Volume 57 Number 65 
      Produced: Fri, 25 Dec 2009 11:41:40 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Solution to agunah problem 
    [Rabbi Meir Wise]
Spousal Abuse (3)
    [Mark Steiner  Yisrael Medad  Jeanette Friedman]


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Agunim 

Yosef's 10 brothers bow to him in his dream. But he also had a sister! The 
Midrash says that Asenot was Dina's lost daughter, living in Egypt. So, 
Dina was also Yosef's mother in law. Even in a crazy dream your mother in 
law wouldn't bow to you 


From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Solution to agunah problem

Now that we established the status of the Baal Haturim and the  
authenticity of the comment that I quoted, perhaps we can back to the  
main issue of trying to find a solution to the agunah problem.

As the father of two daughters, both thankfully happily married, and  
grandfather of four granddaughters, may they increase, this problem  
concerns me as it does all thinking Jews, rabbis or not.

Anyone who wants to read a clear scholarly account of the problem and  
proposed solutions should just google the words bleich and agunah. His  
Contemporary Halachic Problems 1977 is a masterpiece. Rabbi Riskin has  
also written on the subject.

It is clear that prevention is better than cure and more so when cure  
is so difficult as in the case of agunah or mamzer.
The route has to be a halachically acceptable pre-nuptial agreement.  
Of course, even this will not work in every case, such as multi- 
millionaires or husbands who feel that they have nothing more to lose  
as I mentioned in a previous posting.

My solution would be as follows.
We all agree that the husband is obligation to keep his wife all the  
time that they are still married. This clearly stated in every ketuba  
I have ever seen. This includes housing, food, clothes etc etc.
As long as he has not given a get he is married and has these marital  
The pre-nup should set the support at a high level in the case of  
abandonment say 1,000 a week. This would concentrate the minds of  
most recalcitrant husbands. It could be enforced by the secular courts  
and would not create a forced get as the secular court is only  
enforcing the ketuba NOT forcing the husband to give a get.

This seems a simple solution. In fact so simple that some great rabbi  
must have proposed it before. I cannot believe that I have thought it  
up. Anyway I have never know how to win friends and influence people  
in high places!
I repeat that it wouldn't work in every case but where there is a  
rabbinic will there is a rabbinic way. This added to sanctions,  
outings, demonstrations and threat of excommunication by the rabbis on  
recalcitrant husbands should surely help.

We cannot act on Maimonides ruling that we flog him until he says I  
want to give a get! The explanation being that every poor Jewish man  
really deep down inside wants to do the right thing. It's just that we  
(oops Freudian slip I should have said they) are weak and the yetzer  
hara gets in the way!
But a modern form of public beating is most acceptable and has worked  
in London.

finally , I repeat that there are more agunim in israel than agunot,  
and the rabbi in charge of the department wears a kippa seuga ( that  
has no significance for me). So let's stop criticising our fellow Jews  
and start thinking and working towards an acceptable solution.

Behokara rabba

Rabbi Meir Wise
Still enjoying the lovely weather in Ramat Gan


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

There are some high profile divorce cases (in Israel)in which the
bet din intervened on behalf of the woman, going out on a limb to do so.  I
therefore think that critics of the dayyanim should consider modifying their
criticism at least somewhat.

	In one such case, the Bet Din Hagadol (with the controversial
"haredi" R. Avraham Sherman presiding--he's the one who invalidated R. Haim
Druckman's converts retroactively and was condemned by the Modern Orthodox
world) ordered the husband, who had been considered a brilliant young talmid
hakham, to give a get forthwith, BEFORE any discussions of alimony and child
custody, a much criticized move.  In the interim, he ordered the authorities
to remove a child physically from the father's custody.  The decision was
made (according to credible information) on the basis of witnesses heard in
secret, something impossible in a secular court, and rare in halakha (had
the witnesses testified against the woman, that she committed adultery, the
testimony would have been invalid, cf. Teshuvot Harama 12),  In fact, the
Bet Din was criticized by a State ombudsman for hearing testimony in secret.
The husband, informed by his lawyer that he would never see his children if
he gave the get--in other words, the Bet Din meant business, fled to the U.
S., upon which the Bet Din immediately secured a warrant for his arrest.
(This is all despite prominent rabbanim who took the side of the husband.)
The Bet Din declared a herem on the husband, and published it in the media
here and in the U. S., and contacted batei din in the United States to make
sure that the husband would not try to initiate a "heter mea rabbanim," an
illegal procedure anyway because the wife publicly asserted that she wanted
a get without any conditions on either side.

	All this you can read on the "haredi websites" that have been
discussed on this list.  (The case also has reached the secular courts,
since the wife sued the husband for damages, and was awarded several hundred
thousand shekels.)

