Saturday, June 30, 2018

shmuel in his generation is like yiftach in his generation

audio link


I am going to discuss who Yiftach was - as understood by Chazal  -and why this provides us with a lesson in how to properly understand rabbinic leadership through history. In particular I would like to discuss how this helps us to understand how it is possible that R Shmuel Kaminetsky - despite being a gadol - has made some very serious mistakes in seeking to obtain an improper heter for a married woman to remarry without a Get. This has resulted in a couple presently committing adultery - and he is making no effort to correct this or the injustice he committed against Aharon Friedman her first husband.

It is typically understood that the message of Yiftach b'doro k'Shmuel b'doro (Rosh Hashanna 25b) is that even though Yiftach was not as great as Shmuel he still was the leader of the generation, a great talmid chachom and tzadik and a member of the Sanhedrin. It is believed that the leaders of every generation have ruach hakodesh and their views are Daas Torah and needed to be followed (Divrei Chaim, Mishneh Halachos). In short, it is understood to mean that the gedolim in each generation are great men - even though they might not be as great as previous generations - but what they say and do reflects G-d's will and they are basically infallible. 

All of the above is founded on an mistaken understanding of who Yiftach was - and consequently the comparison to Shmuel is incorrect. He is presented in various seforim (Machzor Vitri) as a major talmid chachom, leader of the Sanhedrin, a tzadik and pious man. Unfortunately that view is contrary to the view of Chazal (Taanis 4a) and is found primarily in some of the Rishonim. In fact what  Chazal say the expression of Yiftach b'doro means is that one is to treat the major rabbinic figures with kavod (Rashi Devarim 19:17) - even they are not as great as previous generations - and even though they are not great scholars. 

As a starting point, I want to present an important statement by Rav Dessler which explains why there are disparities between the explicit statement of Chazal and explanations of the same issue by Rishonim.
Michtav M'Eliahyu (4:355). It is important however to distinguish between those explanations which are basically interpretations of the verses and those of Chazal which are the actual meaning of the verses. Given this clear distinction it is puzzling why many Rishonim strive to follow a different understanding than the true explanation given by our Sages? We find such tendencies in the commentary of the Rashbam, Ibn Ezra and other Rishonim. What is the purpose of offering explanations which differ from the definitive true ones? I think the answer is that they offer these alternative explanations for the sake of confused people (i.e., they are apologetics). In other words these Rishonim want to show that there are many different aspects even in the simple understanding of the verses and that it is permissible for a person to create new interpretations according to what makes sense to him. (Of course, any alternative explanations which contradict foundation principles of faith are prohibited)... Such an approach is similar to that of the Rambam who wrote so much for the confused. We see this from the fact that many difficulties that exist in what he wrote could have been explained in a much clearer fashion. However, since he was addressing confused people he provided alternative explanations which they could accept - as long as it didn't contradict the Halacha).
In sum, Chazal's statements are true. Contrary statements are not the full truth but are the best that some readers will be able to accept. The Rishonim felt it was better to give a partially true or relatively true statement that would be believed - than to make statements that would be rejected. A similar statement is found in the Rambam about saying less than the full truth in order to maximize the understanding of ignorant people.
Moreh Nevuchim (Introduction). The seventh reason why an author seems to contradict himself occurs when discussing very deep and profound issues. It is necessary to conceal some aspects of the information and to reveal some. In order to accomplish this concealment it might be necessary in one place to utilize one set of principles and in another context it might be necessary to utilize a different set of fundamental principles - though the principles contradict each other. Obviously, the author should write in such a way that the ignorant masses are totally unaware of the internal contradiction. . 
Our Sages are conveying an important message about our relationship with religious and community leaders in their discussions about the major events in the life of Yiftach - who is one of the Judges. Starting from the beginning, his mother was a prostitute. As a result he was unjustly driven away by his father's other sons to prevent him from having his rightful part of the inheritance from his father. He organized a gang of bums - which Chazal teach us mean that birds of a feather flock to together - and lived the life of one rejected by society. That continued until the Jewish nation was threatened by an outside enemy and it was realized that only the military prowess of the bum Yiftach would save them from being conquered. He was offered the position of leadership of the Nation as an enticement to defend the Nation and he was successful and ruled for 6 years. Amongst his other accomplishments he killed 42,000 of his fellow Jews and sacrificed his daughter as a korbon olah. It is the latter which is out concern.

