Volume 16 Number 3
                       Produced: Mon Oct 24  0:45:08 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Naomy Graetz - Wife-Beating Article
         ["Dr. Mark Press"]
Wife Beating
         [Michael Broyde]
         [Isaac Balbin]
Wifebeating and Shivisi Hashem lnegdi tamid
         [Yosef Bechhofer]


From: "Dr. Mark Press" <PRESS@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 94 00:50:25 EST
Subject: Naomy Graetz - Wife-Beating Article

Nomy Graetz made a number of comments which require correction.  She
asks "where Frenkel gets the "true" meaning of Rambam's statement in
Hilchot Ishut 21:10 of the use of plural meaning the Beit Din (the
court).  If you look at the Migdal Oz (14th) century in his commentary
or even Rabad it is clear that it is the husband who is the referrent
depite the use of kofin (forcing her in the plural) be shot (a whip or
rod). Rabad says in his commentary on Rambam that "I never heard of (her
husband) beating her with a whip (if she doesn't do her duties); HE
(simply) lessens her food supply until she submits (presumably from
hunger)." (parentheses are my insertions) Thus Rabad understands Rambam
to mean that it is the husband not the beit din."

In fact, she is wrong on every point except for her comment on the
Migdal Oz (generally considered to be an insignificant commentator on
the Rambam in any event).  That the Rambam is in fact referring to the
Beis Din and not to the husband is explicit in this halacha itself,
where he continues "and this matter is according to what the judge sees
is possible in the matter" as well as in the continuing paragraph where
he writes "if they awarded her the support due her...".  The Ravad's
comment does not address the issue of who does the compelling; he merely
says "I never heard of the use of physical force (for compulsion) for
women but he can reduce his support of her needs and food until she
yields", meaning that the court does not involve itself but that the
husband can exercise his right not to support if she fails to fulfill
her obligations.

She goes on to quote Robert Klapper's question whether there are any
post-medieval responsa permitting wife-beating (I will not now discuss
the use of the term wife-beating for all physical punishment; Ms. Graetz
herself distinguishes assaultive from other contact) and quotes the
Sefer Terumat Hadeshen, the responsa of R. Israel Isserlein. However,
here again she misunderstands the meaning of the text. Ms. Graetz'
version is in quotes, followed by the correct translation.
 "   He is asked whether a man can hit his wife in order to keep
her from cursing her parents.
     Answer: Even though Mordecai [b. Hillel] and R. Simcha wrote that
he who beats his wife, transgresses, and is dealt with very harshly, I
disagree with this strict interpretation.  I base my interpretation on
R. Nachman b. Yitzchak who wrote that all was in order in the case of a
Cananite slave woman who was beaten in order to prevent her from
transgressing.  He of course should not overdo it or else she would be
freed.  Anyone who is responsible for educating someone under him, and
sees that person transgressing, can beat that person to prevent the
transgression.  He does not have to be brought to court.{Responsa, #218} "

Even though R. Mordechai...transgresses(to this point she's ok) NONE THE
the former slave is now prohibited from such relations)...

The Terumas Hadeshen goes on to say that one may strike anyone for whom
one is responsible to prevent him from a serious sin; parenthetically
one may note that various authorities understand this to be part of the
mitzvah of tochacha incumbent upon all of us (though others do not). The
Terumas Hadeshen does not assume that R. Simcha and he disagree but that
even R. Simcha would agree in this case.

Ms. Graetz then goes on to quote the Rosh but misses part of his main
point.  Her paragraph follows:
  "" Rabbi Jacob ben Asher, the author of the TUR, which is the
precursor to the Shulchan Aruch discusses the case of a man who was
insane.  His wife was afraid that he might kill her in his rage.  The
harsh answer given by his father, the ROSH (Rabbenu Asher ben Yehiel)
is: "we do not force him to divorce her because we only compel those who
are cited by the Sages as ones who are compelled to divorce.  Rather,
let her persuade him (tefaysenu) to divorce her or let her accept him
and live from his estate."

