Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Problems with Kiddushin and Hope with Pilegesh

By Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn


Kiddushin and Pilegesh

It is known that in the life of a Torah child and family, the greatest happiness is often the marriage of a child, especially a woman, who comes to the wedding with exquisite gowns and jewelry. It is appropriate for a woman to feel special about the marriage day. The gemora and the poskim tell us that a man must love his wife as he loves himself and honor her more than himself.[1] A good marriage is about a husband constantly thinking of ways to honor his wife more than himself. The Torah tells us that a man upon marriage should “make his wife rejoice.” Rashi and the Zohar[2] note that the command is not for the husband to rejoice in marriage “with the wife” but to “make her rejoice” meaning, if it is hard for the husband to give all to make his wife happy, he is doing things properly.  But if he goes about his marriage as a partnership, and he is only willing to go so far in his kindness to his wife as she goes for him, that is wrong, and the marriage is not going in the right direction.[3]
Thus, marriage, at least the beginning of marriage, is ideally an opportunity for the wife to be the center of attention, and the husband is careful to make her happy even if it is hard for him. We have come so far talking about the beginning of the marriage, the first day or so, and of course the first year is also special, and hopefully, afterwards as well. If things go well the first day and the first year, and the husband really trains himself to please his wife, and she reciprocates his love for her, that is a winning combination. But the reality is, especially today, that marriages are not always as smooth and lovely as we wish. In fact, the topic of our discussion here is about when things go wrong, and the marriage does not work out well. We are even discussing here what happens when the wife is fed up with her husband, and yes, sometimes she wants a divorce. But according to the Torah, the man has the power to control giving the GET, or ending the marriage. If he does not give his wife a GET willingly, she is not free of him.
If she finds some rabbi who encourages her to get people to pressure the husband to give her a GET against his will, that GET is invalid. If she remarries with it, an invalid GET, and has children from the next husband, there is a problem of the children born from an invalid GET to be mamzerim. But to stay married to someone she cannot stand is also terrible. Thus, the situation with Kiddushin can begin in a lovely matter, but it can end terribly. What is a woman to do?
Let us be honest. Kiddushin is a problem for women, and it could be a problem even for men, although we are emphasizing now about the problems for women. We know that the majority of Orthodox women marry with Kiddushin, maybe nearly all of them. But what happens when the marriage sours? Rather, is there any way to avoid the crisis of a woman desperate to leave her husband when he is not interested in her leaving? One idea is for the husband to promise to divorce her at a certain time, but he could change his mind, and there is nothing she can do about it. She could refuse to marry at all, but what kind of life is that? It is even a sin to refuse to marry, because people have biological forces that cause sins in one not married. No, the truth is, that Kiddushin is a major problem, with all of its glitter and glory. Increasingly, people find the worst problems from Kiddushin.
There is, however, a solution. But like many solutions, you have to think slowly and carefully into this solution. It may be for you and it may have problems. The solution is to marry without Kiddushin that gives the man the power to control the marriage and the wife’s happiness, and to marry with something known as Pilegesh. Pilegesh is a marriage discussed in the gemora Sanhedrin 21A and the Shulchan Aruch in the beginning of the laws of Kiddushin. The Ramban enthusiastically embraces Pilegesh, and says that the Rambam also accepts it, as long as the couple marries in a serious manner, that is, not as zenuse. A couple committed to marriage, even one without Kiddushin, but as Pilegesh, are married in a kosher matter. It is not only kosher, but it saves the problems of Kiddushin, because the husband and wife, if they see the marriage as a problem, can simply end it, with no penalties at all.
I know some women who married as Pilegesh and they were happy with it. Some had big problems with Kiddushin and were advised that the next marriage should be Pilegesh, and they were very happy with Pilegesh.
And yet, there is definitely a negative feeling in marrying with Pilegesh, at least, in some people. What I say to these people is to understand that if there is a Kiddushin marriage and it fails, and the woman goes to a rabbi who violates the Torah and forces the husband to divorce her, her next children will be mamzerim. Now, can Pilegesh be worse than mamzerim? No. That usually convinces people, but not all people.
I have actually dealt with people who feel that better mamzeruth than Pilegesh. Well, the children born from the Kiddushin marriage that produces mamzerim will not agree, not after they become mamzerim. So how can anyone believe that Pilegesh is worse than mamzeruth? Again, Pilegesh marriage, assuming it is a true marriage and not zenuse, is a completely valid thing, backed by gedolei hadorose, such as Ramban and even Rambam if there is no zenuse but a real marriage. Pilegesh is discussed in the very beginning of the Laws of Kiddushin in the Shulchan Aruch. The Vilna Gaon there quotes the gemora in Sanhedrin 21A that Pilegesh is without Kiddushin and without Kesubo, but it is viable, again, as long as it is a real marriage.
I know people who had problems with Kiddushin, men and women, and who are interested in Pilegesh. But it is a new thing and few people do it today, so that itself is a problem for many people. I understand that. What I don’t understand is the people who tell me strongly that Pilegesh is worse than mamzeruth. What world do they live in? Pilegesh is not a sin and mamzeruth is a sin and the worst pain for a child and for the parents. Who can say such a thing that Pilegesh is worse than mamzeruth? But I repeat that somebody who thinks carefully, will realize that making mamzerim from your children is much worse than marrying with Pilegesh.
I also maintain that a woman who marries with Kiddushin, must realize the danger she is in. Perhaps the husband will not be what she wants, and there is no escape other than the death of the husband. Of course, she could find a “rabbi” who tells her to disobey the Torah and force the husband to divorce her. But if she does that, children born from her second marriage will be likely mamzerim.
We have thus concluded the first section of our discussion of Pilegesh. The next section will be about the laws of Pilegesh and how to arrange a Pilegesh marriage in practical terms.

