Sunday, July 24, 2022

Grappling With the Problem of Agunot, Flaws in the Proposal of Rabbi Emanuel Rackman

Even if Rabbi Rackman's idea were acceptable in theory, its implementation contains a significant practical problem. It is often very difficult to formally produce incontrovertible evidence that someone physically abused his spouse (see Rama, E.H. 154:3). Proving that someone had an abuser personality is even more difficult, if not impossible. Similarly, it is exceedingly difficult to prove that one who denies his wife a get had a sadistic personality at the time of marriage. At the very least, the dayanim must see psychological records documenting these tendencies from before the marriage. In Rav Moshe's responsa regarding impotent and institutionalized husbands, official medical records proved the women's claims. On the other hand, The Jerusalem Report (August 3, 1998) disclosed that Rabbi Moses Morgenstern issues his rulings merely based on the woman's word, undoubtedly an unacceptable practice.3See, for example, Teshuvot Noda Biy'hudah (vol. 1, E.H. 54), cited in Pitchei Teshuvah (E.H. 157:9). Rabbis can rarely obtain private medical files in today's litigious society, for doctors do not generally release these records to clergy with the same ease that they may have done in Rav Moshe's time.


  1. OK, there were flaws in teh Rackman BD for agunot - that does not mean that poskim should'nt find solutions by bein mechadesh.

  2. What were the flaws and what do you claim are valid innovations?

  3. Cart before the horse. Am I posek hador to say what is valid?

  4. You consider yourself competent to claim somethings are valid - and you know that how?

  5. you've obviously misread what I wrote

  6. The flaws in rackman bd, that I am able to point out, are that he did not have backing from his own gedolim, eg Rav soloveitchik, Rav Lichtenstein. Also, he is applying his own philosophy of halacha, back onto new chiddushim in halacha. There is basis for a judge to interpret halacha according to how he sees it. Lamm and RHS said this type of halacha needs the greatest of the generation to deal with. His view was that they are not dealing with it, so he takes matters into his own hands.
    He knew he would be crucified, but also knew or hoped that more initiatives would follow. Which they did, and will continue to.

  7. So he decided he knew better than everyone else just like you are doing now

  8. when did I say I know better than Rav Obadiah, Rav Lichtenstein, Rav bleich? In halacha I'm not a force. In specific areas of science, i can argue with the metzius that is relied on.

  9. Wwhen the rackman Court came out in the 90s , a srfardi Rav told me never to do anything unless you have a great Rav to back you.
    So for acupuncture, i asked Rav bleich.
    What I have described above is sociology, not how to make a psak in 3 easy lessons.

  10. “Grappling With the Problem of Agunot” Thanks (KA?) for this post. Susan in her website supports the Rabbi Emanuel Rackman solution and clearly so do you, KA. Allows me daf hayomi yesterday.

    Kethuboth 20b
    “Mishnah. [if] one [lit. this] witness says, this is my handwriting and that is the handwriting of my fellow, and the other [witness] says, this is my handwriting and that is the handwriting of my fellow, they are believed. [If] one says, this is my handwriting, and the other says, this is my handwriting, they must join to themselves another [person] [so that there should be two witnesses for each handwriting (signature)]. [this is] the view [lit. the words] of Rebbe רבי. But the Sages say: they need not join to themselves another [person], but a person is believed to say, this is my handwriting [and the two witnesses thus confirm the document which they signed].”

    Ooh I love this Gamara daf hayomi yesterday! Reuven comes to court demanding money/property from Shimon. Reuven brings document to support his claim. My view is that Rebbe רבי is too strict. The Sages validate the document if has 2 signatures and the 2 signers are there in court stating that they indeed did sign the document. Rebbe רבי requires 2 witnesses on each signature, the signer and another, otherwise the document will not be able to take money/property from Reuven to Shimon. Rebbe רבי is super concerned with correct due process in a court.

    This inspired me to write to the NYS Court of Appeals today: Exhibit A: Wikipedia on meaning of due judicial proceedings 4Due process is part of the US Constitution and the NYS Constitution. I'm claiming here a violation of my rights to due process how Judge Prus awarded Susan the marital house 498 East 18 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11226 and awarded Susan my TIAA pension which Susan got 55% from early 1994 with no end in sight. A good example is Judge Prus and Susan's refusal to allow me to see a copy of the bogus 1995 Rigler/Rothbart order of separation. I beg the Court grant my motion 460 June 27, 2022 and subpoena the record from the Brooklyn Supreme Court. “No man of what state or condition he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor taken, nor disinherited, nor put to death, without he be brought to answer by due process of law.”