Again, what the Rosh actually says is somewhat different. Her claim is
that the husband may become mad and be unable to legally divorce her,
that she knew of his condition before they married and thought that she
could live with it but now cannot and she fears that he might kill her
since when he is infuriated he becomes violent.  He responds that she
accepted him, that he is not mad and that he will divorce her if she
returns his books or pays for them.  The Rosh replies that in this case
the conflicting claims do not justify compelling him to divorce since we
should not add to those reasons that the Talmud offers for compelling a
get. (The Rosh is here referring to the position of the Baalei Hatosfos
that since a forced get is invalid we must be careful not to compel
gittin except in the cases where Chazal said to lest the get be invalid
and the children mamzerim). Not quite the version of Ms. Graetz!  The
rest of her essay is replete with similar errors but I hope my point is
clear.  Before attempting to make interpretations of the statements of
Rishonim and Acharonim (much less Chazal) one should study them with
care and know the relevant issues involved.  In this case each of the
three Rishonim involved was significantly misrepresented, perhaps in the
interest of a particular agenda.

M. PRESS, PH.D.                  718-270-2409


From: Michael Broyde <RELMB@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 94 18:26:50 EDT
Subject: Wife Beating

I think that the discussion within mail-jewish about wife beating is
completely "off base."  Particularly so are the remarks of Marc Shapiro,
and both Hauts.  This is not because their comments are untrue, but
because they lack a legal tone to the problem.  I will attempt to
provide it.  "Wife beating" as a legal issue refers to cases where the
law permits one to hit one's wife in situations where one cannot hit a
stranger.  Thus, a legal system that generally allows the use of force
to prevent a "sin" and allows a husband to use such force against his
wife or a wife to use such force against her husband does not allow
either wife beating or husband beating.  The trumat hadashen refered to
by the first writer is exactly such a case, and is discussed by him in
that matter (and I so wrote to her stating that).  Jewish law allowed
the use of force to prevent a person -- wife, husband, lover, child,
stranger-- from sinning.  To assert, as trumat hadeshen does, that one
may hit one's spouse to prevent her from sinning does not permit
"wife-beating."  English common law until 1823 permitted a husband to
hit his wife for reasons that if a stranger was hit would be a crime.
Jewish law does not -- ever -- permit this.  Marc Shapiro's citation to
a responsa that permits force in a marraige clearly proves this point.
It concludes that a husband can hit his wife to prevent a sin, and a
wife can hit her husband to prevent sin.  WHERE IS THE LEGAL MANDATE

In short, the mere citation of sources that permit force do not -- in
any way shape or form -- permit wife beating.  I still await a citation
to a responsa that permits one to hit one's wife in a situation where
one can not hit one's brother or a stranger.

On a more general note, for those who have a tendency to cite the migdal
oz to prove a point in the rambam, one should be aware of the fact that
the migdaz oz is a vastly discredited commentary, which was typeset in
the rambam because people thought it was written by ritva; but it was
not.  Shach CM 36:6 criticizes Maharam Alshakar for even quoting the
migdal oz.  Shach states "I examined the migdal oz and saw that he wrote
in a confusing way, as is his style.... Is it not known that it is the
manner of the migdal oz to regularly reverse (*mehapech*) the words to
Jewish law (*divrei elokim chaim*)".

In sum, the halacha is clear and unchalleged.  Jewish law does not
permit wife beating in any way shape or form.  It does, according to
some authorties permit the use of force against one who is sinning,
wife, husband or otherwise.

I await a reply from Marc, Irwin, Rivka, and any others who have posted
assertions to the contrary.  If in fact there are no sources that permit
"wife beating," that should be clearly aknowledged by all, and
assertions of contrary should be retracted by those who posted them.

Rabbi Michael Broyde


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 08:37:16 +1000
Subject: Re: Wife-abuse

  | >From: Jeffrey Woolf <F12043@...>
  | pointed out by others). HOWEVER, we ought to liberate ourselves from
  | being too closely bound by careful reading of the Mishneh Torah 

I would prefer not to be liberated from a close reading of the Rambam
when it comes to Halakha, and so I am opposed to such a sweeping statement.

  | admit that:1) The Orthodox community IS dismissive of women (especially
  | in the Haredi world) 

The word `dismissive' is not defined. Dismissive must necessarily
be a relativistic term. Accordingly, unless we have statistically significant
evidence describing what the amorphous `Charedi' women consider dismissive, 
and unless these standards are then correlated against the actions of
Charedi men, such statements are too broad-sweeping and not helpful.


