Volume 53 Number 90
                    Produced: Fri Jan 26  5:03:21 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kavod HaRav
         [Heshy Summer]
Lots of Questions (7)
         [Chana Luntz, SBA, Elazar M. Teitz, Gershon Dubin, Meir
Shinnar, Meir Shinnar, Avi Feldblum]
Modesty edicts
         [Janice Gelb]


From: <heshys@...> (Heshy Summer)
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 14:44:26 +0200
Subject: Kavod HaRav

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>

On Thu, 18 Jan 2007 11:22:55 +0000, Stu Pilichowski
<cshmuel@...> wrote:

>>> At the end of Massekhet Berakhot, the Gemara states "Talmidei 
>>> chachamim marbim shalom be'olam - Talmidei chachamim increase peace 
>>> in the world", something we quote every Friday evening after Bameh 
>>> madlikin and after every time we say Ein Keilokeinu.
>>> In discussion with a prominent rav recently, I suggested that this 
>>> implied that where someone was a cause of discord, it was a proof 
>>> that he was not a Talmid chacham, something with which the rav found 
>>> it impossible to disagree.
>> Sometimes "peace" can only be "increased in the world" after much 
>> strife and pain. Sometimes even wars.
>> So I see no contradiction when talmidei chachamim "cause" discord.
>He obviously has not witnessed the result of the efforts of such a
>'Talmid chacham' in our shul which have resulted in about a third of the
>active membership being driven out and no new faces coming in.

I recently suggested, based on rashi near the beginning of Yoma, that
the definition of a talmid-chacham is one who is still in the four walls
of the beit midrash, a chacham who is still a talmid and torah umnato.
That is the talmid chacham that is marbeh shalom.

However, once he graduates and goes into public service he is called
something else, perhaps "rav" or "rabbi".  Rabanim in the public arena
may increase or decrease peace, but the gemara is not referring to them.

Heshy Summer


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 23:01:51 -0000
Subject: Lots of Questions

Jeanette Friedman wrote:

> And finally, one last question: When a man's knees are permitted to be
> broken until he "wants" to give the get--a violent and
> life-threatening situation, which might also be described as torturing
> someone until he gives you, freely, what you want--why can't civilized
> means be used to make a man want to give a get in a court of law? Why
> do the rabbis insist that felonious behavior (extorting money from the
> other party for a get) is halachically permissible?

And our moderator responded:

> The first question is a valid one, but requires response from 
> someone more involved in hilchot gittin to properly respond 
> to. One one hand, as is clear from the Rambam, there is a 
> concept of "makin oso ad sh'tezei nafsho", beit din is 
> permitted / required to impose physical beatings on an 
> individual that beit din has determined is required to give a 
> get and refuses to. On the other hand, the halachot of gittin 
> require that the get be "freely" given by the husband to the 
> wife. This requirement has been the major propblem with many 
> of the attempted secular Get laws, as they run afoul of this 
> requirement. What are the details that allow / require the 
> first case but make invalid the latter attempts?
>       Does anyone have answers to these questions?

The problem is this.  You and Jeanette are quoting the Rambam (who held
that a get can indeed be forced) but most poskim tend to (and have
historically, at least in Ashkenaz) follow(ed) Tosphos, who held that it
can't.  While one can understand the desire to reopen a rishonic
machlokus, the halachic process is such that this is not so simple.
(interestingly, I was reading a teshuva of Rav Ovadiah Yosef in a case
where the fellow refusing the get was Temani - whose minhagim tended in
general to follow the Rambam more than most, and there seemed to be the
distinct suggestion in the teshuva that the general tendency to pasken
like the Rambam amongst the Temani was one of several reasons why the
get could be coerced in that particular case, despite Tosphos - however,
obviously this is not going to be easily generalisable)


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 01:51:26 +1100
Subject: Lots of Questions

From: Shmuel Himelstein <>
> I think that Avi is much too cavalier in dismissing Ms. Friedman's
> questions regarding rabbinic (in)action today in regard to Gittin,
> Agunot, and sexual abuse. .. the preponderance of evidence of years
> and years past leads to only one conclusion - a desire to sweep the
> issue under the carpet - as usual.

I know as much (or as little) about what is going on in the rabbinical
world as the next person here. But Raboysay, THINK. These rabbonim that
you criticise for not doing enough, also have family who could one day
be in an agunah situation and/or with children at risk of predators etc.

Do you think that they are really so lazy, crazy or evil that they do
not even care about their own?  I don't.  (It isn't like - lehavdil -
catholic priests - who have no family and thus no personal interest..)

I have the greatest sympathy to the victims and their families.  And
also proud to have helped 3 cases - 2 women and a man - where the spouse
refused to give (or take) a get.

In every case, it was via rabbonim in the charedi community, (1 here in
Oz, 1 from Israel - who happened to be visiting us and 2 in NY).

After hearing details and being convinced of our case, they put enough
pressure on the troublemaker to make him 'see the light'.  In the case
of the man I was helping, pressure was placed upon the wife's father
(who was probably the cause of the problem in the first place).


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 14:32:45 GMT
Subject: Re: Lots of Questions

     Our moderator wrote:
> I also take strong offense at the use of the terminology " playing
> with the laws of gittin". I do not see any evidence shown of piskei
> halacha that are "playing with the laws of gittin", and if you want to
> make these claims, I would chalange you to give us such references. A
> reference would need to be to a psak halacha from any of the major
> posking you are claiming no longer should have our respect.

