Sunday, July 15, 2018

Close the Window, I Feel a Draft Coming In!

Let me open this post with an announcement.

It looks like I will have a second son joining the IDF.

A quick rundown. I am blessed with six sons (and even more daughters). The oldest is the one I called Yaakov. He is more of a leather yarmulke type. He joined Nahal Chareidi in 2010. I wrote about it then. He did his three years and was discharged about five years ago. He has even done a stint in miluim. After the army, he went to Bar Ilan U and got an M.A. in financial mathematics. Currently, he works in the financial office of a large law firm in Ramat Gan. He is a very, very eligible bachelor.

Next is the one I called Yossi who was the star in many of my Shidduch posts. He went through the Israeli Yeshiva system and obtained an official p’tur. Then he went to Lakewood, found a bride and came back. He is currently learning in Kollel in EY and, I hope, living happily ever after.

Next up is one I will call Yitzi. He was only three when we came, but still, like his older brothers, he didn’t really take to the Israeli Yeshiva social system. He also managed a p’tur from the army and then promptly bugged off to the US and is currently learning in Rhode Island with some college on the side.

I will skip to my two younger sons, both Israeli born who blend in nicely with the “system”. They are both in Yeshiva Ketana (high school) and don’t seem to be candidates for army service in the long term.

And this brings us back to son number 4 – Eli. Eli is my first son born in Eretz Yisrael. Actually, he is my only child born in Yerushalayim. Everyone after him was born in Bnei Brak. Like his father, Eli is an independent thinker, left-handed, and very opinionated. In line, he is an idealist. Though his ideals are much more nationalistic than mine. He is not pro-Medinat Yisrael but is he very pro-Eretz Yisrael.

Eli is quite a character. Even though he never attended the Zilberman school system, he fully adopted their Vilna Gaon shitos. He doesn’t shave, he wears techeiles, tries to wear tefillin all day, and stops bentching after “al yechasreinu”. So he is part Zilberman with a touch of “hilltop” and 100% activist. He is a Lehava activist and Temple Mount activist and a Kahanist. He learns in Yeshiva Raayon Hayehudi which is the yeshiva established by Rabbi Meir Kahane, HY”D. He is pre-messianic which means he believes we should first build the Beis HaMikdash and reinstitute the avoda and [only] then Moshiach will come.

This means clearing out the Yishmaeli interlopers and he is all for it. He doesn’t believe in firing warning shots. He would just love to get his hands on an M-16 and so, he decided to sign up.

For those who don’t know, the chareidi presence in the army is expanding. Until now, there was only Netzach Yehuda (Nahal Chareidi) which is an infantry battalion in the Kfir brigade. They are now starting a Chareidi Tzanchanim (paratrooper) battalion and this is what he tried signing up for.

Unfortunately, he is a bit scrawny, very nearsighted, and, as I said, avidly idealistic so he wasn’t really able to get past the few physicals and the army shrink. So he is settling for Plan B which is to go into Rabbanut Tzvaii in the Shachar battalion.

What comes out of all this is that out of the offspring of yours truly, [Anglo] Chareidi-in-Chief, I might wind up with 2 out of 6 (equals 1 out of 3) boys doing IDF army service. And I am certainly not the only chareidi baal-haboss who is experiencing this phenomenon. All this without any crazy mandatory laws.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Here in our neck of the woods, we are sitting with baited breath trying to get a handle on what is being called the new improved Hareidi Draft Law. It’s a bit like Obamacare (per Nancy Pelosi) – we won’t really know what’s in it until after we pass it. It is as mysterious as it is illogical. But, this is Israel. Everything works this way.

So for the record, I am getting all my information from these few articles in Haaretz which is not exactly the oracle of truth (HERE and HERE and HERE) but they (plus a few others from Arutz 7 and JPost) are the first ones that show up in my Google. 

This bill is a very strange type of compromise. On the one hand, it calls for financial sanctions against the Yeshiva world if certain quotas are not met. By itself, the chareidi parties would never accept such a provision and would bring down the government instead of supporting it. So, to take out these teeth, the bill gives a time schedule as if to say that there won’t be any sanctions for the first two years anyway. After that, there may be financial sanctions but it won’t affect the bill. Only if there are three consecutive years where the quotas fall short, then the bill will be voided and all Yeshiva guys will get drafted.

But, wait! If the bill is voided, the Knesset gets another 12 months to make a new bill before there is any mandatory draft. Mishpacha magazine adds that the Defense minister can issue automatic deferments for even another two years.

It seems that some of the chareidi parties (Shas and Degel HaTorah) are actually ready to support this bill because, at the extreme end, it totally kicks the can down the road for another six years (or more). There won’t be any sanctions for the first two years and for the next three, well, it’s only money.

Let me add, that it will not be easy for the government to apply any sanctions to any Yeshivos. The money the Yeshivos receive is so miniscule that there is almost no way to give less. Sure the government money helps and contributes to the budget, but none of the Yeshivas can and do subsist on it exclusively. Supposedly, Ponovizh has been the showcase Yeshiva for government assistance so they hang up a blue and white flag on Yom HaAtzmaut, but how much do you think Belz and Gur and Vizhnitz rely on government money? Who are you kidding?

And that’s where the numbers of “chareidim” really are!

After absorbing all this, I am puzzled by quite a few questions. First about the quota numbers themselves.

According to the Haaretz article, the numbers call for a starting quota of 3,996 “Yeshiva” guys in 2018 (bear in mind that it is already mid-July) and advance to 6,844 by the end of 2027. This would be a cumulative increase of about 71% over ten years.

The question is: 71%? Where is the army going when it comes to manpower? Does the army really want to grow? Does it need to grow? Does it intend to be 71% bigger in ten years?

Everybody knows that the Israeli army is totally swamped. As long as nothing really drastic happens, they have way more soldiers than they need and, it is argued, than they can afford. Currently, the system brings in enough inductees from all sectors that they are not lacking. They barely call anybody for mandatory miluim anymore.  If, chas v’shalom, some terrible catastrophe would call for the strength of the entire force, there are enough potential reservists between the ages of 22-36 to quadruple the standing force in a flash. This fact will hold year after year. And if even that won’t be enough, it obviously means that HKBH is not standing in our corner so we are anyway doomed no matter how many soldiers we produce.

So the manpower issue is a total joke and everybody knows it. In truth, as the general Israeli population continues to grow, kein yirbu, it becomes evident that the country is facing a more serious dilemma: how to deal with a potential soldier pool that is way bigger than we need?

And this is no joke. Currently, the Israeli government is dealing with it by quietly giving indiscriminate exemptions to people who do not meet the high end of their profile standards - especially if they want to be exempted. Not just to chareidim.

