Friday, January 22, 2016


This is a guest post from someone I respect. However in this case I think he has missed the boat because he is basically saying the scandal is simply a machlokes haposkim. But in fact there is no halachic dispute - there are no poskim who think this is a valid heter.

The fight is over whether this is a public issue where everyone is invited to protest a major scandal or whether it should be left for the rabbonim to clean up this disgusting mess behind closed doors and the rest of us should act as if nothing happened.
Guest Post

I am a layman, with no connection to any of the parties, and I think we have reached the level of semi-mass hysteria. Professionally, I am an analyst, so I analyzed. My analysis turned up 12 possible issues. I rate them as follows; five are Non-Issues, two are Semi-Issues and five are Real-Issues, with the most important (the last one) possibly having the most impact, and being a result only of this semi-mass hysteria. So, Read On, and BE CALM

1. Using Rav Moshe’s Heter

NON-ISSUE; Each posek has a mesorah and his own ability to rely on the great poskim. If a posek is relying on a great posek’s psak (Psak A), another great posek can disagree with the original psak, but that doesn’t change any posek’s ability to rely on Psak A, especially if that is his mesorah, and especially if that great posek was his Rebbe.

2. Rav Shmuel Shlit”a and Rav Sholom Shlit”a Trying to help their Constituent

NON-ISSUE; Any person that has a halachic issue or another problem, should turn to those rabbanim with whom they have a relationship to ask for help. Thousands of people turn to the Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva they know every day.

3. Asking Other Poskim to join In The Heter (“Shopping Around”)

NON-ISSUE; This is a very old time-honored practice. If a Rav/Poseik is asked to pasken on a difficult shaila, he often would say, I would pasken this way, but only if other Poskim join in the psak. This is especially true in serious, complicated questions such as agunah, gittin, etc.

This often would entail discussing the Halachic issues with many poskim until some/enough agreed to the psak.

4. Relying On Professionals for Diagnosis

NON-ISSUE; Many situations in psak rely on professionals for their opinions. The poskim are not doctors, surgeons, engineers, physicists, etc. They need the professionals to explain the actuality of the situation, and then the posek can apply the appropriate Halacha. Once someone is established as a true professional, his description of the reality is usually relied on. And yes, there are differences of opinion, which the posek has to then deal with as well.

5. Paying for Professional Opinions.

NON-ISSUE; When professionals are asked for their professional opinion, be it for a second consultation for a diagnosis, or an expert opinion in a court, they are paid for their time.

6. How Did The Doctor Arrive At His Diagnosis?

REAL ISSUE: Can such a diagnosis be made without meeting the person being diagnosed? This issue is for professionals in the field of psychiatry/psychology to determine. Not for us layman, nor rabbis, nor avid internet connoisseurs, who know nothing about the field. And a few prominent people in the field who have an opinion, even if makes sense to us layman, does not yet tell us if their opinion is broadly accepted, or is a minority opinion.

7. Can We Rely On Psychiatry/Psychology To Determine A True Reality?

REAL ISSUE: Some areas of wisdom and knowledge are solidly based on facts, others are based on fact and educated guess. Many diagnoses in medicine are the latter, whereas many in electrical engineering are the former. In general, the greater the professional, the more his opinion/educated guess will count. Psychiatry/psychology fall into the second category, with wide differing opinions as to what percent are facts and what percent are educated guesses.

This is a very important issue because we know/see/hear of psychiatrists/psychologists diagnosing/treating/pontificating about our friends, relatives and our frum society. If their knowledge is more of educated guess, with less fact, should we be putting so much trust in them?

Only people intimately knowledgeable about these fields can guide us. We layman, rabbis, and avid internet connoisseurs, who know nothing about this field – our opinions are totally worthless.