	My point here is not to take sides in a messy divorce proceeding.  I
want to point out that the Bet Din Hagadol has the guts to defend a woman's
rights, against peer criticism even, and do not hesitate to invoke
"loopholes" in the halakha to do so. I have no statistics on this, but  if I
were a dayyan in a lower bet din, my own backbone would certainly be
stiffened by the courage of the highest bet din.  It  sounds to me as though
the Bet Din Hagadol has adopted a strategy of  aggressive action to prevent
spouses (husbands or wives) from flouting its authority, but time will tell.

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

Elozor Reich (whose nephew R' Uren is married to Reb Malkiel's sister)
from Manchester [Reich not Uren, right?] wrote:
> Reb Malkiel was not married to daughter of the Brisker Rav. It was his
> mother-in-law, the wife of of Reb Mechel Feinstein, who was a daughter
> of the Brisker and it was this daughter who contributed to the big
> fuss.
a. so he was married to the granddaughter of the Brisker Rav?  
b. This was Reb Velvel?
c. is there any written summary of this affair?

From: Jeanette Friedman <friedmanj@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

Today is the 42nd anniversary of the day I married a batterer who began  
beating me during "Sheva Brochos." Since that time, much water has flowed 
under  the bridge, and some of the battles I fought since then took place here 
on  mlj.
So I am sure many of you have been waiting for me to add to these  newer 
threads on agunot and spousal abuse...since I introduced these  threads to 
this list about 16 years ago and since I am the basis of the Silver  Get Law, 
whether people like that law or not. (It has freed many women since Reb  
Moishe and Shelly Silver put it together on my account, regardless of the  
Chareidi rejection of it.)
Among the support I got in recent posts, Sammy F. wrote:  
Rabbi  Samson Raphael Hirsch in his commentary to Exodus 26:20 - the first 
Posuk in  Parshas Tetzaveh - to the words "L'ha'alos ner" (before tamid), as 
translated  by Gertude Hirschler. This is not his whole commentary, but 
excerpts were  published by Judaica Press in 1986. It was edited by Ephraim  

