aims, is so far coming across as strident and citing opinions of every last Kannoi rabbi you and your brother are able to dredge up.

    There was a time a few years ago, when your brother was not involved on this blog, when it sounded cool, calm and collected, but now it acts like a proverbial "19 wheeler truck" careening on a highway at full speed and imagining it is changing the world simply because it is making a lot of noise, but is really just skidding off the highway as well.

    I am just noting the importance of watching what the majority on the American MOetzes will do next. If they act like Rav Shternbuch is saying, then RSK loses and/or becomes a "daas yochid", obviously. So the question is are we at that point yet or will we never get there? Only time will tell.

  6. fedupwithcorruptrabbisNovember 9, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    Rabbi Gestetner is one of the only Rabbonim who is not afraid to be the first to publish a letter. Others jump on the "bandwagon" once the wagon moves. Many people dont know that he authored a 300 page Kuntros on Hilchos Gittin. He always cites sources . His detractors dont. No one has ever shown sources that he is misinformed in Halacha. Therefore his enemies are just "the enemies of Torah and Emes".

  7. the Litmus test will be seeing the future letters of the Agudah. If RSK still remains there, as a signatory, then R Gestetner's view has not taken hold.

  8. Well said. However, i would also paraphrase your words to say that the litmus test of the validity of the Agudah will be to see if they remove RSK from their letters as a signatory.

  9. A balanced approach might be better in this case. For example, one of the letters is signed by Rav Tauber. The same Rav Tauber wrote a mocking letter concerning R' Gestetner (and probably vice versa). This means that in the eyes of some of the important rabbis, RG's view is not something to be consulted on.
    I will reiterate, that I am not supporting RSK or the GetEpstein fiasco.

  10. in which case RG can call all of Aguda "reform" and apikorsim.

  11. Only if you take the slippery slope. I would go with "irrelevant" or "ineffective".

  12. Also he doesn't charge money for a Din Torah

    Unlike others who believe in $500. an hour Per Dayan Schar Bitailah!

  13. Dont hold your breath waiting you will expire.

  14. when i was in israel a few years ago there was a monsey beis din who got involved in the meirson (brisk) get, even though r nissan karelitz beis din had been involved and this monsey beis din jumped in as if they had any authority. I wonder if this the same guy. their "kanaus" calling r greenblatt and r shmuel similar to reform shows their true colors. and I would disregard all theyre words from here on. (although i have to admit the kamenetsky side dose seem hard to justify, but having been around r shmuel i would not rush to pass judgment on he himself

  15. @ Sam
    First of all have your facts right before you shoot off you cannon.
    Chasya Meirson (nee KESSLER, not Brisk) declared that her husband was מאיס עלי over trivial matters, and had her husband imprisoned in order to force him to give her a Get. Under duress, with his hands and feet manacled, the Get was given in the RABBANUT. As soon as he was freed, he TURNED TO Rabbi Gestetner for help. Rabbi Gestetner was therefore on good authority in that case. He then wrote an 82 (!) page teshuva explaining why Mrs. Meirson is still an אשת איש. (If you want a copy of the teshuva, you can get from me via RDE).
    Sorry to bust your bubble.

  16. Who is Rabbi NISSIM (not Nissan) Karelitz?

  17. @ David Kerzner

    I'm sorry if you are confused. There is only one rabbi of note, by the name of R' Nissim Karelitz. I was pointing out that "sam rosen" was maligning Rabbi Gestetner, without having his facts straight. This includes not even knowing the name of the rabbi (R' Nissim, who he thinks is R' Nissan) who he claimed had jurisdiction of the case.

    You bring up the question whether the husband was obligated to give a Get. This is a red herring question. The discussion at hand is the Sam's false claim that R' Gestetner unjustly mixed in to a case that was in R' Nissims jurisdiction. I demonstrated that the opposite is true. R' Gestetner is the only one who had jurisdiction here, by virtue of the fact that the husband turned to him after having been coerced into giving a Get. R' Nissim and the others who signed the letter had no jurisdiction in this particular case, since this was a case that was being handled by the rabbanut.

