web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Needed: Protective Rabbinic Leadership


aguna

International Agunah Day falls annually on Ta’anis Esther, this year on March 13. Events since last year’s Agunah Day have demonstrated that no part of the Orthodox Jewish community is impervious to the tragic abuse of women in the form of get-refusal.

During the past year the agunah problem has sprouted in kehillahs of every sort – small and large, Modern Orthodox, yeshivish and chassidish – and in the most public of manners, resulting in a tremendous Chillul Hashem.

Even the most insulated communities that have no access to the Internet or general news media must know that the frum world has been displayed in the most negative light for literally the entire world to see. The most terrible venom and sinat chinam spills forth even on “kosher” websites – all caused by one individual at a time refusing to grant his wife a Jewish divorce, a get.

The agunah problem is no longer the problem of the individual agunah and her family or even of the “open” Orthodox community, of which one could possibly claim, “Well, they don’t listen to rabbanim.”

The agunah problem has exposed the fact that get-refusers choose not to obey rabbanim who ordinarily would command their respect – and that the problem has actually caused dissension between great rabbanim themselves.

The situation has reached the point where every rav must lead his followers in protecting their daughters, his own community, and indeed the status of rabbanim themselves from this blight. Experience has shown that once a rav has felt the existential anguish of an agunah from his own kehillah together with his own helplessness in resolving the situation, he is able to take steps to make sure this won’t happen again to the daughters of his followers or to him.

It is time for every rav who leads a community, large or small, to feel the anguish and understand that the Chillul Hashem has reached into his own world.

It is time for every rav to set in place a protective mechanism: to mandate the signing of a prenuptial agreement for the prevention of get-refusal for every couple getting married in his kehillah.

An example can be taken from the relatively small Jewish community of Uruguay. Uruguay’s chief rabbi, less than a year in office, recently developed and mandated a prenuptial agreement for the prevention of get-refusal.

Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz, recognizing the need for a community-based solution, explained: “By instituting the wholesale signing of the prenuptial agreement, and without discriminating between couples who may or may not choose such insurance, we have presented a solution to this longstanding problem for all families that will marry under the auspices of the kehillah.

Chief Rabbi Spitz has shouldered the responsibility that comes with the position of a rav. He has personally felt the anguish of the agunah whose life has been ruined and took a step designed to prevent other women from feeling the same and any man in his community from becoming the cause of a Chillul Hashem.

If the problem can be solved in the far-flung Jewish community of Uruguay, it definitely can be solved in the large centers of vibrant Judaism, where there is more Torah-study taking place than at any other time in Jewish history.

Every woman and every man in every frum community deserves the protection the community’s rav can provide. Rabbanim: In order to prevent get-refusal, institute a requirement for the signing of a prenuptial agreement on the part of every couple getting married within your community. It is a rav‘s responsibility.

 

About the Author: Rachel Levmore (Ph.D. in Jewish Law from Bar Ilan University) is a rabbinical court advocate, coordinator of the Agunah and Get-Refusal Prevention Project of the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel and the Jewish Agency, and author of "Min'ee Einayich Medim'a" on prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Needed: Protective Rabbinic Leadership”

  1. Ch Hoffman says:

    V'konah at atzma b'get o b'mitat ha'baal.

    Agunah or enforcer — pick your position

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Dr. Rachel Levmore
aguna

International Agunah Day falls annually on Ta’anis Esther, this year on March 13.

Levmore-021513

You are the mother of a me’agen – a young man who has turned his wife into an agunah.

Sometimes a person in your situation can get so caught up in defending her position or her son’s position that she fails to realize there is no longer a battle.

It’s human nature to hide our heads in the sand. That may be because we are mostly optimistic. We believe everything will be all right even when we know we are taking a chance.

Those who are subjected to emotional suffering tend to be kept out of society’s line of sight. All the more so when society is either the cause of the suffering or can alleviate it and does not do so.

In producing “Women Unchained,” a daring yet dignified film about women who can’t get a get – a Jewish divorce – filmmakers Beverly Siegel and Leta Lenik have done Jewish society a favor.

Presumably, almost all the readers of this publication are Orthodox Jews – those that pride themselves on serving G-d through fulfilling His commandments. Keeping in mind the rabbinical edict, “A mitzvah that comes your way—don’t miss it!” (Rashi, Bavli Megillah 6b), it would behoove the readers to know that an oft-missed mitzvah has come their way.

It began in the United States with the Yiddish newspaper the Forward in the first half of the 20th century. The galeriye fun farshvundene mener (gallery of vanished husbands) appeared regularly, listing names and photos of men who had disappeared leaving their wives as agunot, chained to a Jewish marriage. The Jewish Press followed in the latter decades of the century, launching its own weekly seiruv list.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/needed-protective-rabbinic-leadership/2014/03/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: