Rabbi David E. Eidensohn/2 Phyllis Terrace/Monsey, NY 10952
I present here a review and critique of Rabbi Yitschok Breitowitz’s letter to the court at the trial of rabbis in Trenton for kidnapping and torturing husbands to give a Jewish religious divorce. There are two sections in this presentation. One is the charges by the government based upon the FBI sting operation that snared some rabbis in a kidnap ring for huge sums of money. Two is Rabbi Breitowitz defending one of them and demanding his dismissal from the charges because it is a mitzvah to kidnap and torture men who don’t give a GET. Not only is this a disgrace and major Chilul HaShem, and something that could lead to more violence and demonizing of men, but Rabbi Breitowitz completely distorts what the Torah teaches about coercions of divorces. Because Rabbi Breitowitz is not the only rabbi who does not know the laws of Gittin properly, I intend to add to this several other rabbis who have come out publicly to violate the laws of divorce in the Torah in very serious and grave errors. Now somebody in Philadelphia has come out with permitting a married woman to remarry without a GET. (My blog is full of the details.) Incredibly, nobody except me in America publicly protests this, although when I speak to people they encourage me to protest those who do these things. Obviously, it is time to present the poskim who determine halalcha in questions of Agunah and see if there is any justification for what some rabbis are doing.
We begin with the unit on Rabbi Berkowitz. It begins with the government charges against a group of rabbis for kidnap and torturing to force GETs from married men who refused to give their wives a GET. Then I quote Rabbi Breitowitz’s letter and its ten paragraphs, and point out two things, his purpose, and his errors in producing sources, as I add the correct sources to this.
The Government’s Case Against Rabbis Who Kidnap and For a GET
1 2013R01184/RJG & SMW UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a “Mordechai,” JAY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a “Yaakov,” DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a “Ari,” and BINYAMIN STIMLER : : : : : : : : : Criminal No. 14- 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1), 1201(c), 1201(d) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 INDICTMENT The Grand Jury in and for the District of New Jersey, sitting at Trenton, charges: COUNT 1 (Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping) 1. At all times relevant to Count 1 of this Indictment: a. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN was an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who facilitated Jewish divorce proceedings and maintained residences in Brooklyn, New York and Lakewood, New Jersey. b. Defendant MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a “Mordechai,” was an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who facilitated Jewish divorce proceedings and resided in Monsey, New York. c. Defendant JAY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a “Yaakov,” was an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who facilitated Jewish divorce proceedings and resided in Brooklyn, New York. d. Defendant DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a “Ari,” was the son of defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and a resident of Lakewood, New Jersey. e. Defendant BINYAMIN STIMLER was an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who 2 participated in Jewish divorce proceedings and resided in Brooklyn, New York. End of beginning of government document. Much more is found later in this document, whereby we add the majority of the pages of the government indictment of the Trenton rabbis.
We turn now to the letter of Rabbi Breitowitz that actually defends the kidnapping and torture of men who do not give their wives a GET on demand when the marriage is broken.
There are two sections to our review and critique. Section One is a study of his choice of words and statements in to discern his goals in this letter. Section Two challenges his central theme that kidnapping and torturing men terribly until they gave a GET is a Mitsvah, a good deed. I will show clearly that this is not the opinion of the present great rabbis in Israel and of the Shulchan Aruch, Code of laws.
Let us begin Section One going through this letter paragraph by paragraph to see his goals.
The letter from Rabbi Breitowitz defends Rabbi Benyomin Stimler and calls for dismissal of the charges against him. It has ten short paragraphs.
Paragraph 1 says, “I am submitting this…in support of Binyamin Stimler’s renewed motion to dismiss the criminal charges against him in the above captioned matter.”Why should the charges be dismissed? Either he was involved in kidnapping and torture or he was not. If in Civil Law Stimler is guilty, on what grounds does Rabbi Breitowitz appeal for a dismissal of the case?
Paragraph 2 says “I did not address…whether Jewish Law authorizes the use of some form of physical coercion to compel a recalcitrant husband, for personal reasons of spite or vengeance, or in order to extort payment or other unjustified conditions following a civil divorce, refuses to authorize the writing of a GET to be transmitted to his wife.” Let look closely at this.
First of all, why does he mention Jewish law at all? This is a civil court trial, and I understand that the Judge clearly stated the Jewish religious law should not be entered into the trial. That is fine for rabbis in rabbinical courts, but has no place in a secular trial. So why does he mention Jewish law at all? By saying that he does not talk about Jewish law, does he just waste words, or is there purpose in these words? And if, as it seems, he quotes other members of the defense team who did bring up this subject about Jewish law, why did the defense do this in a civil trial?
What he and others in the defense are doing is talking to the jury and the public. He wants to impress them with the idea that these rabbis are rescuing a helpless woman from an ogre who refuses to give her a GET. Why is this person an ogre? Maybe he has valid reasons for refusing the GET. Rabbi Breitowitz wrote, “I did not address…whether Jewish Law authorizes the use of some form of physical coercion to compel a recalcitrant husband, for personal reasons of spite or vengeance, or in order to extort payment or other unjustified conditions following a civil divorce, refuses to authorize the writing of a GET to be transmitted to his wife.”
