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Time To Revisit The Get Law?

Several weeks ago, Rabbi Mordechai Willig went public with an apology to a young man over the treatment meted out to him ten years ago by a Beth Din headed by Rabbi Willig. The young man had brought charges against Rabbi Baruch Lanner and was severely chastised by the tribunal following their consideration of the matter.

The recent criminal conviction of Rabbi Lanner was apparently sufficient new information to have caused Rabbi Willig’s review of his previous position resulting in his widely reported turnaround.

Ten years ago, a colleague of Rabbi Willig at Yeshiva University, Rabbi J. David Bleich, offered a particular view of how the so-called Second Get Law involving the equitable distribution of marital assets in a divorce proceeding would be interpreted by trial courts, and concluded that a Get Meuseh, or forced Get, was the inevitable consequence of the mere existence of the law. In other words, he invalidated any Get that would be issued by any Beth Din in New York State following the enactment of the second Get law in 1992. According to Rabbi Bleich’s view, the law was confiscatory and punitive and therefore created the unacceptable risk that all Gittin became involuntary.

Since that time, we believe that court decisions have not borne out Rabbi Bleich’s prediction as to how the law would be interpreted and enforced. We would therefore hope that, if Rabbi Bleich agrees, he would review his position, even as Rabbi Willig reviewed his and remove any cloud that may exist on New York Gittin.

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