Friday, October 9, 2015

Bereishis - פרו ורבו - Was Chizkiyahu Hamelech decreed to die

The Gemarah Berachos 10a relates to us a conversation between Chizkiyahu Hamelech, and Yeshayahu Hanavi. Chizkiyahu was deathly ill, and the Navi Yeshaya came to be Mevaker Choleh (pay a sick visit).

Both being great Torah giants, they have a disagreement. Did Chizkiyahu still had hope of a full recovery, and he should continue praying... or was it too late, and Chizkiyahu Hamelech was about to die regardless... 

Ultimately, Chizkiyahu prevails, and we now rule אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על צאורו של אדם אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים    Chizkiyahu davens, survives, and marries Yeshayah hanavis daughter......

But, asks the Turei Even,  in the course of the discussion, Yeshayah hanavi said, that it was "כבר נגזרה גזרה". We know from Rosh hashanah 18a, that once a decree is made on an indavidual person, its NOT rescinded...

Stop the Presses!: Direct confirmation of my conjectures regarding the heter for Tamar Epstein to remarry without a Get

While I have been very involved in reporting the Tamar Epstein case - the understanding of some of the critical issues concerning the heter of kiddushei ta'us have been based largely  on conjecture. This morning I received a letter from a well known posek who directly confirmed what I suspected. While the posek doesn't want to reveal his identity, I know him and accept fully the truth of what he says. I am also getting solid information from insiders - which I am in the process of checking out - which provides further confirmation and names names.

 As far as I have established - the Kaminetskys did not actually pasken - they are not poskim - but they are the sole source of information that poskim including Rabbi Greenblatt relied on for their psak. The poskim rubber stamped what the Kaminetskys proposed. The poskim did not independently investigate the matter. In short the Kaminetskys went poskim hopping - to find someone who agreed with them. They provided not only the information but the description of the exact heter - kiddushei ta'us - they wanted. They did not ask for the independent view of the posek or for the posek to conduct and independent investigation. If the posek rejected their proposal they went elsewhere until they found what they were looking for.

It is clear that many rabbis are disgusted by the distortion of halacha in allowing Tamar to remarry without a Get  - but are afraid of severe consequences for their futures if they openly condemn what the Kaminetskys have done.

This is the letter exactly as the posek sent me - with full permission to publish it.
In the summer of 2013 I was approached by a renowned rabbi and shown copy of a "Heter Nisu'in" for Tamar Epstein. If my memory serves me right, it was written by a student in a Kollel in Philly, and approved by a Rabbi Kamenetsky.
The reason I was given the "Heter" was so I can review it, and if I approve it - then i should sign on it.

I read the Teshuvah/Heter (was surprisingly short), and the whole basis of the Heter was based on some "eidus" by a professional (maybe a therapist?), and "eidus" of certain individuals (not named in the Teshuva), that the husband was "not normal", and it was therefore a "Mekach To'us." The examples cited of his behavior were pretty bad on a Shalom Bayis scale (if true), but nothing remotely strong to constitute a "Mekach To'us" even according to the most Meikel opinions.

Although I am a big Meikel by nature, after I reviewed the Teshuva/Heter I said that there is no way I can approve such a lackluster Teshuva/Heter, until I speak to the doctor, psychologist, etc. to ascertain if there is any valid reason to consider such a Heter, but the reasons in the Teshuva/Heter are not valid.

After I reviewed it and voiced my opinion, I gave it back to the rabbi and I didn't keep a copy for myself, so I can't tell you with 100% certainty what the "eidus" was, especially two years later, but what's written above is my recollection.

Kiddushei Ta'us (annulment) Rav Moshe' Feinstein's view - by Rabbi Chaim Jachter

Rav Moshe Feinstein's Extraordinary Ruling

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe, E.H. 1:79) disagrees will all of the aforementioned authorities and argues that if a woman discovers a severe defect in her husband, she does not require a get. Rav Moshe writes that one should make all efforts to obtain a get, but a lenient ruling may be given ifthese efforts fail. He reasons that some defects are so severe that, clearly, no woman would have married this man.7 For example, Rav Moshe takes issue with Rav Yitzchak Elchanan and argues that no woman would marry an impotent man. Thus, just as a man who mistakenly marries an ailonit does not require a get, so too a woman who marries an impotent man does not require a get. Rav Moshe takes this exceedingly bold argument8 one step further, asserting that even Rabbeinu Tam would not require a get for a woman to remarry upon discovering a severe preexisting defect in her husband. As we have mentioned above, Rabbeinu Tam rules demands a get to dissolve the marriage if a man discovers that his wife is an ailonit. Rav Moshe argues that only a man might agree to marry a woman with a severe defect, because his ability to give a get assures him a relatively easy halachic exit from the marriage. However, it is obvious to all, Rav Moshe claims, that no woman would marry a man with a severe defect. She would never risk being unable to tolerate the man's problem, Kidushei Taut because she knows that she has no simple halachic mechanism to escape from the marriage. 

Limitations on Rav Moshe's Ruling

Rav Moshe suggested applying this ruling in five actual cases. They involved an impotent man (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe, E.H. 1:79), a man who concealed that he had been institutionalized prior to the marriage (E.H. 1:80), a man who concealed that he vehemently opposed having children and later forced his wife to abort a fetus (E.H. 4:13),9 a man who concealed that he was a practicing homosexual prior to the marriage (E.H. 4:113), and a man who concealed that he converted to another religion (E.H. 4:83). In the last case, however, Rav Moshe hesitated to permit the woman to remarry without a get, as she did not observe Torah law. It must be clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that the woman never would have married such a man. However, since this woman did not practice Judaism seriously, Rav Moshe questioned whether we can assume that she would never marry an apostate. 

Similarly, Rav Yitzchak Herzog (Teshuvot Heichal Yizchak, E.H. 2:25) appears to fundamentally accept Rav Moshe's premise. Nonetheless, Rav Herzog did not permit a Sephardic sixteen-year-old girl to remarry without a get after she married a man in his forties whom she thought was significantly younger. Although the girl had been deceived, Rav Herzog explained that one could not state unequivocally that a sixteen-year-old girl in such a community would never marry a man in his forties.

Rav Moshe issued his ruling about an impotent husband in 1951 and his ruling about an institutionalized husband in 1955. The present availability of psychiatric drugs allows for treating many psychiatric illnesses and casts  doubt upon whether he would have ruled this way today. Similarly, impotence can be treated and cured in most cases today. It is thus unclear if a woman today would undoubtedly refuse to marry a man with either of these ailments. Even some homosexuals, with the help of psychotherapy, can lead a healthy married life.

Moreover, Rav Moshe did not rely on the woman's testimony alone to verify the husband's impotence and mental illness. Rather, the rabbis involved in the case examined the medical records of the husbands, and the doctors even testified that they unsuccessfully tried to cure one husband's impotence. In today's society, it is highly unlikely that such information would be forthcoming from medical officials.


It is extremely difficult to permit either partner in a marriage to remarry solely based upon kiddushei ta'ut. Every effort should be made to obtain a get even when major defects are discovered in either spouse. For a defect to be considered as grounds for kiddushei ta'ut, it must be clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that virtually no one would marry a person with the defect. Moreover, the defect must already be in existence  before the marriage

Chasam Sofer : Criticizing Gedolim when they deviate from what is viewed as the accepted halacha

Concerning the ongoing discussion whether it is proper to question and criticize gedolim when they deviate from what is viewed as the accepted halacha. I just received the following from a well known posek and dayan.
Rabbi Eidensohn,

I believe the attached story with the חת"ס, (who's Yahrtzeit is today), gives people like us the authority to question, attack, and condemn the (mis)deeds of those supposed Gedolim.

If you feel it could be a תועלת in the ongoing מערכה to protect the last vestige of קדושת ישראל please publicize it as you see fit.