Yiftach took an oath that if he was successful in battle he would offer as a sacrifice whatever came out first to greet him when he return home. His daughter was the first to greet him. It is absolutely clear with no dissent - that one can not offer a human being as a sacrifice and that his oath was totally worthless. There is a discussion in Bereishis Rabbah (60) as to whether he needed to give the monetary equivalent of the sacrifice. But no one holds that the oath obligated him or even gave him the right to kill his daughter.

So why did he do it? Our Sages say it was because he was ignorant (Medrash Tanchuma, Taanis 4a). In fact Rashi (Taanis 4a) mentions that he became dismembered and the parts buried in different cities -  as punishment for the horrific and ignorant thing that he did.

More important is the question why no one stopped him. Our Sages mentioned that Yiftach should have gone to Pinchus and be told that there was no basis for the oath. But he didn't go because after all he was the leader of the Jewish people. For this prideful act he was punished. (In fact Seder Olam brings that this horrible error required that R Chanina ben Tradyon be burnt to death as atonement). More relevant is the question of why Pinchus (the great man who was a zealot concerned with stopping wrong - even killing wrong doers even though he was endangering his life). Some say that Pinchus is Eliyahu - and he is the foundation of the Mesora since he lived for many years. Given the character of Pinchus - why didn't he stop Yiftach? Again it seems to have been a the result of misplaced pride. He was after all the greatest talmid chachom and the baal mesorah - and therefore Yiftach needed to come to him for guidance. Our Sages say that Pinchus was punished by losing the Divine Spirit. G-d was severely displeased with him.

Thus the meaning of Yiftach in his generation is like Shmuel in his generation is that the leader of our community is not necessarily a great man - nonetheless he is to be respected because of his office. But we also see that not only can inferior leaders such as Yiftach make great errors -but also great leaders such as Pinchas also can err - for such mundane reasons as pride in being a leader.

In summary, We learn from Yiftach and his comparison to Shmuel that while a person who has an exalted position must be respected for that position - he is not infallible and that he can make serious mistakes. A leader such as Yiftach needs to be criticized when he does some wrong - such as sacrificing his daughter in the name of piety. As Daas Sofrim notes, he was an ignoramous who became pious - and we know from Avos that an ignoramous can not be truly pious. But we also see from Tanach that Pinchus also made an incredible error due to his pride of being a great leader. Pinchus also needed to be criticized by those inferior to him. Because no one spoke up Yiftach's daughter suffered a horrible death. 

We as as members of the holy Jewish people have to always remember that all Jews are bound into a collective entity. All Jews are responsible for what all other Jews do. We can not use the excuse that the wrong doer is a great man - a gadol - and who are we to criticize him when he makes a serious mistake. If we don't speak up, we will all suffer - chas v'shalom - from the sins done by our leaders.

Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky is responsible for getting Rav Greenblatt to give Tamar Esptein a worthless heter to remarrry without a Get. Rav Kaminetsky refuses to accept responsibility for his actions and insists that it is entirely Rav Greenblatt's responsibility to undo this pervision of Torah and halacha. He refuses to tell the adulterous couple to separate. He refuses to apologize for insulting and shaming Aharon Friedman in his misguided efforts to help Tamar Epstein. 

Consequently it is our responsibility as members of the Jewish people to correct the damage. We can not use the excuse that this issue is only for gedolim. We can not use the inaction and silence of our leaders to allow injustice and corruption. We need to learn from what happened with Yiftach and Pinchus - that one who does not act to correct wrong - causes suffering to others and will he/she will suffer as punishment..

Rav Shmuel acknowledges the problematic nature of Tamar's remarriage without a get

audio link


Joseph Orlow replies to Eddie “Stealth? I told him my name. Deception? Aharon Friedman is my friend, the friend to which I refer. What's with the accusations anyway? Chutzpah? The calls were made under the guidance of my Rabbis.”