Pilegesh in Halacha

 We begin with the gemora in Sanhedrin 21A quoted by the Vilna Gaon in his commentary to the beginning of the Laws of Kiddushin in Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer. A Pilegesh has no Kiddushin and no Kesubo. What then are the laws of Pilegesh?
A major source to permit Pilegesh is from the Ramban. The Ramban is found in the volume of the Teshuvose of the Rashbo entitled “Responsa of the Rashbo that seem to be from the Ramban.” Let us explain what this means. The Rashbo has many volumes as he was one of the greatest codifiers and poskim. One of those volumes is known as Meyucheses meaning, it is included as a volume written by the Rashbo, but actually, it is from the Ramban. Let us explain this a bit. The volume called Meyucheses is classified as being from the Rashbo, but at least two teshuvose are clearly not from the Rashbo but from the Ramban. These are responsas number 283 and 284. Both of these teshuvose are clearly marked as being not from the Rashbo but from the Ramban. Many other teshuvose in this volume are not marked as being from the Ramban, and they are generally included with the other responsas of the Rashbo, although at least two of the Teshuvose ascribed to the Rashbo are definitely from the Ramban and not the Rashbo, as stated before. Again, the other of the 288 teshuvose in this volume are not clearly marked as being from the Ramban, which would seemingly indicate that they are not from the Ramban, but from somebody else, maybe the Rashbo. But the two responses that are clearly marked as being from the Ramban, these two are surely from the Ramban. Responsa 284 is about Pilegesh. Let us see what the Ramban says about Pilegesh.
It is a long teshuva but let us take a few passages that clarify exactly what Pilegesh means and what Kiddushin means. It seems that Kiddushin means that the woman the husband marries with kiddushin becomes his wife, as if he has acquired her. The Pilegesh does not have this aspect, and she is not acquired by the husband. Thus, in Kiddushin, since the wife is acquired by the husband through the Kiddushin, she may not leave him without his permission, such as when he gives her a GET or dies. Pilegesh, on the other hand, does not confer upon the husband the right to claim that the woman is acquired by him. She can therefore leave whenever she wants, as can the husband.
The second law the Ramban discusses about Kiddushin and Pilegesh is that in Kiddushin the woman who is sanctified by the Kiddushin becomes forbidden to everyone other than her husband. The Pilegesh is not forbidden to everyone other than the husband as the Kiddushin woman is forbidden. That is, if a woman is married with Kiddushin and has relations with a strange man, she is forbidden to return to her husband, and she is forbidden to be ever again with the strange man she slept with. The Ramban says that Pilegesh does not have this rule, but he does not state clearly what this means. Does it mean that she can sleep with her husband and other men? It surely doesn’t mean that, because this is not marriage but the opposite. What I understand from this is that in Kiddushin the husband acquires her which means that no man other than the husband is ever allowed to sleep with the wife of the husband who made Kiddushin to acquire her. A Pilegesh does not have this acquiring in the sense that the husband acquires her and has power over her to forbid her to be with other men. Now a Pilegesh surely is forbidden to go with men not her husband. But it is not because the husband acquires her as he acquires a Kiddushin wife. It is rather because a Pilegesh must be careful not to turn her relationship with the husband into Zenuse, or prostitution. If the wife of the Pilegesh husband goes around sleeping with other men she has violated the sanctity of marriage for Pilegesh, and Rambam would consider her a sinner because she acted with zenuse.
The third level discussed by Ramban is that Pilegesh is not Mekudesh [sanctified with Kiddushin] as is the woman who is sanctified with Kiddushin. Again, it is not clear what this means. Possibly, it means that a woman who accepts Kiddushin is somewhat sanctified by it, but Pilegesh has no sanctity similar to Kiddushin. She and he her husband must honor their marriage and not run around with zenuse, but she has no sanctity bordering on Kiddushin.  What we gain from this is that a woman with Kiddushin must deal with her elevated status of holiness not to leave the husband without his permission, etc., but the Pilegesh has no such elevated status that forces the Pilegesh to be acquired by the husband, etc., as mentioned above. Despite this, the Pilegesh woman is obligated to honor marriage with one husband, otherwise she sins with zenuse and the husband must drive her from the house as we see later.
The Ramban then says that even though the Rambam in the Laws of Kings says that Pilegesh is permitted only to a king, the Ramban says this means that if one takes a woman as zenuse without marrying her, that is forbidden for somebody who is not a king, but one who takes a Pilegesh to marry her, Rambam agrees that a Pilegesh is permitted. Possibly a king who marries a Pilegesh does not fear that she will commit zenuse, because once the king takes her as a Pilegesh and surely if he has relations with her, nobody will go near here for zenuse, nor will anyone violate her marriage with the king out of fear of the king.
Another major backer of Pilegesh is Rav Yaacov Emden, son of the Chacham Tsvi. See his Teshuva sefer Shaalas Yayvetz II:15; at the end of the lengthy teshuvo there he writes how to do Pilegesh properly: “The husband must designate a room in his house for his wife the Pilegesh, and to warn her against ever being alone with any other man, and if he ever discovers that she sinned and was not careful, that he should immediately send her out of his house, and also he should command her to go to the Mikva regularly, and he should notify her that there is absolutely no shame in this. Also, he should clarify for her that children born from him are kosher children just like the meyuchesdika children in Jewish homes, so long as she guards her covenant and will be faithful to this man her husband, but not if she goes with other men to have zenuse with them. Because then her children are the products of zenuse. And she is a Kedaisho prostitute who deserves a punishment for every biah that she has with this man or any other man.”
We have covered basic halochose of Pilegesh. And now we come to understanding in practical terms the proper halacha applications and status of a Pilegesh marriage.

Proper Halacha Application and Status of a Pilegesh Marriage

Until now I have quoted various sources to explain why Pilegesh is permitted, and we have touched on various aspects of living as a Pilegesh. But now we want to go into a new area, so let me explain what it is.
As I mentioned above, most people marry with Kiddushin and few people marry with Pilegesh. This itself is a problem for those who marry with Pilegesh. For instance, Mr. A marries Mrs. B. as a Pilegesh. They live together for several years, and have children, but then decide to break up the marriage, which for a Pilegesh is basically simple. No GET is required. Permission of the husband is not required. Okay.
Now, let us imagine that Mrs. B. decides to leave her husband and maybe take some children elsewhere. One day somebody comes to her and asks her if she is interested in remarrying. She replies that she wants to know who the man is. So she is told who the man is. Then the shadchon asks the Pilegesh lady, “Can you show me a paper that you received a proper GET?” Mrs. B. never got a GET, because a Pilegesh doesn’t need a GET. But if she replies that she is a Pilegesh and doesn’t need a GET, people may not accept that. Very few people do become Pilegesh. So what does the Pilegesh lady do?
Another Pilegesh problem is mentioned in the section of the Shulchan Aruch that deals with Kiddushin marriage. The very beginning of that section deals with Pilegesh. One of the problems of Pilegesh is that she may be embarrassed to go to the Mikva to be cleansed of Nida. In fact, there is an opinion that forbids marrying a Pilegesh because she may be embarrassed to go to the Mikva, but consequently, if she is prepared to go to the Mikvah, which may have some embarrassment for her, she is permitted. But let us make a mental note of this, that if you are in a community with thousands of people who have Kiddushin and maybe five people have Pilegesh, some people, including the Pilegesh, may not understand or perhaps they will understand too well that they should be embarrassed! If we talk about people married with Pilegesh, we must deal with these issues. We don’t want women refusing to go to the Mikva, and we don’t want women attacked because they have no GET when they are Pilegesh who don’t need a GET.
Recall that our title of this section is Proper Halacha Application and Status of a Pilegesh Marriage. I want to present the following here: Proper Halacha Application and Status means dealing with Pilegesh people as human beings who are given some protection from similar problems that could crop up when somebody is different than most other people in any level of behavior especially in something as sensitive as marriage and having children. So what do I suggest?
One, I suggest that a couple that wants to marry as Pilegesh be trained by a rabbi who is prepared to explain all of the possible difficulties, and who is willing to work hard to find solutions to those problems.
Let us talk about the problem of going to the Mikva. Whose problem is this? It is the problem of the Rov who manages the couple who are Pilegesh. The Rov must find the proper Mikva. I know somebody who is very interested in Pilegesh and told me about a person who paid for an expert in constructing kosher Mikvas, even for ladies, and built such a Mikva. Now men use that Mikva during the day and women at night. Of course, there have to be men on duty by day and women on duty by night. But if the owner of the facility is willing to cooperate, it can be done.
Another solution is to find somewhere a place to build a Mikva, perhaps one for ladies. If the proper expert can be found, and be told that it is for ladies, who require a much more professional Mikva than the one for men, and he agrees to keep it kosher for ladies, we have achieved something. At any rate, there are always things that crop up and the Rov who helps out the Pilegesh people in his area has to be ahead of the game, but it can be done.