יישר כוכחם
 The following is from  חוט המשולש
 page 64-65

Once when my grandfather [the Chasam Sofer] was visiting the community of Yergin a distinguished person pressured him to be a guest in his home. He agreed. It was a very nice dwelling. However not many days later he learned that his host was spreading lashon harah and  slander against him. The Chasam Sofer asked his shamash about this but the shamash did not want to describe with his mouth the disgusting things he had heard said about him. The Chasam Sofer was forced to order the shamash to tell what he knew. The shamash had no choice but to reveal what their host had said about him. After hearing the nature of the slander the Chasam Sofer requested that the Rav of the community make the host to take an oath and answer whether it was true that he had said bad things about the Chasam Sofer. The host readily admitted that he had said bad things about the Chasam Sofer and was not the slightest bit embarrassed about admitting this. The Chasam Sofer then asked him what was the basis of his saying derogatory comments about him? The host replied that he had been behind his door on Shabbos day when the Chasam Sofer had sat down to have his meal and he noticed that the Chasam Sofer had not made kiddush (My grandfather had the custom of making kiddush on bread in the morning and then at the seuda of the day he just made a beracha on wine - which is the actual din of kiddush during the day). The host demanded to know - what type of Jew eats a meal on Shabbos without making kiddush? [To be continued]

**) כשהי׳ זקיני זצ׳׳ל בעיירות קטנוה הללו הי׳ דרכו לדור בבית נכרי ופעם :א' כשבא לישב איזה זמן ביערגן הפציר בו איש נכבד שישכין שכינתו בביתו ואחר ההפצרה נענע לו ראשו והי׳ לו שמה דירה נאה׳ לא עברו ימים הרבה והקול נשמע שבעל הבית הוצא לישנא בישא ומלשין מאוד על זקיני זצ״ל ר״ל והדבר מגיע לאזני זקיני ז״ל שהבעה"ב מלשין עליו ושאל למשמשו אודות זה, אבל הוא לא רצה להוציא דבר מגונה כזו מפיו על רבו וגזר עליו זקיני ז"ל להגיד אשר נודע לו, ובהכרח סיפר מה שבעל האכסניא אזמר עליו וזקיני ציוה לקרוא רב העיר והשביע את האיש בפניו לאמור אם אמת הדבר שאמר עליו דברים מגונים האלה והוא הודה ולא בוש ושאלו מה זה ראיה ממני עד שאני נהשד בעיניך על זה ואמר יען ראה מאחורי הדלת בש״ק לסעודת צהריים ישב אל השולחן ולא קידש היום (דרך זקיני הי׳ לעשות קידוש בפת שחרית ובסעודת צהריים בירך על כוס יין שהוא עיקר קדושא רבא) ואיזה יהודי אוכל בלא קידוש?  כן השיבוהרהר זקיני זצ״ל מה חטא עד שעלתה לו לימי זקנותו שיוציאו עליו לשנא בישא ושיאמרו עליו כן ונפל בדעתו אולי משום שעבר על דחז״ל ע״ה חסיד אסור לת״ח לדור בשכונתו׳ ועדיין לא נח דעתו איך נעלמה ממנו הלכח זו לשעתא ולמה לא הזכרהו ה׳ עלי׳ ואח״כ נתן שמחה בלבו על שאירע לו כן כי תמיד הי׳ מצטער בחשבו הלא יעמדו לישראל מנהיגי אליל רועים אינם נאמנים ואם כן יהיו המנהיגי׳ אזי ח״ו לא יזכר שם ישראל עוד כי חעם יוסיפו אשמה להיות רעים והטאים אבל עהה הראני ה׳ שטעיתי והקב"ה נתן התורת לעזין שבאומות וראה אני רב זקן ויושב בישיבה בקהלה גדולה ואפ״ה אמר האי איש עלי דבר מגונה מאוד מפני שהוא ראה מאבותיו שעושין קידוש בצהריים ואני לא עשיתי כן א״כ הנאמנים לה׳ לא ישגיחו על מנהיגיהם להרע כי העיקר ושורש אמונת אומן מה שקבלו הבנים מאבותיהם כמ״ש הרמב״ן והנח להם לישראל כי בני נביאים המה: