Volume 58 Number 83 
      Produced: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 12:20:48 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Agunot as "victims" (4)
    [David Tzohar  Frank Silbermann  Akiva Miller  Jack Gross]
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Finding a "halakhic way" (agunot/whisky) 
    [Stephen Phillips]
Following the latest version (2)
    [Carl Singer  Ari Trachtenberg]
    [Sam Gamoran]
Mental illness 
    [Tzvi Stein]
Psalm 27 
    [Carl Singer]
Truth In Translation 
    [Carl Singer]
Why did they stay - was: Re: doctors, TB, and Zionism. 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
    [Rose Landowne]


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Agunot as "victims"

Jeanette Friedman asked MJ58#81 why it is ok to "beat a guy half to
death...and it is not a forced get. 

The reason is that we believe that deep down every Jew wants to do the right
thing,to obey the decision of the bet din and grant the divorce. The problem is
that this will to do good is often hidden under levels of gashmiyut (material,
physical existence) it is this gashmiyut which caused him to mistreat his wife
in the first place. The bet din inflicts lashes upon him to weaken his physical
will until his real neshama which is part of the Divine image in which Man was
created comes forth and says "I will obey the bet din and grant the divorce."

Another point that seems to be missing from this discussion is the fact that
there are many "agunim" men whoses wives refused to receive a get. Since the
edict of Rabbenu Gershom Maor HaGolah 1000 years ago it is forbidden to
divorce without the woman's consent. It is true that if the man gets the
signiture of 100 Rabbis plus the Chief Rabbi, he can get permission to
remarry; essentially to take a second wife. Such permission is extremely
hard to get. It is well known that former Chief Rabbi Lau refused signing
such petitions  except in the most extreme cases. I personally know of cases
where men had to wait many years before getting permission to remarry.

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Agunot as "victims"

Harlan Braude wrote (MJ 58#80):

> I'm no halachic authority, but, as I understand it - now, I'm focusing
> strictly on the legal issue, not the ethical one (and  yes, I can imagine
> receiving some flak for suggesting legal is not automatically ethical) -
> the husband must be willing to grant the divorce; it cannot be compelled.

Jeanette Friedman responded (MJ 58 #81):

> Really, then why is it ok to beat a guy half to death into giving the get, 
> and it is not a forced get?

A local rabbi in a talk surmised that the Sephardi Rishonim in Spain
did this because otherwise some women trapped in abusive marriages
would convert to Islam.  In Islam, as in Judaism, a convert is considered
to be a new person; therefore the old marriage becomes invalid.
And, like Judaism, Islam permits divorce.

Ashkenazi Rishonim lived in a Roman Catholic society which did not permit
divorce under any circumstances.  Though they welcomed the conversion of Jews
they had no sympathy for a woman seeking to convert as a means of divorce.
No, if a woman tried that they would probably simply compel the conversion
of the husband and the couple would remain married.  Since Jewish women
could not threaten to convert to escape marriage, the rabbis felt it less urgent
to force the husbands to give a halachic divorce.

(If one considers today's secular options, I would say that the situation is
probably more like that under Islam -- women who abandon Judaism can get
divorces that will be recognized by the larger society.)

Jeanette Friedman continued:

> Problem is in the US, beating a guy to within  a inch  of his life is a
> major felony.

However, it is legal to use a comparable level of force in self-defense. If an
aggressor is using (or, like an armed robber, seriously threatening) force
that can cause death or grave bodily harm (e.g. a broken bone or loss of an
eye), it is legal (in America) to defend even with deadly force -- provided you
stop using force as soon as the aggression ends.  You cannot continue to beat
(or shoot) someone who is down and cowering.

Frank Silbermann..........Memphis, Tennessee

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Agunot as "victims"

Avie Walfish wrote (MJ 58:81):

> My complaint is about cases - some of which I have personally
> witnessed - in which the court has authority to compel a divorce,
> and sometimes has even issued such a ruling, but shies away from
> enforcing it, due to exaggerated fears of *get me'useh* (a divorce
> compelled illegitimately, hence void).

The critical word here is "exaggerated".

Evaluating whether these fears are exaggerated or reasonable is not a matter of
fact, but of opinion. It seems to me that there have been cases where Avie
considered the fears to be exaggerated, but the court felt them to be
reasonable. I have no problem with this -- good people can disagree, even about
important things.

It is important to understand what this fear is of. As Avie explains, if the
divorce was compelled in an illegitimate manner, then it is void. In such a
case, the couple are still married, even though they seem to have gone through
the actions properly. If either remarries someone else later on, they will have
two spouses. This is a very serious matter, especially for the woman, whose
children would be mamzerim (halachic bastards).

With such consequences, it is easy for me to understand why the court would want
to be very sure that they haven't gone over the line and put so much pressure on
that it constitutes an illegitimately compelled divorce.

