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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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The Torah Never Intended a Get to Be a Weapon


Woman in Chains

As Jews, we must send a clear message that twisting tenets originally meant to safeguard will not be tolerated. Recalcitrants should be shunned by the community, made to feel uncomfortable and accountable while their agunot remain stuck. If there is a siruv, ostracize; forbid them from participating in prayers and communal gatherings. Every lion of every community and Torah institution should be instructing students and congregants that the get is not a weapon, not a means to extort – period, the end.

Rabbis should insist that every religious marriage ceremony be preceded with a prenup. When a couple goes to bet din and dissolution of the marriage is clearly the only alternative, the get should be given and held in escrow, with details of custody, visitation and financial arrangements to be hammered out via arbitration, psak, or court order. No matter how deserving, justified and righteous the husband is in his claims, the get should not be withheld for monetary or custodial recompense.

There should be zero tolerance for buying a heter meah rabbonim for $10,000 and upward because a husband doesn’t like how the bet din process is trending. There should be a ceiling on costs for bet din proceedings. Sitting rabbis should be paid regular salaries by the community so that monies are never exchanged by interested parties or one side given an advantage via fiscal staying power or powers to procure through payment.

Coupling of the get with the civil divorce process, as acrimony builds, is counterproductive. It transmogrifies rock throwing into radiological dirty-bomb detonation in a malevolent minute. When the fireworks are over, most settlements are fairly boilerplate and predictable once everyone finally comes to the table.

Personally, I have done all I can to obtain my get through the legal and halachic system. In the interim, I live each day with gratitude and joy, having attained an internal liberation that no controlling misogynist can set asunder. I mothered lovingly, was resourceful, and creative. My child never lacked emotionally or physically, and merited growing up in an environment of normalcy that co-parenting in toxicity can never sustain. All those who know my son adore him. He is a beautiful human being, whole, bright, caring and sensitive, possessing wise insights into life and people.

I thank God every day for all His blessings, and live life around the abyss. I leave bitterness for the “victimized” husband who still believes he has the power to truncate my life.

Batya Israel

About the Author: Batya Israel is the pseudonym of a freelance journalist whose focus is on social justice issues.


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