R Michael Broyde / This short article deals with one of the more complex areas of halakhah – the area of get meusah, a coerced Jewish divorce. It will focus its time and energy on the prototypical modern case of a husband and a wife who both agree that they want to get divorced but cannot agree upon the terms of that Jewish divorce and the husband is thus withholding the Jewish divorce until he receives what he wishes even after the civil divorce is over and the case is settled as a matter of secular law. [As an editorial matter, it is worth noting that this situation is readily avoidable in advance through the use of a pre-nuptial agreement like the one widely distributed by the Beth Din of America at theprenup.org – but we assume here that, sadly, no such agreement was used. Everyone should use such agreements!] The question that is being addressed is simple. Is there an issue of a coerced get [get meusah] in the use of social pressure – picketing, boycotting, withholding aliyot, and the like – in such a situation? The answer is fairly clear as a matter of halakhah that there is no problem of a coerced get in such a case, although the reason is not obvious to many.

Protesting Without Coercing

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Some Thoughts on a Coerced Get and Protesting When a Man Withholds a Jewish Divorce
Guest post by R. Michael J. Broyde

Rabbi Michael Broyde is a law professor at Emory University, was the founding rabbi of the Young Israel in Atlanta and is a dayan in the Beth Din of America. He has authored many articles on the topic of get meuseh and written a book on the agunah problem.[1] Note: This post is available in PDF to more easily view the footnotes together with the text: Protesting Without Coercing (PDF)


If a husband and wife separate and he no longer desires to remain married to her and she desires to be divorced from him, in such a case divorce is a mitzvah and commanded by Jewish law. . . . One who withholds a Jewish divorce because he desires money for no just cause is a thief. Indeed, he is worse than a thief, as his conduct violates a sub-prohibition related to taking a human life.
– Rabbi Joseph Elijah Henkin[2]
I. Introduction

This short article deals with one of the more complex areas of halakhah – the area of get meusah, a coerced Jewish divorce. It will focus its time and energy on the prototypical modern case of a husband and a wife who both agree that they want to get divorced but cannot agree upon the terms of that Jewish divorce and the husband is thus withholding the Jewish divorce until he receives what he wishes even after the civil divorce is over and the case is settled as a matter of secular law. [As an editorial matter, it is worth noting that this situation is readily avoidable in advance through the use of a pre-nuptial agreement like the one widely distributed by the Beth Din of America at theprenup.org – but we assume here that, sadly, no such agreement was used. Everyone should use such agreements!] The question that is being addressed is simple. Is there an issue of a coerced get [get meusah] in the use of social pressure – picketing, boycotting, withholding aliyot, and the like – in such a situation? The answer is fairly clear as a matter of halakhah that there is no problem of a coerced get in such a case, although the reason is not obvious to many.

II. What is Coercion?

First and foremost, it is important to note that in order for a get to be invalid as a matter of halakhah, not only must coercion be used but this coercion must be halakhically illicit. Licit coercion does not invalidate a Jewish divorce, nor does illicit non-coercion. Certainly, of course, licit non-coercion is never a problem.

Thus, it is important to start any discussion of this topic with Rabbenu Tam’s famous view that even in a situation in which Jewish law rules that a man may not be licitly coerced into giving a Jewish divorce, social pressure may be applied on him in order to convince him to give a get (commonly called harchakot d’Rabbanu Tam). Although I could explain the history of this custom, it is easier to simply share a teshuva written by Rav Obadiah Yosef, and cosigned by Rav Yehuda Waldenberg and Rav Yitzchak Kolitz which was first published in published in Yabi’a Omer, VII:23 (Even HaEzer).[3]

The appeal before us, the Supreme Rabbinical Court [of Israel], revolves around a decision of the Regional Bet Din in Jerusalem on 9 Sivan 5744. The facts of the case are as follows:

The woman in question has been married to her husband for twenty years, but was childless. For fifteen years they were treated by doctors and through medications. All this was to no avail, until the doctors despaired of successfully treating them. The problem is evidently to be ascribed to the husband, and so has the wife herself argued in his presence, and so she requests to be divorced from him on the grounds of her legitimate desire for children.[4] The regional Bet Din at the time (9 Sivan 5742) ruled that the husband must חייב) ) grant his wife a get, but that he could not be coerced to do so. However, the husband rejected the court’s decision and did not wish to execute a get, despite the fact that they had already separated.

In the appeal which was presented before us on 14 Tevet 5745, we did not find sufficient cause to compel the husband to divorce his wife. We did, however, try to persuade the man, who is religiously observant, to follow the proper path and obey the decision of the court, for it is a mitzvah[5] to heed the words of the Sages who obliged him to divorce his wife and that he has chained his wife needlessly. And we gave the husband an extension of three months within which to grant a get to his wife.[6] However, when we saw that three months passed without response, we instituted the separations of Rabbenu Tam as found in the Sefer HaYashar (Chelek HaTeshuvot 24) which states:

Decree by force of oath on every Jewish man and woman under your jurisdiction that they not be allowed to speak to him, host him in their homes, feed him or give him to drink, accompany him or visit him when he is ill. In the event that he refuses to divorce his wife, you may add further restrictions upon him.

And this was also expressed by Rema in a gloss (Even HaEzer 154:21) based upon a responsum of Mahari Colon (shoresh 102). In his commentary Biurei HaGra (EH 154:67), the Vilna Gaon explains that exerting this sort of pressure does not constitute coercion in the granting of the get since he may escape it by moving to another city, and also since any pressure not exerted directly on his person is not considered coercion.[7]

It is true that Mahari Ibn Lev (Part 2 sec. 18) wrote that:

Even though both SMaG and Mahari Colon agreed to implement the sanctions of Rabbenu Tam, and [furthermore] we have found no one who clearly dissented from that decision, nevertheless we have not seen any contemporary rabbis who have so acted. On the contrary, when such a step was considered by most of the sages, and the impulse was to impose the sanctions of Rabbenu Tam, an outstanding scholar arose and protested against this intention, possibly because he was of the opinion that the sanctions of Rabbenu Tam are more severe than excommunication itself; thus if excommunication constitutes coercion, a fortiori so do these sanctions! And even though some time ago I ruled that the sanctions of Rabbenu Tam be imposed, the case there was different than the one presently sub judice, and moreover even in that case it was not actually done.

This ruling of Mahari Ibn Lev was cited by R. Abraham di Boton in Responsa Lechem Rav no. 31, upon which he commented, that:

Nevertheless, if the outstanding scholars agree to impose Rabbenu Tam’s sanctions in this instance, I will go along and actually permit it in this case.

Moreover, in the case presently under consideration even Mahari Ibn Lev might have allowed it; either out of concern for the husband who had not yet fulfilled the commandment to procreate and who may yet build a family with a different wife; or out of concern for the woman who wants children towards her old age and since twenty years have already passed, and the “Harvest is gone and summer is ended and these have not yet been saved,” as indicated by an examination of Even HaEzer (154:6) and the commentaries there.

In Responsa Tzel HaKesef (I:5‑6) [the author] goes on to great length in this direction and concludes that one is fully able to rely [upon his argumentation] to impose the sanctions of Rabbenu Tam in all such cases. And so I found also in Resp. Rosh Mashbir (Even Haezer 38) who cited the statement of MaHarhash in a responsum (no. 42):

And despite that which Mahari Ibn Lev wrote [cited above] that he could not bring himself to impose the sanctions of Rabbenu Tam even in an instance of chalitzah, and all the more so one of divorce which is more serious, nevertheless in a case where migdar milta[8] is the concern one may well say that imposing such sanctions is in order, and the author of Kerem Shlomo similarly asserted that a majority of late authorities agreed to actually impose the sanctions of Rabbenu Tam.

Furthermore, see Resp. Yisa Ish (Even HaEzer no. 19) who also wrote that the sanctions of Rabbenu Tam may be imposed in line with the opinion of Mahari Colon. See furthermore Resp. Mahari Taytatzak (II:172) and Sefer Pachad Yitzchak (Lapronti; Ma’arekhet Samekh 18a).

We added to these strictures (of the sanctions of Rabbenu Tam), that no gabbai[9] of any synagogue in the area where the husband resides be allowed to seat him in the synagogue,[10] or call him to the Torah, or ask after his welfare, or grant him any honor, and all people are to distance themselves from him as much as possible until his heart submits and he heeds to the voices of those instructing him that he grant his wife a divorce in accordance with the Law of Moses and Israel and thereby free her from her chains.

This decision was adopted unanimously with my friends and colleagues Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg and Rabbi Yitzchak Kolitz. And so it was done, at which time the husband submitted and granted his wife a divorce in accordance with the Law of Moses and Israel.[11]

One sees from this teshuva a basic point: Even in situations where a person may not be coerced into giving a get, the decision to banish the person from the community and engage in lawful protest over his conduct is not considered coercion since it does not use any coercive force at all, neither against his money nor his person.

III. When Is Coercion Illicit?

Second, it is important to reiterate the basic view of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein that there is no issue of “coerced divorce” (get me’useh) where it is clear that the husband actually wishes to end the marriage and be divorced and is contesting only the fiscal details of the divorce.[12] Similar sentiments are expressed by Rabbi Abraham Isaiah Karelitz when he states that even when there is illicit coercion, if the husband really does want to give the get and be divorced, the get is still valid, since the true desire of the husband is to be divorced.[13] This point appears to be agreed to, in modified form, by Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Herzog, who also states that coercion does not invalidate a get that is commanded even if it cannot be judicially compelled.[14] While it is true that Rabbi Feinstein is hesitant to rely on this rationale absent other lenient factors, it is clear that in cases where no real coercion is used – but only harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam – Rabbi Feinstein’s reasoning is fully applicable.

A close examination of Rabbi Feinstein’s responsum is in order. That responsum states:

There is another reason to validate the get [in a case of actual court-ordered financial coercion] even if there was coercion. You [the questioner] asked the husband if he would have divorced his wife anyway without the settlement after the secular divorce, and he answered that he would have, but he would have demanded certain arrangements concerning the children’s education; we see from this that he really wanted to be divorced, and only did not ask for certain things for the children because of the settlement, and gave the get immediately. In such a case, even if the settlement is coerced, or even actual force is used to write the get, we see that there is no coercion on the giving of the get, but only to prevent the get from being used to extract other things from her. . . . Every person desires to [support his wife]; however, one who does not wish for this woman to be his wife, or he knows that she will not reside with him in a marital relationship, such a person really does want to be divorced, and it is merely because she desires a get that he wishes to extract from her certain things . . . It is not good for a person to be legally married when one lacks any of the marital virtues from one’s wife.[15]

Rabbi Feinstein advances two very important insights.

The first is that in a situation where the marriage is actually over, there is no halakhic problem with using what would otherwise be illicit coercion to compel the giving of a get, even if no money is paid to the husband.

The second is that where payment is made by the wife to settle this matter and is combined with some coercion placed on the husband (but where the marriage is in fact over) that coercion does not violate Jewish law and void the get. In the eyes of Jewish law, the husband is issuing the get in return for the payment of money, since the marriage really is over and he derives no real benefit from continuing it.

The first insight, while by no means unique to Rabbi Feinstein, is found in only a small number of authorities.[16] However, the second insight is found in a large number of halakhic authorities of the last thousand years and is completely normative. Writing about a case where a husband received payment and was then coerced into writing the get, Rabbi Avraham Boorenstein in his Avnei Nezer states:

[Those who prohibit this type of coercion] are referring to a case where the husband wishes to live with this woman and represent her as his wife. In such a case halakhah never says because of the coercion and the money he divorced her [rather, the get is void because illicit force was used]. Certainly, even if one gave a man all the money in the world, he would not divorce his wife [with whom he is living]. But a man such as this who betrayed his wife, and abandoned her for many years, we certainly do say the coercion and the money persuaded him to sell the divorce to an even greater extent than it persuades one to sell a field, since this man does not desire his wife at all, and only desires leverage over her so that she cannot marry another without his permission, and he can get money from her for this. Certainly in such a case we say because of the money he divorced her. This is very logical.[17]

Included in the list of Jewish law decisors who accept this rule that payment of money with some coercion, in a case where the marriage is over (and in the case of some of the authorities, even if it is not) and the husband does not desire to return to the marital abode, produces a valid get are the above-mentioned Rabbi Boorenstein, Rabbi Samuel Ehrenfeld, R. Simeon bar Tzemach Duran Rabbi Abraham ibn Tawah, Rabbi Solomon ben Simeon Duran, Rabbi Yosef [Paimer] of Slutzk, Rabbi Moshe Zev Ya’avetz, Rabbi Solomon Kluger, and Rabbi David Tavli Rubin, as well as perhaps Rabbi Raphael Yom Tov Lipman Halpern. Similar but not identical analyses can be found in the works of Rabbi Solomon Zalman Lipshitz and Rabbi David Solomon Eibeschutz and is mentioned in the writings of Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor and Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Orenstein.[18] One can add to this list the above-mentioned decisors who accept an even broader rule.[19] Indeed, no less an authority than the Beit Shmuel[20] notes that there are many circumstances in which one can rely on this approach, even when only a small amount of money is given by the woman. Many other authorities could be cited to support this halakhic rule, and it appears to be accepted ab initio (le-khatchillah) by many.

Rabbi Tzvi Gartner, in his recent work Kefiya Be-Get, dealing with many aspects of coerced divorce, summarizes the matter by stating:

It appears that it is difficult to rely on the approach of Iggrot Moshe and Tiferet Tzvi in a case where the only benefit which accrues to the husband is removal of the obligation to support his wife, since this is a matter in dispute between Tosafot and Rashba. Nonetheless, their analysis is persuasive at the minimum in the case where the husband does not desire a marital relationship and only desires to extract something from the woman in exchange for a get, and she gives him money for the divorce.[21]

Indeed, a plausible reading of Rabbi Feinstein’s own words incline one to accept that his expressed hesitancy to rely on his “novel insight” applied only to the first of them, where there was no payment to the husband. The second insight is certainly accepted by many great authorities as normative Jewish law, and validates any get given in the process of a settlement where the wife gives anything of value to the husband to which he is not entitled. Nearly all contested secular divorces fit into this latter category.

IV. Conclusion

Based on these two rationales alone – and many other are also present – it is clear that the use of social pressure to encourage the giving of a get in a situation in which the couple has already separated, a secular divorce has been granted and the marriage is over for both of them – and even more so where a bet din has issued a seruv against the husband — never creates a situation of get meuseh.

Having said that, a word of caution is also needed and is important. Matters of this type – when to protest and how to protest – are complex matters of judgment and halakhah both as to what Jewish law permits to avoid problems of an invalid get and what is proper in any given setting (something can be wrong without creating an invalid get, for example). In areas like this, people should not act on their own and determine the halakhah based on their own sense, but ought to follow the rules of a respected bet din or halakhic authority.


[1] See Michael Broyde, Marriage, Divorce and the Abandoned Wife in Jewish Law: A Conceptual Understanding of the Agunah Problems in America for the book and “The New York State Get Law,” Tradition 29:(4)3-14 (1995) and “The 1992 New York Get Law: An Exchange” Tradition 31:(3)23-41 (1997), as well as letters to the editor in Tradition 32:(1)99-100 (1997) and Tradition 32:(3)91-97 (1998).

[2] R. Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, Edut le-Yisrael 143-144, reprinted in Kol Kitvei ha-Rav Henkin 1:115a-b. The term “sub-prohibition” is a translation of the Hebrew term “abizrayu.”

[3] The footnotes to this teshuva are merely background and were written by Michael Broyde. The paragraph divisions, except for the first, are not in the original Hebrew, but are added here for the aid of the reader.

[4] Ta’anat b’eyna hutra l’yada; see Yevamot 64a; Shulchan Arukh EH 154:6-7 and Arukh HaShulchan EH 154:52-53.

[5] The general application of social pressure on individuals who refuse to abide by the decision of a bet din is an integral component of halakhah. The imposition of social sanctions as a method of enforcing the ruling of a bet din is a recurring theme in the Shulchan Arukh (see for example Yoreh Deah 334:43 and Choshen Mishpat 1:5, 1:6, 2:1, 8:5, 11:1, 11:5 [Rema], 16:3, 18:3 and 100:3). The argument that halakhah no longer allows for such penalties, sometimes advanced by those unfamiliar with Jewish law, is unquestionably incorrect in light of these criteria. Moreover, the problem of igun (abandonment without divorce) in the Orthodox Jewish community requires the implementation of the rules for applying social pressure found in the Shulchan Arukh.

[6] Halakhah does not always permit placing a recalcitrant spouse in nidui (excommunication) absent a direct ruling by a bet din. If, in a particular instance, the halakhah does not permit the husband to be coerced to give his wife the get, then the husband may not be placed in nidui to induce him to give a get (Rema, Even HaEzer 154:21). Placing him in nidui would constitute improper coercion and impinge upon the validity of a get issued in the wake of such action. It should be noted, however, that placing in nidui one who refuses to appear in bet din is not intended to pressure this person to give or receive a get. It is intended mainly to pressure the recalcitrant party to appear in bet din.

Despite the significant limitation, Rema rules that bet din may order the community to refrain from extending any favors or engaging in business with the recalcitrant spouse. Bet din is also permitted to impose any other sanction of this sort (i.e., withholding favors from this person). As long as the bet din does not place the recalcitrant party in nidui, Rema rules these actions taken by bet din do not constitute coercion to participate in a get proceeding. These sanctions are often referred to as harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam.

[7] Pitchei Teshuva (Even HaEzer 154:30), cites Gevurat Anashim 72 (this work was written by Rabbi Shabtai ben Meir HaCohen, the author of the Shakh) who asserts that “today” the sanctions described by Rema are the equivalent of nidui and would constitute improper coercion to give or receive at get. It can be argued, however, that Gevurat Anashim‘s stringent ruling applies to an insular and thoroughly intertwined Jewish community, which was the norm in the pre-emancipation communities of Eastern Europe at that time. In such a community, withholding favors from an individual would have a devastating effect upon him. This result, it is claimed, is the equivalent of nidui. In the typical Orthodox community in America, where most people earn their living through economic interactions with the secular world, of course, withdrawing favors from an individual would not have nearly the same impact as it would in those communities. Hence, it appears reasonable to conclude that even the Shakh would rule that, in today’s circumstances, imposing harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam in America on a recalcitrant spouse would not constitute improper coercion to participate in a get proceeding.

Moreover, none of the commentaries on the Shulchan Arukh other than Pitchei Teshuva express dissent to Rema’s acceptance of harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam. In fact, Arukh Hashulchan (Even HaEzer 154:63), as well as other authorities (Maharam M’Lublin 1 and 39, Eliyahu Rabbah 1-3, Rav Betzalel Ashkenazi 6 and 10, Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Halevi Herzog, Techuka Liyisrael Al Pi Hatorah III:202 and 209) cite Rema’s ruling as normative. Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Dahan, director of the Rabbinical Courts in Israel, stated at the Zwillenberg International Conference for Dayanut (in New York on 6 Kislev 5753, December 1, 1992) that the practice of the Rabbinical Courts in Israel is to impose Harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam upon recalcitrant spouses upon whom halakhah does not permit coercion to be employed. Rabbi Dahan’s report is substantiated by Rabbi Chagai Izirar who writes (Birurim B’halakhot Haraayah [R. Kook] p.243) that the Harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam are accepted as the halakhic norm, and it is well known that Rabbinic Courts implement it”. Rabbi Izivar writes that Harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam may be utilized even in a case where a woman has unilaterally decided to end the marriage (to’enet maos alai), if she provides a reasonable basis (amatla mevureret) for her actions.

[8] It should be noted that the halakhah extends to a Rabbinic judge wide discretionary powers; see Ketubot 85a and 85b. While various authorities disagree whether and to what extent this privilege is applicable in every generation, it is important to quote here the remarks of Rambam cited by Shulchan Arukh that “if it appears to the bet Din that someone is stealing from his friend but the theft is not recoverable according to halakhah, the bet din is permitted to forbid the community to engage in business with the thief. If the offending party is a woman, the bet din may order that “no one should marry her or be involved in arranging a marriage for her until she returns the stolen money;” Rambam, Hilkhot Sanhedrin 24:1-2, Shulchan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat 15:5. Rema adds that even if a person cannot be punished by strict application of Torah law, bet din may instruct the community to withhold favors from someone who is behaving improperly. Accordingly, it would appear from this Rema that even if someone is not liable for the punishment of Harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam, bet din has the discretionary power to order the community to withhold favors from someone who is giving or receiving a get.

[9] It is clear that the community leaders must inform the members of the community of an individual’s placement in excommunication so that the community can properly adhere to the laws concerning excommunication. In fact, Rema (Yoreh Deah 334:1) notes that excommunication should be imposed even if the excommunicated individual will abandon the Torah lifestyle as a result. Apparently, the need to apply the punishment is sufficiently important to permit risking the spiritual loss of a community member.

[10] Shulchan Arukh (Yoreh Deah 334:43 and 44), provides an extensive list of people who should be ostracized from the community. Included in this list is one who has refused to abide by the decision of the bet din. Shulchan Arukh (Yoreh Deah 334:2) rules that one must greatly curtail social and economic relationships with someone who has been placed in an ostracized status. Rema (Yoreh Deah 334:2) records the practice of barring one placed in this status from entering a synagogue.

[11] According to this teshuva, even in a case where halakhah does not allow for coercion of a recalcitrant spouse, Harchkot d’Rabbenu Tam may be implemented. This includes the community implementing a ruling from a competent bet din that community members:
1) Will withhold any “favors”, large or small, from this individual;
2) Will not do business with the recalcitrant individual;
3) Will publicize the actions of the offending party and publicly proclaim him in violation of Torah ethics, based on the ruling in Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 154:21) that a recalcitrant spouse who may not be coerced may be referred to as a “sinner”.

[12] R. Moshe Feinstein, Iggrot Moshe, Even HaEzer 3:44. The rationale for his ruling is very simple. He argues that the prohibition of a compelled get is limited to situations where the compulsion is used to divorce a couple who actually wish to remain married. Compulsion in a case where divorce is truly desired does not create a get me’useh.

[13] R. Abraham Isaiah Karelitz, Chazon Ish, Even HaEzer 99:2.

[14] R. Yitzchak Isaac Herzog, Otzar ha-Poskim 2:11-12 (appendix) and Hekhal Yitzchak 2. The ruling that coercion does not invalidate a get when divorce is genuinely desired can perhaps be also explained by combining the rulings of Rabbis Henkin and Herzog discussed above. First, one must realize that there is an obligation to have a Jewish divorce once there is an irreconcilable separation and that this is commanded by Jewish law, as Rabbi Henkin states above. Second, Rabbi Herzog rules that coercion does not invalidate a Jewish divorce that is an obligation (mitzvah) even if not judicially mandated (kofin). Thus, since all cases where the husband genuinely desires divorce are irreconcilable separations, one comes to the conclusion that once there is a desire to end the marriage, and the only disagreement concerns terms, coercion does not invalidate the get, since the get is obligatory.

[15] R. Moshe Feinstein, Iggrot Moshe, Even HaEzer 3:44.

[16] See R. Tzvi Hirsch Brody, Tiferet Tzvi, Even HaEzer 102; R. Meir Eisenstadt, Imrai Aish, Even HaEzer 57; R. Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, Or Sameach on Rambam, Gerushin 2:20; Vayishal Shaul, Even HaEzer 2:20; and R. Isaac ben Moshe, Or Zarua, Teshuvah 126.

[17] R. Avraham Boorenstein, Avnei Nezer, Even HaEzer 167.

[18] R. Avraham Boorenstein, Avnei Nezer, Even HaEzer 167; R. Samuel Ehrenfeld, Chatan Sofer 59; R. Simeon bar Tzemach Duran, Tashbetz 1:1; R. Abraham ibn Tawah, Tashbetz (Chut ha-Meshulash) 4(iii):35; R. Solomon ben Simeon Duran, Responsa of Rashbash 339 (argues with Rema, Even HaEzer 134:8); Rabbenu Yosef of Slutzk 79; R. Moshe Zev Ya’avetz, Agudat Eizov, Even HaEzer 19(18); R. Solomon Kluger, Kuntres Tikun Olam, Tikun 3, Teshuvah 1:1 and R. David Tavli Rubin, Nachlat David 34, as well as perhaps R. Raphael Yom Tov Lipman Halpern, Shut Oneg Yom Tov 168. Similar but not identical analyses can be found in R. Solomon Zalman Lipshitz, Chemdat Shlomo, Even HaEzer 80(3) and R. David Solomon Eibeschutz, Naot Deshe 144 and is mentioned in R. Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor, Be’er Yitzchak, Even HaEzer 10:1 and R. Tzvi Hirsch Orenstein, Birkat Retzeh 118.

[19] The first, more expansive insight of Rabbi Feinstein and others above.

[20] R. Shmuel ben Uri, Beit Shmuel, Even HaEzer 134:14.

[21] R. Tzvi Gartner, Kefiya Be-Get, at 244.

About Michael Broyde

160 comments

  1. R. Michael Broyde’s response to this critique, artificially moved to the top of the comments:

    Dear Gil,

    Thank you for sending me Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn’s reply to my blog post. Putting aside its nasty tone (which makes me very sad and does not bode well for our community if polite discourse is not possible), his article makes a number of claims that are not supported; three are very important to note.

    First he tries to limit the reasoning of the teshuva of Rav Ovadya Yosef (cosigned by the Tzitz Eliezer and Rav Kolitz) to a case where the couple could not have children. But this is a misread of the teshuva. The basic holding of the teshuva is that Harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam are not considered coercion and may be used in any case in which any bet din thinks a get should be given without fear of creating a get meuseh. That is because Harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam are not considered sufficiently forceful to be coercion as a matter of halakhah and for no other reason. (That does not mean that there use in every case is proper as a matter of halakhah, but merely that the get that results is not invalid.)

    His second claim is that Harchakot D’Rabbenu Tam are now worse than before, as one cannot flee from city to city as the Gra notes. This issue is dealt with in notes 7 and 8 of my article, and I think his analysis is wrong in America. I wrote there that:

    It can be argued, however, that Gevurat Anashim‘s stringent ruling applies to an insular and thoroughly intertwined Jewish community, which was the norm in the pre-emancipation communities of Eastern Europe at that time. In such a community, withholding favors from an individual would have a devastating effect upon him. This result, it is claimed, is the equivalent of nidui. In the typical Orthodox community in America, where most people earn their living through economic interactions with the secular world, of course, withdrawing favors from an individual would not have nearly the same impact as it would in those communities. Hence, it appears reasonable to conclude that even the Shakh would rule that, in today’s circumstances, imposing harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam in America on a recalcitrant spouse would not constitute improper coercion to participate in a get proceeding.

    I think that my analysis is much more reflective of the reality of life in America. We are dealing with something far less coercive nowadays than in the times of the Shakh.

    His third claim is that I have misunderstood Rav Moshe. I think my claim is completely correct in Rav Moshe’s name. Rav Moshe’s view is that he has a sevarah gedolah which he thinks is correct (and which one can rely on halakhah le-ma’aseh with one other rationale present) which argues that there is no illicit coercion ever as a matter of halakhah when the husband and the wife actually want to get divorced and are fighting over the details. Harchakot D’Rabbenu Tam are such a case and this is consistent with IM EH 1:137. The application to our matter is clear and obvious.

    It makes me very sad that a person who seems to be such a torah scholar would write in such a difficult and unpleasant tone.

    Michael Broyde

  2. Gil, Thank you for posting this. Rabbi Broyde remains one of the best writers in our community, I think. His posts are clear, his thought process impressive and the range of the sources he quotes is very broad. One gets the sense that he is really a first class mind.

  3. Since this post is a thinly-veiled commentary on the Friedman-Epstein case, I think R. Broyde over-reads R. Moshe. As we know, stating that a “marriage is over” does not merely mean that there is no romantic or intimate relationship between the couple, but that all aspects of the marriage – house, car, finances, kids, etc. – have been dissolved to the satisfaction of both parties. If such a resolution is in place, but one party withholds divorce to extract something EXTERNAL to the marriage – usually money, but it could be something else, such as insisting on a certain type of education for the kids that alters the status quo – then R. Broyde’s analysis applies.

    When it comes to child custody, however, this does not apply. The status quo of the marriage is that both parents live under the same roof as the kids. Dissolving that means that one party must perforce GIVE UP something that he or she (let’s be honest – he) had in the marriage. Until an custody arrangement is reached in which the father is able to cultivate a relationship with his kids to a degree that approximates what he was able to do while living under the same roof as them, THE MARRIAGE IS SIMPLY NOT OVER as this aspect of marital life has not been dissolved in a satisfactory manner. In such a case, the husband is not withholding a get in order to EXTRACT something from his wife, but to prevent her from implementing a one-sided divorce arrangement.

  4. Elli: I don’t see how you can possibly read that into R. Moshe’s words: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=919&st=&pgnum=485

    Nor do I see how that is logical. A father will continue to be part of his children’s lives forever. Does that mean that the marriage is never over?

    Regardless, R. Moshe doesn’t use that language. He says that if the father would give the get anyway but would demand other concessions — specifically regarding schooling in that case — then he is not considered coerced. That is precisely the situation we see with Friedman.

  5. If we’re linking, then we should also include R. YG Bechhoffer’s mecha’ah to Dr. Eidensohn’s misguided crusade against decency: http://rygb.blogspot.com/2012/04/mechooh.html

    For crying out loud, every case requires a certain amount of judgment. In this case, it started with R. Shmuel Kamenetsky’s personal psak, continued with R. Hershel Schachter’s and R. Yitzchok Breitowitz’s agreement and now two batei din have paskened that Friedman must give a get and protests are justified. What else is she supposed to do? Every respectable talmid chakham who has tried to mediate has concluded Friedman must give a get. How much more respectable judgment can be brought to bear on this subject? Do we really need a Sanhedrin before we can utilize non-physical coercion? And in this case we haven’t even reached the level of Harchakos D’Rabbenu Tam, which are regularly utilized in Israel! The Aruch Ha-Shulchan writes explicitly that we can even literally physically coerce a man’s relatives and that is not considered any coercion whatsoever on the man himself, yet Dr. Eidensohn sides with such luminaries as R. Yehuda Levin in objecting to street protests in front of Friedman’s uncle’s house. The whole thing is ridiculous. If not for US laws, we would be justified in dragging the uncle into the street and beating him up and that would not invalidate the get (not that i am suggesting such tactics, just explaining the justification for street protests). Second-rate talmidei chakhamim with no communal responsibilities need to get out of the way and allow our community to function.

  6. 1. R. Moshe’s addresses cases where the husband is using the get as a bargaining chip to gain concessions from his wife (money or education). The responsum does not specify whether the educational concessions were to maintain or change the status quo, but I would argue that it is more legit to use it as a security to maintain the status quo than to change it. For example, if the kid was in a Jewish school, and the wife, who has primary custody, switches the kid to a non-Jewish school, the husband has a stronger case to use the get as a bargaining chip to put the kid back into a Jewish school. Since the responsum does not specify, the burden of proof that his chiddush would apply even to maintain status quo lies with R. Broyde. Thus, I contend, he is over-reading.

    2. With regard to the second question, it does not mean that the marriage is over, only that it is not over until everything that was once under the rubric of responsibility of the marriage as a whole is divided within the framework of a mutually agreed-upon settlement – a joint custody arrangement not excepted.

    3. The broader issue is that even if such a get would not be considered me’useh, it does not mean that he has to give a get. Based on R. Moshe’s psak, any time there is already a civil divorce that both parties have consented to, or a settlement signed by both, there can be no get me’useh, because the husband has already shown that he no longer wants to live with her. That’s a radical chiddush that goes far, far beyond merely the Epstein-Friedman case. It is an even bigger chiddush to apply R. Moshe’s ruling to a no-fault divorce regime (in 1965 – when the responsum was written – neither the US [where R. Moshe was] nor Australia [where his correspondent was] had no-fault), since under such a regime divorce implies neither the consent nor the fault of the non-initiating party.

  7. R Broyde’s article is must reading on this issue. How R Eidensohn could claim that the wife in question is attempting to use social pressure to force her recalicitrant and unwilling husband to willingly give a get without discussing the use of Rabbeinu Tam’s means of coercion IMO represents a gross misreading of the sources.