The specially convened Feinstein Bais Din was a sham.

The Bais Din was constituted for one, and only one, purpose: to issue a ruling for Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky. The Bais Din decided that Tamar Epstein is halachically married to Aharon Friedman.

After the court reached its conclusion, there was no communication between Rabbi Dovid Feinstein and Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky regarding Tamar Epstein separating from Adam Fleischer, the man she currently lives with.

The audio indicates that Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky acknowledges the Psak of the Bais Din. He stops there and does not take the next logical step to tell Tamar Epstein and Adam Fleischer to separate.

I would like to draw an analogy.

A man was concerned that he may have cheated one of his clients. This client never complained. Nevertheless the man asked a Bais Din to hear his case.

The Bais Din ruled the man indeed cheated the client. But the Bais Din did not order the man to compensate the client.

The man chortled to himself, "I was unsure before if I acted criminally. Now I am certain I acted criminally!" And he retains the ill gotten gains.

In our case, Rabbi Kamenetsky salvaged his reputation by characterizing the fiasco as a Machlokes HaPoskim. Tamar Epstein and Adam Fleischer engage in Ni'uf and Rabbi Kamenetsky washes his hands of the matter, while the Philadelphia Community Kollel collects the checks.

Rabbi Kamenetsky's statement that he is uninvolved is surreal, as any follower of the Daas Torah blog is aware. He was certainly intimately involved in every step of the case, including signing a letter bereft of Halachic basis demanding that Aharon Friedman is obligated to divorce Tamar Epstein.

Joe Orlow

Thursday, June 28, 2018

ילדים נחלו: במה הורו הגר"ח קנייבסקי והגרי"ג אדלשטיין

bhol


הגר"ח קנייבסקי והגרי"ג אדלשטיין. צילום: שוקי לרר
הרב יוסף צימבאל רב שכונת שכונת ווסט-גייט החרדית בלייקווד שבניו גרז'י, שיגר מכתב לגדולי ישראל בבני ברק, לאחר שכמה ילדים בקהילה נחלו ומספר נשים נמצאות על ערש דווי והוא מבקש לדעת במה להתחזק לפני הקב"ה. כך נודע ל'בחדרי חרדים'.

המכתב נשלח גם לשר התורה הגר"ח קנייבסקי וגם לראש הישיבה הגרי"ג אדלשטיין ושניהם השיבו לרב והדברים נתלו בבית המדרש.

במודעה שנתלתה בבית המדרש נכתב, כי הרב שלח מכתב לגדולי הדור בארץ והגרי"ג אדלשטיין יעץ שנתחזק בשמירת הלשון ובלימוד התורה והגר"ח קנייבסקי יעץ ללמוד מסכת חולין. 



R' Tendler & Temple Mount/ Rejects criticism


update see oh ii #113 page 304

Jewish Press reports (excerpt):

"The rabbanim are not talking halacha," Rabbi Moshe Tendler told The Jewish Press. "They're issuing a political statement."

Last week two leading haredi rabbis, Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, and former Sephardic chief rabbi Rav Ovadia Yosef, sent a letter to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich - who is in charge of the Western Wall area - asking him to reaffirm a 40-year-old ban on Jewish entry to the Temple Mount. The move came a month after Israel's Haaretz newspaper published photographs of Rabbi Tendler atop the Temple Mount, which set off a storm in the haredi community. Rabbi Tendler, a Yeshiva University rosh yeshiva and biology professor, is the son-in-law of the late Rav Moshe Feinstein, the leading American halachic decisor of his time.

"As time passed," the three rabbis wrote, "we have lost knowledge of the precise location of the Temple, and anyone entering the Temple Mount is liable to unwittingly enter the area of the Temple and the Holy of Holies."

Rabbi Kanievsky added that "entrance to the Temple Mount, and the defilement of the Holy of Holies, is more severe than any of the violations in the Torah."
However, Rabbi Tendler argues that "everybody, certainly every rosh yeshiva and every talmid chacham, knows exactly" where a Jew may walk on the Temple Mount thanks to the research of such rabbis as the late Rabbis Shlomo Goren (former Israeli chief rabbi) and Yechiel Michel Tikochinsky.

