Thursday, September 29, 2016

Invalidating a conversion that was not sincere – A contradiction to the view of Rav Moshe Feinstein?

The following incident was raised as a contradiction to Rav Moshe Feinstein’s view that when it is obvious (anan sahadi) that the convert did not sincerely accept doing mitzvos that the conversion is null and void. It is not necessarily a contradiction. (The details were taken from Dr. Menachem Finkelstein’s Conversion Halacha and Practice page 621-626)

In Cairo 1908,  a 22 year old Muslim desperately wanted to marry a certain beautiful Jewish woman . She refused unless he converted first. He gave a request in writing to the beis din. There was hatafas dam bris, and mikve as well as acceptance of doing mitzvos.

However immediately after the conversion he lived as a complete Muslim. Shortly after the conversion the couple married - with people upset since no one was aware of the conversion. The man then published an article in the paper stating.

since there are those who suspect that he converted and became a Jew and as such married a Jewess... but this is unthinkable and he would never do such a thing. He is a Muslim from birth and that each retained their religion when they married.

Immediately afterwards the following was established:

1) He had used a false name in his application to beis din

2) .His supporting document that he submitted to the beis din was forged and his references were not aware of what was stated in the document

3) He had revealed to two Jews that he was going through the conversion “to satisfy his desires with this beautiful women who had driven him mad” These two Jews had remained silent because they had been bribed.

4) After the wedding he continued to live amongst the Moslems as one of them. The couple had a son who he refused to allow to be circumcised and he was given the name of Muhammed. At this point the couple separated and the woman fled from her husband.

Two Egyptians rabbis who were consulted thought it possible to permit the woman to remarry without a get on the grounds that the conversion was worthless and thus there was no marriage. Rabbi Mas’ud Ben Shimon said, “If he had come in good faith at the time of the acceptance of the conversion without any deception, stratagems, and falsity then if he had reverted back to his previous religion he would still be considered a true convert. But since this was not the case since all was falsehood and deceit. Rabbi Aaron Cohen agreed with his reasoning that there was no conversion and thus no marriage and thus no need for a divorce.

While these two were waiting for approval by higher level rabbis, the husband was ordered by the kadi to divorce his wife in accordance with Islamic law and the government ordered him to pay his wife her kesubah.

The husband approached Rabbi Ben Shimon for help in avoiding paying the money. The rabbi told him to authorize him to give his wife a Get which Rabbi Ben Shimon and Rabbi Cohen promptly did.
The next question was the woman wanted to remarry and asked for a divorce certificate. The two rabbis were in a quandary because of the many doubts regarding this Get “ the likes of which might never have been” Therefore they decided to ask Rav Kook what to do. They sent him their rulings stating that the woman could remarry without a Get as well as a description of the Get they had given.

Rav Kook agreed to the appropriateness of asking for a Get. However he disagreed that the conversion was null due to fraud. He said that the acceptance of mitzvos was done properly. It didn’t matter what the man was thinking. Furthermore he saw no evidence that the man had intended to deceive or that he did not sincerely want to be a Jew. Rav Kook said the only problematic issue in the case was solely that he had converted for the sake of marriage - however bedieved the conversion was valid. Thus Rav Kook ruled that the conversion was good and the man had subsequently become a backsliding convert and that the Get was good.

The woman remarried on the basis of the Get and the conversion was not declared null and void – contrary to the written views of the first two rabbis. It seems that the first two wrote their views when they determined that the man would not give his wife a Get. In contrast Rav Kook wrote his views after the Get had been given.

It seems that there are three views in the literature. 1) Poskim who say that anyone who goes through the ceremony and declares before beis din that he will do the mitzvos, and has mila and tevila – even if subsequently he doesn’t keep anything is still a Jew. 2) There are others who say if it is obvious from the actions and statements that he never intended to be a religious Jew and was clearly insincere the conversion was never valid. 3) Finally there is a view that conversion is conditional on subsequently observing the mitzvos. If this condition is not met then the conversion is invalid.

Obama criticized by US miltary and veterans regarding terrorism, women in combat and veteran's hospitals

Military personnel and veterans challenged President Obama, often aggressively, on his refusal to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism,” his decision to open combat jobs up to women and the performance of the Department of Veterans Affairs at a town hall meeting here Wednesday.

Obama was at this Army base near Richmond to take part in a military-focused special that aired Wednesday night on CNN. The cable network selected questioners who were respectful but who reflected a military population that is more conservative than the population as a whole and generally skeptical of the president’s performance as commander in chief over the past eight years.[...]

A mother whose 19-year-old son was killed in Baghdad in 2007 pressed Obama more directly on the subject, asking him, “Why do you still refuse to use the term ‘Islamic terrorism’?” Obama countered that he did not want to conflate murderous terrorists with “the billion Muslims . . . who are peaceful, who are responsible, who in this country are our fellow troops.”

An active-duty Marine officer challenged the president’s decision to open combat jobs to women, saying that studies conducted by the Marine Corps showed that such units performed “notably worse” and that women “suffered staggeringly higher rates of injury.”

“Why were these tangible, negative consequences disregarded?” she asked.

Obama said that he had not acted out of political correctness and noted that women have been fighting at great risk in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade. “I want to make sure our starting assumption is that if you can do the job, you should be able to get the job,” he said.[...]

Among the toughest questions he fielded was one from a woman who said her husband had waited a year for an appointment from VA. When he finally saw a doctor, his cancer was misdiagnosed and not treated.

“First of all, my heart goes out to you,” Obama said. He then said that he had increased the VA budget by 85 percent over the course of his presidency but that there was more work to do

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Torah Scroll Honors Memories of Slain Dallas Police Officers

A Torah is on its way for use in Austin, Texas, dedicated to five police officers who were killed in the line of duty this summer. Here, representatives of the New York City Police Department participate in a ceremony in memory of the fallen officers. Third from left is Bentzion Chanowitz, who runs the daily operations of the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach. (Photo: Alex Bodnar)

A Torah is on its way for use in Austin, Texas, dedicated to five police officers who were killed in the line of duty this summer. Here, representatives of the New York City Police Department participate in a ceremony in memory of the fallen officers. Third from left is Bentzion Chanowitz, who runs the daily operations of the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach. (Photo: Alex Bodnar)

When Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Sunday, Oct. 2, members of Chabad of South Austin/Young Jewish Professionals will hold their first minyan since last Yom Kippur. Together, they will celebrate not only the start of the Jewish New Year, but the welcoming of a new Sefer Torah.

“We just heard we would be getting a new Torah,” said Rabbi Mendy Levertov, co-director of the Chabad center with his wife, Mussy. “It’s so exciting for our congregation. This is difference between having weekly service and not having one because without the Torah, we can’t read the weekly portion together. This Torah will help us be able to grow and build a weekly minyan.”

Adding to the significance is that the Torah is dedicated to five slain Dallas police officers who lost their lives this summer in the line of duty.

“I work closely with the Austin Police Department and have a good relationship with them. For us, it is very important to recognize the protection that the police give us and the service they provide to the community,” explains Levertov. “We are proud to have a Torah that ties together Jew and non-Jew, law enforcement and our community, and enforces that strong connection during the High Holidays.”[...]

Bentzion Chanowitz, who runs the daily operations of the Torah Gemach, noted that other refurbished scrolls have been dedicated in memory of security forces—in this case, for the officers shot down on July 8; and in the past, in memory of fallen soldiers and or terror victims in Israel.

“We just read the weekly Torah portion about the need for shoftim with shoftrim—appoint judges and police officers—and I felt for the Jewish community, this would be a nice kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of G‑d’s name.”

Rabbi Yochanan Marsow of Bais Menachem Mendel in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, who serves as a rabbinic adviser to the Torah Gemach, thought “it was a great idea,” says Chanowitz. “He said in many times throughout history, the Jewish community honored the government.”[...]

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Six Individuals Charged With Participating In Large-Scale Government Benefits Fraud of Section 8, food stamps, Medicaid

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Mark G. Peters, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced today the filing of criminal charges against six defendants for participating in long-running schemes to hide substantial assets and income obtained from significant business and real estate interests in order to attain government benefits designed for low-income individuals. In total, the defendants allegedly obtained more than $1.3 million of government benefits. SHLOMO KUBITSHUK, RACHEL KUBITSHUK, NAFTALI ENGLANDER, and HINDA ENGLANDER were charged in one complaint, and LEIB TEITELBAUM and DEVORAH TEITELBAUM were charged in a separate complaint. The defendants were arrested in Brooklyn this morning and are scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court later today.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For over a decade, this ring of six defendants allegedly lied to city and federal officials about their financial status in order to obtain benefits that were meant for the needy. The alleged schemes that netted them over a million dollars has been put to an end and the defendants now face federal fraud charges.”