The Practical Rules of a Pilegesh

What do we mean by The Practical Rules of a Pilegesh? What it means to me is as follows: There are from the senior rabbis of the generations various teachings about being a Pilegesh. I personally would not want to utilize some of their ideas. I want a Pilegesh family to act like a very conservative family that will try to avoid anything that could somehow be construed as too liberal for people making a family.
Originally, I thought that a person who chooses Pilegesh must tell me that they are not confident that they could keep the laws of Kiddushin, which means essentially to give up one’s hopes for a normal marriage if the marriage sours and the husband won’t give a GET willingly. But if there is any doubt in the person if they would last a lifetime with no happiness in the marriage, then I would accept them as Pilegesh. And furthermore, if the person would tell me that if they take Kiddushin they feel they could give up their lives, but they nonetheless fear that maybe, if certain rabbis tell them to force a GET maybe they will listen and make a GET that is invalid and maybe make mamzerim, if they fear this, I would also give them Pilegesh. That is how I once thought. But today, when I see the great decline in the rabbis and how they encourage things that are plainly forbidden by the Torah, I see that encouraging Pilegesh must be done even if for somebody who won’t fear Kiddushin. Why? Because I fear it. And daily, things get worse out there with the rabbis. Very recently a prominent Rov called me from a far-off country about people in his area are marrying women without a GET. The same thing was publicized in the name of a very senior rabbi in a European country. It just keeps getting worse, HaShem Yerachem. So I feel that marrying with Pilegesh takes off a lot of fear and makes a lot of sense.
Anyone who wants to marry with Pilegesh would have to be trained in the laws of Pilegesh and how to behave properly. They must know the difficulties, such as what happens if the local Mikva doesn’t want to permit a Pilegesh to come there. I am not sure it won’t happen. At any rate, we must anticipate all of the potential problems and hopefully find solutions for them, before they marry as Pilegesh.
Ideally, if I was accepting people to become Pilegesh, I would prefer that several people, let us say me and two others who understand people, and the three of us would talk to the people involved and make sure that they are emotionally and mentally ready for Pilegesh. We would also have to find people who can do the detective work necessary to find out whatever we have to find out about the couple involved. Were they married before with Kiddushin? Did they have a kosher GET? Did they have a relationship with a Jewish person in a neighborhood where some Orthodox Jews lived and noticed this so that people may assume that this constitutes a real Kiddushin marriage? And we would want to establish classes for them in laws of Nida, kashruse, Shabbos, etc. Marrying with Pilegesh or something else doesn’t exempt a person from keeping the Torah.
Making classes and having a Mikva could run into money, and when the first few people become Pilegesh in a community it may not be practical to have to spend a lot of money. We can, however, only do what we can. And if we can find some people who realize the crucial need for Pilegesh, we may succeed. The difference between Pilegesh and Kiddushin is the difference between mamzerim and kosher Jews. Isn’t that worth something?

[1] Yevomose 62b
[2] Devorim 24:5 – Rashi, Targum Unkeluse, Zohar דברים רעז:2
[3] Rashi and the Zohar are as stated before to make the wife rejoice, not himself. Rashi notes that ViSeemach [Seemach with a chirik] ess eeshto is translated “and he will make his wife rejoice” not himself. However, if the phrase would be “and he will rejoice with his wife” it should say, “Visomach [somach with a komets] ess eeshto” meaning, he will rejoice with his wife meaning both together. The problem is that the Targum Yonoson translates, “and he will rejoice with his wife.”  The gemora in Succa 28A says that Hillel had eighty students and that the greatest student was Yonasan ben Uziel and the most minor of the students was Yochanan ben Zackai.  Yochanan mastered the Torah as mentioned there, but Yonasan was greater. When he taught Torah, a bird that flew over him was burned by the fire of his learning. See Tosfose there. Perhaps we can refer to the gemora above that one should love his wife like himself and honor her more than himself. Perhaps if we refer to one’s love for his wife it should be equal, but he honors her more than himself. Thus when referring to love it is equal as he loves her as he loves himself. But when it comes to honor, he honors her above himself. Rashi thus can be talking about honoring the wife where he honors her more than himself. But Yonasan is talking about love, that they love equally.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

שלום בית וההיפוך - המצוות והעבירות במלחמה בבית

דוד אליהו אידנסון – תלמיד הגאונים רבי אהרן קטלר זצ"ל, רבי משה פיינשטיין זצ"ל, והגאון רבי יוסף שלום אלישב זצ"ל מאנסי נו יארק ארצות הברית – 845-578-1917

שאלה – אחד שלא נותן גט לאשתו איזה עבירות יש לו. האחד שכל זמן שאין לו אשה אסור לו להיות בלא אשה משום הרהורי עבירה. ואפילו אם היו שניהם במקום אחד כל זמן שהיא ממאן להיות אצלו נמצא שהוא בלא קדושה ויש לו חשש של הירהורי עבירה. ולשון הרמב"ם פרק טו' מהלכות אישות וז"ל מצות חכמים היא שלא ישב אדם בלא אשה שלא יבא לידי הרהור עכ"ל ובמגיד משנה שם מביא המקור להרמב"ם מגמרא יבמות סב ע"ב וז"ל שאין אדם רשאי לישב בלא אשה עכ"ל
והנה מי שאין לו אשה  והוא צעיר לימים יש לו לחוש שיכשל בזרע לבטלה ח"ו. ובש"ע אבן העזר סימן כג' סעיף א' וז"ל אסור להוציא שכבת זרע לבטלה ועון זה חמור מכל עבירות שבתורה ע"כ ובסעיף ב' וז"ל אלה שמנאפים ביד ומוציאים שכבת זרע לא די להם שאיסור גדול הוא אלא שהעושה כן בנידוי הוא יושב ועליהם נאמר ידיכם דמים מלאו וכאלו הרג הנפש עכ"ל
והנה תחלת ספר אבן העזר ברמ"א סימן א' סעיף א' וז"ל וכל מי שאין לו אשה שרוי בלא ברכה בלא תורה בלא שמחה בלא ברכה בלא טובה בלא תורה בלא חומה בלא שלם כו' ולא נקרא אדם. וכיון שנשא אשה עונותיו מפקפקים שנאמר מצא אשה מצא טוב ויפק רצון מה' עכ"ל ובגר"א שם מסימן א' ס"ק ג' שלים הכו' משלים מה שחסר ברמ"א מלשון הגמרא. הרי האשה גורם להאיש כל אלה הדברים הטובים והקדושים. ואם היה הבעל נותן גט היה אפשר להתחתן ולקיים כל אלה הדברים וגם להרבות בפרו ורבו וגם המצוה של לא לתהו נברא לשבת יצרה. שהאיש חייב בלשבת יצרה שחייב האיש להוסיף עוד ועוד ילדים. ועכשיו יושב בלא לשבת שהוא עבירה ג"כ שהתורה אומרת לא לתהו נברא אלא לשבת יצרה והוא לא עוסק בלשבת הרי זה תהו.
ובויקרא יט,יח' לא תקם ולא תטר את בני עמך ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני ה' עכ"ל מיירי שרוצה ליקח נקמה מיהודי עבור זאת שהיהודי עשה לו רע, והפסוק מזהירו שלא לנקום שנאמר לא תקם. שאם מיירי באדם שאינו עושה לו רע מהיכא תיתא שיקום נקמתו על לא דבר. אלא מאי שמיירי שעשה לו חבירו רע ורוצה לנקום והפסוק אוסר זה. והנה מי שעובר לאו זה של לא תקם הגם שרוצה לנקום והגם שיש לו סיבה שהלה ציערו באיזה אופן בכל זאת אסור לנקום. ואיסור זו הוא לאו גמור מן התורה. וידוע שעל מצות עשה שיש שיעור להפסד שצריך לסבול אבל בלאו אין שיעור וצריך לקיים הלאו אפילו שיפסיד. ומה נאמר ומה נדבר שפרש"י  על הפסוק ואהבת לרעך כמוך וז"ל אמר רבי עקיבא זה כלל גדול בתורה עכ"ל ופירש השפתי חכמים וז"ל ר"ל במצוה זו נכלל כל התורה כמו שאמר הלל הזקן מאי דסני לך לחברך לא תעביד זו היא כל התורה כולה ואידך פירושא היא עכ"ל
והנה המעשה של הלל הזקן הוא בגמרא שבת לא ע"א שאחד בא להתגייר ואמר לו הלל שהמצוה של אהבת לרעך כמוך הוא כל התורה כולה ואידך פירוש אזיל גמור. וברמב"ם בספר המצוות מצוה שב וז"ל הזהיר משנוא קצנו את קצנו. והוא אמרו לא תשנא את אחיך בלבך ע"כ וברמב"ם שם שאם הראה לו השנאה ולא שמרו בלבו אינו עובר על לא תשנא את אחיך בלבך שאין זו שנאה בלב אלא שנאה גלוי, אלא שאם עובר על שנאה גלויה עובר על לא תקום ולא תטר שהם לאוין גמורים ר"ל. ועובר על העשה של ואהבת לרעך כמוך. ומסיק הרמב"ם וז"ל אבל שנאת הלב הוא חטא חזק יותר מן הכל עכ"ל
ובגמרא יבמות סב ע"ב  24,000 תלמידים היה לו ל"ע כו' וכולם מתו בפרק אחד [מפסח עד שבועות] שלא נהגו כבוד זה בזה ע"כ הנה אמר שלא נהגו כבוד זה בזה ולא אמר שעברו על שנאת חנם ובכל זאת מתו כולם בזמן קצר מפסח עד שבועות. משמע שתלמיד חכם שלא נהג כבוד בעוד תלמיד חכם הרי זה חילול השם והעון מתרבה עד כדי כך שכולם כל הכד' אלפי ת"ח מתו מפסח עד שבועות.
משמע שדרך ארץ קדמה לתורה ואם אלה היו תלמידי חכמים כדמשמע מן הגמרא שם שבזמן שמתו היה העולם שמם על חרבן התורה. שהם היו התלמידי חכמים שבדור. ובכל זאת על ידי שלא נהגו כבוד זה בזה הביא לידי מיתת כולם. שאהבת לרעך כמוך הוא כל התורה ומי שפירש מזה ולא אוהב להזולת בפרט תלמידי חכמים גורם מה שגורם ר"ל.
והנה ידוע שהשנאה בין איש לאשתו בזמן שאין שלום בית הוא קשה יותר משאר השנאות. והמלחמות בין איש לאשתו הם פחד והילדים סובלים וגם ההורים שלהם סובלים ואין לדבר שיעור ר"ל. ופעם שמעתי על ידיד אחד שיש לו בבית איזה בילבול בילד אחד נשוי שאין שלום בית ורציתי להתקשר עמו ואמרו לי לא להתקשר שהאיש חולה גדול ואם תדבר עמו על פרשה זו שגורם לו צער גדול מי יודע מה שיצא מזה. הרי שהילדים ממשיכים לטפל בשנאה נגד הבית שלהם הגם שהאב מסוכן ממש ר"ל.
ועתיד כל אחד לקבל דינו בזה או בבבא עבור כל הבילבולים והשנאות והקשה שבכולם הוא שלום בית שנעדר ונעשה ההיפוך ר"ל. ומי שמדמה בעצמו שאם הוא מבייש אשתו או בעלה שאין זו עבירה הוא כופר בחומש ובפוסקים שכן דנים האדם על שעובר על עשה ואל מצות עשה ובפרט על העבירות שמדגישים בהם כמו שאמר הלל שהמצוה של ואהבת לרעך כמוך הוא כל התורה ואידך פירושא. ובכל רגע שהאדם עובר על זה בפרט לשבר הבית בשנאה ודאי שהוא עתיד ליתן את הדין ר"ל.