The letter's expression, "We have lost knowledge," Rabbi Tendler said, refers to the "99 percent of tourists" who walk in forbidden areas. "I wouldn't accuse the rabbanim of talking halacha," he said, "because then I'd have to accuse them of being am haratzim [ignoramuses]. The rabbanim, baruch Hashem, are talmidei chachamim and know exactly what I know I believe they're just backing up a government position."

If North Korea is denuclearizing, why is it expanding a nuclear research center?

nbc


North Korea continues to make improvements to a major nuclear facility, raising questions about President Donald Trump's claim that Kim Jong Un has agreed to disarm, independent experts tell NBC News.
New satellite images made public by 38north, a web site devoted to analyzing North Korea, show that "improvements to the infrastructure at North Korea's Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center are continuing at a rapid pace," three 38north analysts concluded in a paper.


Image: Pipeline connecting new buildings and main production building recently completed at the Radioisotope Production Facility.

An annotated satellite image shows what the web site 38north says is pipeline connecting new buildings and main production building recently completed at the Radioisotope Production Facility.Airbus Defense and Space and 38 North






The analysts cautioned that the continued work at the Yongbyon facility "should not be seen as having any relationship to North Korea's pledge to denuclearize. The North's nuclear cadre can be expected to proceed with business as usual until specific orders are issued from Pyongyang."
However, other experts argue that ongoing work on the site of a reactor that is producing fuel for nuclear weapons shows that North Korea has no intention of disarming.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Has construction 'already started' on Trump’s border wall in San Diego?

Trump
"We’ve already started (the border wall). We started it in San Diego."
 Donald Trump on Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 in a campaign speech.


Our ruling
President Trump recently claimed: "We’ve already started (the border wall). We started it in San Diego."
His statement gives the wrong impression that border fence replacement projects in California, including those in San Diego and Calexico, are the same as the solid, 30-foot-high concrete wall he promised during his run for president.
The $1.6 billion authorized by Congress for these projects does not allow for the construction of any sort of wall prototype requested by Trump.
Instead, the projects underway include arrays of steel posts, between 18 and 30 feet high, that allow border patrol agents to see through.
The planning for at least some of these projects, which will replace shorter scrap metal fencing, started long before Trump ran for office. Congress, however, agreed to pay for them under Trump’s administration.
We also grant that Trump at the Nevada rally added: "We’re fixing it. And we’re building new." This could be interpreted as a slight acknowledgement that the projects aren’t exactly what he promised, but they don’t add much clarity to what overall is a misleading statement.
We rate Trump’s claim Mostly False.

MOSTLY FALSE – The statement contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.
Share The Facts
Donald Trump
President

"We’ve already started (the border wall). We started it in San Diego."

EL AL: Don't want to sit next to women? Don't fly

arutz 7


El Al, Israel’s national airline, has adopted a new policy regarding the handling of male passengers who refuse to sit next to women, following criticism of a series of incidents on a recent flight.
Last Thursday night, four male passengers, all members of the haredi community, refused to take seats assigned to them after they discovered that they had been seated next to female passengers.
Claiming that their religious beliefs required that they be seated away from female passengers, the four men demanded that special accommodations be made in their case.
Despite orders by one of the flight attendants that the four men take their assigned seats, the flight was ultimately delayed by more than an hour, with the dispute only being resolved after several women agreed to change seats.
The incident drew heavy criticism, including from Barak Eilam, the CEO of NICE Systems, an analytics software company.
In a social media post, Eilam vowed to cut any and all business ties with El Al and to boycott the airline until the airline banned “actions discriminating [against] women”.
“At NICE we don’t do business with companies that discriminate against race, gender or religion. NICE will not fly EL Al Israel Airlines until they change their practice and actions discriminating women.”
In response to Eilam’s post, El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin criticized the Nice Systems chief’s comments, and emphasized that El Al had adopted clear guidelines in the way wake of last week’s incident to prevent similar occurrences in the future.
“The post by the NICE CEO was made without a thorough check of the facts, and I explained that to him in a conversation,” Usishkin said, according to a report by Channel 10.
“EL Al’s employees who handled the incident did so with the necessary sensitivity. Everyone who flies with the national airline feels the values the company was founded on: an egalitarian company which does not discriminate based on religion, race, or sex.”
Usishkin added that he had released a new directive, requiring that in the future, passengers who refuse their assigned seats will be immediately removed from the flight.
“For the sake of clarity, today I ordered that the regulations be clarified on this matter, and that in the future, any passenger who refuses to sit next to another passenger will be immediately removed from the flight.”