Commissioner Mark G. Peters said: “These defendants were millionaires stealing from the poor, as charged. The defendants fraudulently concealed their wealth to obtain benefits, including Section 8 vouchers intended to help low income New Yorkers find housing, according to the allegations. At a time when affordable housing is scarce, and there is a waiting list for Section 8 vouchers, it is reprehensible that some New Yorkers went without so that these defendants could have still more.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaints[1]:

From 2001 to 2016, SHLOMO KUBITSHUK, RACHEL KUBITSHUK, NAFTALI ENGLANDER, and HINDA ENGLANDER conspired and engaged in a scheme to obtain government benefits designed for low-income residents, including Section 8 housing subsidies, Medicaid health insurance, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) food stamps, totaling more than $980,000. In connection with applications for these benefits, they failed to disclose substantial income and financial assets, including a portfolio of multimillion-dollar residential real estate properties. The defendants also perpetrated the fraud by providing false income affidavits for each other.

From 2007 to 2016, LEIB TEITELBAUM and DEVORAH TEITELBAUM also conspired and engaged in a scheme to obtain government benefits designed for low-income residents, including Section 8 housing subsidies, Medicaid health insurance, and SNAP food stamps, totaling more than $330,000. In connection with applications for these benefits, they failed to disclose substantial income and financial assets, including a jewelry business and an apartment they owned.

* * *

SHLOMO KUBITSHUK, 38, RACHEL KUBITSHUK, 39, both from Brooklyn, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to steal government funds, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and two counts of theft of government funds, each carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. NAFTALI ENGLANDER, 40, HINDA ENGLANDER, 41, LEIB TEITELBAUM, 39, and DEVORAH TEITELBAUM, 36, all from Brooklyn, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to steal government funds, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and three counts of theft of government funds, each carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences in these cases are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the work of DOI and the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eli J. Mark and Thane Rehn are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Rabbinate rejects conversions by Rav Gedaliel Schwartz - a major Modern Orthodox posek

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel recently rejected four conversions approved by a leading rabbinic authority in the United States, drawing heavy criticism from an umbrella organization representing Orthodox religious courts across the US.

The Chief Rabbinate issued no explanations as to why the conversions of Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz were rejected, sparking vehement protests by the Rabbinical Council of America last Friday.

Rabbi Schwartz, who heads the RCA’s national rabbinic court, is a prominent figure in the Modern Orthodox community.[...]

While the Rabbinate declined to explain the basis for the rejections, it should be noted that in one case, the convert’s mother, who also converted at the same rabbinic court on the same day, was accepted by the Chief Rabbinate.

On Friday the RCA issued a statement criticizing the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s decision.

“The Rabbinical Council of America strongly objects to the latest decisions of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s office rejecting the endorsement of leading rabbinic figures in North America of the status of at least two converts. While we have worked assiduously with the Rabbinate in the past to assure the integrity of converts, recent missteps by its office have led to these latest decisions; we are working to reverse them.”

The RCA added that in the cases in question, the rejection of the converts also constituted a “challenge” to the decisions of one of the organization’s most respected rabbis.

“This decision by the Chief Rabbinate is especially egregious because it challenges the rulings of one of the preeminent [halakhic] authorities, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz and because it disregards the great efforts that we have made over the years, for the benefit of converts, to work with the Chief Rabbinate.” [...]

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Corruption and Conflicts: a lecture presented by the Greater Washington Community Kollel or a description of the Kamenetsky-Greenblatt outrage?

Update: Added a poster for the Agudah's lecture claiming that they also are concerned with honesty. Hypocrisy is not a rare commodity these days

Guest Post

The primary driving force behind the entire Kamenetsky-Greenblatt outrage have been Rabbis Shmuel Kamenetsky and Rabbi Sholom Kamenetesky.  Rabbi Greenblatt has explained that he ruled the marriage annulled because he had no choice but to accept the “facts” as presented to him by Rabbi Kamenetsky because of Rabbi Kamenetsky’s status as a “gadol.”  Rabbi Greenblatt refused to take into account that Rabbi Kamenetsky’s actions might be motivated by his longstanding and extremely close ties to the Epstein family. Rabbi Greenblatt stands by his annulment despite the ruling to the contrary by Rabbi Feinstein’s Beis Din and Rabbi Sholom Kamenetsky’s letter that his father accepts the ruling of that Beis Din, because Rabbi Greenblatt insists that he must continue to rely on the “facts” given to him by Rabbi Kamenetsky, which Rabbi Kamenetsky still apparently stands behind.

This complete disregarding of the Kamenetsky ties to the Epstein family has occurred for many years, and is probably a large part of what caused the Kametskys to believe that they could get away with annulling the marriage without any basis. Rabbi Kamenetsky’s earlier letters attacking Aharon Friedman should have always been seen as biased and driven by his ties to the Epstein family, but were instead accepted by some, led by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, as those of an objective “gadol” whose opinion must prevail [because “sod hashem le’rauv”], even though he directly contradicted the Baltimore Beis Din to which the two parties brought the case and held several hearings with the participation of both parties. []

Unfortunately, the Washington Vaad’s actions in the case after the death of Rabbi Gedalia Anamer also appear to be driven by conflicts, if not outright corruption. In 2009, at Tamar’s request the Washington Beis Din sent Aharon a simple and straightforward hazmana to a “din torah” regarding a get.  Aharon responded that Tamar was not entitled to involve another beis din because the parties had submitted the matter to the Baltimore Beis Din and Tamar had violated their orders.  At the time, the Washington Beis Din accepted Aharon’s answer and did not send another hazmana. The Av Beis Din of the Washington Vaad’s Beis Din at the time was the Vaad’s long-time leader, Rabbi Gedlaia Anamer, a rav in the DC area for over fifty years.  So long as Rabbi Anamer was the alive, the Vaad and that shul refused to take any actions against Aharon.  Aharon, along with the child when with him, fully participated in the shul, such as sometimes laining or serving as shaliach tzibbur.

But within months of Rabbi Anamer’s tragic and sudden passing in April 2010, that all changed.  A friend of the Epstein family took over Rabbi Anamer’s shul and he quickly started ostracizing Aharon despite the lack of any beis din ruling against Aharon. 

Following Rabbi Anamer’s death, the DC Vaad’s Beis Din sent Aharon an extremely nasty hazmana (in contrast to the earlier hazmana) essentially concluding that Aharon was guilty even before trying the case and demanding that Aharon appear before them for some unspecified type of proceeding that they did not even bother to claim would be a din torah. Nonetheless, after Aharon again responded that the matter was brought to another beis din whose orders Tamar had violated, the DC Vaad’s Beis Din acknowledged that it had no right to intervene against Aharon.  Nonetheless, the Epstein family friend who took over from Rabbi Anamer prohibited Aharon from setting foot in shul.

Tamar also asked the Beis Din of America to intercede against Aharon, but they refused to do so after calling the Baltimore Beis Din.  Despite the tremendous pressure from the Kamenetskys and the Epstein family, Tamar could not find an actual beis din to intercede against Aharon.  According to the testimony of Tamar’s toein, medical malpractice lawyer Frederic Goldfein, in Federal district court [Goldfein was forced to testify when the government granted him immunity because the government stated that Goldfein would otherwise have refused to testify by citing his right against self-discrimination under the Fifth Amendment), the Epstein family turned to the criminal Rabbi Martin Mordechai Wolmark to organize a “beis din” to intercede against Aharon.  Wolmark had the criminal enterprise he helped run issue a “seruv” against Aharon. Wolmark pled guilty to criminal charges in connection to his role in the criminal enterprise, and is currently in prison.  Two of the other signatories to the “seruv” narrowly avoided criminal charges n the case,: an FBI court affidavit stated that the FBI had probable cause to believe that they violated five different Federal criminal statutes, with regard to their participation in the case.  The criminal enterprise didn’t even attempt to pretend that its “seruv” had any validity, not even sending a hazmana before the seruv.  To highlight that the “seruv” had no basis in halacha, but was an exercise of raw political power, the criminal enterprise had Rabbi Kamenetsky sign the “seruv” despite his well-known and extremely longstanding personal and financial ties to the Epstein family and his previously having publicly reached a conclusion on the matter and publicly attacked Aharon

Following Rabbi Anamar’s death, active leadership of the Vaad devolved onto its director, the brother-in-law of Simon (Shimmy) Glick, whose daughter is married into the Epstein family, and Rabbi Dr. Freundel.  Glick is one the largest philanthropists in the yeshiva world, and his influence in Orthodox is very deep and very wide.  It is not clear exactly how large a role he has played in this tragic case, but as Rabbi Eidensohn has noted before, his influence is clearly strongly felt -- --- and particularly so in Silver Spring.

