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Rabbinic Failure and the FBI

Yes, certain rabbinic sources say that it is permissible to “convince” a husband to give his wife a religious divorce until he says “I want to” (רוצה אני), but when it gets to the point that the FBI gets involved with investigating this phenomenon don’t you think that rabbis have to be halakhically courageous, or is that too much to ask. Luckily I belong to a religious community which has found within the halakhah solutions to this problem that don’t involve thugs.

The FBI descended late Wednesday on Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in connection with an investigation into a gang that pressured men into giving their wives religious divorces, a law enforcement source told The Journal News. The FBI told Ramapo police to follow them to the yeshiva on Carlton Road about 9 p.m. Authorities remained at the scene until early Thursday morning, when several agents were seen leaving the building, loading equipment into several unmarked cars with New Jersey license plates.

Read the entire article here. (HT from a friend on Facebook.)

Update: Is Jewish law so unable to deal with Jewish divorce that this is the only way that a woman can get a divorce?

“Mendel Epstein talked about forcing compliance through the use of ‘tough guys’ who utilize electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs and place plastic bags of the heads of husbands,” said FBI Special Agent Bruce Kamerman…

The investigation revealed that for at least two decades agunot have been paying Epstein and Wolmark thousands of dollars to force their husbands to consent to a divorce, the complaint states. Two other men arrested, Ariel Potash and Fnu Lnu, known as “Yaakov,” court records said “assisted the rabbis in obtaining a get from recalcitrant husbands by means of violence,” frequently by hiring armed thugs to kidnap the husbands and beat them until they agreed.

2 Responses to “Rabbinic Failure and the FBI”

  1. 1

    MM, I was curious to see how you and other feminists would respond to this news. On the one hand, this alleges big-time serious criminal behaviour against epstein. On the other hand, he was on the women’s side. Again on the one hand, he was Charedi. But again on the other hand, he was taking the women’s side (which charedim supposedly dont to, in the imagination of feminists.) This is similar to how NOW supported Bill Clinton, because he was a democrat, and looked the other way at his disgusting womanizing. The hypocrisy always comes out in the wash.

    For the overwhelming majority of orthodox Jews, the halacha works perfectly fine. There is an infentisamally small amount of people for whom it does not work, so small so as to be statistically non-existent. For these tiny numbers, certain religious (but not orthodox) groups come up with “solutions” that simply create other problems. Epstein too, thought he had a solution. All he’s done now is throw an automatic cloud of mamzerus over any child born of a marriage where the divorce came about through his auspices. How sad. The “solution” you link to is hardly anything of the kind. It works only for a self-selecting group that both feel constrained to accept halacha, and would accept a solution by rabbi emanual rackman. That’s not a solution of any sorts.

    The answer here is, THERE IS NO SOLUTION. What some people have to realize, and I say this as a practicing lawyer, is that NO legal system is perfect. Sadly, there are always people who get burned by it. I hope to God no reader of this site ever gets branded for urinating on the side of the highway, because a child in a passing car happened to see him. There are countless, countless such examples. As Dickens said, sometimes the law is an ass.

    So it with the get process. Is it perfect? By no means. But neither is the secular process, which is notoriously unfair to men. And recognize this too – in 99% of the publicized cases, just like in ANY legal dispute, there is always another side of the story that you’re not hearing. No one should be naive. Agunah orgnizations are funded and paid for an express purpose. They are no more interested in presenting all the facts than the AFL-CIO is with issues they lobby for. It is simply not what they do.

  2. 2

    meant to say above “branded as a sex offender.” I dont think any state actually brands anymore (though with the hyper zealotry of today’s prosecutors’s, who knows….)




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