view of Rav Moshe


https://daattorah.blogspot.com/2010/11/rav-moshe-feinstein-sitting-next-to.html

האמנם סוף לעגינות הארוכה?

הרב יואל קטן , כ"ג בסיון תשע"ח 

בימים אלו מתפרסם סיפור כואב ומרגש כאחד. בארץ נמצאת אשה עגונה זה עשרים שנה, בגלל בעל רשע שלא מוכן לתת גט בשום פנים ואופן למרות שהוא חויב לעשות כך ע"י בית הדין.
הנ"ל יושב בכלא ובצינוק כבר שנים רבות בגלל אכזריותו זאת, אך נשאר בסירובו. והנה, אומרת הידיעה, בימים אלו יצאה האשה סוף סוף לחופשי: בית דין פרטי בראשות פרופ' שפרבר מבר אילן ועוד שני דיינים עלומי שם החליט, בניגוד לשבעה הרכבים של דיינים מכל הערכות שכבר דנו בעניינה ולצערה ולצערם הרב לא הצליחו לשחרר אותה מעגינות בעלה האכזר, שהיא מותרת להינשא, מפני שהקידושין שלה לאותו רשע חסרי תוקף - כי אם היה עולה בדעתה שהוא יעולל לה כזה עוול היא לא הייתה מסכימה להינשא, והרי זה מקח טעות. לכן נתן בית הדין הפרטיזני הזה פסק הלכה שהיא אינה נשואה, ומותרת להינשא. ממש 'הפי אנד'.
אבל יש כאן בעיה: בית הדין לא חידש דבר. הכל ידוע. בתי הדין ניסו כל מה שהם יכלו לפעול למענה בכמה וכמה הרכבים, אבל הגיעו למסקנה שעל פי ההלכה האשה הזו נשארת נשואה עד שימות הבעל או שיתן גט. בכל מקרה עצוב של סכסוכים בין הבעל והאשה אפשר לומר שיש כאן מקח טעות, הרי לא עלה בדעתה שבעלה יהיה כל כך לא נחמד.

Tamar Epstein Heter: R' Greenblatt said he simply accepted whatever R Shalom Kaminetsky told him - Retraction of heter can not be far away

In this recent letter Rav Greenblatt says he knows nothing accept what R Shalom Kaminetsky told him. He did not do any independent investigation of the facts or bother hearing both sides. A rather sad and irresponsible use of the excuse of Daas Torah to avoid the elementary responsibility required of a posek. This is especially troubling concerning the issue of permitting a married woman to remarry without a Get.

With this announcement it is clear that the retraction of the heter must follow since the facts on which it was based are clearly not true. The question  now is what happens when the heter is retracted?

Yehoshua wrote:
 
A translation for those interested:
To whom it may concern:
I certify here what I said in writing to several talmidei chachamim who asked, and that is that I do not know Mr. Aharon Freidman, may he live and be well, or Ms. (?) Tamar Epstein, may she live and be well, and it is certainly not possible for me to know anything about their marriage or any detail [that transpired] between them. Rather, Hagaon R' Sholom Kamenetzky shlita asked me: When there is testimony by expert doctors that someone is mentally ill in a way that disrupts his marriage, if it is possible to nullify the kiddushin due to this. And I said that if the matter is clear and is similar to the incident in the responsum in the Igros Moshe, it is possible to permit it under certain circumstances.
Nota tzvi Greenblatt

Tamar's Heter: Protecting Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky is more important than protecting the Torah

Update: There are allegations that the Moetzes - instead of condemning the Kaminetskys and R Greenblatt for this scandal  - are working on publishing a letter that Rav Shmuel was not involved in the heter - a claim Rav Shmuel has made in several letters to rabbonim. The problem is that his son R Shalom directly contradicts this claim of non involvement in his letter to Rav Greenblatt[which appears below]. The only statement that everyone will agree is that Rav Shmuel did not give the heter - that was done by Rav Greenblatt together with Rav Feurst and others. The bottom line is that the heter would never had been given without Rav Shmuel's involvement and that furthermore it continues to exist entirely because he refuses to condemn it.