Now, what he should have written was “I did not address whether Jewish Law authorizes physical force to compel a husband” and stop. But he adds many more words placed here in italics “to compel a recalcitrant husband, for personal reasons of spite or vengeance, or in order to extort payment or other unjustified conditions following a civil divorce, refuses to authorize the writing of a GET to be transmitted to his wife.” These extra words are very powerful statements. They say that the accused rabbis are dealing with a demon of a husband. Not a “husband” but a “recalcitrant husband.” This means that there is a moral obligation or religious legal obligation to give a GET. The husband is plainly evil. He withholds the GET “for personal reasons of spite or vengeance, or in order to extort payment or other unjustified conditions.” The husband is now further demonized. The only reasons for him to withhold the GET are to steal money from his wife, torment her, or fulfill other unjustified conditions. Here the demonizing is almost complete. But there is more. The purpose of this letter is to demonize the husband and allow us to appreciate the selfless idealism of the goons.
Paragraph 3: “A husband who engages in such behavior in violation of a rabbinic decree that he provide a GET for his wife is an evil person.” The demonizing is complete. How did it get there? Because Rabbi Breitowitz adds a few words. The husband is now not just a GET refuser but he violates the order of a Beth Din, rabbinical court. Now he is pure evil. But is there another side to this story? One side is that the Beth Din is comprised of people named Epstein and Walmark. A Beth Din like that is not a Beth Din, but an excuse to make a lot of money for doing something absolutely forbidden by the Shulchan Aruch. And the RCA Beth Din that issued a Siruv for the husband who didn’t exist is also a Beth Din that is not a Beth Din.
A Beth Din can only judge when they are absolutely impartial to both sides. In this case, the Beth Din was founded to harass husbands. The husband is jumped, beaten and tortured until he gives a GET. What about the obligation upon Beth Din to be impartial to both sides in its judgment? What about the law in the Shulchan Aruch that Beth Din must hear both sides equally and find out exactly what the reasons for both sides are? Was this done here? Or was the husband beaten until he said “I want the GET.” And his side of the argument was not interesting. After all, the “Beth Din” had by that time taken huge sums of money. Were they going to listen to the husband and maybe return the money?
What about the rule in the Talmud not to take money for being a Beth Din? And even if some small amount of money is permitted, Epstein demands tens of thousands of dollars for this and for that and that absolutely negates the Beth Din. This “Beth Din” of Epstein violated every basic rule that exists to qualify a Beth Din, and it has no status at all of a Beth Din. Consequently all of the beatings that it gave are pure evil sins. The claim that they are a Beth Din when they violated every qualification for a Beth Din is also a great sin, in addition to their other sins. Also, since their violence and coerced Gittin were in violation of the Torah and the Shulchan Aruch, the GET they forced on the husband is invalid. If the wife remarries her children are born from an invalid GET and they are likely mamzerim. Of course, if there are children we surely will have to visit the case carefully to save the children if possible, but the wife is surely a sinner. And Epstein and his friends are surely sinners. If Rabbi Breitowitz ignored all of this, he doesn’t know the very beginning of the Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpot that deals with Beth Din.
See Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpot chapter seven that a Beth Din must be impartial, it must “hate money”. Thus in paragraph 12 we find, “Any matter that brings benefit to the Judge makes the Judge invalid to judge.” Does sixty thousand dollars for a judge ruling against the husband violate this rule? In chapter 9 we find the sin of taking payment to rule falsely. Sounds like Epstein? They took money, beat up the husband, and that is a Beth Din? And what of chapter 9 paragraph 5 “One who takes money to judge all of his judgments are negated.” The exception is if he is a farmer and has to stop watering his field, he may take money to hire somebody else to water his field. But to take tens of thousands of dollars to beat up a husband and torture him until he gives a GET, something completely forbidden by the Torah, especially for such a “Beth Din,” is not an act of Beth Din but of criminals who love money.
The Gadol Hador the Kovneh Rov Reb Yitschok Elchonon Speckter zt”l in Biare Yitschok Even Hoezer 16:3 says that when Beth Din forces a GET when the Torah permits it, it is a valid GET only because “it is a command to obey the sages.” But when the people forcing the GET are not sages, but people who violate the Shulchan Aruch in many ways and charge huge sums of money, a GET is a GET forced by a non-Beth Din and worthless.
Par 3 continues its effort at talking about the evil of the husband by quoting the Jewish Press and the GET LAW of New York State that husbands can be forced to divorce their wives with a GET. Rabbi Breitewitz obviously agrees with them. Now, the Gaon of Kovneh, Reb Yitshok Elchonon Specter, the greatest authority in the world several generations ago, says that if a government forces a GET, even if the government agrees with the Torah law that the person must be forced, many authorities consider the GET invalid by the Torah standards, not just rabbinic standards. (See Biare Yitschok 10:2 D”H ach) But when Epsteins force the GET utterly in violation of Torah and Talmudic Law, the GET is completely worthless and children born from it may be mamzerim. I say “may be” because we don’t just talk about children that way. “Maybe” there is a way out, and if somebody asked me the question I would work hard to save the child.
Leading authority Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashev told me how much he opposed the GET Law. But rabbis like Breitowitz and Epstein don’t worry about the Shulchan Aruch and the Kovneh Rov and the greatest rabbis of these generations. They are helping ladies, and making a few dollars besides.
In Par 6 we get to the point where Breitowitz tells us that it is a mitzvah for force a GET even with physical force. He supplies no source for this. Because there is no source in the Shulchan Aruch. I will tell you soon what the Shulchan Aruch does say about this, the opposite of what Rabbi Breitowitz says.
He writes, “Jewish law authorizes certain forms of force, as is indicated by authorities I cite herein to support that conclusion.” He adds, “Freeing an Agunah so that she will be able to remarry…is a mitzvah, even if force is necessary to secure the husband’s expression of consent.” So let us see his sources.
