Sunday, October 23, 2016

Kaminetksy-Greenblatt Heter: The rabbinical leadership is greatly embarrassed and hopes for collective amnesia

Over Yom Tov I have made inquiries about the deafening silence regarding the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt heter for adultery. The consensus seems to be is that a horrible error in judgment was made by the Kaminetskys and Rav Greenblatt. But since they refuse to acknowledge it the only alternative is to forget about it and pretend it never happened. 

A relative who learns in Lakewood told me that everyone is aware of the issue - but the majority deliberate avoid learning the details. "If my rabbeim felt there was something I should know about or do they would have told me. Every time someone puts a notice about this on a bulletin board it is immediately torn down.  I don't know the details but don't you think that Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky knows more than you do? How can you question a gadol? Especially when no one else is?" 

My response was that the major poskim of our generation have publicly said there is no heter and that this is clearly not even a machlokes haposkim. It is simply that the rabbonim of our generation do not want to hold Rav Kaminetsky accountable for promoting adultery and hope the issue will be forgotten. They view that preserving Rav Shmuel's status as gadol hador is more important that stopping adultery or the damage done to emunas chachomim.

I heard from other sources that it is not just the avreichim of Lakewood who have their heads stuck in the sand and don't want to know the details - but the gedolim in our generation are doing the same thing.

In short, the Kaminetskys and Rav Greenblatt have played a game of chicken with the rabbis of our generation and the rabbis were the one's who blinked and conceded defeat.  Or put another way, collectively the brilliant dedicated wonderful Torah teachers, role-models and  leaders  our generation have regressed to the mental status of a baby and think that if they close their eyes and pretend they don't know about adultery the problem will go away. They think that  have succeeded in training their students only to think when given permission. Unfortunately for everyone - there is a significant minority who are well aware of all the facts and this has destroyed their emunas chachomim. 

This is not a machlokess of halacha - it is a monumental example of cowardice and failure of nerve - which I know of no historic precedent. They have covered up their failure by claiming that only gedolim can deal with this issue and at the same time they refuse to deal with it! The damage will be for all future generations who will not recover from this betrayal.

Is there anyone still surprised why our children are going off the derech? Why we have so much bad news? (Hint - it is not because of the Internet nor the bloggers who simply reveal the elementary truth.)

Please show this letter to your rabbis and ask them to defend their inaction in the fact of the perversion of halacha and the promoting of adultery by the gadol hador. If they want documentation tell them it is in the upper right hand corner of my blog. It contains links to all the major documents in this case.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Convicted pedophile: Serving a long jail sentence which will be commuted if he agrees to castration

update: Medical Daily
Castration is not a cure for sexual attraction to children - but it does reduce the sex drive and thus the likelihood of sex abuse. However it doesn't work with everyone and while recidivisim rate is lower in castrated patient - a certain percent (less than 10%) repeat their crimes. It is best combined with psychotherapy. With chemical castration - it works only if the drugs are taken for a lifetime and thus careful monitoring is required.
I was recently asked about the permissibility of a Jewish sex offender being treated with castration. As I have noted there are European countries and American states which give a sex offender the choice of jail or castration. Can he take the castration option to gain his freedom from a long jail sentence? Furthermore if he is castrated - is there a difference between physical or chemical castration?

I was told in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach that sex offenders in Europe were castrated by the Jewish community - though I could not find a discussion in the rabbinic literature. One posek I asked said that if it is demanded by the authorities it is permitted -  but should be done by drugs.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (E.H. III 15): Permits chemical sterilization if there is no direct impact on the reproductive organs themselves.

שו"ת אגרות משה אבן העזר חלק ג סימן טו

בענין זריקת איזה משקה בגוף האיש שעושה שלא יוליד ששה חדשים ואח"כ חוזר כבתחלה אם יש ע"ז איסור סירוס עש"ק ור"ח אלול תשכ"ה. מע"כ ידיד אהובי הרה"ג מהר"ר אפרים גרינבלאט שליט"א.

בדבר ששמעת שהמציאו הרופאים מחדש זריקה בגוף אנשים שמועיל זה לששה חדשים שלא יוליד ואח"כ חוזר לכתחלה שיכול להוליד שדעת כתר"ה שאסור משום שפשוט לך שאסור גם סירוס לזמן, וממילא יש לאסור גם זריקות אלו דהוא סירוס לזמן וכוונת כתר"ה דאף דלא עביד כלום באברי הזרע אסור דהא משקה כוס של עיקרין נמי אסור.

והנה לא ידוע לי מאין פשוט לך שסירוס לזמן נמי הוא בלאו דסירוס דהא לא מצינו בגמ' שאיכא סירוס לזמן, ואדרבה הא מפורש במתני' יבמות דף ע"ט שסריס אדם אין לו רפואה, והוכיח מזה הר"א ממיץ שהביא בנ"י בדף ע"ו שהא דאר"י אמר שמואל שם בניקב ונסתם דכשר לקהל וכן בברייתא שם ניקב פסול מפני שהוא שותת נסתם כשר מפני שהוא מוליד וזהו פסול שחוזר להכשירו, הוא רק לענין הולד שבשעה שהיה הנקב הולד פסול משום שברור שאין הולד ממנו וכשנסתם והוליד כשר, משום דאין לפרש שהוא פסול לקהל כשהיה הנקב דפצוע דכא אין לו רפואה ובהכרח ניקב שמתרפא ע"י סתימה אינו הפצוע דכא שבקרא עיין שם, ופשוט שר"א במתני' שאיירי בחליצה שסובר שלא חולץ ולא חולצין לאשתו בסריס אדם מפני שאין לו רפואה אין כוונתו דוקא על הקרא דפצוע דכא וכרות שפכה שנאמר לענין דפסול לקהל בפרשת תצא אלא הוא גם על הקרא דומעוך וכתות ונתוך /ונתוק/ וכרות שבפרשת אמור שאין להם רפואה ואף ר' יהושע לא פליג בזה, וממילא בקרא דובארצכם לא תעשו שאוסר לסרס הוא רק באופן זה שאין לו רפואה, הרי ראיה להרא"מ שלנקב הגיד שהוא סרוס שיש לו רפואה בסתימה ליתא ע"ז לאו דסירוס, וכ"ש שליכא הלאו בסירוס שא"צ רפואה שיעבור מאליו לאחר זמן להרא"מ.

ורק שיש לדון אליבא דרוב הפוסקים החולקים עליו ופוסלין ניקב הגיד כל זמן שהוא נקוב לקהל אף שאית לו רפואה בסתימה וכן איפסק ברמב"ם פט"ז מאי"ב ה"ה ובטור וש"ע סימן ה' סעיף ד' ויפרשו דר"א שאומר בסריס אדם שלא חולץ ולא חולצין לאשתו איירי ברוב סריסי אדם שאין להם רפואה, אולי אסרי לסרס גם באופן שיש רפואה בסתימה מאחר דהקרא דפצוע דכא איירי לדידהו אף באופן שיש לו רפואה. והנה לכאורה כיון דאיסור סירוס נאמר בקרא דפסולין למזבח, ומשמע מרמב"ם פ"ז מב"מ ה"ח שלא נפסל בניקב למזבח שהרי בהדברים שפסול למזבח בניקב הזכיר בכל אחד, ובאברי הזרע כתב רק נפצע ונידק וניכרת שפסולין ולא כתב גם ניקב, ואולי הוא משום שנקב לא נחשב ניכר אף בגיד, ולכן אף שודאי לא שייך ענין ניכר לאיסור סירוס ומטעם זה אף שלראב"י אינם מומין בביצים ולר' יוסי בנחתך וכרות אינם מומים בביצים כדאיתא בבכורות דף ל"ט משום שלא נחשבו ניכרין, מ"מ ודאי מודו דאיכא גם בביצים איסור סירוס בדברים אלו, וכן בחוטי ביצים שמשמע שאינו מום גם לדינא שאיפסק כר' יהודה שכולן אף בביצים שהרי לא חשיב הרמב"ם לענין מומים שם אלא הגיד והביצים ולא החוטי ביצים וגם כתב שרק י"ב מומים באברי הזרע ואם גם בחוטי ביצים היו מומין הי"ל לומר ט"ז מומין, שהרי חוטי ביצים אינו בכלל ביצים דבט"ז /דבפ' ט"ז/ מאי"ב ה"ג שגם בחוטי ביצים נפסל לקהל, כתב הרמב"ם ובשלשה אברים אפשר שיפסל הזכר בגיד ובביצים ובשבילין שבהן תתבשל ש"ז והן נקראין חוטי ביצים, ומ"מ באיסור סירוס מפורש ברמב"ם פט"ז מאי"ב הי"א שאסור גם בחוטי ביצים, והוא משום דענין לא ניכר לא שייך לענין לאו דסירוס, וא"כ ודאי גם ראב"י ור' יוסי מודים שאיסור סירוס הוא אף בביצים וחוטי ביצים אף שהאיסור נאמר בפ' מומין למזבח שלא נפסלו בחוטי ביצים ואף לראב"י שלא נאמר כלל בביצים מאחר דליכא הטעם שחלוק לענין מומין. מ"מ בניקב הגיד שאיכא טעם שלא לאסור אף בסירוס משום דאית לו רפואה אפשר שכיון שנכתב האיסור בפרשת מומין למזבח אין לאסור בניקב אף שהם משני טעמים דלמזבח הא היה פסול מצד שאית לו רפואה דהא גם מום עובר פסול למזבח ומה שאינו מום וכשר למזבח הוא משום שאינו ניכר, ולענין איסור סירוס אינו כלום זה שאינו ניכר אלא משום שאית לו רפואה שלא נאסר, מ"מ אין לנו לאסור יותר ממה שנוכל למילף מהקרא אף שהם משני טעמים משום דעכ"פ הרי הקרא לא נאמר אלא מה שפסול למזבח ורק שילפינן ממה שנאמר גם מה שדמי להא שנאמר דאין מולידין כמוהו והרי אין למילף ניקב שאית לו רפואה מאלו שנאמר בקרא דאין להם רפואה.

