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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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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.

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


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8 Responses to “The Torah Never Intended a Get to Be a Weapon”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You sound like a very angry woman. Maybe if you had allowed your husband to establish a relationship with his children and not gone about poisoning him to his children he wouldn't have turned into an angry man.

  2. Hinda Krumbein says:

    Powerful and compelling. We as a community have to take action and do more. I wish the Rabbanim would make an asifa with compelling directives that we must all take to help these women.

  3. Moishe Pupik says:

    Why is the Jewish Press putting up a painting of a naked woman?

  4. Renee Einhorn says:

    Pure evil.

  5. Renee Einhorn says:

    Hinda – you're absolutely right. This is pidyan shivuyim.

  6. When a man's pride is put before the safety and security of the mother and child, something is terribly wrong. Every dime she wastes either through extortion or court costs is one dime that won't go towards the child's future. When the child sees their mother suffer and feels her instability, it stays with them. It's bad enough to treat a woman like this, keeping her from moving on with her life, but to treat the mother like this knowing how it affects your kid? Men are apt to be disgusting, selfish creatures, and women should be warned that we can be very petty when we don't get what we always want…you have my permission to kick your ex in his cajones the next time you see him. He's done far worse to you.

  7. The typical response of an abusive man is- she made me do it. Men who are angry must take responsibility for their anger. Men who do not have a relationship with their children must ask themselves – what have I done to lose their trust. And why is this relevant to any Jewish man's mitzva to give the get when they are no longer living together as man and wife.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Republic1948 – I have read and reread the above op-ed and nowhere do I see the anger you seem to find. Yes, there is hurt – VERY JUSTIFIABLE – caused by a poor excuse of a husband, who cares little about the welfare of his own son, and obviously never had any feelings for his wife, other than to use and abuse her.

    Your obvious sympathy for an abuser, a greedy extortionist, and a useless father betrays your own lack of Torah values (regardless of how pious you may appear outwardly!), at best. At worst, you betray yourself as a manipulator, an abuser, and someone who himself refuses to give a get. SHAME ON YOU!

    20 years ago, while living in Europe my first marriage ended with a get. Was it painful? Absolutely! Did I do the right thing by her and the kids? YOU BETCHA!!!!

    Now Republic1948, why don't you man up and do the right thing yourself?!?!?!?

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