    My belief is all must accept Nechemia 9:13 “You came down n Mount Sinai, and spoke to them from Heaven. You gave them right rules and true teachings ותורות אמת, good laws and commandments חקים ומצות טובים.” Beyond that we must respect all views on how we should live: Rackman, Satmer, Feinstein, Melamed, Lubavitcher, Shammai, regular guys etc. We can follow what we choose after accepting Nechemia 9:13.

  11. The flaws in rackman bd, that I am able to point out, are that he did not have backing from his own gedolim, eg Rav soloveitchik, Rav Lichtenstein. Also, he is applying his own philosophy of halacha, back onto new chiddushim in halacha.

    "So even though he lacked the approval of these gedolim, I KA say that he still has something to teach us" something that the above named gedolim obviously rejected.

  12. In other words the support of gedolim is a necessary tactic but has nothing to do with the validity of halacha
    Just like medicine if the greatest doctors reject a particular treatment - you would claim that teaches us nothing about its validity as long as even one doctor believes it is valid?!

  13. Nope - you should pay attention to what you are writing

  14. Medicine needs to be shown to work, so that is its validity. Initially, the vaccines of Edward jenner may have been scorned by other leading physicians.
    A more to the point case, is Making of Godol book - was rejected or banned by Degel party, but Rav Shternbuch said it was good.
    What you are doing is burying the concept of a yachid, which until recently was a valid halachic approach.

    BTW, many of the greatest rejected Zionism or to leave Europe, and some still do. The navi sheker is not judged by how many followers he has, but whether his predictions come true, or he is just talking nonsense.

  15. the above named Gedolim didn't reject everything he said or wrote - only his approach to agunos.
    Even his alleged comments about the Authorship of the Torah were misrepresented. What he did say was that before Sinai, there was some form of Torah that existed, and at Sinai this became part of the revealed Torah, which now becomes unchangeable. that should be obvious, since we obviously knew about hour own history, about the Avot, about Adam Harishon - these stories had bene passed down through the generations, and incorporated in the Torah we have now. Or did Moshe, Aaron, Joshua not know anything about the past?

  16. thank you GA for that Nechemiah -
    what does good laws and commandments חקים ומצות טובים mean?
    That the Laws are good? Or that they are only correctly interpreted if they are good? Or we are only good if we accept them? or they' re good, and hence we have no requirement for further additions?

  17. How do you decide what is valid? You at some point have to make the decision that X is the most reliable authority. Or that your method A (which you have devised) is the best method to arrive at an assessment of who is the best person to rely on.
    And here is the rub - anyone who uses a method different to your A, or arrives at conclusions different from yours, is an apikores!

  18. Wow no standards or expertise exists according to you and all who claim an approach are equally authoritative

  19. Nonsense - not all views are equally valid

    'you are just rehashing the claims of open Orthodoxy

  20. Also, the rackman bd was started when he was around 87. It ended when he became incapacitated by dementia.
    scientists say that early symptoms of Alzheimer's are present 20 years before the terrible disease sets in.
    so it is likely he had some early behaviour changes at the time he set up the bd.

  21. No. I asked rav nota Schiller many years ago about different authorities. His method was different from yours. In any case, I largely follow Sephardi authorities, whom you reject out of hand, regardless of their greatness.

  22. "You consider yourself competent to claim somethings are valid - and you know that how?"
    Is this what they said to you in Korea, or was it Scientology?
    this is a brainwashing tactic. oh, maybe just picked up in yeshiva. ?

  23. Nope, you are rehashing oo, and projecting them on me.
    are all mesechtot of the Talmud equally valid? horayos says that sages are capable of error and even malicious zadonot.
    the Torah does not say that error is subject to self correction - it can be found by the individual.
    Also, the yerushalmi rejects the sifri about left = right.

  24. yes they are capable of error but who are you to decide that Rav Weinberg is right and everyone else is wrong

  25. Swing and a big miss
    Your defenses are pathetic

  26. Reeallylly - you are claiming I ignore Shulchan Aruvh and never cite chida Rav Yosef or Rav Abba Shaul?!

  27. who said everyone else is wrong regarding Rav Weinberg?

  28. Rav Yosef, unless he agrees with you.

  29. Even Shulchan Aruch you reject, where he agrees with Rambam that whispering spells is ineffective

  30. מלבי"ם נחמיה פרק ט פסוק יג

    ב] ועל הר סיני ירדת, שאז נגלה כבוד ה' בעצמו אליהם לתת להם תורתו, ותתן להם, הנה בעודם בהר סיני נתן להם עשרת הדברות וכל הפרשה עד סוף משפטים שצוה את משה משפטים בין אדם לחברו, ותורת אמת בעניני האמונה, חקים כמו לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו, ומצות טובים כמו אם כסף תלוה, ודומיהם:

    The Malbim says:
    משפטים ישרים
    right rules are moral offenses person to person;
    ותורות אמת
    true teachings are matters of belief not actions;
    like “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19);
    ומצות טובים
    like “If thou lend money to any of My people,” (Exodus 22:24).
    I remember a lady attacking me in America that I believe eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot (Exodus 21:24). I fully accept “And Moses entered into the midst of the cloud, and went up into the mount; and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:18). DT keeps chopping off my daf hayomi Torah thoughts.