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 13:33:12 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Wifebeating and Shivisi Hashem lnegdi tamid

I do not know who Dr. Naomi Graetz of BGU is and what her  agenda  for 
writing this work on wifebeating in Jewish sources.  I  am  sure  that 
some of my erudite friends on MJ may be able to  refute  some  of  the 
sources she has amassed, but that is not the issue  I  would  like  to 
raise here. Indeed, as far as  I  am  concerned,  I  would  raise  the 
following point even if all of her sources (as they may well be) prove 
to be 100% accurate.

Indeed, I  am  also  disturbed  by  Rabbi  Shaul  Wallach's  posts  on 
marriage. Once more, my concern applies even if his  sources  as  well 
are 100% accurate.

First, as regards Dr. Graetz's work. It may indeed be that,  say,  the 
Terumas HaDeshen allowed a husband to discipline his wife. It  may  be 
that we are now more "ethical" in this respect. After  all,  Rav  Kook 
zt"l believed that at least in certain respects the world is  evolving 
to higher levels. Yet:

a) Is this how we present the Terumas HaDeshen to the world? More than 
that - all our great Poskim whom she will cite - solely in the context 
of one minute aspect of their personalities, and  one  which  probably 
does  not  reflect  upon  their  personal  behavior,  Malachei  Hashem 
Tzevakos that they were. How can we present our Sages  in  this  light 
with  not  at  least  giving  the   background   of   their   towering 
righteousness and refinement?

I would submit that such a work is a Chillul  Hashem  of  the  highest 
order! This is a point that  should  be  overlooked  -  if  one wants, 
dismiss it as a result of prevalent zeitgeists at the time,  and  just 
forget it on that account. If that is too difficult, then explain that 
this is but a minor blemish - in  your  opinion  -  on  the  brilliant 
record of our great Leaders. Anything else is a serious distortion  of 
our illustrious forebears and a grave misrepresentation.

b) As Torah Jews, EVERY act we do must be analyzed under the spotlight 
and through the microscope of the following questions: 

"Is this what Hashem wants me to do?"

"Is this act a Kiddush Hashem?"

"Will this act make us more of the Light  unto  the  Nations  that  we 
should be?"

I know these questions overlap.
They all stem from the same powerful verse:

"Shivisi Hashem l'negdi tamid." 
(Please see the Rambam on this in Moreh Nevuchim 3:51.)

Can  one  have  possibly  have  had  these  questions  in  mind   when 
approaching the issue of composing such a work?! The fact that one  is 
the Academic world is no "Hetter" to disregard these criteria!

I  am  not  advocating  distortions  and  coverups.  Rabbi  Rakkefet's 
biographies come to mind as  solid,  truthful  histories  which  place 
things in their proper contexts and as good models.

c) Considering Rabbi Wallach's postings and the subsequent uproar that 
ensued here, I came to a the following conclusion. The advice that may 
be gleaned from Chazal is secondary in importance,  and  may  well  be 
obsolete in current conditions. Perhaps!

At the core of a successful marriage - of a successful anything -  are 
these three  questions.  If  each  spouse  constantly  assesses  their 
behavior in this perspective, they'll be very  well  off  without  any 
other advice. If they don't, all is lost regardless!

The body of MJ readers has become extraordinarily  diverse.  Doubtless 
some will disagree with some phrase I have employed, although I  tried 
to be careful. Torah true Jews must - I think and hope - at  the  core 
all agree with me that our goal in our activites was put best  by  one 
of my personal heroes, Rabbi Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan zt"l:

         When you come to the community of Israel, and  you  arise  on 
         its stage - even on a political  stage  -  call  out  to  the 
         nation to renew its heart; to open its  heart  to  Torah  and 
         fill its heart with the love and awe of  God  (yes,  in  such 
         simple  terms!).  Let   these   clear   and   direct   words, 
         uncomplicated by metaphor and free of criticism, be heard  by 
         every beating heart. To know, educate, and clarify,  that  we 
         have but one slogan: Yir'ah and ma'asim tovim...

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


End of Volume 16 Issue 3