Despite the fact that even the Washington Vaad’s own Beis Din ruled that it could not intervene against Aharon, the Washigton Vaad seized upon the criminal enterprise’s “seruv” to publicly attack Aharon, issuing a letter that effectively incited violence against Aharon and the parties’ child.  Even after the Tisha Ba’av assault when Aharon brought the child to the Epstein house, the Washington Vaad refused to retract its letter or clarify that it did not mean to call for violence.  

Even after the Baltimore Beis Din issued a letter that Aharon was not guilty of wrongdoing, [] the Washington Vaad has refused to retract its letter attacking Aharon. 

It should be noted that the rav giving this shiur is new to Silver Spring, and is not on the Vaad.  But lest anyone get their hopes up that this shiur might address the corruption and conflicts driving the Kamenetsky-Greenblatt, it should also be noted that the rav is a member of a kollel headed by Shimmy Glick’s nephew.

Contemporary Gadolim on Obligations and Exemptions in Positive Time Bound Commandment by Rabbi Yisrael Kashkin

Guest post by Rabbi Yisrael Kashkin

Man was created to learn Torah and Woman was created to assist the Intellect which is Man

Rabbeinu Bachye (Bereishis 3:21): And G-d took the Man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and guard it. The Garden of Eden alludes to the Torah. Just as the Garden is drawn from Eden, so does Torah draw from the higher wisdom which is Eden. The reason that man was created was so that he would learn Torah – to work it and guard it. And G-d commanded the man It is known that the basis of the Torah is the mitzvos i.e., the positive commandments and the negative commandments. And if so the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge which are established within the Garden of Eden allude to the positive commandments and the negative commandments which were established within Torah. And “the Man” alludes to intellect. And it is not good for the intellect to be alone because it needs an instrument through which its actions could be seen and this instruments should also be the assistant for man in keeping the Torah and mitzvos. This assistant needed to be material rather than intellect. In addition since man had been created with a physical body and a soul it was necessary to have assistance in preserving the species just as the body assists the soul concerning intellectual matters. This assistant is the woman. The name “woman” contains an allusion to the body. Thus we find that Shlomo compared matter to woman when he said (Mishlei 2:16) To save you from the woman who is a stranger. This means that even though woman is not part of the intellect but she is the instrument for receiving the actions of the intellect. Similarly Matter accepts the Form and thus relects its image. The “Serpent” alludes to the evil inclination which is from the term “menachesh” – sorcerer. That is because he is constantly challenging man and trying to seduce him. And the serpent started by speaking with the woman i.e., with Matter. And he used the strategy of “af” which means “even though” but also to anger which draws from a person’s strength. The explanation of the serpent’s words: “Af (even though) G-d said not to eat from the trees of the Garden, but if G-d prevents you from eating from that which the body desires – that means G-d is preventing you from enjoying all the pleasures and good things in the world. How could it be that G-d would do such a thing?” This is the seduction of the evil inclination. And this that we find that the serpent (evil inclination) spoke with the woman and not with the man, that is because all the efforts of the evil inclination is only with Matter and not with the power of Intellect.

Chaim Weissman charged with sex abuse of 9 year old boy in Boro Park

Police have arrested a 38-year-old man, who they say lured a 9-year-old Hasidic boy into his car, then pleasured himself in front of the child, officials said.

Chaim Weissman, of Brooklyn, was charged with sex abuse, sexual contact with an individual less than 11 years old, and other child abuse charges for the Sept. 14 incident on 18th Ave. in Borough Park — just five blocks away from where 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky was abducted and murdered in 2011, officials said.

Weissman gave the boy $100 after he masturbated, cops said.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ki Savo; The Three Parts To Every Brachah by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

Gust post by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

Rashi in Ki Savo (26;13) brings a Medrash on the words ולא שכחתי. The Medrash, which is mentioned in the Mishnah in Maasar Sheini (5;11), explains the Pasuk the be referring to reciting a Brachah before performing the Mitzvah of separating T'rumos & Maasros.

The Gemarah in Brachos (40b) in discussing which parts of a Brachah are essential, brings this Medrash...

However, it seems to be a Machlokes Reshonim,-The ROSH & Tosfes- if the Gemara is actually quoting the Mishnah, or a Ber'reisah? Furthermore, they seem to be arguing what the answer is according to Reb Yochanan.....

For questions & comments please email us at

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Beis Din says "To do anything which will save the Aguna" - Even murder?

This letter was found on the ORA website. . Not sure what this has to do with halacha. It seems to be a heter to do anything to the husband until he gives a Get - which would seem to include physical violence or murder.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

'Give me money, then you can talk to your daughter' Divorced women extorting money

A video showing an apparent extortion attempt by a divorced mother of her ex-husband was publicized on Tuesday by men’s rights activists looking to highlight what they call an overlooked phenomenon.

In the video, which shows a portion of a Skype chat between a divorced father and his young daughter, the man’s ex-wife cuts into the conversation, threatening to reduce contact between the man and his daughter unless he pays some unspecified amount of money.

“[If] you pay money, you will start to talk to her every [day] of the week. If you don’t, we won’t do more than twice a week.”

When the father told her to stop interrupting the conversation with his daughter, the mother responds “I’ll interrupt you as much as I like… you will speak nicely to me, I run things here in this house.” [...]

Ki Tavo 76 The Downside of an Attitude of Gratitude by Allan Katz

Our parasha talks about 2 commandments that required people to go to Jerusalem. A landowner was obligated to bring his first ripened fruits –' Bikkurim' to the temple and present them to God's representative, the Kohen-priest. This ritual included a moving declaration and expression of gratitude to God, for being a protector ……and having brought us to the land of Israel and having given us the land of Israel, a land flowing with milk and honey…….As the farmers made their way to Jerusalem, they were met by delegations from the various towns and cities who greeted them with praises and psalms to God. The procession was accompanied by music and plenty of happiness and joy. There is the obligation to separate tithes from food and give to the Levite and poor and also separate food –' ma'aser sheni ' for personal use – to be eaten in Jerusalem or be redeemed and the money spent on food in Jerusalem. The purpose of the mitzvah was to encourage people to visit Jerusalem and the temple and benefit from the learning, prayer and the spirituality of the city.

The Midrash commentary notes that the Torah begins with the word Be'reishit - in the beginning which can be also read – for the sake of the first. The world was created for the sake of the' firsts' – for the sake of the nation of Israel or the Torah that are called Reishit – first. Likewise the word was created for the sake of the mitzvah of the first crops – bikkurim. Gratitude is a trait that is fundamental to the sustainability of the world, central and vital to interpersonal relationships, our relationship with God (not that God needs our thanks) and our relationship with the physical world. Our lives and achievements are made possible by the contributions and help of so many people and primarily because of God's assistance and direction. In order to express gratitude we need to have humility. People showed gratitude and solidarity with the farmers by going out to greet them on their journey. In Jerusalem, people would include the Levite, the convert and poor in their celebration of gratitude. They would rejoice and make others happy. The Torah is making a connection between gratitude and happiness. An attitude of gratitude brings happiness, but true gratitude to God is not just the thank you and expression of gratitude but using the God given gifts to benefit others and inviting the less privileged to join in your celebration. True joy and happiness is a result from giving to the needy and making others happy. True gratitude demands both expression of thanks and action.

ושמחת בכל הטוב אשר נתן לך יהוה אלהיך ולביתך אתה והלוי והגר אשר בקרבך: עשיתי ככל אשר צויתני", שמחתי ושימחתי בו.