Perhaps, we can alleviate the army surplus problem by sending all the girls home. This might help to minimize what is now the biggest cause of death in the Israeli army – abortion. But, of course, then all the girls would get a head start in law school, pharmacy school,  and optician school while the boys in green are stuck playing shesh-besh by their Humvees and they will corner the job market (this is already happening).

Yep, Israel has its own version of the “shidduch crisis”.

I gather, many readers are probably saying that the purpose of this quota increase is not because the army wants to grow, but they want the proportion of the soldiers coming from the chareidi sector to be bigger than it is. Such a stance is likely to open up another few Pandora’s boxes.

Firstly, the concept of singling out one sector of the population to produce a “quota” is very undemocratic in today’s liberal world. It sort of goes against the principles of the left wing that is pushing for this quota to start with. Quotas for one are quotas for all!

I suppose the counter-argument might be that we would intrinsically apply quotas to any sector but it’s a foregone conclusion that any other “sector” already meets its phantom quota so there is no point in applying one. This may be true, but even so, the idea of even designating a “sector” is disturbing. Are Ethiopians a “sector”? Are Russians a “sector”? Are olim a “sector”? Are the handicapped a “sector”? Ashkenazim? Sephardim? Kurdim? Geirim?

Doesn’t secular pluralistic ideology state that all citizens are a part of one heterogeneous mixture?

The second Pandora’s box is that if we are dealing with a higher proportion of chareidim in an army of a basically static size, their influence and power will grow along with it. Is this really what the left wing army wants? The demands and “special needs” of the chareidim that are already in the army have always been a thorn in the side of the IDF. Real chareidim (not the renegades that run to the army to escape) are not too quick to follow orders that conflict with chareidi ideals. Chareidim will not take part in evacuations of Jewish settlements. They don’t believe in standing like statues while Arabs harass them and endanger them. And how many beard controversies and Torah shiur controversies does the army want?

Or does the army really want to turn black?

For the third Pandora’s box, we need to examine another part of the law as reported in the papers. Let us see what Haaretz writes:

The latest attempt, spearheaded by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, which passed its first reading vote in the Knesset on Monday night, aims to hit the ultra-Orthodox community where it hurts – the pocketbook.

According to the current version of the proposed law, yeshivas will be required to meet a quota of students who move from their studies into the military or do some alternative form of national service.

And in another article:

Financial penalties should be imposed on ultra-Orthodox yeshivas whose students fail to meet quotas for military or national civil service, a committee charged with preparing a new conscription bill recommended Monday.

But, wait! Look at this headline and lead from Haaretz July 2:

Explained: The Controversial Law That Would Press Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Community Into Military Service

The defense minister is spearheading legislation to get nearly 7,000 Haredim into the army by 2027. But neither the ultra-Orthodox nor left-wing politicians are happy with the proposed bill…

This is very confusing. Who is this quota calling on – ultra-orthodox Jews from the “community” or the students from any given ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva? If they want a quota of ultra-orthodox Jews, what does this have to do with the Yeshivos? How would one apply sanctions to the general charieidi sector?

So let’s first take the more logical route – this is not really a quota on the chareidi sector in general. It’s meant to be a quota on the Yeshivos. What does this mean? If they get their quota of “Yeshiva guys” they will be satisfied and if they don’t, they will sanction the Yeshivos? If it’s the collective Yeshiva system, which Yeshivos do you punish? Which yeshiva is “guilty”? All of them? Collective punishment?

And if its’ individual Yeshivos, does this mean that every Yeshiva will be given a quota of active students currently enrolled that are supposed to be de-studentized and “turned over” to the army?

Like, Ponovezh will have to go over their current student list and fork over 50 guys? Will they be sohnim or mechablim (or a separate quota of each)? And Mir and Chevron and Wolfson and Rosen and Lomza and Meor HaTorah, etc, etc.?  And what about Yeshiva Grodno Ashdod (don’t make me laugh)? I can assure you this is never going to happen. Not before every major road artery between Tel Aviv and Yerushalayim is repeatedly plugged up to a standstill.

The problem is, if a boy goes into the army, he isn’t enrolled in a Yeshiva! So how is any boy a ward of any given Yeshiva? Which Yeshiva gets all the unaffiliated “wildcard” guys? In terms of increasing from 3,996 to 6,844, do you mean we already have 3996 Yeshiva boys in the army? Which Yeshivos are they from? Why can’t every Yeshiva point to let‘s say ten soldiers hanging around the chareidi battalions and say they came from us?

This looks a lot like the Cantonist decrees to me. Netanyahu is getting way too friendly with Vladimir Putin (or is it Avigdor Lieberman?).

After all this there are more questions. How is the government even going to punish the Yeshivos with sanctions? Give them less money? No money? If the Yeshivos will survive without the government money, what effect will this have?

And if they can’t survive, it means the Knesset is closing them down. I can’t imagine any government willing to take on such as task nor surviving to tell about it. Incidentally, I predict that just as the proportion of the chareidim in the army increases, the proportion of the chareidim in the Knesset will also increase. As the right wing gets more and more established in the Knesset, it is a sure thing that such a debacle as closing down Yeshivos will never pass the plenum.

Sof davar, there is just no chance that these sanctions will ever be applied; especially on a per-Yeshiva basis. The left-wingers and Avigdor Lieberman are never ever going to get their “Yeshiva guys”.  And no Yeshivos are going to get sanctioned.

So let’s go back to understanding this law at a more communal level and assume that they will just have to settle for calling for a quota of chareidim that are not Yeshiva guys.  And, sure enough, if we look at the headline of the last Haaretz item I quoted, the terminology seems to indicate this.This is not a per-Yeshiva quota, but a chareidi-sector quota.

And we are back to square one. With new Pandora’s boxes.

According to the press, “Yeshiva students” and “Ultra-Orthodox” are interchangeable. But this is not the way it is in real life. We already noted a problem of singling out a specific group from a “politically correct” perspective, but now we are faced with a much stickier problem: how do we identify what counts as a chareidi community and a chareidi?

Those who read my book probably know that a big section of it deals exclusively on how to define a chareidi so we know who counts and who doesn’t. Not everybody agreed to my definition. But there is one thing we can all agree on ­– there is more than one definition.

When it comes to demographics, if one does not have a monolithic definition on his subjects his numbers are totally useless. I expounded on this point both in my book (Chapter 9) and in a lengthy post eight years ago about how to define a chareidi for the purpose of statistics.

And,  after all is said and done, is such a thing really necessary? As I opened in this post, the IDF already got my Yaakov and it looks like they will be getting my Eli (I am not sure they really want him!). Are they “ultra-Orthodox” or not? Eli is even currently in a real honest to goodness Yeshiva (even though the founder was banned from the Knesset).

