Volume 21 Number 33
                       Produced: Sun Aug 27  0:23:40 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Moving to Eretz Israel
         [Shmuel Himelstein (n)]
Orthodox and Israeli Politics
         [Kenneth Posy]
Strident and Emotional Response to Rackman Article
         [David Guberman]
Text: Protocol Regarding Certain Recalcitrant Husbands of Agunot
         [Cheryl Hall]


From: Shmuel Himelstein (n) <himelstein@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 07:44:19 GMT
Subject: Moving to Eretz Israel

In a moving post, Carl Sherer makes the case for moving to Eretz
Israel. He realizes, of course, that "there are family, community and
business responsibilities" that may make such a move difficult.

In this regard, I would like to mention a Dvar Torah I heard from the
late Rav Simcha Teitelbaum, under whom I was privileged to work for a
number of years.

When asked why they don't move to Eretz Israel, people often have a
Cheshbon (literally, "accounting," "reason") why they are unable to: the
Cheshbon of children who must graduate, the Cheshbon of earning a
living, the Cheshbon of vesting pension rights, etc.

In answer to these arguments, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook Zatzal noted
that before Bnei Yisrael entered Eretz Israel for the first time, they
first killed Melech Cheshbon - the King of Cheshbon (one of the kings
whom they fought). Once Melech Cheshbon is killed, Aliyah becomes much
more easily attainable.

         Shmuel Himelstein
22 Shear Yashuv Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Phone: 972-2-864712; Fax: 972-2-862041
<himelstein@...> (JerOne, not Jer-L)


From: Kenneth Posy <kpposy@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 14:44:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Orthodox and Israeli Politics

Mr. Belensky writes:
>The purpose flows from the goal. 
>If we want to WIN the next elections in Eretz Israel we need to answer 
>honestly who we are - we, who call themselves "Orthodox Jews".
     IMHO, I have a big problem with this. Obviously, living in Eretz
Yisrael is a good, appropriate, and even necessary thing to do. For
those that do that, involvement in Israeli politics is a civic and even
a spiritual duty.  But to define frumkeit in the context of Israeli
elections is impossible, as there exists, (whether you are happy about
that or not), a sizable and vibrant orthodox community in at least nine
other countries (US, Canada, GB, SA, Australia, France, Belgium,
Switzerland and Mexico are the ones that I can think of offhand).
     Orthodoxy has been around alot longer than the state of Israel, and
many would say, was stronger before its exsistence. Before Israel, Jews
who wanted to have some connection to their religion had to have it
through the torah.  Now, Israel can serve as that connection. My
personal opinion is that this connection has done more good than harm;
some Jews who would have rather had no connection than subscribe to a
Torah lifestyle, now at least identify with the Jewish community. But
the point remains: if the galus community defines itself in relation to
the Israeli elections, it risks the consquences that Mr. Belinsky
     >We will be doomed to lose, to die, to be forgotten. 
     >By generations to come. Even by our grandchildren.
     >That's why to find such a formal Definition is NECESSARY. 

     Furthermore, based on his goal, I would have to disagree with his

>All in all I still think that I gave the best Definition of Orthodoxy.
>Orthodoxy = Shabbat (+kashrut+kipah). + Mikvah.
     If he wants the "orthodox" to "win" the next Israeli election (a
proposition that I cannot claim to fathom: by the most liberal
definition Israel is only at most 25% ortho), I assume the reason for
that is because he wants a state that is commited to fulfilling the
principles of Torah law. If that is the goal, some formal identifying
factor such as kippah is irrelevant and even misleading. There are many
people who keep such signs of "cultural identity" and are not in the
least bit committed to halacha on a personal, and kal v'chomer, on a
national level. Unfortunately, it is very possible to have government
officials who were kippot, keep shabbos, and go to/wives go to the mikva
and behave in a very not-frum manner. I can think of several examples,
but that is outside the realm of this list.
     If Mr. Belensky wanted to have an "orthodox government" I think
that he would have to subscribe to R. Broyde's definition: someone who
would never purposely and intentionally violates halacha. In other
words, halacha is the system which defines all of a persons actions to
the extent possible. As to the question of what halacha is, well, in the
context of the Israeli elections such a precise definition is not going
to help win. Are you going to ask your Mafdal candidate the last time
she used the mikva? It would, on the other hand, be legitimate to ask
her if she would ever intentionally violate halacha. If she proceeds to
violate it in her private life, so long as she upholds it in the public
sphere, Mr. Belensky's goal has been accomplished.


