Ask The Rabbi Rabbi Benyamin Yosef
Dear Rabbi Yosef I was such a follower of Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, but any Rabbi who got caught writing a bogus seruv and refuses to come to Beit Din cannot be trusted. Are there a special set of rules just for Rabbi’s? Too often a Rabbi will have his fingers in so many businesses that they get greedy. Looking on the Internet you can see way too many Rabbis who are dishonest. It is enough to make people leave Judaism. At least with Conservative or Reform, you pretty much expect dishonesty from the Rabbi.  Menachem Federman Jerusalem Israel   Dear Rabbi Yosef Another Beth Din site has a manual called ‘The Journal of the Beth Din of America’. It has all sorts of rules and regulations in it. On the second page of their manual it states: “The views expressed in this journal do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beth Din of America.” Doesn’t this sound odd as the Beth Din of America edits and is in charge of this publication? Yakov F. Boston, MA  Dear Yakov Actually, when this Beth Din makes a decision that does not follow Halacha, this is their disclaimer. Even if you quote them Halacha and even if you tell them the page in their manual listing the specific Halacha; they will then quote you their disclaimer and tell you ‘too bad’.  In my opinion the only thing which should be in their journal is: We are the Beth Din. We are all powerful and decide what is right and wrong. The rules are (whatever we decide them to be) and only apply to you, not us. Again, we are the Beth Din, we will do whatever we want. Now, will that be cash or charge?  Rabbi Yosef   Dear Rabbi Yosef Who are these Rabbis at the Beth Din of America who believe the rules do not apply to them? Why would they expect anyone to follow their rules when they don’t follow the same rules? I received a Hazmana (Summons) to their Beth Din, but since they didn’t abide by the Hazmana from your Beth Din, why should I abide by their Hazmana? Are they not followers of the same religion and law? If they can ignore your Beth Din, I can ignore their Beth Din. Good job in showing everyone their true colors. Requested Name/Location Withheld    Dear Rabbi Yosef Dishonest and crooked Beth Dins are all too common. Did you read about Rabbi Aryeh Greenes, the Av Beth Din of Din-Torah in Los Angeles, California on Jan. 30, 2014 an indictment against Rabbi Aryeh Greenes, 58, details 34 counts of fraud. It states that he and Mizrachi knowingly falsified financial documents when applying for loans from three banks: TomatoBank, United Commercial Bank (UCB) and Security Pacific Bank (SPB).    The Justice Department alleges that the two men’s scheme cost the three banks a total of $33,183,000 with UCB, SPB and TomatoBank losing $28 million, $5 million and $183,000 respectively.    Mizrachi, who was born in Israel, is charged on all 34 counts, and Greenes accompanies him on 10. The FBI believes that Mizrachi fled to Israel in 2009, followed by Greenes in 2012. If convicted Greenes reportedly faces up to 330 years.                This was the Av Beth Din who made Halacha decisions on peoples lives, divorces, marriage, conversions, Kosher, and more. Are there any trustworthy Beth Dins?  I’ll send you more as I get it. Keep up the good work. Gary S Bigfork, MT    Dear Rabbi Yosef Rabbi Barry Freundel, 62, arrested on October 14, 2014 for voyeurism. Freundel headed the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) committee for conversion standards and practices. Freundel allegedly placed hidden cameras in a Washington DC mikvah (ritual bath) to video tape naked women. Some of these women were utilizing this ritual bath for their conversion process. Seems Freundel would like to have the women wanting to convert practice their ‘dunk in the bath’; a made up rule that has no basis except for voyeurism. Police seized computers and other computer paraphernalia from Freundels home. In their search, forensics found his memory card for which he had more than 100 deleted files labeled under the first names of the women. Police also found secret recording devices built in to a fan and clock radio.                    Freundel was the senior Rabbi at Kesher Israel Congregation, 2801 N Street, Washington, DC 20007 also known as the ‘N’ Street Shul. The police confiscated Freundels computers which is only a few blocks from the synagogue. Freundel, has been the Rabbi at Kesher Israel for 25 years, he is also the vice president of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington and is a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).   Rabbi Freundel was also in charge of the Beth Din in Washington DC who made decisions  affecting Jewish Family Status such as; adoption, marriage, death, divorce as well as with the adjudication and/or arbitration of financial disputes.   