===============================================================

As everyone knows, the storm resulting from the phony heter to Tamar Epstein has been going on for a while.  R Shalom Kaminetsky's campaign to manipulate Rav Greenblatt to declare the marriage invalid worked only for a while. However a wide range of major rabbis - including Rav Chaim Kanievsky - have condemned this heter and declared Tamar as still being married to her first husband and thus committing adultery with her 2nd husband. It has clearly been publicly declared by these rabbis that persuading a psychiatrist to write an invalid report - is  a major danger to the Orthodox community and the institution of marriage.

The question is why the issue has not been settled with a retraction of the heter by Rabbi Greenblatt and a rejection of the heter by Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and his son? Why is the issue dragging on? Why isn't an ultimatum being given to the above - to either comply or be publicly denounced?

The answer unfortunately is not a pretty one. Because if an ultimatum was delivered to the above rabbis - there is a good possibility that they would not comply. After all they have "Daas Torah" or as Rav Greenblatt says "I followed the Shulchan Aruch" and it doesn't matter to him whether the facts are true or not. He views the heter as being independent of how it was obtained and that the only thing that matters is that he issued a  psak that Tamar can remarry. Similarly Rav Kaminetsky sees no reason to condemn the heter because it was issued by a "bar samcha" (Rav Greenblatt) and so it doesn't matter if the basis is a pack of lies. In short neither cares whether the heter was obtained through falsely proclaiming that Aharon Friedman  suffers from extreme incurable mental illness that disqualifies him from ever being able to marry.

However the real answer why there is no ultimatum is because we have a serious problem here of codependency. What is ultimately preventing the resolution - and the reason that the Moetzes Gedolei Torah will never get involved - is the issue of the priority of  our rabbinic leaders. While Torah and halacha are truly important, there is a greater concern for these rabbis. They view that the system itself is in danger if major gedolim are declared to be in open rebellion against the Torah. These rabbis will never do anything that is perceived as an attack on gedolim. Thy believe that  faith in gedolim (and Daas Torah) is more important to preserve than faith in G-d and Torah! Or rather that faith in G-d and Torah must be through faith in the gedolim.

Unfortunately, by publicly declaring that the heter is false and that a major breach in Torah has occurred - they can't conceal from the public that the agents of this breach are in fact gedolim. The longer they hesitate the greater is the loss of faith in gedolim and the greater the cynicism is amongst the masses - including the yeshivos and seminaries. 

In short, since they have gone public with the existence of a major breach - they can not avoid following that to its logical conclusion. But they lack nerve and don't want to be perceived as the ones who destroyed the public status of revered gedolim - Rav Greenblatt and Rav Kaminetsky.

Consequently there is great pressure to try and save the reputation of these gedolim by putting pressure on Aharon Friedman. It is widely viewed by these rabbis that almost all goals will be accomplished if he is sacrificed by forcing him to give a get and receive nothing in return.

Let me make it absolutely clear. Aharon Friedman will never back down. He will not sacrifice his reputation or his relationship with his daughter in order to allow Rav Kaminetsky and Rav Greenblatt to save face and not be held accountable for their sins. Aharon Friedman is not going to be the scapegoat that allows the rabbis to avoid the horrible task of destroying the reputation and legacy of Rav Kaminetsky and Rav Greenblatt - if they won't back down and condemn the phony heter.