וכן לכאורה משמע מהרמב"ם שנקט במסרס אחר מסרס שלוקה כיצד בא אחד וכרת את הגיד ובא אחר וכרת את הביצים או נתקן ובא אחר וכרת חוטי ביצים וכן נקט כולן בגיד באחד מעך ואחד נתק ואחד כרת ולא נקט גם בא אחד ונקב, שהוא משום דעל נקב ליכא הלאו משום דאית לו רפואה בסתימה. ואף שלא נקט גם בביצים שנקבן ולא מצינו שיש גם בנקיבת ביצים רפואה, אולי הוא איידי דגיד או הרמב"ם ידע דגם בנקיבת ביצים איכא רפואה ע"י סתימה שיפתחו הכיס ויסתמו הנקב שבהביצים ויסתמו פתיחת הכיס ע"י תפירה או איכא רפואה אחרת, שלכן ליכא איסור סירוס בנקב גם בביצים. ויותר משמע זה בטור שהוא לא כתב הלשון אסור להפסיד אברי הזרע כלשון הרמב"ם והש"ע שהיה משמע כל עניני הפסד שאפשר לומר זה גם על עשיית נקב, דהא כתב אסור לפצוע הגיד או הביצים או הגידים התלוין ולא נקט גם ניקב אף שסמוך לעיל מזה איירי בניקב שפוסלו לקהל כל זמן שלא נסתם כהרא"מ שהביא, הרי משמע קצת שלא נאסר בניקב. אך ודאי אינו ראיה גדולה אבל משמעות לסלק הפשיטות שכתב כתר"ה לאיסור ודאי איכא וגם קצת משמעות להתיר. וגם כיון שלהרא"מ ודאי ליכא איסור אין לנו לומר שפליגי עליו במה שלא מצינו כיון דאין הכרח שיהיו תלוין זב"ז אין להרבות מחלוקת.

אך אף אם נימא דבניקב שצריך למעשה רפואה יסברו שפסול לבא בקהל כל זמן שלא נסתם ואיכא גם הלאו דסירוס בכה"ג, מ"מ באם יעבור בלא שום מעשה רפואה במשך זמן, כהא דמצינו בכה"ג בהכהו על ידו וצמתה וסופה לחזור בב"ק דף פ"ה, אולי איתא זה גם באברי הזרע שהכהו על גידו וביציו וצמתו וסופם לחזור במשך זמן ממילא מסתבר שהיה כשר לבא בקהל אף שנעשה המעשה בהאברים, דכיון דיעבור ממילא במשך הזמן אין להחשיב זה כפצוע דכא, דהא בפציעה ובכריתה ליכא ענין זה דיעבור ממילא, ואין שייך לפרש זה בהקרא, דבשלמא הא דניקב שייך לומר שהוא בכלל פציעה וכריתה הנכתב לפסול, אבל הכאה על האברים ויהיו צמותין מזה אינו בכלל לשון הקרא, רק שאולי ניליף מפציעה וכריתה במה מצינו כיון שהטעם הוא משום דאינו מוליד הרי גם כשצמתו אינו מוליד, ולכן שייך למילף רק צמיתה דאין סופה לחזור דאף שגם ניקב הוא בכלל פציעה הרי צריך דוקא למעשה רפואה ואין ללמד גם לסופה לחזור מעצמה במשך הזמן. ונמצא שאין גם לאסור אף לרוב הפוסקים החולקים על הרא"מ כשיעבור מאליו בלא רפואות, אף אם נימא שפליגי בצריך לרפואה שאיכא גם הלאו דסירוס.

ולכן אף אם נסתפק עדיין קצת שמא להחולקים על הרא"מ אסור גם בצמתה באופן שסופה לחזור בלא מעשה רפואה, יש לסמוך עכ"פ בכוס של עיקרין בכה"ג שהוא רק לזמן שיעבור ממילא בלא רפואה שאין לאסור משום דהוא רק מדרבנן שספק להקל, ואף אם נימא שכוס של עיקרין נמי הוא מדאורייתא מקרא דמשחתם ואין לוקין משום שלא נאמר לאו ע"ז כדסובר הגר"א בס"ק כ"ח, מסתבר דכיון שסופה לחזור ממילא לא הוי זה השחתה. ובפרט שחזינן שלא מרבין כל דבר ממשחתם שהנקבה מותרת בכוס עיקרין דמאחר שכל איסורה הוא רק ממשחתם לא ילפינן גם כוס עיקרין, לכן אף לאיש שאסור כוס עיקרין הוא רק בנתעקר לעולם, ואולי גם לעובר אם הוא דוקא במעשה רפואה ולא לעובר ממילא בלא מעשה. והא דזריקת משקה לתוך בשר הגוף שכל הנידון עליו הוא רק לאסור מדין כוס עיקרין שאין לאסור כיון שיעבור ממילא.

