Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Challenges in Torah Marriage

A great part of the Torah Family and Marriage is marriage with Kiddushin and a Kesubo. Kiddushin is from the word "sacred" and involves a marriage that sanctifies husband and wife. But there is a price to for that sanctification. For the husband or wife to leave the marriage made by Kiddushin is a difficult process. The woman has a much greater problem as she cannot leave the marriage unless the husband dies or gives her a GET divorce paper willingly. If he is not willing and is forced to give it, the GET is invalid, and children from the next marriage are probably mamzerim.

In earlier generations women usually did not have independent sources of money so they had to stay with the husband no matter what. But today women work and don't need support. This leads to much conflict, and the husband may not give her a GET willingly so she is stuck, maybe forever. We have explained elsewhere that today this creates two situations unlike earlier generations. One is that a woman who is not religious enough to maintain Kiddushin no matter what may not marry with Kiddushin. Two, when certain rabbis want to "help" women in this difficulty by offering them invalid and forced GETS, if the woman accepts, she is a sinner, and her children by the next husband are usually mamzerim.
On the other hand a woman or even a man with biological needs not being met in marriage will likely find some sinning to do, which is a terrible thing. Therefore, a husband and wife must marry, but to marry with Kiddushin and not honor it is a terrible sin. What can be done?
I therefore have suggested a solution that is perfectly legal by the Torah. The husband and wife can marry without Kiddushin by accepting the level of Pilegesh, meaning they are married, and their children are perfectly acceptable like other children of Kiddushin, but with Pilegesh the husband and wife live together as long as they are both satisfied with the arrangement. When one wants to leave it is permitted and there is no hassle or sin. However, to have a proper Pilegesh marriage a rabbi should be involved who will instruct how to behave so that everything is completely kosher.
If somebody is so religious that they will maintain their religiosity with Kiddushin no matter what, perhaps they don't have to think about Pilegesh, but today, this is getting more and more rare, as so many rabbis and married people are forcing a GET from the husband.
In very early generations, such as the time of the Geonim who were many generations before Rashi and the authors of the Tosfose in the gemora, around the time of Islam's arrival, the rabbis permitted women to force a GET. Nobody knows what connection there is between this permission and Islam, but it happened. There were other periods when people felt that the rabbis had addressed a crisis by permitting a forced GET. Those days are gone.
The Talmud finally decided that the earlier power of women to declare they despised their husbands and could leave are gone The reason is based upon an ancient Mishneh that although in earlier times women were believed when they claimed they deserved a GET and sometimes it was forced upon the men, this changed in latter generations when we suspected women of lying so that they can find another husband that they wanted instead of their present husband. This is called "we fear that the woman has put her eye on another man" and wants to leave her husband by lying about her relations with him. This is the rule today. We no longer allow women to just walk out of a marriage despite her claims that the husband is awful, etc.
Rabbeinu Tam and the RI, the greatest rabbis of their time a bit after Rashi, maintain with proof, that the Talmud did not allow a woman to force her husband to give her a divorce based upon her claims against him. This is brought in Kesubose 63b in Tosofose beginning "But if she says MOUE OLEI". There Rabbeinu Tam says clearly that we fear that she will lie and find another husband that she prefers over her old husband.
Rabbeinu Tam proves this from the gemora there where the law of a woman who claims her husband is disgusting to her is discussed. The gemora wants to know if the woman is forced to remain with the husband, because as time goes on, perhaps things in the marriage will straighten out. Rabbeinu Tam asks, "If, as some believe, a woman can claim that her husband is disgusting to her and this causes the rabbis to force the husband to give a divorce, why is this ignored by the gemora? The gemora only asks if we force the wife who complains that the husband disgusts her to remain with him, but there is no discussion at all anywhere in the gemora that we should force the husband to give a GET. Perhaps at some time in history the great rabbis had to provide such a ruling, which is possible when all of the rabbis agreed to it, but the Talmud completely ignores is. In fact, the gemora states clearly that we fear that a woman will lie in order to free herself from her husband and find another husband "her eyes are upon another man." If so, it is obvious that no woman can force her freedom from a husband with a claim that he is disgusting to her. Only if a proper Beth Din determines that they personally know that certain bad actions have actually happened in the house do we then talk of a forced divorce by the husband. But this cannot be done just because the woman says that her husband is disgusting to her.