Exactly how much trouble is the Trump Foundation in?

cnn


Last Thursday, the attorney general of New York sued the Trump Foundation, alleging that the organization affiliated with the President of the United States and his family had broken a number of laws governing charitable groups. "As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his business to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality," said Barbara Underwood, the Empire State's AG.
The Trump Foundation dismissed the lawsuit as entirely politically motivated, noting that it had given out more money ($19 million) than it had even received in donations.
Where does the the truth lie? And just how normal -- or abnormal -- is the way in which the Trump Foundation operated? I reached out to Marc Owens, the former director of the exempt organizations division of the Internal Revenue Service, for answers.
    Our conversation, conducted via email and lightly edited for flow, is below.
    Cillizza: Let's start simple: How odd is the way the Trump Foundation operates when compared to other similar-sized foundations?
    Owens: Whether the Trump Foundation is compared to similar-sized, i.e. small, family foundations or it is compared to foundations of any size and type, my answer is the same: the Trump Foundation may be unique in the variety and scope of its transgressions of state and federal law, as well as the visibility of the transgressions.
    Since the enactment of the private foundation excise taxes in the Tax Reform Act of 1969, the IRS has undertaken a variety of audit programs focused on federal tax law compliance. The results have not generally been made public, but some have, including a report released in 1990 of a statistically valid audit project of private foundations that involved a review of 882 organizations. The project, known as the "Grant-making Administrative Expenses Study," was required by Congress in the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, and the study was made public as a result. In a concluding observation, the study noted, "Overall, we found that private foundations are in substantial compliance with the provisions of the tax laws that apply to them." None of the 882 foundations in the study exhibited behavior even distantly close to that of Trump Foundation as detailed in the New York attorney general's petition.
    In fact, while my years at the IRS brought me into contact with many charities and foundations that had violated federal tax law, few approached the variety of the Trump Foundation's transgressions.
    Cillizza: What is being alleged here? And what is the most serious charge?
    Owens: The petition, because it was filed by the New York attorney general, focuses on state charity law violations, including violations of the duty of care, that is, a foundation's board has a duty to see that a foundation uses its funds for charitable purposes and not for private, personal benefit of board members.
    The most serious state charge is essentially the basket of violations of the duty of care as reflected in the purchase of paintings to decorate Trump resorts, the use of foundation funds to settle lawsuit disputes between the Trump Organization and various third parties, the use of foundation assets to support Donald Trump's political campaign and, finally, the misreporting of the preceding on the foundation's federal Form 990-PF return, which New York law also requires to be filed with the New York attorney general. It should be noted, however, that the facts described in the petition have analogs in federal tax law, where the same transgressions that are outlined in the petition could trigger civil tax penalty excise taxes, revocation of tax-exempt status and potentially the application of the "termination tax" under section 507 of the Internal Revenue Code which authorizes the IRS in cases of repeated, flagrant violation of the rules for foundation behavior, to levy a tax equivalent to 100% of the assets of the foundation. Of course, the New York attorney general has asked that the foundation be dissolved and its assets transferred to other charities. Finally, the filing of knowingly false or inaccurate Form 990 federal tax returns has triggered criminal sanctions in at least five or six cases in the last 10 years. The charges in those case included conspiracy to defraud the United States, the making false statements on tax returns and the aiding and abetting of the filing of a false tax return. The penalties can include substantial fines and jail time.
    Cillizza: What's the Trump defense?
    Owens: In my opinion, there are no effective defenses that Donald Trump and/or his foundation can deploy to either the attorney general's petition or to federal tax charges. About the best he can do is plead ignorance of the law (generally ineffective with the sort of allegations being made) and to try to shift the blame to his accountants and attorneys (which will be factually difficult given Trump's personal involvement in many of the actions. It's unlikely, for example, that one of Trump's attorneys or accountants said that it is fine to contribute to the Florida attorney general's PAC or to buy a painting of himself and hang it in one of his clubs.)

    A chasid can be harmed by his relation to his rebbe

    ציטוט מ "חסידות וקוממיות"
    "רבנו:
                   "האמת תורה דרכה".
             