MK Yisrael Katz says the same thing. Right here in Arutz 7:

Minister Katz also stated that the intervention of the judicial system in the law was unnecessary. ​​"The Supreme Court erred when it intervened on this issue of enlistment," he said.

Katz also added an unusual figure that has received no media attention. "According to data presented by a committee in the Defense Ministry, the number of haredim who serve in the army is not far from the percentage of the general public who serve."

Of course, as I have written countless times, the validity of his statement boils down to what counts as a “chareidi”. Though, by my own definition, I believe he is right.

There is really no way out of this Pandora’s box. The Bagatz is spinning its wheels. They can give a hundred 12 month deadlines. There can never be a logical law. We have always defied logic, anyway.

Nobody really knows what this law is. According to Mishpacha magazine, there is currently a rift between Degel HaTorah and Agudas Yisroel. Degel HaTorah is looking at this as a quota for the ultra-Orthodox community, so they can live with it. Agudas Yisroel is looking at it as a quota of Yeshiva boys, so they cannot live with it.

Whether or not this bill passes, nothing is really going to change. It’s all smoke and mirrors. There is only one thing it can accomplish. If you ask Moshe Gafni, it may just save Netanyahu’s coalition.

But if you ask Yaakov Litzman, it may not.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

By Your Hand - the Sin of Nov

Harav Yosef Blau
Director of Jewish Community Watch

Here is a trivia question:

Who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and what was the date?

If you answered the US Air Force on August 6, 1945 I will give you partial credit but it’s not the true answer. Let’s think out of the box.

The gemara in Sanhedrin 95a refers us to a pasuk in Shmuel B 21:16:

וישבו (וְיִשְׁבִּי) בְּנֹב אֲשֶׁר בִּילִידֵי הָרָפָה, וּמִשְׁקַל קֵינוֹ שְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת מִשְׁקַל נְחֹשֶׁת, וְהוּא, חָגוּר חֲדָשָׁה; וַיֹּאמֶר, לְהַכּוֹת אֶת-דָּוִד

And Yishbi of Nov who was from the offspring of Harpa (Orpa) and the weight of his spear was 300 weights of copper…and he sought to smite Dovid.

The gemara explains that HKBH said to Dovid HaMelech: “How long must this sin be concealed in your hands? By your hand (on your account) was destroyed Nov the city of Kohanim, by your hand Doeg HaAdomi was banished, and by your hand Shaul and his three sons perished. Would you prefer that your offspring be eradicated or that you be surrendered into the hands of your enemy?”

How special. We don’t all get to choose our destiny!

In any case, Rashi explains that “this sin” is referring to the sin of Nov. This sin was an act of gneivas daas. Dovid was on the run from Shaul and he reached the city of Nov where the Mishkan was. He requested from the Kohanim of Nov to give him bread and a sword as an emissary of Shaul when, in actuality, he was a fugitive from Shaul and his men. This had quite a backlash as Shaul’s Chief of Staff, Doeg HaAdomi, accused all of the Kohanim of sedition (mored b’malchus) and, by his word, Shaul ordered them all to be executed. As a result, Doeg, who was known as the “chief of the shepherds” – i.e., the head of all Roshei Yeshiva (the Gadol HaDor) – was banished from Olam Habah and Shaul and his sons died an inglorious death at the hands of the Plishtim.

HKBH is calling Dovid HaMelech responsible for all of these calamities. Not only for the inadvertent destruction of the city and the Kohanim, but even for the doubly inadvertent banishment of Doeg and the deaths of Shaul and his sons.

Of course, Dovid HaMelech did not kill anybody. His only “sin” was not telling Achimelech that he was a fugitive. Shaul and Doeg killed the Kohanim and, for this, they met their doom. It was their fault, not Dovid’s. In fact, Dovid’s gneivas daas was a clear matter of pikuach nefesh. And why was he on the run to start with?

Well, Shmuel HaNavi anointed him as the King of Israel while the sitting king, Shaul, was still on the throne. This is usually not a very good idea. Could be hazardous to one’s health. Besides, Dovid wasn’t really interested in the job. He had lots of big brothers who were capable fellows. It’s just that Shmuel HaNavi had his number and he needed to make an early exit from our world so he wasn’t able to push it off.

All told, Dovid was the most innocent of all of the characters in this debacle and yet, HKBH put everything on his hands. Everything. The executions of the Kohanim (also innocent), the banishment of Doeg (not quite so innocent), and Shaul and his boys (Shaul was the one who “gave the order”). Everything is on Dovid’s hands. For one little infraction in a life or death situation!

This gemara is here to teach us a frightening lesson. Every person can be held accountable, not just for his own actions, but for what other people – even irresponsible lowlife people – do as a response to his actions. And if this is so even when his own actions were almost unavoidable at a time of pikuach nefesh, imagine if the initial player has no excuse of pikuach nefesh and had every opportunity to avoid it!

And if this applies when the backlash is something nobody would have anticipated, imagine the responsibility for a repercussion that one would expect to happen and should have been foreseen.

Of course, we already should have gotten this message with our mitzvah to bring an eglah arufah as an atonement because, just perhaps, we did not give a travelling Jew enough encouragement to deal with the hazards of the road. But this gemara seems to tell us how far this concept really goes.

When we do something, even if it’s not reckless, we are responsible at some level for the backlash. And when we are foolhardy and reckless, even more so!

So, by now you have probably figured out the answer to our trivia question:

Who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and what was the date?

The real answer is that the Japanese Navy did it on December 7, 1941. Of course, they didn’t realize that they were dropping an atomic bomb on their own country. There was no such thing as an atomic bomb, anyway.

But when those atomic bombs came down, they were just the grand finale of the first conventional bombs that they dropped on Pearl Harbor. Legend has it (never confirmed) that the Naval Marshal General, Isoroku Yamamoto, himself acknowledged this with his legendary remark on Dec. 7, 1941: I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

The terrible resolve was resolved on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima.

When one starts a war, everything that happens as a result, even to himself, is “by his hand”.

Friends (the few I have left) and relatives ask me why I continue to write about the Malka Leifer episode. Well, firstly it is a tremendous Chillul Hashem which I would like to see terminated. But, truly, this is far from the open-and-shut case that the consumers think it is. There are things that need to be said and nobody else feels like saying it.

The allegations are for events that allegedly occurred ten plus years ago and ended then. Only the accusers know what really happened and to what extent they were victims. But now, nobody is hurting them any more. They are no longer victims (they call themselves “survivors”). They are currently accusers and prosecutors. They are on offense. The Leifer camp is now on defense. The accuser is pursuing the accused.

I have pointed out that, at this stage, the Halacha does not support this redifa. It is the duty of the public – who have no idea what to believe – to either butt out or to work to put an end to this redifa and Chillul Hashem, not to perpetuate it. Anybody who actively or vocally participates in it has all of the repercussions on their hands.

Moreover, even though one could argue that Mrs. Leifer and her activities are the catalyst for what’s going on now, this war of extradition and prosecution was really started sometime in 2011 when the JAPs walked into the Victorian police station and filed a criminal complaint against a Jew who has been in Eretz Yisrael for a good three years.

This war is starting to get very ugly, as most wars do. Let’s have a quick look at one of the most recent posts on the BringLeiferBack page:

We receive constant backlash from those that support Leifer in reaction to this #bringleiferback campaign.

We can live with that.

But when Leifer’s relatives use my sisters death as proof of their power that is going way way way too far!

In the last few days, we have heard that Leifer's family have been calling members of the Jewish community. They have threatened that unless they sign letters stating that Leifer was the perfect educator and the sexual abuse has been a figment of our imagination, “bad things will happen to them”.

AND THEIR PROOF?? "We told this to someone else, they didn't listen to us, and they died'.

Absolutely sickened and horrified.

Interesting. From the way she is relating it, I don’t know how she knows that the referenced “someone else” is her late sister, A”H. I will have to assume that the details were more specific in real time. But now, let’s discuss.

First, the disclaimer. I personally am a total lone wolf in this drama and have no relationship or connection with anyone from the Leifer camp. To date, nobody on that side has ever contacted me to say “Thank you” or “No, thank you”. Nothing. So I have no involvement in these tactics and I do not condone them. I also think they are a little beneath the belt and can be called “hot oil”.

Nevertheless, the saying goes: All is fair in love and war!

This is going way way way too far? Already? My dears, this episode is far from over and I fear – like Naval Marshal Yamamoto – that you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The sheer naïveté of these JAPs is so utterly astounding. Did they think they can start a war with their 2011 Pearl Harbor attack in Victoria and then go home and sleep peacefully? Did they really think the Leifer camp, who is on the defense, is not going to fight back? Do they think this is Columbo? That the bad guy is just going to stick out his hands for the cuffs and come along quietly?

Goodness! I wrote more than a year ago that these girls are Flirting with Danger. I wasn’t kidding. There are definitely folks who hadn’t woken up yet and are now starting to. They may not be such powerful giants but, who knows who will wake up tomorrow and what they will do?

Incidentally, if this becomes a family feud, I am under the impression that the Leifer family is way bigger than the Sapper family, with some powerful figures, to boot.

So now Dassi Erlich, the aggressor, is complaining about hot oil and mustard gas. Does she realize that if it has come to abusing the memory of her late sister that this is by her hand? If Dovid Hamelech is blamed for the deaths of the “wayward” Doeg and Shaul, can these JAPs conceive that they are the ones who are violating their late sister? It is by their hand?

And what will they say when the nukes start to fall?

There’s more. I hate to say it but the dirty tricks did not start now and they did not start by the Leifer camp.

The JAPs are complaining about the defense tactics that are “going way way way too far.” You mean to say there are boundaries? You mean to say that the Sapper camp has any boundaries whatsoever? Not that I can see.

I have been following Dassi’s posts on her Facebook page for well more than a year and all of the suggestions that they get from “their” supporters that they thank them for. Things such as organizing protests in front of the court building (not the worst thing) and obstructing funding for her legal defense so her lawyer cannot do his job as well as to deny her of a legal defense council - which is essentially obstruction of justice. 

The story that really inflamed me was in the comments of her post on March 6, 2018 (there are lots of comments and these are in the "Reply" section of one comment). 

It began with a sensible comment from a more objective reader (and a religious woman) named Shoshana who, at that point was a supporter of the extradition campaign. She wrote:

At the end of the (say) [day] the most important thing is that there be a fair trial in Australia and this matter gets resolved …

Okay, a "fair trial". This reasonable comment was immediately countered by one Nicole Iglicki Gold who wrote:

… “A fair trial in Australia”-who are you kidding? She doesn’t deserve anything fair. I don’t know these girls but I am human and am sensitive to their pain…She is a criminal and deserves to be in jail and to have the key thrown away

Here is a typical commenter who admits that she doesn’t "know these girls” (the Sapper sisters) which indicates that she certainly doesn’t know Mrs. Leifer, as well. She doesn’t know anything at all, yet she "knows" that Mrs. Leifer is an “evil evil lady” and a “criminal” and “deserves to be in jail and the key thrown away…” Just because Dassi Erlich said so!

And what does Nichole Sapper Meyer say about the one who says “she does not deserve anything fair”?

Nichole Meyer: Nicole Iglicki Gold thank you ... your words mean a lot to us

Get that? Nicole Sapper Meyer thanked the lady who said “she doesn’t deserve anything fair”. She did not thank Shoshana. Evidently, Nichole Meyer likewise does not believe that anybody she accuses deserves anything fair!

So it appears that the Sapper sisters want what they want and don’t believe in playing “fair”. And now Dassi says that when the Leifers take extreme measures to defend themselves that “that is going way way way too far!”??

What were we discussing previously about Double standards??

Now, I do have something to say in favor of the Leifer camp. I am sure they have seen the grand proclamation from Rabbi Shmuel Feurst, Shlita and 106 prominent American Rabbanim which says that:

The Torah's statement in Leviticus 19:16, "Do not stand by while your neighbor's blood is shed," obligates every member of the community to do all in one's power to prevent harm to others.

Now, I personally wrote that this is really a mistake. It should read “all that is necessary to prevent harm” and not “all in one’s power to prevent harm” but who am I to argue with HRHG Rav Shmuel Feurst and 106 American Rabbanim – some of whom are even my age or older?

As I said earlier, at this stage of the game, the Sappers are on offense and the Leifers are on defense. Mrs. Leifer is currently the nirdaf[et]. I am certain many readers think that Mrs. Leifer’s blood doesn’t qualify for Lo Taamod (I will abstain for now), but I can say that to her relatives it certainly does. As such, they have the psak of HRHG Shmuel Feurst and 106 other prominent Rabbanim who say that not only are they allowed to do “all that is in their power” but they are obligated to.

So the Leifers have a hetter - if not a chiyuv - for their tactics. What hetter do the Sappers have?

And this is all by their hand.

Most readers do not know how low some of the Sapper maneuvers really are. These ladies have poured plenty of hot oil of their own. I know this first hand and it is right there on the Internet. I can link to it but I won’t (right now). It is really that bad.

And what makes it really bad is that the people who perpetrate this travesty are people who sport pious beards.

As I have repeatedly said, this whole episode is one great Chillul Hashem and it is getting ugly and it will not end well for anybody. It needs to end. And who is keeping it alive?

Obviously, the JAPs who started this war are in it till the end. By they cannot do it without help. Yes, they have thousands of fair weather grandstand supporters that cheer them on on their Facebook page (and they block out all dissenters). But they have a little bit more organized help. Consequently, this debacle is just as much by the hands of these organizations.

Who are they?

I can name two very misguided organizations that call themselves Rabbinic.

The first are my good friends at the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand (RCANZ). This organization provides no Jewish services for the community whatsoever. Its sole raison d’etre is to be a spokesman for the Jewish community to the outside world on social issues.

Sadly, these are a group of very liberal Rabbis who put the emotions of the crowd ahead of the guidelines of the Shulchan Aruch. In a previous post I mentioned some of the ringleaders: Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, Rabbi Alon Meltzer, Rabbi James Kennard and Rabbi Benjamin Elton. These are all left-wingers, Modern or Open Orthodox. Into interfaith dialog and LGBTQI rights. They are all younger than I am so as far as I am concerned, they are a bunch of children pretending to be "Rabbis".

Despite all this, their misguided support has given some sense of legitimacy to this campaign. Thus, even though it does not look like they have actively intervened in this controversy, what is happening is by their hand.

At best, RCANZ will get the Oscar for Best Screenplay Editor. But the Academy award for Best Supporting Actor goes to…the envelope, please…

Jewish Community Watch!!

Jewish Community Watch is a boiler room operation with a very impressive web site. As opposed to some of the other more sincere organizations like Ohel or Amudim who focus on helping victims of abuse, JCW is not very interested in the victims of abuse. Their primary focus is to hunt down and prosecute those who they are convinced are molesters. It doesn’t really matter if they are molesters or not. As long as JCW thinks they are, there is no line they won’t cross to do them in.

One of their features is their shameless Wall of Shame. Here they feel they are saving the world by seeing to it that anyone on their hit list is posted. Now, I have written in my post about the 3 Ps that one of the most effective tools is indeed, publicity or pirsum. But even this has limits. It is sufficient to have an online list of known and even potential predators with a clear description as to where they are holding in their predatory career, but an officially called Wall of Shame puts everyone in one basket. It’s not just that some may be true psychopaths and others are not really so, but also, many have “done their time” and need a chance to rehabilitate themselves. But what is the worst thing, and indeed applicable in the Malka Leifer case, not every person on their list is even a confirmed predator.

In most of the WOS entries, JCW puts a little box with a short description of what the person is guilty of. Often they can write that X confessed to this or Y was convicted for that. But there are plenty of exceptions. As an example, one person on the JCW WOS has one small note in his little box: Convicted in 2012 for possession of child pornography.

Though we may say that this person has a very bad habit (understatement) and maybe needs to be watched, there is no indication that he ever harmed or tried to harm a single soul. It is common that people have perverse fantasies and use imagery to gratify themselves but have no intention of crossing the line into predatorship. All of their sins are bein adam L"Makom. And who says that he didn’t get help to kick the habit? So perhaps he needs to be avoided and there are grounds for awareness, but why is he a predator and why does he need to be “shamed”??

Incidentally, JCW doesn't have anything on this fellow as of 2012. This was six years ago. What is the Halacha? Is it permissible to shame anybody for something he did in the past but as far as anyone knows is not being done now?

Dovid Hamelech himself gives us the answer in Sanhedrin 107a: One who has engaged in adultery (past tense) is worthy of strangulation but has a place in the World to Come. One who shames one in public, has no portion in the world to come!

Another person only has:  JCW has interviewed multiple people who recounted sexual abuse… So this person hasn’t been charged or convicted of anything. We don’t know how many people are “multiple" and how credible they are. At the end of the day, it is he said/she said. Same thing here, what are the grounds for “shame”?

But, after these, there are quite a few people that have no little box at all! At most, some links to some news items which talk of their unconfirmed allegations. Malka Leifer is in this group. And there were some that didn’t even have any links! It’s anybody’s guess why they are up there.

The most irresponsible thing of all is that they have multiple entries for "predators" without posting their picture. Besides the fact that the key shaming that they want to do is to post the villains mug on to the Net for everyone to see, so what do they gain by pictureless posts? But there is a very serious issue here. And let's take one entry as the prime example - a confirmed offender named Avraham Rosenfeld.

There are six Avraham Rosenfelds in the Jerusalem Chareidi phonebook and these are just the married people with phones. And this doesn't include Bnei Brak or Kiryat Sefer or anywhere out of the Jerusalem area. If you don't show his picture, how do we determine the correct Avraham Rosenfeld and avoid mixing him up with the incorrect AR? Do you know how much damage this can cause to totally innocent people?

Let's go one step further and ask what is accomplished with this particular "shaming" (along with many of the others). Is it protecting anybody? Well, as long as this fellow is in jail (as noted), he is not a threat to anybody on the outside. Should he be released from jail, this is still totally worthless because there is no picture of him and not even a place of last residence (and he certainly will not be back in the school in Tel Aviv where he was).So it doesn't affect him. It only affects his innocent relatives or another innocent Avraham Rosenfeld who may be mistaken for him. 

So the score is: People helped - 0; Innocent People hurt - who knows?

Bottom line is that Jewish Community Watch is dedicated to shaming, hurting, and punishing whoever they set their sights on and making sure not to fix anyone who may be fixable. Actually they prevent this. And they don’t really care who else gets hurt in the process, even some of those they claim they are trying to protect. (See my post about Victim Turned Predator). I devoted a special post (HERE) to explain why this approach is not too effective.

Jewish Community Watch has certainly taken a more active role in our episode.  As mentioned, our suspect has a prominent spot as one of very few females on their Wall of Shame. But, despite all the Halachos I discuss that seem meaningless to them and despite the futility of this needless Chillul Hashem and despite the fact that nobody in Australia is in any danger from this person no matter what, they could not rest.

At a time when the forbidden extradition process seemed deadlocked, and the newspapers were silent, JCW (see HERE) very valiantly paid megabucks (of their donors' money??) to have somebody follow this woman with a video camera for 200 hours to catch her doing what?

Doing absolutely nothing! Riding buses, buying things, writing checks, talking on her cell phone. All this just to show the world that she is fit to be sent to Australia where she is no threat to anybody! 200 hours of being normal and not a single minute of molesting anybody!

Well, of course all the newspapers woke up and the police took action and Shana Aaronson and Manny Waks got great video shoots, and the war is back on and the Chillul Hashem perpetuated. Three Cheers for JCW!

Essentially, Mrs. Leifer is now sitting in jail in Neve Tirtza accused of being capable of riding buses and using her cell phone. And I and my fellow Israeli citizens are paying for this.

It is by their hand.

No question that Jewish Community Watch is a very misguided organization, but who is misguiding them?

Well, their key players are two very devoted and very hot-blooded individuals. Meyer Seewald in the US and Shana Aaronson, the Chief Operating Officer here in Eretz Yisrael. True heroes for our long suffering victims – oops, I mean, survivors. But we must assume that these Malachei Nekama are paragons of virtue and wouldn’t lift a finger without exemplary guidance from great Torah authorities.

Let's recall that Dassi Erlich wrote in the initial post that this "is going way way way too far". This episode is getting messier and messier and the Chillul Hashem is getting stronger and stronger and we have the wizards at JCW to thank.

Wizard? Well, who is the man behind the curtain? Who is the great Torah authority?

His name is Rabbi Yosef Blau. Yes, I am talking about the senior Mashgiach ruchani at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He is also the president of the Religious Zionists of America.(Wikipedia).

It is by his hand.

Rabbi Blau is on the Board of Directors. But he also has some elves. If you check out the JCW Advisory Board we find some other very distinguished people who must be advising them. These include:

·       Rabbi Elchonon Tauber – the dayan of Hancock Park in Los Angeles, California.

·       Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik – the president of the Merkaz HaRabanim of Chicago.

על פיהם יהיה כל ריב וכל נגע!

Apart from JCW, I have a lot of respect for all of these people. They are all genuine Orthodox Rabbis and are all older than I am. Amazingly, I have in some way crossed paths with all of them in previous years.

As concerns Rabbi Tauber, Shlita, I shared a ride with him from Yerushalayim to Ben Gurion Airport about twenty years ago. We had a wonderful conversation about dayanus and Choshen Mishpat. As for Rabbi Soloveitchik, I once heard a shiur from him in Rabbi Karno’s shul in Chicago when I spent a summer bein hazmanim there visiting relatives.

And Rabbi Blau?

Aside from attending the same yeshiva as his son, Binny, some four decades ago and being a chavrusa to his nephew from Elizabeth at the same time and place, I must add that my aishes chayal used to be one of Rebetzin Dr. Rivkah Blau’s [Shaarei] Bnos Chayil. (The best one, in fact.)

So we have some very prominent Rabbanim behind this monstrosity. Everything they damage, hurt and ruin is by their hand. And every bit of this Chillul Hashem.

There is only one thing that Dassi Erlich says that I can fully agree with. This thing “is going way way way too far”. How do Rabbi Blau and Rabbi Tauber and Rabbi Soloveitchik justify it? 

בא וראה כמה קשה המחלוקת שהרי ב"ד של מטה אין עונשין אלא עד שיביא שתי שערות וב"ד של מעלה עד כ' שנה וכאן אבדו אף יונקי שדים

Rabbi Yosef Blau, LOY”T, is somewhere around 80 years old. הרב בלוי שפקח הוא, מה ראה לשטות זה? And likewise for Rabbi Tauber and Rabbi Soloveitchik.

Where will you be when the earth splits open?

Please stop this madness. It will only get worse. I cannot see how it will end well for anybody at all. Not for the Sappers, not for the Leifers, not for yourselves and not for me.

Just do it. Please.

It’s all by your hand.

Update to Previous Post - Earlier this week I received a phone call from the leasing company of the car I damaged. The woman said that their shammai (appraiser) conceded that they were not authorized to use an original part and they will accept my offer for NIS 765. I settled it on the phone with 3 credit card payments. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Strange Arm of the Law

About two months ago I had a very minor car accident wherein I basically relieved a 2015 Mazda of its right side mirror. Yes, of course, I got out of the car and we exchanged the relevant information. And I didn’t say, “I’m sorry. It was all my fault” although, it very likely was. (I was backing up!) I estimated the damage to be relatively low, somewhere between 500-1000 shekels.

A day or two later I was contacted by the “owner” of the car (the driver’s mother) and I told her that this seems to me to be a low priced damage which is certainly way beneath my deductible, so I would prefer to take care of it between ourselves. She said she cannot accommodate me because it is a leased car.

Fair enough.

All was quiet for quite some time. Then, about six weeks later I finally received a letter from the leasing company demanding payment for damage. Beneath that paragraph was a line that said:

Description of damage:

1.   Damage         1459 NIS

Total owed:  1459 NIS

Well, this amount exceeded my personal “estimate” and, in addition, there was no itemized description of the damage whatsoever. It did not tell me what this sum is based on. How do I know they didn’t replace the brake pads in the process?

While I do take responsibility for this damage, I am not in any hurry to pay it. For sure, I was in no mood to pay NIS 1459 which seemed to me an exorbitant sum for just a mirror. As such, I fired a letter off to the leasing company that I feel this sum is exaggerated and that their “Description of Damage” was not descriptive enough. They must furnish me with an appraiser’s report and/or the paperwork detailing what work was done and the costs of parts and labor. I ended off that for lack of these papers I am not willing to pay more than NIS 600 for this damage.

After patting myself on the back for my brilliant stalling tactic, I sat back to see what would happen.

It didn’t take more than a day or two that I received an email with a note and an attachment. The attachment was a very authentic looking copy of a very authentic looking invoice from a very authentic looking car repair shop in Talpiot. The invoice itemized the mirror at NIS 1389.40 plus labor at NIS 70 (very reasonable labor BTW) for a total of NIS 1459.40. It did not include a report from an official appraiser.

The note said, “Attached is the invoice for the repair of the mirror.” And it ended with these words: “Your request for a settlement (pshara) is denied.”

I read the note and looked at the invoice.  Even though I still thought the part was exorbitantly priced, I had to appreciate that they discounted me 40 agurot. All told, I said to myself, “My goose is cooked. I suppose I am going to have to fork over NIS 1459”. 

NIS 1459 (just a bit over USD $400) is not easily missed in my meager budget and I am all for more stalling. To accomplish this, I immediately sent them a return email which said, “Thank you very much for the information. The price still appears to be exaggerated. I will check into this and get back to you.”

I let a week slide by. I wasn’t even sure it was worthwhile for me to check out the price. Everything looked real, so what would I achieve?  Still, I decided to show the invoice to Sholom, a body shop man in Givat Shaul that I used previously.

Oh boy, am I ever glad I did!

I asked Sholom if this price is realistic and I pessimistically expected him to confirm it as so. Sholom looked at the invoice and asked me, “What year is this car?” The answer is 2015. “When was the accident?” April 2018.

Sholom proceeded to tell me that they obviously used a genuine original part to repair the car and this is what parts like this cost. But then he said that the law says that if someone’s car is damaged, the owner is only entitled to use original parts to fix his car for up to two years from the year of manufacture.  After two years, the car is classified as a used car and any part of the car that was damaged in an accident is considered a used part. As such, the liable party only needs to shoulder the cost of a generic or used part for the repairs.