In paragraph seven he quotes Maimonides who says that a Court may beat a husband and force him to divorce his wife when she wants her freedom because “my husband is repellant to me”. The Shulchan Aruch Code of Laws does not rule as Maimonides says, but as the major authorities Rabbeinu Tam, Ri, Rosh, Rashbo, Gro who disagree and forbid coercion of a GET when the wife says “my husband is repellant to me.” The Talmud is full of arguments and various opinions. If any time somebody wanted to beat somebody up and steal their wife they just selected one authority out of many and go to work beating and stealing, what kind of world would it be? But this is what Rabbi Breitowitz obviously believes is the way to go. Just find somebody out there who is rejected by the majorit y of authorities and the Shulchan Aruch Code of laws and then announce that kidnapping and torture are a mitzvah.
There is another point here. A GET must be given willingly. So how can it be forced in certain circumstances? The gemora explains that “it is a mitzvah to obey the sages.” That is, if the Court commanding the beating and the GET is respected by the husband being beaten, we assume that he gives the GET willingly when he says that he wants it from force, because he respects the authority of the Court as Torah messengers everyone must obey. But when people know that the “Beth Din” is not a respected one, but a group of goons who charge tens of thousands of dollars to do the “mitzvah” of torturing the husband and coercing a GET, the GET is worthless.
It is clear from the Shulchan Aruch that we will quote in Section Two of this critique that the vast majority of divorce cases are not ones that the husband can be coerced physically to give a GET. But Breitowitz has invented the idea that any woman who demands her freedom and the marriage is over can force the husband with physical force to give her a GET. This is not true. Only very rare cases qualify for physical coercions, or any serious coercion, or maybe, any coercion, as we will show. Here Rabbi Breitowitz shows either that he is ignorant of the Shulchan Aruch and the accepted procedures of Divorce Cases, or he is saying blatant mistruths in order to help ladies get a GET.
Paragraph 8 contains various “sources” to justify what these goon rabbis did, torturing husbands to give a GET. None of the sources are accurate for the simple reason that although the Talmud does say that some husbands can be forced to give a GET, these are very few, and do not include wives who have had enough of their husbands and can’t stand them. Furthermore, a Beth Din that orders coercions must be a very prominent Beth Din known to obey the Shulchan Aruch Code of Laws. I heard from the senior authority in the world Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l of Jerusalem that any Beth Din that practices coercing in violation of the Shulchan Aruch is not considered a Beth Din, and its Gittin are invalid. Recently, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, Rabbi Shmuel HaLevi Wosner and the major rabbis of Israel have issues letters published in a book distributed throughout Israel and elsewhere, that any Beth Din that coerces husbands is an invalid Beth Din, and its Gittin, divorces, are invalid. The woman may not remarry without going to another Beth Din that honors the Shulchan Aruch. In that book Mishpitei Yisreol there is a letter from fifty of the leading rabbis in America opposing coercion of Gittin through going to civil court. Any wife that forces her husband to leave Beth Din and goes to civil court is a terrible sinner. But Rabbi Breitowitz doesn’t mention any of that. He is only here to help ladies get a GET, regardless of what the great rabbis of Israel and America have to say. And he is trying to give the impression that he, a rabbi, speaks from sources, including the Shulchan Aruch, which we will show is completely wrong.
At the end of Par 8 Rabbi Breitowitz says, “See also Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, Laws of Divorce 134:5 9.” What did he see over there? It says that if the Law is that a husband must divorce his wife and the husband refuses then we may coerce the husband physically. But if the coercion was against the teachings of the Law and the Shulchan Aruch, the GET issued by force is invalid. But Rabbi Breitowitz ignores that distinction. He found somewhere the words that a husband can be coerced and he doesn’t read the rest of the paragraph. What we need to do therefore is to find out exactly what the Din or Law is in the Shulchan Aruch when we may physically force a GET. None of this exists according to Rabbi Breitowitz.
In paragraph 9 Rabbi Breitowitz quotes Rabbi Waldernberg a prominent Israeli rabbi who says that when a husband has been jailed by the rabbinical courts and he still refuses a GET he may be forced to give a GET with a beating. He does not mention where this was said in Rabbi Waldernberg’s books. But the statement, even if it is true, only means that if a husband has been jailed by a rabbinical court for not giving a GET, then the rabbinical court has decided that the husband is in that minority of husbands who can be coerced, or that the coercion is something else besides the demand for the GET. The statement does not mean that goons like Epstein can make a “Beth Din” and torture husbands because the wife has the money to pay them.
In Par 10, the last paragraph, Rabbi Breitowitz states, “On the basis of these authorities, it is my opinion that Rabbi Stimler or any other defendant would be performing a “mitsvah” if he joined in an effort to secure consent to the writing of a GET from a recalcitrant husband even if he anticipated that, notwithstanding notification of a command from a Beth Din, physical coercion would be needed to overcome the husband’s persistence in refusing to authorize a GET.”
He then concludes “Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746, I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct.” I will show that the foregoing is not correct. In the vast majority of divorce cases it is a sin to coerce a GET. I will prove this from Shulchan Aruch and its major commentaries, and the great rishonim early authorities who are our authorities of the laws taught in Shulchan Aruch.
But there are other reasons that a gang like Epstein cannot make a GET with coercion. There is also a serious question if any GET that he gives is worth anything. But regarding coercing a GET there are other reasons why Epstein cannot make a kosher GET according to the Torah.
