Monday, January 11, 2016

Open Letter to Rav Aharon Schechter regarding the 4:30 p.m. meeting concerning Tamar's "heter"

Update: I had posted this Sunday morning before the meeting - but then removed it when I received conflicting messages from insiders as to whether it would be a positive influence.

Received word Monday morning that the meeting was viewed as productive

Was told I would received details later. 

I hope the Rosh Yeshiva does not view this letter as chutzpa - but rather as acting according to Berachos (19b) - "when there is a chilul haShem our first duty it to correct the problem even if it unavoidably results in shame to distinguished rabbis." 

This letter is written out of great pain and concern for the corruption of the halachic process which has taken place - which the Rosh Yeshiva is well aware of and is why there is a meeting today at his house.

Today is perhaps the last opportunity to correct the great chilul HaShem that has resulted from the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt "heter" for a married woman to remarry without a Get. As has been fully documented, the heter resulted from the joint efforts of Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and his son Rav Shalom  to obtain a heter for Tamar Epstein. They not only got a psychiatrist to write a false report without speaking to the husband - but they went around the world seeking out poskim who would agree to accept the facts and the "heter" that they had written up.

The relevant documentation is publicly available and leaves no doubt that the facts presented to Rav Greenblatt are false and that the "heter" has no basis - as has been clearly demonstrated by Rav Aharon Feldman and others. Rav Greenblatt did not investigate the facts or even talk with the husband. He based his psak entirely on the false psychiatric report that the Kaminetskys assured him was accurate.

The issue before the Rosh Yeshiva now is how to clean this ugly stain from the soul of the Jewish people?
It is clear that most of the distinguished attendees of the meeting have one concern - to save Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky from disgrace. We all are aware of Rav Kaminetsky's great achievement, his many talmidim, his great mesiras nefesh for many decades and the fact that he is a beloved and well liked person. But we also are aware of his obstinate refusal to take any responsibility for this "heter" or to condemn it.

There are a number of options open. The most obvious solution is simply to blame Rav Shalom Kaminetsky for everything. Let him take the full brunt of criticism and simply say he duped his father and Rav Greenblatt. However it is clear that in the eyes of the bnei Torah who have followed this crisis carefully - that is simply a cheap solution and one that ignores the facts of the case. That solution will simply produce cynicism and loss of emunas chachomim. Rav Shalom will simply be viewed as a scapegoat being sacrificed to cover up his father's active role in the "heter".

The only way this can be properly resolved is for all parties - Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky, Rav Shalom Kaminetsky and Rav Nota Greenblatt - to categorically acknowledge that the "heter" is invalid and that they made a serious error in judgment. They need to take the path of Yehuda when he admitted that he had erred in dealing with Tamar. Only by clearly and strongly denouncing this heter can it be guaranteed that it won't be used by others to destroy the kedusha of clall Yisroel.

We are not simply dealing with a one time mistake in judgement or the single tragic case of Tamar Epstein. As Rav Aharon Feldman and others have stated the issue at stake is no less than the future of Gittin and marriage as well as the stability of the family. This can not be accomplished by blaming Rav Sholom Kaminetsky for the entire debacle. The focus has to be on the future not the past. Furthermore Rav Shalom Kaminetsky's reputation and future should not be destroyed - he has much of value to contribute.  The solution has to focus on retracting the heter and preventing it from being viewed as a viable option in other cases - there is no need to ruin anybody.

We are looking forward to the Rosh Yeshiva - with siyata dishmaya - bringing a full resolution of this chilul HaShem.

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