From: <dguberman@...> (David Guberman)
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 15:15:49 GMT
Subject: Re: Strident and Emotional Response to Rackman Article

     Betzalel Posy suggests that R. Rackman's contribution to the
August/September _Midstream_ symposium

> advocat[ed] an "aveira l'shma". In other words, even though
> halachicly this course might be wrong, the situation mandates
> we follow it anyway.

>     IMHO, this is close to denying Torah M'sinai. The halacha
> provides for an answer and a course of action for every
> situation. . . . to say that Halacha has nothing to say, or
> worse, that halachic mandates are inadequate, is foreign to a
> torah philosophy.

     Respectfully, I suggest that R. Rackman was making a different
argument.  He wrote, in part:

>>          My great love of the halacha notwithstanding, my
>>     concern with Israel's peace process was not based on
>>     the halacha. . . .
>>          . . . [M]any of my colleagues have erred when they
>>     opposed the peace process because of the halacha's
>>     mandate. . . . [D]ecisions as to what the government
>>     should do in war and peace are to be made by the
>>     experts--political and military.
>>                             * * *
>>          . . . [I]n an Israeli periodical of _Ne-emanai
>>     Torah va-Avodah_--the movement of a very distinguished
>>     group of religious Zionist academics[,] . . . Professor
>>     Michael Z. Nehorai of Bar-Ilan University [proves f]rom
>>     the writings of Maimonides and Nachmanides . . . that
>>     despite their commitment to the conquest and settlement
>>     of Israel, decisions on war and peace in their day (as
>>     in ours) are not based on halacha but rather on the
>>     realistic needs of the moment.  None of the halachic
>>     prerequisites for the rule of the halacha were then
>>     available as they are not now.
>>          The halachic position about which I write was that
>>     of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik . . .

     Since R. Rackman characterizes his statement as a "halachic
position" (and even ascribes it to R. Soloveitchik), IMHO before
deciding whether the statement makes sense we should try to understand
as a halachic position and not simply dismiss it as being "close to
denying Torah M'sinai."  Also, R. Rackman's statement should be read in
light of Dr. Mamlak's position, on which R. Rackman was commenting with
(at least significant) approval.

     In this spirit, I would read R. Rackman (and Dr. Mamlak) as making
something like the following argument.  (Again, I note my inability to
judge the position's merits.)

     1.  The halachic mandates for war for Eretz Israel and conquest of
the cities are operative only "in the presence of a king, consent of the
Sanhedrin, and the high-priest."  (Dr. Mamlak, quoting
Maimonides'_Shoresh_ 14, _Sefer HaMitzvoth_, p. 165.)

     2.  Maimonides and Nachmanides agreed that, in their day, these
halachic mandates were not operative (because the prerequisites did not
exist) and that "decisions on war and peace in their day . . . are not
based on halacha but rather on the realistic needs of the moment."
(R. Rackman, referring to an article by Professor Michael Z. Nehorai of
Bar-Ilan University.)

     3.  The prerequisites to the effectiveness of these halachic
mandates also are not available in our day.  Therefore, the halacha
requires that "decisions on war and peace" be "based . . . on the
realistic needs of the moment," by political and military experts.  (An
analogy sometimes is drawn to consulting physicians when questions turn
on medical expertise.)  (R. Rackman, citing R. Soloveitchik; see also
Dr.  Mamlak, citing both R. Soloveitchik and R. Feinstein.)

