Divorce Vigilantes

Divorce Vigilantes

At the time of my Get – religious divorce – all I could think of was how hard and emotionally draining it was. I blogged about it here. What I didn’t realize till a little while later was how fortunate (so not a word anyone would use in connection with a divorce) that I got my Get with no problem. That my ex played no games, and did what was right in these circumstances.

Many men use the power of the Get to play games with their ex-wives, to use it as a bargaining tool. A woman has NO SAY in this matter. The husband has to give it of his own free will, or else she is up the creek without a paddle.

Religious Judaism is changing so much – why is this something that is not being changed? Why does it take two renegade rabbis to act with violence and against the law (allegedly) to help these chained women? Why is there no halachic redress for these women who are chained to recalcitrant husbands?

What do you think can be done?

News Story: Rabbis Accused in Plot

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  1. Yaakov says:

    Gay Jews are committing suicide because they can’t reconcile their sexual desires / identities with halacha.

    Why is there no halachic redress for them?

    The same reason that there isn’t a “workaround” for the laws of divorce; halacha isn’t made up by people.

    Yes, we have some latitiude. Yes, we’ve come up with some brilliant solutions like prozbul, selling chametz, and counting a minute before sunset as a full day.

    However, at some point, a G-d given Written and Oral Law will have absolutes, that no honest rabbi can circumvent.

    Homosexual relationships and men controlling divorce are two of those absolutes.

    We can’t declare American fast food chains to be kosher.

    We can’t declare that niddah doesn’t apply nowadays (perhaps it’s only d’rabbanan, but still very much in effect)

    We can’t change shabbos to Sunday (unless you live in Japan, but I digress).

    This is where Emuna comes in.

    It’s easy to say that this mitzvah makes sense, that one makes me feel good, and another one has clinical trials supporting it.

    When keeping halacha is difficult, that is when we have a clear gauge of where our Emuna is.

    • Susan says:

      Yaakov, yes, there is faith but it doesn’t have to mean inflexibility or lack of compassion. Theology is abstract until people touch it. Human beings are involved. Sociology has historically affected Jewish law and culture. I’m not saying change is easy or even warranted. I am saying we must not be guided by fear. Throwing up our hands and saying “well, that’s it” isn’t acceptable.

      • Yaakov says:


        That is indeed the position of the Conservative movement.

        However, to the best of my knowledge, Mrs. Sabo Milner follows Orthodox Judaism, and is writing from that perspective.

        No ma’am, (Jewish) theology is not abstract. G-d gave the people of Israel a Written Torah and an Oral Torah on Mount Sinai.

        “Throwing up our hands and saying ‘well, that’s it’ isn’t acceptable.”

        Isn’t acceptable, according to what standard, Susan? What is this infallible code of acceptability by which you wish to judge the the Torah?

        • Abe Kohen says:

          Are you saying that Rabbeinu Gershom was Conservative? Did he not attempt to solve a problem by restricting men to one wife each? Did he go against the word of God? The real answer is that in the last 60 or so years there have been only two gedolim who had the gravitas and the knowledge to make changes. Unfortunately, Reb Moshe Feinstein and Hacham Ovadia Yosef have rejoined their creator. It is not beyond the realm of Orthodox Judaism to fix the recalcitrant husband problem. Indeed it was common practice to beat the husband until he said rotze ani. The next posek hador needs to deal with the situation so we don’t get rabbis who for large amounts of rebbe gelt are willing to violate the laws of the land.

  2. Susan says:

    Yaakov, I don’t think it matters which denomination or philosophy is followed. My bottom line point is that we must take human experience into account. I think the way you and I approaching this issue clearly highlights the impasse that unfortunately exists and will probably never be bridged.

  3. sheldan says:

    With all due respect to Yaakov, there have been ways to “adapt the times to the Torah” which is not to be confused with “adapting the Torah to the times” (which non-Orthodox movements have attempted to do in some ways–and I apologize if this last sentence tempts people to flame me here).

    The Oral Law has given the means to interpret modern situations in the light of the tradition of the halacha from Sinai, and some of the examples Yaakov cited are some of these. In fact, there are rulings by authorities such as Rav Moshe Feinstein which might be surprising to one who holds a strict interpretation but actually makes sense in order to allow one to live halachically.

    If there is a way for the strict interpretation of the law to be lessened, then it should be. If it is impossible to do this, that is when we must accept that there may be nothing we can do, as much as that offends our sensibilities.

    I don’t think that the issue of divorce is one in which there is nothing to be done. Both extremes (the man being recalcitrant about giving the get and the rabbis who resort to extreme measures to make the man give one) are to be avoided; it shouldn’t have to come to this that a man can get away with not giving his wife a get (if he wants to get out of the marriage, why is he trying to hold on to her and keep her bound in some way?). Clearly these men aren’t behaving ethically and they aren’t behaving in the way of halacha if they can abuse their fellow humans (in this case, the estranged wife) in this way. There must be a way within halacha to make these recalcitrant husbands do the right thing and eliminate the potential confusion these holds can cause.

  4. Batya says:

    I don’t understand why the Ketuba isn’t considered a legal prenup. And also if a man initiates divorce, why isn’t the deposit of a get a requirement?

  5. Bracha says:

    Check out the Center for Women’s Justice cwj.org.il

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