והנה לולא דמסתפינא הייתי אומר דכוס של עיקרין שאסור הוא דוקא כשנעשה ע"י זה סריס באבריו, ל"מ כשנעשה ע"י זה היכר קלקול בהאברים ממש, אלא אף הקלקול שלא יכול להתקשות כראוי שהוא ג"כ קלקול, אבל אם הוא כוס עיקרין כזה שאינו עושה שום קלקול אלא שהסיר כח החיות בהזרע אבל הוא מתקשה כראוי ויכול לבעול כמתחלה ליכא איסור דאין זה ענין סירוס כלל. ומשמע לי זה מהא דשבת ריש דף קי"א שמצד הא דארחב"א א"ר יוחנן דהכל מודים במסרס אחר מסרס שהוא חייב אוסר נמי לסריס לשתות כוס עיקרין והזכיר זה הב"ש /אהע"ז סי' ה'/ ס"ק י"ג שכתב ואפילו אם הוא סריס אסור, דבשלמא אם הכוס עיקרין עושה איזה שינוי בהאברים אף רק השינוי שאינו מתקשה שייך לאסור גם לסריס דהא מסרס אחר מסרס אסור ואף אם כוס עיקרין הוא רק מדרבנן אסרו כעין דאורייתא, אבל אם הכוס עיקרין אינו עושה שום שינוי בהאברים רק שעושה שאינו מוליד הרי נמצא שבסריס אינו עושה כלום שבלא"ה הא אינו מוליד, ואין לומר שאיירי הגמרא בסריס חמה שיש לו רפואה ובהכוס עיקרין עושה שלא יהיה לו רפואה, דהא האיסור אמר בגמ' שהוא מדין מסרס אחר מסרס שהוא דין הנאמר במעוך וכתות שאין לו רפואה אף אם נעשה ע"י חולי או אף נולד כן. וניחא לפ"ז מה שזקן היה מותר לשתות כוס עיקרין כדאיתא בשבת שם /דף קי"א/ דהוא זקן כזה שלא מתקשה שוב שנמצא שהכוס עיקרין לא עשה כלום ורק שהקשה מר' יוחנן שאיכא רפואות לזקן שיתקשה וע"י הכוס עיקרין לא יועילו הרפואות שלכן אסור. ועיין ברש"י שכתב אלמא זקן מוליד ונראה פשוט שלאו דוקא שאף אם יחזירו הרפואות רק להתקשות שיוכל לבעול ולא להוליד נמי היה אסור מאחר דמועיל הכוס עיקרין בהאבר שלא מתקשה דלא גרע ממסרס אחר מסרס ועוד כ"ש שיש לאסור, אך האמת נקט דגם מוליד. ועיין בתוס' שתירצו הכא לא שייך למיסר משום מסרס אחר מסרס דזקנה לאו סירוס הוא שלא מובן כלל לכאורה דכי האיסור הוא דוקא בסירוס אחר סירוס הא בשלם ודאי אסור וממסרס אחר מסרס ראיה שאף באין ראוי להוליד אסרה תורה לחתוך ולקלקל אותם אברים מגזה"כ וא"כ כ"ש זקן, ועיין ברשב"א שהקשה זה ותירץ דאפשר רק בבחור שכמותו מוליד וזה מסרסו אין ניכר שהיה סריס תחלה ונראה דמסרסו עכשיו ולא בזקן שניכר, ופירושו דחוק, דמן התורה לא ניליף זקן לומר שעל אלו אברים הקפידה תורה ואולי סובר שבעי טעם, וגם זה שלא ניכר ונדמה לאינשי דמסרסו עכשיו שהוא כמין גזירה נמי הוא טעם, א"כ ודאי הוא דוקא כשעשה הכוס עיקרין קלקול בהאברים ממש ששייך לטעות שבכוס עיקרין נעשה הסירוס שרואין בו. והנכון כדבארתי. וזריקה זו דבשבילה לא יוליד ששה חדשים הרי אינו עושה שום קלקול דהא יוכל לבעול כמתחלה בקישוי אבר רק שמחליש וממית החיות בזרע שלו וכדומה לזה שזה מסתבר שלא היה נאסר לפ"ז אפילו כשהיה נעשה סריס לעולם.

ואולי כן הוא כוונת הרמ"א בסעיף י"ג /אהע"ז סי' ה'/ שכתב מותר ליטול כרבלתו של תרנגול אף על גב דמסתרס ע"י זה וכל כיוצא בזה דלא עביד כלום באברי הזרע, שתמוה טובא כדהקשה בט"ז סק"ח ובהגר"א ס"ק ל"א שההיתר דנטילת כרבלתו א"ר אשי בשבת דף ק"י משום שמונעו מתשמיש משום רמות רוחא הוא דנקיטא ליה דמשמע דאם היה נעשה סריס היה אסור אף שלא עביד המעשה באברי הזרע, וה"ה דהיו יכולין להקשות ממשקה כוס עיקרין שאסור אך דעדיפא הקשו מאותו הדין עצמו. אבל אין כוונת הרמ"א שמצריך לעשות מה שעושה לסרס באברי הזרע דזה ודאי לא צריך דאף כשעושה ע"י אברים אחרים אם נעשה מזה סריס אסור, אבל כוונתו הוא דנטילת הכרבלתא לא עשה שום שינוי באברי הזרע דמה שלא ירצה לשמש הוא רק משום שמתאבל על שניטל הודו, דאם מה שלא משמש היה זה משום שנעשה שינוי באברי הזרע ומחמת זה פסק ממנו כח התאוה לתשמיש היה אסור. וממש כן הוא בשתיית כוס עיקרין להרמ"א שאיסורו הוא משום שעושה שינוי באברי הזרע אבל אם יהיה כוס עיקרין כזה שלא עביד שינוי באברי הזרע יהיה מותר לשתות כוס עיקרין כזה. ולפ"ז לא שייך כלל לחוש בהזריקה אף אם היה נעקר לעולם. אבל אף שמוכרח זה לדעתי כיון שלא נמצא חלוק זה בפירוש בפוסקים לא הייתי סומך ע"ז, אבל מ"מ אין לאסור הזריקה כיון שיעבור זה ממילא בלא שום רפואה כעבור הששה חדשים כדלעיל.

ועיין בחת"ס אה"ע ח"א סימן י"ז ד"ה והנה תוס' סוטה שכתב ראיה שהתוס' סברי דהתחלה בידי אדם ע"י כוס עיקרין כיון שאין עושה מעשה בכלי ההולדה עצמם מיקרי בידי שמים, אף שנתבטל עי"ז כח אברי ההולדה כמו בזקן ומותר בקהל, אף שלרבא יבמות דף ע"ט נחשב זקן קודם המיתה סריס חמה, שא"כ בידי אדם שהיה נעשה כמו בסמוך למיתה שזה נעשה ע"י כוס עיקרין היה לן לאסור, ואם ע"י כוס עיקרין ראוי לבעול ליכא ראיה, אלמא דמפרשי כדבארתי שכוס עיקרין מבטל כח האברים. 

Does anybody have any sources? This is not a theoretical question

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter: Tell your Rav or Rosh Yeshiva you are adopting the Kaminetsky approach to halacha

Since the day that the Temple was destroyed, the Holy One, blessed be He, has nothing in this world but the four cubits of Halachah alone. (Berachos 8a).

It is clearly not enough to serve G-d simply by davening or just keeping Shabbos. It is not enough even if you also believe  the 13 principles of faith It is still not enough even if you learn Torah day and night.The reason for the creation of the world and man was to keep Torah The commandments of the Torah must be obeyed - the mitzvos done and the prohibition obeyed. And they must be done properly

We all know that there are different degrees of keeping mitzvos even though as a minimum all the commandments must be kept. The chareidi world prides itself on not looking for the easy solution to halachic question – but rather our concern is to try make sure that we do what G-d expects of us – no matter how difficult or what sacrifices have to be made. We are not like the Conservative that only keep that which is convenient or the Reform that only keep that which they want at that moment. We are not even like the Modern Orthodox who seem to believe that anything which is pleasurable must be permitted. If there is a question of whether a Torah mitzvos is being kept it is necessary to be machmir while a sofek derabbon we can be meikel.. In cases where the appropriate halacha for a particular situation is in doubt there are a number of strategies. In a dispute of poskim we can follow the majority or follow the greatest posek or follow the local minhag. Alternatively in a dispute in halacha we can try to act in a way that fulfills the requirements of most poskim.

In general we look to gedolim to provide role models of how to observe halacha. In general they don’t say it enough to simply pick a view of any posek. Thus the Mishna Berura paskens in a way that it fulfills the views of the major poskim. Or the Aruch HaShulchan argues for the view that he finds most convincing or what is local practice. Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Rav Moshe Feinstein say psak is following what is considered the strongest sevara . Rav Ben Tzion Abbah Shaul says that psak is finding a strategy for minimizing error. He notes the exception of the views of the Shulchan Aruch which are authoritative because they have been accepted by the Jewish people. While the strength of  the kabbalistic views of the Arizal is that they are based on ruach hakodesh.

Bottom line we see a great concern of poskeim and gedolim in all ages to take great care to minimize the likelihood of erring in halacha and to focus on ascertaining what G-d wants – and not simply what the daughter of an important supporter wants.

In view of this taking great care not to violate halacha – even for a minhag and surely for a rabbinic law and it goes without saying not a Torah law. – what we find in the production and protection of the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter is simply astounding. The Kaminetkskys contacted poskim all over the world – not to ask them what to do but to ask them to agree that Tamar did not need a Get based on phony psychiatric report that the husband was crazy. They carefully described in their letter that in addition to the husband being crazy, that no woman would want to be married to him and that Rav Moshe Feinstein had said in such a case that there was no valid marriage.

However they neglected to mention that the psychiatric diagnosis that the psychiatrist gave – based on the wife’s testimony without speaking to the husband – even if accurate was not severe enough that a wife typically would want a divorce. They neglected to mention that the wife had not mentioned any problem of mental illness in discussions with the Baltimore Beis Din. Nor did they mention that she did not mention any problem of mental illness during the years she claimed to be an agunah because her husband refused to give her a get prior to certain custody issues being resolved. 