I asked him how much is a used part valued at? He answered that the appraisal protocol values non-original parts at 50% of the value of a genuine part. There may be an exception if the part is totally unavailable non-original but this needs the approval of the appraiser. As I wrote, there was no appraisal report included in the paperwork.

This was music to my ears!

I immediately went home and fired off a letter to the leasing company wherein I related everything Sholom told me. I told them I am prepared to pay 50% for the part – NIS 695 – plus the NIS 70 for labor for a total of NIS 765 and not a grush more. I ended the letter saying, “Your denial of my request for a settlement is denied!”

I expected not to wait more than another day or two to receive a notice that would either refute my law facts and demand full price or that would concede the facts and agree to close on NIS 765. But all this was almost two weeks ago and, so far, I haven’t heard a peep from them. End of story is that, to date, I haven’t even paid a penny for the accident and who knows if it won’t get lost in the twilight zone? What’s more, I am very confident that when I ever will pay it, it will not be for more than NIS 765.

And what is the moral of this tale?

It pays to know the law.

It could save you a bundle of gelt and heartache. Knowledge is power and knowing one’s rights and obligations by law will always give one a racer’s edge during runtime.

Probably, we all know this valuable piece of advice. For sure, anybody in any line of work knows the laws that apply to his day to day activities. But folks don’t know so much about things that are not everyday occurrences. And they don’t appreciate how much it can come in handy when they least expect it; hence, the lesson that I almost didn’t learn about car repairs. And I only learned it in the nick of time.

Now, many people think they know the laws about certain matters. But they are not scrupulous enough. This is a terrible trap. They may think they are “covered” by the law when they are really not – or that the other guy is not covered when he really is. And this can be needlessly costly. One needs to know the law well, with all its restrictions, exceptions and limitations. We know that nobody knows criminal law better than a professional criminal. An amateur criminal gets busted. So...Take a tip from Bill Sykes. He can whip what he likes…

Of course, this rule applies to any code of laws – secular or Halachic. For we who live in two worlds, we don’t always know when a dispute is going to go Halachic or secular.

Issues and disputes tend to catch us off guard. We can’t be expected to know all laws and Halachos of a mostly irrelevant topic. But a wise person at least knows that now that he is facing an unusual situation, it pays to speak with the experts about the laws and Halachos that apply. He is in for quite a few surprises. Some may be pleasant and others not. But it will help him tremendously to know. And this is why wise people will consult with lawyers, toanim, or dayanim when an unfamiliar situation comes up.

In some cases the advice costs money. This can be tricky and calls for a cost/benefit analysis to determine if the money at stake is worth the investment. If it is, it’s a good idea to shell it out. 

Thus far, in this post, I mainly discussed secular law. The story about the car repair involved secular law and it took me by surprise. I wrote a post a few months back about the laws of extradition. I’ve had readers complaining about misinterpretation and I even put in a few updates, but, by and large, we found a few surprises. The law is not as “smooth” as many of us would like it to be.

Likewise, as a writer on the Internet, aside from the journalistic ethics (which are not laws), it helps to know some of the laws about copyright infringement, good faith criticism, defamation and libel. I have been looking into some of these laws lately because I have been victimized by these.  Once again, some pleasant surprises and some not so pleasant.

Of course, the mandate of One Above and Seven Below and of my blog is to present the Halachic viewpoint. We are Halachic Jews after all (aren’t we?) and I have discussed numerous Halachic topics over the years. In order to do so responsibly, I need to research all of these topics at length.

Moreover, in my ongoing training as a Toen Rabbani (still not finished) I have had to learn a tremendous amount of Choshen Mishpat and Even HaEzer and, believe me, these are where the surprises are.

Consider the following.

Chaim lives in an average size apartment in Har Nof which he owns. His family is growing and he really would like bigger living quarters and he even has a nest egg of savings which he is willing to use for this purpose. He knows he can find a suitable solution by selling his apartment and moving to another less expensive location, but he loves his location and his building and neighbors. Everything is great right where he is except he needs more space.

One day his next door neighbor informs him out of the blue that he is moving. He was only renting and the landlord did not want to extend his lease. The landlord needed cash so he is now selling the apartment to a young family making Aliya from France.

Chaim is livid! If only he knew. Nobody told him! He would have been happy to offer on this adjacent apartment and combine it with his and it would be the ideal solution to his problem. Now, this potential opportunity evaporated to air and he is no closer to his dream than yesterday.

Well, Chaim may have been daydreaming when they were learning Bava Basra in Yeshiva, but if he paid attention, he may be aware that in Halacha there is a law of bar metzra. The law of bar metzra says that if one person is selling real estate, the one who owns adjacent real estate has priority to buy it as long as all other details are equal – at least the same price, at least the same terms, cash for cash, etc.

Even if the original seller and buyer have already gone to contract, the bar metzra can rush to Beis Din and petition them to nullify the contract and order the seller to sell to him. All this is in Choshen Mishpat 175. It’s worthwhile to know it.

So now let’s say Chaim got tipped off about his rights and runs to BD and makes his case.

Good for him.

However, Choshen Mishpat 175 is a very long siman. It comprises 63 articles and they all count. So, let’s say the couple from France doesn’t feel like starting from scratch and looking for a new place. The French husband goes over the siman and stumbles across article 47. Article 47 states:

If one sells to a woman or to young orphans, there is no counter claim of bar metzra…

The Rema gets a bit tougher:

If she bought it together with her husband, the bar metzra cannot even remove the husband.

Whoa! Mr. Frenchman is buying together with his wife. Looks like bar metzra doesn't count.

Poor Chaim. His dream is back in the clouds. He will miss his own bar metzra. Chaim is lost!

But wait! Chaim gets persistent and decides to really go over this siman. Or, he gets a hold of a toen who knows his stuff. Chaim introduces himself to the Rema at the end of article 49:

This is all if the buyer is from this city and cannot find a house anywhere else, but, if not so, the neighbor has priority over everyone else!

Ahah! The couple from France do not yet have a foothold in Har Nof. There is no reason they cannot search in Bayit VeGan (more French speakers there anyway). Chaim is back in business!

In truth, not all dayanim will look at these offsetting Halachos the same way, so it is not certain who will win this fight, but the point is, it pays to know the rules and know Choshen Mishpat 175.

Incidentally, once we are in the neighborhood (get it?), a few months back one of my sons WhatApped me about a scandalous occurrence in Kiryat Moshe (of all places) where, apparently, a dati person sold his apartment to an Arab because he got a great price. Naturally, all of the neighbors and Chardalniks (this is Merkaz HaRav territory) were up in arms with rage. But what could they do about it?

