Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mandated Reporting - Rabbi Benzion Y. Wosner

Harav Hagaon Rabbi Benzion Y. Wosner Shlit"a
Rosh Beis Din Shevet Halevi
Monsey - Beit Shemesh
Click here for the entire "Responsa" in Hebrew
December 24, 2005
Please note: These are excerpts only from a lengthy and very thorough T'shuvah. This translation has been authorized by Harav Hagaon Rav Wosner, Shlit"a, but has not been translated by him. This is only a summary, not at all a complete translation. One must actually read and study the original Teshuvah in its original Hebrew to get a true understanding and appreciation of this psak (Halachic ruling). All Rabbis in Monsey retain a copy of the original Teshuvah and it is thus available for anyone to study.
Please note: While Rabbi Wosner is a Gaon in his own right, and one of the leading Halachic Authorities for the Monsey Kehilla Mikvah, he is also the son of the venerable Gaon, and world renowned Posek, the author of the multi-volume responsa, Shevet Halevi of Bnei-Brak. (The great Chazon Ish Z"l is known to have recommended the Shevet Halevi as the leading authority in Bnei-Brak 50 years ago.)
The reason this vital information was not presented publicly until now* is that the Rabbanim attempted to give Tendler many chances, with the latest attempts during the Yomim Noraim, to resign as Rav and Dayan before releasing both the t'shuvah and kol-korah proclamation and if needed other very compromising information. Their patient attempts went on completely deaf ears that included his father and brother. The time to declare the Torah view has come. No more chances.
A Short Translation Summary:
This is in regard to an issue whereas numerous Rabbanim in our town (Monsey) have requested that I rule Halachicly, how to deal with a certain Rabbi, who deals with divorces, marriages and kashruth issues.
Unfortunately, there have been rumors about him for years that he has deliberately violated many Torah prohibitions, particularly involving immoral relations with women. To be sure that this was in fact truthful, I summoned and interviewed many men and women who reside in both New Hempstead and who reside outside of New Hempstead, and found all of this to be unfortunately true!
The women testified on his total disregard of Torah prohibitions. For example, he would meet women one on one, on the pretense that he wants to teach them Halachos and counsel them on the ways of life. Once he wins their confidence, he would, for example, forget to bring his book and ask the woman he was seeing if they could learn together using her book, thereby giving him the opportunity to move physically closer to her where they would eventually touch. He would ultimately hug the woman and subsequently perform other immoral acts that I have great difficulty putting to print!
In addition, he has brazenly dealt in difficult Halachic marriage situations, annulling countless marriages (Hashem, protect us).
When asked by a group of Rabbis at a meeting, how he could take upon himself these halachic rulings, he answered that his grandfather Harav Moshe Feinstein Z"l also ruled this way! However, after having inquired from Harav Feinstein's own children and students, we found that this was a total fabrication!

