If the grown child delves further into the issue of Jewish divorce, she’ll find more. She’ll find that many Orthodox Jewish men and women run to civil court in divorce (and many other) cases, when they should be going to beis din. She’ll also find that the beis din system is often broken, with litigants searching for a friendly judge; with rabbis signing decrees without hearing from both sides; with rabbis who are friendly with one of the litigants; with rabbis who are afraid to oppose their colleagues; and with money often doing the talking.
If this grown child explores still further, she’ll find that many Orthodox rabbis hold that, with very rare exceptions, a women does not have the right, halachically, to initiate a divorce action. She’ll learn that many rabbis believe a women cannot just end a marriage because she is “unhappy.” If she enters the word agunah in a search engine and really studies the results, she’ll see that the term is vastly overused, and that a real agunah is a woman whose husband is missing. She’ll find that certain activists use the term the way pro-abortion advocates use the term “free to choose” – because it sounds better. She will also find that Agunah Day was established in 1990 by the International Coalition for Agunah Rights, not by a panel of gedolim.
When the child is old enough to discover the truth, she’ll read and hear about too many cases of husbands who, in good faith, gave their spouses gitten and then had their ex-wives move to another city or to Israel, with the result that fathers and grandparents were forever shut out of their children’s lives.
We should all use our good offices as grandparents, friends and clergymen to bring both sides to the negotiating table so that such tragedies don’t continue. That is how to help the community and especially its children.
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