Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rav Chaim Konievsky: Reporting child abuse to police - psak

update: This video was sent to me by an unknown person. My impression of it is that Rav Chaim is simply saying that if there is a situation where calling the police will save people then you can call the police without going to a beis din first.

He did not address that  case where there is suspicion or allegations of abuse . He was not asked  about the question of raglayim l'davar.

In short, the only thing certain from this video is that when it is clear that going to the police is the only way to save someone from being abused - then it is permitted. The other issues were not raised.

I have 'nebech' a cousin
In America upon whom someone 'fiddled' with - a scenario of sexual abuse.
What should one do to him?
He wants me to check out the matter. He wants to go to the police

Reb Chaim: "what is the question?"

A child, a child of 11 years old. A disgusting person sexually abused him. The person wants to know if he can go to the police or not?

Reb Chaim: "presumably yes - he will be saving others! - saving others, yes!"

The question is does he need to get permission from a jewish court or anything?

Reb Chaim: "it's logical"

It's logical that one doesn't ask first?
Can one act like this?

Reb Chaim "it's logical because one is saving others"

Celebrity status protected evil pedophile Jimmy Savile for 50 years in England

Daily Mail     "Never again must the power of money or celebrity blind us to repeated clear signals that some extremely vulnerable people were being abused," Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today as a series of damning reports were published into how Jimmy Savile raped and assaulted hundreds of people at NHS hospitals.

"People were either too dazzled or too intimidated by the nation's favourite celebrity to confront the evil predator we now know he was," Mr Hunt told the Commons.

He spoke as the authors of one of the reports warned that NHS hospitals remain at risk due to inadequate checks on staff and volunteers and services should be "alert to predatory sexual offenders" such as Savile.

Investigations into 41 hospitals, a children's home and a hospice found the free access he was given offered him the "opportunity to commit sexual abuses on a grand scale for nearly 50 years", Kate Lampard said.

His status was "enhanced by the endorsement and encouragement he received from politicians, senior civil servants and NHS managers", she added at a London press conference. [....]

Rare Footage Of The Chofetz Chaim At First Knessia Gedolah

 update Names added to the film the new version is not as sharp as the original so I have kept both versions.

Published on Feb 22, 2015
The First World Congress (Knessia Gedolah) of the World Agudath Israel the first major gathering of all the different sects of Klal Yisroel which took place in Vienna starting from Elul 3, 5683 / August 15, 1923 and which lasted for ten days.

With Names

Without Names

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Kaufman issued a Second Siruv and Hasroah Cherem - by Beis Din Givas Hamorah

Guest post: 

The Rabbinical Court of Givas Hamorah issued a second Siruv to Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Kaufman since he did not respond satisfactorily to the First.

Givas Hamorah - a Bais din Located in Bensenhurst Brooklyn NY  - issued a Siruv against Rabbi Kaufman for causing broken homes and damaging young families  through his Bais Horoah Inc.  10 Maple Terrace Monsey NY

For more information See the attached Siruv

Men suffering from Israel's harsh divorce laws vent rage at the Head of Knesset's Women's Advancement Committee.

MK Aliza Lavie
MK Aliza Lavie
Arutz 7 Men suffering from Israel's harsh divorce laws – and women who support those laws – crashed a town hall meeting Monday with three female MKs, and demanded their rights.

The meeting, held at Elkana, in Samaria, was attended by MKs Gila Gamliel (Likud), Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) and Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid). Most of the protesters' rage was directed at Lavie, who heads the Knesset's Committee for Advancement of Status of Women and Gender Equality.

When Lavie began speaking, papers were thrown at her from the audience. She left the meeting after delivering a short statement.

The fathers – some of whom do not see their children at all, suffer from false criminal complaints filed against them by their ex-wives, and from jail sentences over child support debts they failed to pay – see Lavie as a hostile figure, and their strong feelings were apparent.

MK Gamliel explained that she supports the abolition of the so called Tender Years Clause, which originally related to small children but now gives mothers automatic custody of children of all ages in divorce. She called the law “archaic.” [...]

Beis Din of America: Get obtained by torture - what is Rav Schwartz' view?

 Update Feb 25, 2015 -
"D. the Rabbinical Council of America calls upon our  members to use all means at their disposal to persuade recalcitrant spouses to agree to a get."
Guest Post    One of the many remarkable aspects of Rabbi Schwartz's comments is it appears to imply that a Get obtained through violence would generally be valid. As Rabbi Eidensohn has repeatedly written, it is in only extremely rare circumstances that a get obtained through any sort of coercion, and especially through actual violence, would be valid. Does anyone know what he actually holds about violently obtained Gittin - in particular the Epstein-Wolmark approach?
 update Feb 23 just added the RCA resolution against violence against a recalcitrant husband. There is no mention that using violence is most cases is against the Shulchan Aruch and will result in an invalid get - Get Me'usa! The only concern of the RCA is that is against the law of the land to torture husbands. Apparently the only problem the RCA has about using violence is getting caught. If this understanding is incorrect - please provide an authoritative statement from the RCA to the contrary. DT

NY Times  .....

During the panel discussion at Spertus, a Jewish educational center near Grant Park in Chicago, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, who is featured in “Women Unchained,” mentioned one possible hope for chained wives: an annulment.

If a marriage began under false pretenses, Rabbi Schwartz said in a telephone interview, it can be considered never to have taken place. Such a case might involve a spouse’s failure to disclose homosexual tendencies, an abusive streak or a gambling addiction.

“If he had this addiction,” Rabbi Schwartz said this week, “and he had covered it up, and once they get married, he goes through his money, his wife’s money, he cleans out her accounts, he’s gambling it away, he goes to the casinos, and back and forth — that’s a deception.”

Rabbi Schwartz cautioned that for an annulment to occur, a spouse’s flaw must have been present but hidden before the marriage. In the end, the prenuptial agreement matters because a rabbi can do only so much.

“I can’t break the law,” Rabbi Schwartz said — although others sometimes do. He said he had recently met a Russian Jewish immigrant from a “semi-Hasidic” community. “I was talking in his presence about the problem of the chained women,” the rabbi said, “and he said in Yiddish, ‘What’s the problem? We don’t have a problem! We beat them up.’

2014 Resolution: Using Violence to Compel a Recalcitrant Husband to Give a Get (Writ of Divorce)
Policies Headlines
Jul 16, 2014 -- For the past quarter century, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the Beth Din of America (BDA) have worked to resolve problems relating to agunot who are trapped in dead marriages by husbands who refuse to issue a get (Jewish divorce document). In this regard, the RCA’s and BDA’s Halachic Prenuptial Agreement has been extraordinarily successful: there are no known cases of prolonged get refusal where a couple has a properly executed an Halachic Prenuptial Agreement.

Additionally, the RCA this year followed up on its 2013 commitment to study Prenuptial usage among its own membership, and determining that 80% of RCA rabbis officiating at a wedding require or strongly advocate the signing of the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement. Given the diversity of its membership, the RCA is most pleased with this finding, and plans work to increase that percentage to the extent possible.

Concurrently, the RCA membership calls upon all members of the Jewish public to work along them, the RCA, and the BDA to ensure that every Jewish couple sign “as a routine matter” the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement prior to their wedding.

Finally, in light of recent illegal incidents of violent coercion of Jewish divorces in the United States, the RCA membership of the “condemns unreservedly” the use of violence to compel the giving of a get.

Formally adopted by a direct vote of the RCA membership, the full text of “2014 Resolution: Using Violence to Compel a Recalcitrant Husband to Give a Get (Writ of Divorce)” states:

WHEREAS the Rabbinical Council of America and Beth Din of America have for decades (see RCA resolutions from 1991, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2006, July, 2013, and November, 2013) consistently spearheaded efforts to reduce the number of agunot and mesuravot get (women awaiting a get from absentee or recalcitrant husbands), most notably with their Halachic Prenuptial Agreement; and,

WHEREAS in compliance with a 2013 RCA resolution, an RCA 2014 survey determined that approximately 80% of RCA members require or strongly advocate the signing of the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement when officiating at a wedding; and,