             
             
              
             
             
             
             את תועלת ההתקשרות עם הצדיק, שהיא מיסודות החסידויות בנות זמננו, ביארנו לפי דברי הרבי מפיאסצנא (ראה להלן, עמ' 105), אמנם יש להסתייג ולומר כי בהתקשרות עם הצדיק אפשר שיהיה לאדם חס ושלום נזק, אם אינו ראוי, או שלא הכין עצמו כראוי, כדברי הרבי
                      מביאלא בספר החיים, ואלה מקצת דברי קודשו (מבשר טוב, ספר החיים, סה):
                   "והרי כמה בני אדם שבאים לצדיק ומתקלקלים יותר משהיו בביתם, ותולים האשמה בצדיק. ובאמת הם הגורמים לזה, מחמת שלא הכינו את עצמם
                      קודם בואם להצדיק. כי כל שלמות צריכה הכנה מקודם"." - חסידות וקוממיות מאת משה רבפוגל

    Tuesday, June 26, 2018

    Uprooting a Marriage Shows Halachic Incompetence

    chareidi
    By Yechiel Sever

    Another instance of falsely liberating an agunah from her state by a beis din that annulled the kiddushin retroactively through an afkinhu, something which is totally forbidden in these times per the ruling of our Torah leadership of current and past generations, raised a storm of acerbic protest in the world of Halacha and dayonus.
    A sharp protest was publicized in Yated Ne'eman in the wake of a severe breach made by a private beis din in which an agunah was attempted to be released from her state through the falsely applied, so called loophole of afkinhu.




    Thank you and ye'yasher kochakhaHa-Rav ha-Ga'on R. Daniel Eidensohn, for the kind compliment and for publicizing this article. Admittedly, the article I sent engages in hyperbole when it writes that nullification of kiddushin through mekach ta'ut is rejected by  "the Acharonim, all of whom unanimously maintain that it is altogether forbidden." This overlooks the opinion of R. Moshe Feinstein, Iggerot Mosheh, Even ha-Ezer I, nos. 79-80. Surely, R. Feinstein was also anAcharon. Nevertheless, the article's point appears cogent because there are limits on what R. Feinstein was willing to do - viz. nullify kiddushin in a case of major insanity, not simply OCD and PPD as is alleged to be the case for Reb Aharon Friedman(*) - and even R. Feinstein is challenged by R. Yom Tov ha-Levi Schwarz, Ma'aneh la-Iggerot, nos. 165 and 168, who points out that R. Feinstein seems to be contradicted by Teshuvot ha-Roshklal 43, no. 5 [R. Schwarz' book is freely available here: http://www.israel613.com/books/MEANE_IGROT-H.pdf  ]. The same remonstration against R. Feinstein is offered by R. J. David Bleich, Tradition 33:1 (Fall 1998), footnote 27. [Note, however, that R. Bleich renders three minor technical errors: (a) he fails to cite R. Schwarz as having previously challenged R. Feinstein; (b) he misreferences the relevant Rosh as Teshuvot ha-Roshklal42, no. 5, when he should have actually written klal 43, no. 5.; (c) in a typographical error, R. Bleich writes "Rosh did not rule that a get was necessary" instead of "Rosh did not rule that a get wasunnecessary." I have already taken the opportunity to bring these corrections to R. Bleich's attention.] 
    I do believe that Ms. Epstein is a tzaddeket gemurah and an anoosah since neither the RCA not the Agudath Israel of America have yet announced that she is still halakhically married to Reb Aharon Friedman. Arguably, then, she should not be asurah la-ba'al and therefore it is a mitzvah to encourage her to return to shelom bayit with her first (and only) husband Reb Aharon Friedman (as per the Gemara, Ketubot 63b, that a when a wife rebels against her husband, it is a mitzvah to announce in the synagogues a diplomatic encouragement for her to return to shelom bayit.) However, even the fact that she is anoosah will not help the baby born from her, since a mamzer is a mamzer, even if born be-oness, as Ha-Rav ha-Ga'on R. David Eidensohn has correctly observed on his illuminating website devoted to this problem. Therefore, I urge the Traditional Orthodox Rabbis of America to have pity on the unborn mamzer before such a mamzer is born, and immediately take up this cause. The Traditional Orthodox Rabbis of America should announce that Ms. Epstein is indeed tzaddeket gemurah, yet also that it is a mitzvah of shelom bayit - and also of preventing the birth of a mamzer - for her to immediately return to her husband Reb Aharon Friedman. 
    Thank you,
    Shalom C. Spira
    Montreal, Canada
    update