  8. It doesn’t have to be the exact same case because R. Moshe gave us his rationale: if the husband agrees that the marriage is over and is just negotiating terms then there is no issue of coercion because he really wants to give the get. That is all we are trying to take from R. Moshe and it is entirely applicable to Friedman. Is it a huge chiddush? Maybe, but Rav Henkin agreed with it. I’ll quote his full text in a future comment shortly.

    Again, saying that the marriage isn’t over even though they have been living apart for years, are civilly divorced and are only negotiating on final terms for the get is, in my opinion, not just splitting hairs to the detriment of real people but confusing basic issues. On one level, the marriage cannot possibly be over — by definition — until the get is given. On another level, the marriage is never over if there are children involved, even after both remarry. But we aren’t speaking here on either level. We are talking about the relationship and the desire to remain married. That is over.

  9. R. Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, cited by R. Broyde at the beginning:
    ואם הבעל פורש מאשתו ואין חפץ בה וכן אם אינו יכול לזון ולפרנס והיא תובעת ממנו גט בכה״ג הוי הגירושין מצוה וחיוב מה״ת. וזהו פשטא דקרא ״וכתב לה ספר כריתות״ שהוא מחוייב בזה… ואפילו אם האשה ממאנת בבעל אם השתדלו לעשות שלום ולא הועיל ועברו יב״ח מצוה עליו לגרשה (דאין בנות ישראל כשבויות להבעל לשנוא להן – רמב״ם) ובדור הזה ובמדינה זאת גורם מניעת הגירושין לג״ע ח״ו.

  10. R Gil’s 7:48 AM post sums up my views 100% on this issue. How can someone whose blog is ironically called Daas Torah claim that he and R Yehudah Levin have more Halachic expertise than RSK, RHS and R Y Breitowitz? Cases of this nature illustrate to employ all halachically permissible means of social protest that will lead, sooner or later, to the husband wilfully giving a get.

    Unfortunately, this entire affair reminds me of a story that RHS related in the course of of a Kinnus Teshuvah about 30 years ago. In discussing the Mishnah in Avos that comments on HaKinah vHaTaaavah vHaKavod-RHS mentioned that he knew of someone from a prominent family who was sitting in jail in Israel because he did not want to give his then wife a get because of considerations of “Kavod” for his family RHS emotionally lashed out the misplaced consideration of Kavod.

  11. Obviously-this case involves what is R”L is a “dead marriage”, and the sole issues revolve around $. How R Eidenson and R Y Levin can scream that the same even remotely touches upon Get Meusah. One can only conclude from the website that R Joel linked us to that this is another example of a Charedi rav who doesn’t know to make Havdalah between effort supported and encouraged by Gdolei Torah and feminists.

  12. Incredibly, R’ Dovid Eidensohn (the blog owner’s brother) has gone so far (in the comments on the bog) to suggest that the Modern Orthodox just live together without getting married, since if they get married halachically and there ends up being an arguably forced get because of ORA-style pressure, mamzerim are created.

    A few issues brought up on the Daas Torah blog, in case anyone wants to respond to them. This is an incomplete list, and I’m not saying I think any of these issues are valid. If you peruse the blog you’ll see there are many more concerns aired, sometimes informally and sometimes by posting teshuvot (including one by R’ Elyashiv):

    1) If a spouse takes the children and refuses to let the other spouse see them, or see them enough, is that an acceptable reason to withhold a get? For how long?
    2) In making giving a get a man’s decision, and allowing force only in limited circumstances, did the Torah set up a system of gender inequality which we should not change by making things more equal (ie, so a woman can demand a get)?
    3) In the Friedman/Epstein case, they note that no Beit Din has actually commmanded Friedman to give the get (though the seruv suggests he is obligated to without actually ordering him to), and that no Beit Din has heard both sides of the case. Is this improper?
    4) There is the issue of secular courts. According to one psak by R’ Sternbuch, if a woman has gone to secular court and obtains a higher financial judgment that would be allowable under Jewish law, the man is forbidden to give the get and must instead deposit it with a Beit Din until she has the judgment cancelled. Are there ever any problems with involving secular courts, from a Modern Orthodox perspective?
    5) Is the kind of public pressure ORA applies to get refusers “public humiliation” that itself is violating a mitzvah (against publicly shaming others) and leads to an invalid get?
    6) Does it matter what the agunah’s reasons are in leaving him? What if she refuses to say? Are we unable to apply public pressure unless there is a good enough reason?

  13. 1) & 2) Irrelevant. Leave it to poskim and batei din to determine.
    3) Not true. The seruv of the Agudas HaRabonim states that he is obligated to give a divorce. See also the quote from Rav Henkin above. And here is what the Vaad of Baltimore wrote publicly: “We call upon Mr. Aharon Friedman to give his wife a get as quickly as possible.” Additionally, these are only in public documents. Who’s to say there aren’t private documents, as well?
    4) R. Moshe Feinstein’s teshuvah specifically addressed such a case and he paskened that the get is valid.
    5) No, the public pressure is a mitzvah and does not invalidate the get. The Agudas HaRabonim beis din encouraged it!
    6) Initially it does matter. But after 12 months it no longer matters, as Rav Henkin quoted from the Rambam: women are not their husbands’ captives. And if the husband no longer wishes to be married either, we’re in an entirely different territory.

  14. From the seruv of the beis din of the Agudas HaRabonim (which is addressed to the public):
    חובה מוטלת ולמצוה גדולה תחשב על כל מי שיש בידו להשפיע עליו לשחרר את אשתו מכבלי העיגון ורשות נתונה לה לנקוט בכל הצעדים הדרושים והנחוצים להציל את עצמה מכבלי עיגונה.
    Any person who has the ability or opportunity to influence him to free Tamar Epstein from the chains of her agunah status is obligated to do so and doing so will indeed be the fulfillment of a great mitzvah. Tamar Epstein is hereby granted permission to take whatever steps are necessary to extricate herself from the chains of this agunah status.

  15. All of this brings me back to the question of why men refuse to give gets. Is it truly because they are all abusive or extortionist, or is it because of a woman initiating a divorce against his will (at least in some of the cases)?

    I bring this up because ~70% of divorces in the US are initiated (often unilaterally) by women. I wonder if we have similar stats.

  16. Gil if I comment on this matter would you actually post my comment this time? Last time, you just froze it in place for a day until it could never be read.

  17. Since R’ Broyde is obviously really talking about the Friedman-Epstein matter, I don’t understand why he didn’t address what is actually going on (which is a dispute over custody and not money, the husband remains in the marital abode and where there is more then “protest” going on: ORA is trying to get Friedman fired from his job and (according to the Forward) trying to keep him away from his child. Both of those are not typically covered by the word “protest.” Now those may be permissible or preferable acts halachically… but R’ Broyde could have covered those last few points.

  18. HAGTBG: You are only confusing the issues by focusing on details and forcing people to discuss the minor issues. R. Broyde does not need to discuss those points at all because the seruv by the Agudas Harabonim beis din permits them all. R. Broyde covered a very specific and limited topic, as I asked him to.

  19. Gil, your summation of the history exactly demonstrates part of whats wrong with this whole process. First off, I say here as a I say before, that Aharon Friedman should give Tamar Epstein a get now. Tamar should also start now taking seriously Friedman’s role as a father to their daughter. Both of them should start thinking objectively how their daughter would be better off with happy parents who have access to their child. However, back on point, R’ Kaminetsky is a friend of the Epstein family (performed the wedding of Friedman and Epstein), was a dayan on the one beit din that issued a seruv on the matter and R’ H Schechter explicitly wrote that he followed R’ Kaminestsky’s psak absent manifest error. R’ Kaminetsky should never have been relied on by ORA here because of his relationship to one side, much less sat on a beit din.

    We don’t live in some shtetl where R’ Kaminetsky’s relationship with one side should have been overlooked because everyone had a relationship with everyone. They could have at least gotten other more neutral rabbis to sit on the court. The results might have been the same but at least the matter wouldn’t look like it was dealt with by a kangaroo court.

  20. “First off, I say here as a I say before, that Aharon Friedman should give Tamar Epstein a get now. Tamar should also start now taking seriously Friedman’s role as a father to their daughter”

    I should win a million dollars at the lottery without a ticket.

  21. Gil, I apologize for focusing on details. But Gil, why rely on the seruv of which R’ Kaminesky was a judge instead of R’ Kaminetsky’s original psak which permits harrassing anyone who knows Aharon Friedman? As you wrote above, its permissible to harrass them in your eyes as well.

  22. I should win a million dollars at the lottery without a ticket.

    I just tried for 600 million myself.

  23. 5) No, the public pressure is a mitzvah and does not invalidate the get. The Agudas HaRabonim beis din encouraged it!

    If the MO started following everything that beit din said there would be no MO.

  24. HAGTBG: However, back on point, R’ Kaminetsky is a friend of the Epstein family (performed the wedding of Friedman and Epstein), was a dayan on the one beit din that issued a seruv on the matter and R’ H Schechter explicitly wrote that he followed R’ Kaminestsky’s psak absent manifest error. R’ Kaminetsky should never have been relied on by ORA here because of his relationship to one side, much less sat on a beit din.

    You are wrong that R. Kamenetsky is inherently incapable of paskening on this impartially. It’s a common issue that arises and he issued a standard pesak after following the standard protocol. You are also wrong that this all falls on R. Kamenetsky’s shoulders. Plenty of major talmidei chakhamim have spent enormous amounts of time on this. Rav Schachter had his own people spend hundreds of hours with Tamar and Aharon. Rav Belsky personally spent hours with Aharon. And so did many others, some not even known to the public. Every single one agrees that Aharon is obligated to give his wife a get.

    Note that this ruling is not dependent on Tamar’s being a tzadeikes. Whether she is acting correctly or not is entirely irrelevant. The psak is that Aharon must give her a get and that she and everyone else has the right to pressure him to do so.

    They could have at least gotten other more neutral rabbis to sit on the court.

    That is precisely what Rav Belsky did!!!

  25. HAGTBG: If the MO started following everything that beit din said there would be no MO

    That is irrelevant. It is an independent beis din that went into the matter suspicious of Rav Schachter’s approach. Rav Belsky expected to mediate the whole issue and show that Rav Schachter was wrong. But he concluded that Rav Schachter and Rav Kamenetsky were right.

  26. Is the fact that Rav Belsky went into this expecting to find Rav Schachter wrong indicative of a general difference in approach towards these issues or is it merely related to the specifics of this case?

  27. J: It’s a personality thing. They tend to disagree on almost all issues, which makes their paskening on kashrus for the OU quite interesting.

  28. You are wrong that R. Kamenetsky is inherently incapable of paskening on this impartially.

    I will not speculate into anyone’s psychology. I simply note it is bad form, many others in that position could be swayed unduly and the presence of someone with that kind of relationship to one side exclusively does not create trust.

    It’s a common issue that arises and he issued a standard pesak after following the standard protocol.

    What standard protocols are you referring to? I submit there were none. In fact, I submit this is a rather unusual case… for one thing, a beit din heard the matter but failed to issue a psak and did not require the husband to give a get.

    That is precisely what Rav Belsky did!!!

    What did he do? R’ Kaminetsky was on the court. I personally don’t think R’ Belsky should have been on the court either but that’s tiny compared to the fact that R’ Kaminetsky was on the court.

    Note that this ruling is not dependent on Tamar’s being a tzadeikes.

    No, it comes down to the halachic community having halachic language and organizations for sympathy for one side’s cruel treatment by the other, while lacking that for the cruel treatment experienced by the other.

    But, in truth, I have no idea why its moral to, say, harass relatives of a person X so that person X will do Y. The implication of course is that we can harass those relatives regardless of those relatives actual positions. And even more do I think it an outrage to say its a mitzva to do so based on the ruling of a court tied even somewhat to the other side, let alone an individual psak by the same.

  29. That is irrelevant. It is an independent beis din that went into the matter suspicious of Rav Schachter’s approach. Rav Belsky expected to mediate the whole issue and show that Rav Schachter was wrong. But he concluded that Rav Schachter and Rav Kamenetsky were right.

    What are you taking about? The beit din did not get involved until nine months after R’ Belsky attempted mediation. How does approaching R’ Belsky in his personal capacity as a mediator mean the UO was authorized to eb the dayan?

    If you are saying that R’ Belsky concluded R HS and R SK were right before he even sat on the court, that would not be saying good things about the neutrality of the court; not that they ever heard a case.

  30. R Gil-Your comments re R Belsky and RHS’ approaches illustrate what any Bar Bei Rav DChad Yoma could attest to-there are numerous instances in Shas where the Talmud tells us that even “Rava and Abayee agree” , who or “Beis Hillel and Beis Shanmai”, who generally disagree across the board on almost every issue, are in agreement on this case.

  31. Inquiring Minds

    “First off, I say here as a I say before, that Aharon Friedman should give Tamar Epstein a get now. Tamar should also start now taking seriously Friedman’s role as a father to their daughter”

    I should win a million dollars at the lottery without a ticket.

    Please. The beis din, AFAIK, did not pasken that one can coerce a get, they merely paskened that it is a mitzvah to do so (as is the case in the vast majority of cases, including the psak of R. Ovadiah Yosef which R. Broyde quotes).

    So that means that Friedman is being pressured to perform a mitzvah. Now to paraphrase the haggadah, Mah nishtanah ha mitzvah ha zos mi kol ha mitzvos? Well, yes, his failure to do the mitzvah is having a negative effect on someone else, his wife, it’s not purely bein adam la makom.

    How about poisoning you children’s mind against their father, thereby being machshil them in a deoraysa of kibud and yiras av? And withholding child visitation, thereby denying the father the right and obligation to mechanech his children? All of which is alleged by the other side.

    That is what inquiring minds want to know — why is the husband’s undoubted failure to grant a get the subject of public protest, but her (alleged) failure to treat him with proper respect and not interfere with the Biblical requirment of her children respecting him given the same weight?

  32. HAGTBG: I simply note it is bad form

    Even if true, it is irrelevant to our discussion. Everyone agrees that his conclusion was correct.

    What standard protocols are you referring to?

    He had his people talk to both sides and concluded very simply that Aharon would not cooperate.

    What did he do? R’ Kaminetsky was on the court

    Rav Belsky did his own investigation of the facts. R. Kamenetsky was included as a signator as a courtesy. The Agudas HaRabonim beis din was all Rav Belsky’s doing.

    No, it comes down to the halachic community having halachic language and organizations for sympathy for one side’s cruel treatment by the other, while lacking that for the cruel treatment experienced by the other.

    That is totally irrelevant. Even if Tamar was a witch, at this point Aharon would still be obligated to give her a get.

    But, in truth, I have no idea why its moral to, say, harass relatives of a person X so that person X will do Y. The implication of course is that we can harass those relatives regardless of those relatives actual positions.

    Yes, we may pressure them to pressure him. If they have no influence, then we may not.

    The beit din did not get involved until nine months after R’ Belsky attempted mediation. How does approaching R’ Belsky in his personal capacity as a mediator mean the UO was authorized to eb the dayan?

    You’re throwing in irrelevant details to confuse the situation. Are you saying that the batei din reached an incorrect conclusion? I don’t think you are. You are just trying to shed doubt on the process because Aharon is your friend. Yet you know the batei din are right.

  33. How R Eidensohn can purport to offer a Halachic analysis of the issues without considering, even in passing, the words of R Henkin and RM Zicronam Livracha boggles my mind. What a crude inability to make Havdalah between the goals of feminist rooted organizations and ORA.

  34. Inquiring Minds: How about poisoning you children’s mind against their father, thereby being machshil them in a deoraysa of kibud and yiras av? And withholding child visitation, thereby denying the father the right and obligation to mechanech his children? All of which is alleged by the other side.

    Those allegations are very common in divorces. Do you think that when the Israeli Rabbanut withholds a recalcitrant husband’s passport or throws him in jail, the wife is doing nothing wrong and is speaking badly about her husband to their children? That is entirely unrelated to the issue of giving the get. Why is that mitzvah being emphasized more than others? Because it is a real communal problem that only batei din can fix. And this is how they fix it.

