Tamar Epstein Friedman Remarries – What is the Public Reaction?
By Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn
Tamar Epstein Friedman, with the encouragement of the Rabbis Kaminetsky in Philadelphia, was remarried by Rabbi Notto Greenblatt of Memphis, Tennessee, even though she was still married to Aharon Friedman. I wrote a post called “Rabbi Greenblatt Makes Mamzerim.” Other than that and my brother’s very popular Israeli blog that was filled with this, silence. But the silence was misleading. People were reading my blog and my brother’s blog. They were reading the flyers I gave out. And they were getting very angry. As the street stiffened in its objection to this, the rabbis who struggled to find the facts had an easier time. Finally, there was a crack here and a crack there, and then, some big cracks. People now know basically what happened, and they have proof of the major points.
When the community got to work to fight this and find the facts, every shade of Orthodoxy was represented. Those who worked on this did not go around bragging or making statements. So people could mistake the silence for disinterest. Nobody is rushing . They want to make sure that nobody ever tries this again.
The version of the story accepted by people I have spoken to is as follows: Rabbi Greenblatt was told by Rabbi Shalom Kaminetsky that Aharon Friedman had an incurable mental illness that made him completely unable to satisfy a wife. Out of respect for Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky, Rabbi Greenblatt completely accepted the story, and performed the marriage. Previously Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky signed a paper forced on him by two major rabbis that he no longer encouraged Tamar to remarry. But somehow she remarried anyway.
Here I want to talk about three people or groups who fought this. One is me. I fought immediately not because I knew why Rabbi Greenblatt did what he did, but I fought because I know that in halacha there is no possible permission for such a thing, as I describe in detail on my blog torahhalacha.blogspot.com many times. See later here. Next is my brother Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn. My brother has an ability foreign to me. He does incredible things that nobody understands until finally everybody accepts it. His blog exploded after the marriage with ideas how to annul the marriage which turned out to be right on target. And he immediately showed why those ideas, getting therapists or psychiatrists to declare somebody with a mental illness and thus claim that the marriage is negated, has no place in the Torah.
The Gaon Rav Henkin states clearly that in the past centuries nobody ever negated a marriage because of some defect of the husband. This is also the opinion of the Nodah Biyehuda II:80, Bais HaLevi, and Kovneh Rov. See also gemora Kesubose 72,73 and Even Hoezer 38,39 and 117. Nowhere does it say that if a woman has a husband with a blemish or problems that the marriage can be cancelled. The Gaon Reb Moshe Feinstein permits this but only on the condition that the husband is truly horrendous such as a homosexual, and that it is absolutely impossible to get a GET. In the case of Tamar Epstein Friedman, the husband wanted to give a GET. But he wanted an improvement in visitation rights regarding the daughter. According to Reb Moshe, there could be no negation of the marriage in these circumstances. Thus, Rabbi Greenblatt performed a marriage for a married woman that is forbidden by all Torah authorities, the gemora and Shulchan Aruch. So he and Rabbi Kaminetskys are reshoim.
The senior Gaon Rav Nissim Karelitz of Bnei Braq said clearly that Tamar could only marry if she had a GET. Rav Suriel Rosenberg, the Rosh Beth Din of Rav Karelitz, was there when Rav Karelitz said she had to have a GET. He subsequently wrote in strong support of what Rav Karelitz said. Rav Rosenberg is considered one of the major poskim in our generation. The Beth Din of Baltimore that dealt with the case until Tamar ran away to Philadelphia said clearly that there was no possibility to negate the marriage because of any fault of Aharon Friedman, and that any children born from Tamar from her new marriage would be mamzerim.
Let’s consider the husband, Aharon Friedman. Rabbi Greenblatt declares that his wife is free to remarry without a GET. And how is this possible? Only because Aharon has such a terrible mental illness that it can’t be cured and no woman can be married to him. Rabbi Greenblatt, besides making mamzerim of Tamar’s new children, makes a mental case out of the husband Aharon. And guess what: when Rabbi Greenblatt believes the Kaminetskys and declares Tamar to be free to marry without a GET, he has turned her into a sinning adulteress. And when he declared that Aharon was mentally insane and unable to be a husband, he destroyed his name and future to remarry. And both things Rabbi Greenblatt achieved, the destruction of Tamar and her new children, and the destruction of Aharon, are completely mistaken and have no place in the Torah, and no place in truth. Aharon who has for years maintained a high position in Congress as an attorney, is not mentally ill. Furthermore, during the years that Aharon and Tamar went to Beth Din and courts about their marriage, Tamar never successfully argued that Aharon had any mental problems. The Baltimore Beth Din knows exactly what Tamar did say about Aharon and why she wanted a GET. Therefore the head of the Baltimore Beth Din told me that there is no hint at all from his experience with Tamar’s claims that she felt that Aharon was mentally incapable of being a husband. He further told me that if she has a child it will be a mamzer. So much for the lies of the Kaminetskys.
Rabbi Shalom Kaminetsky had a married woman remarry without a GET for invalid reasons. He did a terrible sin to teach the wife to ignore her marriage and remarry without a GET. He did a terrible sin to teach a woman to remarry and have mamzerim for children. He did a terrible sin to make up lies about the husband Aharon. For each of these aveirose, bain odom lichaveru, Yom Kippur does not atone, only the forgiveness of the injured person. Can the baby mamzer really forgive? Can anyone really forgive? If Shalom Kaminetsky was the main power in this hideous sinning, he is a rosho and can not be a Rosh Yeshiva. Do not send your child to Philadelphia Yeshiva. It is forbidden to learn Torah from someone like that.
I called up Rabbi Greenblatt and told him that he married off a married woman. He told me that Gedolim permitted this and anyone who disagrees has chutzpah. I told him a Chazon Ish and he hung up on me.
Just as it is a mitzvah to proclaim the evil in Shalom Kaminetsky and the terrible mistakes of Rabbis Greenblatt and Shmuel Kaminesty, so it is a mitzvah to proclaim the suffering of Aharon. He has been demonized in Washington, DC so that no shull will invite him to doven there. He has been humiliated by the cursed organization of mamzer producers ORA, sponsored by Rabbi Herschel Schachter and recommended highly by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann. This despite the Rashbo in VII:414 that forbids humiliation even for a husband commanded by the Talmud to give a GET because he cannot be a man. Certainly a man who has a child is not to be humiliated. The pressures of humiliation are in the words of Rabbeinu Yona “humiliation is worse than death,” a great pressure that makes a GET invalid.
We have a world where some rabbis who get themselves a name do what they want. This is the tragedy brought about by Rabbis Greenblatt and Kaminetsky.
In the coming generation, any woman who received a GET from Rabbi Greenblatt may be suspected of having an invalid GET. Any woman who was freed from her marriage because ORA or others humiliated the husband is also a suspected person and needs a proper Beth Din to determine if she may remarry. The anger is building against rabbis who think they are “great ones” and twist the Torah and destroy people’s lives.
We have to do two things. One, we have to stop demonizing men who don’t give their wives a GET, and we should rather listen to their side of the story, especially if they have children. Two, we need to increase the study of Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer, Family and Marriage Laws so we will be safe from the inventions of the “great ones.”
We want to publicize flyers, booklets, audio tapes, telephone conferences, and have public teachings about the laws of Gittin and family.
Anyone interested can contact me Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn at 845-578-1917 or firstname.lastname@example.org.