  31. I delete comments not related to the post - something you have trouble understanding

  32. no, you once wrote that rambam rejected the Talmud because he was a rationalist.
    But SA agrees with the rambam. Reject the rambam, then you also throw out the SA.

  33. The point I am arguing is that the Talmud gives us some autonomy of thought, to assess whether what the Sanhedrin is saying is right or wrong.

  34. I remember on on the issue of army conversions you were mocking him

  35. there are a number of issues involved.

    1 , we seem to agree that the rackman bd was a halachic failure

    2. We disagree that there can be any choice in which posek to follow, especially when it comes to minority or non hareidi rabbis.

    3. the validity of minority opinions, . here again, rav Schiller told me there's no obligation to follow a larger group of poskim if a yachid does not sit with them (ritva).

    4. The method of following or who to follow. Again, you are trying to force readers to follow your method. And chose your group of poskim. Rav Ariel, of ramat gan writes a maamar on this subject. He argues very differently. And concludes differently.

  36. Again your approach uis to find a minority view opposed by majority and claim it is legitimate not all views are legitimate

  37. “Proposal of Rabbi Emanuel Rackman” had intentions of only good to free the agunah in a dead marriage. What of unintentionally bad outcomes where the marriage is not dead? This week’s parsha talks of unintentional murder.
    “The Lord spoke further to Moses: Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When כי you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, והקריתם לכם you shall provide yourselves with places to serve you as cities of refuge to which a manslayer רוצח who has killed a person רצח מכה נפש unintentionally may flee ונס שמה.” (Numbers 35:9-11)

    במדבר פרשת מסעי פרק לה פסוק יא
    וְהִקְרִיתֶם לָכֶם עָרִים עָרֵי מִקְלָט תִּהְיֶינָה לָכֶם וְנָס שָׁמָּה רֹצֵחַ מַכֵּה נֶפֶשׁ בִּשְׁגָגָה:

    רש"י במדבר פרשת מסעי פרק לה פסוק יא
    והקריתם - אין הקרייה אלא לשון הזמנה וכן הוא אומר (בראשית כז, כ) כי הקרה ה' אלהיך לפני:
    “Isaac said to his son: How did you succeed so quickly, my son?’ And he said: Because the Lord your God granted me good fortune כִּי הִקְרָה יְקֹוָק אֱלֹקֶיךָ לְפָנָי .” (Genesis 27:20)

    Wow! A person caused an unintentional death. Yet the Torah calls the person a murderer and orders that he flee to a city of refuge. Lesson: we must be extremely careful not to cause a death of a person even unintentionally.

    What of the opposite case, a person caused unintentionally to save a life? In the Midrash he is a Tzadik and God will reward him well.
    מדרש הגדול במדבר פרשת מסעי פרק לה פסוק יא
    ונס שמה רוצח מכה נפש בשגגה. רבי אומר נפשך לידע מתן שכרן שלצדיקים, צא ולמד מן הגולה לערי מקלט, שנאמר ונס שמה רצח מכה נפש בשגגה, הרי הכתוב קרא מכה נפש למי שהרג בשגגה. והרי הדברים קל וחומר, אם כך קרא למי שהרג בשגגה, קל וחומר שיקרא צדיק למי שעשה מצוה בשגגה. ואם הוא עשה מצוה בשגגה קוראו צדיק, קל וחומר כשהוא עושה בגלוי, שמדת הטוב מרובה.

    Lesson: we must always try to help and save lives even if only unintentional.

  38. and this is the crux of the matter. A minority view of a posek - you tend to say is illegitimate. Rov applies to Sanhedrin or bd. Maybe misnagdim only follow a single leader. Sepharidm have diverse opinions, . Even the siddur is not uniform. There's Baghdad (Ben ish chai) and yosef Karo Karo sa version. Take your pick. , both are legitimate.