Can you guess who was my high school principal and Navi teacher?  None 
other than the Ephraim Oratz mentioned by Sammy. Ephraim's  brother, Pesach, was 
one of my teachers. too.
The two of them treated their female students with respect for our brains,  
taught us more than most guys know, allowed us to figure out our own 
mephorshim,  encouraged us to stretch our minds. It's the exact opposite of what 
girls are  taught today. These two never trained us to be lemmings, but 
domestic  violence never came up. In those days, it didn't come up ANYWHERE, not 
even the  secular world, except in really crazy cases.
So in Kallah classes, as we teens were being prepared to be good teachers  
and housewives, NO ONE taught us that if our new husbands began smacking us  
around and abusing us, we should immediately walk out the door never to  
return--because if you go back it means you are maskim to getting beaten. NO 
ONE  taught us that if you want a Get you are up the creek because you have 
to wait  on HIM to give it. In fact, NO ONE talked about these things at all. 
It was all  about how keeping shalom bayis was THE FEMALE ONLY 
responsibility, that and  Taharas Hamishpacha. NOTHING ELSE was ever taught to
the girls 
to prepare them  for the realities of marriage. So most of us felt guilt 
when we started getting  beaten. We deserved it because we burned the cholent, 
or didn't clean house well  enough, or didn't keep the kids quiet enough. 
Obey until death do you part was  basically the lesson in those far away 
days. I learned these things from bitter  experience.
Other than the prenup in MO circles and a bit more visibility on abuse of  
wives and kids (esp. male yeshiva students--for some reason women abusers 
aren't  caught as often) there is still a huge way to go. The fact that the 
internet was  again "issured" for the reasons stated proves the points I am 
about to  make.
There are days when I want to make CDs about gitten and agunot and abuse  
and hand them out to the girls like Samizdat, so that they at least know that 
 when fists start flying or they are raped or "traded around" (I had a case 
 from Stolin I had to refer to the DA)  they have  alternatives. The 
problem is that the girls who need it most have no access to  computers, and there 
is no way to get the information to them.
And everyone here is correct, the rabbanut prefers to sweep these  things 
under the rug--and even Ohel assists by protecting perpetrators and not  
really counseling the victims. The perps belong in jail, not in halfway houses,  
and the victims need counseling they will never get because there are too 
many  of them (in the thousands, call David Mandel and ask him how many there 
 are!)  and there's no money to do it.
I was contacted recently by a girl who made the news when she ran from a  
completely dysfunctional and crazy situation. She was clueless and unprepared 
 for life. She didn't know enough to be able to do anything in the real 
world  except clean houses. She didn't know enough to work as a waitress or 
baby  sitter. When I wrote to Vos Iz Nayes after they slammed her and explained 
 that what she and her family had needed from the outset was counseling, my 
post  was removed. God forbid that a person trapped in such a life should 
seek outside  help.
Perhaps the most disheartening thing that happened in this regard was that  
about 15 years ago, when I made a Shalom Bayis handbook and distributed to 
all  the rabbis I could find in Bergen County, I also sent one to an 
important rabbi  on the Lower East Side. I had asked all of them to take one 
Shabbat sermon a  year to discuss shalom bayis. This rabbi told me he would never 
do it, because  it was too controversial. His father would put his life on 
the line for an  agunah, but his son? No Way Jose.
As for the teffilot for agunot and murdered wives. I would like to remind  
everyone of the case in Flatbush, about 30 years ago where a well-liked  
yeshiva fellow murdered his pregnant wife, stabbing around the fetus, because 
he  wanted to save the baby, called the cops from a pay phone and blamed it 
on a  Latino. All the people in the neighborhood defended him. Eventually 
they  realized he did the murder (fetus did not survive). Who prayed for his 
wife and  child? Who said kaddish for her? The murderer? I think not.
And today I wonder whatever happened to Blimi Zitrenbaum, who tried to  
escape from a supposedly chassdic frum, drug-addicted husband who wanted  her 
to share his "fun". His good, frum neighbors, for the sake of shalom  bayis 
and to prevent a get,  told him where she was. He found her  safe house, took 
a cab on a Friday night, smashed her head in, and left her for  dead in the 
bathroom for her children to find, while he took another cab back to  
Brooklyn on Shabbos and told the driver he would pay him after the zman. There  
were plenty of his friends saying tehillim with him on the front steps on the 
 courthouse when he went on trial. What happened to Blimi? Good question. 
As a  result, the rabbanut shut down the "Jewish" battered women's shelter in 
Rockland  County. Who is praying for those women besides those women who 
understand what  is happening?
With all due respect, Tefillah is NOT ENOUGH. We need to take action, set  
up more shelters (not just for women, but for men and boys who are abused).  
We need to teach kids to understand that when someone touches them in the  
bathing suit areas, (and sometimes even if it is their parents) that  when 
kids get a "Bad Feeling" about these things they need someone to talk  to. 
They MUST be informed on how to seek help.  
As for people like Tropper and Kolka and Brandstatter and all of those  
guys, just remember, each of them has molested at the minimum ten, at the  
maximum hundreds of people. Those victims need counseling, and they aren't  
going to get it. The children especially will suffer in their  future 
relationships without this counseling. What kind of spouses will  they be? How will 
they treat their own children?
But the rabbis have, with their actions, indicated that that is not the  
path they will take. As Rabbi Gluck in BP said to me many years ago: "We don't 
 want to give kids ideas."  He obviously doesn't understand that when a  
child gets this idea, it's because he or she was molested in the first  place.
So, the question really is, what can each of us, each individual, do in his 
 or her life to change this attitude? We have to yell from the rooftops, 
write  wherever we can--internet, newspapers (tho dying), magazines, etc. and 
work to  convince the rabbis we choose to be our leaders to work on this 
issue, even  though it's uncomfortable and "past nisht." Who do we choose as 
our  leaders? Are they moral? Are they 10%ers and money launderers? Do they 
care  about anything other than wielding power over their flock and writing 
impressive  articles for their peers? Or do they care about the Jewish people, 
women and  children included?
(I remember one of our current "gedolim" coming to our house on  Simchas 
Torah in the early sixties. He was so drunk he passed out and my mother  put 
him into one of the beds in the basement of our house to sleep it off (The  
beds were in the basement because  today's Dinover and Munkacser Rebbes  
lived in our house beyn hazmanim when they were students in Telz). This guy has  
never impressed me as anything other than an egomaniac with his own agenda. 
 He was active in camp life and I had dealings with him as a teenager in 
camp  concerning my 35 mm camera which I happened to find in his  
possession--he never gave it to the lost and found when he found it! Most people
change. That he is regarded as a gadol only underscores how  morally corrupt 
the whole system has become in the last 40 years.)
So while we can all vent on mlj about these things, the question is  what 
do we do about these things when we are NOT online? What do we do to change  
the status quo into something we can be proud of in order to make the 
community  more Torah like without the ridiculous chumrahs that simply shove 
everything out  of sight, induce ignorance and continue to make matters worse?
Any ideas? 
Oh, and special thank yous to Sammy and Russell


End of Volume 57 Issue 65