If somebody wants to discuss these matters with me I can be reached at 845-578-1917.
Dovid Eidensohn - Talmid of Geonim Reb Aharon Kotler, Reb Moshe Feinstein, and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev, all of them zt"l.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Selling Chomets to a non-Jew on Pesach: How? Text in Hebrew based upon Aruch HaShulchan YD 320:15

וזה לשון הערוך השלחן י"ד סימן ש"ך סעיף טו' וז"ל כל דבר שנהגו בו באותו מקום לקנות בו, אם הוא מנהג קבוע הוה קנין גם לענין בכור, כמ"ש בח"מ סימן ר"א. ולכן אם המנהג לקנות בערבין היינו באוף גאב שקורין זאדאטאק או שקונין בהאנט שלאק וכיוצא בזה אם הוא מנהג קבוע מהני ופטור מבכורה. ואם מהני מנהג במקום שע"פ הדין אינו מועיל כמו קנין בדבר שלא בא לעולם בארנו שם שיש מחלוקת ורוב דיעות ס"ל דמהני. וכן קנין על פי דינא דמלכותא מועיל. ולכן אם על פי דינא דמלכותא קונין מטלטלין בשטר כמו שהמנהג במדינתינו שמוכרין סחורה בקאנטראקט ועל פי דינא דמלכותא מועיל, מועיל גם בבכור. וכן בררנו שם דקנין דרבנן מועיל גם לדאורייתא ע"ש. וכל אלה הם רק לאחר פסיקת המקח. דקודם פסיקת המקח אין מועיל שום קנין כמ"ש עכ"ל

ומה שנוהגים לעשות כמה מיני קנין לא אדע אם זה טוב מן הדבר הפשוט והברור על ידי שטר העולה בדינא דמלכותא שהשיטות של תורה אין הגוי רגיל בהם ואיך יבין והם גורמים בילבול ואם הגוי לא מבין כל השיטות של התורה זהו לכאורה קילקול ולא תיקון. לכן לכאורה יותר טוב לעשות קנין פשוט שהוא מובן לגמרי להגוי ולא לומר לו כמה דברים שהוא לא מבין ומי יודע אם הבילבול יקלקל.

How to Get Married

The great problem for an increasing number of people is how to get married. There are many shadchonim. There are many programs for singles. But, as one of the experienced leaders of these groups told me, people are not marrying after a divorce, and many are divorced. The divorces cause such pain, such a drain of finances and energy and great struggles and hate, that getting married is a challenge that is not being used as much as we would like.

The Talmud and the Code of Laws tell us that marriage is something to be done at a young age. Then people are ready for it, but as they age, something changes, and it is harder to marry. But those of us who believe in the Torah as taught in the Talmud, know that marriage at a young age is the way to go.
My mentor Rabbi Dr. Shmuel Toledano of Israel, was a major Kabbalist. The senior Kabbalist in the world wrote about him that surely Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) possessed him to write his many books, usually very deep and lengthy books going into the words of the Vilna Gaon on Kabbala. Once I was visiting him, and I told him that I want a blessing for my children that they marry well and soon. I insisted that he sit down, while I mentioned each of my ten children, and he responded.
The first child was my oldest daughter. He heard her name and immediately blessed her. She married a major Torah scholar at the age of seventeen. Next was my son. Rabbi Toledano paused a bit before he answered. This son married into a prominent Torah family, but it took a bit longer.
When I heard the pause for my son, I thought, well, it won't be as fast as I would like, but I am going to try my best to make it fast. At any rate, things worked out nicely, Baruch HaShem.
A major master of helping people with their troubled marriages is Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness. He is not a professional therapist, but thought through his own program, which seems to be much different than general therapeutic thought. He maintains that if you want a marriage based on love, you are making a mistake. People change as they get older and the love declines. What you should do, is to marry not out of love, but with commitment. That is, you see someone that you know has the proper traits you desire, but you have no special love for her. Marry her committed to the marriage, and the love will come of its own and last, says Mort. His rule is, “Love does not last, but commitment creates lasting love.”
In Yeshiva there was a fellow who was getting older but not getting married. I went over to him and asked him if he knew the phrase "hefsed merubo." Of course, he knew it. It meant "A great loss." That is, sometimes when there is a great loss a person has to do something that would ordinarily not be done. I asked him, "If you had married a few years ago, by now you would probably have children. Isn't that a great loss?" Not long after, he married.

