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Taking issue with men who refuse to give their wives a Get!!!

For some time I wanted to write about this issue, as many of you know I try to stay away from serious issues, but after looking throughout the blog world and not finding anything on this issue I decided to take it up, because I think something needs to be said.
I was also asked some time ago by my friend Josh Ross who runs a very valuable not for profit named ORA -Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. He has asked me in the past if I would do something to get the word out about what his group does and for some reason I never got around to it.

It may not be fair, but according to halacha, a man is the one who officially ends a marriage and unfortunately this creates problems when the man does not want to give a Get for a variety of reasons. I have been told that most of the time it is for power and money and almost always to make the woman suffer. They do suffer, it is like prison, the woman cannot remarry and is stuck in her state of Aguna as long as the man pleases.

ORA- tries to pressure these men, or assholes as I would like to call them, into giving Gets. They organize protests outside the assholes place of work or residence and they try and encourage shulls to not count them in the minyan or call them up to the torah. Beat downs are not common, though (please correct me if this is wrong) I have heard that beating up the man refusing to give a Get is kosher. The final resort is usually money, which most of the time is what the person wanted.

There is a facebook club trying to pit people against Rabbi Shlomo Blumenkrantz for supporting men who have not given a Get, by trying to get them a heter me’a rabbanim- which allows the husbands to marry again without actually divorcing their wives. Facebook is facebook so I did a little research and there are a few articles detailing these issues with Rabbi Blumenkrantz- the Jewish Press, Forward and Yeshiva University newspapers all have articles which pretty much say the same thing.

I was shocked to find that few bloggers have even written up this protest Lilith Blog has an article, parsha blog has a small protest invite, Jacob has an old post pertaining to the woman who’s husband is being supported by the Rabbi who the protest was against.

I wonder why some of the larger Jewish bloggers would not write about this, they are all too ready to pounce on child molesters and other horrible situations that permeate the frum community yet it seems that this issue is dead within the blogging community. Blogs have an amazing power and far reach, my blog alone has thousands of readers a week and just imagine what would happen if people started speaking up more and more about this issue.

I find it a little odd that the only people protesting at these rallies are folks connected to Yeshiva University, and although they have have a lot of clout within the orthodox community, there is still this anti- YU sentiment amongst many of the more yeshivish and charedi people. I am sure this would change if other right wing folks would get in the mix.

My friend Josh, mentioned above has told me numerous times that the most stubborn people in the Get process are those in Monsey and Lakewood and tend to be scared of being rabble rousers in the heimishe communities. What happened to standing up for whats right, unless holding a women in chains is wrong?

Am I wrong?

In honor of all the women being held in prison- I tag all of the bloggers reading this post to write up something similar. 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • It is a terrible sitch- I pledge to hound one of the people who are doing this to their wife. (I’m a good hounder but I do see the whole young defenseless girl thing getting in the way…) Know anyone?

  • Yochanan

    Lo Aleinu

  • sb

    you’re not wrong to speak up. thank you.

  • You said it all, and very eloquently, so I just linked to you.

  • hesh

    Thank you, its hard for me to be serious but I felt like taking a stand.

  • Ari

    “(please correct me if this is wrong) I have heard that beating up the man refusing to give a Get is kosher. ”

    A Get that was given under duress is considered completely kosher. The reasoning is that man wants to do the right thing, his Yetzer Hara gets in the way. Especially when his head is being held underwater.

    Assholes “get” what they deserve.

  • Okay

    Some orthodox rabbis will refuse to officiate at a wedding unless the couple has signed the special prenuptial agreement that stipulates that a divorce will be granted at a specific time after a civil divorce has been granted, even if the husband has not given the divorce personally. Yes, let’s help today’s agunot using whatever means necessary. And yes, let’s prevent the problem from arising in the future by pressuring the rabbanim to adopt the prenup as mandatory.

  • I feel the need to comment anonymously, as the following thought may not be so popular.

    There’s no doubt that in many situations, and perhaps even in the overwhelming majority, the man is “chaining” the woman down, often seeking exactly what he wants out of the divoce proceedings before moving forward.