  35. FWIW, if one looks at R Eidensohn’s own linked websites, he has a standard quote from REW advising talmidim in pre WW2 Europe to stay in Europe rather than to accept visas and be Marbietzei Torah at YU and HTC-and indicates that he sees nothing that would disprove of REW’s comments!

  36. Inquiring Minds

    Those allegations are very common in divorces. Do you think that when the Israeli Rabbanut withholds a recalcitrant husband’s passport or throws him in jail, the wife is doing nothing wrong and is speaking badly about her husband to their children? That is entirely unrelated to the issue of giving the get. Why is that mitzvah being emphasized more than others? Because it is a real communal problem that only batei din can fix. And this is how they fix it.

    So let’s summarize: Man withholds get from wife, major communal problem. Harrass the man’s relative.

    Wife poisons children’s mind, is machshil them on several deoraysas. Not our problem. So sorry. Nothing we can do.

    And why is one a communal problem and not the other, that is never explained.

    And, sorry, I take issue with your statment that the one is “entirely unrelated” to the other. In both cases, one party is abusing the other and is violating the Torah (or causing others to) in intra-familial relationships. The notion that one is everybody’s business and the other isn’t is outrageous, and, not uncoincidentally, gives extra unwarranted power to one side than the other. It’s one thing to say that our batei din in America are powerless to intervene. It’s quite another to say that we are only powerful to intervene to correct one side of a problem but not the other.

    BTW, what does this “harrassment” of the husband’s relatives consist of? I hope those advocating it have consulted a lawyer, because they might well find themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit or even criminal charges.

  37. Perhaps if he wasn’t illegitimately witholding a get from her, she’d have less cause to impart her negative sentiments to the child.

  38. Wife poisons children’s mind, is machshil them on several deoraysas. Not our problem. So sorry. Nothing we can do.

    This is very difficult to determine in terms of facts and the resolution is not easy either. In terms of a get, it’s very simple to determine the facts and the resolution is simple — give it.

    And why is one a communal problem and not the other, that is never explained.

    What do you mean it’s never explained? Just above I quote Rav Henkin explaining it — failing to solve this problem leads to giluiy arayos. That’s no small concern!

    And, sorry, I take issue with your statment that the one is “entirely unrelated” to the other

    You are right. They are clearly related to a degree. But we are not trying to resolve every problem in the family in one fell swoop. Who’s to say that he isn’t guilty of other things, as well? But gittin and kiddushin are matters of communal control.

    BTW, what does this “harrassment” of the husband’s relatives consist of?

    Protesting in front of their homes. Haven’t you seen the videos? I’ve taken part in some of these protests.

  39. In the small town where I resided until my marriage, we had an Orthodox shul with a RIETS musmach , who was my first real rebbe and a few Orthodoz families. One of these families sent a son to a prominent Brooklyn yeshiva.

    When he returned periodically either for Shabbos or the Moadim, he had a nasty fetish of walking out on the rav’s drashos, and especially when RYBS’s name was invoked therein. Many years later,but well within this decade, I learned that this individual had married , but then refused to give his wife a get. I then saw the same person one night at our shul, and I informed the powers to be that IMO, he should not be accorded any Kibbudim afforded any guests in our shul, and that if they had any issues, they should speak to our rav,who then could talk to me at our mutual convenience. I never received any further contact, but I never heard or saw the person ever receive a kibud in our shul.

    Many years ago, a relative of a prominent speaker in the Torah world was accused in Canada of some very serious abuse related allegations, which ultimately led to his resignation from the RCA and the Queens Vaad. Prior to those facts, I had heard that he was offering shiurim to high school and post seminary students. We strongly recommended to our daughters that they not attend his shiurim, and I quietly and successfully opposed his being given a venue in our shul. If one tries, one can prevent Chillul HaShem from manifesting itself, even by someone who is presumed to know more than you.

  40. If you see someone beating someone else up in a field you go and break it up and assume the person doing the beating was the aggressor. That may not be right, but that’s the general default. If you see two people fighting each other, you have a different default view of the situation and you try to break things up.

    People here are saying the situation is like A, with Friedman withholding the get and Epstein essentially powerless. But the situation is really more like B with Friedman withholding the get and Epstein (long before that even) proper access to the daughter.

    So yes, Aharon is my friend and yes I believe he is wrong but when Ora and the community takes part in a one-sided lets-ruin-someones- life-so-theyll-perform-a-mitzva, it offends me … particularly when the ways and means are, as you seem to place it, more interested in making sure every rabbi gets his proper kavod of being listed on the seruv instead of having a neutral case-worthy court.

  41. r’ gil,

    You seem to have access to information not known to the general public regarding the interaction between the rabbanim on the BD as well as other attempts at mediation. Are you involved in this matter?

  42. Everyone agrees that his conclusion was correct.

    Everyone thinks that four years after they stopped living together it would be best that a get is given is not a big deduction. That Ora was harassing people without any beit din backing… that on the other hand, was.

  43. HAGBTG: I agree that people should not be holding Tamar up as a tzadeikes. That is not the issue and should not be. The issue is that Aharon needs to give Tamar a get. Simple as that. And the minute he does, the pressure will be off.

    So yes, Aharon is my friend and yes I believe he is wrong but when Ora and the community takes part in a one-sided lets-ruin-someones- life-so-theyll-perform-a-mitzva, it offends me …

    That is the nature of the pressure and, absent a prenup, that is the only tool available once negotiations and mediation fail, which they did long ago.

    Everyone thinks that four years after they stopped living together it would be best that a get is given is not a big deduction. That Ora was harassing people without any beit din backing… that on the other hand, was.

    They had Rav Schachter’s backing, which is all they claimed and all their charter requires.

  44. BTW, what does this “harrassment” of the husband’s relatives consist of?

    Protesting in front of their homes. Haven’t you seen the videos? I’ve taken part in some of these protests.

    It involves more then that too. It involves calling them up and harassing them for still assisting Aharon in seeing his daughter. http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/152345/congressman-pressed-on-agunah-issue/ It involves threatening their livelihoods as well.

  45. James: Involved? No, not at all. But I’ve spoken with many people about this over the past year or two. And I’ve refrained from posting about it despite requests. I only solicited this post from R. Broyde because of Dr. Eidensohn’s offensive attacks on Rav Schachter.

  46. That is what inquiring minds want to know — why is the husband’s undoubted failure to grant a get the subject of public protest, but her (alleged) failure to treat him with proper respect and not interfere with the Biblical requirment of her children respecting him given the same weight?

    It’s a PR thing. The rules of gittin can easily taken to mean that the Torah is patriarchal and sexist, and we want to avoid that image at all costs. If the wife causes an equal amount of harm to the husband, it does not affect the image of Judaism as a whole, so we care less.

  47. HAGTBG: It involves more then that too. It involves calling them up and harassing them for still assisting Aharon in seeing his daughter. http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/152345/congressman-pressed-on-agunah-issue/ It involves threatening their livelihoods as well.

    They are only allowed to do what is legal. Nothing more than that. I’m not a lawyer so I can’t speak to details on what types of harrassment are legal and what types are not.

    I’m in favor of threatening his livelihood — in a legal manner. That is pressure that often works. He can easily resolve this entire matter and remove all forms of pressure and humiliation by giving a get.

  48. I agree that people should not be holding Tamar up as a tzadeikes. That is not the issue and should not be. The issue is that Aharon needs to give Tamar a get. Simple as that. And the minute he does, the pressure will be off.

    I agree that people should not be holding the Palestinians up as a tzaddikim. That is not the issue and should not be. The issue is that Israel needs to end its occupation of Palestinian land. Simple as that. And the minute it does, the pressure will be off.

  49. I’m in favor of BDS — in a legal manner.

  50. Shlomo: False analogy. A beis din has stated that Aharon needs to give Tamar a get and pressuring him is a mitzvah. No beis din has stated that Israel must remit so-called Palestinian land.

  51. “I only solicited this post from R. Broyde because of Dr. Eidensohn’s offensive attacks on Rav Schachter.”

    What’s this? Eidensohn also is defrocked?

  52. What do you mean defrocked? Everyone calls him Dr. Daniel Eidensohn. He’s a psychologist. His brother is the “professional” rabbi, R. Dovid Eidensohn.

  53. Inquiring Minds

    It’s a PR thing.

    As my rebbe said over 25 years ago, PR is a cheftzah of sheker.

  54. I would argue that he far more known as an independent talmid chochom, and thus by the title rabbi, than doctor. Google paskens less than 200 results for “Dr. Daniel Eidensohn” but more than 20,000 for “Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn.”

    Still, I’ll take your word for it that it is not what you intended.

  55. Inquiring Minds: Take a look at Rav Henkin’s words. Are you prepared to call his words a cheftzah of sheker?

    Anonymous: I’ve been calling him Dr. Eidensohn for as long as I’ve known him, which is probably 5+ years. For example, in these two posts from 2007 and 2008:
    https://www.torahmusings.com/2008/12/ethical-dilemmas-in-blogging/
    https://www.torahmusings.com/2007/12/more-conversion-developments-ii/

  56. Inquiring Minds

    You are right. They are clearly related to a degree. But we are not trying to resolve every problem in the family in one fell swoop. Who’s to say that he isn’t guilty of other things, as well? But gittin and kiddushin are matters of communal control.

    So now the matters have gone from “entirely unrelated” to “related to a degree.” If you think some more, you will see that they are in fact very related — they are both the products of the breakdown of a marriage, and both sides abusing that relationship in violation of the Torah.

    The Torah requires a beis din to judge disputes — u’shefatetem bein ish ubein achiv ubein geiro.” As I said, it is one thing for a beis din to say it is powerless to get involved in one type of dispute (e.g. marital disputes). It is quite another for a beis din to say, yes, we can get involved, but only in problems raised by one side, the other side’s problems are simply not cognizable in our beis din.

    That leads to abuse of the beis din and rank injustice.

    What do you mean it’s never explained? Just above I quote Rav Henkin explaining it — failing to solve this problem leads to giluiy arayos. That’s no small concern!

    That’s no answer. First of all, it only leads to a possibility of gilui arayos. AFAIK, Mrs. Friedman is not in any danger of engaging in adultery. And, more importantly, kibud and yiras av, are also deoraysas and are fundamental to Jewish society, acc. to Chazal weighed as much as kavod shomayim. Where do you see Rav Henkin, or anyone else, saying one is a communal problem and one isn’t?

    I’m not belittling the problems and indeed sin of failing to give a get where required. I AM saying that intervening only in favor of one side of a dispute is an Ivus ha Din.

  57. Inquiring Minds

    Inquiring Minds: Take a look at Rav Henkin’s words. Are you prepared to call his words a cheftzah of sheker?

    How utterly contemptible. Look at what Shlomo and I wrote, and you will see that the comments are directed at something other than what R. Henkin wrote.

  58. Inquiring Minds:So now the matters have gone from “entirely unrelated” to “related to a degree.”

    Yes, I agree that my writing was sloppy. That does not mean that I agree with your point.

    If you think some more, you will see that they are in fact very related — they are both the products of the breakdown of a marriage, and both sides abusing that relationship in violation of the Torah.

    No, one is an indisputable fact and the other is subject to easy fabrication and misrepresentation. They need not be analyzed together nor resolved together. You cannot snap your fingers and change how people interact with each other or with their children. You can change in one brief moment whether he has given the get.

    That’s no answer. First of all, it only leads to a possibility of gilui arayos. AFAIK, Mrs. Friedman is not in any danger of engaging in adultery. And, more importantly, kibud and yiras av, are also deoraysas and are fundamental to Jewish society, acc. to Chazal weighed as much as kavod shomayim. Where do you see Rav Henkin, or anyone else, saying one is a communal problem and one isn’t?

    Neither I nor Rav Henkin said that kibud av is unimportant. However, at this point Aharon is obligated to give Tamar a get. Why do you keep ignoring that? If you know of a way to enforce the mitzvah of kibud av, please let me know because I’ve got a few children who could use your methods. But we know how to enforce Aharon giving Tamar a get.

    I AM saying that intervening only in favor of one side of a dispute is an Ivus ha Din.

    Using the term “ivus ha-din” is misplaced. Aharon is the one who is in seruv for refusing to submit to the beis din. That is where everything should have been resolved but he refused to do that. I’m not saying that Tamar is a tzadeikes but the pressure currently being applied is what the beis din has ordered.

  59. Inquiring Minds: First of all, it only leads to a possibility of gilui arayos. AFAIK, Mrs. Friedman is not in any danger of engaging in adultery

    Tamar isn’t the only issue. If women aren’t defended from recalcitrant husbands, other women will not even bother and just commit adultery. This is a communal issue.

  60. Aharon is the one who is in seruv for refusing to submit to the beis din. That is where everything should have been resolved but he refused to do that.

    That is hardly the error. He should never have submitted to that beit din and he was right to not submit.

    In fact, he did submit himself to a beit din which totally messed up this matter (how R’ Kaminetsky is still not getting called on not having the pre-nup in wedding ceremonies he performs and [edited] here is beyond me; Tamar and Aharon were hardly the first couple in a contentious divorce).

    He should, however, have submitted to another beit din (certainly Silver Spring had a better claim then the UO to jurisdiction if Baltimore was no longer involved) or just gotten it done quickly with a de facto one if he didn’t want to litigate the matter.

  61. You cannot snap your fingers and change how people interact with each other or with their children. You can change in one brief moment whether he has given the get.

    Are you saying that a beit din is only good for one-time things and not things that require any side’s protracted actions against interest?

  62. BTW Gil, since you are apparently in the know… why did Tamar not take the matter to the Baltimore beit din for a get? Certainly, from December 2010-June 2011 they were available for her to take the issue. Yet she refused.

    And then, when they on their own initiative, opted to drop the matter, why didn’t Tamar take the issue of the get to the DC Vaad , where they lived as a couple and Aharon still lived?

  63. Inquiring Minds

    Inquiring Minds: How utterly contemptible of you not to explain what you really meant.

    Read it again. It’s quite clear. R. Henkin’s words quite properly called attention to a problem. Mine and Shlomo’s posts, OTOH, criticized dealing with only one side of a problem.

    To analogize, you can find plenty of quotes in Tanakh and the Chazal about how terrible stealing is. All quite proper. But a beis din that hears only from the alleged victim of theft without hearing from the alleged thief and any defense he might have is not doing its job. And you cannot justify that behavior by quoting all the sources about how terrible theft is.

  64. Silent Majority

    R. Gil does not need my help in arguing the matter, since he is doing a fine job. However, I just want to speak up for the silent majority that support this post. We appreciate that you and R. Broyde have taken the time and effort to address this very tragic situation.

  65. HAGTBG: He should never have submitted to that beit din and he was right to not submit.

    Ridiculous

    In fact, he did submit himself to a beit din which totally messed up this matter

    Oh, please. That is not a fair representation of the events.

    how R’ Kaminetsky is still not getting called on not having the pre-nup in wedding ceremonies he performs

    I’m not sure why he should be singled out for following the standard procedure in his community.

    He should, however, have submitted to another beit din (certainly Silver Spring had a better claim then the UO to jurisdiction if Baltimore was no longer involved) or just gotten it done quickly with a de facto one if he didn’t want to litigate the matter

    He had many options but he’s let it reach the point where everyone is against him. That will end when he gives a get.

    Are you saying that a beit din is only good for one-time things and not things that require any side’s protracted actions against interest?

    I’m saying that batei din have very limited tools with which to work.

    BTW Gil, since you are apparently in the know… why did Tamar not take the matter to the Baltimore beit din for a get? Certainly, from December 2010-June 2011 they were available for her to take the issue. Yet she refused.

    She made plenty of mistakes. If we continue to harp on everything each party should have done differently, we will make no progress at all. The issue is where we are today and what needs to be done. I believe everyone agrees to that, including you.

  66. But a beis din that hears only from the alleged victim of theft without hearing from the alleged thief and any defense he might have is not doing its job.

    Not a good example. If the thief refuses to testify, the beit din still needs to reach a verdict. Either they are the appropriate venue or they are not.

  67. That you call it ridiculous doesn’t make it so. If I saw a court with a judge who ALREADY announced his verdict on the matter against me, why accept their jurisdiction?

    That is not a fair representation of the events.

    Do tell then. That is a charitable reading in my view. Nine months with the matter and no determinations … that is not competence.