והעיקר הוא לימוד המוסר שמביא האדם ליראה ולאהבה וכל מדות טובות. והעושה ההיפוך ר"ל.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

בעל לא רוצה ליתן גט איזה עבירות יש לו

שאלה – אחד שלא נותן גט לאשתו איזה עבירות יש לו. האחד שכל זמן שאין לו אשה אסור לו להיות בלא אשה משום הרהורי עבירה. ואפילו אם היו שניהם במקום אחד כל זמן שהיא ממאן להיות אצלו נמצא שהוא בלא קדושה ויש לו חשש של הירהורי עבירה. ולשון הרמב"ם פרק טו' מהלכות אישות וז"ל מצות חכמים היא שלא ישב אדם בלא אשה שלא יבא לידי הרהור עכ"ל ובמגיד משנה שם מביא המקור להרמב"ם לאסור לאיש לישב בלא אשה מגמרא יבמות סב ע"ב וז"ל ושם מבואר שאין אדם רשאי לישב בלא אשה עכ"ל
והנה מי שאין לו אשה  והוא צעיר לימים יש לו לחוש שיכשל בזרע לבטלה ח"ו. ובש"ע אבן העזר סימן כג' סעיף א' וז"ל אסור להוציא שכבת זרע לבטלה ועון זה חמור מכל עבירות שבתורה ע"כ ובסעיף ב' וז"ל אלה שמנאפים ביד ומוציאים שכבת זרע לא די להם שאיסור גדול הוא אלא שהעושה כן בנידוי הוא יושב ועליהם נאמר ידיכם דמים מלאו וכאלו הרג הנפש עכ"ל
והנה תחלת ספר אבן העזר ברמ"א סימן א' סעיף א' וז"ל וכל מי שאין לו אשה שרוי בלא ברכה בלא תורה כו' ולא נקרא אדם. וכיון שנשא אשה עונותיו מפקפקים שנאמר מצא אשה מצא טוב ויפק רצון מה' עכ"ל ובגר"א שם משלים הכו' ברמ"א וז"ל שמחה ברכה טובה תורה חומה שלם עכ"ל הגר"א סימן א' ס"ק ג'. הרי האשה גורם להאיש כל אלה הדברים הטובים והקדושים והוא ברכה תורה להקרא אדם שמחה טובה חומה שלם. ואם היה הבעל נותן גט היה אפשר להתחתן ולקיים כל אלה הדברים וגם להרבות בפרו ורבו שהוא המצוה של לא לתהו נברא לשבת יצרה. שהאיש חייב לשבת להוסיף עוד ועוד ילדים. ועכשיו יושב בלא לשבת שהוא עבירה ג"כ שהתורה אומרת לא לתהו נברא אלא לשבת יצרה והוא לא עוסק בלשבת הרי זה תהו.

שאלתי זה מב' רבנים מפורסמים האחד אמר לי שמותר לכתוב השם של הבעל והשני אסר לי לכתוב של הבעל. ופה לא כתבתי השם של הבעל. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rabbis Make Mamzerim - The Solution is Pilegesh

רבנים בהוראה ובמחלוקת – דור שמתרבה ממזרים
ממני דוד אליהו אידנסון
תלמיד הגאונים רבי אהרן קטלר ז"ל, ורבי משה פיינשטיין זצ"ל, ורבי יוסף שלום אלישב, זצ"ל
כו' סיון, תשע"ז