Gratitude is very much on the self-improvement, personal development scene because of the research done by Dr Emmons who studies the science of gratitude. Gratitude helps people counter negative thoughts and complaining. It puts an end to self-pity, jealousy, bitterness and regret. It leads to good health, a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, as well as more joy and pleasure. People who kept a gratitude journal for just 3 weeks measured 25% higher on life satisfaction. They exercised more, they drank less alcohol and their families and friends noticed that they are nicer to be around and the effect lasts several months beyond the initial 3 week trial period. The act of writing things down that you are grateful for will instantly change your mood. While expressing gratitude by writing a letter or communicating and interacting with people is a good thing to do in a moral sense, the new gratitude gurus are stressing the benefits for us and that gratitude makes us feel good. A lot of the advice and gratitude exercises suggested can be undertaken without human contact – thank someone mentally , keep gratitude journal, count your blessings, mediate and for those so inclined, pray. Consider this advice from a yoga instructor. “Cultivate your sense of gratitude by incorporating giving thanks into a personal morning ritual such as writing in a gratitude journal, repeating an affirmation or practicing a meditation. It could even be as simple as writing what you give thanks for on a sticky note and posting it on your mirror or computer. To help you establish a daily routine, create a ‘thankfulness’ reminder on your phone or computer to pop up every morning and prompt you.”

The author Barbara Ehrenreich sees this as the downside or selfishness of gratitude. Who is interacting here? ' You' and 'you'.' So it’s possible to achieve the recommended levels of gratitude without spending a penny or uttering a word. All you have to do is to generate, within yourself, the good feelings associated with gratitude, and then bask in its warm, comforting glow. If there is any loving involved in this, it is self-love, and the current hoopla around gratitude is a celebration of onanism.' She notes that the conservative leaning John Templeton Foundation , a foundation that promotes free-market capitalism, has been funding gratitude research of more than 8 million dollars, yet the foundation does not fund projects directly to improve the lives of poor individuals, but it has spent a great deal , through efforts like these , to improve their attitudes. '

Another problem with gratitude, particularly between people with different power and status – boss and employee, teacher, parent or child, is that gratitude - especially when 'praise' is also expressed - can be experienced as judgmental and controlling. Judgment even if positive is judgment. The person with power is grateful that his subordinate has jumped through his hoops. A Boss once expressed gratitude and praise to an employee for her work. She replied – please remember your words when you write me my pay- cheque at the end of the month. Instead better to focus on the deed and action and not on the person. Offer neutral feedback and ask questions so the employee speaks and reflects on what she did.

Barbara Ehrenreich suggests that we have a more vigorous and inclusive sort of gratitude, that for e.g. includes all the people that make our meals possible and taking action and expressing ' solidarity' with their demands for better pay and working conditions.

We see clearly from the mitzvoth of Bikkurim- first fruits and eating the Ma'aser Sheni – 2nd tithes in Jerusalem, that gratitude needs to be accompanied by pro-social actions and interactions between people. When gratitude is just an ' attitude' the focus is on the self and an expression of selfishness. It is based on the most primitive form of morality, do good because it feels good, and offer thanks and express gratitude because if you don't reciprocate people won't give you anything or help you. If we are grateful to God and thank Him, but don't act in the world as a partner and be of service to others, our praises and thanks take the form of sacrifices and offerings that God despises. True gratitude is emulating God's ways – והלכת ברכיו מה הוא חנון אף אתה תנון מה הוא רחום אתה רחום ..... - Just as God's is gracious, be gracious, just as God is compassionate, be compassionate, kind and generous etc., etc.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Satmar rabbi, woman plotted to kidnap and kill husband who wouldn’t grant her a divorce

Update: Added Defense lawyer's letter - names informant

update THIRD MAN ARRESTED   News 12

NY Daily News    Time Magazine    Justice Department announcement

Daily Beast - major summary

A prominent rabbi in the Satmar Jewish community of Kiryas Joel in Orange County plotted to kidnap and murder a man who was resisting a religious divorce from his wife, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Rabbi Aharon Goldberg of Israel, and Shimen Liebowitz, of Monroe, were arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder for hire. In early July, Liebowitz and Goldberg contacted an individual to kidnap the husband and force him to give a get — a religious divorce — to his wife, the feds said.

The individual, who is cooperating with the feds, later learned that they didn’t just want to kidnap the husband — they planned to kill him as well, the feds said.[...]

“Over a period of months,” he said, they “met repeatedly to plan the kidnapping and to pay more than $55,000 to an individual they believed would carry it out.”[...]

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rav Chaim Kanievsky says to report molesters to police: We have come a long way!

מרן הגר"ח קנייבסקי הורה לעסקן: "תסגיר תוקף למשטרה"
אם עד לפני שנים תוקפי ילדים היו מטופלים "בתוך הקהילה" - הרי שהציבור החרדי עובר שינוי: "מרן שר התורה הורה לי להסגיר תוקף למשטרה", מספר עסקן חרדי מניו יורק ו"מרוצה מהשינוי" (חרדים)

כך נלחמים בארצות הברית בפגיעות בילדים: בחודשים האחרונים, לאחר שורת מקרים קשים שפורסמו ב"כיכר השבת", נושא הטיפול בפגיעות חמורות בילדים עלה לדיון במגזר החרדי - הן בטיפול בנפגעים, והן בטיפול בפוגעים. אלא שבעוד בישראל תשומת הלב הציבורית בנושא החלה לתפוס תאוצה בעיקר בשנה האחרונה, בארצות הברית ארגונים חרדים מובהקים שונים כבר פועלים בגלוי במשך שנים לטיפול בנושא.

כבר לפני מספר חודשים, ארגון יהודי חרדי-מובהק בשם "Jewish Community Watch" עורר סערה לאחר שהאשים בפומבי באתר האינטרנט של הארגון את אחד ממפיקי העל במוזיקה החסידית בארצות הברית בפגיעה חמורה בנערים צעירים. מאז, ממשיך הארגון במאמצים לחשיפת אנשים נוספים בקהילות המקומיות שסרחו ופוגעים בילדים.

אבל "Jewish Community Watch" לא לבד. בשנים האחרונות הוקם בארצות הברית ארגון נוסף בשם "עמודים". הארגון שנוסד במקור על מנת לסייע לצעירים וצעירות חרדים שנקלעו לבעיות נפשיות או התמכרו לסמים קשים, הבין מהר מאוד כי מרבית הבעיות הנפשיות והממדים המבהילים של ההתמכרויות לסמים קשים בקרב בני משפחות חרדיות בארצות הברית - מקורם על פי רוב בפגיעות חמורות שעברו הצעירים והצעירות ומעולם לא טופלו.

הארגון החל לקיים מספר הרצאות, בהן משתתפים רבנים חשובים בארצות הברית לצד אנשי מקצוע חרדים, ובהן מעלים לסדר היום את נושא הפגיעות החמורות ודרכי הטיפול. השבוע, נערכה הרצאה שכזאת בלבה של העיירה לייקווד, המכונה "בני ברק של ארצות הבר

מדובר במהפכה שקטה שכובשת את ארצות הברית. אם עד לפני שנים ספורות נהגו בקהילות היהודיות לטאטא את הבעיות החמורות מתחת לשטיח, כיום, מתוך המגזר החרדי ובכפוף להוראות של גדולי ישראל בארצות הברית, פועלים הגורמים כנגד התוקפים. גם רבנים מישראל מסייעים לארגונים בייעוץ ובהתייחסות לנושאים ההלכתיים הסבוכים הנוגעים לבעיות אלו.