    That will end when he gives a get.

    You keep on saying that, I assume in case he reads this.

    She made plenty of mistakes

    I do not believe that was a mistake. I believe that was a tactic as was going to the UO beit din as oppossed to the DC Vaad, which clearly should have been the default beit din as the local beit din (the only counter-argument would have been if she believed they were biased for Aharon, which is demonstrably not the case, as facts since have shown).

    Her “mistakes” are good strategy, if we assume that she had a concern a beit din might try to do something on custody, even if that was unlikely after the court determinations.

    I’m not sure why he should be singled out for following the standard procedure in his community.

    Why single out Aharon as the poster boy for this when his motivations, at least, are not money? Every ceremony R’ kaminetsky performs without a prenup … or any other rabbi in a similar position … may lead to a situation of an agunah without any more controls then here. On a macro level it certainly will.

  68. This last exchange demonstrates why I have a hard time with this case, listening to individuals who support each side reminds one of Rashamon. The only comfort is that HKB”H knows the truth.
    KT

  69. I believe everyone agrees to that, including you.

    I assume you and I want approximately the same resolution in the specific instance.

    I however believe that if the tactics used here are appropriate tools, it would best work two ways. Why is Tamar free from protest?

    I believe that the parties most immediately involved are not the only ones who acted wrongly here and its easy to attack Aharon, Tamar, or, even, ORA for what happened here. Evidently harder to say that pressure needs to be brought on rabbis to accept the pre nup (which they may oppose in good faith and which yo may work with collaboratively from time to time) or on batei din to have a specific set process on a reasonable timetable to hear custody matters with controls, if they believe themselves capable of addressing those matters in the first place.

  70. Inquiring Minds

    Not a good example. If the thief refuses to testify, the beit din still needs to reach a verdict. Either they are the appropriate venue or they are not.

    OK, heres another try. Beryl and Shmeryl are neighbors. Their backyards are next to each other, with a fence down the middle Beryl then decides to build a barbecue in the middle of the yard. The smoke annoys Shmeryl, who goes to beis din.

    Shmeryl claims that the fence is not where the property line is, and thus Beryl has in fact encroached on his property. Beryl disagrees.

    But then Shmeryl adds, even if Beryl is right, it is still a violation of Hilkhos Scheinim for Beryl to maintain that smoky barbecue and annoy me.

    The Beis Din says, we can decide where the property line is, that’s an easy case, just have to look up the records. Hilkhos Shecheinim, sorry, that’s too difficuly and complicated, not going to decide it. We pasken that Beryl’s barbecue is on his own property, and we are not going to get into whether this is a violation of Hilkhos Shecheinim.

    Do you see something wrong here?

  71. Gil – Just wanted to second the compliments of others here. Highly impressive.

  72. Do you see something wrong here?

    I see two narratives here (that I know of):

    The narrative of those advocating for Tamar and, I believe most rabbis at this point, is that the custody matter was heard in secular court and determined there. By definition, the get was not. The beit din therefore can not get involved in custody but can for the get (and I believe there are several sub-arguments that can be raised here). Further, Aharon is the one that brought the matter to secular court.

    Aharon’s narrative (as I understand it) is that Tamar is the beneficiary of flaunting a beit din (and no one cares) and that to compel him by a separate beit din to provide a get without redress for this wrong is perverse. The secular court case was brought as a placeholder with the permission of his posek and the knowledge of the beit din because, among other things, of jurisdictional concerns raised by the two states involved. The beit din was always supposed to hear the matter, and the issue was only brought to secular court months later when Tamar refused to sign a waiver that the beit din demanded that, in turn, would allow Aharon to drop the secular case completely. Also, while Aharon filed the custodial issues in secular court, Tamar was the one that filed for divorce there. Further, the secular court explicitly stated that its custodial determinations were based on the long period of time the child was with the mother in Philadelphia, i.e. when the beit din heard the matter.

    With all the above said, I am not really sure how your example flows into that.

  73. Rabbi Dr. Eidensohn has recently rephrased his concerns somewhat concisely in a comment thread on his blog. I thought I would post it here in case anyone would like to answer his questions.

    “[T]he beis din issued a seruv for not appearing in which they poskened that a get had to be given. They did not explain their reasons nor did Friedman participate – so they only heard one side. Is that correct? Simple question is how can a beis din posken without hearing both sides? And if it isn’t a psak but only a seruv for not showing up so how can they issue a ruling that it is a mitzva to give a get? Besides that level of confusion Rav Shachter has written clearly that he is totally relying on Rav Kaminetsky for his understanding of the case. So apparently it is irrelevant to him whether there is a psak or just a seruv. The only issue is the daas Torah of Rav Kaminestky. He then authorized ORA to attack Aharon and his family. Correct? The Beis din did not say anything about ORA nor do they appear on ORA’s list of rabbis. Thus you are insisting that everyone involved agrees that ORA is doing the right thing. I am simply asking for some evidence that ORA actions are approved by Rabbis Belsky and Kaminetsky and what the basis of the psak of the beis din was. It is not clear that saying that it is a mitzva to give or obtain a get justifies what ORA is doing.

    So we are still discussing this because of the apparent bizarreness of this case on the level of halacha. It doesn’t require a gadol to understand the halachic issues or the halachic rulings going back to the gemora. I simply want to know what halachic understanding justifies the chain of events leading to ORA’s demonstrations and pressure. It shouldn’t take a talmid chachom more than 5 minutes to rattle off the necessary information. The fact that that ORA through Rav Shachter beis on this beis din – has been producing a disturbing spectacle in the secular media – justifies me asking an explanation. If ORA wasn’t involved then this would have remained a private issue. But it clearly isn’t and I’d like to understand. this is Torah and I need to learn.”

    daattorah.blogspot.com/2012/04/friedman-epstein-what-halahic.html?showComment=1335297902278#comment-c4688736324398790332

  74. HAGTBG: That you call it ridiculous doesn’t make it so. If I saw a court with a judge who ALREADY announced his verdict on the matter against me, why accept their jurisdiction?

    They did not announce the verdict in advance. He had every opportunity to continue the discussion he had started with Rav Belsky and on which he walked out.

    I do not believe that was a mistake. I believe that was a tactic as was going to the UO beit din as oppossed to the DC Vaad, which clearly should have been the default beit din as the local beit din (the only counter-argument would have been if she believed they were biased for Aharon, which is demonstrably not the case, as facts since have shown).

    It may have been a tactic. It may have been due to bad advice. It may have been an attempt to move things along. At this point, it doesn’t matter. You’re getting bogged down in the details of this sordid affair when you should be focused on ending it. As Aharon’s friend, you have more influence than I.

    Her “mistakes” are good strategy

    I can easily attribute plenty of his actions to strategy. It doesn’t help the discussion.

    Why single out Aharon as the poster boy for this when his motivations, at least, are not money?

    Single out? ORA continuously works on many cases and protests other recalcitrant husbands. However, they protest as a last result, which is where Aharon has let this go. I’ve never attended a protest against Aharon. Just against other men. (Not for any ideological reason, just convenience.)

    Every ceremony R’ kaminetsky performs without a prenup … or any other rabbi in a similar position … may lead to a situation of an agunah without any more controls then here.

    Absolutely true. But singling out R. Kamenetsky rather than, say, the Novominsker Rebbe is a little too convenient for me.

    I however believe that if the tactics used here are appropriate tools, it would best work two ways. Why is Tamar free from protest?

    Because the claims against her are subject to dispute. There is no dispute that a) Aharon must give Tamar a get and b) he hasn’t.

    I believe that the parties most immediately involved are not the only ones who acted wrongly here and its easy to attack Aharon, Tamar, or, even, ORA for what happened here.

    This isn’t about protesting people who acted wrongly. If we did that, every one of us would have protests outside our homes at some time in our lives. This isn’t about revenge or payback. It’s about urging one man to do one thing that is easily within his reach.

  75. Lawrence Kaplan

    HAGTBG: “flouting a beit din.”

    Re the issue in general, see Henry James, What Maisie Knew.

  76. Joel Rich: This last exchange demonstrates why I have a hard time with this case…

    Absolutely. But since the good people at ORA have thoroughly gone through this case ad nauseum and done everything in their power before resorting to protests, all under Rav Schachter’s and their other rabbinic board members’ guidance, you don’t have to know the gory details.

  77. Lawrence Kaplan

    And here I was so proud of catching myself before I wrote “irregardless.” Thank you for the correction.

  78. From Rabbi Dr. Daniel Eidonsohn:
    [T]he beis din issued a seruv for not appearing in which they poskened that a get had to be given. They did not explain their reasons nor did Friedman participate – so they only heard one side.

    These are valid questions which should be posed to the beis din. Asking a question on a pesak does not invalidate it. Especially in this case, when the questioner admits he does not have all the information.

    Besides that level of confusion Rav Shachter has written clearly that he is totally relying on Rav Kaminetsky for his understanding of the case.

    “Written clearly”??? This is incorrect and results from a total misreading of Rav Schachter’s letter and lack of information on the facts. Rav Schachter had independent sources for the facts of the case. His people had spoken with both Aharon and Tamar for hundreds of hours by that time. Rav Schachter only relied on Rav Kaminetsky’s pesak that this is a case where the husband is obligated to divorce his wife.

    He then authorized ORA to attack Aharon and his family. Correct?

    This is correct, as Rav Schachter explains.

    The Beis din did not say anything about ORA nor do they appear on ORA’s list of rabbis.

    That is irrelevant. The beis din is valid support. ORA can work based on the pesak of an external beis din as long as its rabbinic board approves of the plan of action.

    I simply want to know what halachic understanding justifies the chain of events leading to ORA’s demonstrations and pressure.

    Rav Henkin’s position is more than enough support that there is a chiyuv to give a get. Once there is a chiyuv, there is ample support to protest, which is even less than the Harchakos of Rabbeinu Tam.

  79. But since the good people at ORA have thoroughly gone through this case ad nauseum and done everything in their power before resorting to protests,

    Untrue.

  80. HAGTBG: Since I doubt we’ll agree about ORA’s past efforts, just tell me this: What can they do now that will convince Aharon to give Tamar a get?

  81. Rav Schachter only relied on Rav Kaminetsky’s pesak that this is a case where the husband is obligated to divorce his wife.

    That is to say that he relied on Rav Kaminetsky’s pesak for the major determination.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either his people did the research and he came to his own conclusion or they did the research and then he defered to Rav Kaminetsky (using the standard of manifest error). He said that he deferred (to my great surprise at the time) and you just confirmed it.

  82. HAGTBG: Since I doubt we’ll agree about ORA’s past efforts, just tell me this: What can they do now that will convince Aharon to give Tamar a get?

    That is best discussed privately.

  83. HAGTBG: You can’t have it both ways. Either his people did the research and he came to his own conclusion or they did the research and then he defered to Rav Kaminetsky

    Of course I can have it both ways. The ORA people spent an enormous amount of time on it but the decision when enough effort at mediation has been done is never clear cut. Rav Schachter simply did not pasken on the issue because Rav Kamenetsky already had. In theory, Rav Schachter could have told ORA to try another month of reaching out to Aharon even though they knew he wouldn’t respond well. Exactly when that process ends is blurry. It’s a judgment call when to say enough is enough. Once Rav Kamenetsky issued a pesak, they put their pencils down and moved forward.

  84. HAGTBG-your logic seems to be based as follows:
    1) RSK should nothave participated in the Psak.
    2) The Psak issued by RSK is null and void, presumably because of what you, but not, RSK, viewed as a conflict of interest, or a perceived jurisdictional infirmity.
    3) RHS had no right to rely on the Psak issued by RSK, but was rather required to reinvent the wheel, as opposed to trying to help implement the Psak in question.
    4) ORA had no basis for arranging for protests against the husband whose marriage was dead, but was withholding the get due to financial roadblocks.

    R Gil has convincingly dedmolished these arguments, which read like one long chain of moving back the proverbial goal line of a freely given get by the husband.

    Yet-let me ask one simple question-assuming that this query was posed to you, what would you do whuich would be halachically permissible to ensure that the husband willingly gave his wife in a dead marriage the get in question?

  85. Gil,

    Once Rav Kamenetsky issued a pesak, they put their pencils down and moved forward.

    That distorts the order of events. First, R’ Kaminetsky issued his psak. Then, ORA protested Aharon’s family.* Then there were negotiations.

    I believe R HS signed on to R’ SK’s psak after the protest and not before but its been a while since I checked the documents.

  86. HAGTBG-one more point-R Gil has demonstrated in avery convincing manner that RHS did not mererly rely on RSK’s psak, but had his own people conduct their own investigation and research, and then wrote that he fully concurred with the views of RSK. What else would you have RHS do in such an instance, where all of the evidence supports the conclusion that the marriage is dead, and that the issues upholding the delivery of the get are monetary in nature?

  87. In the interest of furthering the discussion, here are R’ Dr. Eidensohn’s responses to R’ Student:

    R’ Student: “Written clearly”??? This is incorrect and results from a total misreading of Rav Schachter’s letter and lack of information on the facts. Rav Schachter had independent sources for the facts of the case. His people had spoken with both Aharon and Tamar for hundreds of hours by that time. Rav Schachter only relied on Rav Kaminetsky’s pesak that this is a case where the husband is obligated to divorce his wife.
    =================
    R’ Eidensohn: why was ORA demonstrating a year before the psak of Rav Kaminesky?

    R’ Student: Rav Henkin’s position is more than enough support that there is a chiyuv to give a get. Once there is a chiyuv, there is ample support to protest, which is even less than the Harchakos of Rabbeinu Tam.
    ==============
    R’ Eidensohn: Rav Henkin’s view is that when both parties have given up on the marriage – but is that true? Did ORA have a beis din that established that Aharon had given up on the marriage when they started their demonstration. The answer is no. It is nice to reverse engineer ORA position and justification – However Rav Henkin and Rav Moshe were not part of their reasoning. If Aharon as of the present moment still has hopes that Tamar will realize she made a mistake and return to him – would he say no? If he still has hopes – no matter how unrealistic – that totally destroys the whole chain of reasoning of Rabbi Broyed.

    R’ Student: Rav Henkin’s position is more than enough support that there is a chiyuv to give a get. Once there is a chiyuv, there is ample support to protest, which is even less than the Harchakos of Rabbeinu Tam.
    ================
    R’ Eidensohn: one of the conditions for Harchakos of Rabbeinu Tam is the ability to escape the social pressure by moving out of town. ORA is everywhere. ORA is not less than Rabbeinu Tam – it is worse.

  88. MiMedinat HaYam

    coming into this discussion late, but …

    1. no bet din “ordered” get, just recomended one. after the balto bet din was about to order “normal” visitation, which the (ex) wife refised to comply with, so she moved to philly, etc…

    2. the marriage is not over, in the sense that the (ex) husband wants (or wanted) reconciliation. [edited irrelevant commentary]

    3. what if an (ex) wife wants a divirce for purpose of remarrying a specific person. do many of the posters here advocate a required get in such a case?

    4. steve b — the canadaian case you cite – the rabbi was completly exonerated (not just no evidence, but actual exoneration) by the RCMP ( = canadian version of FBI).

    dure to a family tragedy, the mother had him hounded out of the RCA, etc. hardly grounds to deny him a decent living.

  89. Steve Brizel,

    I’ve found in general its unproductive to talk to you about anything because you’ll always stand by your original opinion. In the many years I’ve read this blog, I’ve only seen 2 or 3 exceptions.

    However, I will respond. There are two times R SK has come out on this. He issued an initial psak on his own sometime in mid-2010. He was also part of the UO beit din in mid-2011.

    (1)I believe that R SK’ had every right in the world to make his initial psak and advocate what he believes in. However, groups such as ORA should, once they were informed of his relationship to the Epstein family, should not have followed his psak until they had another rabbi willing to sign as the primary posek.

    That never happened … at least until 2011. I mean at one point, when RHS originally signed the letter, I thought that happened, but then RHS came and said that he was defering to R SK’s analysis.

    (2) Concerning the seruv, I don’t have any expertise to say whether its valid or void. That is a halachic call. The overwhelming rabbinic view is that the seruv is valid, even with his signature. But if you ask me whether dayanim should be impartial and whether In feel R SK was impartial … I say no. Would Tamar want me to be her dayan? My relationship with Aharon is no stronger then R SK to Tamar.