This does not mean that they should be overly strict either. My only point is
that just because someone is careful about compelled divorces, that should not
automatically brand him as uncaring about agunot. Good people can disagree about
how much care to have.

Akiva Miller

From: Jack Gross <jacobbgross@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Agunot as "victims"

Jeanette Friedman wrote (MJ 58:81):

> Really, then why is it ok to beat a guy half to death into giving the get,
> and it is not a forced get? 

Jeanette -- I see you've read your RMB"M, but your memory is selective.
Yes, Bet Din may coerce a Get, but only after it has established that the
husband is halachically obligated to sever the marriage.  If the husband is
not legally obligated (per Halacha, as opposed to public sentiment) the
coerced Get is totally void, and B.D. in effect becomes a party to adultery
if the woman remarries.

The crux of the issue is that the burden of proof (establishing objectively
that conditions exist obligating the husband to grant a Get) is a very high
bar.  It is rarely met, so B.D. is almost always precluded from applying
coercion (whether physical or financial).

- Jack Gross


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Converts

Josh Backon wrote (ML Jewish 58:80):

> The term to be defined is "serara". The Iggrot Moshe YD IV 26 has no problem
> with a convert being a rosh yeshiva nor does the Tzitz Eliezer XIX 47 on
> whether a convert can be a dayan.

So a convert can be these things because they do not involve serara, whatever
that means. The problem with women being shul presidents according to the NCYI
(based on an opinion, I recall, of the Rav) is also that it involves serara. So
is it OK according to the Rav and Reb Moshe for a woman to be a rosh yeshiva or
a dayan (although obviously not an eid [witness])?


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Finding a "halakhic way" (agunot/whisky)

Leah S.R. Gordon wrote (MJ 58 #80):

> Consider the whole business with kosher whisky:  it takes a pretty big
> rabbinic will to look for loopholes around treif wine taste or content; I
> guess whisky was a pretty darned big priority for some rabbis.  Personally I
> find it a little bit appalling, how much rabbinic effort went into
> permitting un-hechshered whisky, while not enough rabbinic effort is
> directed toward what I consider human rights issues (e.g.agunot). Then
> again, those whisky bottles weren't demanding better treatment and their
> labels were tzniusdik enough for everyone.

That I consider to be a slur on two of the greatest experts on Jewish Law in the
second half of the twentieth century. The two Rabbis who are famous (if that's
the right word) for publishing responsa on the whiskey/whisky question are Rabbi
Moshe Feinstein zt"l and Rabbi Yitzchok Weiss zt"l. It is well known that both
these eminent Rabbis went to great lengths to permit the remarriage of hundreds
and hundreds of women after World War II whose husbands had perished in the
Holocaust. These were the true agunos.

As far as the modern day aguna is concerned, why blame the Rabbis? It is the
husbands who out of spite are refusing to release their wives or (and the
problem of the agun does also exist) wives who refuse out of spite to accept a
get. When a marriage is unfortunately over, it is a question of "ve'ahavta
l're'acha kamocha" [love your neighbour as yourself] that both parties should
accede to its formal ending. 

Stephen Phillips


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Following the latest version

Michael Rogovin (MJ58#82) points out:

> Of course I speak only for myself, but while I would have phrased it
> differently from Leah, there is truth to the fact that English
> editions of many halachic works, including this one, are in general
> more machmir (stringent) than the Hebrew original. In my opinion it is
> not because it is a later edition, but rather because it is intended
> for a different audience that is less educated and less able to
> evaluate differences of opinion among the Rabbis who are cited,
> usually in footnotes (which are almost always omitted or if included,
> not translated).

Perhaps we have translations that might qualify as "halacha for dummies"
(no slur intended - only humor) -- more accurately, halacha for export.
But a serious  underlying issue remains -- do individuals go to their LOR
to resolve halachic issues or to their bookshelf or the internet.

I recall a chasidishe website which states in Yiddish -- to the effect,
if you can read this you should not be here.


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Following the latest version

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 58 #79):

> Pretty clearly the translation sticks in a number of prohibitions that are
> imaginary, unless the Hebrew edition is somehow not to be trusted.

I have not been following the thread carefully, but this does bring to 
mind an encounter at a Jewish book store about ten years ago.  I asked
the proprietor for a moderate book on Halachah in English ... he laughed
at me and asked me where I had seen one of those.

I believe that there is an assumption in play that translations are for 
people who do not have access to the primary sources, and are therefore
less familiar with the law.  As such, my understanding is that 
translations are likely to be more strict as a fence around the law,
preventing people from unwittingly violating the law.

This is, of course, true for any pedagogic book written for a lay 
audience.  I recall an incident where a student set a cholent to cook
just before Shabbat (as he had remembered had been done in his Yeshiva),
and a person who looked up the situtation in Shmirat Shabbat complained
that the cholent hand to be half cooked (or at least a third cooked
according to a lenient opinion cited).

