Volume 55 Number 14
                    Produced: Mon Jul  2  6:05:49 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aguna numbers
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
Aguna statistics
         [Yosef Blau]
Bible Atlas recommendation (2)
         [David Ziants, Dr. Ben Katz]
Debate Over the Number of Agunot
         [Aliza Berger]
Family Tree of Lithuanian Rabbis
         [David Curwin]
How to prevaricate with statistics
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Statistics Dispel Claims of 'Thousands of Israeli Agunot'
         [Carl Singer]
Women Covering Ears
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 09:15:55 -0400
Subject: Aguna numbers

>From everything I've seen this is untrue.  What the Rabbinate takes out
of these cases are those where the husbands demand financial or other
settlements in return for the get.  The rabbinate doesn't consider a
woman an aguna if she can pay the man who beats her $100,00 for a get.

Malka admitted that he encourages women to relinquish child support
payments owed by the husband or other monetary obligations in order to
facilitate the giving of a get (divorce certificate).

Listen, this is money <#> that she never earned," explained Malka. "Only
in theory does it belong to her.

"For instance, according to the law the wife is entitled to half of a
man's pension rights even though she never worked a day in her life. I
do not think she should remain an aguna because she is stubborn about
receiving her half."


The Rabbinical courts refusal to recognize a woman as an aguna where her
husband refuses her a get is the problem in Israel.  Israel unlike the
US has the tools to punish a husband (ie hard time in prison) for
refusing to give a get.


From: Yosef Blau <yoblau@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 12:22:48 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Aguna statistics

The statistics provided by the Batei Din in Israel assume the
perspective that the existing Batei Din are dealing fairly with requests
for a Get.  The very fact that Rav Amar, the Sefardic chief rabbi,
called for an Aguna conference of rabbis in Israel and around the world,
should cause one to pause before concluding that there is no serious
problem. The participation of the rabbis from Tzohar and Emuna in the
protest against the appointment of new dayanim is another indication
that many of the dayanim reflect a world view that sees "modern" women
in a certain light and judges their cases accordingly.

Yosef Blau


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 22:27:18 +0300
Subject: Re: Bible Atlas recommendation

From: Daniel Cohn <4danielcohn@...>
> Can someone please recommend a Bible Atlas? Advice on where to buy (in
> Israel) will also be welcome.

How about Da'at Mikra atlas from Mosad HaRav Kook publishes.

Book stores that sell the Da'at Mikra set often sell this volume (and
other volumes) separately.

David Ziants,
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

From: Dr. Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 18:13:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Bible Atlas recommendation

>From: Daniel Cohn <4danielcohn@...>
>Can someone please recommend a Bible Atlas? Advice on where to buy (in
>Israel) will also be welcome.

The MacMillan Bible Atlas is quite good. 


From: Aliza Berger <alizadov@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007 10:37:47 +0300
Subject: Debate Over the Number of Agunot

This is a well-known debate. I found the best explanation with numbers
at the Amnesty International site (which may already bias some people
against it, but all the numbers given are from other sources, not
Amnesty's own). The following is quoted from:

The number of agunot is not known, as divorce files handled by the
Rabbinical Courts are classified and their access is limited. Some
sources estimate that some 100,000 women in Israel have been or are
currently being refused divorce and/or are or have been victims of
extortion by their husbands to get a divorce.(130) Religious authorities
give a much smaller figure,(131) however, this figure does not include
the thousands of women whose divorce requests are not considered
sufficiently well founded by the religious courts to take measures
against their husbands.(132)


(130) Survey by the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women
(2004), cited by Dr. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, director of the Rackman
Center for the Advancement of Women at Bar-Ilan University, Israel.

(131) Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, director of the rabbinical courts, quoted by
Zahava Fischer in the article Unchain their hearts, Haaretz 10 December
2004, put the number of men who refused to grant a divorce to their wives
at 200.

(132) Conservative interpretations consider that a woman is not an
"agunah" if the rabbinical courts do not consider her request for a
divorce sufficiently well founded and that there is no grounds for
divorce (even when the woman herself wants and asks for a divorce), or
when the court has only recommended and not ordered the husband to grant
a divorce to his wife.



From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2007 19:55:39 +0300
Subject: Family Tree of Lithuanian Rabbis

Hello -

I've put together an online family tree which I believe includes (and
connects) many of the prominent Lithuanian rabbinical familes of the
last several generations:


For now, I've only put in names - no dates, locations, pictures, etc.

