Volume 25 Number 42
                      Produced: Sun Dec 15 23:22:14 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Ely Klagsbrun]
Kashrus: Relying on Irrelgious Parents
         [Daniel Eidensohn]
On Shidduch Dating
         [Jeremy Burton]


From: Ely Klagsbrun <eklagsbr@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Nov 96 12:29:23 PST
Subject: Agunah

Anonymous assumes that if her estranged husband were to re-marry, she
would receive a Get. Until recently that was a fair
assumption. Unfortunately, of late that is no longer the case.  There is
now a new mechanism for creating Agunoth. Currently, there are
approximately 70 women world-wide whose husbands are the beneficiaries
of an invalid Heter Meah Rabbonim.

A Heter Meah Rabbonim was intended to be a halakhic way for a man to be
married to two wives in the post-Cherem of Rabbenu Gershom
world. Rabbenu Gershom banned polygamy somewhere around the year 1000
CE. The halakha takes into account certain very extreme situations where
the ban can be abrogated for individual cases.  These cases, as they
finally took form in Shulchan Aruch are extremely limited. Some example
are, a case where the wife cannot accept a Get (i.e. she is mentally
incompetent) or where she converts to another religion and will not
accept a Get. The Rabbinic literature is full of questions of where and
how you apply the Heter. Rabbi Moshe Isserles, in his glosses on
Shulchan Aruch, takes an extremely restrictive view of the cases where a
Heter Meah Rabbonim can be issued.

The process was designed in such a way as to be long and tedious. A
legal opinion must first be issued by a Bais Din that a Heter Meah
Rabbonim is warranted. Then the applicant for the Heter must get the
signatures of 100 Rabbis who agree with the legal opinion of the Bais
Din. These Rabbis must represent at least 3 different localities. After
the 100 signatures are gathered, a Bais Din must sit down and decide
whether to accept the 100 signatures. After which, the Bais Din will
issue the final Heter to the man to marry a second wife. Even with all
these safeguards built into the system, many great Rabbis of all
generations have avoided signing on to a Heter Meah Rabbonim.

In our times this legitimate heter has been warped to suit illegitimate

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein clearly ruled that a Heter Meah Rabbonim is
inherently invalid, in a situation where the first wife is willing and
able to accept a Get. Rabbi Elyashiv has expressed orally, the same
opinion and has instructed his talmidim to gather world-wide support
amongst Batei Dinim to this effect. This has not stopped some rabbis
from propagating this criminal nonsense.

Some of the rabbis involved (I am maintaining list for future use), are
fairly well known, but there is a certain recalcitrance on the part of
the mainstream to start defrocking rabbis in public.

The bigger problem is that there is also a reluctance on the part of
Batei Din to question the actions of another Bais Din. This is even in
the case where they feel that what the first Bais Din was negligent
and/or criminal.

This issue is indeed a hot button for me, as my family has been affected
by this chicanery.

My father has kept my mother an Agunah for almost 12 years. He walks the
street with a beard and hat and claims to be tzaddik and a talmid
chochum. He will tell anyone who will listen, that he is defending the
Torah, by standing up for what is right, that a Get is only valid when
it is given by the free choice of the husband. He remarried this past
Lag BaOmer, to a woman whom we shall call Judy. Judy has lived in the
Monsey frum community with her 3 children for over 15 years. For all the
world, she is quite frum; she covers her hair etc. Judy was well aware
that my father had not given his first wife a Get.  She was also told by
her Rav, that he would not be Mesader Kiddushin, so that my father and
she could get married, without first ascertaining that the piece of
paper that she had been shown was in fact a valid Heter Meah Rabbonim
according to halacha.  Judy's Rav suggested that she not marry my
father, period, until the such an investigation was done by a reliable
Bais Din. Judy did not do this and claims that an Orthodox Rabbi in
Belgium was willing to marry her to my father without investigating the
background of this nebulous Heter.

As I submit this posting, my mother still has not received a Get, my
father remains married to his second wife, and the Rabbis who
facilitated this horrible situation continue to operate with their
reputations intact.

I would welcome any feedback as to how this situation might be resolved
in the future.  Anybody who has daughters (as I do), has one more
nightmare to keep them up at night.


From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@...>
Date: Sun, 08 Dec 1996 19:28:57 -0800
Subject: Kashrus: Relying on Irrelgious Parents

>David Neustadter wrote:

>A non-jew or non-religious jew who would ordinarily not be trusted for
>kashrut, can be trusted if there is an external reason to beleive that
>they would not lie.  This is why such people can be trusted as employees
>in kosher restaurants, etc.. since they know that if they get caught
>cheating on the kashrut they will get fired.  Rav Moshe has a teshuva, I
>appologize that I can't provide the reference, in which he says that
>this concept applies to non-religious children who keep a kosher home so
>that their religious parents will eat there.  Since they know that if
>they are caught, they will allienate their parents and their parents
>will never eat in their house again, their kashrut can be trusted. 