If we find somebody with the right attitudes that we respect, and agree to commit to the marriage, there is hope that the children born will not be "hefsed merubo" but living and happy children who smile because of the commitment of their parents.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Kiddushin and Pilegesh

by Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn
The gemora in Sanhedrin 21A tells us that general marriage of Jews requires two things, Kiddushin and Kesubo. That is, the husband gives his wife a ring and tells her that she is hereby married to him. Once he does that, she can never be free of him unless he either dies or willingly gives her a GET, a bill of divorce. A Kesubo is a document declaring how much money the husband promises his wife when he divorces her or dies.

Today, as predicted in the Talmud, there is great upheaval in families, unlike in earlier generations. Many are the divorces, the bitter battles and hate, and it gets worse all of the time. But the woman who is in agony cannot obtain relief without a GET given by her husband willingly. And he is not always willing to give her a GET willingly. This causes great turmoil, and it even effects rabbis. When rabbis see the pain of the women who cannot escape husbands they hate or despise, they realize that these women have such pain they may give up their religion. Therefore, these rabbis will sometimes force the husband to give a GET through humiliation, or public demonstrations against him and his family, or other matters. These forced divorces are invalid and if the woman gets an invalid GET and remarries, her children are mamzerim. Therefore, Kiddushin with its iron control of helpless women, is a major problem, perhaps the major problem for many helpless women. What, therefore, can be done, if anything?

First of all, we must be realistic, and face the horrible facts, as they are, and not as they are not. A woman trapped in a bad marriage who can't take it, is most likely, today, going to go to one of the many rabbis who want to "save" women from their helpless entrapment with husbands they hate. These rabbis will force the husband to give a GET. And because of the general anger in society at husbands who cause pain to their wives by not giving a GET willingly, many people will join the fight to force the husband to give a GET. There are movements today that have succeeded in using the secular courts to force a GET on a reluctant husband. Such a forced GET is not a kosher GET, and the children are mamzerim born from it, but the secular courts are not concerned, and in major cities, it is rabbis themselves who got the laws passed.
Things are going to get worse, much worse, before they get better. So what can be done? In Torah terms, nothing can be done, other than to create invalid forced GIttin that make mamzerim. That is surely not a solution.

But there is another solution. Before I explain what it is, I want to say that there are two types of women who suffer terribly with husbands they hate. One is religious enough to tolerate her pain until she dies no matter what. And the other is not religious enough to last so long in pain, and will go to a rabbi who forces a GET that is not kosher and makes mamzerim. Keep this in mind as we get to the solution for many women in agony.

The solution is Pilegesh. Pilegesh is a kind of marriage without the problems of Kiddushin. The woman or man can leave any time with no moral or Torah problems. It is a true marriage, but each person is free to leave when they want.