8. How Do We Know The Diagnosis Was True At The Time Of The Wedding?

REAL ISSUE: In order to be a Mekach Taus, the problem has to be present at the time of the purchase/wedding. How did the professional know that? (See #9)

9. Why Wasn’t The Husband Given The Opportunity To Rebut?

REAL ISSUE: To me, the total layman, this seems like an excellent question. However, if I posed the question to the doctor who made the diagnosis, he might well have answered me - and calmed me - by saying, “This is such an obvious case, there is no need to talk to the patient.” And I, most likely, would bow to his well-deserved knowledgeable and professional opinion. Did the Rabbonim do just that

10. Why Wasn’t The Original Beis Din In Baltimore Involved?

SEMI- ISSUE: As far as I understand, they have the only “official” jurisdiction. However, since so much time had elapsed, and so many others were involved, it might have been the prudent thing to go in a different direction, even if not technically correct

11. Why Aren’t The Other Poskim That Agreed With The Heter In The Public’s Eye?

SEMI-ISSUE: It seems that there were other poskim involved, so, if there has to be a public debate, why aren’t they also involved? (See #12)

12. Private Or Public Matter?

REAL ISSUE; As we have seen, there are some real Halachic issues in this case. What should happen is that some rabbonim/gedolim should write a complete Teshuva about it, clarifying their disagreement (as some have), and then the poskim that did pasken, should write a rebuttal Teshuva, as has happened thousands of times in Torah history. A posek wouldn’t necessarily have to answer, but that would be the usual historical case

There is a large and significant difference between then and now. We are all aware of how in the past, historically, there were situations that went from Halachic differences between poskim, to open animosity and Sinas Chinom between communities, with far reaching negative consequences. Those were often caused by a few people who were not poskim, who made the weight of their opinions count.

Today, with internet access, everyone has an opinion, and everyone states their opinion so strongly, so forcefully and seemingly cogently, that public opinion is often easily swayed. Does a posek or Rav or any leader have to have all his actions judged by everyone? Does he have to answer to everyone? If, in this case, he answers and explains his Halachic opinion, will it then be another accepted machlokes between poskim? Will that be enough to end this? Will that calm the masses?

To put it another way, is this truly a “Machlokes L’Shaim Shomayim,” and therefore a halachic answer clarifying their position will be accepted as a true psak, even if not agreed with? Or is it mixed with “Shelo Le’Shaim Shomayim,” and nothing will be accepted except a total declaration of defeat?

A way to partially determine this is to look at the way people speak. Are Rabbonim, Roshei Yeshiva and Gedolim always being spoken of in ways of total respect? Even if one strongly disagrees, they should be disagreeing with the psak, not with the person, and total kavod should be the norm. This would be true if it is only a “Machlokes L’Shaim Shomayim.” By the often serious lack of kavod in these discussions, it sadly seems that mixed in is “Shelo Le’Shaim Shomayim” and therefore only total capitulation to the masses will suffice.

If that seems to be true, then any thoughtful posek would retreat into the safety of silence, depriving the Torah community from the free exchange of Torah ideas. If so, we have arrived at a sad state of affairs, and makes any situation like this infinitely more difficult to resolve.

Perhaps we should all back off, keep our opinions to ourselves, show true proper kavod, and create a free, open space where the poskim can continue to fight the Milchamta Shel Torah purely L’Shem Shamayim.


  1. If it is a Machlokes L’Shaim Shomayim then the side that claims it is a kosher heter should idntify the children produced from the second marriage as mamzeirim to the side that says it is not a valid heter. Just as Bais Shammai identified and told Bais Hillel not to marry children from B"S that according to B"H's psak were mamzeirim, even though B"S themselves held that they were not mamzeirim.

  2. Written like a true Layman. Anylasis of halacha has to be based on halacha, not on Analysis.
    Perhaps we can get a non-Layman to write an anlysis, refuting the matirrims claims with sources from halacha, step by step?

  3. 2. Rav Shmuel Shlit”a and Rav Sholom Shlit”a Trying to help their Constituent NON-ISSUE:

    Really, without speaking to the other side in a dispute?
    Really, when done at the expenses of another?
    Really, supporting demonstrations which have no basis in halacha?
    Really, signing a bogs seruv with criminals is ok when done to help a constituent?

    Most of your other points are way off as well. Maybe try getting some of the facts before you analyze, or maybe your just a terrible analyst?

  4. The first remark about Reb Moshe's pesak is pure ignorance. Reb Moshe clearly states that he never permitted negation of marriage when there was a chance of giving a GET. In this case, the husband clearly was receptive to giving a GET if he could get proper visitation with his daughter. Thus, no posek, including Reb Moshe, negating marriage without a GET.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.