Well, some bright Talmid Chacham remembered Choshen Mishpat 175:40 which says:

If one sells or rents his property to a non-Jew, we put him in a shamta until he accepts upon himself all incidental damage that may arise from the non-Jew…and if a damage arises in the lifetime of the seller (and then he passes), his son must pay the damages from the seller’s estate.

Even this is not that simple. The very next article (175:41) gives a proviso:

This only applies if he is capable of selling or renting the property to a Jew for the same price but he is not obligated to sell it to the Jew for less.

Case closed? Not yet. This article continues:

But if it appears that the non-Jew is buying in order to disrupt the Jew’s settlement, it is all according to how the dayan views it.

Incidentally, all of this is meant to apply only outside of Eretz Yisrael because in Eretz Yisrael, it is prohibited to sell property to a non-Jew under all circumstances because of Lo Techanem (Devarim 7:2). Except that Lo Techanem is hard to enforce in today’s Eretz Yisrael. But it could be that trhe proviso of Article 41 that the seller does not need to sell for less will not apply in Eretz Yisrael because of Lo Techanem.

Anyway, I have no idea what became of that incident in Kiryat Moshe. But the bottom line is:

We all need to know the rules. It can save us a bundle of money and heartache.

This is what I had in mind when I first wrote my book and described the distinction between the “consumer” (amateur) and the “provider” (professional).

Over the years, I have written about many important Halachic issues and my purpose was to reveal some of the surprises to the “consumers” because it is so important to know the rules. Here are some examples:

·       Petzuah Daka – Anyone who needs prostrate surgery needs to get Rabbinic guidance (although in most cases, the standard surgery is permitted). Not only is it absolutely forbidden to undergo a vasectomy, but if one does so, he cannot remain married.

In my courses as a Toen Rabbani I am subscribed to an email group that sends us all of the latest rulings from the Beit Din HaRabbani. This covers all aspects of Even Ezer.

One recent ruling involved a woman who wanted to divorce her husband and to ensure this, she claimed he underwent a vasectomy in the US. The husband did not deny it but said he is willing to undergo a procedure for reversal. The Beis Din ruled that we do not look for the future and right now he is a Petzuah daka. He was given a ruling of Kofim LeGaresh which is the highest level and he can be forced with corporal punishment to divorce his wife.

·       Prenups – It is very difficult for a man to conditionally waive his rights to his wife’s earnings in advance. Either he does it unconditionally or it is not waived.

·       Molestation and Kehuna – As more and more incidents of this crisis arise in well-established Jewish families (R”L) and we are all concerned about the emotional welfare of the abused child, we cannot overlook the Halachic angle. If a young girl was molested with true sexual contact – front or back – by a father, brother, or non-Jew, she is forbidden to a Kohen. Any contact below the waste must be investigated and brought to a Rav.

·       Malshinus – These are the Halachos of mesira and rodef that I devoted so many posts to. The Halachos are right there where I say they are and even so, so many Jews cannot accept them.

·       Extraditing a Jew – This was one of the biggest chiddushim.  A Jew cannot be extradited outside of Eretz Yisrael even in our times of galus. It’s right there in Yoreh Deah 267:85. I suppose some prejudiced people can argue that it doesn’t apply to a regular Jew, only a slave, but it’s very hard to justify such a viewpoint.

I have one more topic to discuss.

I am studying to be a Toen Rabbani. In case you do not know what a Toen Rabbani is, he is a Halachic advocate. Just like it is a lawyer’s job to advise his clients of the laws that pertain to his case, and to argue before the judge to interpret the laws to the benefit of his client, a Toen Rabbani does the same in Beis Din when the code of laws in question is the Shulchan Aruch. The prime area where a Toen is needed is in the area of family law – shalom bayis problems and divorce. Especially because most of the people in Eretz Yisrael that show up to a Beis Din for family issues are secular Jews who do not know the first thing about Halacha. In Beis Din they will learn a bit about the Halacha for the very first time.

And they will be very surprised.

But sadly, even quite a few of those who are versed in Halacha show up to Beis Din HaRabbani for shalom bayis problems. And it’s heart-rending. The interesting thing is that we are now discussing people who know day to day Halacha. They know enough Halacha to keep Kosher and Shabbos, to daven and make brachos, and how and when to use the mikveh.

These topics are in Yoreh Deah and Orach Chaim. The sad thing is that they do not know much about Even HaEzer. Sure they learned a few prakim in Kesubos and Gittin when they were in yeshiva, but by the time these Halachos get into Even HaEzer they look a lot different.

These are learned people and, when they set out for Beis Din, they think they know what’s in store. But as I said, one needs to know the rules with all of the details. And when they get to Beis Din, they learn some rules for the very first time. Rules they should have known before. And if they would have known these rules up front, maybe they wouldn’t have to go to Beis Din at all and learn them when it’s a bit too late.

Here’s a true story.

A husband and wife were at loggerheads and were headed for divorce. In the interim they were together in one place talking to a counselor by phone. At one point, the husband was on the phone and telling the counselor his version of whatever. The wife wasn’t happy with what the husband was saying so she pulled the phone out of his hand while he was in mid-sentence. The husband was obviously quite irritated and angrily grabbed the phone right back.

Shortly after this incident, the wife related this incident to her lawyer (it may have been an inept toen). He told her that she has a case for domestic violence and she should immediately file a complaint by the police and request a tzav harchaka (restraining order). She did as she was instructed.

When the story got to Beis Din and BD could figure out that this complaint to the police was ungrounded, they slapped her with moredes and she lost all rights to spousal support and to her kesuba.

Well, maybe she can sue her lawyer for malpractice and get it back.

When even the most observant couples go to Beis Din, they commonly squabble about what he does or doesn’t do and what she does or doesn’t do. Oft times they are shocked when the dayan asks him, “Why do you think she is required to do that?” or he asks her, “What makes you think that he is not entitled to do that?”

They never really knew the rules. And if they did, maybe they wouldn’t be in Beis Din.

When I was a chassan more than 30 years ago, my chassan teacher taught me all of the Halachos of Taharas HaMishpacha like standard and gave me the standard pep talk about how to interact with my wife during the night and during the day. He also did one extra thing that I don’t think was standard. He told me to read over the Kesuba up front and make sure I understand what it says.

I am told that today, there is a little more training about worldly issues. But still something is missing.

The rules.

Chassanim are taught the relevant parts of Yoreh Deah 183-200 but they are not taught the relevant parts of Even HaEzer 69-90. This is where the rules are. I really think that Chassan and Kallah lessons need to include these Halachos.

I haven’t completed the Toen Rabbani course yet, and even when I will, IY”H, I am really not too eager to take on the job. It’s a very messy profession. Please, I don’t want your business. 
Learn the rules up front, boys and girls. Trust me, you don’t want to pay me big shekels to spring on you surprises.