WHEREAS there have been zero known cases of prolonged get refusal where a couple has properly executed an Halachic Prenuptial Agreement; and,

WHEREAS the Talmudic principle of dina de­malchuta dina mandates that all Jews comply, as a matter of Torah law, with all non­discriminatory laws of their lands of residence, including laws against assault and battery; and

WHEREAS rabbinical authorities in America have at their disposal a variety of lawful, non­violent, and non­physical tools for pressuring recalcitrant husbands to grant a get, for example, those specified in the 2001 RCA Resolution:
Sanctions to be Imposed on One Who Withholds Issuance or Receipt of a Get

Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America

  • Condemns unreservedly the use of physical coercion as a means of compelling the giving of a get; and,

  • Urges all members of the Jewish community to complement the efforts of the RCA and the vast majority of its rabbis to eliminate future instances of igun by encouraging every marrying Jewish couple to properly execute, as a routine matter of their responsibility to the Jewish community, the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement prior to their wedding.
  • Why won’t the president think clearly about the nature of the Islamic State?

    Wall Street Journal   by Peggy Noonan

    Great essays tell big truths. A deeply reported piece in next month’s Atlantic magazine does precisely that, and in a way devastating to the Obama administration’s thinking on ISIS.

    “What ISIS Really Wants,” by contributing editor Graeme Wood, is going to change the debate. (It ought to become a book.) 

    Mr. Wood describes a dynamic, savage and so far successful organization whose members mean business. Their mettle should not be doubted. ISIS controls an area larger than the United Kingdom and intends to restore, and expand, the caliphate. Mr. Wood interviewed Anjem Choudary of the banned London-based Islamist group Al Muhajiroun, who characterized ISIS’ laws of war as policies of mercy, not brutality. “He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies,” Mr. Wood writes, “because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.” 

    ISIS has allure: Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are believed to have joined. The organization is clear in its objectives: “We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change . . . that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world. . . . The Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people.”

    The scale of the savagery is difficult to comprehend and not precisely known. Regional social media posts “suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks.” Most, not all, of the victims are Muslims.[...]

    He quotes Princeton’s Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on ISIS’ theology. The group’s fighters, Mr. Haykel says, “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition,” and denials of its religious nature spring from embarrassment, political correctness and an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”  [...]

    Mr. Wood’s piece is bracing because it is fearless—he is apparently not afraid of being called a bigot or an Islamophobe. It is important because it gives people, especially political leaders, information they need to understand a phenomenon that may urgently shape U.S. foreign policy for the next 10 years. 

    In sorry contrast, of course, are the Obama administration’s willful delusions and dodges. They reached their height this week when State Department spokesman Marie Harf talked on MSNBC of the “root causes” that drive jihadists, such as “lack of opportunity for jobs.” She later went on CNN to explain: “Where there’s a lack of governance, you’ve had young men attracted to this terrorist cause where there aren’t other opportunities. . . . So how do you get at that root causes?” She admitted her view “might be too nuanced of an argument for some.” [...]

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    Epstein Torture trial: Declararation of R Breitowitz - is an egregious case of intellectual dishonesty

    The charges against Epstein and company are a horrible chilul hashem - because what they did was a perversion of halacha.  But there is an even greater chilul hashem and that is their misrepresenting Torah and halacha in a desperate attempt to justify their criminal acts as a positive religious activity. 

    They have falsely claimed that getting married shows an agreement to being tortured if a get is not granted on simply on the demand of the wife. There is no such source in halacha. But the following document from someone who is very intelligent, learned and obviously knows that what he is writing is nonsense - is the final straw.

    Rabbi Breitowtiz fails to mention that the "beis din" did not bother to listen to both sides. Something which Rav Moshe Feinstein declares is so elementary that there should be no reason to even have to mention it. In this case the husband didn't even exist.

    He fails to mention that the agreement of the majority of poskim is that we don't poseken like the Rambam. He fails to mention that according to halacha there are only certain cases which  beis din has the right to authorize force. He fails to mention that there is no get on demand when a wife simply decides she can do better. He fails to mention that use of force in most cases of divorce - not only is not authorized by halacha but it actually invalidates the Get as a Get Me'usa. Thus instead of being a mitzva - the use of force in most cases invalidates the Get and is obviously not a mitzvah.

    Furthermore, halacha clearly prohibits hitting others - except in very exceptional cases to protect others or punishment. But it is clear that the use of force - even for a legitimate beis din - requires the approval of secular authorities. An additional chilul hashem is  the arrogance of Epstein that he is above the law and will never be caught at violating the law.

    In sum, the "beis din" did not act according to halacha by failing to hear the husband's side and thus it was clearly a sin - not a mitzva. In most cases - the use of even mild force - is not permitted and invalidates the Get. The force the beis din  used is not valid in a situation where it is not approved by the secular government.

    Give your child Bamba!: New study shows previous medical advice to keep young children from peanuts - is harmful

    NY Times    Turning what was once conventional wisdom on its head, a new study suggests that many, if not most peanut allergies can be prevented by feeding young children food containing peanuts beginning in infancy, rather than avoiding such foods.

    About 2 percent of American children are allergic to peanuts, a figure that has more than quadrupled since 1997 for reasons that are not entirely clear. There have also been big increases in other Western countries. For some people, even traces of peanuts can be life-threatening.

    An editorial published Monday in The New England Journal of Medicine, along with the study, called the results “so compelling” and the rise of peanut allergies “so alarming” that guidelines for how to feed infants at risk of peanut allergies should be revised soon.

    The study “clearly indicates that the early introduction of peanut dramatically decreases the risk of development of peanut allergy,” said the editorial, by Dr. Rebecca S. Gruchalla of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Dr. Hugh A. Sampson of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. It also “makes it clear that we can do something now to reverse the increasing prevalence of peanut allergy.” [...]

    Dr. Gideon Lack, a professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College London and the leader of the study, said the common practice of withholding peanuts from babies “could have been in part responsible for the rise in peanut allergies we have seen.” [...]

    So Dr. Lack and colleagues conducted a survey, published in 2008, that found the rate of peanut allergy in Israeli children was only about one-tenth that of Jewish children in Britain. The best explanation, they concluded, was that Israeli infants consumed high amount of peanut protein in the first year of life while parents in Britain avoided giving such foods. [...]

    Epstein Torture Trial: Prosecutor plays videos of an arrogant Epstein declaring he is above the law

    ABC     On grainy video, filmed from across a desk at his Lakewood home, a New Jersey rabbi told undercover FBI agents that his team of "tough guys" would jump Jewish husbands who wouldn't divorce their wives by throwing hoods over their heads and handcuffing them.

    "He's going to be jumped, handcuffed and hooded," Rabbi Mendel Epstein is heard telling the agents posing as a brother and sister seeking a divorce from her unwilling husband. "That takes 30 to 60 seconds. For 80 percent of the guys, it's over right there."[...]

    Meeting with the agents at his home Aug. 14, 2013, Epstein is heard telling them that his "tough guys" would be kidnapping the husband and "beating him up and torturing him and then getting him to give the (divorce)."

    The Orthodox rabbi said it would cost about $60,000 to carry out the kidnapping, and said the crew would use an electric cattle prod and a "karate expert" to force the husband's hand.

    "If (the cattle prod) 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," Epstein is heard saying.

    Throughout the recordings, Epstein recalled previous kidnappings — one he claimed ended with the unwilling husband having a heart attack — and said the "tough guys" prefer not to leave a mark so the target doesn't go to the police. He told the agents they would need to purchase new phones to communicate with him and figure out alibis when the kidnapping occurs. He laughed about how he would keep police off his trail in Brooklyn, where he also lived.

    "They couldn't try me in Brooklyn," he's heard telling the agents. "The whole jury would be women. They'd say 'Hang him (the husband). Kill him!'" [...]