Of course, the Mishnah clearly permits put a *raw meat* cholent to cook 
just before Shabbat with the understanding that there is no incentive to 
turn up the heat for a Friday meal, because it could not possibly be 
ready in time.


From: Sam Gamoran <SGamoran@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Kolmos?

Mark Steiner <marksa@...> wrote (MJ 58 #81):

> Perets Mett wrote (MJ 58#79):

>> Why do they call it Kolmos? Surely the word is kulmos!

> Not necessarily.  The Kaufmann Codex of the Mishnah, an ancient vocalized 
> manuscript, considered extremelyreliable has qolmos, Shabbat 8:5.

The word is kuf-vav-lamed-mem-vav-samech.  Any other spelling or transliteration
is an approximation or academic convention.  This subject has been thoroughly
discussed in MJ previously.

Besides, now that I am half-blind in one eye, anyone who reads anything into my
typing and spelling (I wrote the first post on this) other than clumsiness is
reading in far more than I intended.  All I wanted to do is identify a
publication by name.  I also don't have the original magazine in front of me to
even check how the publishers of Mishpacha spell it in Latin characters.



From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Mental illness

There seems to be credible evidence that lifestyle changes such as getting
enough sleep, healthy diet and regular exercise are more effective than
medication for some forms of depression.  

However, have you ever heard of a psychiatrist advising a patient to try these
before going on medication? Have you ever heard of a psychiatrist even asking
questions about the patient's diet, sleep or exercise habits?  Is this anything
to do with the multi-trillion dollar psychiatric pharmaceutical business?  Do the
pharmaceutical companies and doctors make any money from people who get
better just by going to bed early and jogging every day?  

Something to think about.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Psalm 27

The ubiquitous Art Scroll siddur specifies that "from Rosh Chodesh Elul
through Shemini Atzeres Psalm 27 .... is recited." (At the conclusion of
Shacharis & Maariv.)

The common Nusach haGrah siddur omit this.

Any comments?



From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Truth In Translation

My posting in MJ (58#80) was submitted with the title "Truth in Translation"
 -- NOT "Following the latest version" as posted.

Martin Stern MJ(58#80) is basically correct re: the latest version -- but I
would add the caveat that this applies to the latest version by the original
author in the same language.

I am pointing out issues which occur all too often when others get involved
in the process -- Again, this includes translations,  anthologies,
posthumous editions, etc.



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Why did they stay - was: Re: doctors, TB, and Zionism.

Jeanette Friedman wrote (MJ 58#81) in reply to Daniel Cohen (MJ 58#80):

> The ME didn't let his chassidim leave. I will find the email from his
> chassid that says he said better to die than assimilate in the US or go to the
> treyf medina.

This reminds me of the story of Rav Yochanan Ben Zakkai and Vespasian.
The Gemara asks, why did he not ask for Yerushalayim. Also, when
Vespasian used the analogy of the snake wrapped around a wine cask,
Rav Yochanan ben Zakkai could not answer. The Gemara gives an answer
that could have saved Yerushalayim (or at least the Bais haMikdash)
and considers why he did not give that answer. One answer is that
Hashem had decreed the destruction and the Chachamim of that time had
become "mixed up" so that they could not save the people. In one
Tish'a B'Av drasha, this concept was applied to the Shoah. We cannot
know what was going on in the world that it "merited" such a
punishment as the second phase of the First World War (WW II was
actually a continuation of the war between Germany and the rest of the
world according to many), but once the destruction was decreed, it
affected even the righteous. Note that we call those Jews killed in
the war "kedoshim" [martyrs] no matter what their practice and
affiliation while they were alive.

The fact that we cannot understand this means that it was a chok
[decree] and happened. We cannot know what would have happened "if".
All we can do is expect to see the reason "after 120 years" or "when
Moshiach comes".

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Rose Landowne <Roselandow@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: WTGs?

On Aug 19, 2010, at 3:37 AM, Wendy Baker wrote (MJ 58#81):

> Martin Stern (MJ 58#79) wrote:

>> I have just one query: what does the acronym WTG signify? The only thing
>> that came to my mind in the context of "adult daughters [who] are a little
>> Modern" was "wearing tight garments" but that seems unlikely in the context
>> of eleventh century Northern France!

> WTG stands for Women's Tefilla Group, something I doubt existed in eleventh
> century Northern France, but does exist today.

Interesting supposition, but maybe not true. Though it's not reliable to learn
history from historical novels, the series about Rashi's daughters, (which I
assume must have been researched with historical sources) talks about the
literate daughters of Rashi going to the synagogue to lead the women's prayers
for those who couldn't read. I wonder what the process was...

Rose Landowne


End of Volume 58 Issue 83