Jul 13, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Ronn Torossian
RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF AMERICA RESPONDS TO JERUSALEM BET DIN REGARDING RABBI MORDECAI TENDLER
NEW YORK, NY - The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) announced today it had responded to the Regional Bet Din of Jerusalem which had summoned the RCA and certain named Rabbis to appear before it regarding the RCA's expulsion of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler for misconduct.
The letter of the RCA included the following (actual letter in italics):
"We are... prepared to go to a Din Torah to be held under the auspices of the Machon le'Hora'ah in Monsey, NY, on condition that its head, Rav Avraham Boruch Rosenberg will be the Av Bet Din, together with two additional dayyanim of that Bet Din. For according to the halachah that is explicitly stated in Choshen Mishpat 14:1, as explained by the Rema (R. Moshe Isserles), a summons is not to be sent from one city to another, if both litigants live in one city.”
The letter also states that
“It is further clear from the Rema there, that the law of a Bet Havaad applies only in the same Country/Region (medinah), and not in another. Accordingly, your court has no jurisdiction in this matter whatsoever."
"As to the claim of the representative of Rabbi Tendler (Rabbi Mittelman) that the claim was brought before the Jerusalem Bet Din because there is no court or rabbinical body in the United States to which the RCA will submit, such a claim has no basis or foundation whatsoever. In our view, the real reason that the complainant brought this entire matter before you, rather than before a recognized Bet Din here, is that from such a distance one can make all kinds of statements without being contradicted.
"As to the substance of the matter: We hereby note the following items (in addition to the earlier statement that your Bet Din Ezori does not have jurisdiction in this matter, and that we are responding only in consideration of your honor):
• In the clarification (hachlatah) issued by Rav Rosental in the name of the Bet Din (dated 8 Nissan, in response to the RCA letter of 4 Nissan), it is stated in paragraph 9 as follows: "If in your view you are not damaging the authority and employment of the claimant, then our statement is null and void." We must emphasize that the claimant has never had any position of authority or employment in, or salary from, our organization. He was merely a member, and accordingly the Bet Din Hakavod examined the matter in full accordance with the basic constitution of our organization.
• Rav Rosental further wrote in his clarification that "such an action should properly be done, if it is to be done, by an independent bet din, or a zabla, and not by an investigating panel of the organization where the parties to the dispute are members." To this we must emphasize that the constitution of our organization states explicitly how to proceed, and who is to determine these matters. We followed those rules completely...
• Furthermore: The source (Orach Chayyim 53:8) which Rabbi Mittelman quoted in his submission states "a Chazan is not to be removed from his position unless there are proper witnesses to his having a disqualification." The entire case and complaint, with all that it has stirred up, is based on this source. Yet it is clear, as we have stated, that the complainant is not a chazan of our organization, and not the rabbi of our organization, and not the principal or an officer - but simply a member, one of a thousand. By expelling him, we did not thereby deprive him of his employment, his dignity or his money, as explained above.
"All our decisions are guided by Halacha, and we are confident that the unanimous decision of our leadership to expel Rabbi Tendler from our ranks will be substantiated by the Bet Din," said Rabbi Dale Polakoff, President of The Rabbinical Council of America. "We will of course proceed to Bet Din, certain that the truth will emerge, and the facts will fully support everything that the RCA has done. We will produce documentation and proof, halachicly compelling argument and rabbinic precedent. The truth will prevail."
"This is a very serious matter to us," added Rabbi Polakoff. "We also want to take this opportunity to reiterate that while there are a loud and select few within the Jewish media who have publicly challenged and criticized us, the RCA was compelled to institute our painful judgment, as the Jewish community would expect us to, and not stand idly by. Leadership is not determined by those who must make the easy choices - it's the difficult decisions that should be commended and applauded. Presented with this difficult dilemma, the RCA took considered action and remains completely confident that our entire rabbinic leadership has acted with full justification."