     4.  Even though one may be concerned about the peace process, as
R. Rackman expressly states he is, it is erroneous to base opposition to
those policies on (not currently operative) halachic mandates to make
war for Eretz Israel and conquer the cities.  Rather, those policies
must be evaluated according to military/security/political criteria.
(Perhaps I am missing something, but it would seem that criticism of the
peace process grounded in _pikuach nefesh_, rather than the conquest
mandates, also must have recourse to these same criteria.)

     Whether or not one agrees with R. Rackman's and Dr.  Mamlak's views
(and, if they cite accurately, also with the views of R. Soloveitchik
and R. Feinstein), it seems that, at a minimum, one should agree that
this is "a halachic position."

David A. Guberman                            <dag@...>


From: <CHERYLHALL@...> (Cheryl Hall)
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 17:11:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Text: Protocol Regarding Certain Recalcitrant Husbands of Agunot

[Thanks Cheryl for sending this in. Do people on the list recognize who
the signatories on the bottom are? In addition, several of the claims
made in the text look debatable to me, but I do not have real expertise
in this area. Do have members of the list who can comment on the
statements / arguements made? Mod.]

Protocol Regarding Certain Recalcitrant Husbands of Agunot

The Supreme Rabbinic Court of America, founded in 5735 (1974) by
disciples of the Moetzet Gdolai HaTorah (Council of Sages); to consider
and adjudicate extraordinary Jewish problems and issues, has also
addressed itself since 5739 (1979) to cases involving recalcitrant
husbands who refuse to grant divorces to their wives, when Jewish law
has clearly dictated that they must be coerced.  The Court's Chief
Justice has written a definitive legal text dealing with the Court's
halachic resolution of such matters, entitled "Lifdot Mechakai Gait" (To
Release Those Awaiting a Divorce, Second Edition, Yaron Golan) Tel Aviv
5754 (1994) 416pp 8.5 x 11).  In addition he has just completed, his
soon to be published "The Great Agunah Debate" in English.
 During the past year the Court has dealt with a new situation which
arose in a case where parties had previously sought our advise, namely
the attempt by a husband to arrange "kidushai ktana" ie betroth a minor
as a further act of extortion against his oppressed Aguna wife.  While
that case is formally before a Rabbinic Court; and the husband ignored
the decrees of said Court, our Court decided to invoke extraordinary
halachic measures if there is a clear and present danger to the Jewish
Community, as when "kiddushai ktana" appeared to be adopted by other
unscrupulous recalcitrant husbands as a nefarious addition to their

Accordingly, our Bet Din has gleaned from its rank and file a "Sanhedrin
Ktana" being a body of 23 justices comprising Rabbanin and Dayanim, to
deal with all cases of "kidushai ktana" in general and two husbands in
particular who attempted to implement it.  Furthermore, we are also
addressing the case of one recalcitrant husband, whose aggravated
treatment of his Aguna wife has been barbaric and a burden to the Jewish
community.  We invoke, by edict "universal jurisdiction where igun is
involved (Rashbash 46)".

Applying the principle of "Even though the Sanhedrin was discontinued,
its four capital punishments still persist (Sanhedrin 37b)," our minor
Sanhedrin acting under the rubric of Horaat Shaah -emergency measures-
as articulated in the Shulchan Aruch Choshen Ha Mishpat (Title 2) and
its enabling statues to execute capital punishment in extenuating
circumstances; hereby:

1.Serves warning that our Court is prepared to sentence to death any
husband who within the next 30 days fails to release his Aguna wife
voluntarily with a "gait", who has been involved directly, or indirectly
by threat, in actuality and/or innuendo in kidushai ktana.  More
specifically, we identify two such husbands, Israel Goldstein and Yosef
Shereshevsky. The latter has been in contempt of the Gedolai Torah Bet
Din since Sivan 5753 (1993).