Thus the Kaminetskys went posek shopping with false information about the husband. Nonetheless they  were rejected by most of the poskim they contacted. It was only when they reached out to Rabbi Nota Greenblatt who was willing to pasken solely on the facts he was given - without an independent investigation or even contacting the husband because he believed he was obligated to accept everything that Rav Kaminetsky told him – that they got a heter.

We all know those who have been criticized by gedolim for posek shopping. For demanding a specific psak rather than going to a posek to ask him what the halacha is. We have heard of gedolim criticizing those who make up facts in order to get a desired psak. And yet despite the fact that the Kaminetskys did all of these transgressions - there is a determined silence by our rabbinic leadership.

Furthermore after the firestorm of protest from major poskim around the world against the Kaminetsy-Greenblatt Heter and after asking for and getting a similar rejection of the heter from Rav Dovid Feinstein and even after acknowledging that the heter was no good – nothing was done to get the couple to separate. Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky said it is not his job to tell this couple that he persuaded to commit adultery – to separate. He claims it is Rav Nota Greenblatt’s job! Rav Greenblatt refuses to withdraw his heter – despite the fact that he was informed that the facts he had received were not true. He says he had enough justification for issuing the heter and he isn't concerned with investigating whether the facts are false. Thus these two tzadikim declare themselves to be free of an elementary Torah obligation to protest and separate sinners from their sin - an exemption which doesn't apply to the rest of us.

If a yeshiva bachur was found to be eating meat of a questionable hecher – it is inconceivable that he would not be told by his rosh yeshiva and friends to stop. If an avreich went shopping for a heter to enable him to marry a questionable convert – there is no question that this would be criticized. If any other case where a woman tried for years to receive a Get and then suddenly announced she was remarrying without one – there would be world wide protests and the couple would be ostracized by the community.

Please ask your local rabbi – why the perversion of halacha done by Rav Kaminetsky has not generated world-wide protests? Ask him if you decided to act in a similar manner regarding your halachic questions of nida, kashrus or Shabbos – would he also be silent? Better yet ask him if he has any problem if you planned on adopting the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt approach to halacha? What would he say if you told him that from now on you were simply going to pick as halacha the most lenient view or you will make up facts to convince a posek to give you a heter – because that is what the Kaminetsky’s did? Ask him why the Kaminetskys are not being held accountable for perverting halacha and causing adultery and possible mamzerim. Ask him why no gedolim are protesting a blatant and well publicized transgression? Ask him if preserving Rav Kaminetsky's reputation is more important to Yiddishkeit than G-d's Torah?

======================Important comment by Joe Orlow===============

After talking several times to Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, and repeatedly trying to speak by phone to Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, and also trying to get Rabbi Feinstein to respond to an email I sent him, I now present "Joe's Take":
The party line is the following:
(1) Rabbi Feinstein and his special Bais Din ruled that Tamar Epstein is married to Aharon Friedman.
(2) Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky accepted this ruling. That is, if you ask him, he'll tell you there are Rabbis who hold that Tamar Epstein is married to Aharon Friedman.
(3) Rabbi Nota Greenblatt is a recognized expert in marriage and divorce. Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, and possibly Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, hold that Rabbi Greenblatt is an authority that may be relied on.
(4) Thus, Rabbi Greenblatt's performing the second marriage of Tamar Epstein is not something to be toyed with, questioned, second-guessed, or undone. It must stand.
(5) Otherwise the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. Rabbi Greenblatt has apparently released other women from their marriages but who seemingly needed a Get. DO YOU REALIZE WHAT A MESS WILL ENSUE IF WE HOLD THAT HE MADE A MISTAKE HERE?!
(6) Thus, all apparatchiks must play along or risk losing their jobs, their reputations, and even the possibility of any of their unmarried offspring ever getting married.
(7) Here is how to play. (a) You must believe that Tamar Epstein is legitimately married to her second "husband". (b) You must hope and pray and hold on to the desperate dream that Aharon Friedman will give Tamar Epstein a Get real soon, so that WE CAN JUST PUT THIS WHOLE AFFAIR BEHIND US AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Unilateral Divorce against the Husband’s Will

The following is interesting - but contains nothing new. He seems to think that halachic options that were once available can be made available - but provides no mechanism. This is the wishful thinking of feminism - "where there is a halachic will there is a halachic way." However that is not the way halacha works. If the majority of contemporary rabbis agreed to a particular view - then these ideas are relevant. But who decides that the majority has decided? How do you change the normative halacha which has been accepted for hundreds of years.

Jewish Ideas by Rabbi Marc Angel

1. Does Such a Possibility Exist under Torah Law?

The Torah (see Deut. 24:1) describes a divorce occurring through a “writ of [marriage] termination” (sefer kritut) given by the husband. Indeed, the Mishnah (Yevamot 14:1) states: “A woman can be divorced when she agrees and when she does not agree; but a man divorces only at his will.” Thus, there seems to be no way in which a woman can receive a divorce if her husband is recalcitrant.

However, our most ancient rabbinic sources state that such a possibility exists. In vaYikra 1:3, the Torah notes that in certain circumstances, a person must bring a sacrifice, and he is required to do so willingly (yakriv oto lirtzono). This seems to be an oxymoron: Either an act is mandatory and one is obligated to perform it, or one is free to act at one’s own personal discretion; can these seemingly contradictory elements be reconciled? The ancient halakhic Midrash answers in the affirmative: “We apply pressure upon him, until he says ‘it is my will to do so.’”[1] In other words, an act that is mandated by the Torah will be considered as having been performed willingly even if such “will” was formed under pressure by legitimate agents of Torah. The Sifra does not extend this principle beyond the issue of sacrifices, but the Mishnah (‘Erkhin 5:6) does. After stating that a sacrifice is considered as brought willingly after the person was pressured until he says, “It is my will to do so,” the Mishnah adds: “and the same is true for women’s bills of divorce.” [2]

Several explanations may be offered for this principle. One explains this in light of the general halakhic principle, “What a person harbors in one’s heart is halakhically irrelevant.” [3] Thus, when the Mishnah refers to “will,” it is not relating to an internal psychological disposition, but rather to an externally verified condition. Thus, if a person declares: “I do not want to do X”—we hold that performing X is against his will, and are not concerned with his internal thoughts. Conversely, if he declares: “I want to do X”—we hold performing X to be in accordance with his will.[4] Others suggest that if a husband refuses to divorce a wife who hates him and will in no case remain with him, he is acting only out of spite in order to deny her to others.[5] Such behavior, denying to others something that in any case cannot bring the individual any benefit, is halakhically unacceptable; we can therefore apply the general principle kofin ‘al middat Sedom. A third explanation was given by Maimonides:

Since he was compelled, why is this divorce not invalid? … Because a person who was overcome by his evil inclination to desist from performing a positive mitzvah or to commit a transgression, and who was then coerced [by the authorities] until he did what he ought to do or desisted from what he was forbidden to do, is not considered to be acting under compulsion …since he does want to be a Jew, he ipso facto wants to fulfill the commandments and to refrain from sin, but his evil inclination overcame him. When he was beaten, his evil inclination weakened, and so when he says “I want [to divorce]”—the divorce is in accordance with his will. (Laws of Divorce, 2:20)

Maimonides has a theory of human personality that recognizes several “levels” of will that can be in simultaneous conflict. The “will” required for divorce is not a subjective feeling but an objective mental position, which is assessed according to the overall context of a person’s life choices. A person who wants to be a Jew, surely consents at heart to what is entailed by being a Jew. If according to Torah he should in the case at hand divorce his wife, his refusal to do so is in conflict with what he deeply assents to. By physical coercion, the court is merely enabling him to overcome a powerful urge that conflicts with his own deeper and more serious will.