    However, such a stigma against those husbands who delay in giving a Get even for 1 second has developed to the point where, in some instances, the women are using this stigma as a bargaining chip to swindle the husband out of a fair deal. A divorced husband who delayed in giving his wife a Get is likely to have a heckuva time getting another Shidduch, so the woman is free to demand, and likely receive, whatever she wants out of the divorce.

    Again, I don’t know how prevalent this is, but I have heard of a few cases where this happened. Thus, any names we are calling or places we are setting aside for the husbands who refuse to give their wife a Get should also be assigned to women who, using the threat of telling others of his forbearance, use it to their advantage.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you Anon, however in the cases mentioned above and by this organization all of the men or assholes as Hes so eloquently called them were given a seruv by a Bais Din. Which I find funny, because these are the same Bais Dins which many of the Charedi Rabbis who refuse to get involved sit on.

    The men who get these protests against them are usually the type who have been unwilling to give a get to their wives for years, this is not one second.

    Furthermore with regards to Rabbi Blumenkrantz, he has been known to seek out heterim for men to remarry while they are married to their wives they refuse to give gets to- now this could never be construed as right.

  • Daniel Bukingolts

    It is completely NOT KOSHER for a get to be given under duress!!!!!

    Rav Mordechai Willig shlit’a, a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University addressed a crowd about agunah issues and this was brought up.

    When a husband comes to give a get, he is asked by the beit din under what condition he is giving the get. If he says it is because of physical or monetary duress, then the get is invalid!

    What people refer to when they saying beating up the guy is permissible is the Rambam but it is rarely applied nowadays.

    Your not allowed to make him lose money he already has but you are allowed to make him lose out on money to be earned (i.e. causing him to lose his job)

    I am tremendously interested in making a group of people dedicated to harassing the individuals who have repeatedly refused to give a get. Under rabbinic guidance, we can have a tremendously powerful affect by making these individuals lives miserable.

  • how common is this? i personally don’t know anyone in this situation. then again, i don’t stay on top of the hock at all, so i need you all to clue me in.
    also, i’m a little wary of a whole mob of frum idiots ganging up on one dude just because there’s some stupid rumor that he’s not giving his wife a get. but whatever, i guess if it’s a mitzva to make this dude’s life miserable, you might as well get your kicks.
    also, hesh, dude, first shalom auslander then this? you’re getting serious on us. not that i have any real problem with that. in fact, now that you have the attention of a lot of frum people it’s a great place to talk about issues and stuff.

  • I think i’ll follow suit and also link to your post. Truth is, I don’t know anyone in that situation. I knew of one lady who almost was, but somehow she got the secular police involved. I don’t know the details.

    Anyway, kol hakavod for post about this topic.

  • anonymous

    What people refer to when they saying beating up the guy is permissible is the Rambam but it is rarely applied nowadays.

    Amazing how we only hold with the Rambam when it is convenient for someone but not as a general rule. A woman in our neighborhood was 11 years an aguna because no one could or would do anything for her. We tried all the legal and halachic ways to help her,her and her young chldren. Her non jewish boss said enough, had a connection to the mafia, they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and suddenly she had a get. They apparently had no problem with “following the Rambam.”

  • Daniel Bukingolts

    I didnt say that beatings dont occur. In those cases, the man is probably so terrified that he will not say that he si giving the get under duress. I did not get a clear cut answer when I asked whether it is permissible to beat the guy up so badly that he will be afraid to say hes giving it under duress. It is advisable to find any other means in which to acquire the get from him without resorting to violence because a get given under duress can lead to future children from the wife being safek (doubt) mamzeirim!

  • Elise

    Thank you for speaking up about an extremely important issue. I pray for all women that are in Agunah.

  • Anony

    I am a semi regular commenter who is being anonymous b/c some of the details here can compromise my identity.

    First off the situation with the agunot is a horrible horrible situation. I feel it is more prevalent than we even know.

