By Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn
It is now almost five weeks that the Beth Din of Rav Dovid Feinstein has been working on the Tamar Epstein issue, and nothing has been announced. The great delay of almost five weeks in doing anything public shows that the Beth Din is not able to do what it wanted. What did it want?
The following is what the Beth Din was designed to do. After Tamar was given in marriage to a man not her husband and she had no GET to do so, the rabbinical world erupted in fury and proclaimed that any child she had would be a mamzer. But a careful reading of the many rabbinical statements reveals a split in how to deal with the problem. Some felt that the perpetrators of this “marriage without a GET” were wicked people. The Rov of Brisk in Israel said that Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky may not teach Torah anymore. Others indicated that Rabbis Greenblat and Kaminetsky were not real rabbis. But others did just the opposite. They made it clear that Rabbis Greenblatt and Kaminetsky are rabbis of prominence who just happened to make an error which is the fate of human beings who sometimes err.
I asked one of the rabbis who talked about those rabbis with great respect and yet said that the child would be a mamzer, how this was possible. A rabbi who defies the entire rabbinical world and makes a marriage without a GET that leads to children mamzerim, how can you write about him as if he is a prominent rabbi? He is a prominent rosho. The rabbi explained to me that the goal now is not to bang away at Rabbis Greenblatt and Kaminetsky, but rather, the goal is to convince them to accept that they made a mistake and to forbid Tamar to be with her boyfriend and to admit that the entire process of negating a marriage with very funny tactics was wrong.
This is a very important goal. If the two rabbis implicated in this adultery do not confess their mistake publicly, surely some or even many women will do what Tamar did, to invent some excuse for negating their marriage and to remarry without a GET. Thus the Beth Din wants to convince these prominent rabbis to confess their mistake, somehow hang on to their prominence, but to negate any more Tamars from adultery and mamzeruth.
This goal was the purpose of the Rabbi Dovid Feinstein Beth Din. It was initiated by Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky, it seems with some help from a prominent Agudah rabbi. This is important. Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky, even after the terrific uproar of the great rabbis throughout the world, is still considered by Agudas Israel of America to be a gadol of prime standing. Therefore, the Agudah has a need to save Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky from being declared a Rosho, because if that is accepted, the Agudah will have to fire him, and they have no intention of doing such a thing. Therefore, the Rav Dovid Feinstein Beth Din was accepted as a group of rabbis who could convince Rabbis Kaminetsky and Greenblatt to confess their mistake and somehow to retain their previous status in the Agudah and other places that will willingly embrace them still.
But this goal is extremely difficult to achieve. I was told by two people I respect that Rabbi Greenblatt, weeks after the Beth Din began, firmly believes he did the right thing. Furthermore, he feels that his HETER for Tamir was stronger than anything that Reb Moshe paskened to permit a woman. If this is so, why should he accept that he made a mistake? Obviously, he will never do it. And since he only helped Tamar because of the Kaminetskies, they cannot admit their mistake without hurting him. After all, he did them a great favor by marrying Tamar without a GET when no rabbi in the world would do such a thing.
So what happens now? The Beth Din of Rav Dovid Feinstein will do nothing, and if it does something, it will have to cross a red line and antagonize the great rabbis of the world. So probably it is the end of the Beth Din, although with the Agudah backing it to the hilt it is possible that some clever saving of face will take place. But if the rabbis who made this horror of a woman remarrying without a GET are saved by this Beth Din that is desperate to save itself, the honor of the Torah is destroyed, at least in the American Yeshiva world.
I will present here what I understand should be the decision of the Beth Din, as I heard from gedolim in Gittin and Botei Dinin. One, it must pasken that Tamar separate herself from her adultery boyfriend immediately. If she is pregnant and has a baby the Beth Din must rule it is a mamzer. The two rabbis who encouraged Tamar with her terrible adultery and refused to recant should be declared wicked, not Gedolim, and not rabbis.
At stake is the honor of the Agudah of America and Rav Dovid Feinstein, and the public trust in “gedolim” when now we know better.
I have stated before, and I say it again: Rabbis Shmuel Kaminetsky and Noto Greenblatt are worthy of being put in Cherem ראוי לנדותם but in Monsey we don’t do that to curse them, at least now at this point. But after doing what they have done, they have no right to pasken Torah halochose and are not to be considered worthy of teaching Torah or rendering Torah halacha. Nobody should send a child to the Philadelphia Yeshiva as long as that Rosho is the Rosh Yeshiva. And if his son Shalom succeeds him, surely nobody should go there.