I'd be interested in your feedback, and if you'd like, I can grant you
write-access if you'd like to contribute.


David Curwin


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 18:33:39 +0300
Subject: How to prevaricate with statistics

So we're told that there are slightly more men than women who have been
refused a Get by their spouses. Hunky-dory, right? No, not at all. Men
who are refused a Get can use the famed "heter meah Rabbanim" - a way to
be married a second time without divorcing one's wife, provided 100
"rabbis" sign on a document. What recourse do women in such
circumstances have? None!  In other words, if even a single woman is
affected, that is too high a price, for it has effectively ruined her
life. How dare one, then, try to use such "comparative statistics"?

Incidentally, in my Yeshiva days in the Baltimore Yeshiva, someone came
around asking us to sign on such a "heter meah Rabbanim." When we argued
that we were far from "Rabbanim," the person asking for the signatures
said that that was unnecessary, and that as Yeshiva Bachurim we
qualified - even though we had no idea what the case was or even the
names of the people, except that the names appeared on the document.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 08:27:58 -0400
Subject: Statistics Dispel Claims of 'Thousands of Israeli Agunot'

  .... and now we're discussing statistics!  Previously we were
discussing the semantics of Agunot vs. Mesurevet Get.

Statistics are cold comfort to those involved -- It doesn't matter if
one is one in a thousand, one in a million or one in two.  Definitions
can aid discussion and resolution -- but not when they take a life of
their own.

Having been happily married for 30 years, I'm an outsider to the agunah
problem -- but I certainly see it as a real problem for klal Yisroel.  A
problem that requires serious discussion and halacha-based action.
Sitting on the sidelines, it seems to me that recent discussion pokes
around interesting factoids but fails to address the underlying issue -
there are real live people who are suffering.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2007 14:57:20 -0400
Subject: RE: Women Covering Ears

Just for the record "modesty" is defined as covering "attractive
features" of the woman. While "Attractive features" are defined by
common sense there is scriptural support for them: Anything listed in
the Love Poem Analogies of Song of Songs (Notably Chapter 4, 7 and voice
in chapter 2) is considered "Attractive" while to the best of my
knowledge items not listed in these chapters are not considered
"attractive."  Bottom line: "Ears" are not listed as attractive.

In passing the laws of modesty were mostly Rabbinic and LIKE ALL
RABBINIC laws were not meant to be so burdensome that they couldnt be
implemented at a community level. More specifically there never was an
intent to erase the women's identity as a person. Consequently Jews
never believed in "veiling the face." As a consequence even though
"nose" is mentioned in song of songs I know of no Jewish source
prohibiting exposure of such items (Since you cant cover your nose
without covering your face, your means of identity, and this was never
anyone's intent).

I should explain what I mean by saying that the laws of modesty were
mostly "Rabbinic." I once heard a Shiur on saying blessings. Blessings
can (in an emergency) be uttered in the presence of Rabbinical
violations of modesty but not be uttered in the presence of Biblical
violations of modesty. For this reason women can say a blessing in the
Mikvah if they cover outright nudity even though the rest of them is
exposed. It would appear from the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish law)
that certain parts of the womens body are Biblically prohibited to be
seen because of nudity.

In reviewing these sources I was told that there are 2 Biblical
prohibitions for nudity: a) Don't stray after your hearts and eyes and
b) No naked thing should be seen in your camp (In the laws of covering
utensils for military men while out in the field).

I pointed out to the person delivering the lecture (who is a well known
posayk) that a careful reading of the Rambam shows that source (b) above
(from context) only applies to excretions in military situations;
similarly a careful reading of the Rambam Laws of idolatry Chapter 2
shows that it is possible that source (a) refers to idolatrous thoughts
(not violations of modesty) which lead to "going astray" (ZNUS) after
Idolatry (This is a possible reading from the context).

It would also appear that the prohibitions of nudity while reading Shma
is NOT because of a Biblical prohibition of seeing nudity but rather
because of Biblical obligation to CONCENTRATE on what you are saying
which is not possible if excretions or naked women are around.

It would emerge that it is possible (or a controversy among the early
authorities) that there is no Biblical nudity and all modesty laws are
Rabbinic laws.

At any rate, "exposed ears" are definitely not violations of modesty and
hence texts which appear otherwise should be interpreted otherwise.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d., A.S.A.;http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


End of Volume 55 Issue 14