צוה לי גדול אחד לכתוב דברים הללו. ובאתי לפרש שיש איזה אנשים שהיו תלמידי הגאון רבי אהרן קטלר זצ"ל ויצאו לתרבות רע שלא יודעים הלכות גיטין, והם ועושים מה שהוא לכאורה ממזרים. האמנם עיקר רצוני בזה לפרסם שאין לנו היום מי שיכול להלחם בכמה מיני מקילים ואין לנו עצה לתקן. והדין הוא שאם נודע בדיוק מי שהוא הממזר צריכים לפרסם. ואם הממזר מתחתן צריכים לפרסם דור שני ר"ל. רק שאם יש משפחה של הרבה אנשים ובתוכם יש ממזר אחד ולא יודעים מי הוא, לא צריכים לפרסם. וכי כל היום נעשה פירסומים באלה הענינים?
ותחלה הייתי מפרסם החשש של ממזרים ושוב אמרתי בלבי וכי אין עצה להם ר"ל? שאלה הרעבנים שיש להם שם של גדולים הולכים ומפרסמים הדעת תורה שאצלם הוא ההיפוך מן התורה וכל השומע לעצתם לכוף להבעל לגרש ושאר קילקולים ר"ל הלא הסוף שיצא ממזרים מן הנשים שכפו הבעל שלהם לגרש. ומה נדבר על הנשים ששומע להם והולכות להתחתן מבעל חדש בלא שום גט מן הבעל הראשון. ועושים זה על פי עצת ה"גדולים" ר"ל  ממי שהוא תלמיד גדולי עולם כגון רבי אהרן קטלר זצ"ל ר"ל. ומי הוא זה ואיזה הוא שיבין שהאיש הזה הוא משקר ומקלקל ולא יודע הלכות גיטין כלל ועיקר ר"ל.
והנה האמת הוא שאחרי שקיבלתי שימוש מן הגאון רבי יוסף שלום אלישב זצ"ל, ושמעתי איך שהוא כועס על הרבנים בארצות הברית שכופים הבעל לגרש נגד הלכה מפורשת בש"ע, עם שמי אנכי, אבל הדין הוא הדין והלכתי ללחום עם רעבנים הללו הגם שהם זקנים הרבה ממני ואני איש צעיר, בכל זאת הבאתי תמיד מקורות ופירסמתי שהם מרבים ממזרים בישראל. ואילו רבנים מפורסמים שתקו ולא מחו בהם. ואמרתי לאיזה מן הרבנים הגדולים או שהם ימחו או שאני אלחם גם עמהם. וב"ה שהתחילו ללחום והיה תיקון גדול. ובכל זאת ה"גדולים" שלימוד הדרך להרבות ממזרים לא פנו מן הדרך שלהם הדרך של קילקול. והיום יש תורה חדשה התורה של השם והתורה של המקולקלים ר"ל. והדור מושפע מאוד מן המקולקלים והסוף חלילה וחס ידוע.
ועיינתי ומצאתי שאין שום עצה אלא פילגש. ואנשים שומעים זה וצועקים ואני אומר להם, וכי אין אתם צועקים על ממזרים? ואני אף פעם לא שמעתי תירוץ על זה אלא שסוגרים הטעלעפון. וזה עצמו תירוץ. טוב להציל ילד אחד מן הממזרות ואם אנשים צועקים עלי שאני מרבה פילגש שהוא בפירוש בש"ע ריש הלכות קידושין להתיר ובסנהדרין כא ע"א וע' הש"ע ריש הלכות קידושין בהגר"א באריכות וגם ע' ברמב"ן במוחלפת שחתם הרמב"ן בשמו ממש שמתיר פילגש ואמר שגם הרמב"ם מתיר פילגש אם אינו עושה דרך זנות. וכי מתירים ממזרים לרבים מפני שאנו חוששין איזה חששות שהם נגד הגמרא מפורש סנהדרין כא ע"א והרמב"ן בשם הרמב"ם ועוד פוסקים גדולים?
ושמא יאמר האומר שאני מגזם שהיתכן שמי שהוא תלמיד הגאון רבי אהרן קטלר זצ"ל שירבה ממזרים בישראל בשאט נפש, אביא פה בפירוש הענין. ובארצות הברית וגם בארץ ישראל ובשאר מקומות הענין מפורסם ר"ל. אביא פה רק קצת מקלקלים, אבל התכלית הוא לא להביא כל המקולקלים, אלא להבין שהיום שאין לנו גדולים כמו שהיה בדורות העבר אצל חלק גדול מן הציבור הלכות גיטין הפקר והם מרבים ממזרים. ועיקר הצרה שהקידושין גורמים עיגון שאין עצה אלא לכוף להבעל או מה שעושים היום איזה אנשים שמתירים האשה לצאת מן הקידושין בלי שום גט ר"ל.

א)      הרב שמואל קמנצקי שליט"א ראש ישיבת פילאדעלפיא  תלמיד הגאון רבי אהרן קטלר זצ"ל – הרב שמואל קמנצקי שליט"א נודע כבעל מחלוקת עם הרבה רבנים אודות המלחמה שלו ובנו ועוד הרב המפורסם רב נאטא גרינבלאט מעיר מעמפיס. אלה הג' השתדלו לקבוע הלכה למעשה שאשתו של אהרן פרידמאן יכולה להתחתן עם איש אחר ולעזוב בעלה אהרן פרידמאן בלא גט. וההיתר לזה תולין מפני שהאיש אהרן פרידמאן יש לו קצת טירוף ששום אשה בעולם לא היה שייך להיות אתו חיי אישות. והנה הרבה זמן עסקו הבעל אהרן פרידמאן ואשתו תמר עפשטיין לפני הבית דין החשוב של עיר בלטימור וכל אחד גילה דעתם בעניני צרת הזיוג ואף אחד מהם לא אמר כלום שאהרן הוא קצת מטורף. ואדרבה תמר היה כותב הרבה אודות הענין ומעולם לא אמר שהוא שייך לטירוף ופשוט שכל המעשה הוא שקר גמור. וגם האנשים שאמרו שהוא קצת מטורף יש כמה חששות שכל המעשה הוא שקר גמור. וגדולי הדור כתבו מכתבים שכל המעשה הוא שקר.  ואחד כתב שאסור לשמואל קמנצקי ללמד תורה לאנשים.
ב)      והנה פעם אמרו האם של תמר ותמר לאהרן פרידמאן להביא הילדה שלהם לביתה של אם של תמר. וכאשר בא לשם ומסר הילדה קפצו עליו גבורים להפילו ואחר כך נתברר שהם היו מחבורה של רשעים יהודים שומרי מצוות שעסקו לעשות גיטין באונס על  ידי הכאות וצער גדול להבעלים שלא רצו לגרש נשותיהם מרצונם. ולבסוף נעשה מזה בעיר טרענטאן נו דזערזי דיונים על הרבה אנשים שעסקו בזה להרויח הרבה כסף והרבה מהם הלכות לבית האסורים כמה שנים. והאם של תמר הוכרח לשלם הרבה כסף עבור מעשה נבלה שעשתה.
ג)       אחרי כל זאת נעשה רעש בין הבני תורה היתכן לעשות נבלה ושקר כזה להוציא אשת איש מבעלה בלא גט. ועל ידי הרעש נעשה בילבול גדול. והשם של שמואל קמנצקי ובנו נתקלקל בין הלומדים. וזה היה הפסד גדול לאגודת ישראל שהם עושים משמואל קמנצקי אדם גדול מאוד. ולבסוף נעשה בית דין של הבן של הגאון הרב משה פיינשטיין זצ"ל רבי דוד פיינשטיין, וכל הציבור רצו לדעת הפסק של רבי דוד והבית דין שלו. ולא נעשה שום פסק. ולבסוף שאלתי אחד מן הדיינים למה אין עושים פסק. ומהו הפסק. ואמר שאין זו עסק שלי שהם לא עושים אלא לטובת רבי שמואל קמנצקי. ואם ארצה לדעת הפסק אני צריך לשאול אותו. ולבסוף הלכה תמר להתחתן עם איש אחר שאינו בעלה. ומתגדל הצער מאוד שהפקר כזו עושים בישראל ר"ל.
ד)      כאשר הבנתי שדוד פיינשטיין עוסק להציל שמואל קמנצקי ולא אומר כלום לתמר לעזוב הבעל החדש פירסמתי דעתי ברבים שראוי לנדות דוד פיינשטיין.