Frank Middleman Washington DC    Dear Frank, The RCA and the Beth Din of America announced on October 20, 2014 under the leadership of Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz that all the conversions performed by Rabbi Barry Freundel are halachically valid. This is wrong on many levels. The RCA publicly promised in 2007 that it would NOT review old conversions. Thus, the RCA and the Beth Din of America already decided about Rabbi Freundels conversions even before they knew what Freundel was doing. Freundel was an executive committee member of the RCA and headed the committee that re-wrote the RCA’s conversion standards and he was also a friend of the Beth Din of America. When deciding on the convert issue; the RCA and Beth Din of America should have recused themselves as they have a conflict of interest. An acquaintanceship with one of the parties is grounds for recusal.  The RCA investigated Freundel twice before for conversion-related misbehavior which included Freundel sleeping with at least one women in the process of converting to Judaism. This was obviously trading sex for conversion and the RCA should have fired him at this point, but didn’t follow Halacha. Rabbi Schwartz does not like to bring rabbis into the limelight.  A conversion Beth Din requires three Judges, and there most always is just one Rabbi and two observant laymen; no different than a GET procedure. Since Freundel is a member of the executive committee of the RCA and served as the rabbinic expert on conversions to Judaism, nobody on his conversion court would dare contradict him.  There is now evidence that many of the converts did not study or come to classes. This is a mockery! If the Beth Din of America or the RCA truly investigated this matter, why would Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz vouch for and claim that all Freundels conversions are valid? It certainly appears that Schwartz is just a puppet for the Beth Din of America and the RCA.  If Freundel was trading sex or benefits with women looking to convert, this ABSOLUTELY invalidates the conversions. He also was changing the rules of conversion to suit his perverted mindset, such as requiring the women to practice dunk in the mikva, so that he could watch. We are already hearing stories that Freundel used the converts as free labor. No telling what other conversion rules he changed to his benefit.  Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz has a Psak Din against him from Bais Din Hagodol Shomrey Mishpot and a seruv from The American Beth Din for issuing bogus seruv(s). Schwartz should not even be on a Beth Din.  Because both Freundel and the converted women have a strong motive to lie, it becomes necessary to convert all these women again. If they are married, any children of these women must also be converted. Rabbi Yosef   Dear Rav Yosef I was divorced by a nationally known Beth Din in New York. I have since remarried and have now given birth to two beautiful boys. Because my first husband did not want a divorce and refused to give me a get, I utilized the GET law in New York and civilly forced my now ex-husband to give me a GET. I am now worried that this invalidated my GET and my children are mamzarim. I believed the New York Beth Din, what should I do now? I wish to move to Israel soon. Should I be concerned? Mother in Queens, NY  Dear Mother in Queens Choosing your Beth Din is very important. Just because they are a recognized Beth Din does not mean they are following Halacha. You could have just as easily had the three stooges perform your GET and saved a few hundred dollars. You are in a difficult situation. After reviewing your case, pleadings, and speaking with all parties, it is with great difficulty that I must inform you that your current children are illegitimate. A husband must give a GET without being forced.   I strongly suggest that you speak with your ex-husband and see if he would be willing to give you a true get of his own free will from a better Beth Din.  Rav Yosef   Dear Rav Yosef My fiancé and I are schedule to be married in 6 months. Everything is on schedule. My local Rabbi suggested that I have my soon to be husband sign a prenuptial contract. A few facts: My fiancé is a college graduate, comes from a very wealthy family and has a six figure income; whereas I went to Bais Yakov, have no job and did not attend college. My fiancé is a great catch and I will never have to work a day in my life. I’m afraid that if I push this issue, he might call off our upcoming wedding. Perplexed in Baltimore, MD.  Dear Perplexed in Baltimore A prenuptial is a goyish custom. There is nothing in Talmud or Halacha that mentions it. As Jews, we have our own customs, rules, and laws, especially about marriage and divorce. Perhaps your local Rabbi is not knowledgeable about these matters.   I suggest that if you want your marriage to last and be successful, stop worrying about divorce or how it will end. These worries will only haunt you and will cause you to wonder after any spousal disagreement whether you should enforce the prenuptial agreement. This is no way to have a happy marriage. I advise all couples to NEVER sign a prenuptial agreement. Again, this is a goyish custom meant for goyim, not Jews. Rav Yosef   Dear Rabbi Yosef I am writing to you on the hope that either your Beth Din can assist me, or that you can refer me to a Beth Din that can.  Here is my very very sad story.   