Volume 51 Number 73
                    Produced: Sun Mar 26 10:51:01 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aguna question (2)
         [Freda B Birnbaum, Shoshana L. Boublil]
Can an Agunah Sue? (2)
         [Frank Silbermann, Baruch C. Cohen]
R. Agushewitz' legacy
         [Mark Steiner]
Second Day of Yom Tov revisited
         [Richard Fiedler]


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 07:32:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Aguna question

In MJ v51n70, Martin Stern asks:

> If he had given her a get because he was ordered to do so by the
> Illinois Supreme Court, would it not be a get me'useh (forced get) and
> thereby invalid? His death saved her from the resulting problems.

It seems to me that giving a get under these circumstances IS making a
free choice: to give the get rather than to go to jail for contempt of

I'm reminded of a saying I've heard: "God don't like ugly".  I would
like to know why some of us are in such a hurry to question the
legitimacy of a get as described above, and not in such a hurry as to
question why so many women are left agunot for no good reason at all,
and to push for and support solutions to this problem.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"

From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006 15:41:38 +0200
Subject: Re: Aguna question

> From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
> If he had given her a get because he was ordered to do so by the
> Illinois Supreme Court, would it not be a get me'useh (forced get) and
> thereby invalid? His death saved her from the resulting problems.

Allow me to further simplify matters:

If there is such a thing as "Kefiyat Get" -- how come every time an idea
to force a Get comes up-- the immediate response is "but won't this be a
Get Me'Useh"??

Chazal stated things brilliantly: in the case where they paskened for a
kefiyat Get, the wife was going to go free.  The husband just had to
decide whether he would be alive or dead at the end of the process...

In the case in question (and in another one I personally know of) -- the
widow inherited everything he refused to give her when he was alive....

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 09:50:08 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Can an Agunah Sue?

Even if it is a violation of separation between church and state for a
secular court to order that a Get be given, and even if such a Get is
invalid due to being forced, I don't see any reason the woman couldn't
sue for a larger amount of money, just as in any case of civil

With respect to putting the promise to pay in the Ketuba, Martin Stern

> Surely the problem basically is asmachta, where a person makes a
> promise to pay something in circumstances which he does not really
> believe will arise, similar to gambling debts which cannot be
> collected in Beth Din because the person never really believed he
> would lose the game.

That applies to the Ketuba, and having a Bet Din require payment.  It
would not apply to the civil court awarding a large financial penalty
each month a Get is delayed.  Nor is that a forced Get, because the
husband has the option of paying.  (Especially as compared with the
Rambam which permits a Beth Din to beat the husband until he voluntarily
chooses to give the Get.)

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee

From: <azqbng@...> (Baruch C. Cohen)
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 07:53:34 -0500
Subject: Re: Can an Agunah Sue?

I want to share with your readership a clever idea on how to use the
bankruptcy courts as a litigation tool on behalf of Agunas to help them
obtain their get.  It might not apply to all Agunos, but to the extent
it might apply to even one, it's worth considering.

Imagine that the Wife ("W") is owed money in court ordered spousal
support, and her 2 children ("A") and ("B") are owed money in court
ordered child support, and W's recalcitrant husband ("H") refuses the
monetary support and refuses to give a get. Let's say, even further,
that H has a girlfriend who he flaunts around town who H showers with
gifts - monies that otherwise would go to pay the arrears in spousal and
child support. What can W do?

She can consider forcing H into an involuntary bankruptcy. 11 USC
Section 303 provides that a debtor can be forced into a bankruptcy
proceeding against his will, so long as there are 3 petitioning
creditors whose debts are liquidated and not disputed, who are owed in
the aggregate approximately $10,000.00. Here, in our hypothetical
scenario, we have 3 creditors: W's spousal support, A + B's child
support, whose debts are not being paid by H.  W + A + B = 3 petitioning
creditors (assuming that they are owed in the aggregate at least

Once forced into bankruptcy, the 3 petitioning creditors (W, A, B) can
file fraudulent conveyance lawsuits pursuant to 11 USC Section 548
against the trophy girlfriend for the recovery of estate gifts/monies
that were wrongfully transferred by H to the girlfriend within a year
(or more) of the bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy stay could also
freeze H's estate, and he could be barred by court order from any
further transfers.  The involuntary bankruptcy against H could give the
3 petitioning creditors additional rights to H's estate. A competent
bankruptcy litigator must be consulted - because there is a substantial
penalty if the involuntary is reversed by the court.

As this proposed legal proceeding could have the effect of effectuating
financial ruin on the dead-beat H, and his girlfriend will not be
pleased being the target of a fedewral lawsuit, it might cause him to
run quickly to settle the spousal and child support issues, to also
settle the fraudulent conveyance actions against his girlfriend, and in
the process, could be enough pressure to cause him to settle the get
issue.  In my opinion, it's an option worth pursuing and looking into.

Baruch C. Cohen, Esq.
Law Office of Baruch C. Cohen, APLC, Los Angeles, CA 90010
e-mail: <azqbng@...> or azqbng@yahoo.com


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 13:10:57 +0200
Subject: RE: R. Agushewitz' legacy

Dr. Ben Katz wrote:

> It is wonderful to read about an autodidact and a talmid chacham who was
> also a social activist AND interested in secular knowledge.

He goes on to criticize contemporary rabbis who fall far short of this

On this, after thanking Dr. Katz for his kind words, I would like to
make two comments:

1. After working on R. Agushewitz' legacy, and looking at his Bi'ur
Reuven on Bava Kamma, I see that the man was a giant.  It is very hard
to follow in the footsteps of a giant.  As I wrote, for example,
autodidacts are usually phonies (in my experience).  Whatever the
spiritual dangers of attending today's universities, there is one thing
that one gets at a university that it's hard to replicate anywhere else:
criticism of one's own ideas, particularly of one's WRITTEN ideas.  That
an autodidact like R.  Agushewitz, z"l, was able to subject his ideas to
SELF criticism, is unheard of.

