Volume 19 Number 82
                       Produced: Wed May 31 23:34:23 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunot and Betrothing Minor Daughters
         [Ellen Krischer]
Atrocities in the Get Wars
         [Susan Hornstein]
Clarification - witnesses
         [Zvi Weiss]
Marrying off Minor Daughters
         [Joel Goldberg]
Marrying off one's daughter
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Marrying off one's Daugther
         [Yosey (Joe) Goldstein]
Minor Marriages
         [Elozor M. Preil]
Why marry off one's daughter?
         [Joel Ehrlich]
Why Not Beat Them?
         [Michael Lipkin]


From: Ellen Krischer <elk@...>
Date: 31 May 1995 10:00 EDT
Subject: Agunot and Betrothing Minor Daughters

I am tremendously heartened by the huge outpouring of sympathy for the
problem of betrothed minor daughters and the creativity that is being
extended to find solutions.  With God's help we will find a solution.

At the same time, I am somewhat confused at the lack of a similar
outpouring and creativity in the area of agunot.  Are the wives of these
horrid men not equally victims?



From: Susan Hornstein <susanh@...>
Date: Wed, 31 May 95 13:23:48 EDT
Subject: Re: Atrocities in the Get Wars

I think it's important to remember, while we are discussing this
situation, that this is not simply a case of a father showing horrible
disregard for his daughter and her life.  Rather, this halachic device
is being used as a tool of blackmail in a larger situation, that of a
man refusing his wife a Get and thereby leaving her an Agunah.  This
brings the Agunah issue to a new plane, but perhaps this plane will be
useful, not only in solving this immediate issue of betrothing one's
minor daughter, but the whole issue of husbands callously refusing their
wives a Get.

This possible solution was suggested by someone (whose name I do not
have permission to use) as an idea put forth by Rav Herschel Schachter.
Perhaps a person who would so brutally use the Halacha to harm 2 people
(daughter and wife) must be considered a Shoteh (psychotic being the
most useful translation) and therefore an invalid participant in a
halachic proceeding.  Even a person who would refuse his wife a get
(without having committed the additional atrocity of using his child as
a pawn) might fall into this category.  If the man was considered a
Shoteh, the child's marriage would be invalid, and there may be room for
movement in the Get issue as well.

Again, the problem is not the halacha -- men don't have to give their
wives gittin, and fathers have the halachic authority to betroth minor
daughters, but rather the use of these halachot to brutalize other human
beings.  In some cases, the laws of Shmitta come to mind as we have
recently read them, the Torah goes to great lengths to express the basic
Halacha, and then to make provisions so that it is not abused.  There,
of course, the provisions are part of Torah She'B'chtav.  Here, Torah
SheB'Al Peh, in its active and continuing form, has the potential to
solve this horrible abuse of Torah laws.


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 12:26:14 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Clarification - witnesses

I believe my comments about "witnesses" may have been misunderstood.  
When I was discussing the disqualifications, I meant to note:
1. Rashah D'Chamas -- i.e., "evil" related to "theft" or "violent activity"
2. Other Rish'ut -- where the "sinfulness" must be "understood" by the 
"perpetrator".  Thus, sins that people do not normally "consider" sinful 
do not disqualify a potential eid.

In my description of 1. above, I was not overly precise as I was trying 
to emphasize that the actions of the "men(?)" who assist a father in such 
an obnoxious activity do not seem to fall into either category 1 or 2.



From: <goldberg@...> (Joel Goldberg)
Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 11:33:42 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Marrying off Minor Daughters

With respect to the various ideas that have been suggested:

1) Is it even possible for a halachic body today (practically or in
principle) to forbid a practice, as has occured for the prohibition of
yibum (levirate marriage)?

2) When I first read about this subject, I thought that people's shock
was very "left wing," and essentially motivated by the "western values"
that are ascribed to such issues as co-education. This was actually
adressed immediately with the suggestion that in fact there is nothing
shocking about this torah rule allowing fathers to betroth their minor
daughters, once it is recalled that in times past the closeness of
Jewish community (ie.  the threat of cherem--ostracization) would have
prevented abuses.

It seems to me though, that this implies that "the torah is not
universal for all times." Either the torah is not adequate for present
society, or one can infer that it is forbidden for Jews to live in any
but the kind of closed off society--where individuals are vulnerable to
cherem--that is presently to be found amongst certain Chassidic
(whatever, no misrepresentation is meant here) groups.

I also don't think that one can argue that "the torah is adequate, it is
we who are not adequate" because the problem is not the person (the
father) but the absence of an effective means to deal with his actions,
even if all of Israel (except for the four adult males involved) were
completely righteous (Tzadikim.)


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Tue, 30 May 1995 09:28:51 -0400
Subject: Marrying off one's daughter

In MJ 19#74 & 19#75 the issue of "Marrying off one's daughter" as a tool
in the Agunah fight was brought up to our attention. Do we realy need
the NYT to get us seriously envolve in this nasty battle?

The Mishnah in Gittin uses plenty of times the expression "mi'pnei
tikkun olam" [=for the improvement of this world] and "mipnei darchei
Shalom" [=for the sake of peace] when it changed rules so that we could
live in this world.

The Chachmim do have the right to change even Biblical rules, something
that has rarely been done, but nonetheless was done. See for example
"Halacha okevet Miqra" Sot. 16a [=halacha uproots Torah]; or "atu
Rabanan umevatil lih de'Oraita" Pes. 115a [=Rabanan came and invalidated
{rules of the} Torah].  This is by no means an advocacy of reformation
or the like, but just a statement that the rabbis of our times do have
the tools to deal with this abuse. Herem R. Gershom me'or ha'golah is an
example to a past use of such a power.

Batei-ha'din of Israel (Rabanut Ha'Rashit, Badatz, etc), the European
rabbis and the US/Canadian rabbis should TOGETHER issue a decree (in a
form of Takanah or Gezeirah) that "all marriages and betrothals in our
days must be done only upon reaching the age of majority, and must be
with consent of the both sides. Consent can be given only after
majority. All acts done against this rule betelim lemafreah" (=revoked
retroactively). As it is the rule that "hefker beit din
hefker"(Yev. 69b, Git. 36b), to mean that it is within the powers of
beit din to take such as action. [It is another matter how to deal with
the rabbis who accepted / advocated such an abuse.]

If indeed this Boro Park(?) person found how to abuse certain halachic
rules in a way that they were never intended to be used in our days,
then it might be appropreate to change those rules.

Since this will be a BIG step it has to be done VERY carefully. As many
gedolei ha'dor should be involved here to gain a broad acceptance. With
the splintering of our community today it is going to be an uphill
battle, but this is indeed a historic opportunity.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Yosey (Joe) Goldstein <vip0280@...>
Date: Tue, 30 May 95 10:19:40 
Subject: Marrying off one's Daugther

 In response to the topic of marrying off one's daugther in V19 #75:

  Ms Luntz's is correct with her quotes, that a father is believed when
he comes forward and says he has married off his daughter. Naturally, if       
he says there were no witnesses or he relates something that would             
otherwise invalidate the marriage, then she would not be considered            
married. However, when he just tells people he has married her off, then       
she would be forbidden to marry if he does not divulge to whom he has          
married her. A BAIS DIN does not have to convene to hear the father's          
comments. The father would have to just publicize the fact that he             
married her off.                                                               

As far as Michael Grynberg's disgust with the situation, it is well            
founded. I would like to offer a different view of the situation which         
may allay his question:                                                        

>I was always taught that the torah was not given for a specific               
>generation but for every generation. How do we then reconcile this with       
>akiva's staement about this atrocity. (which i happen to agree with) i        
>mean the torah permits it, and all it's ways are ways of peace.               

   The Torah was given for every generation and its ways are peace             
UPOSHIM YIKOSHLU BO", The ways of Hashem are straight, The righteous           
will follow them and the wicked with stumble on them. When Hashem gave         
us the Torah, the first of the ASERES HADIBROS, (10 Commandments) is           
ANOCHI HASHEM, I am your G-d. The belief in Hashem, the faith and the          
belief that he runs the world is basic. Therefore, one must believe that       
no matter what we do, Hashem will assure that everything works out the         
way HE intends for it to be. Therefore, to refer to the previous               
discussion of capitol punishment, The Torah makes it very difficult for        
a bais din to kill someone, however we KNOW the posuk KI LO ATZDIK ROSHO       
I will not let the wicked go free (loose translation). In other words,         
we are assured the wicked will get paid back. and he will die. The             
Gemmorah says even though the 4 deaths of bais din are no longer being         
applied, They are applied thru heavenly judgment.                              

Therefore, When the Torah allowed a father to marry off his daughter it
was to allow a father to perform his duty to assure his daughter was
properly wed. Yes, he could have married her off to a MUKA SHCHIN, But
the torah assumes a father will do what is right. However, if a ROSHO
takes the responsibility and the power given to him by the Torah and
perverts it! THAT is what the posuk refers to as, "The wicked shall
stumble on it" It is a crime, no less than kiilling a person, and yes it
may be worse because a father is doing it to his own child. However, we
must believe that G-D is running the world and he WILL get what is
coming to him, Whether it be in this world or when he dies. You may ask,
"but what did the poor child do?" ANY TIME there is a tragedy we may ask
that and the answer again is G-D runs the world, for some reason that
poor child was not supposed to get married and instead of dating and
getting rejected this happens. When a parent loses a child, or a young
parent of little children passes on we ask "WHY?". We can not understand
everything Hashem does. we just have to accept that he knows what he is
doing and accept.

I Hope and pray that these insane fathers wake up realize what they are
doing and rectify the situation they created so that their poor children
are not subhjected to the terrible fate their father wants to subject
them to.

Yosey (Joe) Goldstein


From: <rpry@...> (Elozor M. Preil)
Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 17:42:25 -0400
Subject: Minor Marriages

Eliyahu Teitz suggests the possibility of "convincing" the father to
divulge the name of the husband, and compares this to the case of adult
agunot.  We must note that there is a significant difference - in the
case of the agunah, making the husband "an offer he can't refuse"
invalidates the get as a "get me'useh" (forced get).  This impediment
does not exist in the case of seeking the identity of the husband of the
minor daughter.  Of course, we still have the problem of running afoul
of "dina de'malchusa" (the law of the land), which presents halachic as
well as (not insignificant) criminal problems.

Dare we hope that a vile problem such as this might yet motivate various
rabbincal bodies to come together to unite on a solution?  Dare we
suggest that this is the A-mighty's challenge and opportunity to our

Elozor M. Preil


From: Joel Ehrlich <ehrlich@...>
Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 09:12:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Why marry off one's daughter?

I'm afraid I may be missing soemthing here:

Men who refuse to give their wives a get are marrying off their minor
daughters.  Does this in any way relieve them of their responsibility to
give a get?  Is it supposed to the pressure wife to quit asking?  Or is
it simply an act of malice?  In which case, why would they do this, to
be further ostracized by the community?  I would appreciate insights
into the reasons why these sick individuals have seen fit to take this
action -- it's incomprehensible to me...

Joel Ehrlich                         \           <ehrlich@...>
Department of Biochemistry             \              Home: (718) 863-7621
Albert Einstein College of Medicine      \                 Lab: (718) 430-3095


From: <msl@...> (Michael Lipkin)
Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 08:58:20 +0500
Subject: Why Not Beat Them?

>From: Avi Feldblum
>The problem here is NOT the Torah law allowing the father to marry 
>off his under-age daughter. It is my firm belief that the major 
>problems are a combination of the fact that we have lost any real 
>"community" in America at least, and the complication of the 
>co-existance of Jewish and American legal systems.

>If one of the parties refuses to accept the verdict of Beit Din, the 
>Beit Din can enforce it's decision by one of two main ways: a) it can 
>give Malkut Mardit (lashes for failing to listen to beit din) to the 
>party untill the party agrees, or b) it can put the person in Cherem. 

I think Avi's analysis is correct and I think therein lies a solution.
Cherem does not work, because as Avi said we no longer have a cohesive
community to give this concept any meaning.  But how about some form of
corporal punishment.  OK there are some problems.  First you have "the
law of the land" issue.  Maybe this can be overridden due to the more
pressing halachic need to free these girls.

The more problematic piece is, who's going to take the risk.  I mean
it's easy for me say (from the safety of my PC) that I'd love to take
one of these guys into a dark alley with a baseball bat.  Honestly
though, I wouldn't risk going to jail.  But maybe there are some people
who would.  We have a group in the orthodox community who seem to have a
lot of excess "energy", who have a desire (maybe it's just bravado) to
use physical means to do "what's right", and who have been known to risk
going to jail for these ends.  I'm thinking of the JDL/JDO.  Maybe we
could get them to channel their energies in a more productive direction.

I'm not kidding.  You can talk about clever talmudic loopholes all you
want, but the same forces that make cherem toothless will be at work
with a halachic solution, i.e. lack of universal acceptance.  But all
you need is one beis din working unilaterally to order up some
"friendly" persuasion.  I think if word got out that a couple of these
loving fathers ended up in the hospital due to some of this persuasion
you'd see a quick end to this practice.



End of Volume 19 Issue 82