Some people took issue statement of mine, that there's a “cheskas kashrus” (a warranted presumption of factual innocence) on anyone who's been attacked by internet blogs. Turning to the internet in a divorce is shameful, it shows callous disregard for the kids, as is causing false arrest, as is arranging a beat up of one's spouse. All these and more are done by ORA, the Organization for the Resolution of “Agunot” and this says more about them than it does about any one of their targets.
The question is: was it only their tactics that are despicable? The answer is usually that outrageous tactics stem from wrongheaded people with terrible ideas. The case is no exception; it's a prime example.
Facts vs Lies:
ORA claims that they do not attack anyone without the sanctioning of a Beis Din (rabbinical court). The Friedman case showed this to be another of their boldfaced lies. The problem for them was that no reputable Beis Din would find Aharon Friedman in contempt. For a long time, even disreputable ones refused to intervene. This was because it was Aharon Friedman who had sought resolution in a proper rabbinical court from the start. The other side had pulled out in middle. ORA ignored these facts, and all religious law and moral decency in the process, took the streets (after being paid very well to do so), harassed his employer and took part in the filing of legal actions against him that violates all tenets of Jewish Law.
It should be noted some of ORA's shameful actions adversely affected people who are in a position to be of assistance to Israel. The Modern-Orthodox leadership has claimed to be Israel's strongest supporters. Many have long noted that Netanyahu and most right thinking Israelis view the Modern-Orthodox leadership and Yeshiva University as political fanatics who give Israel a bad name. Regular Orthodox people like Aharon Friedman put their passion in religion and not in fanning political flames. They, like secular Israelis who care about basic security, support a strong defense and abhor harmful rhetoric. The callousness of the Modern-Orthodox leadership in this area is as harmful as their war against marriage and parental rights.
Thugs Masquerading as Activists and (Modern-Orthodox) Rabbis:
To put this in perspective, ORA is an organization that was founded and effectively run by Hershel Schachter, a dean at Yeshiva University who has called for Netanyahu's assassination, as well as that of Olmert before him, may Hashem protect both. Where marriage is concerned, they've taken divorce cases that were very easy resolve and wrought havoc for solely the sake of wreaking havoc and furthering their own self promotion. In other cases, where reconciliation was sought, they've done everything to prevent same. Like many activists, thumping their own chests and taking to the streets instead of encouraging dialogue, is a natural progression of their self-serving ways.
Women who have gone to them, and have been advised by the great luminaries who run the joint to arrange beat ups, seek false arrest (using either mandatory arrest laws or near-frivolous contempt motions), invariably regret ever having done so. After the anger has subsided, the divorcing spouse realizes that all ORA has accomplished is to drag their own name through the mud by way of association, as well as possibly irreparably harm their kids.
ORA's tactics have been used in cases where nothing has been sought other than counseling and a postpartum evaluation. Their activism has been used in cases where nothing more than fair access to children has been insisted upon. The bottom line is that in the overwhelming majority of cases that ORA sees fit to thrust the full force of their army of chicken-hawks out into the streets, no one with any moral compass or knowledge of Jewish religious law would ever touch with a ten foot poll, other than perhaps taking the other side. In cases where some kind of intervention is needed, their insane tactics only work to preclude resolution.
ORA and the Modern-Orthodox leadership seek to portray themselves as champions of women's rights. Like the crazed lunatics who cheer on abortion as an inalienable right, they march in lock step saying that all men must immediately grant a get to wife upon demand. The fact is, however, that in case after case, ORA has done everything possible to prevent any type of amicable resolution – there's no money or media attention in that. Just like the woman who chooses abortion in her teens or her twenties, regrets having done so all the way into her 60s and beyond, those who avail themselves of ORA regret the insanity wrought upon themselves for the rest of their lives.
Torah Judaism is compassionate. When men stopped being the automatic gatekeepers of marriage, over a thousand years ago, Rabbeinu Gershom immediately instituted a decree that prevented a man from divorcing his wife if she did not want one. This was done “to give women the same rights as This was before the Shulchan Aruch was written Contrary to ORA's claims, no rabbi today has the write to supersede Jewish Law and those who do end up espousing positions that are the antithesis of morality. Case in point, what they did to Aharon Friedman.
There are other examples. Here's a snippet of one of their shameful press releases, one snippet that points to a mountain of immorality:
"Chani called ORA in July of 2007, and we pursued an aggressive strategy to convince him to give the get. Using outside-the-box tactics, and in partnership with community lay-leaders, attorneys, and rabbis, ORA never gave up on Chani. Due to our coordination, her ex-husband served nine months in jail for withholding the get. However, he was eventually bailed out, and persisted in his recalcitrance. Eventually, we were able to get him incarcerated once again. This time, he had had enough. Chani is finally, finally free."
