Volume 19 Number 94
                       Produced: Wed Jun  7 23:40:41 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Betrothal of Daughter
         [Chaim Stern]
Child marriage
         [Josh Backon]
Goldstein and His Organization
         [Arnold Lustiger]
Hefker Beis Din Hefker
         [Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer]
Marrying Off Minor Daughter
         [Stan Tenen]
Marrying off Minor Daughters
         [Joe Goldstein]
Minor Betrothals
         [Eliyahu Teitz]


From: Chaim Stern <PYPCHS%<EZMAIL@...>
Date: Wed 07 Jun 1995 16:39 ET
Subject: Betrothal of Daughter

Several people have suggested, "Why not beat up the father ?"  Although
I was a fan of Charles Bronson ("death wish") movies, this vigilante
attitude seems to be problematic in a halachic forum such as this. We
aren't a Beis Din. Did G-d give you the right to beat up someone if they
do something horrible ?  The halachic sources speak about whether it's
permissible to take back your own (stolen) property by force, but that
is your own property. Also a Rodef (someone trying to kill someone) is
allowed to be stopped by anyone. But where does the Torah allow us to
beat up anyone who is oppressing someone else, except in a Beis Din ?
And if we don't have a Beis Din which is able to do this, well that's
just one of the drawbacks of Galus.


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Wed,  7 Jun 95 21:38 +0200
Subject: Child marriage

A group of us was learning Siman 37 in Even Ha'ezer on Shavuot and at
around 3 am one of us came up with a possible solution (in the
particular case mentioned in the NY Times). The Ramah states that if the
ketana (i.e.  under 12) *had* SIMANIM (signs of sexual puberty, i.e. 2
hairs) then her father could not marry her off without her
approval. Since the girl in question was 11.5 and the odds are very high
that she *may* have had SIMANIM (from 1983-1987 I was the Consulting
Editor of the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and trust me, most
current research indicates that girls today are maturing earlier than a
few decades ago. Let me quote Tanner: "Pubic hair in girls begins to
appear around 11 years of age"), what would happen if the girl's mother
simply went to the Bet Din and claimed that her then 11.5 year old
daughter had SIMANIM ?

The father certainly can't claim anything to the contrary and females
are always believed (NE'EMANUT) when it comes to these matters.

Josh Backon


From: <alustig@...> (Arnold Lustiger)
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 1995 14:47:39 -0400
Subject: Goldstein and His Organization

Yaakov Menken writes:
>At the very least, the leading Rabbis of New York must declare a cherem
>(Rabbinic ban on contact of any kind) against Goldstein.  When people lived
>in united communities such as existed pre-WWII, actions of this nature were
>practically inconceivable because of the shunning that would have resulted.
>"Woe is us that such has occurred in our days"!

Unfortunately, a cherem on an individual is not going to be sufficient in 
this case. According to the New York Times article, Goldstein has an entire 
"Sholom Bayis" organization backing him, apparently dedicated to fighting 
gittin (and hence promoting agunos). The leaders and members of this 
organization which serve as a support group for and hence legitimize 
Goldstein must be identified and condemned. It would seem that Agudath 
Israel of America might be the very helpful in this regard. Most effective 
would be a "kol koreh" proclamation from a broad spectrum of chsasidishe and 
litvishe Gedolim condemning the practice as well as the organization.

Arnie Lustiger


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer)
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 1995 17:57:49 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Hefker Beis Din Hefker

Several posters raise the question as to whether Hefker Beis Din Hefker
would work with marriages enacted by means other than monetary. There
are only two other ways to effect marriage: a) By marital relations,
which obviously are not taking place here; b) By a document. A document
presented by a groom to the bride, or in this case, father, thereof,
must also belong to the groom and then be received and owned by the
bride. H.B.D.H., therefore, does render such a marriage invalid.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 1995 09:11:44 -0700
Subject: Re: Marrying Off Minor Daughter

As a person who is becoming more observant (that is, as a person coming
from an essentially secular environment), I would like to mention a
point of view that has apparently been mostly overlooked.

When a father marries off an minor daughter for an ulterior motive that
is not in the child's best interest, this reflects on Jews, Judaism, and

My concern is that the daughter might quite understandably rebel, and,
assuming that she still loves Torah, she will move to a more "liberal"
Orthodox (or perhaps, if necessary, even a Conservative) community which
does not condone what has been done to her, and which will not restrict
her on that basis. Thereafter, she would disdain those who disdained
her.  IF I were in such a position, once I had matured enough to respect
myself, that is what I might do.

In my opinion, a person who is not for themselves cannot be for others
or for Torah either.  Even if Hashem makes things work out in the long
run, the child is still a guiltless victim who has been harmed.

Beyond the obvious recourse of the child to leave the (ostensibly) Torah
observant community that has ejected her (in favor of an ugly
application of a proper teaching), there is the effect of this situation
on Torah and Torah Judaism.  Surely others, including non-Jews, will
come to know what happened. Others will not fix blame on the father as
an individual (who is no more than a stereotypical stranger to them),
but rather on all Jews and on Torah Jews, and ultimately on Torah.