2. Who May Coerce a Husband to Divorce?

Having seen that Torah law contains the option for coercing a husband to divorce, the question arises: Who may do so? It should be pointed out that today, with a get regarded as a document required only because of adherence to a religious tradition, physical coercion to give a get flies directly in the face of the principle of freedom of religion. When we discuss today physical coercion of a get, we are therefore arguably doing something analogous to discussing the death sentence as a punishment for adultery, i.e., marking certain actions as worthy of extreme censure. With this in mind, let us return to the question: When physical coercion was a real operative option, who might be involved in this? The upshot of the talmudic discussion in Gittin 88b seems to be that physical coercion of divorce is not a matter that should (or may!) be undertaken by individuals. No matter how much I personally may be convinced that Zalman (for example) should really divorce his wife Rivka, I am not allowed to take matters into my own hands and beat him up in order to get him to agree to do so. Indeed, if he does give a divorce after being manhandled by self-appointed guardians of Torah (or by thugs they employ), the get thereby produced may well be halakhically invalid. Rather, it is only legitimately appointed communal leaders who were authorized to decide to apply such physical coercion. Having reached such a decision, they could appoint agents—whether Jews or non-Jews—to actually do so (in much the same manner that civil courts today direct law-enforcement officials to act against those who refuse to follow court rulings).

3. What Circumstances Justify Coercion of a Husband to Divorce His Wife?

If in general a husband divorces his wife only at his will, but in certain cases legitimate community leaders may coerce him to do so, the question arises: What are those “certain cases”? The Mishnah (Ketubot 7:10, cited at Bavli Ketubot 77a) gives a very specific and very short list of men whose extreme objective physical repulsiveness justifies coercing them to divorce if their wife demands a get. The more interesting case, however—not discussed by that Mishnah—is when a wife declares that her husband is subjectively repulsive to her and demands a get. This matter comes up with regard to a “rebellious” wife, i.e., a wife who openly refuses to have intimate relations with her husband. The Mishnah (Ketubot 5:7 cited at Bavli Ketubot 63a) states, that the communal authorities are not allowed to physically force her to change her mind, but that economic sanctions may be employed to cause her to reconsider, i.e., they may sanction her by impairing her right to payment of ketubah, thus threatening her with a situation in which her husband can divorce her not only against her will, but at no cost to himself. However, in the talmudic discussion Ameimar (c. 400 CE) states, that the above does not apply to a wife who justifies her refusal to remain with her husband by explaining that she finds him repulsive (ma-ees ‘alai). Well then, what is to be done when a woman so declares? Here the picture becomes really interesting, because we have at least three variant wordings of the talmudic phrase defining what is to be done in such a case. The printed text of the Talmud (based of course on manuscripts the first printers had before them), states:

But if she says ma-ees ‘alai—we do not coerce her.

On this version, it is not the business of the court to in any way pressure such a woman to have sex with her husband. If he is fed up with such a situation, he can divorce her. Of course, in those times, polygamy was also an option: if he was sufficiently well to do, the husband could simply take a second wife. But the court will take no sides in this marital crisis. This version seems to have been the one known to most rishonim, including Rabbenu Hananel (d. 1055), Rabbi Yitzhak AlFasi (1103), and many others.
However, a second version exists, in a talmudic manuscript known as ms. Firkovich-Leningrad. In that manuscript, the Talmud states:

But if she says ma-ees ‘alai—we coerce him.

On this version, the court will actively intervene on behalf of the rebellious wife who declares her husband repulsive, and coerce her husband to divorce her! Thus, in addition to the short list in the Mishnah of physically repulsive men who are coerced to divorce, a husband who is subjectively repulsive to his wife is also so coerced. Rabbenu Gershom, “Light of the Exile” (c. 960–1028), the greatest scholar of Ashkenazic Jewry of his time, ruled that if a woman found her marriage so unbearable that she was willing to totally forfeit her ketubah if only her husband would divorce her—the court is required by Torah law to coerce her husband to do so. As he writes (Teshuvot Rabbenu Gershom Meor haGolah, #42):

If she wants to be divorced and forfeits her ketubah, and he does not want to divorce her, the authorities must coerce him to give her a get. As the rabbis taught […] “We apply pressure upon him, until he says ‘It is my will to do so.’” And such is the actual halakha.

Note that the Mishnah stating that a husband could be coerced to give a get when the Torah mandates this, did not state when the Torah so mandates a divorce; it is Rabbenu Gershom who determined that Torah so requires whenever a woman is so desperate for a divorce that she is willing to forfeit her ketubah!

Another great authority who held this to be Torah law was Maimonides, who ruled that coercion of a divorce when a woman declared ma-ees ‘alai was mandated by the Torah (Hilkhot Ishut/Laws of Relationships, 14:8; note that at 14:14 he rejects post-biblical legislation on this issue):

If a wife declares “I find him repulsive, and am unable willingly to have sex with him”—the authorities immediately coerce him to divorce her. For she is not a captive of war, who must have sex with a man she despises.

This brief ruling reflects Maimonides’ assumptions about the basics of marriage. He holds that the status of a married woman is not like that of a captive enemy, and that she is under no obligation to submit to the sexual advances of a man she finds repulsive—even if that man is her lawful husband. He also clearly assumes that sex is an essential component of marriage, that a woman cannot be expected to be bound in a sexless marriage, and that divorce is therefore an absolute necessity in such situations. Now, the Torah never expressly states either of these things about marriage. While some biblical passages might seem to support such views of marriage, others might be cited against them, as in Psalms 45:11 where the bride is enjoined, “He is thy lord, and do homage to him.” Clearly, Maimonides’ decision that the Torah here requires an immediate, forced divorce is dependent upon his value-laden understanding of what marriage is all about—an understanding that informs his reading of the Torah no less than it derives from such reading. And such an understanding may well have been what led Rabbenu Gershom to also mandate coercion in such cases—and what informed the talmudic author of ms. Firkovich-Leningrad, who wrote: “But if she says ma-ees ‘alai—we coerce him.”

A third variant of this talmudic phrase was proposed by Rabbenu Yaakov ben Meir (also known as Rabbenu Tam, France c. 1100–1171), but it can be understood only after tracing developments in the halakhic history of coerced divorce from the time of Ameimar to the twelfth century.[...]

8. Conclusion

When I was growing up, I was taught that the holiness of Jewish marriage is based on the serious commitment of man to woman and of woman to man, expressed (inter alia) in their entering a relationship in which neither party can cast off the other against his or her will. Later, when I leaned in the Yeshiva, I became aware that such had not always been the case: Originally, “in the time of the Torah” (and indeed, also the time of Hazal and the first millennium of the Common Era), a husband could arbitrarily be rid of his wife whenever he wanted. Only later, in the eleventh century CE, did Rabbenu Gershom decide to come to the aid of Jewish women and defend them against such a possibility by forbidding divorce without the woman’s consent. From time to time, a strange question would pop up in my head: Did Torah and Hazal not know that a true Jewish marriage means a serious commitment that cannot be unilaterally terminated by one of the parties?

Subsequently, I became more acquainted with the sources, and realized that over the course of time, holy Jewish marriage with huppah and kiddushin has undergone many metamorphoses. Originally, a husband could divorce a wife against her will, but a wife could not be divorced without her husband’s agreement (pace, e.g., Rabbenu Gershom and Rambam, who hold that under original Torah law any woman really fed up with her husband could forfeit her ketubah and receive a coerced divorce). Later, at the end of the talmudic period or at least from the seventh-century Rabbanan Sevora’ei, halakha moved to a symmetrical situation: Not only the husband but also the wife could unilaterally end the marriage. Then, after Rabbenu Gershom forbade the husband to unilaterally divorce his wife, the pendulum swung to the opposite pole: For about a century, only the wife could coerce the husband to divorce her, while he was forbidden to do so against her will. At this time, halakha (at least in Ashkenaz) was directly contrary to Torah law. After that, Rabbenu Tam restored symmetry between the spouses—but in a manner opposite to what had been the case until Rabbenu Gershom: Now, not only the man but also the woman could not exit the marriage unless the partner concurred. For the first time since Mount Sinai, both partners entering a Jewish marriage knew that they might become hostage to the other.

In recent years, the ideal of no-fault divorce has become prevalent in many societies around the globe: Marriage should not be a prison in which each side holds the only key to the other’s freedom. Hearing rabbis speak (nay, sermonize), one gets a clear message: Such is not the way of the Torah. Our marriage is holy, and that is why it is called kiddushin. And marriage cannot be holy unless it is a total, unconditional commitment that can be abrogated only after much travail and by mutual consent. No-fault divorce is thus a halakhic non-starter.

After reading this article, one thing should be clear: Whatever this or that rabbi may think of no-fault divorce, such was exactly the character of Jewish divorce for a very long time. According to Rabbenu Gershom and Maimonides (et al.), this was original Torah law from the time of Moshe Rabbenu (and according to many others, from the sixth or seventh century until Rabbenu Tam, i.e., for at least half a millennium). Was Jewish marriage not holy then? Similarly, if today, or in several years, halakhic authorities find the will and the courage to (re)institute halakhic no-fault divorce, this will not at all undermine the holiness of marriage under huppah and kiddushin. In fact, the opposite may well be true.