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    Maaneh Center of Beit Shemesh: The proper way to deal with child abuse

    Rabbi Shmuel Z. Eidensohn
    update Feb 23: Added comments below - from Shana Aaronson - Magen's Social Services Coordinator - about relationship of Maaneh to - Magen

    Yesterday Dr. Baruch Shulem and I went to visit the Maaneh Center in Beit Shemesh. The founder and chairman of the center is my nephew , Rabbi Shmuel Zalman Eidensohn. Aside from the center he also runs the major tzedaka organization  for the chareidi community in Beit Shemesh and is a recognized master educator supervising four schools - one of which is in Switzerland. He invited us to get to see the center which has been operating for several years and to discuss the approach of the Maaneh Center with himself and the director Rabbi Aryeh Levi.

    When people think about the mishandling of child abuse - there are two names that automatically come to mind - the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jews. This has been reinforced in the last few weeks for all of us who have been following the horrifying news from Australia where the Royal Commission has revealed serious lapses of moral, legal and commonsense judgments of the Orthodox community leadership in dealing with child abuse. In addition to the nasty campaign against the Waks family for courageously fighting to protect children from abuse.

    One solution is a call to carefully keep the laws of mandated reporting. Others add that it is important to eliminate the statute of limitations so that even 50 years after a teenage boy molests one of his friends - he can be tried and sent to jail even if it were a one time occurrence. There are calls for harsh punishment, public embarrassment in the media and even castration. 

    But others point out that a zero tolerance approach which relies solely on the justice system runs into the problem that the police often do nothing about the problem - either because no one will press charges or testify or they handle the matter in an insensitive manner or many times don't take the complaints seriously. Most of those charged are not convicted and even if convicted of serious and repeated abuse - get relatively light sentences of 5-8 years and then they are back in the community again until they are caught molesting another child. Thus relying on the criminal justice system doesn't provide a comprehensive high level of protection - but it is clearly better than nothing.

    On the other hand we hear cries from the family of the victim not to harm their son/daughter by insisting on reporting the crime to the police and forcing their 10 year old to be destroyed through cross examination and the negative reputation that  will be carried for the rest of his/her life. People ask why should the family - of not only the victim but of the perpetrator - have to suffer from the victim going to the police. As a result of this realistic fear of collateral damage, many cases of abuse are not reported and the perpetrator continues harming others. Thus protection for the victim or punishment for the perpetrator - often comes at great cost to innocent others. 

    As a result there are calls for the community to handle the problem internally - in particular that rabbis should investigate and prescribe solutions. Unfortunately rabbis are typically incompetent in this area or don't have the time to check out facts. In addition they have no legal powers to require testimony or enforce judgments. All this is has been frequently been reported on this blog. Besides incompetents there is another perhaps more serious problem. Associated with the community based approach we hear of victims who never recover from the betrayal when family and rabbis either don't believe them when they report that their teacher or uncle molested them or they are told to remain silent for the good of shidduchim or the community or yeshiva name.

    Finally in addition to the problem of dealing with real crimes we have a serious problem of false accusations. We hear cases of teachers or neighbors whose lives have been destroyed by false accusations. We hear of communities that in their mortal fear of child abuse - misinterpret the words and behavior of children - make serious accusations against the innocent. It is critical that false accusations need to be avoided while genuine accusation need to lead to protection and healing.

    So what is the solution. The secular laws and enforcement agency are severely limited in how and what they do. They are often insensitive or ignorant about working with victims and the community to maximize protection and punishment while minimizing collateral damage. This is especially true when the community of Orthodox Jews is basically an alien world for secular and non-Orthodox. But the secular bodies are the only ones who have the power to do anything. On the other hand members of the community including rabbis, teachers are much more aware of what is needed to minimize collateral damage - but lacking power often they push for covering up the crimes as the best way to avoid collateral damage which they often view as worse than the abuse itself. Additionally how the problem is handled for Satmar chassidim is not that which works for the Religious Zionists. Similarly what works for  secular Jews will not work for recent olim from America or Russia. Thus a mechanical solution is not good. Rather each case needs an individualized solution - tailor made for it from the range of resources.

