Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tamar Epstein's heter: A well known frum psychologist's two cents

Guest post

I am following, to a limited degree, the saga of the “heter” of “Mekach To’us”. I do have some comments, though I have no clue about any of the facts of the case beyond the info presented online.

I found the Mekach to’us issue interesting, since a diagnosis was used without evaluation of the patient. That alone is a colossal violation of professional ethics, and casts major doubt on the veracity of the professional and the conclusion. As a professional, I have often developed an “opinion” about the family member who was absent from the office, but cannot ever reach a conclusion. It is obvious that a major psak din that has consequences cannot be based on an opinion, but on verifiable and conclusive fact. As far as I gathered from the reports, that did not happen.

Far more intriguing to me is the cloud under which batei din operate, with an assumption that there is Heavenly involvement in the Din “Torah”. We are admonished about utilizing arka’os, but we offer the halacha based alternative of beis din, which suffers from several handicaps. B”D’s tend to be biased, expensive (especially when toanim get involved), ineffective – having zero enforceability, often random in paskening, and keeping their deliberations top secret. Mentioned in a previous email, many who do not function as poskim, despite being talmidei chachomim, get involved in areas completely outside of their domain. These things frighten me greatly. I now understand a tad better why we are told that Dayanei Yisroel are the cause of the tzoros that occur to Klal Yisroel (Shabbos 138). Crime and dishonesty always existed, and will unfortunately be part of our lives. But these awful midos being the mainstay of those who wear the cloak of righteousness is most alarming.

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