[1] “Kofin oto ‘ad she-yomar rotze ani.”Sifra, ad loc. (Dibbura di Nedava, 3).
[2] “veKhen b’gittei nashim.”
[3]“Devarin she-baLev einam devarim.”
[4]See e.g., Tosafot on Gittin 32a s.v. mahu de-teima.
[5]See Rashbam on Bava Batra 48a s.v. hatam nami neima.
[6]Responsum of Rav Sherira Gaon, Otsar HaGeonim to tractate Ketubot, no. 478. This responsum was known to the rishonim. See e.g. Rabbi Yesh’aya di Trani (thirteenth-century Italy), Tosfot RID on Ketubot 64a–b.
[7]Responsum of Rav Sherira Gaon, Otsar HaGeonim to tractate Ketubot, no. 478.
[8]Rabbi Yitzhak AlFasi (Morocco and Spain, 1013–1103) ruled that the takanah was in force throughout the Jewish world. Rabbenu Hannanel (d. 1055) does not mention the takanah, and thus some have held that he rejected its validity. But this is not self-evident.
[9]To prove the categoric difference between talmudic and post-talmudic authority, Rabbenu Tam cites the talmudic statement (Bava Metzi’ah 86a) “Ravina and Rav Ashi are the termination of instruction (sof horaah).” However, the notion that these words teach that after the Talmud no enactments authorizing coerced divorce are possible—may well be an original interpretation of Rabbenu Tam.
[10]Responsa of Rabbi Asher ben Yehiel section 43:8.

Is 60 days jail sentence appropriate for a rape and incest conviction?

An online petition with more than 14,000 signatures calling for the impeachment of a Montana judge over the sentencing of a 40-year-old man to 60 days in jail in an incest case involving a 12-year-old girl has been sent to the state’s governor and other officials.

The man was sentenced to the jail time, plus a 30-year suspended prison term last week as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. The man also was ordered to complete community-based sex-offender treatment and register as a sex offender.

District Judge John McKeon has defended himself against criticism, saying a plea agreement that recommended a 25-year minimum sentence allowed for a lesser one, depending on the results of a psychosexual evaluation. He said that evaluation found the defendant could be safely treated and supervised in the community. McKeon also notes the victim’s mother and grandmother asked that the defendant not be sentenced to prison. [...]

Originally, Deputy Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen recommended a 100-year prison sentence with 75 years suspended - as called for in state law - as part of a plea agreement that recommended the dismissal of two other incest charges.

“A father repeatedly raped his 12-year-old daughter,” Jensen said during the Oct. 4 sentencing hearing.

A licensed clinical social worker testified that the man was a low-risk to re-offend and that it would be important for him to have social support while he received treatment. The social worker, Michael Sullivan of Billings, said the man did suffer a “collapse of social support” when he lost his family and job.

Court records said the girl’s mother walked in on one of the sexual assaults.

Public defender Casey Moore argued there was more than one way to hold a person accountable.

“I’m not asking that he be given a slap on the wrist,” Moore said. “He did spend 17 days in jail and he did lose his job,” and will be on supervision for the rest of his life.

McKeon said he diverted from the recommended sentence because the man had support from his family, friends, church and his employer. The girl’s mother and grandmother were reportedly among those supporting a community-based punishment. Someone wrote that “he was a good father for 12 years,” and another said he was not a monster, but a man who had made a mistake.[...]

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

One big reason the WikiLeaks emails aren't as damaging for Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump

When Donald Trump charges that the media are plotting against him, he often points to the hacked private emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, now available for the world to see on WikiLeaks.

A bewildered Trump asks repeatedly how these disclosures are not dominating the news cycle.

In another presidential election, they just might be. Tucked into the thousands of mundane exchanges that Russian hackers allegedly extracted from John Podesta’s inbox are some revelations embarrassing to the Clinton campaign.

But Trump has seen to it that they are never dwelt on for long. As with so many other issues that have emerged in this race — including those where Trump would probably benefit from voters focusing on them — the WikiLeaks disclosures are getting eclipsed by Trump himself.

“Who knows what valid issues might in fact be being actually discussed right now if we didn't have a volatile, churning Category 5 media hurricane stalled over the entire country?” Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher said of Trump in an email.

Even when Trump manages to pause and shine the spotlight on WikiLeaks, he often weakens his argument.

The emails often don’t prove what Trump says they do: that the Clinton campaign hates Catholics, that Clinton allies were preparing an Islamophobic smear campaign against President Obama, that Clinton “openly colluded” with the Justice Department during its investigation of her private email server.

But they undermine Clinton in other ways, such as showing the inner workings of a campaign so cautious that several top advisors weigh in before it settles on the joke the candidate will tell at a dinner. The emails also revealed something Clinton had tried to keep under wraps: transcripts of remarks during highly paid engagements at major investment banks, where her chummy tone didn’t always mesh with the tougher line on Wall Street she’s taken during the election.

Some of the exchanges released by WikiLeaks support, to an extent, Trump’s interpretations, such as one email he tweeted about Monday:

“Crooked Hillary Clinton even got the questions to a debate, and nobody says a word,” Trump wrote. “Can you imagine if I got the questions?” [...]

t’s unclear how another Republican candidate would handle the situation. Some party strategists were reluctant to discuss the leaks because they don’t want to encourage foreign meddling in an American election. Soon after the Obama administration accused Russia of hacking into Democratic National Committee emails, Podesta’s emails were published.

And they saw irony in Trump’s inability to leverage the WikiLeaks disclosures for more political gain. The outlet, they say, may not have bothered to acquire and release the messages were Trump not the nominee. Russian operatives and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might have been less motivated to help candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who are arguably even more hostile adversaries to them than Clinton.

But Trump is different. He is an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Former top Trump advisor Roger Stone, who now runs a pro-Trump super PAC, boasted of back-channel conversations with Assange.

It’s not a media conspiracy but Trump’s lack of discipline that has made his WikiLeaks attacks unsuccessful, said Tim Miller, who advised Jeb Bush in his presidential run.

“WikiLeaks would be one thing in a list of issues that Trump is failing to prosecute because he creates a news cycle by calling beauty queens fat,” Miller said. Trump is also busy disparaging the women who accuse him of groping them, feuding with the Republican speaker of the House and alleging the election is about to be stolen from him.

Clinton’s advisors have, meanwhile, capably made the case that the disclosures reflect more poorly on Trump than Clinton. Highly credentialed national security experts have emerged to warn the disclosures show Trump is being manipulated by the Russians.

Among them is Michael Morrell, a CIA veteran who served in high-ranking positions under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama. “I can’t remember a single time in American history where the American government has accused another government of trying to interfere in our elections,” Morrell said Friday on a conference call organized by the Clinton campaign.

“This is really unprecedented. As a national security person, it shakes me to my core.”

Trump's Lies about 'Rigged Election' are dangerous demagoguery

As Donald Trump's campaign falters, his warnings that the presidential contest will be rigged have become a focus of his pitch to voters.

Historians say Trump's sustained effort to call the process into question has no close parallel in past elections. And some are increasingly worried that his claims — for which he's offered no real evidence — could leave many of his supporters unwilling to accept the election results, potentially triggering violence and dangerously undermining faith in American democracy.

Day after day — at rallies, in interviews and on Twitter — Trump and several top backers have hammered the message that a victory for Hillary Clinton would be illegitimate. Trump has frequently suggested that widespread voter fraud will swing the election, and he has urged his supporters to closely monitor the voting process.

In a tweet Monday, he declared that there's "large-scale voter fraud happening on and before election day." In fact, numerous studies have shown that in-person voter fraud is vanishingly rare.

In August, Trump told a Pennsylvania crowd that the "only way" he could lose the state is "if cheating goes on." Trump's vice presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, echoed those claims Monday in Ohio, declaring: "Voter fraud cannot be tolerated by anyone in this nation."[...]

But as he has slipped in the polls, Trump has gone further, making his claims a central facet of his campaign — to the point where even some Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have repudiated them. And he has broadened his case, charging that the contest is being rigged not just through fraud but also by the media, which he says favor his opponent.

