Monday, December 14, 2015

Tamar Epstein's Heter: Was Rav Greenblatt negligent for paskening solely on therapists' conclusion endorsed by Rav Kaminetsky? What is Psak?

 yybt sent me the following letter. It is clear from all of the rabbis protest letters that  Rav Greenblatt was severely criticized for issuing this psak and relying on it to marry Tamar to a second husband. Rav Greenblatt insists however that he did nothing wrong. Were Rav Greenblatt's actions clearly wrong and irresponsible? What was he required to do in establishing the facts.

Does the posek have a responsibity to ascertain that the facts are true or does a psak mean - "assuming the facts are true  - then this is the halacha?" 

If the latter is the answer - what happens when it is clear that the facts are not true - does that automatically invalidate the psak? Was Rav Greenblatt's heter always null and void because it was based on a lie? Or does it require a statement of retraction or nullification after he examines evidence that the facts are not true. 

If the posek does need to ascertain the truth of the facts  - when can he rely on experts and when does he need to know himself? 

If a posek declares the husband dead, is he in fact halachically dead - even if in reality he  is alive?

Additionally is there a different answer depending on the case? Are cases involving a gain to one person and a loss to another different than cases involving only the person himself? Or is it different when there might be a serious sin or great financial loss, but not for minor issues or insignificant financial loss? What if he knows the psak he received is wrong - can he rely on it anyway?

Finally, when a person sins as the result of relying on a psak - does he need to do teshuva? Does the posek who errs need to do teshuva? Or this to be viewed as an example of hashgocha protis and therefore the posek and the receiver of the psak are not responsible.


 I think I might be part of the younger generation. But I always had this daas Torah dilemma, are you supposed to be totally mekabel or can you question respectfully?  I personally think there is a healthy balance,  meaning naaseh vnishma. First be mekabel and then try understanding.

But with this tamar heter I had a query.  There are 2 types of ways rabbanim answer shailas. One is whatever you ask that's what he answers. The other trys to probe every detail and is very careful to answer. I have seen and heard stories with both these approaches.

I have a very hard time questioning big talmidei chachamim. They actually know and I don't. And they have a life of experience and shimush. So with R Nata it's definitely like that since I know his gadlus and wouldn't doubt it. But I do have questions. It seems R Nata answered whatever was asked to him. Thats not as hard to understand. But I do have trouble understanding how R Nata could have married her off without properly investigating to know for sure she was able to marry bheter?!

To end off, Do rabbanim have to probe every detail to answer or is it the questioners responsibility?

I was thinking of that "famous " story of R Moshe on the bracha for pizza. Someone asked on bread with cheese and sauce and he poskened hamotzi, and the other asked on a cracker with sauce and cheese and R Moshe answered mezonos. By here it doesn't seen R Moshe asked further or investigated the matter. 

Also by the inyan of electricity R Shlomo Zalmon investigated thoroughly and R Elyashiv didn't so they came out with different psakim. don't think R Elyashiv himself studied electricity. 

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