The senior rabbis of Israel, aware of people like Epstein, have ruled that even a Beth Din with a good reputation must not make a coercion without the permission and guidance of one of the handful of great rabbis in the world, such as Reb Shmuel HaLevi Wosner shlit”o. Epstein and Berkowitz are surely not in that category. Thus, even if it was a mitzvah to coerce a husband to divorce with force, it would only be possible to do that after a very senior Beth Din commands it. If so, everything that Breitowitz said about this case is perjury or ignorance, or maybe both.
Section Two – Coercion of a GET: The Shulchan Aruch and Authorities
We now come to Section Two, examining the sources about coercing Gittin from the Shulchan Aruch and the major authorities.
There are three levels regarding coercing a GET. One, is when the husband marries a close relative such as a mother or daughter. He is told by the Rabbinical Court to give her a GET. If he refuses , he is beaten until he gives the GET. This beating is a full fledge beating with sticks. This is maximum coercion to obey the Torah.
The second level of coercion is for somebody who sins, but not a sin that is a serious as the first person. This person may be a man who cannot satisfy his wife due to certain physical problems. Without intimacy, the marriage is blighted and the wife can demand a divorce. The Talmud commands the husband to give the divorce. But in this case, if the husband continues to refuse a GET, he is not beaten nor can any major coercion be applied.
One thing can be done: People tell him to his face that he is wicked for violating the Talmud. But public humiliation such as ORA does to gather crowds of people in the street outside his house to protest his not giving a GET is forbidden. This is stated clearly in Rashbo VII:414 and quoted by many great authorities. The Rashbo says that Beth Din may put fear in his heart with words, perhaps describe the punishment for violating the Talmud, but “they should not put him in the ban of niduh, nor should humiliate him, and should not cause him any physical pain.” Now, this is true for a man who must give a GET and yet he may not be humiliated. Certainly the next level, where a regular man is despised by his wife and she wants a GET, it is forbidden to humiliate him. There is a serious question if he has any obligation to give a GET.
Regarding level two a man who is not a man and the wife demands a GET, the Rashbo forbids humiliating him, as we said.
We come now to level three. A wife declares she wants a GET because “my husband is repelling to me.” The husband may look fine and be healthy, etc., but his wife hates him and wants a GET. The level of her hate is that even if she would have relations with him it would cause her distress. Obviously, a lady who wants a divorce because her husband is not as perfect as she imagined is not level three. This is very important.
May there be coercion in Level Three when the wife claims “my husband is repellant to me”? Here the Rashbo writes, “If he wants to divorce, he divorces. And if he does not want to divorce, he does not divorce.” VII:414. This means that the husband has no obligation and perhaps no mitzvah at all to divorce. Surely any coercion is forbidden. This is accepted and written in the Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer 77 paragraphs 2 and 3. All of the major commentators there agree that coercion is forbidden in such a case. That is: the Shulchan Aruch written by Rabbi Yosef Karo; the Ramo written by Rabbi Moshe Isserlese; the Chelkas Mechokake and Beis Shmuel; all say that coercion is forbidden. The Vilna Gaon in his commentary there #5 says that nobody disagrees. Thus, anyone who coerces a husband because the wife wants her freedom and the husband is physically able to be a good husband, has no right to coerce the husband to give a GET. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l in his teshuvos says that there is no mitzvah for the husband to divorce his wife (Kovets Teshuvose page 199).
This may sound strange to us who are accustomed to hear about the glory of women’s freedom to leave their husbands. But the Torah is very serious about marriage. What is the secret to a successful marriage? The most successful therapist today in the general world is an Orthodox Jew who lost several children and then his marriage almost disappeared. He went here, he went there, but nobody could help him. But he didn’t despair. He worked hard to understand the mechanism of marriage and discovered one thing: Commitment makes love. Love cannot produce commitment. That saved his marriage and subsequently he has helped many others to save their marriages.
Therefore, in America where love is king, marriage only lasts as long as the love lasts. However, people change as they age. And as they change, the love changes. Thus, love cannot produce love, only temporarily. But commitment can produce love. Commitment joins husband and wife so they are one unit that can grow together, growing differently, but always, together.
Thus, if commitment creates love, it stands to reason that any couple that at one time did not love, could continue it with commitment. From that will come love. Instead of working hard to destroy marriages, we have to work hard to create commitment, the cement of love and marriage. Therefore, declaring a need for freedom from a husband is not recognized to force a GET from the husband. And if the couple has a child or children, they also have rights, as does the husband. A partner in a marriage with two other partners cannot just leave just like that.
I was involved in the past few years in cases where a wife admitted that her husband never did anything bad to her but she just changed her mind about him. In one case a mother of the wife always complained about the husband. For such reasons do we break up a marriage when there are children? The father has rights. The children have rights. The mother has no right to break up the marriage for such reasons. Let her work on therapy, etc., and find how to maintain the marriage. Of course, if she really wants to leave, she can, but she will have no GET. Of course, since the husband cannot have two wives and one of them he married left him, if he does not divorce her he has a problem remarrying. And even if he could remarry, who would marry somebody who is already married to somebody else? Thus, if the right people are involved, usually a GET is given. I was involved with the worst Agunah cases in Monsey and we had the most peaceful results in good time.
The key to solving marital problems is to realize that the Torah demands commitment. There is no place in the Torah for a woman to demand a divorce because her mother said to divorce, or because she didn’t like this or that trait in the husband, or because he was not the person she thought he was.