2.Extends said death penalty to any witness from now on who will
participate in the aforementioned type of betrothal of a minor daughter
of an Aguna by her father. This protocol is a warning.

3.Defines the crime of wilfully neglecting to release an Aguna as one of
"gnevat nefesh" ie the stealing referred to in the Decalogue (Ex.20:13),
as that of a person, which is the capital crime of kidnapping (Sanhedrin

4.Declares that the death penalty for said, kidnapping is "chenek" -
death by strangulation (Mishna Sanhedrin 10:1 (84b); and that the
element of exploiting a captive by an act such as "kidushai ktana" we
deem to be exemplary of "Vehitamer Bo Dt. 24:7) as explained by Ramban
(Dt. 21:14) - which is a case of "smichat parshiot," of the close
proximity of kidnapping, to the laws of divorce (Dt. 24:1-4).

5. Upholds the ruling of Rav Shlomo Z.Auerbach, z"l, as articulated by
Rav Eliahu Romineck of Far Rockaway concerning kidushai ktana and hereby
declares by the power invested in it as a Sanhedrin Ktana; that such
betrothals are "null and void as the dust of the earth."  according to
the enabling statutes of Hafikaat Kidushin (Ktuvot 3a; Enc. Ha Talmudit
(II, p137).

6.Clarifies that any punishment it metes out, be it corporal, and/or
capital, shall involve sentencing only, for there are no enabling
statutes known to us in American law which empowers us to carry out in
actuality such a punishment; as was done by other high Rabbinic Courts
such as the Bet Din of Rabbi Shlomo Adret (1235-1310) which sentenced
and executed an informer to death (Igeret HaRashba JQR (1896) p228.)
under Don Pedro III in 1283 CE and in the Seville Bet Din which executed
by "sayif" ie beheaded under Don Juan I; Yosef Pichos on August 21, 1379
CE.  Such punishments were acknowledged by the Rambam in his day as
common occurrances in the West (Hil. Chovel Umazik 8:11), and involve
accepted halachic principles ( SA Choshen Ha Mishpat, Title 388) as
applied to a "mosair-rodef", informer who aggravates the community.
These husbands are in that category.

7. Maintains that once the death sentence is pronounced on a
recalcitrant husband he is considered a "bar ktalai" (Makot 5a) ie
halachicly dead and his wife is free to marry even a kohain; and it is
unnecessary to actually carry out the sentence as we learn from the case
of "shor haniskal", the ox sentenced to death by the Bet Din (Ex 21:28;
Yad, Hil. Maachalo Asurot 4:22; Chinuch M.52).

8. Serves notice upon Lawrence Larry Fine of Queens, NY, who was issued
a Seruv in the fall of 1991 by the Rabinical Alliance of America; that
should he fail to divorce his wife within 30 days, he will be sentenced
to the punishment of castration, which will automatically terminate his
marriage upon sentencing.

The following 21 members of the 23 member Sanhedrin Ktana among who are
it 5 governing board members who reside in Eretz Yisrael; and also among
who are included members of the Igud HaRabanim, Histadrut HaRabanim,
Agudat HaRabinim, and Agudat Yisrael of America; subscribed to the above
Protocol.  Two abstained.  Adopted 20 Tammuz; Effective date 15 Av 5755.

THE SUPREME RABBINIC COURT OF AMERICA 141 Arcola Ave Silver Springs MD 20902

M. Antelman Av Bet Din - R. Bernstein - M. Blitz - M. Brown - S. Fishbein -
M. Friedman - Y. Gersh - I. Gilner - Y. Glasner - P. Goldsmith - C.
Hershanov - Y. Jacobson - Z. Kaftort - N. Maas - K. Meir - D. Nachmias - I.
Iguber - Y. Silver - S. Sorsher - E. Sprecher - Y. Vizenblut 


End of Volume 21 Issue 33