צבי גלוק, מנהל 'עמודים', מספר על תמיכה גורפת של רבנים בניו יורק והתייעצות אינטנסיבית שהוא מקיים מול הרבנים בארצות הברית. למרות זאת, גלוק אומר בשיחה עם 'כיכר השבת' כי "במידה ואנחנו מגלים מקרה של תקיפה חמורה אנחנו פונים לרשויות, כך מורים לנו הרבנים, אין לנו צל של ספק, אנחנו מקשיבים לרבנים ומסגירים את התוקפים למשטר

Abuse in the Jewish Community - Amudim in Lakewood - Septermber 11, 2016

Tzvi Gluck - director of Amudim wrote:
I have to admit that when we first started Amudim three years ago, I found myself wondering just what kind of response we would get from the Jewish community. The issues we were tackling were extremely sensitive in nature and typically weren't talked about, but we all knew deep down inside that we had no choice but to bring these topics up in public to safeguard our most precious resource, our children 
To have been invited to Lakewood by the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Malkiel Kotler Shlit"a, was indeed a humbling experience. Over 1,000 people came to hear the words of our daas Torah, Rav Elya Brudny, speak about the importance of addressing abuse head on, and to listen to Dr. Akiva Perlman and Rabbi Dr. Zev Brown discuss the dangers facing our children and how to formulate strategies to protect them. 
Since the event, which was seen live by 15,000 remote viewers, our office has been inundated with calls, more than 400 in all. Some have contacted us just to say thank you, while others have requested audio downloads, video links or materials to help them discuss these matters with their kids. 50 of those calls were about sexual abuse, resulting in 20 new cases opened this week alone

The need is still great, and while it is rewarding to see that people are ready and willing to listen to the message that we have been tasked with sharing, I look forward to the day when our community will be so well attuned to the dangers of abuse that actual cases will be few and far between.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sanhedria Murchevet Satanic Ring hysteria: A ‘Memory Hacker’ Explains How to Plant False Memories in People’s Minds

Motherboard    We tend to think of memories as perfect little time capsules—important records of past events that matter to us and made us who we are, as unchangeable as a dragonfly stuck in amber. Well, they’re anything but. I recently met with Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist who specializes in the science of memory. “I am a memory hacker,” Shaw told me. “I use the science of memory to make you think you did things that never happened.”

Implanting a false memory, it turns out, is alarmingly easy to do.

Shaw, a Canadian now living in London, was in Toronto to promote her new book, The Memory Illusion. In it, she describes how false memories can be deliberately placed in people’s brains—leading to false police confessions that could send the wrong person to jail, or detailed accounts of alien abductions that (almost certainly) never happened.

“A memory is a network of brain cells,” Shaw explained to me. That network, which stretches across different regions of the brain, is constantly being updated. It’s an important function that allows us humans to learn new things and to problem-solve, among other skills. But as a result, it “can be manipulated,” she continued. “Each time you tell a story, you change the memory,” maybe dropping in new details, weaving in tidbits you really heard from somebody else, or forging new, and possibly inaccurate or misleading, connections.

For example: If you think you remember anything before you were about two-and-a-half years old, Shaw said, that’s a false memory. (Before then, our brains aren’t developed enough to store memories, a phenomenon called childhood or infantile amnesia.) A memory from earlier that “was either given to you through photos, you saw a picture, or maybe your parents told you a story,” she explained. “You can internalize them quite readily.”

The fact that memories are so changeable has important implications for, among other things, the criminal justice system, Shaw pointed out—and that’s the focus of much of her work. “In the lab, I convince people through memory hacking that they committed crimes that never happened,” said Shaw, senior lecturer and researcher in the Department of Law and Social Sciences at London South Bank University. “I do it to show that the interrogation process can really distort memories, in consistent ways.”

To implant a false memory, “you try to get someone to confuse their imagination with their memory,” she said. “That’s it: Get them to repeatedly picture it happening.”

She’ll start off by letting them know they committed a crime, and then claim to have insider information. For example: “Your parents told me that, when you were 14, you stole something, and the police were involved,” she said, adding that she’ll say she called the parents, and give details of their talk, “and then you believe me. You know I contacted your parents, and you trust them,” she continued. That gives her credibility.

She’ll keep going and layer in detail—the person’s age, hometown, the name of their childhood best friend, and get them to repeatedly imagine the crime happening, over and over again, even if they never did it. Over the course of a couple of weeks, maybe even a shorter timespan than that, “it gets harder to decipher imagination, versus a memory coming back,” Shaw said. “By the end, it’s easy to think, this actually happened.” [...]

New developments concerning the murder of Daniel Markel - defense attorney for Martin Wolmark of the Mendel Epstein Get Gang

In newly released documents, the Tallahassee Police Department laid out its case for why two of Dan Markel’s in-laws should be considered prime suspects in his slaying.

But State Attorney Willie Meggs has dismissed the probable cause affidavits as “speculation” and refused to issue a warrant for their arrest.

The documents maintain the family of Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson tried to convince her to offer him $1 million to allow their children to move to South Florida after their acrimonious divorce. Documents also say investigators focused on her brother Charlie Adelson, who police say looked into hiring a hit man the summer before Markel was killed.

The probable cause affidavits became public Thursday after a records request by the Tallahassee Democrat. They included affidavits drafted by TPD and sent to Meggs’ office for everyone police believe was a suspect in the killing of Markel, including Charlie Adelson and his his ex-wife’s mother, Donna Adelson.

The family has denied any involvement in Markel’s slaying, calling investigators’ theories “fanciful fiction.” No members of the Adelson family have been arrested.

Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera are scheduled to stand trial this fall on charges they shot the Florida State law professor in the head in his Betton Hills garage on July 18, 2014.[...]

Tallahassee Democrat  describes tension between the police and prosecuters in the case

Friday, September 16, 2016

Historic milestone: Beginning of reconcilliation of Litvaks and Gerrer Chassidim after 8 years


המנצחים והמפסידים: מאחורי הקלעים של פסגת השלום ההיסטורית

לאחר כשמונה שנים של נתק בין מנהיג הציבור הליטאי למנהיג חסידות גור, הגיע הערב הגראי"ל שטיינמן לחתונת גור והביא לפיוס היסטורי. "בחדרי חרדים" משרטט את המהלכים מאחורי הקלעים שהביאו למפגש הפסגה, איך זה ישפיע על הזירה הפוליטית ומי המפסידים הגדולים מהמהלך

דרמה היסטורית והתרגשות הערב בירושלים. לאחר כמעט שמונה שנים של נתק בין מנהיגי היהדות החרדית, ראש הישיבה הגראי"ל שטיינמן הפתיע והגיע הערב (שלישי) לחתונת נכד כ"ק האדמו"ר מגור ובכך שם סוף לנתק הממושך שהיה בין גדולי הדור.

דבר הגעתו של ראש הישיבה לחתונת נכד האדמו"ר מגור נשמר בחשאיות רבה, ומלבד אי אלו שמועות שצפו בתקופה האחרונה - רק הערב, מעט לאחר השעה 19:20 – הידיעה על בואו של הגראי"ל החלה להתפשט כאש בשדה קוצים.

ואכן, סמוך לשעה 20:00 בערב, נכנס ראש הישיבה לאולם השמחה של חסידות גור, לקול שירת האלפים שהרעידו את האולם. מיד עם בואו - האדמו"ר מגור קם על רגליו כשהוא מכבד את ראש הישיבה לשבת בסמוך אליו. תוך כדי שירת האלפים האדירה, לחץ ראש הישיבה את ידו של שר הבריאות יעקב ליצמן.

ל"בחדרי חרדים" נודע כי המהלך החל כבר אתמול כאשר בנו של הרבי מגור הגיע למעונו של הרב שטיינמן ברחוב חזון איש 5 בבני ברק והזמינו לחתונה. כאמור, דבר הגעתו של הרב שטיינמן לשמחה נשמר בחשאיות, ורק סמוך לכניסתו לאולם הדבר פורסם.

בגור נערכו להגעת הגראי"ל שטיינמן, מחסומים נפרסו ודרך מיוחדת נפתחה לרכב עד לתוך בית המדרש ממש, מרחק צעדים מהבמה. האדמו"ר מגור יצא לקראתו למדרגות של הבמה וסידר מקום לצידו.

ראש הישיבה שהה בשמחה כ-20 דקות, במהלכן אף נעמד, על 103 שנות חייו, ורקד יחד עם האדמו"ר, יד ביד. ל"בחדרי חרדים" נודע כי לאחר מכן הגיע ראש הישיבה אל בית חתנו הגאון רבי דב שפירא בעזרת תורה בירושלים, שם התפלל תפילת ערבית.[...]

He sexually abused her as a child. She became a police officer and hunted him down.

Washington Post   Erlis Joseph Chaisson is a serial child molester. He first spent time in prison for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old in Louisiana but was released in 1994, according to KXXV. The 47-year-old might have remained free if one 27-year-old north central Texas police officer hadn’t gone far above the call of duty. The two weren’t strangers. In fact, they’re relatives.[...]

It began when she was 8 years old.