  18. IsraelReader, thanks for the clarification. Just focusing on that unfortunate case, are you criticizing Rav Karelitz on any aspect of his involvement? His wife apparently brought Rav Karelitz's beis din into the case that originally was handled by the rabbanut beis din (after both sides accepted the rabbanut) and the husband brought Rav Gestetner's beis din into the case after. So it would appear that both Rav Karelitz and Rav Gestetner were brought in by one side after the original beis din. So neither Rav Karelitz nor Rav Gestetner would be more authoritative based on jurisdictional grounds for this case.

    Also, considering that both the rabbanut, and then affirmed by Rav Karelitz, ruled that the husband has a Chiyuv to give a Get, then it seems clear that the husband should have given the Get per his halachic chiyuv. Do you disagree with this point? How are you then minimizing his obligation to give a Get by saying it was מאיס עלי over trivial matters? מאיס עלי over trivial matters would not carry a Chiyuv Get yet the original beis din both sides accepted jurisdiction with, as well as the highly reputable (in the chareidi world and in general) beis din of Rav Karelitz in Bnei Brak, ruled psak halacha that he had a Chiyuv Get.

  19. @ David Kerzner

    The focus of my argument has been the slandering of Rabbi Gestetner by "sam rosen", who made a spurious assertion: "here was a monsey beis din who got involved in the meirson (brisk) get, even though r nissan karelitz beis din had been involved and this monsey beis din jumped in as if they had any authority".

    Sam, thereby argues, that R' Nissim was justified, while R' Gestetner was not. This greatly irked Sam's ire. [I note, that you're arguing that both R' Nissim and R' Gestetner are equally justified (or unjustified). So in effect, you too disagree with Sam's position].

    My argument to Sam is, that while R' Nissim may have INVOLVED himself in the case, but at the end of the day, R' Nissim never had any JURISDICTION in this din Torah, which needs to be in order to judge two parties. He had no
    more authority to judge the husband, than you or me, since the husband did not accept us as an adjudicator. Period.

    On the other hand, when the husband reached out to R' Gestetner to protest a גט מעושה, this wasn't "this monsey beis din jumped in as if they had any authority". R' Gestetner was not "jumping in". He got authority from the husband! The fact that the wife was not involved in inconsequential, since this was not a משפט between two parties, that required her agreement and authorization.

    Thus, likewise, your statement: "His wife apparently brought Rav Karelitz's beis din into the case" is disingenuous. She may have asked R' Nissim for help in her husband's case, but at the end of the day, that still didn't give him any JURISDICTION in the case, since he didn't have the husband's agreement and authorization.

    Am I criticizing Rav Karelitz on any aspect of his involvement? No. I try to respect Gedolei Torah. But we're still allowed to try to analyze the story, for whatever it's worth.

    If you read R' Nissim's letter, it appears that the case was not being heard in his beis din. Nevertheless, he still issued his letter, along with the other signatories. That might have been fine. They don't need my permission to express their opinion. I'm also sure that they believed that in writing what they did, they're performing a מצוה.

    Were they correct? I have no idea. I don't know enough about the case to debate whether or not he really had an obligation to give her a Get based on her demand, or not. I also don't know if R' Nissim (and the others that signed) heard the husband's side at all, or did he just rely on hearsay that was fed to them by the woman's family. [See related case: "The Epstein Episode"].

    One thing however seems to be clear, which is that in this case, even R' Nissim agreed that כפייה would be problematic. R' Gestetner argued that this particular Get was מעושה שלא כדין, thereby rendering it פסול.

    Did R' Nissim or anybody of consequence respond to R' Gestetner's arguments?

  20. @IsraelReader, even putting aside Rav Karelitz's affirmation, don't you agree that the psak halacha ruling of the original beis din in the case, the rabbanut b"d, that did have jurisdiction and was accepted by both sides, having heard the facts of the case and ruled the husband haf a Chiyuv to give a Get, that that settled that question and that he has a Chiyuv Get?

