Friday, December 1, 2023

Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter: Tell your Rav or Rosh Yeshiva you are adopting the Kaminetsky approach to halacha

Since the day that the Temple was destroyed, the Holy One, blessed be He, has nothing in this world but the four cubits of Halachah alone. (Berachos 8a).

It is clearly not enough to serve G-d simply by davening or just keeping Shabbos. It is not enough even if you also believe  the 13 principles of faith It is still not enough even if you learn Torah day and night.The reason for the creation of the world and man was to keep Torah The commandments of the Torah must be obeyed - the mitzvos done and the prohibition obeyed. And they must be done properly

We all know that there are different degrees of keeping mitzvos even though as a minimum all the commandments must be kept. The chareidi world prides itself on not looking for the easy solution to halachic question – but rather our concern is to try make sure that we do what G-d expects of us – no matter how difficult or what sacrifices have to be made. We are not like the Conservative that only keep that which is convenient or the Reform that only keep that which they want at that moment. We are not even like the Modern Orthodox who seem to believe that anything which is pleasurable must be permitted. If there is a question of whether a Torah mitzvos is being kept it is necessary to be machmir while a sofek derabbon we can be meikel.. In cases where the appropriate halacha for a particular situation is in doubt there are a number of strategies. In a dispute of poskim we can follow the majority or follow the greatest posek or follow the local minhag. Alternatively in a dispute in halacha we can try to act in a way that fulfills the requirements of most poskim.

In general we look to gedolim to provide role models of how to observe halacha. In general they don’t say it enough to simply pick a view of any posek. Thus the Mishna Berura paskens in a way that it fulfills the views of the major poskim. Or the Aruch HaShulchan argues for the view that he finds most convincing or what is local practice. Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Rav Moshe Feinstein say psak is following what is considered the strongest sevara . Rav Ben Tzion Abbah Shaul says that psak is finding a strategy for minimizing error. He notes the exception of the views of the Shulchan Aruch which are authoritative because they have been accepted by the Jewish people. While the strength of  the kabbalistic views of the Arizal is that they are based on ruach hakodesh.

Bottom line we see a great concern of poskeim and gedolim in all ages to take great care to minimize the likelihood of erring in halacha and to focus on ascertaining what G-d wants – and not simply what the daughter of an important supporter wants.

In view of this taking great care not to violate halacha – even for a minhag and surely for a rabbinic law and it goes without saying not a Torah law. – what we find in the production and protection of the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter is simply astounding. The Kaminetkskys contacted poskim all over the world – not to ask them what to do but to ask them to agree that Tamar did not need a Get based on phony psychiatric report that the husband was crazy. They carefully described in their letter that in addition to the husband being crazy, that no woman would want to be married to him and that Rav Moshe Feinstein had said in such a case that there was no valid marriage.

However they neglected to mention that the psychiatric diagnosis that the psychiatrist gave – based on the wife’s testimony without speaking to the husband – even if accurate was not severe enough that a wife typically would want a divorce. They neglected to mention that the wife had not mentioned any problem of mental illness in discussions with the Baltimore Beis Din. Nor did they mention that she did not mention any problem of mental illness during the years she claimed to be an agunah because her husband refused to give her a get prior to certain custody issues being resolved. 

Thus the Kaminetskys went posek shopping with false information about the husband. Nonetheless they  were rejected by most of the poskim they contacted. It was only when they reached out to Rabbi Nota Greenblatt who was willing to pasken solely on the facts he was given - without an independent investigation or even contacting the husband because he believed he was obligated to accept everything that Rav Kaminetsky told him – that they got a heter.

We all know those who have been criticized by gedolim for posek shopping. For demanding a specific psak rather than going to a posek to ask him what the halacha is. We have heard of gedolim criticizing those who make up facts in order to get a desired psak. And yet despite the fact that the Kaminetskys did all of these transgressions - there is a determined silence by our rabbinic leadership.

Furthermore after the firestorm of protest from major poskim around the world against the Kaminetsy-Greenblatt Heter and after asking for and getting a similar rejection of the heter from Rav Dovid Feinstein and even after acknowledging that the heter was no good – nothing was done to get the couple to separate. Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky said it is not his job to tell this couple that he persuaded to commit adultery – to separate. He claims it is Rav Nota Greenblatt’s job! Rav Greenblatt refuses to withdraw his heter – despite the fact that he was informed that the facts he had received were not true. He says he had enough justification for issuing the heter and he isn't concerned with investigating whether the facts are false. Thus these two tzadikim declare themselves to be free of an elementary Torah obligation to protest and separate sinners from their sin - an exemption which doesn't apply to the rest of us.

If a yeshiva bachur was found to be eating meat of a questionable hecher – it is inconceivable that he would not be told by his rosh yeshiva and friends to stop. If an avreich went shopping for a heter to enable him to marry a questionable convert – there is no question that this would be criticized. If any other case where a woman tried for years to receive a Get and then suddenly announced she was remarrying without one – there would be world wide protests and the couple would be ostracized by the community.

Please ask your local rabbi – why the perversion of halacha done by Rav Kaminetsky has not generated world-wide protests? Ask him if you decided to act in a similar manner regarding your halachic questions of nida, kashrus or Shabbos – would he also be silent? Better yet ask him if he has any problem if you planned on adopting the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt approach to halacha? What would he say if you told him that from now on you were simply going to pick as halacha the most lenient view or you will make up facts to convince a posek to give you a heter – because that is what the Kaminetsky’s did? Ask him why the Kaminetskys are not being held accountable for perverting halacha and causing adultery and possible mamzerim. Ask him why no gedolim are protesting a blatant and well publicized transgression? Ask him if preserving Rav Kaminetsky's reputation is more important to Yiddishkeit than G-d's Torah?

======================Important comment by Joe Orlow===============

After talking several times to Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, and repeatedly trying to speak by phone to Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, and also trying to get Rabbi Feinstein to respond to an email I sent him, I now present "Joe's Take":
The party line is the following:
(1) Rabbi Feinstein and his special Bais Din ruled that Tamar Epstein is married to Aharon Friedman.
(2) Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky accepted this ruling. That is, if you ask him, he'll tell you there are Rabbis who hold that Tamar Epstein is married to Aharon Friedman.
(3) Rabbi Nota Greenblatt is a recognized expert in marriage and divorce. Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, and possibly Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, hold that Rabbi Greenblatt is an authority that may be relied on.
(4) Thus, Rabbi Greenblatt's performing the second marriage of Tamar Epstein is not something to be toyed with, questioned, second-guessed, or undone. It must stand.
(5) Otherwise the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. Rabbi Greenblatt has apparently released other women from their marriages but who seemingly needed a Get. DO YOU REALIZE WHAT A MESS WILL ENSUE IF WE HOLD THAT HE MADE A MISTAKE HERE?!
(6) Thus, all apparatchiks must play along or risk losing their jobs, their reputations, and even the possibility of any of their unmarried offspring ever getting married.
(7) Here is how to play. (a) You must believe that Tamar Epstein is legitimately married to her second "husband". (b) You must hope and pray and hold on to the desperate dream that Aharon Friedman will give Tamar Epstein a Get real soon, so that WE CAN JUST PUT THIS WHOLE AFFAIR BEHIND US AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!

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