Jew law stipulates that someone who does this is a “moser,” an unwarranted informer. Furthermore, the gittin (religious divorces) that they supposedly procure are clearly invalid according to clearly stated Shulchan Aruch, the book of Jewish religious law (see Ever HaEzer 154). If Shulchan Aruch isn't enough, renown Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv OBM ruled over and over again that such gittin are invalid, as does renown posek Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky Shlita.
But at least ORA's criminals aren't violent, right? Wrong:
ORA's founder, Hershel Schachter, a “Yeshiva” University “rabbi” who has called for the assassination of two Israeli Prime Ministers, Heaven forfend, also openly incited violence against Aharon Friedman, without any basis in halacha or morality. His perversions of Torah, especially in this case, were widely decried in proper Orthodox circles, except by those who were too shamefully timid to speak out.
It would be wrong not to set the record straight in another regard. Many Litvisher Roshei Yeshiva who should know better have bent over backwards to compromise with the Modern-Orthodox. To do so is to compromise Judaism.
I've had conversations with HaRav HaGaon Dovid Eidensohn, who was ordained as a religious judge by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ZTL and others, in which he's expressed tremendous sorrow and disappointment regarding the Rosh Yeshiva who could care less about Jewish law and care less that they're making mamzerim. The fact that the same cretins who lambasted Aharon Friedman after his wife walked out on a kosher and mutually agreed upon Beis Din, now refuse to speak out about his wife's supposed annulment (which no orthodox rabbi can support), shows you all that you need to know about their supposed reverence for Jewish law and for preventing mamzerus.
The Shame of this Case and What They Did to a Young Mother:
Aside from ORA's efforts to even deny women the rights afforded to them through Takonas Rabbeinu Gershom, there's another sad and shameful aspect to this story. It seems clear that Tamar Friedman was used by this group, who dragged her and her child's name through the mud and who were more than happy to take their demonic battle to the streets than to negotiate fairer access to the kids.
I have nothing against Tamar Friedman and believe that she too is a victim of ORA. I know details about the case and people have advised that there was a marked change in her after pregnancy. Anyone familiar with postpartum anxiety knows that if not treated, it can cause certain factors that would make someone associate with the likes of ORA or any other thug activist. It often does not go away on its own. I won't mention the specific symptoms as this would be a disservice to her. Suffice it to say that one frum post-natal organization has been credited with saving hundreds of families after births because they recognize the symptoms, which lead these mothers to want divorce and fear the worse, and treat them.
At a minimum, Mrs. Friedman should have been told that divorce involves negotiation and that she can't have everything. Any caring person would have told her that her daughter needs a close connection with her father, not seeing her mother march in the streets with a bunch of dishonorable Yeshiva University activists. The damage that they did to her name is far greater than whatever they did to him. They don't care, they've done it in case after case. It's a chiyuv to now speak out against them.
The Disgraceful Others Players:
Mordechai Wolmark was involved in condemning Friedman. Wolmark is been charged in numerous kidnappings in which he sold his services to the highest bidder. Religion (and resulting mamzerus). never factored in and that much is clear to all.
But Wolmark was not alone. Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, a man known for both fraudulent annulments and for highly controversial kashrus rulings, also jumped onto the political bandwagon, siding with people who saw fit to debase Judaism and rationality itself by taking a private divorce case to the papers and internet bloggers. No surprise there either.
There's a principle in hilchos aveilus (the laws of mourning) that halacha kdivrei hameikil b'avel, the ruling goes according to the (posek who sights legitimate halachic proofs to be) lenient in mourning. This principle does not apply to kashrus, which is of course news to Yisroel Belsky. The fact that the Modern-Orthodox OU give credence to his innovative and highly questionable rulings is a prime reason why their hechsher isn't accepted in many religious circles and why no educated frum people eat cooked fish under their certification.
To see Yisroel Belsky's singlehanded rewriting of Jewish law, and Rav Ovadia Yosef OBM condemnation, view this:
One person who should have known better was Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky. Aharon Friedman's wife's family were substantial donors of his for years. The fact that a person is able to give up his unlimited Olam Haboh for limited dollars is sad. The fact that a rabbi would cave to political pressure to try to cause mamzerus is beyond shameful.
