A notice of clarification for public vigilance
The following pertains to the conference held on 24 Cheshvan about establishing a kevi’us; an established protocol for the complex process of writing and issuing Gittin in the city of Lakewood. Since human nature is such that credulous people tend to believe the rumors spread by those seeking to stir controversy, we have set out to state the facts as they are, to ensure that no one falls prey to rumormongers and that our intentions will always remain transparent and above reproach.
The idea of conducting this conference originated with HaGaon HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlita, during a videotaped meeting that was held in his home at the end of the month of Sivan in 5769. He was astonished to hear that Gittin are being written in Lakewood without any kevi’us established by those Gedolim in America who are expert in these halachos. It was in accordance with his advice, encouragement, and with his specific guidance, that we gathered together to discuss this issue.
Those invited to discuss this issue at the conference were limited specifically to Roshei Batei Din and Dayanim who have extensive and multiyear experience in this challenging area of Halacha, and have an established reputation as Mesadrei Gittin for many years. This does not in any way preclude those who were not in attendance from stating their opinion on the matter discussed. Naturally, it is inevitable that this arena of Halacha will invite disagreements of opinion, both in interpretation and in application, and all who wish to state their opinions, are welcome to put pen to paper and thus express their opinions and reasons. This amicable manner of dispute was honorably practiced throughout the generations. When the occasion arose to make a kevi’us for the writing of Gittin in a town, all those qualified to do so came out with their teshuvos on the matter, each one advancing his own approach, until they finally reached a consensus. This process is evident in the teshuvos of the Noda BiYehudah, the Chasam Sofer, and others.
The purpose of the conference was not to establish a kevi’us for the writing of Gittin, but to discuss how to go about establishing the kevi’us. It goes without saying that the actual kevi’us will be determined with the participation of all the Gedolim and Rabbanim of the city.
At the conference, the first question discussed was whether this project raises any concern about being moitzi la’az — casting aspersions — on Gittin previously written in Lakewood. After all those present agreed unanimously that there is no concern of hotzo’as la’az, as stated in Teshuvos Maharil (104) and other sources, and that the aim of the conference is not to cast doubt on the Gittin that have already been written — only then did we proceed to discuss the actual question of how to go about establishing a kevi’us.
At the termination of the conference, a ruling was issued by HaGaon Harav Yechezkel Roth, the Gaavad of Karlsburg, joined by HaGaon HaRav Sariel Rosenberg, Av Beis Din under HaGaon HaRav Nissim Karelitz in Bnei Brak, and all the esteemed Rabbanim shlita, stating that no Gittin should be written in Lakewood for the time being until this matter is properly resolved.
In conclusion, this complex subject is not a recently uncovered problem; rather it is an old issue, long recognized by messadrei gittin both in Lakewood and outside the city. We are merely disciples at the feet of our sagely masters, seeking instruction on how to proceed. Any decisions regarding Gittin must, and will, remain in the hands of the Gedolei Haposkim to whom all of Klal Yisrael look for guidance in all matters pertaining to Halacha.