    In a 75 minute frank discussion, we heard of how the center successfully works together with the police and government social agencies to carefully investigate all charges to ascertain not only if they are true but also precisely what has happened. Furthermore false accusations are not rare. But at the same time there is an active integration with the community leaders - daas Torah - as well was teachers and principals. This gives the families the security of knowing that they are doing the right thing and leads to greater cooperation with the secular authorities. This gives the police and legal system much greater flexibility in not only protecting the victim but also punishing and rehabilitating the perpetrators - with the minimum collateral damage to others. 

    In short we were impressed that the Center has genuinely succeeded in a creating a synergy of the different components - secular agencies, law enforcement and judicial bodies, rabbinical authorities, community, family - so each is able to contribute maximally in an integrated approach which is clearly a win-win approach. The Maaneh Center provides its services to all members of the Beit Shemesh community not just the chareidi population.

    David Morris
    From Shana Aaronson - Magen's Social Service Coordinator:- Magen

    I'd like to offer some clarifications as to the difference between Maane and Magen, at least as I understand them, which perhaps may be helpful to readers who are unclear.

    First, Maane is a therapeutic treatment center for children, working primarily with victims of abuse, but also with other childhood issues. On a personal level, for example, when my 6 year old was struggling with some social anxiety, his pediatrician recommended Maane as a resource where I might find a suitable therapist. Magen, on the other hand, is a child protection organization. We provide 1- educational events and resources, 2- a 24 hour hotline for inquiries and assistance, 3- short and long term support and guidance for victims and survivors (which includes (but is not limited to), as Rav Eidenson said, referrals for individual and group therapy, support and guidance through the reporting process and trial, as well as assistance in finding any other forms of assistance they may need (Rabbanim, educational programs, other organizations etc) 4- management of cases of known or alleged perpetrators where a risk is posed to the Jewish community (eg warning the community when a known offender has moved into the neighborhood).

    Second, Maane serves the population of Bet Shemesh (and Ramat Bet Shemesh) exclusively, while Magen caters to clients from all over Israel, who are seeking information, resources, referrals or support in this area. As well, Magen offers assistance to victims and survivors in situations where there is an international component (ie the victim or perpetrator has moved, or the actual abuse happened elsewhere) working with organizations and authorities from other countries to provide needed resources to survivors.

    There is, in practice, very little overlap between the functioning of the two organizations, with, I believe, much room present for joint work. In my capacity as social services coordinator for Magen, I have referred several clients to Maane for therapy there has been professional consultations between the two organizations as well.

    As well, while there certainly appears to be ideological differences between the two organizations where it comes to reporting, I suspect that in practice, the differences are not quite as vast. Magen, Maane, and all other responsible profssional agencies, will follow the laws of chovat divuach (mandated reporting) wherever it applies, including in the unfortunate cases where it goes against the families wishes. Obviously Magen, and I assume Maane, do our best to help make the process as smooth and painless for the family.

    I suspect that the cases where differences in reporting policies may be more apparent are those where the mandated reporting laws do not apply. I can only speak for Magen in saying that, in the event that a client wishes to bring a formal complaint to the authorities, Magen will always make every effort to support any victim through the reporting process and trial, which as anyone involved with this field knows, can be long and difficult. Of course, I cannot speak for Maane's policy in those cases.

    Another assumed difference is the hashkafic background of each organizations respective clientele; many assume Magen caters exclusively to the Dati-leumi community while Maane caters to the Chareidi community. In practice, approximately 60% of Magen's clients identify as Chareidi and as Rav Eideson mentioned above (and I admit I was pleasantly surprised to hear-I was not previously aware) Maane caters to clients from outside of the chareidi community as well.

    On a more mundane note, as a social services agency, Magen does not charge for its services, while Maane does charge for its therapeutic counseling services. There may be subsidies available, and I am not aware whether or not they charge for consultation.[Maane does provide subsidies - the exact nature needs to be clarified with the staff DT]

    On a personal level, as a young mother raising children in Ramat Bet Shemesh, I am pleased to live in a city that takes this issue seriously enough that there are not one, but two (albeit very different) organizations equipped to address the issue of child safety and protection. I hope that the above offers a bit of clarification, with hopes that no reader will ever require the services of either organization!