She became a cop. And in 2014, more than 15 years after the abuse, she arranged a meeting with him and secretly recorded their conversation.[...]

On that two-hour tape, he described to her, in detail, what he did to her. He blames her for it. He tells her she wouldn’t understand because she doesn’t possess male genitalia. He praises himself by saying that at least, “I kept you a virgin, didn’t I?”

Most importantly, he confessed. Over and over and over again.

Because of that, he’ll spend life in prison, a jury recently decided.[...]

A few years ago, the officer decided to begin attending therapy. She learned that her issues likely stemmed from the abuse Chaisson heaped upon her from the ages of 8 to 12 — more than 15 years ago. At first, he would rub and scratch her back, cuddling with the child. Then he made a habit of climbing into her bed at night, as she tried to sleep.[...]

Through therapy, Doe realized she needed to confront this painful past. And she had a pretty good idea of how she could do it — after all, she had just been trained as a police officer.

“I’ve always, always wanted to be a detective,” she told the Daily Beast. “I was fresh out of the academy. It was kind of, ‘If he’s going to talk, he’s going to talk’ — how do I prove it?”

Added Doe, “I thought to myself: I’m the difference between him and prison.”

Doe decided it was her responsibility to put this predator away for good while facing her own past — two birds with one stone.

“My job is in law enforcement,” she told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “I’m held to a higher standard. I just want to protect people, and how can I do that if I can’t even protect myself?” [...]

As for the detective, she told the Daily Beast it feels like “a weight lifting over my shoulders.”

“I no longer have to hide the secret or bear the responsibility of it.”

Ki Seitzei; Who Is In Control Of A Jewish Marriage by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

Guest post by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

We know that only the husband, has the ability to write and give a 'Get'. He doesn't need a Get from his wife, and מעיקר הדין he can even give it to her, against her will...

Is this fair? Is this just?? Is this דרכיה דרכי נועם??....

For questions and comments please email us at

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What is meant by kinyan for marriage: Is a wife property which is acquired like an ox or a slave?

update - added sources that clearly indicate that the husband is more obligated regarding his wife's sexual satisfaction than she is obligated to him - and they are in fact muturally obligated.

I have been working on understanding the issue of kinyan in regards to a wife. The normal translation would be that the husband acquires a wife in 3 ways (Kiddushin 2a), money, document or intercourse. And therefore one might conclude that the Jewish view of marriage is that a man buys a wife in the same way as he buys a cow or a slave. But the gemora makes clear that that is not so. We find in Kiddushin (6a) and other places that while a heathen slave is physically bought and possessed – a woman is not. In short the husband clearly doesn’t own her as a slave or an ox and she is not his property. 

Tosfos haRosh(Kesubos 2a): His field got flooded… In a case where the wife developed serious blemishes we say “his field got flooded”[it is his bad luck]. It should similarly be true that if the husband developed serious blemishes then we should say that “her field got flooded” [it is her bad luck]. So why is it only when the husband gets serious blemishes that we force him to divorce her? The answer is that the wife is his monetary purchase (kinyan kaspo) just as his slave or ox or donkey and therefore what happens to her is the result of his mazel (luck). [the reverse is not true because he is not her possession]
However as the Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 1:1) states, the Torah requires that a man makes a kinyan on a woman to make her his wife. We see also regarding Teruma which a cohen is allowed to eat – that that which he owns can also eat teruma. The heter provided in the Torah (Vayikra 22:11) A cohen who acquires a person himsef (i.e. a slave)  through money (kinyan kaspo). That person can eat the  cohen’s teruma as well as he who is born in the cohen’s house from slaves – they can eat of his bread )-  is called kinyan kaspo (acquired with his money).
Yevamos(66a): As it was taught: How do we know that a cohen who marries a woman and acquires slaves that they can eat teruma? Because it say, And the cohen who acquires a soul – through kinyan kaspo (monetary acquition) -that person he acquired can eat teruma.
Thus a wife is called kinyan kaspo – even though not kinyan gufa (acquisition of her body). That is enough to be able to eat teruma. A problem arises since a Hebrew slave who is also not kinyan gufo – is not allowed to eat teruma. What is the difference between them? Furthermore why is a wife acquired through intercourse or a yevama allowed to eat teruma – they clearly are not even kinyan kaspo? This requires further study.

There are additional problems understanding the nature of monetary kinyan. As is well known the Rambam says it is only rabbinic in nature (divrei sofrim). This is also the view that Rashi rejects from his own teachers as well as the view found in the Gaonim. However even accepting the majority view that kinyan with money  is doreissa – it is formally learned from a gezera shaveh comparing two verses - which as Tosfos (Kiddushin 2a) points out is problematic. One verse says that the money was taken in acquiring the field while in the second verse the woman is being taken to be his wife. For the gezera shaveh to be meaningful the first verse should have said, “The field was acquired by giving money” and compare this to the common word of acquisition in the second verse -  “The woman who is being acquired through the man giving money. In short monetary kinyan is not acquiring a wife in the sense of buying a field or a slave but it is something. It might be a metaphor - but it is clearly not a commercial transaction.

Putting aside these issues. So if the basis of marriage is kinyan kaspo – what exactly is acquired? The Netziv (4:35) [see translation below] says the kinyan is on her sexuality but not any other aspect of her. Similarly R Avraham minHaHar (Nedarim 15b) says that a wife can not take a Neder prohibiting to her husband the pleasure of intercourse and can be forced to go against the Neder if she makes it - because she was acquired by him regarding intercourse as the verse says "when a man takes a wife". 

This too is problematic. Does that mean that she is a sex slave to her husband while being free in everyone other sense? While the language of the Netziv suggests that as does the statement in Nedarim (20b) that “a man can do whatever he wants with his wife” – it is clearly not the view of our Sages. They clearly state that a man can only do what his wife willingly consents to do –see Nedarim (20b) regarding Tisha Midos that a man is not allowed to force his wife to have intercourse (i.e., rape or even intimidate her).  Nor is it the view of the halacha.
Nedarim (20b): And I will purge out from among you the rebels and them that transgress against me (Yechezkiel 20:38). R’ Levi said these are the children that result from 9 improper types of intercourse.  They are children born of a fearful relationship, rape, a hated wife, one whose husband was under the ban, when intercourse was done by mistaken identity, when they were fighting, when they were drunk, when he mentally planned on divorcing her, from a promiscuous  relations and a brazen woman.
This is also stated in Eiruvin
Eiruvin (100b): It is prohibited for a man to force his wife to participate in the mitzva of intercourse… Whoever forces his to wife to participate in the mitzva of intercourse will have children who are unworthy. What is the proof? It is Mishlei (19:2): Also without consent the soul is not good. It was also taught in a braissa: Also without consent the soul is not good – that is referring to a man who forces his wife to participate in the mitzva of intercourse.
This is also the halacha as stated in the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch
Rambam(Hilchos Ishus 15:17):…. Furthermore he should not rape her or force her to have sex. Rather he should have sexual relations with her only with her consent and only in the context of pleasant conversion and joy.
Shulchan Aruch(E.H. 25:2): A man should not have sex with his wife unless she is willing. If she is not willing he should placate her until she is willing. …
Shulchan Aruch(O.C. 240:10):  If he is angry with her it is prohibited to have intercourse until he has placated her. He is able to speak with her prior to intercourse until she is willing
This idea that a wife is a sex slave or a mere tool for obtaining spirituality is clearly denounced by the Steipler and other major rabbinic authorities.
Steipler(Igros Kodesh #1:2): The actual behaviors involved in intercourse of the mitzva of onah are explained in the Siddur of the Yaavetz in his discussion of the halachos of Shabbos night. Please study that well. What he says there is the actual halacha and not just advice or custom.  That is because according to the halacha it is prohibited to have intercourse in a manner that the woman is not satisfied. The husband is required to satisfy her with hugs and kisses until she is aroused to want intercourse. Otherwise the intercourse is equivalent to placing her before a lion who mangles its prey before it eats as is explained in Pesachim (49). [It is a terrible crime to deny that which the wife has rights to - even if he is doing this out of piety and asceticism.  That is simply because stealing from his wife cannot be justified for the sake of  being pious. In fact he is stealing from her and treating her as a captive slave]. Furthermore when he has intercourse against her will the resulting children are considered sinners and rebels which is called in Nedarim (20b)  bnei anusa (children of rape)…. . She will be pained and embarrassed and will cry in private and her tears will not be unanswered by Heaven because the Gate of Tears is not locked. Our Sages say in Bava Metzia that a man should always be careful with the honor of his wife because she readily cries. Look there... There is no question that judgment will be aroused against him and he will not merit to have Divine assistance either in in material needs or in spirituality. And this that he imagines that his actions increase his spiritual level - this is simply a worthless and false fantasy because he is sinning and transgressing by this defective and impure actions - not becoming elevated. It is explicit in Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 240:8) that sexual intercourse should only be done after placating his wife and getting her to want it. Because otherwise it is prohibited without her consent as is stated there in the Shulchan Aruch and the words of the Siddur of the Yaavetz - which are the true halacha of the Torah….
However there are views that the requirement of consent is only concerning a wife who is normally available except when she has a reasonable excuse such as not feeling well. But in regard to a wife who refuses simply because she wants to irritate her husband i.e. a moredes - it would be permitted to force her to have intercourse because he has acquired her. This seems to be not only the view of the Netziv but also the Atzi Arazim (E.H. 25) who says it is the view of the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch and others.  He extends this to include sodomy - as a literal understanding of Nedarim (20b) indicates. The Rosh (Kesubos 5:32) also permits forcing a moredes as does Rabbeinu Yeruchim (Nesiv 23:8), Mordechai (Kiddushin 530), Ran(Nedarim 20b), Bach (E.H. 25:1), Shita Mekubetzes(Nedarim 20b) and Tur (E.H. 77). Clearly they understand that kinyan is an actual purchase of the women's sexuality and not simply a symbolic gesture to signify that she is now prohibited to other men. They view that as long as the wife is respectful of the husband's rights to her - then the husband needs to be sensitive and not force her to do anything she doesn't want. But if she is a moredes that requirement no longer applies. It is also conceivable that these views are no longer relevant to modern times when the status of women and marriage have changed significantly This requires additional study and consultation with your own rabbi. See also Yaskil Avi (5:69) that when the husband makes excessive demands on his wife - she is not a moredes for refusing.