ממעשה זה רואים שארצות הבית אפילו אנשים שהם תלמידים של רבי אהרן קטלר זצ"ל הוא הפקר גמור. וכמה רבנים גדולים כתבו מחאה על השקר והחוצפה שראינו. ועכשיו נדבר על עוד אחד מתלמידי הגאון רבי אהרן קטלר זצ"ל ועושה מה שלבו חמץ בגיטין.
א)      יש בעיר בלטימור רב מפורסם תלמיד גדול של רבי אהרן קטלר זצ"ל רבי משה היינעמען שליט"א שמפרסם ברבים כמה פעמים שכל אחד צריך לקיים המצוה לכוף לכל בעל שלא רוצה לגרש את אשתו ולהציל העגונות. ושיבח הראש של הוועד דזערעמי שטערן שהוא הראש של אלה שעוסקים בזה שהציל מאות נשים מעיגון על ידי שכופים להבעלים שלהם עד שנותנים גט באונס. ולכאורה לא יודע הרב היינעמען שמי שכופה הבעל לגרש גורם שהאשה כאשר היא נשאת לבעל חדש גורם שהבן שלה הוא ממזר. נמצא שהאיש הזה דזערעמי שטערן וגם הרב היינעמען שותפו עושים מאות ממזרים. האיש הזה הוא גדול בכשרות וגם יש לו בית הכנסת לכבוד ולתפארת. ושאלתי אותו מה הוא עושה עם האיסור לעשות כפיה לבעל ואמר לי שהוא זוכר שיש שיטה של רבינו תם שמתיר זה. הכונה ודאי שרבינו תם מתיר בשעת הדחק שהציבור לא צריכים לדבר עם מי שלא רוצה לגרש את אשתו דהיינו לצערו לא ישר על ידי ביזיונות אלא סתם בשלילית שלא לדבר אתו או שלא לעשות עמו עסק. ואילו הרב היינעמאן משבח חבורה שעושים צרות בידים להבעל בביזיונות כו' עד שבהכרח צריכים לגרש האשה בעל כרחם. וזה לא מתיר רבינו תם. חוץ מזה הש"ך בסוף ספר גבורת אנשים מביא שהוא ואחרים אוסרים לעשות הרחקה של רבינו תם ויש סוברים שהיום קשה לאנשים ההרחקה של רבינו תם כמו נידוי שלכן אין לעשותו.
ב)      עוד שיש גדולי עולם שסוברים שאין ההיתר של רבינו תם נאמר אלא בזמן שהבעל יכול לרוץ מן המצערים אותו ולחיות בחיים של שלוה בעיר אחרת, אבל היום כל אלה שרודפים אחרי הבעל הלא אפשר להם בכל מקום לצערו.

א)      בארצות הברית יש ב"ד גדול של המאדערנין הנקראים "מאדערן ארטאדאקס". והיושב ראש כמה שנים הוא האיש גדליה שווארץ. ואצל המאדערנין הוא נחשב כמנהיג שלהם בהלכה. ופעם צלצל אלי אדם גדול אחד הגאון רבי שלמה מילער שליט"א מטאראנטאו שבא אליו איש אחד ורצה להתחתן ושאלו הרב אם היה לו פעם נישואין ואמר כן ושאלו הרב א"כ איפוה הגט שלו ואמר שאין צריך לגט ושאלו הרב למה אינו צריך לגט ואמר שבא הוא ואשתו להרב גדליה שווארץ וביקש ממנו לעשות גט והוא אמר שאין צריכים גט ויכולים לצאת ככה וכך הוה. והנה האיש הזה ואשתו שניהם דתיים והיה להם חופה וקידושין של תורה והרב שווארץ אמר להם שאין צריכים גט. וצלצלתי להרב שווארץ אודות זה.
ב)      אמר לי הרב שאמת הדבר ששהוא שלח אותם בלא גט, וטעמו ונימוקו מפני שלא היה ביאה. ובאמת רציתי להקשות שמי שיש לו חופה וקידושין הוא כבר נשוי ואשתו אשת איש דאורייתא וכן הוא בש"ע ובטור בפירוש. אבל לא רציתי ללכת בדרך זה שהבנתי עם מי אני מדבר רק שאלתי מי גילה סוד זו שלא היה ביאה שהלא יש אופנים לעשות ביאה ולא יהיה מובן כגון ביאה שלא כדרכה ואפילו רופא לא יכול לדעת בדיוק אם היה קרע ואיך ידע הרב אם היה ביאה. ואמר מה שאמר. על כל פנים כך הוא ה"רב" הזה לשלח אנשים בלי שום היתר להתחתן בלא גט.
ג)       באותו הזמן צלצלתי לרב אחד שהוא דיין אצל המאדערנין ובכל זאת הוא בחזקה שהוא משלנו בעיקר, ושמע מה שאמרתי וסגר הטעלעפון. והנה כרגע אחרי כן צלצל אלי והתחיל לצעוק בקול רעש גדול "איפוה אשתו?" ואמרתי לו ששאלה זו ישאל מגדליה שווארץ.
ד)      ודיברתי בענין הזה עם איש אחד ממשפחת דיינים ואמר לי שאין שום חדש תחת השמש שהרבה אנשים נכשלים בענינים אלה. ויש להדגיש שאצל המאדערנין ודאי שהפקר גמור כל הענין של כפייה להבעל לגרש. והראש שלהם בנו יארק אומר שמצוה להכות להבעל שלא רוצה ליתן גט שלדעתו ולדעת האנשים שלו כל שלא יתן גט לכל אשה שתובעת גט הוא גורם לה צער וצריכים לכופו והוא מצוה גדולה.

א)      והנה יש רב מפורסם בכל חצי התחתון של ארצות הברית ושמו נאטא גרינבלאט וכולם שואלים אותו שאלות בגיטין. והוא סידר קידושין לאשה שיצא מבעל בלי שום גט הוא המעשה של שמואל קמנצקי הנ"ל שהמסדר קידושין של הבעל השני שנעשה באיסור בלא שום גט עשה הרב גרינבלאט. ומה נאמר שהאיש הזה הוא הגדול בכל חצי התחתון של ארצות הברית וכמה וכמה אנשים ורבנים שואלים אותו הלכה למעשה בגיטין ועוד דברים. והוא מסדר קידושין לאשת איש שיצאה מבעלה בלי שום גט. כפי המעשה של שקר הנ"ל.

הנה מה נאמר ומה נדבר, יש היום כמה מיני "ארטאדאקס" וכל אחד פושט את ידו בדרך אחרת וכולם לרע ר"ל. והנה יש "אופען ארטאדאקס" דהיינו שהכל פתוח לכל אחד לעשות בדיוק מה שרוצים. ואין מי שיכול למחות באף אחד. והחכם שלהם הוא אומר בפירוש שאינו מאמין בהסיפורים של האבות ושאר מעשים בחומש שהם שקר.

והנה בזמן האחרון צלצל אלי רב אחד מבראזיל (ריאו דזעניראו) הרב פעלדמאן שליט"א ואמר שבעירו עושים מה שעושים בגיטין בלא גט השם ירחם. ובצרפת בזמן האחרון היה בילבול להתיר אשת איש בלי גט שפשוט ביטל הקידושין בלי גט! והנה עתון אחד אמר שבאמת היה גט אלא שרבנים רצו שידעו כולם שעכשיו עשו דבר חדש לטובת הנשים להתיר אשה שאי אפשר לה לקבל גט מבעלה לצאת בלא גט.

היוצא מכל זה שמדברים על דור של ממזרים. והנה מי שהוא ממזר ומתערב במשפחה של הרבה אנשים בזה יש צד לשתוק אבל אם יודעים מי שהוא הממזר צריכים לפרסם. ומה נעשה בדור הזה ובדור הבא לפרסם כמה וכמה ממזרים? ומי יקח האחריות על הצער של כמה ילדים ר"ל? ולכאורה אין עצה אלא לעשות  פילגש!

ממני דוד אליהו אידנסון,

תלמיד הגאונים רבי אהרן קטלר זצ"ל, רבי משה פיינשטיין זצ"ל, ורב יוסף שלום אלישב זצ"ל

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rabbis or Criminals?

Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn

One of the first Gittin cases I dealt with was about a man whose wife ran away with his child and lived far away from him. Strangely, many rabbis demonized the husband and ignored evil things done by the wife. I fought for the husband not because I like men over women, but because the halacha was clearly on his side. He and his wife signed over their difficulties to the prominent Baltimore Beth Din and they backed the husband not the wife. The wife was guided by rabbis who did incredibly dishonest things until these rabbis were thoroughly lambasted by the greatest rabbis in the world. But still, many rabbis retained their demonizing of the husband and encouraged the wife, with all of her foibles. We have various news articles about the “rabbis” who signed a document attacking the husband, with lies. Some of the rabbis who signed the document savaging the husband were found out to belong to a gang of people who kidnap husbands and torture them until they give a GET to the wife. A forced GET is invalid and the wife who remarries with a forced GET which is invalid has children that are probably mamzerim. We are grateful for the Baltimore Beth Din for its support of Aharon Friedman, and we are fighting tooth and nail with the Washington rabbis who support the wife, despite the fact that she ran away with their child and eventually, with the support of these wicked “rabbis” remarried with no GET at all. If she has a baby it is surely a mamzer.

From the New York Times

U.S. Accuses 2 Rabbis of Kidnapping Husbands for a Fee

In Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, Mendel Epstein made a name for himself as the rabbi to see for women struggling to divorce their husbands. Among the Orthodox, a divorce requires the husband’s permission, known as a “get,” and tales abound of women whose husbands refuse to consent.

While it’s common for rabbis to take action against defiant husbands, such as barring them from synagogue life, Rabbi Epstein, 68, took matters much further, according to the authorities.
For hefty fees, he orchestrated the kidnapping and torture of reluctant husbands, charging their wives as much as $10,000 for a rabbinical decree permitting violence and $50,000 to hire others to carry out the deed, according to federal charges unsealed on Thursday morning.

Rabbi Epstein, along with another rabbi, Martin Wolmark, who is the head of a yeshiva, as well as several men in what the authorities called the “kidnap team,” appeared in Federal District Court in Trenton after a sting operation in which an undercover federal agent posed as an Orthodox Jewish woman soliciting Rabbi Epstein’s services.

Paul Fishman, the United States attorney for New Jersey, said in an interview that investigators have “uncovered evidence” of about a couple dozen victims. Many are men from Brooklyn who were taken to New Jersey as part of the kidnappings.

In court, the lead prosecutor in the case, R. Joseph Gribko, explained how the abductions were carried out. “They beat them up, tied them up, shocked them with Tasers and stun guns until they got what they want,” Mr. Gribko, an assistant United States attorney, said.

Mr. Gribko said the defendants had been motivated by money, not faith. While the case might surprise some New Yorkers, accounts of such kidnappings have percolated through the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn for years. In 1996, for instance, a rabbinic council in Williamsburg issued a statement denouncing the rogue men who subjected husbands to such beatings, according to a news report.

Rabbi Epstein was sued in the late 1990s by another Brooklyn rabbi, Abraham Rubin, who claimed that a group of men shoved him into a van as he left synagogue, hooded him, and applied electric shocks to his genitals in an effort to force him to provide a get to his wife. The lawsuit was dismissed.
According to newspaper accounts from the late 90s, other men, too, have come forward with similar tales of curbside abductions and mistreatment.

How such violent practices, if proved, would have been able to persist for so long may be an indicator of the challenges that local law enforcement agencies face in trying conduct nvestigations of insular religious groups including the ultra-Orthodox.

Agents with the F.B.I. served a search warrant at a house in Kensington, Brooklyn, on Thursday in the investigation of Mendel Epstein. Credit Michael Nagle for The New York Times
Rabbi Epstein seemed confident that local authorities wouldn’t investigate too closely. In a recorded meeting with the female undercover F.B.I. agent, Rabbi Epstein explained that his preferred torture techniques, like electric shocks, offered little physical evidence of abuse, according to the complaint. Without obvious visible injuries, Rabbi Epstein said, the police were unlikely to inquire too deeply if any victims came forward.

 “Basically the reaction of the police is, if the guy does not have a mark on him then, uh, is there some Jewish crazy affair here, they don’t want to get involved,” Rabbi Epstein explained, according to the criminal complaint.

Rabbi Epstein made his living appearing before the rabbinical courts, known as beit din, where he advocated on behalf of a spouse seeking an exit, another rabbi said. He took a special interest in the constraints that wives faced, speaking about the rights of women in terms not often heard in his deeply conservative community.


New York Today

When two undercover F.B.I. agents — one posing as a woman seeking a divorce, the other as her brother — asked a rabbi for help, the rabbi explained how Rabbi Epstein might be able to assist them.

“You need special rabbis who are going to take this thing and see it through to the end,” Rabbi Martin Wolmark, a respected figure who presides over a yeshiva in Monsey, N.Y., said in a recorded telephone call on Aug. 7. He described Rabbi Epstein as “a hired hand” who could help, according to the criminal complaint in the case.

When the undercover agents met with Rabbi Epstein a week later, he said that he was confident he could secure a get once his “tough guys” had made their threats.

“I guarantee you that if you’re in the van, you’d give a get to your wife,” he said to the male undercover agent posing as the brother. “You probably love your wife, but you’d give a get when they finish with you.”

The undercover female F.B.I. agent told Rabbi Epstein that she wanted to divorce her husband, described as a businessman in South America, who refused to grant her request. Rabbi Epstein urged her to lure the man to New Jersey, which she pledged to do.

Next Rabbi Epstein and Rabbi Wolmark convened their own rabbinical court, complete with legalisms and formalities, to issue a religious edict “authorizing the use of violence to obtain a forced get,” according to court records. The undercover agent offered testimony before the two rabbis, who were joined by other religious figures.

Told that the husband was arriving in New Jersey, eight of Rabbi Epstein’s associates met at a New Jersey warehouse to finalize the kidnapping plan, according to court documents. At that point F.B.I. agents moved in to arrest the group. The agents seized masks, ropes, scalpels and feather quills and ink bottles used for recording the get they anticipated.

On Thursday, the 10 defendants were denied bail after appearing in court in Trenton on the kidnapping conspiracy charges.

Juda J. Epstein, the lawyer for Rabbi Epstein, declined to comment.

A neighbor, Rose Davis, who lives opposite his home in the Kensington section of Brooklyn described him as a respected figure. Ms. Davis said she was skeptical of the charges, and suggested they might be the concoctions of enemies he had made as an expert in divorce work: “There’s always a loser,” she said, referring to divorce cases.

Jon Hurdle and Alex Vadukul contributed reporting. Susan Beachy and Jack Begg contributed research.

A version of this article appears in print on October 11, 2013, on Page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S.
Rabbi sentenced to jail in extortion-for-divorce case

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on December 14, 2015 at 4:45 PM, updated December 16, 2015 at 4:38 PM
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman spoke to reporters outside the Clarkson S. Fisher Federal Courthouse in Trenton after the initial appearance Oct 10, 2013 for 10 Orthodox Jews charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. (Tony Kurdzuk | The Star-Ledger)Tim Darragh | NJ Advance Media for

TRENTON -- An Orthodox rabbi who admitted plotting to force a man to grant a divorce to his wife under threats of violence will spend up to 38 months in jail, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Monday.
U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson on Monday sentenced Martin Wolmark, 56, who pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit extortion in January.
In addition to the prison term, Wolfson ordered Wolmark to serve two years of supervised release and pay a $50,000 fine.
He had faced up to five years in prison.
Wolmark is one of several rabbis and individuals who will be before federal judges this week in connection with the case.
The case started with a conversation in August 2013, during which a woman and her brother asked Wolmark about obtaining the divorce from her husband.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Wolmark said it could be done, possibly by violence. He recommended that they speak to his colleague, Rabbi Mendel Epstein of Brooklyn, whom he said had previously forcibly coerced divorces from recalcitrant husbands.
On Oct. 13, 2013, Wolmark had masked co-conspirators meet at an Edison warehouse where they intended to force the husband to grant a "get," or religious divorce.

 Brooklyn rabbi found guilty in divorce case. Epstein, a prominent rabbi who specializes in divorce proceedings, was accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and beating of Orthodox Jewish men to force them to grant their wives religious divorces.