I am an Agunah. I have been an Agunah for quite some time. My husband refuses to give me a get. I filed for divorce in civil court. He then summoned me to Beth Din, but I refused to go. Civil Courts are much more pro-female and I knew I could get a “better deal” in civil court. I suppose I allowed my anger to get the best of me, as I easily cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars of lawyer fees, court costs, deposition fees, and more. But that is not really the worst of it. Since he continually refused to grant me a get, I decided to turn our children against him. From an early age I either bribed them or told them they would go to jail if they even briefly visited him. Yes, I know I probably should not have done that, but he kept refusing to give me a get. I even sued him in civil court for not giving me a get, but I lost. I am at my wits end on what to do to this man in order to have him give me a get. Perhaps a Rally outside his house or office? You have my permission to call him at XXX-XXX-XXXX. His name is XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX. He wants to extort money (Blackmail) from me for a get. Perhaps you can convince him to give me a get. I only did these thing because I want a get. You can understand that. All my Agunah friends and ORA completely understand. Get-less Agunah in New York
Dear Get-less in New York As per your request, I did speak with your husband. You forgot to tell me many things.  You forgot to tell me how you slandered him in various newspapers on multiple  occasions. How you continually denied him his children to the point that the civil court  judge put you in jail. How you absconded with the children for almost two years causing  the civil court to issue an arrest warrant for you. How you made continual false  accusations of child abuse & neglect. How that after your husband obtained sole  custody, you conspired with the youngest child ordering him to run away from fathers  house which caused the child to spend over a year ‘parent-less’ in a non-Jewish foster  home. But, worst of all; you’ve taught your children thievery, hatred, and vindictiveness.  You have totally damaged your children. No amount of counseling can fix what you  caused and it is evident that you are still not done.   You need to understand; no matter how many times you call yourself an agunah, you  are NOT an Agunah. You are a common thief, a gonnif. You stole money and  possessions from your husband, you stole his children, you stole from people who  believed they were giving real charity and you stole from friends and relatives. How do  you live with yourself on Yom Kipper?  I was truly appalled and sickened that she enlisted and involved her children to help  create an advertisement in the Jewish Press Newspaper of July 14, 2006 (18 Tammuz  5766) among other papers, requesting Tzedakah (Charity) from people in the name of  her children. How sad that she lied to procure funds from people who thought they were  giving to a real charity, when in fact, she just didn’t want to spend her own money.  Collecting over $50,000 dollars in made-up charity!   Collecting charity on false pretenses and involving her children is wrong on so many  levels. Again, this just shows her inherent nature for thievery. She needs to contact  everyone who gave her charity and return their money immediately; but we know she  will never do this.   You are the type of woman no man would ever want, so a GET would really do you no  good. No man would ever want you after the things you have done. You will always be  alone and die alone. After speaking with your husband who has since remarried and  has moved on with his life; surprisingly holds no grudge or hatred, he only insists that  you follow Halacha, which is obviously something that you cannot do.   I advised your husband that before he gives you a get, that you must do ‘Teshuva’  (repentance) for what you did: you need to reimburse your husband, you need to fix the  damage you caused between your husband and children, you need to apologize to  everyone that you caused to be involved in this calamity. You would need to also  publicly apologize for smearing your husband’s name. Basically, you need to put things  back like they were before you went to civil court. I also reminded your husband that  according to Talmud Baba Kama, you would be required to pay double if not more for  your thievery.   Your children know you left your husband and filed in civil court. They will be scared  every night of their life believing that you might abandon them just like you did your  husband. How much more so since you picked your husband and did not actually  choose your children.   So go ahead and keep calling yourself an Agunah, keep calling your husband a  recalcitrant husband, and keep calling his request for reimbursement, blackmail or  extortion. You are a Gonnif (thief), your stolen money will only hurt you and your bones  will weaken until the day you die, alone. You have proven yourself to be an atrocious  wife, a terrible parent, and a hypocritical Jew.   You give true agunot a bad name. Obviously to you, money and hurting people  including your children are more important than a get. You have caused your children,  and likely your children’s children irreparable damage with no signs of remorse. I have  asked your husband for permission to print your name. For this moment, he has said:  “Not yet.”  Rav Yosef Some letters have been been edited for sake of readability.  
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