    But if you ask me if I feel the moral call of the seruv is weakened by his presence on it, I believe the answer is yes.

    (3) I believe RHS’s “inventing the wheel” would have required little additional work because he already had the work mostly done. He simply should have made his own call … as he so often does.

    (4) I don’t know what financial roadblocks you are talking about. Ora may or may noy be on the right “side” but I believe they acted in a manner I contend extended the get process here. I also believe they acted improperly on a moral level even though they have a moral purpose. I think public protest in an agunah situation can often be appropriate.

  90. HAGTBG-thanks for your responses to my questions. I don’t think that ORA would have done anything in the absence of RHS’s approval.

    For those interested, the FAQs for RCA PNA at ORA indicates that already married couples can sign the PNA and that RHS and RM Willig and their spouses have done so. How about a post married PNA signing and collation for a shul fund raiser?

  91. Y: From R. Dr. Eidensohn: R’ Eidensohn: why was ORA demonstrating a year before the psak of Rav Kaminesky?

    To my knowledge, this is incorrect.

    R’ Eidensohn: Rav Henkin’s view is that when both parties have given up on the marriage – but is that true? Did ORA have a beis din that established that Aharon had given up on the marriage when they started their demonstration. The answer is no.

    Correct, they had a pesak from R. Shmuel Kamenetsky.

    It is nice to reverse engineer ORA position and justification – However Rav Henkin and Rav Moshe were not part of their reasoning

    I heard this reasoning — without mention of Rav Henkin and Rav Moshe — a long time ago. This was precisely their justification.

    If Aharon as of the present moment still has hopes that Tamar will realize she made a mistake and return to him – would he say no?

    Why do we need an “if” when so many people have spoken with him about this? He fully acknowledges that the marriage is over.

    R’ Eidensohn: one of the conditions for Harchakos of Rabbeinu Tam is the ability to escape the social pressure by moving out of town. ORA is everywhere. ORA is not less than Rabbeinu Tam – it is worse.

    This is not true. He could easily move to Israel and entirely escape ORA.

    MMHY: 1. no bet din “ordered” get, just recomended one.

    Nonsense. They obligated him to divorce her. Note that only the seruv was made public because it is necessary for the public to know about seruvim. Not all documents relating to this case are public (which means I haven’t seen them either).

    2. the marriage is not over, in the sense that the (ex) husband wants (or wanted) reconciliation

    No, he does not!

  92. MiMedinat HaYam wrote:

    “the canadaian case you cite – the rabbi was completly exonerated (not just no evidence, but actual exoneration) by the RCMP ( = canadian version of FBI).

    dure to a family tragedy, the mother had him hounded out of the RCA, etc”

    Would you want such a person serving in an educational or communal position or purporting to be a Marbitz Torah in light of the serious nature of the allegations-regardless of the outcome of the charges?

  93. MiMedinat HaYam

    r gil — the other documents may be private, but they only reflect the (ex) wife’s side, since the (ex) husband defers to the balto bet din, not the brooklyn bet din.

    also, transparency issues.

    2. r gil — if you commissioned this article, can you commission an article on conflict of interest on the part of dayanim? [edited]

    3. steve b — in a boys school, no problem. (this case involved a girl.) esp on the principal, (not teacher) level. lets face it, there are plenty of lousy teachers, who should not be role models. add this to the list.

    [edited]

  94. Steve Brizel wrote:

    “R Gil’s 7:48 AM post sums up my views 100% on this issue. How can someone whose blog is ironically called Daas Torah claim that he and R Yehudah Levin have more Halachic expertise than RSK, RHS and R Y Breitowitz? ”

    My sentiments exactly.

  95. Steve et al: I’m on your (ORA’s) side, but I should point out that R’ Eidensohn’s blog is called “Daas Torah” not because he believes in the concept of Daas Torah and wants the blog to promote it. On the contrary, he freely admits that R’ Moshe Feinstein didn’t believe in Daas Torah, and although he receives guidance from R’ Moshe Sternbuch he says that he often disagrees with him. Furthermore, he has also recently cited teshuvot by present and past gedolim (including R’ Elyashiv) whom he believes support his opinions. So he doesn’t think that he’s relying on some minority opinion.

  96. Y-R Eidensohn’s views, regardless of the curious name of his blog, , which clearly read like a brief for the typical assertions of Daas Torah, exhibit a profund inability to make Havdalah and undertand that there is a world between the views of Gdolei Talmidei Chachamim and feminists.

  97. So, how will this end? Indeed, will it end?

    Given all the anger, frustration and sadness of this discussion thread, I think it is appropriate to remind everyone of a dissenting voice of anger and frustration:

    Other rabbis, apparently attempting to convey solidarity with the plight of agunot, abdicate their moral and halakhic responsibility by describing the issue in terms of an unbearable and inscrutable theological test – for themselves, as rabbis. “This is my personal akeda,” one major modern Orthodox halakhic authority once told me, referring to his sense of helplessness at not being able to formulate an acceptable halakhic solution based upon available precedents. “Your akeda?” I responded. “Is that supposed to bring comfort to the abandoned woman whose life is passing her by?”

    This theological posturing, with its distasteful rhetoric of rabbinic helplessness and suffering, nevertheless constitutes an acknowledgment of the moral issue. In a sense, this can be seen as the most openly critical stance that has been offered by traditional rabbis. If my rabbinic colleague had not felt the moral weight of the issue upon him – had he not felt implicated in its shame – there would have been no need to construct such a bombastic, self-aggrandizing, response. […]

    The various internal religious mechanisms applied to the aguna problem have failed. Many women still suffer this unjust fate at the tradition’s hands. Rabbi Yonatan’s caution [IH: previously discussed re: Ben Sorer u’Moreh] has gone unheeded by the halakhic authorities of our time.

    R. David Hartman, The God who Hates Lies pp. 70-71

  98. Thanks, IH (and R. Hartman), for reminding us what;s at stake.

  99. For a better understanding of what ORA is trying to accomplish one should listen to what they are saying.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/02/29/congressman-facing-pressure-from-jewish-groups-on-advisers-religious-divorce/
    The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (figuratively “chained”) has been leading a campaign against Friedman. In a letter to Friedman last fall, director Rabbi Jeremy Stern called his actions “tragic.”
    “We see the refusal to issue a get as a form of domestic abuse,” Stern told FoxNews.com.
    He said the Jewish community certainly has started to discuss whether a rabbi should be able to officiate a divorce without one party’s permission — but said the community “is not at a point right now where they’re willing to fundamentally change how Jewish marriage and divorce works.”

    The goal of ORA is to “fundamentally change how Jewish marriage and divorce works.”

    A little bit of history. In December 2010 ORA held its first series of rallies against Friedman. At that time the case was being handled by the Baltimore Bais Din. http://washingtonjewishweek.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=14039 “Currently, the Epstein-Friedman case remains open but dormant, as “neither party has approached” the Baltimore beit din, requesting that it reconvene, according to Rabbi Mordechai Shuchatowitz, a rabbi on the court. “Right now,” he said, “the ball is in [Epstein’s] court” because, as the party seeking the get, she is responsible for reinitiating proceedings. Since the court has yet officially to order a get, Shuchatowitz said, it’s “a bit premature” to be holding rallies and other events meant “to pressure [Friedman] because he’s not been given his day in court.” After all, “you can’t disobey something you’ve not been told to do.”

    At the same time the Silver Spring Vaad issued a community letter which stated in part “First, at this time there is no Bet Din order for Mr. Friedman to give a get.
    Second, there is no Bet Din statement indicating a refusal to comply with a Bet Din’s order to give a get (a siruv) that exists at this time.
    Third, the Baltimore Bet Din considers the matter of the get to be part of the original case. If a get is requested from that Bet Din they will then rule on that request.

    Why is it the Epstein did not go back to the Baltimore Bais din to ask for a Get if she was entitled to one??

    Two independent Bais Din/Community Vaad came to the same Halachic conclusion that there was no requirement for Friedman to give a Get at that time. Yet RMS and RSK (who never spoke to Friedman) went against the Bais Din?? Is this common practive for Yichidim (no matter how great they may be) to go against a Bais Din??

    The Halachic opinions brought down are interesting – but what seems to be left out was that RMS/ORA & RSK completly ignored the independent Bais Din that Friedman/Epstein agreed to abide by???

  100. A Believer in Harchakos d'Rabbeinu Tam

    The harchakot d’Rabbanu Tam permit a shunning of the person where no active measures are taken against the husband. Picketing against the person violates the passive aspect of the harchakot d’Rabbanu Tam.

    Second, the harchakot d’Rabbanu Tam are not coercion, according to the Gra, “since he may escape it by moving to another city.” When the “to-do event of the week” is to drive several hours to another city to have a demonstration including chanting slogans and holding signs accusing the husband of being some type of criminal, the terms of the harchakot d’Rabbanu Tam – namely, that the husband can move away to get away from the shunning – are being violated.

    Additionally, the Yabia Omer’s teshuva is in a case where the wife was making reasonable claims. However, where the wife perpetrates an act that could usually be cause for an Amber Alert, quite different that there being a halacha requiring a get in the situation of the Yabia Omer, is not the case of the situation at hand.

  101. What is the current position of the Baltimore beit din regarding the Friedman/Epstein case?

  102. BTW, can someone answer this question for me:

    If you look at the standard form pre-nup, it is biased in favor of women … specifically, it has a financial penalty on the man if he refuses to go to beit din but no similar financial penalty on the woman if she is the one who refuses to go to beit din.

    ORA has another version of the pre-nup where the woman and man both commit to a penalty if that party does not go. My question is why is this not the default prenup?

    I add also that there is an The Agreement for Mutual Respect offered on the Young Israel website from Israel translated by R’ Yonah Reiss and R’ Broyde (http://www.youngisraelrabbis.org.il/prenup.htm ) that has a mutual penalty as well.

  103. Rav Eliashiv (Kovetz Teshuvos 134):

    Question: We are dealing with a case in which it apparently has been shown that the wife hates her husband – heart and soul – because of his behavior which is simply abnormal. The woman therefore has the claim of ma’us alei with a clear basis. This couple has lived separately for over 6 years. The question is whether the beis din will comply with the request of the wife and require him to give her a get.

    Answer: Even if you grant that this woman has the status of one who says ma’us alei with a clear justification, that in itself does not require that the husband give her a get. Look at Shut HaRashba (# 135 – attributed to Ramban), Question: When a woman claims ma’us alei… is the husband obligated to divorce her….? Answer: … You should know that she is not able to force her husband to divorce her since a woman goes out of the marriage sometimes according to her desires and sometimes not according to her desires. On the other hand the man only leaves the marriage only when he want to leave it… From all these you see that when a woman claims ma’us alei we do not force the husband to give a divorce… Concerning the kesuba and dowry that she brought him –according to the din she does not lose anything unless she insists on being a moredes for 12 months and all these 12 months she is not forced… However if she remains a moredes for 12 months and her husband wants to divorce her – she loses everything…. That is her din when her husband divorces her according to his wishes after 12 months. But if the desire to divorce comes from her – as we said before – he is not forced to divorce her. The words of the Rashba imply not only is the husband not forced to divorce her when she claims ma’us alei but that he has no obligation to give her a get! This is also apparent from the words of Tosfos(Kesubos 63)…. Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 77:2): If she says that he disgusts me and I can not have relations with him – if the husband wants to divorce her she does not get any money from the Kesuba at all. Rema (E.H. 77:2)… All of this is only when she doesn’t give a reason and justification for her words as to why she finds him repulsive. But if she does give a reason for her words… And we don’t force him to divorce her nor do we force her to remain with him. And if you want to claim that he must divorce her – it is obvious that since we don’t force her to remain with him then of necessity that there can’t be an obligation of the husband to give her a get. It is the same thing.

  104. The juxtaposition of the reference to “The Agreement for Mutual Respect” and the excerpt from R. Eliashiv’s teshuvah sums up the serious moral problem that halacha has not yet resolved.

  105. Yisroel Stein: I echo Joseph Kaplan’s point: what do the Silver Spring and Baltimore rabbinate currently say about this sad case? This isn’t about what should have been done at a certain point in the past. It’s about what should be done now and everyone agrees that Aharon must give a get.

  106. Sal: Rav Elyashiv is not the only posek in the world and was never asked about this issue. However, his teshuvah does not address the case of when a husband does not desire reconciliation. That is an important point. In general, let the poskim pasken and on this issue several recognized poskim have investigated and paskened.

  107. “If you look at the standard form pre-nup, it is biased in favor of women … specifically, it has a financial penalty on the man if he refuses to go to beit din but no similar financial penalty on the woman if she is the one who refuses to go to beit din”

    That’s not good. If the O community is like the general community, then around 70% of divorce filers are women, and they’re often done unilaterally.

  108. IH asked:

    “So, how will this end? Indeed, will it end”

    Man has the ability to live either to the best of his moral focus like Moshe Rabbeinu or R”L like Yeravam Ben Nvaat. When $ is added to the brew to any divorce which must eb given out of the free will of the husband, that automatically increases the stakes and tension therein, and can lead otherwise rational people to act in highly immoral, repugnant, and vindictive ways.

    OTOH, all of us whose children are in the proverbial “parsha” can take reasonable precautions and insist at least on having any would be SIL and DIL sign a RCA PNA, and urge our sons not to sign any Heter Meah Rabbanim that is suddenly thrown in their face. In fact, if you check out the ORA website, those of us who are married can also sign the PNA-as did RHS, R M Willig and their spouses.

  109. Yisroel Stein linked, but misquoted what the executive director of ORA stated to FOX News. In fact, this is the quote in its entirety:

    “The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (figuratively “chained”) has been leading a campaign against Friedman. In a letter to Friedman last fall, director Rabbi Jeremy Stern called his actions “tragic.”

    “We see the refusal to issue a get as a form of domestic abuse,” Stern told FoxNews.com.

    He said the Jewish community certainly has started to discuss whether a rabbi should be able to officiate a divorce without one party’s permission — but said the community “is not at a point right now where they’re willing to fundamentally change how Jewish marriage and divorce works.”

    He explained that a Jewish marriage is effectively a “private transaction between the two parties” — so for a marriage and for a divorce, “you need the willful participation of both parties.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/02/29/congressman-facing-pressure-from-jewish-groups-on-advisers-religious-divorce/#ixzz1t3div8FQ

    I consider that so-called “quote” by Mr. Stein to be an attempt to charcterize ORA as a group of LW MO feminist radicals.

  110. HAGTBG-just curious-based on your past posts on any number of isssues, you have never seemed to me as someone who would be arguing in defense of a husband who refused to give his wife a get. Why have you been so critical of the efforts expended by many prominent Poskim herein?

  111. As I see, which the the unfortunate part here, is that ORA is your ally, that’s not really a good thing.

  112. Joseph Kaplan-what is your concern re “The Agreement for Mutual Respect”. As for RYSE, I think that the actions of RSK, RHS and R Breitowitz raise an old issue-why should every halachic issue automatically be referred to RYSE, as opposed to relying on the Gdolei Talmidie Chachamim of North America?

  113. Just curious-any Gabbaim here? Would any of you allow the husband at issue to serve as a Shliach Tzibbur, receive an aliyah or any other kibud of an individual or communal nature?

  114. While I have both physically and financially supported ORA, I do wonder about the statement I heard quoted that Get refusal is never appropriate (using never is just about never a good idea imho)
    KT

  115. Rafael Araujo wrote:

    “As I see, which the the unfortunate part here, is that ORA is your ally, that’s not really a good thing.”

    Why? Such a POV again illustrates my point about not being able to make Havdalah.

  116. R’ Dovid Eidensohn has posted a critique of R’ Broyde’s post. I’m hoping someone will respond to it point-by-point (so far, people have limited themselves to criticizing his writing style). Here it is:

    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2012/04/r-broydes-coerced-get-protesting.html

  117. Joel Rich wrote:

    “While I have both physically and financially supported ORA, I do wonder about the statement I heard quoted that Get refusal is never appropriate (using never is just about never a good idea imho)”

    First of all, such a POV cannot be reconciled with a simple reading of the applicable verses in the Torah. Such a view, if taken to its logical conclusion, would mean that noone should ever think of getting a divorce-an attitude which runs contrary to the fact that the Torah provides for the same and the Talmud , Rishonim, SA and Acharonim debate and discuss the same in detail, and there are scores of ShuT on Agunos.

