I am not sure how I feel about this

This video is about a wife who files for a Get, and becomes an agunah (chained woman) because her ex will not show up at the Beit Din. It’s a very important issue, one that needs to be understood and discussed. But I think this “never ending story” leaves a lot to be desired. It’s facile and patronizing IMHO. There are a couple of other videos in the series that follow the same kind of format. What do you think?

Hat Tip Chaviva.

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33 Comments

  1. batya from NJ says:

    i had seen it last week & it also rubbed me the wrong way :(.

  2. Chaviva says:

    I just … I don’t get it. What’s the point? And why is she so damn chipper about mommy and daddy? And why is daddy a bad gay man?

  3. batya from NJ says:

    chaviva, i think her point is that daddy’s a bad man b/c he doesn’t want to give mommy a Get (which is true-that DOES make him a bad man) but not b/c he’s gay per se…

  4. Mark says:

    This video is horrible. The woman narrating is horrible. The script is horrible. The methodology is horrible. The addressing children is horrible. The whole thing from start to finish is horrible.

    The plight of Agunot is even more horrible.

    But this video does nothing to fix that huge problem.

    My opinion (and I haven’t thought it all the way through), if a couple is separated for 1 year, and the man still hasn’t given a get, the Bet Din should automatically declare the marriage dissolved (even if they have to declare the man to be dead). At that time, the Bet Din should also declare the man unfit to participate in any Jewish “events”, he cannot get remarried, cannot get an aliya, cannot lead tefilla, etc.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      Mark, how do you think that could be put into practice? You have a valid point, but I cannot see the Beit Din ever changing the status quo.

      • Mark says:

        I don’t know. But it’s what I would do if I were king. I don’t see how anyone with a conscience could possibly think that God commanded us to allow Agunot to remain Agunot for so long in our Judaism.

        • Chanief says:

          Well then I say we make you king.

          • hadassahsabo says:

            all in favour say Aye….

            aye

          • Mark says:

            Thank You! But that and $3.50 will get us a cup (one cup!) of latte at Starbucks. But it won’t help agunot at all :-(

          • hadassahsabo says:

            aint that the sad truth. but what can we do?

          • Mark says:

            Biggest problem is lack of achdut. One Bet Din will disregard the decisions of another. That’s the main thing stopping LWMO bet dins from doing it when necessary. Because if they do, it will end up in a situation like we have with Reform where they say someone is a Jew and we say not – huge marriage problems eventually. So too, if a bet din pronounces “divorce”, and another det din says “not valid” and refuses to remarry the woman anyway.

            It’s a really bad situation with no good solution at hand. We need a real Gadol Hador with cojones to lay down the law.

          • Chanief says:

            $3.50 probably isn’t even enough… Oh well, I tried. But in all seriousness, I agree with you, if the Beis Din could make changes to the effect that you are recommending, the issue would be solved for once and for all.

  5. Chaviva says:

    Yeah, I know that’s the point of the video, but the way they go about it is stupid. The stories are meant to be about the beth din, and the not-getting-a-get scenario is prevalent. But the way the story is written is just … obnoxiously stupid. How many men that won’t grant a get are gay I wonder?

  6. Mark says:

    Oh, and the gay thing is just plain stupid. They could have used “Devorah” instead of “David” and the video would have the same [useless and horrible] effect.

  7. hadassahsabo says:

    The more I think about it the angrier I get. This is not the way to bring attention to the plight of agunot. In fact, this might very well turn people off helping the organization that sponsored / created this horrendous video.

  8. Jess says:

    I’m with you. The video trivializes and seems to parody the whole issue. The situation of the agunah is a terrible one that needs to be addressed with the seriousness it was deserves.

  9. Rishona says:

    This video’s weak. I couldn’t finish it because it was just too annoying. :-P

  10. Chanief says:

    If she wasn’t so darned annoying and patronizing, I might actually care. Instead I just want to smack her and then make her go away.

    He is gay because this is a true story (supposedly) not because every man who does not give his wife a get is gay.

  11. jean says:

    Agree with Mark and others here — aside from poor production/direction the gay part is particularly hateful. My guess, like Mark’s is that there are far more Devorahs in these stories thant Davids.

    And frankly, even that isn’t the issue. Nasty to have an affair and run off and leave your family, but divorce does happen. HOW one deals with it honorably and fairly is the issue.

    Underlying message here seems to blame to gay community. NO. Blame the lack of action and caring on the part of the rabbis and Bet Din. If it were the other way around and we had “b’nei agun” I bet dollars to hamentashen that releasing them would be a mitzva.

