Sunday, August 20, 2023

Tamar Epstein: Protest from Rav Pinchus Rabinowitz' Beis Din

We were shaken to hear that lately there are men - who come to the aid of women whose husbands have refused to give them a Get - who pasken that they are free of the chains of being an Aguna. They do this by giving the women an invalid heter which is called mekach ta'os (mistaken acquisition) G-d forbid!

We are writing this letter to make known that under no circumstances can a woman rely on this "heter" which is based on finding defects in the husband which are not mentioned in the Talmud or Poskim in our present generation - which is a generation of orphans. Where do we have the power or authority to annul marriages and permit a married woman to remarry a new husband without first receiving a Get?! (The Achronim have already written about such problems)

One can not imagine fully the damage and breaches to the values of community which can result from this procedure in a generation which lacks proper restraint and because of our many sins people have started to make false comparisons regarding new types of illnesses that the doctors discover on a regular basis.

This letter is a protest against the disgusting case which recently has come to public attention. The woman - Tamar Epstein, the wife of Aharon Friedman, recently married a second husband without first receiving a Get from her first husband (G-d forbid!). Tamar and her husband Aharon original went to have their case handled by a beis din in Baltimore which they both signed an agreement to follow.

In the midst of the proceedings, Tamar left and went to a secular court without permission of the beis din. In addition she changed her residence and that of their daughter to another city - a move which was opposed by the beis din. Because of her moving away with their daughter, her husband Aharon is not able to visit with his daughter properly according to his rights and his wishes. Aharon has stated that unless she return their daughter to their original neighborhood, he will not give her a Get because she has interfered with his ability to be with his daughter.

Consequently due to the refusal of the wife to comply with the request of beis din, she remains without a Get. Tamar then began to complain to many askanim that she was an aguna. As a result of her complaints, those people who specialize in helping "Agunos" compassionately came to her aid and they searched for avenues as to how to help her. They thought they had found a way by means of a heter of kiddushei ta'os (mistaken marriage). In order to lay the foundation for this heter, they hired therapists, rabbinic pleaders and askanim to aid Tamar. They in fact produced a phony "heter" based on her claims utilizing psychiatric categories of mental illness utilized by psychologists and other mental health workers. These psychologists decided that Aharon was not considered a normal person to such a degree that the marriage to him could be considered a mistake and thus be annulled retroactively. The posek who actually gave the "heter" relied entirely on the therapists and the askanim to decide that this was in fact a case of kiddushei ta'os (G-d forbid!).

The original Beis Din from Baltimore was astonished at this development of this false "heter".This psak was even more astonishing because as far as we can establish the therapists did their "evaluation" of whether the husband was normal - without ever actually meeting with him! Their entire "evaluation" was based on what Tamar claimed her husband had done - but never did they actually examine the husband himself!

However even if the "evaluation" of these therapists was accurate, nevertheless according to the information we were able to obtain - there is still absolutely no basis for a legitimate heter to marry without receiving a Get first.  

We want to announce that the prohibition of a married woman to men other than her husband is one of the most severe transgressions possible. It is absolutely forbidden to allow a married woman to be free from her husband with the claim that the marriages was a mistake (kiddushei ta'os). It is an obscene and deceitful heter. Therefore Tamar Epstein is still married to Aharon Friedman and she is obligated by the Torah to leave her second husband. In addition, any children born by Tamar from her second husband prior to her receiving a Get from Aharon Friedman - are mamzerim and they can not marry other Jews.

We affix our signatures to the above Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5766

Rav Pinchus Rabinowtiz
Rav Moshe Eliezar Blum
Rav Yosef Weingarten
Rav Chanoch Zaltz

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