    Such an argument seems very similar to the idea that we should never build an eruv where it is halachically permissible-a stance which is equally hard to reconcile with the fact that there is a Masecta Eruvin, and that the Rishonim, Acharonim and Poskim discuss and debate the issues involved and some the greatest Talmidei Chachamim such as the CI were involved in the building of Eruvin.

    In the case of Gitin, I think that the husband, who must give the get out of his free will, must act in a way that he freely gives the will, but does not abuse the concept of “free will” that he is engaging in financial blackmail. Such a course of action, which becomes manifest once $ and lawyers are involved, IMO, is more properly conduct that I would associate with the cast of The Sopranos as opposed to someone who purports to be a Shomer Torah Umitzvos.

    Simply stated, I do not think that any husband should refuse to give a get, and I do not believe that our communities should view such conduct as appropriate, assist and otherwise aide and facilitate such conduct. Such a course of conduct strikes me as inherentlty contradictory to doing the right and the good-which would be the termination of a dead marriage with the least human cost to either spouse and their children.

  118. Y: R. Broyde sent me a response which I plan on posting later today.

  119. Joel Rich posted the following link, of which I could only read the following paragraph without becoming physically upset:

    “Rabbi Broyde’s article about protesting to help Agunahs is filled with errors, which I display here. It is part and parcel of the new Torah emanating from the modern YU rabbis. Rabbi Gedaliah Schwartz, head of BDA Beth Din, sent away a couple seeking a GET with no GET by annuling their marriage on the grounds of a ridiculous claim of MEKACH TAOSE when after I spoke to him I am convinced he had no grounds for that. Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva at YU and major posek for the OU, invented a new Torah to permit physical and unbearable emotional coercion in the case of MOOS OLEI with his vivid imagination, as he airly blows away the Rashbo, Rabbi Yosef Caro, Radvaz, Shach and Chazon Ish with a logic that was invented in Gehenum. He quotes nobody who agrees with him, and doesn’t display any rabbonim of today who agree with him, but he has helped Agunoth! Posek HaDor Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev shlit”o told me that any Beth Din that invents new ways to help Agunoth outside of accepted halacha that he takes away from them the Chezkas Beth Din, the authority of being a Beth Din. Thus, we have a situation where modern Orthodox divorces may not be recognized by others, and the children of these invented “help” for Agunoth may be mamzerim.”

  120. I would argue that at this point responding to the Eidensohn brothers is merely granting a voice to those who would otherwise have no platform. I can’t imagine that there’s anyone (besides for a few crazies and friends of Aharon) who thinks that they have done anything but degrade themselves through their frankly unbecoming conduct. Does Dovid Eidensohn have any influence outside of his unhinged corner of the internet? If not, why create the appearance that he’s a bar plugta of anyone involved in this case by responding to him?

  121. R’ Dr. Daniel Eidensohn’s latest replies to R’ Student, in case he or anyone else wants to respond:

    “A little bit of history. In December 2010 ORA held its first series of rallies against Friedman. At that time the case was being handled by the Baltimore Bais Din. http://washingtonjewishweek.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=14039 “Currently, the Epstein-Friedman case remains open but dormant, as “neither party has approached” the Baltimore beit din, requesting that it reconvene, according to Rabbi Mordechai Shuchatowitz, a rabbi on the court. “Right now,” he said, “the ball is in [Epstein’s] court” because, as the party seeking the get, she is responsible for reinitiating proceedings. Since the court has yet officially to order a get, Shuchatowitz said, it’s “a bit premature” to be holding rallies and other events meant “to pressure [Friedman] because he’s not been given his day in court.” After all, “you can’t disobey something you’ve not been told to do.”

    At the same time the Silver Spring Vaad issued a community letter which stated in part “First, at this time there is no Bet Din order for Mr. Friedman to give a get.
    Second, there is no Bet Din statement indicating a refusal to comply with a Bet Din’s order to give a get (a siruv) that exists at this time.
    Third, the Baltimore Bet Din considers the matter of the get to be part of the original case. If a get is requested from that Bet Din they will then rule on that request.

    Why is it the Epstein did not go back to the Baltimore Bais din to ask for a Get if she was entitled to one??

    Two independent Bais Din/Community Vaad came to the same Halachic conclusion that there was no requirement for Friedman to give a Get at that time. Yet RMS and RSK (who never spoke to Friedman) went against the Bais Din?? Is this common practive for Yichidim (no matter how great they may be) to go against a Bais Din??

    The Halachic opinions brought down are interesting – but what seems to be left out was that RMS/ORA & RSK completly ignored the independent Bais Din that Friedman/Epstein agreed to abide by???”

  122. When gets past the vile nature of R Eidensohn’s “response”, one unfortunately sees why “Emes Yesh Lo Rgalyim” and conversely why “Sheker Ain Lo Raglayim.” One sees no serious discussion of the views of RMF , let alone the views of RYEHenkin ZL , or the many Israeli Poskim, who clearly endorsed communal pressure against a recalcitrant husband. The entire piece was a nasty, vicious screed against RHS, and the BDA. I look forward to R Broyde’s response.

    One also sees therein a view, which I think cannot be justified in any reading of the sources, that remaining in a dead marriage, is far preferred to being divorced, because of the impact on children. Such a view cannot be reconciled with the facts that the Torah and Talmud provide for divorce, but also because the Rishonim, SA and Acharonim discuss the issues of support of children from divorced families as a real event, as opposed to a merely Lomdische Have Ameninah. One can argue that if the marriage is dead, the long term impact of the mental health of the children cannot be minimized-even in R Eidensohn’s view of the world.

  123. J-I fully agree with you. Until I read about this case in detail, I had no idea who R Eidensohn was and whether in fact he is a Bar Haci who is considered to be a rav and posek of any stature-especially in matters involving Agunos.

  124. For those interested, see this link.

  125. Why is it the Epstein did not go back to the Baltimore Bais din to ask for a Get if she was entitled to one??
    Two independent Bais Din/Community Vaad came to the same Halachic conclusion that there was no requirement for Friedman to give a Get at that time. Yet RMS and RSK (who never spoke to Friedman) went against the Bais Din??
    Is this common practive for Yichidim (no matter how great they may be) to go against a Bais Din??

    These are all good questions but irrelevant to our current situation, in which everyone agrees that Aharon must give a get to Tamar.

    There are reasons why Tamar did not go to the Baltimore Beis Din but going into them in public is simply inappropriate because it will make various parties look bad. In general, I do not know why R. Dr. Eidensohn believes that every detail of a divorce process should be publicly discussed. If he wants to conduct a review of the process, he should do so methodically and release a report on his findings. Throwing out bits and pieces of half-information intended to damage reputations and gathered from biased sources is incredibly improper.

    I assume the RMS above is supposed to be R. Hershel Schachter. He did not go against the Baltimore Beis Din for two reasons: 1) the Beis Din never issued any ruling, 2) RHS spoke with them on the phone.

    The Halachic opinions brought down are interesting – but what seems to be left out was that RMS/ORA & RSK completly ignored the independent Bais Din that Friedman/Epstein agreed to abide by???

    There were two batei din involved, neither of which reached any conclusion. There are multiple reasons why this was the case but R. Kamenetsky felt that the situation should not drag on forever once the marriage was dead.

    The key question is this: Is Aharon obligated to give Tamar a get? Regardless of the long and winding history of the acrimonious divorce, the answer is clearly yes.

  126. I do not know why R. XXX believes that every detail of a divorce process should be publicly discussed.

    To be fair, if the public is being asked to catalyze the solution to a problem the Rabbis can’t solve, it is reasonable to expect transparency in the details of the divorce process.

  127. I posted R. Michael Broyde’s response to R. Dovid Eidensohn as the first comment (moving it back in time back so it is the first): https://www.torahmusings.com/2012/04/protesting-without-coercing/comment-page-1/#comments

  128. “Why? Such a POV again illustrates my point about not being able to make Havdalah.”

    Not at all. As I understand it, ORA wants to change hilchos gittin but since such changes are radical and will never be accepted, doing everything short of changing halochoh is what they engage in. If there are to be protests, use others, not an organization that is takes positions contrary to halochoh.

  129. Rafael: As I understand it, ORA wants to change hilchos gittin but since such changes are radical and will never be accepted, doing everything short of changing halochoh is what they engage in.

    I don’t believe that accurately reflects ORA at all. I was initially skeptical, as well, because most organizations that promote women’s rights in Orthodoxy tend to be on the more radical side. ORA isn’t like that.

  130. “Joseph Kaplan-what is your concern re “The Agreement for Mutual Respect”.”

    Steve, either you misunderstood my comment or, as is probably the case, I was a bit too cryptic. Although I am not particularly knowledgeable about the Agreement for Mutual Respect, I doubt that I would have any concerns about it. But I do have concerns about the substance of the excerpts from RSE’s psak which describe a type of marriage and divorce that do not appear to be, IMO, ones of “mutual respect.”

  131. Just out of curiosity, to what extent are there real life tensions between Charedi and MO authorities / batei din over resolving aguna problems? I know the prenup has unfortunately not been widely adopted in the Charedi world, but it hasn’t been the subject of much protest either. There doesn’t seem to be much real-life discord here. Are Charedi women counseled by their rabbanim against using ORA? Does the Charedi rabbinic leadership have any strategy for solving the problems ORA is trying to deal with?

  132. “Hirhurim on April 25, 2012 at 10:25 am
    R. Hershel Schachter. He did not go against the Baltimore Beis Din for two reasons: 1) the Beis Din never issued any ruling, 2) RHS spoke with them on the phone.”

    1) The Rabbi Shuchatowitz clearly stated what the Bais Din’s position was (and the DC/Silver Spring Vaad agreed with that in their letter to the Silver Spring community) and RHS and RSK went against that.
    2) “RHS spoke with them on the phone”?? and that is a relevant fact because??

    As you pointed out RSK (along with RHS/ORA) felt he had the right to go against the B”D/Vaad.

    Now a year letter thoses same Rabbi’s along with the Masgiaach for Hebrew National issued a seruv and that is supposed to mean something?

    The key question is if Aharon Friedman is mechyuv to give a get?
    The only Bais Din that heard from both sides said no. RSK & RHS/ORA did not like that answer and held protestes anyways. When pointed that there was not even a serev against Friedman, they made their on kangaroo court and issued a bogus seruv.

    The protests without any backing of any halacich authority (except RSK & RHS whom made up their own by cleary going against what Rabbi Shuchatowitz from the Balitmore B”D and the DC VAAD said) makes for a get messua and any future children from Epstein Mamzerim.

    “These are all good questions but irrelevant to our current situation, in which everyone agrees that Aharon must give a get to Tamar”

    You can say the history doesn’t matter – but if you don’t look at the facts and what happened and just yell he must give a get because only mean men don’t give gets then keep yelling, but that doesn’t change the facts. ORA was protesting against Friedman at the time when there was no seruv and Rabbi Shuchatowitz from the Baltimore Bais Din said publically “it’s “a bit premature” to be holding rallies and other events meant “to pressure [Friedman] because he’s not been given his day in court.” After all, “you can’t disobey something you’ve not been told to do.”

  133. Rafael Araujo wrote:

    “Not at all. As I understand it, ORA wants to change hilchos gittin but since such changes are radical and will never be accepted, doing everything short of changing halochoh is what they engage in. If there are to be protests, use others, not an organization that is takes positions contrary to halochoh”

    That, IMO, represents a gross misunderstanding of the purpose of ORA. Do you think that RHS would ever lend his name to any group that contained the above view of Halacha?

  134. R Broyde’s nuanced and well reasoned response are ilustrative of how Talmidei Chachamim should react to brickbats and criticism that border on personal abuse, and are especially indicative that RYBS’s legacy in that regard, which R Broyde received from his RY in RIETS, is alive and well.

  135. Silent Majority

    To all the supporters of Aharon Friedman who continue to rehash past events:

    (1)I know of very few divorces which are truly pleasant. I am certain, without knowing any details, that both sides acted in ways that were antagonistic to the other at various points throughout this process.

    (2) None of this past history, however, has any connection to the current issue of whether he should now issue his wife a get. Please do not quote previous communications of rabbis from Silver Spring, since they now state unequivocally that he should issue a get, and should be shunned until he does so.

    (3) It is very difficult for people to tell their friends or loved ones that they are behaving inappropriately. We have all experienced this in our lives at some point, and it takes a lot of courage to confront them (or to be confronted). Please take a step back for a moment, and ask yourselves honestly if you would react the same way if you did not know Aharon Friedman personally.

    Disclaimer: I do not know any of the parties involved directly or indirectly.

  136. Yisroel Stein: 1) The Rabbi Shuchatowitz clearly stated what the Bais Din’s position was (and the DC/Silver Spring Vaad agreed with that in their letter to the Silver Spring community) and RHS and RSK went against that.

    This is misleading because 1) the Beis Din never ruled on this subject and the “position” was just that — that a beis din never ruled on it, 2) that was in the past. Currently, the Washington/Silver Spring Vaad contends that Aharon must give a get.

    2) “RHS spoke with them on the phone”?? and that is a relevant fact because??

    They reached an understanding.

    As you pointed out RSK (along with RHS/ORA) felt he had the right to go against the B”D/Vaad

    No, he did not go against them because they had not ruled. It is admirable of you to stand up for the kavod of the Baltimore Beis Din but for a variety of reasons, which include missteps by both Tamar and Aharon, they could not — to this day! — conclude this case.

    Now a year letter thoses same Rabbi’s along with the Masgiaach for Hebrew National issued a seruv and that is supposed to mean something?

    Rabbi Ralbag is a distinguished Rav and Dayan. Your mudslinging against him shows how dishonorable you are.

    The only Bais Din that heard from both sides said no

    That is not true for two reasons: 1) Rav Belsky sat down with Aharon for a full day and heard his side before his beis din was convened and Aharon refused to attend — he heard both sides, 2) the Baltimore Beis Din never reached a conclusion and, even if it did, the circumstances have changed since that time.

    RSK & RHS/ORA did not like that answer and held protestes anyways. When pointed that there was not even a serev against Friedman, they made their on kangaroo court and issued a bogus seruv

    This is incorrect because RSK and RHS approved the protests without a seruv because a civil divorce had been finalized and Aharon still would not give a get. The beis din came much later and RHS was not involved with it.

    The protests without any backing of any halacich authority (except RSK & RHS

    What do you mean EXCEPT??? You contradicted yourself. RSK and RHS are the halakhic authorities who approved the protests! What you mean is that no halakhic authority who is sympathetic to Aharon has approved the protests. No kidding.

    makes for a get messua and any future children from Epstein Mamzerim

    This is entirely untrue, as Rav Schachter and R. Michael Broyde pointed out. These protests and other methods of pressure are LESS than the harchakos of Rabbenu Tam and do not create a coerced get.

    You can say the history doesn’t matter – but if you don’t look at the facts and what happened and just yell he must give a get because only mean men don’t give gets then keep yelling, but that doesn’t change the facts

    This is entirely wrong. Rabbis across the board — including the Washington/Silver Spring Vaad — agree that at this point Aharon must give a get.

  137. HAGTBG-just curious-based on your past posts on any number of isssues, you have never seemed to me as someone who would be arguing in defense of a husband who refused to give his wife a get. Why have you been so critical of the efforts expended by many prominent Poskim herein?

    I am not defending his withholding the get. I am saying that what the wife is doing to the husband is also extremely cruel (I would say approximately as cruel but how can that be measured) and there is no measure of communal sanction against her. Instead she shares the podium with one of the great leaders of MO today. If there were a discussion about parental alienation, would any rabbinic leader share the dias with the husband? We both know the answer.

    That strikes me as an unjust outcome. The community properly has concern about the get but has no concern in the parental issue. One we try to ruin and the other is highlighted as a brave and victimized soul.

    People here right about situations where there are men withholding gets but still getting kavodim in shul. Well, what about here; what disapproval is shown to her actions?

    The disparate treatment of these actions is why I am put off by what happened. Especially, as I am well exposed to the father’s pain at not having normal access to his daughter.