But Wolmark and the co-conspirators didn't know that the woman who had come to him for helping in securing the grant for divorce was an undercover FBI agent. So was her "brother."
According to prosecutors, Wolmark told them it would cost $30,000 to get the job done.
He said some "tough guys" would use cattle prods and karate on the handcuffed husband.
Joining him at the warehouse, prosecutors said, were Jay Goldstein, 61, Moshe Goldstein, 32, Avrohom Goldstein, 36, Simcha Bulmash, 32, Binyamin Stimler, 40, David Hellman, 33, and Sholom Shuchat, 31, all of Brooklyn, and Ariel Potash, 42, of Monsey, N.Y.
Avrohom Goldstein, Potash, Shuchat, Moshe Goldstein, Hellman, and Bulmash pleaded guilty to one count of traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion, the office said. Avrohom Goldstein and Potash were sentenced Nov. 19, to 45 and 14 months in prison, respectively, the U.S. Attorney's Ofiice said.
Shuchat was sentenced to time served on Nov. 19. Moshe Goldstein was sentenced Nov. 16, to 48 months in prison. Hellman and Bulmash were sentenced Nov. 17, to 44 and 48 months in prison, respective.
Epstein, Jay Goldstein and Stimler were convicted at trial April 21, the office said. Epstein, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday. Stimler, convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping also is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Jay Goldstein, also convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, is scheduled to be sentenced.
Tim Darragh may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @timdarragh. Find on Facebook.



Rabbi pleads guilty in violent plot to coerce divorce

James O'Rourke, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News 7:50 a.m. ET Jan. 15, 2015
An administrator at Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Monsey, N.Y., asks the media to leave the school’s parking lot the morning after an FBI raid at the school.(Photo: Peter Carr, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News)

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — An Orthodox Jewish rabbi admitted Wednesday to traveling interstate to use threats of violence to force a man to give his wife a religious divorce.
Martin "Mordechai" Wolmark — along with Rabbi Mendel Epstein, a prominent ultra-Orthodox divorce mediator from Brooklyn — had been accused of heading a gang of eight thugs who used cattle prods and other devices to torture men into giving their wives a get, a document a woman must obtain from her husband should she seek a divorce under Jewish law.

On Wednesday, Wolmark, 56, appeared in a federal courtroom in Trenton, N.J., and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to commit extortion, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a statement.
[FBI arrests N.Y. rabbis in Jewish divorce-gang probe]
Citing court documents, Fishman presented a timeline of the Monsey, N.Y., rabbi's involvement in the plot.

On Aug. 7, 2013, Wolmark, then head of Yeshiva Shaarei Torah on West Carlton Road in Suffern, met with a Jewish woman and her brother about obtaining a get from the woman's husband. The rabbi told the pair, who were working undercover with the FBI, that they should meet Epstein. Wolmark then set up a conference call between the undercover agents and Epstein.

On Oct. 2, 2013, Wolmark, with Epstein present, convened a beth din, or a rabbinical court, in his Suffern office to determine whether there were grounds under Jewish law to coerce the husband into giving a get. Epstein, unaware the female agent was recording the meeting, openly discussed the plan to kidnap and assault the husband to obtain the document, Fishman said.
A week later, on Oct. 9, the muscle of the gang, including Ariel Potash of Monsey, traveled from New York to a warehouse in Edison, N.J., intent on using violent force to coerce the get, Fishman said. Instead, the men were arrested. Authorities seized several items, including masks, rope, surgical blades, plastic bags and a screwdriver. Raids also were conducted at the West Carlton Road yeshiva and at Epstein's Brooklyn home.

Wolmark, who is scheduled to be sentenced on May 18, faces up to five years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.

In a statement Wednesday, Benjamin Brafman, Wolmark's defense lawyer, called his client an "extraordinary man" who is dedicated to assisting others.

"Rabbi Martin Wolmark has agreed to accept responsibility for his limited participation in a conspiracy," Brafman said.

A man who answered the telephone at Wolmark's home in Monsey quickly hung up Wednesday after learning that a reporter was seeking comment on the guilty plea. Subsequent calls were not answered.

Fishman said six others, most of whom hail from Brooklyn, have already pleaded guilty to various charges in connection with the plot.

Rabbi Eidensohn comments here: Below we find a document of some rabbis attacking Mr. Aharon Friedman for not giving his wife a GET. One signer, Herschel Schachter, is known to encourage beatings for husbands who don’t want to give their wives a GET. He has been known to tell people to kill those who disagree with his philosophy. One such person was a very senior Israeli politician who wanted to make peace with the Arabs. These “rabbis” have a very interesting “Torah”. End comment.

(translation from original)
On the 26th of Sivan 5771 the Beth Din of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis
of the United States and Canada issued a "Final Warning" to Mr. Aharon
Friedman wherein the history of the matter between him and his wife Tamar
Epstein was summarized and particular reference was made to his
continued and repeated refusal to give her a get in accordance with Jewish
law. He was requested to appear before the Beth Din for a final adjudication
on the matter of his refusal as well as other matters but he refused to even
respond to their request.

Several Gedolei Yisroel have spoken to him about this matter and he has
previously received subpoenas to a Beth Din, letters, and other requests both
formal and informal but to the dismay of the Beth Din he has ignored them
all and turned a deaf ear to their pleas.

The Beth Din is therefore left with no other alternative but to declare him in
"Contempt of Beth Din" and to regard him as "One who does not heed
Jewish law" – as such status is described in Shulchan Aruch etc.

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 appropriate steps are necessary to extricate herself
from the chains of this agunah status.

Accordingly we have affixed our signatures this 9th day of Elul 5771
s/ Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag
s/ Rabbi Yisroel Belsky
s/ Rabbi Mordechai Wolmark
s/ Rabbi Gavriel Stern
s/ Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky

The words of the revered rabbis, signatories above, do not need any further
endorsement, and certainly the entire community should urge the husband to
give his wife a Jewish divorce.


Comment by Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn – Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky is involved with the wife of Aharon Friedman and he and his son arranged for the lies about Aharon that he was hopelessly remote from marriage and therefore his marriage to Tamar was invalid. The greatest rabbis in the world wrote signed papers that the claims of the Kaminetsys were ridiculous. Aharon has an excellent job and reputation in Congress. Rabbis Wolmark and Ralbag were involved with the Trenton Beth Din that sent many rabbis and others to jail for kidnapping and torturing husbands who would not give a GET to their wives. Ralbag was forced to testify with his knowledge of these criminal actions. Wolmark went to jail. Herschel Schachter has a statement on tape calling for beating husbands who don’t give a GET and possibly worse.

These were rabbis with prominent positions in the community. Wolmark was the head of a Yeshiva in Monsey. Ralbag was the Chief Rabbi of a European country. Shmuel Kaminetsky is the head of the Philadelphia Yeshiva. Herschel Schachter is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University and the head of the Kashruse Division of the OU. And yet all of them signed a paper to attack Aharon Friedman in defiance of the Beth Din of Baltimore who has the case after Aharon and his wife signed for them to control their marital dispute. Why did these other people get involved? Obviously, they are people who think they can do whatever they please. And this must stop.

The rest of us who are still in shock at the sight of so many senior rabbis in jail, must realize that times have changed. A lot of people who are the worst criminals are now prominent rabbis, head of Yeshivas, etc. The few of us who are not going to tolerate this, must plan how to deal with it.

The last few weeks I have received phone calls from prominent rabbis about terrible travesties being done in their communities to violate the Torah.

We can ignore it, or we can fight back. “MI LAHASHEM AILEI!”

The Chofetz Chaim once said to a Rov badly outnumbered by his secular community, “HaShem is the strongest.” If we trust in Him and honor his Torah, there is hope, definitely so.

 End comment by Rabbi Eidensohn.