It should be noted that this is not the first time that Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky has acted questionably. He once signed onto an edict stating that it was forbidden to attend a certain concert. That is his right and he may have been correct. But when confronted by the media he stated that it might have been better not to sign on. Judaism isn't passed down by bandwagon followers and he had no business signing “mecho'ois” (letters of protest) if he wasn't certain of them. To do so shames his position.
Can people such as Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky and R' Yisroel Belsky, both in a position to inspire thousands of students to adhere to Torah, ever hope to represent or transmit Torah if they remain committed to farcical tactics? The question is as unfortunate as it is rhetorical.
It should be noted that while Belsky and Wolmark have engaged in violent criminal activity, the kind that Hershel Schachter has encouraged, Kamenesky has not. His involvement was merely opportunistic, but an invalid get results in mamzerus and hataras aishes ish (adultery) and is more destructive and shameful than words will allow.
I'm unfortunately no stranger to much of what was described above. And while my battle was only with the Modern-Orthodox and a few lunatic followers, it was still shameful. In fact, one liar who collaborated with the FailedMessiah, tied my case to Aharon Friedman. I thanked him for the compliment.
Many men who've gone through divorces have told me the same thing, that someone who hasn't been through it themselves, Rachmono Litzlan, hayo lo siheyeh, can't begin to understand these people or to fathom the depravity of the activists. They are right. In my case, I sought nothing more than a postpartum evaluation and counseling. I was supported by a frum postnatal organization, the Beis Din that had converted our adopted son and a renown posek. It meant nothing to the shameful activists who were looking for another case in which to wreak havoc for their own self-glorification.
Like Aharon Friedman, some lunatic tried to arrange a beat-up. In my case I told the ring leader who they dragged along to call the chief rabbi of the town, Rabbi Pinchas Weberman, who immediately asked why on earth they were there and told them the truth. Aharon wasn't as fortunate. Like Aharon Friedman's case, the activists advised trying to pull an arrest which only backfired in court, as these tactics have done. I was advised to pursue an arrest in return and did not, as no believing Jew ever should dare do such a thing, chas veshalom, to any other person. Like Aharon Friedman's case, the activists then shamefully took to the blogs with ridiculous allegations that were either laughed out of court and almost cost the side making them custody (judges are wising up to this) or, in other cases, refuted by the woman herself. Like Aharon Friedman, I didn't pay heed to the demands of screaming lunatics. Unlike him, I was blessed with her good instincts to eventually sit down and talk.
One should try to save their marriage. Divorce is supposed to be rare. That's not how the YU activists, who have the maturity of new born babies and an even less developed sense of basic morality, see the issue. That's their problem. If all efforts have been taken to save a marriage, when both sides are aware that divorce destroys children (Harvard and Cambridge studies point to increased crime, substance abuse, lower self-esteem, lower success rates and even suicide, Rachmono litzlan, among children of divorce, even decades later) then there is unfortunately the concept of divorce. But to give into activists for the sake of it is a crime against one's children, against one's spouse and against morality itself. Taking part in an invalid get also causes problems of aishes ish and mamzerus, may Hashem protect against it.
My heartfelt advice to both parties in this case would be not only to sit down but to try to put the marriage back together in spite of all the third party opportunists who've wreaked havoc in both of their lives. There are organizations and people who can help and who've turned around many broken cases. This would be of tremendous benefit to them, even if they can't see it now because of all of the outside opportunists who involved themselves, and would also be of untold benefit to their daughter. I'm sure that both parties would have at the idea at first, but it would be of greatest service to them both and the attempt itself can yield surprising results.
To those who've been attacked:
There's no shame in being the target of malicious, vicious fools. There's even less shame in standing up for your marriage. There's no shame in seeking to protect your parental rights. And there's certainly no shame in being accused of supposedly violating religious precepts by people who flush all that is decent, yet alone holly, down the proverbial toilet, all the while admitting that they could care less whether their actions follow Jewish religious law (the code that they accuse you of breaking), as they stoop to one low after another to try to compel you to comply with their demands.
Make no mistake. There's nothing good, holy or Jewish about ORA, the Yeshiva University or Modern-Orthodoxy. Netanyahu recognizes Modern-Orthodoxy for the blight on the Jewish people that it is and it's a shame that so-called religious leaders in the Litvish community don't have the fortitude to call a dangerous moral poison that which it is and nothing less. Chassidisher rabbis have made no qualms about showing Modern-Orthodoxy to have no basis in Jewish law. There's unfortunately a trend among outreach leaders, who do indeed do valuable work, to refrain from criticizing, or even cooperating with their Modern-Orthodox counterparts in ways that cede ground on Yiddishkeit. Nothing is more important than preserving true Judaism and the Jewish family.