    On the other hand I have to agree with 8Anon that the situation is not always as it seems esp this
    “However, such a stigma against those husbands who delay in giving a Get even for 1 second has developed to the point where, in some instances, the women are using this stigma as a bargaining chip to swindle the husband out of a fair deal. A divorced husband who delayed in giving his wife a Get is likely to have a heckuva time getting another Shidduch, so the woman is free to demand, and likely receive, whatever she wants out of the divorce.”
    It happens often and the man is often abused (not nec physically) by e/o who thinks he is evil when all he is doing is trying to het a fair settlement and a fair visitation situation with the kids if any.

    Someone very close to me went through a terrible divorce. In his case the woman refused to “TAKE” the get (the woman must physically take the get for it to be valid). She didnt want him to get remarried and she wanted to torture him. He was considering getting a heter meah rabbanim but the secular couts intervened basically and she finally accepted it (mind you the bais din issued many mazmanos and put a siruf out on her).

    The story is not always black and white – ppl assumed he wouldnt give her the get and thought he was a horrible person but it was not the case

    I also know many agunos and the situation is so sad but remember every case is different and its not always as it appears on the surface.

  • It is disgusting how one holdout rabbi Blumenkrantz is ruining good reations for the rest of the community.

    The name of each of the 100 rabbis who issues the heter me’ah rabbanim should be publicized. Furthermore, these rabbis sohuld get the same ostracism as the asshole husbands that they are remarrying.

    Finally, the women who marry these “already married” men should be ostracized by other women for marrying men who refuse ot give the get to their first wives.

    All Jews who associate with these asshole husbands should be ostracized, not just the asshole husbands!

  • Hesh

    Wait a second Auslander was not meant to be serious, it was a real funny albeit negative book. Dont worry I can never go to serious because I don’t think thats what people want to see, every once in a while I may, and I have in the past- but I don’t hound the blog world enough to to do anything that impacting-

    But if people want to see serious stuff they should contact me, I may just write comic posts about something serious.

  • “When a husband comes to give a get, he is asked by the beit din under what condition he is giving the get. If he says it is because of physical or monetary duress, then the get is invalid!”

    Being someone with a few years of Shimmush Bes Din I just want to clarify this because I believe there might be a bit of confusion.

    The Halacha of the Rambam is pretty clear that a Get can be furnished by force if the person says “Rotzeh Ani” that he desires of his own will to give the Get. Even though there might have duress to get him to say it, the very fact that he says it’s of his own will is his Halachik acquiescence. The Get is 100% in force.

    What you are referring to above is the annulment of any vows made in connection with giving the Get, what is called a Mesirat Moda’ah, which may add conditions or do harm to the nature of the Get. This is the standard procedure in Bes Din because often a off-hand statement that someone makes can have the force of a vow and impair the Get, and the man or woman may not have recognized it when it was said.

  • Actually it was sufficient interest that they tried passing a law in Maryland making it so that a woman could get a GET if she was able to get a Civil Divorce. That is that if a woman filed for divorce, her husband would have to grant the Get under state law. Unfortunately it failed due to seperation of Church/State issues, but the idea was sound. We actually have a few agunot in Baltimore, and I agree that all non-violent means should be taken, including picketing/protesting outside of these people’s places of employment, et al.

  • I am going to link to you and write my own post (if I ever find the time). Once again you have brought up an issue that hits home with me, as I am very close with someone who was an Agunah for over 2 years. I agree that there are women out there who manipulate their husbands in the same way, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfectly fine to withhold a get. This is just one of many reasons that I feel like women get slighted in Judaism. I’m not really a feminist but I hate how women have no representatives among rabbanim or batei din who can advocate for them. There are considerate rabbis out there, but they still will never understand what it is like to be an orthodox woman!

  • Pinchas

    I just dont understand why people are so afraid to use physical force against these bastards, I know if chas v’shalom one of my relatives was in an aguna situation, my brothers and I would not hesitate to do whatever necessary to bring the bastard husband to his senses. But there seems to be this tendency in many circles to think violence is always evil. I dont understand it, there is no Torah source for that, look at what shimon and Levi did to the town of Shechem! There is plenty of precedent for using violence when necessary, and not only when a life is in danger or when women are not being tzniut enough in Meah Sh’earim. I think frum people in general just need to grow some balls and get their heads out of the sand.

  • Great

    So you think that we should beat up women who do not adhere to above the letter of the law tznius standards, that is ridiculous. How can you be the judge of who they are, you can kindly ask them to leave, but theres no law against it.

    There is no precedent for violence against women for not dressing tznius, where di you get that from?

  • Pinchas – what makes you think the same guy who is sleazy enough to withhold a Get from his wife wouldn”t call the cops on you. If you considered the 5+ years you could face in jail/prison, I bet your tone would change.

  • Yochanan

    “However, such a stigma against those husbands who delay in giving a Get even for 1 second has developed to the point where, in some instances, the women are using this stigma as a bargaining chip to swindle the husband out of a fair deal. A divorced husband who delayed in giving his wife a Get is likely to have a heckuva time getting another Shidduch, so the woman is free to demand, and likely receive, whatever she wants out of the divorce.”

    That reminds me of when there’s an Islamic terror attack and people just shrug and say: “There’s extremists in every group.”

    Yeah, there are extremists in every group. And yeah there are men who are abused by there wives and have black eyes and whatnot. But, far more wives are beaten by there husbands. This should be obvious, given that men are generally more prone to violence than women.

    And while it would suck ass not to find a shiduch cuz you didn’t provide a get in time, imagine being the woman. Any children resulting from a relation she has would be mamzerim, and thus ostracized from the Jewish community.*

    *Does this count if the man she has a relation with is NOT Jewish?

  • Stewie

    Sorry to get away from the gist of this very well written post, but you have some of your information WAY backwards!

    A “Heter Me’ah Rabbanim” does NOT allow anyone to remarry without a get. That would be against any and ALL halachos in the torah! What it does is as follows. As you may or may not know, for a get to be valid the woman has to accept the get into her posession. In a case where the husband WANTS to give a get, and does so, but the woman refuses to accept it, THEN the husband can gather 100 rabbis to – so to speak – accept it on her behalf, to allow the HUSBAND to remarry.

    Again, like I said, I don’t want to take away from the important message of your post, I think you need to understand that in these circumstances of which you speak, a heter me’ah rabbanim has NO bearing at all.

  • Heter Me’ah Rabbanim, I believe, does not work when a woman refuses to receive the Get, because she has made it starkly obvious that she doesn’t want it. Rather, the Heter Me’ah Rabbanim is in an extreme case of insanity or whatnot where the woman is incapable of Halachickly accepting the Get, where the 100 rabbis would allow the husband to marry another wife, without technically divorcing the first one. This is an exception to the Cherem D’Rabbenu Gershom of marrying only one woman. The first wife is still indefinitely married to the husband, although the standard procedure is usually to write a Get that remains in the Bes Din, per chance the woman will regain her sanity or consciousness and be able to accept the Get on her own.

    There is another possibility for a man whose wife (who is sane and healthy) refuses to accept a Get, something not practiced by all Batei Din*, called a Get Al Yidei Zikui, or a Get by way of “merit.” The basic logic is that a person can acquire something for another person without their knowledge or being present, if that person stands to merit or gain from the acquisition. Because receiving a Get is seen as an advantage for the woman, a Shliach is able to acquire the Get in Bes Din on her behalf. The man becomes free to marry and the woman, while technically divorced and subsequent children would not be Mamzerim, is not aloud to remarry until she presents herself an receives the Get.

    I should point out that even those Batei Din that do practice Get Al Yidei Zikui, it isn’t done unscrupulously for any man trying to slip out of a sticky marriage. It cannot always be take for granted that a Get is a merit for a woman. The particular circumstances of her refusal and if she is already in another relationship that might produce a Mamzer, play a vital role in determining whether it’s a merit for her.

  • *Sorry, the last paragraph there was what I was *ing.

  • Patrice

    a few points if i may
    1- The most famous guy, i know with a heter me’ah rabbanim is R’ Malkiel Kotler from Lakewood- his first wife didn’t want a get and was barren for 10 years and refused to come with him to lakewood, the signees on it were head by harav shach and r’ gifter…. not sure what you’re talking about nemo
    2- a guy i know went to a bais din here to get a get and was told to open a “file” it’ll cost him 10 grand (that should put anyone off from divorcing…..)
    3-another guy was amicably seperated from his wife and was repetedly harrassed by “well-meaning” rabbanim in his community not to let his wife be an “aguna” (obviously after both agreed that there were “irroconcilable differences) but neither requested the rabbanim and community involvement
    4- There are two sides in every divorce story (and then the third one, the truth which is somewhere in the middle) so as much as it’s the PC/democratic thing to do, to help the “defenseless and downtrodden” it would help to get to the bottom of any story before one takes drastic action

  • Patrice- I will admit that I don’t know enough about Heter Meah Rabbanim besides it’s standard use. My Shimmush ever involved a Heter. I won’t deny the story that you said in number 1 because I’m not personally familiar with the story and that may very well be the case.

    However, I would just advise you to apply the same standards that you mention in number 4 (three sides to the story) when judging what happened in the story in number 1.

  • Pinchas

    Great – “So you think that we should beat up women who do not adhere to above the letter of the law tznius standards, that is ridiculous. How can you be the judge of who they are, you can kindly ask them to leave, but theres no law against it.

    There is no precedent for violence against women for not dressing tznius, where di you get that from?”

    I was obviously not saying its ok to beat up women, I was trying to make a point – that the same idiots who think its ok to beat up women who they feel are not being tzniut enough in Meah Sh’earim, (which its obviously forbidden to do,) still wont lift a finger when it comes to helping an aguna, where violence is actually permitted. I was pointing out how warped some people are, I was not condoning violence against women.

    AlanLaz – “what makes you think the same guy who is sleazy enough to withhold a Get from his wife wouldn”t call the cops on you. If you considered the 5+ years you could face in jail/prison, I bet your tone would change.”

    Of course I would be smart about it, I would wear some sort of disguise, and I would make it clear to him that if he went to the authorities, there would be consequences. Trust me, there are circles where this is done, where the men in the community do actually have balls, and nobody ever hears about it because its all done quietly. I personally have witnessed some of these cases, and its not pretty, but let me assure you that it works….

  • Pingback: The Get issues, courtesy of being tagged by Frumsatire « Married and Navigating Jewish Brooklyn()

  • My family was talking about this recently (a good friend of my wife recently got her get, the divorce judge told the husband that if he didn’t give it to her, she would get everything). Anyway, my mother told of what one community recently did when a man there refused to give his wife a get. All the women in the community decided that until this one woman had her get, none of them would lie with their husbands. By the second month, all the men in the community had this guy convinced to give the get. I don’t know the specifics (where, when, etc.) so don’t know how much credibility there is in the story, but thought it was interesting none the less.

  • Anon

    #33 may be true, but the precedent is the ancient Greek comedy “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysistrata ), in which all the wives in Athens agree to withhold sex from their husbands in order to end the Peloponnesian War.

  • I think only a far and wide cross-movement social thrust from the people to get rabbis to sign agreements to not perform weddings unless the ketuba was worded to make aguna impossible is needed.

    The man would have to agree in advance that it was unacceptable and live with that. Any rabbi who performs such aguna-possible marriages consciously and willfully should be made to answer why they think that risk is perfectly acceptable.

  • Jack

    Would this far and wide agreement be somewhat like the one signed by numerous Rabbis who agreed to stop supporting folks who threw outrageously expensive weddings, yet still attended those weddings thrown by major donors as well as having very expensive functions of their own?