I once spoke to a father about his daughter who divorced a very successful husband because he was not a super success. After I spoke to the father, who almost spoke with a groan about his pain at this, I asked if I could speak to the daughter, and he gave her the phone. I asked her why she demanded a GET and she said, “He was very good, but not great!” Her voice trembled with fury. Where did she learn this? Not from her father. But there are various people out there. Here idealism destroys the marriage. She read too many books about great people and decided they were for her. Or she had a teacher who influenced her, or friends. But it is wrong. Today people decide to divorce and destroy their family because of talking to somebody who got divorced or who has some grudge against men. This is sad. But it is common, and it powers the increasing number of broken families and broken children. And the fathers I know of who are utterly shattered by the courts and the wars of the wife are teaching men one thing. Never give your wife a GET and trust her to treat you like a human being. People who were kind and gave a GET right away lost their children and after years of struggle had to give up.
But the ORA lobbyists demonize all men who don’t just fork over the GET. They power the destruction of family, and the invalid Gittin they produce can make mamzerim.
To sum up:
1. Coercion with a beating is only possible when the husband is living with a close relative such as a daughter or mother or similar situations of very great sin.
2. Coercion with a beating is forbidden in cases where the Talmud demands a GET but does not clearly state that a beating is proper in that case. See Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer 154:21.
3. If the Talmud does demand a GET but does not say to beat the husband then only minor coercion is permitted. People may tell the husband that he is wicked for not obeying the Talmud. The Court can warn him and frighten him perhaps with stories about going to Gehenum for disobeying the Talmud and maybe suffering in this world also. But serious coercion such as putting him under a ban or humiliating him or causing him physical pain is forbidden.
4. In Even Hoezer 154:23 in the Ramo we find that in such a case when we permit minor coercion it is possible to do a passive ostracizing, meaning that nobody in his town talks to him or does business with him until he gives the GET. Note that this is only permitted in the case where the Talmud demands a GET. But the laws of a woman who demands a GET because “my husband is repellant to me” is not mentioned in the laws of Gittin, because we don’t demand a GET in such a case, nor may we make any kind of coercion, not major coercion and not minor coercion.
5. Some say that passive ostracizing is only permitted if the husband can escape it by going to a different town. ORA goes from town to town so that would be forbidden even for a husband who is commanded by the Talmud to divorce because he is not a man. But MOUS OLEI when the wife is repelled by the husband may not be coerced at all.
6. Major authorities disagree with the Ramo and forbid passive coercion through ostracizing completely, even for a husband who is not a man, as today it is considered a major coercion. These are the Shach in Gevuras Anoshim and the Chazon Ish. In general we follow the Shach if he differs with Ramo. Therefore, coercion through ostracizing is also not allowed today even if the Talmud clearly demands a GET but does not say to beat the husband to coerce the GET.
7. Thus, Rabbi Breitowitz has decided that kidnapping and beating a husband to force a GET because the wife wants her freedom is a mitzvah, but he is ignorant about the Shulchan Aruch Code of Laws, and quotes as sources the Law of the State of New York that coerces husbands to give a GET whenever there is a civil divorce. Such a GET forced by the secular court is invalid. The government cannot force a GET because only a universally recognized Beth Din can force a GET. Only then do we assume that the husband accepts the command of the Beth Din because “it is a mitsavh to obey the sages.” The civil court using civil law are not rabbinical sages and their force makes an invalid GET.
8. Thus, the great rabbis of Israel quoted in the book Mishpitei Yisroel say that any Beth Din that is known to coerce Gittin in violation of the Shulchan Aruch loses its status of a Beth Din and its divorces are not recognized. A woman who has a GET from them must get a GET from a recognized Beth Din that follows the Shulchan Aruch.
9. In the coming generation, all of the women divorced due to the twisted Torah of Rabbi Breitowitz and other such “rabbis” will have children who are possibly mamzerim, and this is the ultimate child molestation. Any child born from a remarried mother who remarried with a coerced GET that was not done under the direction of a prominent rabbi who follows the Shulchan Aruch as I mentioned above, is considered married even after she has her GET and the children of a woman remarried without a kosher GET are mamzerim.
There are today many ignorant people who want to “help” ladies with a GET. And they are helping to make mamzerim.
The Beis Shmuel says that any coercion that violates the Shulchan Aruch, or coercion that does not violate the Shulchan Aruch but is initiated by civil law or gentiles, is negated by the Torah and the children born from it are mamzerim. (See Even Hoezer 134:5 Beis Shmuel 10,13) The Maharsham IV:73 says that “We follow the ruling of the Beis Shmuel everywhere.”