_This is not what Reb Moshe said!_

> My rav's comment was "boruch Hashem we now have many opportunities to 
>apply Rav Moshe's teshuva in the opposite situations of children bringing
>their parents closer to Judaism."  Of course this assumes that you know
>that the people involved are knowlegeable enough to keep kosher if they
>want to, but if you really want to keep kosher, it's not that difficult
>to learn how.

This is not an accurate description of Rav Moshe's tshuva [Yoreh Deah I
#54 pages 93-94.

Rav Moshe writes about a problem in communist Russia. Weak, elderly
parents are living with irreligious children. How can they eat what is
needed for their health since they have to live with these children? He
does provide a leniency in this desparate situation based upon a clear
knowledge that they will not be lied to [not that the children are
afraid of being caught].  However, at the end of the tshuva he adds the
following. "Therefore in an emergency situation with weak people it is
possible to be lenient if they [the parents] know with absolute clarity
from their [children's] nature and conduct and with experience that they
will not be deceived - they can rely on their statement that what they
have cooked for them is kosher. But FOR OTHERS WHEN IT IS NOT AN

It is obvious that this is not a blanket permission to eat with people
you trust. [See his discussion of not relying upon the testimony of an
irrelgious person who has a solid reputation for honesty Yoreh Deah II
#43 page 57.] Each situation needs to be evaulated by a competent Rav.
It is not appropriate or helpful to quote gedolim without first checking
what they actually said and the context.


From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, 02 Dec 1996 11:45:01 -0500
Subject: On Shidduch Dating

To paraphrase "Shidduch dating is a horrible system of finding a mate
but the best one I know".  To my knowledge, we are living in a
democratic society.  By all means, don't date someone who doesn't appeal
to you or has to many "b'deveds" to their credit.

And if it really pains you to waste your time, do more investigation up
front.  Most people I know got married through "non-professional",
uncompensated, unofficial shadchunim who are trying to marry people off.
It's a thankless job!  Young people are constantly bickering about who
would be good enough to consider and their standards go up with their
age.  If they meet someone who looks like less than a swimsuit contest
winner, they're rejected even if they have no other "b'deveds".

It sounds like you've been badly burned once.  It happens to the best of
us.  Get the chip off your shoulder and move on.  No one is out to get
you.  And trust me, there are many of us out there who'd be interested
in a single, working, guy.  Maybe there's something about you that your
not willing to come to terms with.

It's been my experience that the women out there over a certain age
(like 21 1/2) are a lot more flexible than the 45 year old guys who'd
like to marry women between 21-27 so they could have "large families".



From: Jeremy Burton
Date: Mon, 2 Dec 1996 12:37:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Shidduchim

I would generally agree with the underlying theory of the ridiculous
approaches, standards and criteria of various people participating in and
facilitating the shidduch process.  From my differing point of view, i.e.
alternative standards about "salad out", wearing a black hat etc..than
those cite by anonymous;  I often get equally ridicilous offers.
Individuals will recommend a shidduch citing "she wears pants", "I'm not
sure she'll cover her hair" etc... I ask what they know about the women
and it usually turns out to be less than one would think necessary to
suggest compatability, other than that she's the neice of a colleague or
daughter of a cousin and they know she's less frum than the rest of the
family or she's interested in politics.

More often than not it turns out she is less frum than they would ever
want to know (or the definition of frum is under great dispute) or yes she
once expressed interest in politics at a family dinner (maybe when she was
talking about volunteering in the campaign of someone I find
reprehensible). Is she bright?  Not necessarily.  Is she interesting?  Not

While I could go on and on, I agree with the premise SHADCHANIM OPERATE
BASED UPON THE STUPIDEST THINGS.  It is a depressing system.  One can only
review the amazingly bad dates one has gone on to realize that these
people don't know you, what you want, what you are about.  How can someone
who hasn't spoken to you for 20 minutes in the last five years "know" that
this is the "right" person for you?

P.S.  I would be remiss if I didn't point out the authors evident bias (I
usually call it bigotry) in belaboring the emphasis on his personal yichus
(shtut rabbonim in Europe?) while obviously complaining about witheld
information re: geyrus.  Without knowing whether his incident was with a
discovering this status.  To do so is participate in the lowest form of
bigotry and highest form of yichus arrogance around.  As a FFB ben
geyoret, I have been a victim of this particular beut, even having a date
cut off a perfectly nice evening upon discovering this fact.  To lock out
people based upon their parent's (or their own) choice to embrace Judaism
is reprehensible (that does not however make it wrong to discreetly
confirm the kashrus of the conversion procedure itself however).


End of Volume 25 Issue 42