2. Dr. Katz' description of R. Agushewitz does not get, IMHO, to the
heart of the matter.  He thought, but really thought, he was only being
ONE thing, not four things: a good Jew.  This sounds corny, but I am
working now on another one of his works, "Printsipn," or Principles of
Philosophy.  This book is written for the average layman (who reads
Yiddish), and contains the most eloquent and impassioned arguments for
the unity of the religious with the philosophical life since Maimonides.
You can see that he is really expressing his deepest beliefs, and not
empty slogans, "words that come from the heart."

Although I have not finished polishing up this material, and would ask
the readers not to forward it in its present form, I can't resist
passing on words which make a very deep impression on me.  After arguing
that the finest characteristics of human society (such as justice)
cannot be achieved without philosophical contemplation (which diverts
the mind from egoist pursuits), Reb Reuven z"l continues:

	You ask: and where is religion?  Is justice, then, not demanded
in the name of religion?  And hasn't religion had more of an influence
on the masses than philosophy?

	True.  You forget, however, that religion by itself demanded
justice in the name of a philosophical principle.  Justice is, in fact,
one of "the things which, even if they were not written, they should in
any case be written" {Tr. Yoma 67b, I have translated from the Hebrew
original}.  And "the rule of law" [Heb.  dinim] is, in fact, one of the
Seven Commandments which were valid even before the giving of the Torah
on Mount Sinai.  As far as justice is concerned, just as in the case of
many other principles of morality, religion merely endorsed the demands
of philosophy-better said, the demands of religion's own philosophical

	Because the truth is that religion is, more than anything else,
also philosophy.  Its telos is to come into contact with the highest
principle of Being.  There is no real distinction between true religion
and full-fledged [folshtendiger] philosophy.  The element of faith in
religion is only to make the philosophy more available [laykhter tsum
hand], just as tin is commingled with gold in order that the gold be
more easily handled.  Faith without philosophy is pure tin.  It loses
entirely the golden shine, the enthusiasm and the consciousness with
which one serves G-d out of love, "My soul thirsts for thee" {Tr.  Psalm
63:2}.  When one toils only for rewards, one does only what one must,
and one continually calculates how to throw off the obligation.  Such
calculations are quite numerous, you can rely on the Mind, the great
calculator; he is employed by the Ego.  This is the reason for the
incompatibility between the naive faith and irreligious practice of the
ignorant masses.  One the one hand, they are superstitious to the bone,
but on the other hand, they tell outrageous falsehoods [ligns oyf vos di
velt shteyt], without being afraid at all of violating an explicit
imperative of the Torah, "Keep distant from falsehood" (Exodus 23).  Our
Sages surely said in truth, "The ignoramus cannot fear sin, nor can the
unlettered be pious."

I think this speaks for itself.


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 23:04:18 +0200
Subject: Second Day of Yom Tov revisited

The Mishna states that the Month of Elul is 29 days. Rosh HaShanah
(19b): From the days of Ezra and onward we never found Elul to be full.

The importance of this issue is simple because if one knows when Rosh
HaShanah begins ones knows when to make the Yom Kippur fast.

The Yerushalmi Rosh Hashana(1:4) and Challah (1:1): 

There, they are concerned and observe the fast of Yom Kippur for two
days. Rav Chisdah asked them, "Why are you concerned over such a
far-fetched possibility?  One can safely assume that the court is not
negligent in this regard."  

The commentary Birkat Yisrael to the Yerushalmi explains the passage as
follows: "There" refers to Babylon. Some Jews in Babylon treated Yom
Kippur like any other holiday and observed it for two days. Rav Chisdah
said there is no need for this. The reason is as follows: It almost
never occured that the month of Elul lasted 30 days. And if it would
last 30 days the court that determines the calendar would certainly
notify the Jews in Babylon about this extraordinary event. It follows
that there is no real doubt about when the first day of Tishrei was
determined by the court in Israel, and the Jews in Babylon need not add
a day for the observance of Yom Kippur because of doubts about the

Since in fact more than 50% of the time if witnesses are used Elul would
have been declared 30 days obviously the Calendrical Court is
maneuvering the start of the month of Tishrei by always using 29 days as
the length of the month of Elul.

All of this helps us better understand the issue between Rabban Gamiel
and R' Yehoshua. For R' Yehoshua it was certain that Elul should have
been 30 days. Yet Rabban Gamiel insists on using ostensibly false
witnesses to establish Elul at 29 days fulfilling the promise of Rav
Chisdah and the Mishna and preventing the people in Babylon from fasting
on the wrong day.

Rosh HaShanah (25a): [R' Akiba] Said to him: Indeed it states YOU, YOU,
YOU - Three times. You in error, You deliberately, You misled!

Whatever date we observe the Yom Tovim here in Eretz Yisrael ipso-facto
is the correct date.

Beitzah 4b: Be careful to keep the custom of your ancestors because a
time may come when there are anti-religious persecutions, and all will
be confused.

Certainly from the time that this was proclaimed there have been many
persecutions yet none of them, even the Holocaust confused us.

The Rambam relates the calendar to the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael. But
what would happen if there was no Jews at all living in Eretz Yisrael? I
believe the calendar would become undefined.

The admonition of the Gemora is to keep the custom of Yom Tov Sheni
because perhaps Eretz Yisrael will not exist.


End of Volume 51 Issue 73