Now I want to say something very important. The great authorities who talk about Pilegesh among the Rishonim and acharonim, sometimes permit with Pilegesh things that I don't want anything to do with. I also want to say that if anybody on their own goes out and makes a marriage of Pilegesh, I want nothing to do with it. That could make major problems for the couple who make such a marriage, for reasons we will soon discuss. The proper way of doing Pilegesh, as I would participate in doing, is when a couple comes to a Rov or Beth Din and clearly announces their acceptance of Pilegesh laws as the Rov or Beth Din describes. They may leave any time, but while they are married they must be faithful to each other. The proper way, as I would guide the couple, is to establish a true marriage, with two faithful spouses, and if any of them wants to leave, they can leave. But they should notify the Beth Din or Rov of their leaving, which protects them from people accusing them of having Kiddushin and leaving without a GET. If I was involved, and I knew they were Pilegesh, and had it in writing with witnesses, nobody could accuse them of violating Kiddushin, because they are clearly Pilegesh. Pilegesh marriage means that the husband and wife live together in a house, and the wife has an honorable part of the house where she lives as a faithful wife with her spouse.

I wish to add this. If a woman can endure the terror of Kiddushin with a husband she hates, it is possible that some Rov will tell her that there is a problem with Pilegesh, but others will tell her that there is no problem. Especially today, Pilegesh marriage rather than Kiddushin means the married woman would no longer have to live in fear that maybe she will commit some terrible sin because she just can't take it anymore. But the only way to be sure is not to have Kiddushin at all. Somebody who cannot tolerate Kiddushin for their entire lives, should not take Kiddushin at all. Such people should definitely take Pilegesh, but as I explained, if I was dealing with a couple who chose Pilegesh, I would insist on a real marriage with two faithful spouses. But if anyone wanted to leave and break up the marriage, there would be no problem. But if I was involved, I would insist on their leaving their marriage with signed letters and witnesses, preferably a Beth Din.

Anyone interested in talking to me about a real Pilegesh marriage, can call me at 845-578-1917.Thank you, Dovid Eidensohn Disciple and Musmoch of Geonim Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Divorces and Broken Families: What Can Be Done?

Some years ago I spoke to a man who was separated from his wife for ten years and refused to give her a GET. He was expelled from the local shulls but was not fazed. I suggested that we learn a bit in the Shulchan Aruch, namely, the beginning of laws of marriage, where the subject of marriage and having children is discussed. The man heard some of it and jumped up saying, “I need a wife.” He then began to talk about how he would get his wife back.

I saw from this that a Jew who believes in the Torah who cannot be moved by thunder of rabbis at the pulpit, or anything of the kind, can suddenly be transformed by the holy words of the Code of Laws, with teachings going back to the earliest biblical teaching. It is there that we find the teachings about marriage and children, and it is also there that we find how to sustain marriage and succeed with children.

I add to this my program of Shalom Bayis Beth Din, which is a program of education, at any age, to prepare people for marriage and raising children. I spoke to my dear friend a major therapist Dr. Dovid Montrose (pronounced Montray) in Chicago, and suggested that we begin classes at the age of three. He disagreed. Such a program, said he, must begin at the very time of conception, exactly when the parents begin bringing a child into the world! In more practical terms, we can stretch this a bit, of course, but education is key. And the key to education is to tell people what it says in the Torah, straight from the great rabbis who learned the Torah of Moses and the great prophets, and pass it on to us, especially in the Shulchan Aruch where are laws are.

I have ten children and they have various very senior positions, especially like my son Rabbi Shmuel Zalman in Beis Shemesh, who is a principle of many schools, which is impossible unless you have his training where he can teach the best teachers how to teach properly and not make mistakes that many people do make. Another son, Ephraim Hershel, is an assistant principal in a large school in Lakewood, NJ. My daughters are sought after teachers and senior teachers and one of them has to stand up to major rabbis who insist she became a principal in a school, but she has to take care of the children.

Then there is another issue I deal with, the problem of money. I have an entire program that explains how many of the greatest Talmudists were very wealthy. How can that be? How can somebody who spends his time learning Talmud become very wealthy? And yet, Rovo demanded from his students that they master wealth in money and wealth in Torah! (See Huriuse 10b) I have a solution, one based entirely on the teachings of the Torah.

If we can raise children to have confidence in their financial future, instead of raising children to watch television, maybe we can get somewhere.