Now, the inquiry before us is:
What do we answer members of our community and our neighbors, who ask whether to continue under his leadership and teachings, or to leave him?
In addition, this inquiry notes the fact that this Rabbi was a member for many years of a Rabbinic organization, (RCA) and after doing their own investigation decided to oust him from their organization!
This Rabbi has summoned this same Rabbinic organization (RCA) to a (Rabbanut) Beit Din in Israel claiming that they terminated his membership in their organization under the violation of Halacha-Torah law.
For example, he claims that the Shulchan Aruch writes that one cannot remove a "Chazzan" from his position based on a rumor, unless there are actual kosher witnesses.
From his side he likewise claims:
a) there are only women witnesses and he claims women are not kosher witnesses
b) that these witnesses testified without him being present
c) the witnesses are biased
d) the rumors were spread by his enemies!
This case has absolutely no resemblance to the case discussed in the Shulchan Aruch. The Shulchan Aruch talks about a Congregation that wants to remove a Chazzan from his employment in a synagogue, based on a rumor.
In our case this Rabbi was not employed by the organization (RCA), he was a member like other member Rabbis. We could not find one instance in Halacha that an organization cannot remove one of their members. In addition, every organization can set and change its own rules as they see fit! -- ( )
Every organization has a right to set rules that their members should not profane HASHEM'S great Name, certainly not to violate outright Halachic prohibitions E
Therefore, since this rumor has been ongoing and the Rabbis of the organization are ashamed and embarrassed of his actions, they not only have a right to oust him from their organization but they have a Torah obligation to do so!
With this action, the Rabbis of this organization are sanctifying HASHEM'S Name!
It is vital to know that, accordingly, his own Congregation has an equal obligation!
(a) In regard to his claim that only women testified:
As far as Halacha is concerned (see actual T'shuvah for elaboration), in a case where a Rabbi has a rumor that doesn't stop ... (this rumor has been ongoing for multiple years) we do not need any witnesses to remove him.
In our case we actually do have witnesses ... men... who have testified that they actually saw this Rabbi meet women one on one (flagrantly violating the prohibition of Yichud). There are, however, also women witnesses! The victims themselves who came to him for counseling to pour their broken hearts to him!
The Ramah in Choshen Mishpat (Siman 35, 14) rules that in a case where only women congregate or in a case (like ours) where only women could possibly testify, (since he meets women one on one behind closed doors) they can and should certainly testify. (Terumas Hadeshen Siman 353 and Agudah Perek 10, Yochasin)
This is also the ruling of the Mahrik, Radvaz, and the Mahr"i of Minz. Even those "Poskim" that would normally not rely on women witnesses, they would certainly agree that in our case ... where there is ample evidence that this Rabbi violated Torah precepts, then even children or women can certainly be kosher as witnesses, as the Chasam Sofer pointed out in his sefer (Orach Chaim T'shuvah 11)
(b) His claim that the witnesses testified without him being there:
There are many Responsa in regard to having witnesses testify, without the defendant being present. The Ramah has already ruled (Choshen Mishpat) that testimony taken without the defendant present is halachicly correct, especially in a case where the defendant has a history of intimidating witnesses (This Rabbi called and threatened many women who testified at the RCA hearing).
In addition, since we are dealing with a person who intimidates, curses and harasses anyone that dare oppose him including respected may testify without the defendant being present.
The Ramah adds that in such a case (as ours) where we know that the defendant will certainly intimidate the witnesses, the Gaonim (Sages who lived during the years 900 C.E.) long ago established a Halachic rule that one may testify without the defendant being present!
c) He claims the Witnesses are biased: This claim is not true since:
  1. some of the witnesses were actually men who had no previous associations with him
  2. some of the women witnesses who testified, testified not what he actually did with them, but they testified what he did with other women who confided in them (and additionally brought them evidence of this). And even if his claim was actually true, the absurd claim of his ... that these women were biased, it would be irrelevant as far as Halacha is concerned.
According to Halacha, these women would still be believed.
(Please see sources).
Rumors that have not stopped (Kalay D'lo Pasak V'Sanu shomaneha):
In a case such as ours where rumors about this individual have been ongoing for years, the Ramah has already ruled () that in a case such as this, even if one individual of his congregation protests his behavior, this would be sufficient reason to remove this Rabbi from his position ... based on a rumor only! See also the Chasam Sofer (ibid)
Even in the case where the Rabbi claims that he is like a Chazzan, where the Shulchan Aruch says that based on one rumor one cannot be removed from his position, in this case even the Shulchan Aruch would agree that he should be removed since there are many people in his Congregation that have protested his despicable behavior (witness how many people left his shul).
The Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Dayah 119) writes a rule for all to know, that the Halacha requires his removal even if the rumor never reached a Beis Din
The Bais Yosef in the name of the R"ash and Rabbeinu Yeruchum rule this way even if the rumor stopped !!
One may surmise from the Rambam's ruling (source) that even in a case where we do not have clear kosher witnesses, but where we have some basis of fact, and a rumor that doesn't stop that he has violated immoral prohibitions, one has an obligation to humiliate him in public! All of this without any witnesses testifying!
The Rambam therefore states regarding a person like this: (Sanhedrin chapter 24):
"The Congregation should taunt the one that is transgressing the Torah prohibition of arayos--immoral relations and, in addition, whoever hears about his evil behavior must embarrass him even in front of his own children" (See Rambam source above).
d) Claim ... that his "enemies" have spread the rumors:
All people who have claims against them, always argue that the witnesses are enemies and hate them ... we actually see this on a daily basis with people who go to court!
With this reasoning there would never ever be any court cases whatsoever!
Having said this, the definition of "enemies" is clearly defined by the Talmud (Yevamos 25a) and several other commentaries (e.g. HaHaishiv Moshe 60, Rambam Sanhedrin chapter 23, Otzer HaPairushim 11:33, etc...) and these sources talk about real enemies not people who had some disagreements between each other.
We can therefore reason that his claim that "enemies" spreading rumors about him are not only false, but absurd!
All Rabbis Have a Clear Obligation to Publicly Ostracize Him:
Rashi in Tractate Megillah 25b states that if there are rumors that one is an Adulterer, one may embarrass him!
Rabbis that are quiet and do not chastise this individual cause HASHEM'S Name to be profaned.
It is therefore an obligation on our town's Rabbinic leaders to do whatever is in their power to ostracize him and separate him from his congregation. This Halacha is brought down by the Rif and this is the Halacha (Yoreh Dayah 334:42)!
No prohibition on speaking Lashan Harah (evil gossip):
The Chofetz Chayim (klal 7:65) rules emphatically that if an individual is a known rasha, for just an example, he is known to have had immoral relations (and is involved in Yichud repeatedly, etc.), one is allowed to listen and speak about this individual!
Prohibited from being a Dayan (Rabbinical Judge):
The Bais Yosef (Choshen Mishpat 34 in the name of the R"osh) rules that one who has been accused of illicit relationships including one who is m'yachaid (meets women alone on a one on one basis) ... is prohibited from ever being witness, and anyone who cannot be a witness can never be a Judge! (Ramah 25, Niddah 49b, Tur Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat Siman 7:69)...
Therefore it stands to reason that one who cannot be a witness or a Judge ... must immediately be stopped from officiating at weddings and divorces! See Responsa Rabbi Moses Feinstein Z"l (Yoreh Dayah Siman 1)!