  21. @israel reader
    i thank you for your correction about R nissim karelitz, and for clarifying that story. but first of all with "brisk" I meant he is from the brisker family as I was not clear with the details i was trying to give a clue to which case i was referring to and i meant him not her maiden name.
    second the fact that the beis din in yerushalayim which is they're place ruled and the pesak was affirmed by r nissim beis din who is from top leading poskim of our day on par with r chaim kanievsky and r elyashiv. and this monsey beis din tries to assert his authority and overrule them, i have always thought was very telling about that rav, and seeing him now call r shmuel and r greenblatt part of open orthodoxy it proves that point, and i had a strong suspicion that those two people were one and the same, as you seem to confirmed. I think any honest bystander can see the point I am making, and If you don't see it the way I do, then so be it. let people make they're own judgment.
    I will finish with this, while I have agreed that I find it very difficult to understand the kamenetsky side, and do understand the concern about they're connections with the epstiens, but as to attack r shmuel personally, i think that being he is the straightest person and most honest humble person i know(which doesn't need stories and proofs) and if it can be said that he is not immune to his negius then there is surely no hope for any human to remain pure and unbiased in this world. again you can take issue with me, but this my point of view. again i am not justifying their side in this case, just defending r shmuel against personal and attack on his integrity.

  22. @sam rosen
    I see that you're starting to get it about Tamar Epstein, but you still don't get it about Rabbi Gestetner. You wrote, "this monsey beis din tries to assert his authority and overrule them". You seem to be missing the fact, that R' Nissim's letter acknowledges that כפיה in this case would be problematic. So when the rabbanut forced the husband to give a Get, they did NOT have R' Nissim's backing, and R' Gestetner was not asserting his authority over them. If you want to say that R' Gestener is calling out the rabbanut for doing גט מעושה, I would be the first to agree. That's called speaking truth to power, and making a מחאה against those who break the laws of the Torah.

  23. @David Kerzner
    You seem to be a newcomer to this blog. I recommend that you read up a bit about what halacha has to say about "Get on Demand", when the husband merely claims מאיס עלי.

  24. IsraelReader, I've read this blog extensively and for long. I agree, of course, that Get on Demand has no basis in halacha and that מאיס עלי is insufficient to bring about a Chiyuv Get. And that כפיה was unwarranted, unacceptable and against halacha in this case. Those points aren't under question.

    Rather the point I am conveying is that in this particular case the beis din that both sides originally accepted jurisdiction under, namely the rabbanut, said that there is a Chiyuv Get in this case. Obviously that means that in this case it was more than a simple מאיס עלי claim. Moreso, Rav Karelitz endorsed this finding and psak halacha of the rabbanut beis din.

  25. IsraelReader The very limited point made in David's comment specifically regarding the Meyerson case, namely that the husband was found by their jointly agreed/accepted bais din to have a halachic obligation to give a Gett, appear to be a valid point. I cannot understand why the husband didn't give a Gett in that case once the bais din heard his and her claims and legally ruled he was obligated under Jewish Law to give a Gett. The idea that the case was plain 'ole simple vanilla ma'os alei that halacha doesn't obligate the giving of a Gett for, doesn't appear to hold much water as both the mutual bais din as well as Rav Karelitz stated that he does have an obligation under Jewish Law to give a Gett.

  26. I wish I could help you more, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm not qualified to discuss the case, since I don't know too many details about it. Part of what I wrote is based on Rabbi Gestetner's teshuva.
    My comments were primarily directed
    regarding the גט מעושה aspect of the case, and the reason R' Gestetner
    got involved.

  27. Question - why is this any different from the machloket surrounding Rav Moshe's psak on Artificial insemination? Then, the Satmar rebbe was doing the attacking. The difference might be the relative stature of rsk vs rmf.but there is no rmf today.

  28. Kamenetsky endorses Trump _
    Perhaps he read your blog and wanted to get back at you!

  29. To what degree? By accepting rav Dovid Feinstein?
    Did he tell Tamar to separate?

  30. he simply said that she can rely on R Greenblatt

  31. Relying on RNG and accepting himself being wrong are 2 opposing statements. It's like the other rsk (r simcha kraus) accepting he is wrong, but saying we can rely on r rackman!


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