He has also suggested that Clinton worked with the Democratic National Committee to steal her party's nomination from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Laura Belmonte, a history professor at Oklahoma State University, said that although there have been disputed elections and claims of illegal voting in the past, Trump's systematic effort to question the process in advance is new.

"I really can't think of another precedent where this rhetoric has been used so vigorously prior to the election," Belmonte said. "So the calls for poll watchers and the not-so-veiled threatening discourse — I really don't think have an analogue."

Belmonte added that most losers of close presidential elections have conceded defeat and called for the nation to unify, which has helped to maintain public faith in the system. [...]

Evidence is mounting that Trump's broad, sustained attack has already had an impact:

As Donald Trump's campaign falters, his warnings that the presidential contest will be rigged have become a focus of his pitch to voters.

Historians say Trump's sustained effort to call the process into question has no close parallel in past elections. And some are increasingly worried that his claims — for which he's offered no real evidence — could leave many of his supporters unwilling to accept the election results, potentially triggering violence and dangerously undermining faith in American democracy.

Day after day — at rallies, in interviews and on Twitter — Trump and several top backers have hammered the message that a victory for Hillary Clinton would be illegitimate. Trump has frequently suggested that widespread voter fraud will swing the election, and he has urged his supporters to closely monitor the voting process.

In a tweet Monday, he declared that there's "large-scale voter fraud happening on and before election day." In fact, numerous studies have shown that in-person voter fraud is vanishingly rare.

In August, Trump told a Pennsylvania crowd that the "only way" he could lose the state is "if cheating goes on." Trump's vice presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, echoed those claims Monday in Ohio, declaring: "Voter fraud cannot be tolerated by anyone in this nation."

Trump is hardly the first prominent Republican to issue dire warnings about voter fraud. In 2008, Sen. John McCain of Arizona alleged in a presidential debate that the voter registration group ACORN was "on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."

But as he has slipped in the polls, Trump has gone further, making his claims a central facet of his campaign — to the point where even some Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have repudiated them. And he has broadened his case, charging that the contest is being rigged not just through fraud but also by the media, which he says favor his opponent.

He has also suggested that Clinton worked with the Democratic National Committee to steal her party's nomination from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Laura Belmonte, a history professor at Oklahoma State University, said that although there have been disputed elections and claims of illegal voting in the past, Trump's systematic effort to question the process in advance is new.

"I really can't think of another precedent where this rhetoric has been used so vigorously prior to the election," Belmonte said. "So the calls for poll watchers and the not-so-veiled threatening discourse — I really don't think have an analogue."

Belmonte added that most losers of close presidential elections have conceded defeat and called for the nation to unify, which has helped to maintain public faith in the system.[...]

Whether Trump would respond to defeat in the same way is very much an open question. He pledged at the first presidential debate that he'd "absolutely" support Clinton if she won. But he has since hedged, telling The New York Times later that week: "We're going to have to see. We're going to see what happens."

That has some election experts worrying that America's long tradition of peacefully transferring power could be at risk.

"One of the things we take for granted is that, even in tumultuous times when elections are hard fought, the losers concede the election and embrace the process, even if things did not go well," the election law scholar Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California-Irvine, wrote after Trump's "we're going to have to see" comments.

"Donald Trump threatens this peace," Hasen wrote.

Evidence is mounting that Trump's broad, sustained attack has already had an impact:

A Politico poll released Monday found 41 percent of voters — including 73 percent of Republicans — fear that the election could be stolen.

An Associated Press poll found that half of respondents who have a favorable opinion of Trump have little to no confidence that votes will be counted fairly.

And a Survey Monkey poll conducted with Nathaniel Persily of Stanford Law School earlier this month, found that 40 percent of respondents said they'd lost faith in American democracy, with Trump supporters saying so at significantly higher rates than Clinton backers.

Meanwhile, the rhetoric from Trump supporters is growing apocalyptic. Milwaukee County, Wis., Sheriff David Clarke, a prominent Trump surrogate on law and order issues, called in a recent tweet for "pitchforks and torches."[...]

Rubio, Toomey Dispute Trump 'Rigged' Election Claims in Debates

Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey became the latest Republicans to speak out against Donald Trump's warnings of a rigged election Monday night.

In separate high-stakes debates, the two incumbent U.S. senators each refuted Trump's claim that the results of the 2016 election could be tainted, and both men called for confidence in next month's vote.

"Our elections may not always be completely perfect, but they are legitimate, they have integrity and everyone needs to respect the outcome," Toomey said during his debate with challenger Katie McGinty when asked about the Republican presidential nominee's allegations, which he's been repeating on the stump all week.

Toomey said that the success of the American "republic" depends on citizens' "confidence in the outcome of the elections" and said voters should respect the outcome, "because that's going to be necessary to pull us all together on Nov. 9."

Rubio, in his debate with Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, said the election is "absolutely" not being rigged and "I hope [Trump] stops saying that."

Rubio offered a more extensive rebuttal to Trump's claims. Visibly irritated, he noted that Florida's 67 counties all conduct their own elections. "I promise you there is not a 67-county conspiracy to rig this election," he said, adding that Florida Gov. Rick Scott is a Republican and appoints those who run the elections.

"Third, there's no evidence behind any of this and so this should not continue to be said," Rubio added.

Rubio also cited the "millions of people who came [to Florida] because they couldn't vote in the nation of their birth," a reference to the state's sizable Cuban population. "It would be a tragedy if they gave up their vote here as well."

Toomey and Rubio's respective Democratic opponents attacked the senators for not opposing Trump. Murphy called Trump "unhinged," and McGinty said his election skepticism is a "dangerous, reckless allegation."

Taking fire from all sides for his claim that American democracy is “rigged,” Donald Trump cited academic studies to justify his claims that the country is beset by widespread voter fraud Monday night in Wisconsin.

Rather than prove widespread fraud, the two studies cited by Trump document voter-record management shortfalls on the one hand and suggest that illegal voting by non-citizens is more common than generally understood on the other. While the studies highlight shortcomings in the electoral system, fact-checking site PolitiFact ruled Trump’s claim that the studies illustrate “large scale voter fraud” as “pants on fire” false, the organization's lowest rating, earlier Monday.

Speaking at a rally in Green Bay, Trump cited the conclusions from a Pew Research study that found “approximately 24 million — one of every eight — voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate” … “More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters.” Also: “Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.” But rather than showing widespread voter fraud, the study’s authors concluded that the country’s, “inaccurate, costly and inefficient” voting system “needs an upgrade.”

Trump also cited a 2014 guest post on the Washington’s Post’s political science blog, the Monkey Cage, from the authors of a study that extrapolated from an online survey that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent voted in 2010, proportions high enough to potentially tip close races. While the study raises concerns about the extent of illegal noncitizen voting, it extrapolated from a "modest" sample size and did not document any widespread fraud. Its authors suggested that it is likely that noncitizens who cast ballots are generally unaware that they do not have the right to vote. The authors pointed out several possible methodological shortcomings in the study, and other academics have lodged their own critiques.

But on Monday, Trump spun the studies as proof the presidency will be stolen, charging, “They even want to try and rig the election at the polling booths.”[...]

New evidence in the slaying of FSU professor Dan Markel

Florida State University professor Daniel Markel had just been gunned down outside his home. And his ex-wife said she had a notion why.

On that day, in July 2014, Wendi Adelson told police someone might have done it for her benefit.

"I can't help but feel that this is all my fault. This can't be a random act of violence; this has to be on purpose. Someone did this for a reason," she said during a recorded police interview. "I'm so scared that someone did this, not because they hate Danny but because they thought this was good somehow."

The interview is among dozens of newly released documents and recordings that show how investigators began to piece together what they call a murder-for-hire plot.

The evidence reveals:

• Adelson, 37, of Miami, told police that her brother Charlie, a South Florida periodontist, had joked about hiring a hit man.

• Cellphone records show calls between Charlie Adelson's phone and Katherine Magbanua, a woman connected with two men accused of carrying out the killing.

• Shortly after Markel's death, Magbanua started receiving paychecks from the Adelson Institute for Aesthetics and Implant Dentistry in Tamarac.

• The two men charged in the crime made significant purchases in the months after the killing. Sigfredo Garcia bought two cars and a motorcycle, and Luis Rivera bought a motorcycle.