    That is accentuated by the bias issue of some of the rabbis involved.

    Concerning your point, I do not believe a biased party or a party that would appear to be biased should be presumed to be a proper judge on a matter absent a waiver by both parties given freely and knowingly. I do not believe a biased party or a party that would appear to be biased should be used by an ostensibly “neutral” group like ORA to determine whether or not they are to undertake public pressure activities.

    To my mind improper bias can come from many sources, but the relevant ones here are prior relationships, money and prejudged outcomes.

    I believe two of the rabbis involved here should not, based on their prior roles/relationships, have been on the court though I think one is far more problematic then others.

    Honestly, I don’t even think writing the above should be controversial.

    Similar, I believe R HS should not have relied on one of those two rabbis in making his own determinations.

    Concerning the “efforts expended” by rabbis, I myself have also expended many efforts on this matter, from long before it was a get issue. That doesn’t entitle me to assume I can be a dayan or that people will agree with me.

    Beyond the actions above as well as those of a specific beit din that if I named might lead to another of my posts being edited and one rabbi who I know wrote one thing in a private communication and another contradictory thing later in public, I have no issues with the rabbinic involvement.

  138. The key question is this: Is Aharon obligated to give Tamar a get? Regardless of the long and winding history of the acrimonious divorce, the answer is clearly yes.

    Here’s another couple of questions. Is Tamar fulfilling all of her obligations (is she refusing to have the custody issues resolved by a beis din)? Is it reasonable to expect Aharon to fulfill his obligations if Tamar is not fulfilling hers?

  139. MiMedinat HaYam

    “Rabbis across the board — including the Washington/Silver Spring Vaad — agree ”

    except for the balto bet din, which actually heard the case. (more later)

    2. J — rav e (both) are talmidim of RMF. in fact, we all use (the yersushalmi) rav e’s “yad” to to the igrot moshe (and MB). he is not some fly by niter. maybe opinionated, but main stream.

    3. steve — (gil properly edited me on the second point, not the first point, cause, in my haste, i gave away too much personal info on him) the former canadian rav you refer to is also an outspoken aguna advocate (though the last case he handled that i know about, the woman remarried a cohen.)

    the reason why the balto bet din never issued a final ruling is because (in my opinion, improper policy of all batei din) is to not issue rulings if they know a party will not abide by the decision. since the (ex) wife already moved out of town and made custody motions in court, they saw she will not abide by their psak, so the declined to rule. (why they have such a policy is a good topic for discussion. not now.)

    bringing the case back to the balto bet din, will involve a commitment by the ex wife to comply with their decision (visitation), which she specifically refuses. she wants no visitation, period. (and no mediation, just protests, etc.)

  140. MiMedinat HaYam

    steve b — regarding gabbaim — why is this not the policy for seruvim of all types, not just seruvim on get issues? (Note — NO ONE will enforce such seruvim vis a vis non-get issues.)

  141. MiMedinat HaYam – That makes it all the more surprising that his (and more specifically his brother’s) halachic summaries are an absolute distortion of the literature on the topic. Take a look at the following two teshuvot in Tzitz Eliezer just for starters: 4:21, 5:26.

  142. Yisroel,

    I hope you realize that your great grandparents probably ate non-glatt meat.

  143. MMHY: #3 – I don’t believe all of your facts are correct, particularly about visitation which she is court-mandated to give

  144. R’ Gil,

    Perhaps you should post a link to R’ Broyde’s response at the bottom of the original blogpost. The link to the post attaches the most recent comments and a new reader would not know that there was an updated response by RMB.

  145. none: Is Tamar fulfilling all of her obligations (is she refusing to have the custody issues resolved by a beis din)?

    This is more complicated than you imply because the question quickly becomes which beis din. Not all batei din are equal.

  146. None of this past history,

    The issues are not only past history. The custody issue is ongoing as, obviously, is the get issue.

    They reached an understanding.

    What was the understanding?

    This is incorrect because RSK and RHS approved the protests without a seruv because a civil divorce had been finalized and Aharon still would not give a get.

    Why didn’t they wait for a seruv? If you want people to go to beit din doesn’t it make sense to respect the formal halachic process (and the psak process is certainly not that)? What was the big burden to seek a beit din decision/seruv before ORA becomes involved?

  147. HAGTBG-thanks for your response. In all seriousness, a parent , even after an acrimonious divorce, remains a parent in the eyes of his or her children. Children know that and despite being manipulated in the course of a divorce proceeding.

    WADR, you are reiterating claims of bias or a perceived conflict of interest against RSK,and a lack of sufficient investigation by RHS, as well as a premature course of action taken by ORA. So far, you have raised allegations, but have supplied no facts, except claims rooted in the idea “that if I was the Dayan ..” variety. WADR, that’s what generously called smoke, but no fire.

    I do think that the following excerpt is quite revealing as to your views on this issue:

    “Concerning the “efforts expended” by rabbis, I myself have also expended many efforts on this matter, from long before it was a get issue. That doesn’t entitle me to assume I can be a dayan or that people will agree with me.

    Beyond the actions above as well as those of a specific beit din that if I named might lead to another of my posts being edited and one rabbi who I know wrote one thing in a private communication and another contradictory thing later in public, I have no issues with the rabbinic involvement”

    MeMedinat Hayam-Being the brother of someone who wrote an index to IM hardly renders one qualified to deal in issues of this nature.

  148. Why didn’t they wait for a seruv?

    This is history. I can answer but it isn’t really important anymore, at least in this discussion.

  149. This is history. I can answer but it isn’t really important anymore, at least in this discussion.

    If you don’t want to answer publicly, I’d appreciate a private response. Thank you.

  150. Hirhurim: What understanding did RHS and the Baltimore B”D come to? Because RHS went aginst what Rabbi Shuchatowitz from the Balitmore B”D said in public.

    I think the letter that the Silver Spring Vaad is important to look at:

    10 Tevet, 5771
    December 17, 2010
    To the Members of the Greater Washington Jewish Community,
    We, the members of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington, are fully cognizant and aware of the communal concern and polarization of opinions surrounding the dissolution of the marriage of Tamar Epstein and Aharon Friedman. While we truly empathize and understand the feelings on both sides we must follow the objectivity of Torah values and halakhic principles as our guide if we are not simply to react to the powerful emotions of the moment. These emotions, though legitimate, may or may not lead us in the proper direction, while halakhah can always serve as our roadmap in times of trouble.
    In that regard and as is appropriate, we and others have been and are continuing to make diligent efforts to facilitate a resolution to this situation and have been gathering the appropriate information so that we could act and comment appropriately. It was only during the past week that we were able to meet with the Baltimore Bet Din (the Rabbinic court that has dealt with this case) to understand their perspective on this issue.
    Though some things are inappropriate for a letter of this type there are some points that we wish to share with the community.
    First, at this time there is no Bet Din order for Mr. Friedman to give a get.
    Second, there is no Bet Din statement indicating a refusal to comply with a Bet Din’s order to give a get (a siruv) that exists at this time.
    Third, the Baltimore Bet Din considers the matter of the get to be part of the original case. If a get is requested from that Bet Din they will then rule on that request.
    Fourth, at one point, for a period of time, the Baltimore Bet Din relinquished its jurisdiction of the case but when petitioned to reconsider did so and reasserted its jurisdiction.
    Fifth, during that period the Vaad took several steps to take jurisdiction but those efforts were halakhically precluded from continuing once the Baltimore Bet Din made its decision to retake jurisdiction.
    The Vaad, therefore, hopes for the following and will do all it can to facilitate these steps.
    Both parties should return to the Baltimore Bet Din to resolve the issue of the get as quickly as possible.
    If both parties agree, another Bet Din can deal with these issues (the Baltimore Bet Din has agreed to relinquish jurisdiction if both parties agree to another venue).
    If this agreement is possible we stand ready to help facilitate arranging that change of venue.
    This situation has created immeasurable pain and anguish. We hope and pray that the parties will accept one of these alternatives and that we can all see a rapid resolution to this tragic circumstance.

    Rabbi Hillel Klavan, President
    Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel, Vice President
    Rabbi Dovid Rosenbaum, Secretary
    For the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington

    The Silver Spring Vaad only changed their position after the Kangaroo court issued a bogus seruv and because the Vaad came under intense pressure from their own community (I can post the letter that some members of the Silver Spring community sent out critiszing their rabbis for using Halacha as their roadmap)to change their position.

    RHS/ORA & RSK went against the Vaad – it is that simple. ORA has an agenda that has nothing to do with Halacha. As I wrote above from Jeremy Stern – ORA wishes to “fundamentally change how Jewish marriage and divorce works”

    “No, he did not go against them because they had not ruled. It is admirable of you to stand up for the kavod of the Baltimore Beis Din but for a variety of reasons, which include missteps by both Tamar and Aharon, they could not — to this day! — conclude this case”
    Is the reason because Epstein refused to have the Baltmore Bais Din deceide child custody? Instead she had her frum lawyer argue for, and receive, a custody arangement that made it impossible for Mr. Friedman to pick up his child before shabbos? This is the type of person you wish to defend? A woman that does everything in her power to make sure her child should not a father?

  151. So far, you have raised allegations, but have supplied no facts,

    Whether or not someone is, in fact, biased is a psychological question that I could not possibly answer from my vantage point. However, if a rabbi is a party in the issues under discussion (as the rav who performed the ceremony for which there was no-prenup), is a friend of the family of one-side, plays a prominent role in an institution that allegedly receives funds from that family, and (later) has, in fact, already issued a psak saying exactly what he feels the outcome should be on the specific matter to be litigated, then I feel comfortable saying that party – and it doesn’t matter who it is – is presumed to be biased and it would be inappropriate for that person to be a judge on the matter.

  152. Yisroel Stein, you are implying the DC Vaad did not believe what they wrote when they issued the second letter. I don’t believe that to be correct.

  153. HAGTBG,
    You seem to believe that an individual should face communal pressure for failing to resolve custody (or other) issues in beit din. Since secular law does not generally recognize such private resolutions as enforceable presumably that means an individual would have to either agree to pursue entry of a judgment like the BD’s in secular court or else live without an enforcable arrangement. If a landlord sues a tenant, or vice cersa, and the defendant refuses to go to beit din, do you also believe there should be communal sanctions?

    Your complaint is that get issues are treated differently than everything else, including everything else in a divorce. This is a descriptive statement, as you point out. But I think you ignore why it’s also a normative statement: get issues _should_ be different because (1) marriage is a matter of personal status that is not, contrary to what r. jeremy stern is (mis?)quoted above as saying, a purely “private” matter, (2) there is no other way to resolve jewish divorce but in jewish court (in contrast to basically anything else, where batei din can be confortable that secular law or some other substitute will fill in for their lack of coercive power). There is also a less good reason, (3) rabbis are embarassed about the apparently unfair divorce laws and need to make a show to overcome both their own guilt and public perception. I think reasons (1) and (2) are legit, but (3) can be and has been easily critiqued.

    Overall, it seems to me you and GIl are talking past each other to some degree. There are several conversations to be had: (1) what is the best thing to do to bring this particular case to an appropriate end, (2) is what ORA is doing illegiimate (whether or not it is wise), (3) even if what ORA is doing is legitimate, is there anything to be learned from the perceptions of impropriety here to make future ORA actions unimpeachable. Gil seems to be engaging solely on #2, whereas you are trying to bring in #1 and #3.

  154. Yisroel Stein: “ORA wishes to “fundamentally change how Jewish marriage and divorce works””

    Repeating this does not make it so. R Stern said that “the community” is NOT ready to “fundamentally change how Jewish marriage and divorce works.” You may think this is code for “but I wish it was,” but there is no evidence that it is. Further, if by “ORA” you include RHS then the absurdity or your charge is evident.

  155. Yisroel Stein: Quoting from the various statements of the batei din, which changed over time, only shows the extent of the complex problem Tamar faced. Just read this and tell me it gives you confidence in the speedy process of law: “Fourth, at one point, for a period of time, the Baltimore Bet Din relinquished its jurisdiction of the case but when petitioned to reconsider did so and reasserted its jurisdiction. Fifth, during that period the Vaad took several steps to take jurisdiction but those efforts were halakhically precluded from continuing once the Baltimore Bet Din made its decision to retake jurisdiction.”

    Neither of those two batei din reached any conclusion on the matter. The issue is not whether or not Aharon is a mesurav beis din but whether he is obligated to give his wife a get. And the answer to that is yes.

    Not only did the Silver Spring Vaad issue a letter declaring that Aharon is in seruv and is obligated to give his wife a get, R. Yitzchok Breitowitz issued a personal letter also stating that Aharon must give his wife a get. Whatever pressure there may have been against the Vaad, R. Breitowitz’s letter (from his new home in Israel) makes it clear that the conclusion is sincere.

    RHS/ORA & RSK went against the Vaad

    The Vaad responded to ORA and not vice-versa! And then later reconsidered and supported ORA.

    Is the reason because Epstein refused to have the Baltmore Bais Din deceide child custody? Instead she had her frum lawyer argue for, and receive, a custody arangement that made it impossible for Mr. Friedman to pick up his child before shabbos?

    Regardless of whatever reason Tamar had for arranging custody in secular court, she repeatedly offered to adjust it to meet Aharon’s needs including giving him custody from Thursday night.

  156. Yisroel Stein: As I wrote above from Jeremy Stern – ORA wishes to “fundamentally change how Jewish marriage and divorce works”

    Sheker ve-chazav. Lo hayu devarim me-olam.

  157. I’ve run out of time to respond and am hereby closing comments to this post. I can’t let people comment with misleading statements without my responding but I’ve spent way too much time doing so and must return to real life. Comments on this subject to other posts will be deleted as soon as possible.

    I am just adding as the final comment what I also posted as the first, R. Michael Broyde’s response to this critique:

    Dear Gil,

    Thank you for sending me Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn’s reply to my blog post. Putting aside its nasty tone (which makes me very sad and does not bode well for our community if polite discourse is not possible), his article makes a number of claims that are not supported; three are very important to note.

    First he tries to limit the reasoning of the teshuva of Rav Ovadya Yosef (cosigned by the Tzitz Eliezer and Rav Kolitz) to a case where the couple could not have children. But this is a misread of the teshuva. The basic holding of the teshuva is that Harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam are not considered coercion and may be used in any case in which any bet din thinks a get should be given without fear of creating a get meuseh. That is because Harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam are not considered sufficiently forceful to be coercion as a matter of halakhah and for no other reason. (That does not mean that there use in every case is proper as a matter of halakhah, but merely that the get that results is not invalid.)

    His second claim is that Harchakot D’Rabbenu Tam are now worse than before, as one cannot flee from city to city as the Gra notes. This issue is dealt with in notes 7 and 8 of my article, and I think his analysis is wrong in America. I wrote there that:

    It can be argued, however, that Gevurat Anashim‘s stringent ruling applies to an insular and thoroughly intertwined Jewish community, which was the norm in the pre-emancipation communities of Eastern Europe at that time. In such a community, withholding favors from an individual would have a devastating effect upon him. This result, it is claimed, is the equivalent of nidui. In the typical Orthodox community in America, where most people earn their living through economic interactions with the secular world, of course, withdrawing favors from an individual would not have nearly the same impact as it would in those communities. Hence, it appears reasonable to conclude that even the Shakh would rule that, in today’s circumstances, imposing harchakot d’Rabbenu Tam in America on a recalcitrant spouse would not constitute improper coercion to participate in a get proceeding.

    I think that my analysis is much more reflective of the reality of life in America. We are dealing with something far less coercive nowadays than in the times of the Shakh.

    His third claim is that I have misunderstood Rav Moshe. I think my claim is completely correct in Rav Moshe’s name. Rav Moshe’s view is that he has a sevarah gedolah which he thinks is correct (and which one can rely on halakhah le-ma’aseh with one other rationale present) which argues that there is no illicit coercion ever as a matter of halakhah when the husband and the wife actually want to get divorced and are fighting over the details. Harchakot D’Rabbenu Tam are such a case and this is consistent with IM EH 1:137. The application to our matter is clear and obvious.

    It makes me very sad that a person who seems to be such a torah scholar would write in such a difficult and unpleasant tone.

    Michael Broyde

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