Final Halachic Ruling Summary:
Numerous Rabbis sat together and heard audio tapes, where this "Rabbi" attempts to seduce married (and unmarried) women (Hashem, please protect us). On one particular tape one can clearly hear a married woman begging the "Rabbi" to leave her alone.
Accordingly, the RCA had every right to oust this Rabbi from their organization, and his own Congregation has the same obligation!
This Rabbi can no longer officiate at divorces, weddings, batei dinim, etc...
No one is obligated to give him any respect such as standing up for him, etc.
He can no longer be a Rav or Rabbi or Dayan amongst the Jewish People!
One should never allow their wives or daughters to go to his classes or to go to him at all including counseling... and all his rulings are null and void!
This ruling obligates all of us according to Halacha as per the ruling of his own grandfather Alah V'shalom, Z"l in his Sefer Igros Moshe ... (ibid).
By doing so we will fulfill the verse in our Holy Torah...

"Destroy Evil Amongst Us."
Translation of a joint Rabbinic Kol Korah
"Denial & Clarification" letter issued by 7 Leading Monsey Rabbonim
against R' Mordecai Tendler
of New Hempstead, New York
Denial (of his claims) and Clarification!
We have gathered together to inform the public that since it has been publicly announced, written and printed that we investigated R' Mordecai Tendler and that we were convinced of the truth of his statements. We are hereby forced to publicize that this is an outright Lie!
In addition, we want to publicize our opinion that after thoroughly investigating the matter in his presence and after a thorough examination of the issues, it is our opinion that one must not seek any advice in any area of zia mely, and certainly not in any Halachic matters pertaining to Divorce, Marriage or Conversions!
On this matter we are affixing our signatures on this the 20th day of the month of Iyar* in the year 5765. Here, in Monsey, New York
  • Rabbi Moshe Green - Rosh Yeshivah, Yeshivah D'Monsey
  • Rabbi Yisroel Hager - Son of the Grand Rabbi of Vishnitz
  • Rabbi Chaim Halberstam - Rav, K'hal Yoel Moshe, Satmar, Monsey
  • Rabbi Chaim Shraga Feival Shnaybalgl - Rav, K'hal Avreichim, Monsey
  • Rabbi Chaim Leibish Halevi Rottenberg - Rav, K'hal Netzach Yisroel,Monsey
  • Rabbi Sharaga Feivel Halevi Zimmerman - Rav, K'hal Bney Ashkenaz, Monsey
  • Rabbi Mordechai Ohrbach - Rav, K'hal Forshay, Monsey


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