    • batya from NJ says:

      jean, i agree with all your points except the final point regarding the underlying message. i really don’t think that blaming the gay community was the intention but rather as chanie said above, the “savta” was retelling supposedly true stories & in one of the cases a guy might have ran off with another man. i am sure that savta bikorta tells plenty other similar stories about daddies who ran off with devorahs (like mark said) & many other women. in fact, i’m sure the majority of the stories that she tells are of guys who ran off with women or just alone rather than with other men specifically…

    • jean says:

      Hi Batya

      I agree but to clarify, I did not assume that was the intention; however, I do think that it becomes the video’s message by default, ie, in a vacuum (hence “*seems* to blame.”)

      No doubt if I’d seen other videos I would have sen it as one of many also annoyingly-delivered stories.

      But producers of such videos might best not assume viewers will see them as a series or collection. It’s important to make each one a clear message in itself. (sorry — sometimes I forget to take off my marketing-designer-communications hat.)

      Having seen only one video out of the series, the message I heard was “blame the bad gay daddy” and NOT blame the religious establishment who seems to feel no compulsion to fix the problem.

  12. jean says:

    Another thought — I’m wondering why it is in English? Those that need to hear it need it in Hebrew. (or is there a hebrew version too?)

    • batya from NJ says:

      hey jean!
      i never saw any of the other videos in the series either (assuming they even exist) but i viewed this as just one of many stories. i forget if there were Hebrew subtitles on the video but it’s likely that there’s an equally ridiculous hebrew version as well ;)! the message i got was more anti-rabbinical court rather than anti-gay but i guess that’s the beauty of diversity-we can each view the same clip & we each walk away with different messages…

    • jean says:

      D’oh! You are right; there are hebrew subtitles.
      And yes, different views — it’s kinda talmudic, isn’t it?

    • mekubal says:

      Actually that is not necessarily the case. Israel has a fairly good turnover rate when it comes to Agunot, and the number has been shrinking since R’ Amar(the protege of R’ O. Yosef who is known for fighting Agunah rights) took office as Chief Rabbi.

      One cannot simply opt to dissolve the marriage(from an Orthodox standpoint) on account of the complex laws found in the Shulchan Aruch. In fact Siman 1 of Choshen Mishpat states that in truth the Dayyanim of today don’t really have the authority of oversee a Get in the first place. It is already a Chiddush that we can do one at all.

      Second from a M’doraitta standpoint we are mostly stuck. Considering the how to of divorce is M’doraitta there is not a lot that can be done to change its formulation.

      What is left in our hands is the ability of a B”D to coerce the husband into giving a Get. In Israel the B”D has the ability to incarcerate such an individual until they are willing to give their wife a Get. The issue becomes their friends hiding them and supporting them. Or that they jump to the US.

      Agunot is a much bigger problem in the US, as a person has no compulsion to obey a B”D.

      In truth the problem is not so much the willingness of the Rabbis or the Batei Din, as much as it is an issue of Judaism trying to fit into a modern society, where Jews are not granted self-governance. Until just over 60yrs ago a B”D would have sent a group of toughs to beat the recalcitrant husband into happily giving his wife a Get. That was the way of things, and that was probably the most merciful. Aside from that was the Cherem, the exile of the person from the Jewish community, cutting him off from any and all ability to procure food, shelter, a livelihood. In Pre-War Europe and in the mid-East that was a virtual death sentence.

      Today however, legalities prevent us from physically assailing a recalcitrant husband, and a Cherem is less than useless. The person will simply pick up and move to another community, possibly even under an assumed name. The real problem truly is in the US.

      • Mark says:

        Second from a M’doraitta standpoint we are mostly stuck. Considering the how to of divorce is M’doraitta there is not a lot that can be done to change its formulation.

        What is the source? What pasuk?

  13. Alan says:

    I think she more than resembles Dom DeLuise…
    Seriously though, I think it’s a little over the top, but agunah is a serious issue and is a *very* difficult and uncomfortable part of Judaism to reconcile with “modern” life and to explain to non-Jews (should the issue come up).

  14. Ruth says:

    I agree with Batya to some extent. The fact that the husband was gay has nothing to do with the main point of the story: that the rabbinic courts in Israel allow all men– gay and straight — to keep their wives stuck in failed marriages. I don’t agree that the videos are annoying. And take a look at the Hebrew savta stories. They have English subtitles and are all about straight dads who torture their wives:

  15. Maayan says:

    I live in Israel and a good friend of mine is going through a horrible divorce. I am happy that someone has taken the time and effort to let the public know what is happening. Believe me, it’s bad in there.

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