Bottom line. We know that one term used for marriage - that a man is mekadesh (sanctifies) a woman – means that she is prohibited to have sexual relations with any other man. But the second term used for marriage – kinyan presents problems. If a marriage through kinyan is not acquisition in the sense of ownership, what does kinyan mean?

I just came across the following academic article which offers an answer which seem consistent with the rabbinic texts. It suggests that kinyan means “subordination” not “ownership”. This is just the summary that she presents at the end of the article.

T.M.Lemos: Were Israelite Women Chattel 241 Conclusion As should by now be clear, although I have argued against the idea that women in ancient Israel were property, my purpose has not been to assert instead that relationships between women and men in ancient Israel were at all equal. While Israelite society was governed by different hierarchies, and gender binaries were not always the most important set of oppositions, 42 the extant evidence in my view leaves little doubt that wives were subordinate to husbands and daughters to fathers. In the case of wives, however, this subordination is not best understood in terms of ownership or a property relation. If Israelite texts themselves consider the status of wives to be different from the status of slaves, and if wives could not be purchased, sold, or devolved, it seems inaccurate to state that wives in ancient Israel were “merely chattel,” as scholars not infrequently do. Recognizing instead that the concept of subordination is what illuminates relations between women and men is important because it allows us to compare the subjugation of wives to the subjugation of other classes of Israelites, including that of free men to other free men. All subordination is not equivalent, and one might be dominant in one scenario and subordinate in another, as was the case, too, with free women, who might be dominant in relation to their children, slaves, or even certain free men, but subservient to their husbands. In my view, understanding Israelite women as property, whether in general terms or in relation to their sexuality, is not only inaccurate but is also less useful heuristically than what I have proposed. Rather, it is in probing the nature of hierarchies and relations of dominance that we come to understand better the nuances of family dynamics, community bonds, and social organization in ancient Israel and in the wider ancient Near East.
Onah - the obligation of the husband to provide sexual satisfaction to his wife is greater than the wife's obligation to the husband. In other words the man in regards to sexual relations is more a slave to the wife than she is to him.

Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 12:1-2): 1) When a man marries a woman – whether she is a virgin or not or whether she is an adult or child or whether she is a convert or not or a freed slave – he is obligated in ten things and he has rights in four things. 2) Of these 10, 3 are Torah obligations – feeding her, clothing her, and having sexual relations with her. The 7 Rabbinic obligations which are inforced by beis din – even if not stated explicity – include the basic kesuba, and conditions of the kesuba. The latter includes the obligation to cure her from sickness, to redeem her from captivity, to bury her when she dies, when he dies she is to be maintained from his wealth and can remain in his house as long as she remains a widow. Their daughters are likewise maintained from his wealth after he dies until they gets engaged. Their sons are to inherit her kesuba beyond the portion of inheritance they received with their brothers.

Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 14:7): It is forbidden for a man to deprive his wife of her conjugal rights. If he transgresses and deprives her of these rights in order to cause her distress, he violates one of the Torah's negative commandments, as [Exodus 21:10] states: "Do not deprive [her] of her sustenance, garments or conjugal rights."12 If he becomes sick or his virility is weakened, and he is unable to engage in sexual relations, he is given a period of six months13- for [a woman is never required to wait] longer for her conjugal rights than this - in the hope that he recovers. Afterwards, the prerogative is hers [whether to remain married] or whether he must divorce her and pay her [the money due her by virtue of her] ketubah.

Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 14:2): A wife has the right to prevent her husband from making business trips except to close places, so that he will not be prevented from fulfilling his conjugal duties. He may make such journeys only with her permission. Similarly, she has the prerogative of preventing him from changing from a profession that grants her more frequent conjugal rights to one that grants her less frequent rights - e.g., a donkey-driver who wishes to become a camel-driver, or a camel-driver who wishes to become a seaman.3 Students of the Torah may, however, depart for Torah study for two or three years without their wives' permission. Similarly, a wife cannot prevent a husband who is pampered and indulged from becoming a student of the Torah.

Beis Yosef (E.H. 25): Lust, a child and a wife require a balance – the left pushes away while the right brings close (Sanhedrin 107b). However if he sees that she wants more intercourse because she is dresses up and makes efforts to be noted – then he is obligated to cause her to rejoice with sexual intercourse as is noted in Pesachim (72b) A man is obligated to give enjoyment to his wife even if it is not the time required by halacha and even if she is pregnant. This is the correct text

Tur (O.C. 240): The Ravad asks concerning the gemora "lust, child and a woman – the left hands pushes away and the right hand brings close - since our Sages have specified that sexual relations should be done according to a man's strength as it says in Kesubos – then what significance is there for the pushing away of the left hand and the bringing close of the right hand? He answers that this dialectic of the left and right hands applies only in the case of tayalim for whom the sexual obligation is every day and it means that they should reduce the amount of sexual activity with the permission of their wife and her consent in order that they not be overwhelmed with lust. In contrast Torah scholars should not reduce the amount of sexual intercourse and surely in the case of others such as camel driers and sailors. He also explains that the rights to sexual intercourse (onah) which the Sages specified to fulfill the desires of the wife are not to be reduced without her consent but if it is necessary to increase the amount of intercourse in order to be saved from sin – he has the right. In this manner they warned about fighting the evil inclination and he should not give into to all his lusts but rather the left should push away i.e., he should not eliminate sexual intercourse completely because we are concerned that in fighting his lusts he might want to eliminate his obligation to his wife (onah). In addition he explains that the frequency of sexual intercourse that the Sages fixed – was not meant to be the absolute maximum – but rather what a woman would typically be satisfied with. However if he sees that she wants more by the fact that she goes out of her way to look attractive and acts as if she wants more attention – then the husband is obligated to rejoice with mitzva with her (sexual relations) as is stated in Pesachim, Rava said that a man is obligated to rejoice with his wife in the matter of mitzva – even if it is not the time specified by her rights to sexual intercourse (onah). And this is true even if she is pregnant and she needs sexual attention. Thus it says that if a person knows that his wife fears sin and yet does not have sexual relations with her is called a sinner. Now if this was said when he is obligated to her – then it is obvious that he is a sinner since it is a Torah obligation – but it is referring even if it is not the time of his obligation. Our Sages also said that a man is obligated to have sexual relations with his wife before he leaves on a journey even if it is close to her menstrual period. We also see in mesechta Kalla, "What should a man do in order that he has sons? He should do the will of Heaven and the will of his wife." The will of Heaven means that he should give generously to the poor. The will of his wife means – means that he should seduce her during sexual intercourse. Rabbi Yehoshua said it means he should give her joy during sexual relations. And since he is required to fulfill is wife's desires and to cause her rejoicing whenever she wants it – therefore a man is warned to resist with the left from concern that he will end up doing more than is necessary and he will be drawn after frivolities and hedonism.

Steipler(Igros Kodesh 1:4):[[ 4) While it is true that many talmidei chachomm conduct themselves in an ascetic manner in a number of intimate things – but that is only with the complete agreement of his wife and with her forgiveness with a full heart. And this agreement comes in most cases after it is explained to her that in truth her husband loves her and it is only for the sake of heaven that he is restraining himself. Or alternatively she married someone who is known as a tzadik whose reputation compensates for her loss of intimacy with him. But G-d forbid that the husband should conduct himself as an ascetic when it causes pain to his wife who is dependent upon him and does not forgive him whole heartedly concerning that which he is obligated to do for her.

Igros Moshe (O.C. 6 5.2): [Menachos 43b It was taught: R. Judah used to say, A man is bound to say the following three blessings daily: who has made me a Jew’, ‘. . . . who hast not made me a woman’; and ‘ . . . who hast not made me a brutish man’. R. Aha b. Jacob once overhead his son saying the blessing … who hast not made me a brutish man’, whereupon he said to him, ‘And this too!’ Said the other, ‘Then what blessing should I say instead?’ [He replied,] . . . who hast not made me a slave’. And is not that the same as a woman?[Rashi explains because in terms of the obligation of doing mitzvos – a woman and a slave are equal]— A slave is more contemptible.] Look at Rashi (Menachos 43b) who explains in his first explanation to the question of saying a beracha “who has not made me a slave” is the same saying “who has not made me a woman", that “the wife is also a slave to her husband as a slave is to his master.” If I weren't afraid I would say that it is necessary to erase the first explantion of Rashi. Because G-d forbid for Rashi to say this ridiculous statement. That is because according to the Torah there is no obligation for the wife to do anything for the husband except for having normal marital relations. And even in regard to intercourse, he is in fact more obligated to her because he also has a negative Torah commandment not to deprive her of sexual satisfaction. In fact it is only a decree of the Sages that requires that her work belongs to her husband. Corresponding to this requirement to work for him, he is required to feed her. But the only work she is obligated to do is house work and not to work in the field. She also has some obligation regarding wool - which is an easy job that women typically do. See Shulchan Aruch EH simon 80. Her meals are his obligation since she should not have it any worse than her family and his family and certainly not less than what she typically eats. Similarly he is obligated to provide her clothing according to what the women of that city typically get as well as according to the standard of his and her family. That is because she is to go up in her standard of living with him and not go down. In addition he is obligated to honor her and he cannot leave the house without her permission except to go to his job that is known to her. In fact we see from all this the opposite of her being his slave. He is obligated to do all the work to earn a living as is stated in the Kesubah. Even if it means hiring himself out according to Tosfos (Kesubos 63). Thus we see that the husband is more of a slave to her then she is to him. This Rashi requires further study (tzorech iyun gadol).

Please keep in mind that there are other views and other factors in deciding practical halacha concerning this issue - please consult with your personal rabbi.

Netziv (Meishiv Davar 4:35): Question: You asked a second time to discuss what does it mean that a man acquires (kinyan) a wife? Why and for what purpose is she acquired. This is what you wrote in the first letter in which you noted that according to the Torah a man makes no acquisition of the woman except in respect to intercourse – however aside from intercourse there is absolutely no acquisition. As a consequence if she makes a neder (vow) and says that she is prohibiting him from the pleasure of intercourse with her – there is no need to nullify the neder. But she can be pressured to have intercourse - in spite of the neder - because for that purpose she was acquired by her husband. Answer: This matter is very clear. This that it says in the Torah that the wife is kinyan kaspo (acquired with money) and also this that we find that the wife of a man is his slave and maidservant – the intent is clearly that she is like his slave and maidservant – but not literally so. Just as the work of a slave’s hand belongs to his master so is his wife regarding intercourse but not in any other aspect. A clear proof that a wife is not literally a slave to her husband is that our Sages say that according to the Torah, the work of her hands does not belong to her husband. But how do our Sages know this. Is it stated clearly in the Torah? But doesn't the Torah say that she is kinyan kaspo (acquired by money) which is the same description given for a slave and maidservant? So what is the source that her work does not belong to her husband? In fact let’s reverse the question, how do we know that his wife is obligated to him regarding intercourse and therefore can not prohibit herself sexually to her husband. There is no problem if he was the one making the neder and said that he is prohibiting her from having intercourse with him. Of course the neder would not be valid because we have a clear Torah verse prohibiting him from diminishing her rights to sexual intercourse. And even according to the view that that verse is only talking about his obligation to cloth her, nevertheless the neder is still not valid because he is obligated to satisfy her sexually from a kal v’chomer. As we see in a braissa in the Mechilta (Shoftim). Rav Yonason said “she’era kesusa” is referring to clothing which is appropriate for her body. If she is young she should not be given clothing for an old person. Additionally that this verse can mean that she should not be given clothing for the summer in the winter and vice verse…. And how do we know that he needs to feed her?…How do we know intercourse?. There is a kal v’chomer. And those things which she didn’t get married for you can not prevent her from having, those things for which she did marry to get she surely can not be prevented from having. (I speak further about this in my sefer HaEmek She’ela (6:1). In contrast regarding the wife - she can not withhold the pleasure of intercourse from the husband. So what is the source that says she is required to have intercourse with him? Perhaps it is from the fact that she is called “kinyan kaspo” (acquired with money) and that she is owned by the husband also in regard to everything else like his maidservant? But that is clearly not so and it is a elementary from the verse “When a man takes a wife”. Why does it end “And he has sexual relations with her” – and mentions nothing else? From this we learn that only for that particular aspect i.e., sexual intercourse she is acquired by him like a maidservant to serve him – but not for anything else….The kinyan (acquisition) of the man is only concerning the sexuality of wife. This is not a question regarding an unmarried woman according to the view of the Rambam who says it is prohibited to have intercourse with an unmarried woman. But even according to those who disagree with the Rambam – having intercourse with an unmarried women is only optional - but she is not obligated to have intercourse with him. And if he forces an unmarried woman to have intercourse – G-d forbid - then he is required to pay her for shame and degradation. Forcing an unmarried woman is like theft and like beating someone. In contrast his wife who is acquired by him – she is required to have intercourse with him any time he wants and if she does not do it willingly he is able to force her – just as a master who forces his maidservant to do who work. All of this is very clear and it isn’t worthwhile going over it again…. It is important to note that a man’s wife is acquired by him and also sanctified by him. It is important to understand that these two things are separate. Acquisition (kinyan) means that she is required to have intercource with her husband just as a slave is required to do his work for his master. In contrast, kiddushin (sanctification) is like hekdesh i.e., she is prohibited to others. The significance of having two separate aspects is that from the point of view of the wife being acquired to her husband – it is considered theft if she gave her love to someone else and did nothing else. This would be like a slave who works for someone other than his master at a time when he had work to do for his master – this is pure theft. On the other hand purely from the point of view of acquisition, if her husband gave her permission to have intercourse with someone else it would be permitted – just as a slave who was permitted to work for someone else. Consequently that is why she is also sanctified (mekudeshesh) from which there is no escape except by receiving a Get from her husband or if he dies. However from the pure perspective of sanctification, I would not know that she has any obligation or that she is acquired by her husband. I would only know that she is prohibited to others through the sanctification. Consequently that is why she also has to be acquired. I have already written in the name of the Rambam that if one sanctifies an unborn baby that the kiddushin is valid and the baby is a married woman and is prohibited to others – but the baby is not also acquired by the husband. Consequently if a man sanctifies a woman who is prohibited to him by a negative commandment, she is definitely not acquired by him but she is in fact sanctified to him. Therefore anyone else who has intercourse with her is committing adultery….In summary, there is no doubt that a wife is only acquired (kinyan) by her husband concerning her sexuality and nothing else and there is no reason to repeat this again.