Friday, May 28, 2021

Da'as Torah and the Legacy of Rabbi Joshua H. Shmidman

 Da'as Torah and the Legacy of Rabbi Joshua H. Shmidman

Shalom C. Spira

"And so, [please] place Your fear, Ha-Shem our G-d, upon all Your works, and Your awe upon all that You created" 
(High Holiday amidah)

It is with a sense of appreciation that I hereby accept Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn's invitation to join him as an associate writer at <> . During our global pandemic, when humanity has indeed been transformed by such fear and awe described by the above-cited prayer, and when it is difficult/impossible (depending on the local health directives of the government) to safely congregate in person, the internet has become a helpful medium for Jews to engage in the mitzvah of Talmud Torah. To that effect, there are numerous websites today blessed with Torah content, as surveyed by posek ha-dor Rabbi J. David Bleich at . Nevertheless, I find R. Daniel Eidensohn's website to be particularly deserving of applause, for it is he [together with his brother Rabbi David Eidensohn] who has correctly educated the public that Ms. Tamar Epstein is still the wife of Mr. Aharon Friedman according to the Jewish faith. The evidence for this conclusion is documented in my article already disseminated on this website at Ergo, it is an honour and a pleasure for this unworthy student to join the distinguished Rabbinic Eidensohn brothers in their mitzvah efforts, thereby making me a nitpal li-osei mitzvah, as per the Mishnah, Makkot 5b.
In the present essay, I will introduce my credentials as a disciple of the late Rabbi Joshua H. Shmidman of Montreal, Canada (see attached scan), and explain how it is precisely the legacy of Rabbi Shmidman which requires that Ms. Epstein separate from her second husband. Interestingly, Rabbi Shmidman granted his semikhah in concert with the Beth Din of Memphis, Tennessee, which at the time was headed by Rabbi Efraim Greenblatt (author of Teshuvot Rivevot Efrayim), nephew of Rabbi Nota Zvi Greenblatt. Subsequent to the Rivevot Efrayim's ascent to the Heavenly Academy, R. Nota Zvi Greenblatt became Av Beit Din and ultimately served as the [mistaken] mesader kiddushin for Ms. Epstein to her putative second husband [-the latter who is in fact not her husband according to Torah law; see .]
Rabbi Shmidman had a memorable sermon for Parashat Va-Yera. He pointed to Abimelech's poignant question in Genesis 20:9-10, viz. how could Abraham suspect a culturally advanced civilization like the Philistines of intending to murder him for the sake of stealing his wife. Abraham's illuminating answer (Genesis 20:11) is that without Yir'at Shamayim, even the most sophisticated community can behave like wild animals. Rabbi Shmidman explained how this is what occurred in Third Reich Germany. [And see Malbim, Rabbi Samson Rephael Hirsch and Rabbi Yehudah Nachshoni, who all preceded Rabbi Shmidman on this message.]
The take-home lesson of Rabbi Shmidman for Epstein vs. Friedman is clear. A Jew who possesses Yir'at Shamayim will - of necessity - recoil from pressuring an innocent husband [such as Aharon Friedman] from delivering a get to his estranged wife, for to place such pressure on the innocent husband would be to potentially violate Exodus 20:14, as explained in footnote 91 of my aforementioned article. Now is the time for Ms. Epstein to heroically demonstrate her own Yir'at Shamayim by immediately separating from her second husband, as the Jewish faith requires.

Rabbi Shalom C. Spira earns a living as Editor of Manuscripts and Grants at the Lady Davis Institute of Medical Research [a Pavillion of the Jewish General Hospital] in Montreal, Canada.


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