     To which r. Shinnar responded:

> WADR to our esteemed moderator, while I have substantial problems with
> a suggestion that the sole problem of aguna is rabbanim - and that if
> there is a will there is a way - what Jeanette Friedman is saying is
> quite easy to document - and by many major rabbnaim.  The fundamental
> claim is that that the rabbanim refuse to view the problem seriously -
> and if they did, they wound function differently - solving many, even
> if not all, problems.
> One can start with the case of the proposal of R Eliezer Berkovits to
> prevent agunot, based on a form of tnai.  Now, there may be valid
> reasons to reject the proposal.  However, he circulated this to rav
> feinstein, who replied that there was nothing halachically wrong with
> the proposal, but that he saw no need for such a proposal (I have seen
> the letter).

     While I don't doubt Dr. Shinnar's veracity, I believe that there is
more to Rav Feinstein's letter than is indicated in his statement.  The
idea of a t'nai (condition) in the marriage was not original with
Dr. Berkovits; it was proposed in the nineteenth century -- IIRC, by
rabbanim in France.  It caused an uproar, with a book being published
which contained letters from virtually every rabbinic organization and
from a Who's Who of major rabbinic figures of the day, decrying the
proposal as against Halacha.  It is highly unlikely that Rav Feinstein
would rule against such a lineup of halachic decisors without at least
mentioning their opinion and explaining why he felt that Dr. Berkovits'
proposal was different.  If Dr. Shinnar saw the letter because of his
personal relationship with Dr. Berkovits, perhaps he can utilize that
relationship to obtain permission from his literary heirs to publicize
its contents; if his seeing the letter was a result of its being made
public, perhaps he can direct us to its location.

     With such a psak available, one could argue with today's poskim
that the lack of necessity seen by Rav Feinstein is no longer the case,
and that therefore the proposal should be adopted.  Absent such a psak,
there is no one on whom to rely to go against those who have explicitly
ruled that it is against halacha.


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 17:21:35 -0500
Subject: Lots of Questions

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>

> There is general recognition that most bate dinim are corrupt (with
> some notable exceptions)

Breathtaking.  I think when I have a little more time I'll calculate how
many issurim that statement is oveir.

> It is said that rav moshe feinstein, from a certain time on, refused
> to sit on a zabla bet din - where each side chooses one dayan, and
> then they choose a third - because of the tremendous corruption that
> he saw).  This is something well known

ANY source whatsoever?  Saying that something is well known is a common
way of avoiding proof.


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 18:04:05 -0500
Subject: Re: Lots of Questions

On 1/24/07, Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...> wrote:
> From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
> <<It is said that rav moshe feinstein, from a certain time on, refused to
> sit on a zabla bet din - where each side chooses one
> dayan, and then they choose a third - because of the tremendous
> corruption that he saw).  This is something well known>>
> ANY source whatsoever?  Saying that something is well known is a common
> way of avoiding proof.

It is in the hakdama to the last helek of igrot moshe - the bio written
by his family.

One more point.  Saying that it was well known wasn't about the source
for rav moshe's position about zabla, but about the corruption of the
american system of bate din - and that is something, that if you talk
privately, most people - even haredim - who have any experience of the
system - will absolutely agree is correct.  It is an open secret - and
therefore, as being a known truth (to at least 3 people..), is not
lashon hara to say (about point of issurim)

People involved in gittin and agunot will try to steer people to
reputable bate din - but (off the record - libel lawsuits are no fun)
will tell you of the problems encountered in other bate din - which are
quite shocking.

This perceprion of the bate din as corrupt is true even in the frummest
circles - eg, the recent circus over the satmar succession going to
secular court - because there is no bet din that either side trusts will
judge la'amito shel torah and not be influenced by political

Meir Shinnar

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 19:05:35 -0500
Subject: Re: Lots of Questions

> give us such references. A reference would need to be to a psak
> halacha from any of the major posking you are claiming no longer
> should have our respect.

A specific posek and psak. There is a position that has been widely
attributed to Menashe Klein (and has not been denied by him) that if a
woman goes to a secular court first, the bet din may give the husband a
heter meah rabbanim, without giving the husband a get.  There are
documeted cases of husbands remarrying a second time with a heter meah
rabbanim - without the wife being able to receive a get.  Rav Moshe and
most major poskim held that for a heter meah rabbanim to be valid, the
get had to be deposited with a bet din and the wife had to be able to
get the get at her pleasure (dealing with cases where the wife refused
to receive a get).  There is no classical case of a heter meah rabbanim
for a man's divorce that did not allow the wife to remarry if she
wanted.  This is clearly playing with the laws of gittin.

(I would add that RYB Soloveichik refused to participate in any heter
meah rabbanim - and it would seem quite reasonable and ethical for the
community to distance and scorn any rav participating in a heter meah
rabbanim, except in truly extraordinary case....)

Meir Shinnar

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2007
Subject: Re: Lots of Questions

Based on what I have heard, I am willing to grant you that R. Menashe
Klein may fall in the catagory of one is distorting the halachic get
system. I would be interested to know how much weight his opinion is
given in the wider halachic world, especially in regards to his rulings
on get, heter meah rabonim and possibly other related issues. I know
well Jeanette's opinion of him. 

I do not believe that he represents the vast majority of the Rabbanim
and Poskim working in this area. 



From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 03:57:17 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Modesty edicts

[Many thanks to the anonymous poster of the charedi modesty edicts. If
anyone wants to pass them to others, the link to the story is

> 3. Since the beis din is required to oversee public places to prevent
> people from socializing improperly it has been decided to set up Agudas
> Hashomrim, which will dispatch hundreds of avreichim to stand watch on
> these matters.

So much for my conversations with my non-observant or non-Jewish friends
where I have insisted that fervently Orthodox Jews do not behave like
militant fundamentalist Muslims! This is scary, scary stuff.

-- Janice


End of Volume 53 Issue 90