We place here the rest of the government's case against the Trenton rabbis after the part we placed in the beginning of this document. Because of its length we shortened it in the beginning:
f. “CC-1” was a co-conspirator of the defendants and resided in Lakewood, New Jersey. g. “CC-2” was an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who was a co-conspirator of the defendants and resided in Lakewood, New Jersey. h. According to Jewish law, in order to effect a divorce, a husband must provide his wife with a document known as a “get.” A get serves as documentary proof of the dissolution of a marriage under Jewish law, and divorce cannot be effected until a get is given by the husband. The get is a dated and witnessed document wherein the husband expresses his unqualified intention to divorce his wife and sever all ties with her. The get is written by an expert scribe, known as a “sofer,” who acts as the husband’s agent. After the get is written by the sofer, the husband hands it to his wife in the presence of two witnesses. A wife may also have an agent accept the get on her behalf. At this point the marriage has been dissolved and a rabbinical court, known as a “beth din,” will give both parties a certificate confirming their new marital status. If a husband refuses to give his wife a get, the wife has the right to sue for divorce in a beth din, which may order the husband to issue the get. If the husband refuses to comply with the beth din’s order, he may be subjected to various penalties to pressure him into giving his wife a get and thereby consenting to the divorce. A woman whose husband will not give her a get and consent to a divorce is known as an “agunah” (“agunot” in plural).3 The Conspiracy 2. From at least in or about 2009 to in or about October 2013, in the District of New Jersey, and elsewhere, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a “Mordechai,” JAY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a “Yaakov,” DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a “Ari,” and BINYAMIN STIMLER conspired and agreed, together and with others known and unknown, to knowingly and unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold a person for ransom, reward and otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce Jewish husbands to give gets to their wives, and, in committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, traveled in interstate commerce and used means, facilities and instrumentalities of interstate and foreign commerce, contrary to Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(1). The Object of the Conspiracy 3. The object of the conspiracy was for defendants to obtain money and other things of value from agunot and their families by kidnapping the husbands of the agunot and violently coercing the husbands to give gets to their wives and thereby consent to Jewish divorces. Manner and Means of the Conspiracy 4. It was part of the conspiracy that defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN WOLMARK, and JAY GOLDSTEIN charged agunot and their families thousands of dollars to obtain gets from recalcitrant husbands by means of violence. 5. It was further part of the conspiracy that defendant DAVID EPSTEIN, defendant BINYAMIN STIMLER, CC-1, CC-2, and others assisted defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, 4 MARTIN WOLMARK, and JAY GOLDSTEIN in obtaining gets from recalcitrant husbands by means of violence. 6. It was further part of the conspiracy that in order to obtain the defendants’ assistance in obtaining a get from a recalcitrant husband, the family of an agunah made contact with one or more of the defendants to discuss the details of the divorce. The agunah’s family then made payment to one or more of the defendants to obtain the get. The defendants then convened a beth din, which issued a contempt order, known as a “seruv,” against the husband. If the husband failed to respond, the beth din issued a ruling, known as a “psak din,” authorizing the use of coercion and force to obtain the get. The defendants then arranged to kidnap the recalcitrant husband and violently coerce him to give his wife a get. Overt Acts In Furtherance of the Conspiracy 7. In furtherance of the conspiracy, and to accomplish its object, one or more of the defendants and others engaged in the following overt acts, among others: The 2009 Forced Get a. In or about late November 2009, CC-1 lured a man (“Victim 1”) from Brooklyn, New York to Lakewood, New Jersey under the pretense of an employment offer. Victim 1 stayed several days in a temporary residence in Lakewood. On or about December 1, 2009, while Victim 1 was in Lakewood, New Jersey, he was assaulted by defendant DAVID EPSTEIN and others, placed in a van, tied up, beaten and shocked with a stun-gun until he agreed to give his wife a get. The 2010 Forced Get b. On or about October 16, 2010, CC-2 lured a man (“Victim 2”) from 5 Brooklyn, New York to Lakewood, New Jersey under the pretense of helping CC-2 with Talmudic research. On or about October 17, 2010, defendant DAVID EPSTEIN, CC-2 and others assaulted Victim 2, tied him up and beat him until he agreed to give his wife a get. While Victim 2 was being assaulted, defendants MARTIN WOLMARK and JAY GOLDSTEIN arrived to officiate and record the get. The 2011 Forced Get c. On or about August 22, 2011, defendant DAVID EPSTEIN, after traveling from New Jersey to New York, defendant JAY GOLDSTEIN, and others forced their way inside the residence of a man (“Victim 3”) and his roommate (“Victim 4”) in Brooklyn, New York. Defendants DAVID EPSTEIN and JAY GOLDSTEIN and the other co-conspirators then assaulted Victim 3 and Victim 4, punched them the face, handcuffed them, blindfolded them, and bound their legs until Victim 3 agreed to give his wife a get. The 2013 Forced Get d. On or about August 7, 2013, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN and MARTIN WOLMARK participated in a telephone conference call with two undercover FBI agents who purported to be an agunah (“UCE-1”) and her brother (“UCE-2”) (collectively, the “UCEs”). During that recorded call, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN and MARTIN WOLMARK and the UCEs discussed the possibility of using violence to force UCE-1’s purported husband (“the Husband”) to give her a get. Also during that call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN agreed to meet with the UCEs in person at a later date because, according to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN, “I don’t think this is a phone conversation, am I correct?” e. On or about August 14, 2013, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN met with the 6 UCEs at his home in Lakewood, New Jersey to discuss kidnapping the Husband to force him to give the get. During that recorded meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN spoke about kidnapping, beating, and torturing husbands in order to force them into giving gets to their wives: Sup, suppose we, ya know this is an expensive thing to do. It’s not simply . . . basically what we are going to be doing is kidnapping a guy for a couple of hours and beating him up and torturing him and then getting him to give the get. f. At the August 14, 2013 meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN also talked about employing “tough guys” who utilize electric cattle prods, karate and handcuffs, and place plastic bags over the heads of the husbands to coerce them to give gets to their wives. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and UCE-2 also engaged in the following conversation: Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN (“ME”): Wait, wait, wait a minute. Wait a second here. I guarantee you that if you’re in the van, you’d give a get to your wife. You probably love your wife, but you’d give a get when they finish with you. So, and it’s, hopefully, there won’t even be a mark on him. UCE-2: You can leave a mark. ME: No, no, no, no, we -- UCE-2: I know. I understand what you’re saying. ME: We prefer not to leave a mark, right. Because then when they do go to the police, the police look at the guy -- UCE-2: Yeah, what’s wrong -- ME: You look the same. You know, ah, what’s so terrible. They did this to give a get. How long didn’t you give a get. Ah, two years, yeah. I mean, I, I’ve traveled, I’ve been in South America too, and 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 get involved. * * * ME: We take an electric cattle prod.7 UCE-2: Electric cattle prod, okay. ME: If it can get a bull that weighs five tons to move, you put it in certain parts of his body and in one minute the guy will know. g. At the August 14, 2013 meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN also admitted that he committed similar kidnappings every year to year and a half. h. At the August 14, 2013 meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN stated that the kidnapping would cost $10,000 to pay for the beth din to approve the kidnapping and use of violence, and an additional $50,000 to $60,000 to pay for the “tough guys” who would conduct the beating of the Husband to coerce him to give the get. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN further stated that defendant MARTIN WOLMARK officiates during the kidnapping and forced get, and that defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN’s son is one of the “tough guys” who uses his karate skills on the husbands to facilitate the coerced divorces. i. On or about August 14, 2013, UCE-2 made a payment of approximately $10,000 to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN for defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN to arrange for the kidnapping and beating of the Husband to coerce him to give the get. j. On or about September 25, 2013, UCE-2 called defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN. During that recorded call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and UCE-2 discussed a warehouse in Middlesex County, New Jersey (the “Warehouse”) as the location of the kidnapping and beating of the Husband to coerce him to give the get. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN indicated that he wanted to investigate the Warehouse to ensure that it was an appropriate location. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN further told UCE-2 that UCE-2 would have to pay him a portion of the fee prior to the investigation. In response, UCE-2 told defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN that 8 he would wire $20,000 to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN after the psak din was issued. k. During the September 25, 2013 call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and UCE-2 also discussed whether it was necessary for the Husband to actually enter the Warehouse before he was kidnapped. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN stated that it might not be necessary for the Husband to enter the Warehouse because “they don’t need him for long, believe me. They’ll have him in the van, hooded, and it will happen.” l. During the September 25, 2013 call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and UCE-2 further discussed luring the Husband to the Warehouse and how the Husband was going to get home after the kidnapping. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that UCE-2 should bring the Husband home so there would be “no police involvement.” m. On or about September 29, 2013, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN and JAY GOLDSTEIN traveled from New York to New Jersey to inspect the Warehouse. Shortly thereafter, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN sent an e-mail to UCE-2. In that e-mail, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that the Warehouse was “[r]eally out of the way great.” Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN also noted that there was a police station nearby, and asked whether the police or other security regularly patrolled the area around the Warehouse. n. On or about September 30, 2013, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and UCE-2 had a telephone call, which was recorded. In response to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN’s question in the September 29, 2013 e-mail about police or security patrols, UCE-2 told defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN that there would be no security patrols. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that the Warehouse was “better than good” and that it would be better if the Husband were brought inside the Warehouse for the kidnapping. Defendant 9 MENDEL EPSTEIN then outlined the plan for the kidnapping of the Husband, according to which defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN’s co-conspirators would enter the Warehouse on the evening of October 9, 2013, after UCE-2 had unlocked it, and wait there for UCE-2 to bring the Husband to the Warehouse, after which the Husband would be kidnapped and forced to give the get. o. During the September 30, 2013 call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN confirmed that the beth din would issue the psak din on October 2, 2013, after which UCE-2 would wire $20,000 to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN as payment. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN also instructed UCE-2 to bring a check in the amount of $30,000, and made out to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN, with him to the Warehouse on October 9, 2013 because the participants in the kidnapping and beating “need to be paid within twenty-four hours.” p. On or about October 2, 2013, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN WOLMARK, and JAY GOLDSTEIN convened a beth din at defendant MARTIN WOLMARK’s office in Monsey, New York. The purpose of the beth din was to issue a psak din authorizing the use of violence to obtain a get from the Husband. That beth din proceeding was recorded by UCE-1. q. During the October 2, 2013 beth din proceeding, UCE-1 asked defendant JAY GOLDSTEIN who he was. Defendant JAY GOLDSTEIN refused to answer UCE-1’s question, explaining that it was better “the less information you [UCE-1] know about myself.” r. During the October 2, 2013 beth din proceeding, defendant MARTIN WOLMARK asked UCE-1 to explain her situation, asking “Why do you have to be released from this marriage, even if your husband has to be coerced?” UCE-1 explained her situation and why she was desperate for a divorce from her husband, who refused to give her a get. Defendant10 MENDEL EPSTEIN directed defendant JAY GOLDSTEIN to write down everything for the psak din. s. At the end of the October 2, 2013 beth din, defendant MARTIN WOLMARK asked UCE-1 about “the plan” for the forced get and whether UCE-1 knew the location and the timing. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-1 that the plan to force the Husband to give the get was good, stating that “it’s at night, and it’s a weird place, it’s very good … hopefully the patrol will not be out on patrol that night.” Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN further told UCE-1 that on October 9, 2013, she “should be out in public” among a lot of people. t. On or about October 2, 2013, the beth din issued the psak din authorizing the use of coercion and force to obtain a get from the Husband. u. On or about October 2, 2013, a payment of approximately $20,000 was wired to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN by UCE-2. v. On or about October 8, 2013, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and UCE-2 met at defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN’s home in Brooklyn, New York. That meeting was recorded by UCE-2. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that eight people would be present for the October 9, 2013 kidnapping and beating of the Husband, to include four “tough guys,” two witnesses, a sofer, and a person to accept the get on behalf of UCE-1. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN further stated that he would not be present at the Warehouse on October 9, 2013. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that he would be in some public place, so that witnesses could confirm his alibi if he were later questioned by the police. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN again directed UCE-2 to bring a check in the amount of $30,000, made out to him, and that UCE-2 was to give the check to the sofer at the Warehouse.11 w. At the October 8, 2013 meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN also discussed other similar kidnappings that defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN had previously orchestrated. x. On or about October 9, 2013, defendant JAY GOLDSTEIN, defendant BINYAMIN STIMLER, and six other individuals (collectively, the “Kidnap Team”) traveled from New York to the Warehouse in Middlesex County, New Jersey to execute the planned kidnapping of the Husband to force him to give the get. The Kidnap Team arrived at the Warehouse in two dark minivans shortly after 8:00 p.m. Upon exiting the minivans, some of the Kidnap Team members put on masks and entered the Warehouse office with UCE-2. The remaining Kidnap Team members walked around the outside of the Warehouse with flashlights. Over the next fifteen minutes, members of the Kidnap Team went in and out of the Warehouse office wearing disguises, including ski masks, Halloween masks and bandanas. While inside the Warehouse office, the Kidnap Team members discussed their plan for assaulting the Husband. Specifically, they discussed how they planned to grab the Husband, pull him down, tie him up, and take his phone, as well as where they would grab him and drag him, making sure to keep him away from the windows. Members of the Kidnap Team brought with them to the Warehouse rope, surgical blades, a screwdriver, plastic bags, and items used to ceremonially record the get. All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(c).12 COUNT 2 (Kidnapping) 1. The allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 6 and 7a of Count 1 are re-alleged and incorporated as if fully set forth herein. 2. From in or about November 2009 to on or about December 1, 2009, in Ocean County, in the District of New Jersey and elsewhere, defendant DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a “Ari” did knowingly and unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold a person, “Victim 1,” for ransom, reward and otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce Victim 1 to give a get, and, in committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, did cause Victim 1 to be willfully transported in interstate commerce from New York to New Jersey and did use any means, facility, and instrumentality of interstate and foreign commerce. In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(1), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.13 COUNT 3 (Kidnapping) 1. The allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 6 and 7b of Count 1 are re-alleged and incorporated as if fully set forth herein. 2. On or about October 17, 2010, in the District of New Jersey, and elsewhere, defendants MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a “Mordechai,” JAY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a “Yaakov,” and DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a “Ari” did knowingly and unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold a person, “Victim 2,” for ransom, reward and otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce Victim 2 to give a get, and, in committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, did cause Victim 2 to be willfully transported in interstate commerce from New York to New Jersey, did travel in interstate commerce from New York to New Jersey, and did use any means, facility, and instrumentality of interstate and foreign commerce. In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(1), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.14 COUNT 4 (Kidnapping) 1. The allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 6 and 7c of Count 1 are re-alleged and incorporated as if fully set forth herein. 2. On or about August 22, 2011, in the District of New Jersey, and elsewhere, defendants JAY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a “Yaakov” and DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a “Ari” did knowingly and unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold a person, “Victim 3,” for ransom, reward and otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce Victim 3 to give a get, and, in committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, did travel in interstate commerce from New Jersey to New York, and did use any means, facility, and instrumentality of interstate and foreign commerce. In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(1), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.15 COUNT 5 (Attempted Kidnapping) 1. The allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 6 and 7d-x of Count 1 are re-alleged and incorporated as if fully set forth herein. 2. On or about October 9, 2013, in the District of New Jersey, and elsewhere, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a “Mordechai,” JAY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a “Yaakov,” and BINYAMIN STIMLER did knowingly and unlawfully attempt to seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold a person, “the Husband,” for ransom, reward and otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce the Husband to give a get, and, in committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, did travel in interstate commerce from New York to New Jersey, and did use any means, facility, and instrumentality of interstate and foreign commerce. In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(d), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.16 FORFEITURE ALLEGATION 1. The allegations contained in all paragraphs of Counts 1 through 5 of this Indictment are hereby re-alleged and incorporated by reference as though set forth in full herein for the purpose of alleging forfeitures pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 981(a)(1)(C) and Title 28, United States Code, Section 2461. 2. Upon conviction of the any of the offenses alleged in Counts 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 of this Indictment, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN WOLMARK, JAY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a “Yaakov,” DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a “Ari,” and BINYAMIN STIMLER shall forfeit to the United States, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Sections 981(a)(1)(C), any property, real or personal, that constitutes or was derived from any proceeds traceable to the commission of the above offenses, including but not limited to, approximately $30,000 in United States currency, in that such sum constituted and was derived, directly and indirectly, from proceeds traceable to the commission of a violation of Title 18, United states Code, Section 1201(c). 3. If any of the above-described forfeitable property, as a result of any act or omission of defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN WOLMARK, JAY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a “Yaakov,” DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a “Ari,” and BINYAMIN STIMLER: a. Cannot be located upon the exercise of due diligence; b. Has been transferred or sold to, or deposited with, a third party; c. Has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the court; d. Has been substantially diminished in value; or e. Has been commingled with other property which cannot be divided without difficulty;then it is the intent of the United States of America to seck forfeiture of any other property of defendants MENDEL EPSTEfN, MARTfN WOLMARK, JAY GOLDSTEfN a/k/a "Yaakov," DAVID EPSTEfN a/k/a "Ari," and BINY AMfN STIMLER up to the value of the forfeitable property described above, pursuant to Title 2 1, United States Code, Section 853(p) as incorporated by Title 28, United States Code, Section 246 1 (c). Pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 98 1 (a)( I )(C) and Title 28, United States Code, Section 2461. PAUL J. FISHMAN United States Attorney A TRUE BILL FOREPERSON 17
End of government documents relative to letter from Rabbi Breitowitz.