In my opinion, this action, uncorrected, defames Torah in the world.  
That alone should be sufficient to condemn it.  For a person who is 
continuing to take on more Jewish responsibilities (mitzvot, etc.), a 
situation such as this is a powerful stumbling block.  I have no problem 
loving Torah, but I have a great problem loving Torah Jews who condone 
ugly actions, especially when they attempt to justify what they have 
done halachically.  IF it were to turn out that the observant Torah 
community were to accept such behavior, then in good faith and in love 
of Torah, I could only continue to become more observant - up to a 
point.  I could not truly and fully join a community that did not 
correct this.  Naturally, I would not forsake my obligations and not 
pull away from Torah Judaism.  But I would find it personally morally 
repugnant to accept the halachic rulings of a Jewish community that did 
not firmly reject this sort of behavior.  (I would be forced to ask 
myself, what other intentions have been perverted in this way?  Even in 
other matters, I would be forced to question the authority of Torah 
sages who allowed this behavior.  This is truly a stumbling block for 

One of the strongest and most powerful criticisms of Judaism by those 
outside is that we are too legalistic and too willing to rationalize and 
apologize for self-serving behavior, as long as it fits traditionally 
narrow halachic definitions.  We endlessly debate the obvious and then 
justify what we have decided by selectively picking references.  We are 
seen as "counting the angels on the head of a pin" instead of doing what 
is clearly (from a Torah perspective) morally right.  These perceptions 
and charges are largely untrue, and based on misunderstanding of the 
processes involved, but it is the extreme view that is most easily seen. 
- And Torah Jews are often seen this way.

I remember what it was that allowed the door of Torah Judaism to stay 
open for me.  When I was in Hebrew School before my Bar Mitzvah, there 
was a young rabbi who lectured vehemently for the hour on the absolute 
sanctity and centrality of Shabbos.  But, at the end of the hour, he 
said: "If someone is sick, forget everything that I have just said, care 
for them, and then return to Shabbos."  This was the first bit of Torah 
wisdom that penetrated my defensive armor.  Now I knew that Torah could 
true.  There was no hypocrisy here.  If the rabbi had only taught the 
rules of Shabbos without also telling us when it was required to suspend 
them in the interest of life, I am positive that I would not have ever 
looked at Judaism again.  It was the actual love of life ("It is a tree 
of life for those who grasp it") as the purpose of Torah that impressed 

Marrying off an innocent child (under the conditions discussed here) is 
the height of hypocrisy; it puts the lie to all of our high principles.  
The use of intricate halachic argument or ancient precedent to justify 
this sort of thing just drives the victim, her friends, and those who 
know of what has happened, away from Torah Judaism, away from respect 
for Judaism, and away from respect for Torah.

In my opinion, it is our responsibility to act to change this.

Stan Tenen


From: Joe Goldstein <vip0280@...>
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 95 14:51:51 
Subject: Marrying off Minor Daughters

In response to Etan Diamond, It is true that one SHOULD NOT marry off a
women without her consent but it is DERECH ERETZ, Torah Courtesy,which
is lacking by these beasts.

  I am assuming the man to whom the father has given his daughter to
thru kiddushin has also never met the child.  The Gemmorah says "a man
is forbidden to marry a women without meeting her otherwise he
transgresses the Mitzvah of VEOHAVTO LERAYACHO KAMOCHO, loving your
friend as yourself."  See how true the words of CHAZAL are, there is
probably nothing more despicable than what these men are doing!  it is
the ultimate transgression of VEOHAVTO LERAYACHO KAMOCHO!


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 1995 16:53:45 -0400
Subject: Re: Minor Betrothals

Some more thoughts on the issue:

Suggestions to sue civilly, or to use some other civil procedure might
act as a deterrent for some, but there are a number of people who would
take their chances.  Likewise, there are still some people in the Jewish
world who try to resolve their problems in Beit Din exclusively ( an
halacha that does not get followed too often ).  To them, suggestions of
civil proceedings accomplish nothing.

Finding more sins to assign to the father also does little to help solve
the present situation or prevent future abuses.

Beating the father, while it sounds tempting, and even done in a manner
to avoid possible legal problems, is not necessarily a solution.  The
father might just dig his heels in further and not divulge anything.  At
what point do we stop.  If he dies, the daughter is doomed forever.

As far as finding the witnesses and getting them to contradict each
other, well that assumes that someone involved starts speaking.  So far
no one has come forward.  What has changed to make anyone want to come
forward.  Also, the standards of testimony are different for capital
punishment cases than for other matters.  How significant a
contradiction is needed to invalidate the testimony?  I doubt that a
contradiction as to the color of the shirt the father was wearing would
be significant.  If the witnesses stuck to a basic story, the man gave
an object of value to the father and made the following statement, then
their testimony will withstand scrutiny.

About the ability for Beit Din to declare someone's property hefker.
Can this be done after the fact?  Can Beit Din now declare that the
husband did not own the object he gave to the father?  Or can they only
make such a ruling for the future, a person no longer owns an object.

As to the point raised about Rivka being asked if she would go along
with Eliezer, there are two points to be made.  First, Rivka is being
asked if she would go at that time.  Eliezer wanted to take her
immediately, and her family wanted her to stay a while longer.  That she
was going to be married to Yitzchak seemed a done deal, with or without
her approval.  Second, while the G'mara does recommend asking the girl's
approval, it is by no means binding.  The marriage done against her will
is still valid.

In summation, it appears to me that we must look for a method to prevent
future abuses that does not necessarily rely on broad rabbinic support
(as I mentioned in a previous post ).  We do need approval of a method,
but a cherem which will only work if *everyone* goes along will not be

As for the poor girl who is in this situation presently, my heart and
eyes cry for her.  And hopefully her father or someone else involved
will come forward with information to help her out.  This is assuming
that there are others involved.  A much worse scenario is that the
father fabricated the entire story, yet made a claim in Beit Din to have
married her off.  In this case, there is no one else to come forward,
and the father might not be believed to recant a statement he made in
front of Beit Din.  What this means is that the girl is stuck with no
hope at all.  I shudder to think of the ramifications.



End of Volume 19 Issue 94