No one in the Adelson family has been arrested or charged in the case and, through their attorneys, they have denied any involvement in Markel's murder.

"We understand why the government has put the Adelson family through this type of severe scrutiny. But nothing has turned up that supports this fanciful fiction that the Adelsons were involved," according to a statement released in August on behalf of the family. "There is a reason that the police have not arrested any of the Adelsons — they weren't involved in Dan's death."

Investigators have been candid about what they think happened. They say Garcia and Rivera acted as hired assassins in an arrangement handled through Magbanua. Magbanua was dating Charlie Adelson and has two small children with Garcia. [...]

Adelson then told investigators her brother Charlie joked about hiring a hit man.

"My brother — the one I'm really close to — he makes a lot of jokes in bad taste and it was a joke he made. ... He said, 'You know, I looked into hiring a hit man and it was cheaper to get you this TV. So, instead, I got you this TV,'" Adelson told the investigator.

She then said: "He's my big brother and he's been taking care of me since I was little, but he would never."

Wendi Adelson's boyfriend at the time also told investigators the brother should be considered as a suspect.

"I would be investigating Charlie Adelson," Jeffrey Lacasse, a professor in the College of Social Work at FSU, told an investigator during a recorded interview in July 2014. "If you got in front of this guy, he'd set off your radar. He set off my radar."

Lacasse said Charlie Adelson hung out with unsavory people.

"He's a dentist and he's very wealthy, but he kind of hangs out with people from both sides of the tracks," he said during the interview. "You know, he goes boating in South Beach with his rich buddies and he also goes to his gym with some other kinds of characters."

Lacasse also told investigators Wendi Adelson told him her brother had looked into hiring a hit man and was told it would cost $15,000.

"Wendi had reported to me that Charlie had considered all the options possible to take care of this problem," he said. "She said it in a dead serious, chilling, uncomfortable way."

When investigators asked Lacasse how he thought Adelson would have committed the murder, he said: "He'd get his buddy in the special forces to do this, or he'd get some seedy guys down in the Cuban neighborhood or something like that."  [...]

Shortly after Markel's death, Magbanua started getting paychecks, signed by Donna Adelson, from the Adelson Institute for Aesthetics and Implant Dentistry. She received more than $56,000, according to the arrest warrant from Sept. 30.[...]

"Through analysis of Magbanua's bank accounts and other investigative techniques, it appears that the majority of her income does not come from legitimate employment," the report said. "Investigators believe that Magbanua is supported financially by Charlie Adelson and has received numerous benefits from the Adelsons since Markel's murder."

Garcia and Rivera also bought several vehicles in the months after the murder.[...]

Melania Trump attacks women who accused Donald of sexual abuse and says they are lying

Melania Trump is now doing what Hillary Clinton did when her husband was accused of sexual abuse - she is attacking the victims. Trump's followers think it is appropriate Melania to do this but not Hillary because obviously Bill was guilty and Donald of course is innocent.

Melania Trump defended Donald Trump in her first interview since the Republican nominee faced allegations of sexual misconduct, calling those accusations "lies" and saying Trump was "egged on" into "boy talk" during a 2005 tape in which he made lewd comments about women.

"I believe my husband. I believe my husband," she said in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday.

"This was all organized from the opposition. And with the details ... did they ever check the background of these women? They don't have any facts."

She also said she hadn't heard her husband use that kind of language before.

"No. No, that's why I was surprised, because I said like I don't know that person that would talk that way, and that he would say that kind of stuff in private," Melania Trump said.

"I heard many different stuff -- boys talk," she said. "The boys, the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other, 'Oh, this and that' and talking about the girls. But yes, I was surprised, of course."

She specifically attacked a first-person account in People Magazine, in which journalist Natasha Stoynoff said Trump made an unwanted advance while she worked on a story about his one-year wedding anniversary.

The reporter described a chance encounter later with Melania Trump, who says it never happened -- and her lawyers have threatened to sue over the claim.

"Even the story that came out in people magazine, the writer she said my husband took her to the room and start kissing her," she said. "She wrote in the same story about me -- that she saw me on 5th Avenue, and I said to her, 'Natasha, how come we don't see you anymore?' I was never friends with her, I would not recognize her."

That, Melania Trump said, "was another thing like people come out saying lies and not true stuff."

She said she agrees with Michelle Obama's assertion that kissing or groping a woman without consent is sexual assault.

"But every assault should be taken care of in a court of law. And to accuse, no matter who it is, a man or a woman, without evidence is damaging and unfair," she said.

Melania Trump defended her husband's criticism on the campaign trail of his accusers' looks -- an implication that the women who have alleged his misconduct aren't attractive enough to sexually assault.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

In Trump, Israel’s mainstream distrusts

Israel values stability, consistency, and reliability from its most important ally. Which is why, while they may have reservations about Hillary Clinton, many Israeli policymakers and much of the public are wary of the unpredictable Trump

For Yossi Klein Halevi, an American-born Israeli author and speaker, the 2016 presidential election wasn’t supposed to be like this. After eight years of President Barack Obama, Halevi, a centrist who has been highly critical of the outgoing president’s Middle East posture and in particular of last year’s nuclear deal with Iran, was prepared to go all in against the Democrats.

But from Halevi’s perspective, this election season saw the emergence of a far more dangerous menace from an unexpected source: the putatively pro-Israel Republican Party’s nominee for president, Donald Trump.

“I was so looking forward to 2016 as an opportunity to punish the Democrats,” says Halevi. “But given the way that this election has turned out, my far greater fear is a Trump victory.”

When it comes to mainstream public opinion in Israel, Halevi is far from alone. A poll released Sunday by the Peace Index, conducted jointly by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), shows that the Israeli public prefers a Hillary Clinton administration over a Donald Trump ticket by an overwhelming tally of 42% to 24%. At a political moment when Republicans are attempting to persuade American Jews that they, and not the Democrats, are to be trusted on Israel, it is the Republican Party’s appointed standard-bearer whom far more Israelis appear not to trust with the US-Israel relationship.

Itamar Rabinovich, who presided over some of the warmest years of the US-Israel relationship as Israel’s ambassador to the United States under prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and during the early years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, is unsurprised that Republican efforts have been unpersuasive to Israelis. For an Israel that, he says, above all values stability, consistency, and reliability from its most important ally and the leader of the most powerful country in the world, Trump is perceived as anything but.

“The general perception is that Trump is totally unpredictable,” says Rabinovich, who now serves as president of the Israel Institute. “In a crucial relationship like the one between the US and Israel, that is perceived very negatively.”

For the Israeli public, says Rabinovich, it appears that “Trump is someone who is not really interested in and knowledgeable” about matters of foreign policy. “[Trump] has changed his mind and contradicted himself a number of times, which doesn’t help.”

When asked if he shares the concerns of the public when it comes to Trump, Rabinovich answers simply, “Yes, I do.”

These concerns appear to transcend political eras. Dan Arbell, former acting head of the North America division at the Foreign Ministry from 2005 to 2009 before serving for three years as deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC and ambassador Michael Oren’s second-in-command (during the early years of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current premiership), sounds a similar note of alarm.

“There are a lot of unknowns [about Trump] which makes me as an Israeli pretty anxious,” says Arbell, now a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a lecturer at American University in Washington, DC.

Trump’s inconsistency from one day to the next is disconcerting, says Arbell, particularly in the wake of the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding that will see the United States give $38 billion in military assistance to Israel over the next 10 years.

“While Trump declares he is pro-Israel and supports Israeli security,” Arbell says, when it comes to “the different statements he has made on foreign aid, including foreign aid to Israel, it becomes somewhat hard to square the circle.”

Ditto his policies vis-à-vis the peace process. “The policies on the Palestinian-Israeli front are also a big question mark,” Arbell says. “He said he would be ‘neutral’ during the Republican primary. Then he said he would have Israel’s back.

“It’s unclear what his philosophy is and what his policies will be.”

Arbell, who still maintains contacts with several of his former colleagues in the Foreign Ministry, believes that Trump’s unknowns could become a real issue among Israel’s current diplomatic corps charged with guiding the Jewish state’s relationship with the United States. “The official position is that [the ministry] does not interfere” in the election, says Arbell. “But if I have to read in between the lines, I think that people share the opinion that Trump is an unknown.”

For Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Trump’s unknowns “can work in your favor or it can work against you,” says Arbell, but “the unpredictability is very hard on those who are policymakers.”[...]