  • kmjizcoe opch dxen vhrakdeyt ahoi scixgtub hxpc

  • Rivka

    Thanks for posting this, this is a serious problem in the Jewish communities. Unfortunately there is a lot of biased Beis Dins.
    There is a great documentary called Mekudeshet, that follows the lives of a few different agunot in Israel struggling to get a Get in Israel. We had a viewing in my community in Jerusalem to try to bring awareness to this issue. I recommend everyone watch it and spread the word.

  • SZ

    Hey – Just noticed this post went up within a week of when Josh Ross and ORA helped me finally get my Get. Josh, ORA, and the rabbeim at YU are doing great work – keep plugging them!

  • Mazel tov to you!

    Josh Ross is a classmate of mine- and his mom makes some mad good food- so he can get plugged anytime (insert sexual joke if you’d like)

  • It is disgusting that women virtually have no rights in Judaism. Kind of ironic when the same rabbonim (poseurs as I call them) say that women are ‘supposedly’ holier than men. They give birth to our children but when it comes time to release them and make them happy the a-holes of our tribe cannot handle separation. I had just stumbled upon this site and would like to ask permission to reprint on my online magazine which is a self help for women.

    I am sick and tired of these, I won’t even call them men but punks trying to subjugate women. Eff this I have rad your asking for bigger sites to do something and now you have a new fellow advocate.

  • A week ago (last Sunday) I met with my learning partner and brought this up. I said, “If the kesubah is a contract guaranteeing all these things (food, shelter, conjugal rights) why then does the kesubah not become null and void when the husband is no longer providing them, as in the case of agunah?” She said very good.

    When her kollel husband came home, she asked him. His answer amounted to stating the kesubah is just a pretty piece of paper and really doesn’t mean anything.

  • Allan

    I am a man going through with a divorce and I am not willing to give a get, and yes it is because of money.

    You think i should be beaten up? Because i was married to an israeli, who took my child and herself back to israel, because she can get more money out of me there, over 1/3 of my wages are going to her, while she is living rent free in her parents apartment?

    I am more than willing to pay my fair share, but i cannot afford to eat properly, i have sold my car, my hi-fi, some of my clothes, just so i can afford to live.

    Is that fair to you? Is that right in your eyes that I should give a get and live like this, while my wife has everything provided for her for free?

    • Michael

      You cannot gain anything by refusing to give a get. It is tantamount to slavery. The crime in Hashems eyes is enormous – sort out the other stuff outside of the marriage, but be a Jew and give a get.

  • anon2

    Unfortunatly it is often women who use this to pressure the man. If a woman cannot get what she wants then she calls herself an agunah to get sympathy. The woman gets child support and in some cases alimony. And in many cases she tries to prevent the husband from seeing the children. The man is pressured by the community because the woman is usually seen as the victim while the man is suually seen as the agressor. A woman is an agunah only if the beit din asks him to sign a get and he doesn’t. And no, threatening a man is not moral. I advice people to investigate persoianl situations and realize there are 2 sides to a story rather than jump to the conclusion that the man is as horrible person.

  • i agree, why jesus lets this go on is concerning

    • Mahla

      What, you mean poorly capitalized spam badly disguised as legitimate commentary on blogs? I, too find it concerning Jesus is allowing such a thing … LOL. ;^D

      • sergeant J

        I blame his grammar teachers.

  • anon

    Picky, picky, these women are “mesurvot get” not agunot, They have been refused a get, not had their husband disappear on them.

    Another aspect of this problem is that women (usually their families) are blackmailed into paying huge sums for the get. So they never make it into the statistics, but it is still part of the same problem.

    Also refusal to give a get is often an extension of a pre-existing abusive situation. In the vast majority of problem cases it is the man who is causing the problem, and the woman is stuck unable to have relations (one of the worst sins is halachic adultery, ie a man who sleeps with a married woman), or children (mamzerut) but even in the case where the woman refuses to receive a get, the man has other options. Sex outside of his marriage is not halachic adultery, nor are his subsequent children little buggers.

  • These men are being empowered by Ohel and the DA’s office, Henna White. Join my blo http://calany.wordpress.com in solidarity.