  39. In any case, several movements , notably Chassidism, began like this, even if they were initially minority.
    Also, before the so-called "Daas Torah" innovation, there was no such thing. The Gra , Rav Yaakov Emden,Ramchal, Rav Eybeschutz, the Noda b'Yehuda, and the nascent Hassidic movement, none of them had total dominance. They did not all tend ot one opinion, they each held their own opinions, as did their followers. Similarly, in the time of the rishonim, maybe i was living in spain and you in france. there is no obligation for your to accept the rambam, or me to accept the Raavad, but we try to respect these Gaonim.

  40. Rackman is not even a minority view

  41. well, rav Hershel Shachter may be mainstream in US, at least for OU/MO. But amongst Israeli hareidim, he would be a minority view.

  42. Daas Torah: "Rackman is not even a minority view"

    OK, you asked for this: Yes, but RSK and RNG are mainstream, Aguda, one of them president of the Moetzes!

  43. In the former he is irrelevant while the latter made clear mistakes

  44. Wow you like viewing yourself as score keeper based on the time you spend on Internet!?

  45. where I go for Bikkur cholim, is almost exclusively Chassidic, and they are a world unto their own.

  46. what do you do when for example, Bdatz or Rav Shternbuch hold minority views, and/or oppose Daas of the Litvish leadership, eg in Bnei brak?
    The question being, is the minority valid, rejected, or you follow it?

  47. don't ask for example, i am asking you an in principle answer, based on your own methodology of minority = wrong.

  48. here is a possible example

    It is not one I hold any specific view on

  49. “Grappling With the Problem of Agunot”
    Ha’Lahen Te’agenah? Shall you remain chained? Ruth 1:13
    by Susan Aranoff & Estelle Freilich
    co-Directors AGUNAH International
    “Quietly, Rabbi Schwartz worked case by case to free the agunot we referred to him. His signature on each of the P’turim meant that normal life could begin again for these women. Who knows how many families were created and how many children will be born because of his signature? ”

    Good intentions. Fits in with “should you wait for them to grow up? Should you on their account debar yourselves from marriage הֲלָהֵן תֵּעָגֵנָה לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת לְאִישׁ ? Oh no, my daughters אַל בְּנֹתַי! My lot is far more bitter than yours, for the hand of the Lord has struck out against me.” (Ruth 1:13).
    רות פרק א פסוק יג
    הֲלָהֵן תְּשַׂבֵּרְנָה עַד אֲשֶׁר יִגְדָּלוּ הֲלָהֵן תֵּעָגֵנָה לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת לְאִישׁ אַל בְּנֹתַי כִּי מַר לִי מְאֹד מִכֶּם כִּי יָצְאָה בִי יַד יְקֹוָק:

    My view. “Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). Please God no more untimely deaths. Noami’s husband and 2 sons had untimely deaths. Rackman bet din finds ways to annul the marriage of the angry wife whose husband won’t give her a get. This is the K-G garbage heter.

  50. “Grappling With the Problem of Agunot” Rackman bet din finds ways to annul the marriage of the angry wife whose husband won’t give her a get. The feminists take the word of the angry wife. Hard to produce evidence that will hold up in court man an abuser and sadistic personality at the time of marriage, Magic, a PhD psychology letter that Aaron at the time of his marriage to Tamar was...whatever. Did the Rackman bet din have something to do with the K-G garbage heter?(internet 2012):
    “Supporters of Tamar Epstein, whose ex-husband, Aharon Friedman, refuses to give her a religious divorce, have been pressuring Friedman's boss, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Michigan, to fire Friedman. They have protested in front of Camp's office, signed a petition at, started a website ( and in February, bombarded Camp's official congressional Facebook page. But Susan Aranoff, director of Agunah International, which supports Jewish women seeking divorces, said social media has little effect because many husbands still are resistant after all the bullets have been fired."

  51. More on my view why I’m against the Rackman bet din. “Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). When a man is impotent or hospitalized or in jail and she wants to remarry to have more babies---yes, play dirty in bet din whatever, free the wife. No, if the man is potent and in good health and objects to the divorce---she made a contract. There is a family unit. Then only due legal process, fair fighting in bet din, no dirty tricks like a bogus PhD psychology letter public protests whatever. Due legal process means Gamara, Shulchan Aruch, two witnesses on critical evidence in court etc. Violating due process of the man to break asunder the family unit over his objections is a violation of the man’s human rights. A crime.

  52. you are just being argumentative

  53. Do you view Christianity as a minority view?

  54. Because you can't answer
    Because your theory is in error, and you cannot conform to your own method.

  55. I don't support his published solution, I think it needs more work , by more recognised poskim who carry weight.

    One example, although this is not anullment, rather pre-nuptial device - is the device of the Spanish rabbis (rishonim) which was proposed by Rav Bleich , who explained there is no coercion involved, but that it also needs wide acceptance before it can be implemented, even though it was used in practice centuries ago.


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