Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
The following letter was sent in response to Pidyon Shevuyim: Redeeming The Agunah, a column by Cheryl Kupfer (12-21 On Our Own):
Thank you for your voice of concern in your recent article in The Jewish Press, entitled Pidyon Shevuyim. You are obviously a selfless woman to be publicly involved in the deplorable situation of agunot. I would like to add another viewpoint, one that is unlikely to be received kindly in the frum world, but necessary for me to share.
Throughout the years, I have read many leaflets and articles, heard radio programs and speeches about how to isolate the misfit husbands who insist on chaining women. Sometimes the blame is put on the husbands, sometimes on the rabbis, sometimes on the community, and even sometimes on the agunot themselves. I see it differently…. I see the blame squarely on the Torah itself.
It is the Torah that Jews have held dear throughout the millennia, the Torah that helps us through our troubles and shines light into our lives, the Torah from G-d at Sinai that chains women. It is these ancient halachot that do not allow a woman to divorce her husband; only a man can divorce his wife. This highlights the inferior status of women in halacha. You can try to put a band-aid on appendicitis, but it won’t work.
Some people say, “Well, in the old days, rabbonim used to beat a husband nearly to death to force a get.” This is irrelevant since it cannot be done today. Or, as you state article, “When a get wasn’t forthcoming, the husband became an outcast–a pariah…until he granted a divorce.” This is also not a solution, since today a man can be self-sufficient and ignore the pressure of a community.
The halachos of gittin do not jive with modern day thought, in societies where women expect to be treated as citizens with rights. The pain of the agunah is actually a product of the Torah, as I stated earlier. In ancient societies men dominated women. We cannot blend Torah into every aspect of modern day life, as much as we would like to. It cannot always be done. The only real answer would be if a woman could give a get to a man. If he doesn’t accept it, she should be able marry a second husband. Just like a man can do—marry with heter meah rabbonim.
Sincerely, Joyce Lieberman Queens, NY
Rabbi Ozer Glickman, Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS was kind enough to respond to the letter writer.
When Rabi Yehoshua ben Levi, whose teachings continue to illuminate and uplift, lamented the neglect of the Torah, the great Amora and Darshan supplied us with one of the most inspiring statements of the purpose-driven life of B’nai Torah. c day a Bas Kol, a heavenly voice, issues from Har Chorev, declaring, “Oy lahem la-b’riyos mei-elbonah shel Torah, The insult of the Torah is a calamity for all God’s creatures.”
The Torah-driven life is an opportunity, Rabi Yehoshua ben Levi explains, for the Jew to achieve true freedom, as the Torah teaches us: “v’ha-michtav michtav Elokim hu charus al ha-luchos (the script was the script of the Lord engraved on the tablets). Al tikrei charus elah cheirus (Read not ‘engraved’ but ‘freedom’).” If a Jew must come to the defense of the Torah when it is neglected in the Beis HaMidrash, how much more so when it stands accused of being not the source of freedom but its polar opposite.
The plight of the agunah, the chained woman, has been a primary concern for poskim and rabbonim for centuries. This includes not the only the case of the abused wife whose husband willfully withholds a get but the tragic cases of husbands who have disappeared in war, natural calamities, and most recently in a terror attack. While the successful procurement of a get from a recalcitrant husband has been for me sublimely satisfying, the anguish I feel for the women I have not been able to assist is deep and abiding.
The vast majority of the cases I have encountered involve recalcitrant husbands who seek to punish their wives by withholding the opportunity to remarry. On occasion, the wife may have received, almost always from a secular court, what appears to her husband to be an inequitable division of community property or unrealistic custody agreements. In these cases, the husband can exercise his power by refusing his wife a get.
About the Author: Rabbi Ozer Glickman is the Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS.
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Do you say Shema before you go to sleep? I’m sure you do.
But perhaps you, like many, feel too tired at night to say the entire tefillah of Kri’as Shema as it appears in the siddur. If you do say the entire tefillah, you will recognize a pasuk in this week’s Haftorah. And if you don’t say the whole Kri’as Shema al Hamitah, perhaps after this column, you’ll re-consider and find yourself connecting with the following very comforting pasuk.
The sand is rapidly running through the hourglass, as the centrifuges in the secret Iranian nuclear plants spin furiously. It is quite clear that the Iranians are on the brink of attaining nuclear capability, and we are well aware of the danger that would face Klal Yisroel in that event, chas v’sholom. All the sanctions, threats, and computer worm attacks do not seem to be stopping them, and it is terrifying. And when we see how vulnerable we are to terrorist attacks anywhere in the world, we become even more terrified.
Miriam spoke disparagingly about Moshe Rabbeinu. Because of this, she contracted tzaras, and for seven days she was sent outside the camp of Israel.
Detached Or Unrelated
‘He Made An Asheirah Tree Into a Ladder…’
In this week’s parshah we read about the individuals who were tamei and thus could not bring the korban Pesach. They approached Moshe Rabbeinu and asked him whether there was anything they could do to bring the korban. Ultimately, Hashem told Moshe that they should bring a korban a month after Pesach, on the 14th of Iyar.
Question: As Shavuot is fast approaching – a holiday on which we dwell on the story of Ruth and the origins of the royal house of David – I was wondering if you could help me resolve something. Some people say that Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi, the redactor of the six orders of the Mishnah and a scion of King David, purposely kept any mention of Chanukah and the Hasmonean kings out of the Mishnah because the Hasmoneans improperly crowned themselves and ignored the rule that all Jewish kings are supposed to come from the tribe of Yehudah. Is this true?
One of the thirty-nine prohibited melachot on Shabbat is carrying an object from a private domain, reshut hayachid, to a public domain, reshut harabim, or carrying an object a distance of four amot, six to eight feet, in a reshut harabim. The Torah does permit, however, carrying within the reshut hayachid itself. The definition of a reshut hayachid and a reshut harabim is crucial, therefore, to the laws of carrying on Shabbat.
Question: The Midrash notes that the song the Jews sang after they crossed the Red Sea (“Az Yashir”) was unique; its likes had never been heard before in the world. Our Sages even refer to it as a shirah chadashah, a “new song.” What made “Az Yashir” so unique and in what sense was it a “new song”?
The rav was not a wealthy man, but earned enough to live comfortably. He earned his money by serving as the rav of a religious community in Yerushalayim. He also received some royalties from sefarim he had written over the years. He was well known, and many people approached him for a berachah, advice and help. They were not turned away.
Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, is remarkable for the extreme realism with which it portrays human character. Its heroes are not superhuman. Its non-heroes are not archetypal villains. The best have failings; the worst often have saving virtues. I know of no other religious literature quite like it.
Last week I shared a letter from a newly observant Jewish woman. She and her husband reside in a small suburban community outside of Los Angeles. Last year they came to consult with me on a personal religious issue. While they were both ba’alei teshuvah, there was one fine difference between them. He had become a ba’al teshuvah earlier than she and was therefore somewhat more settled in an observant lifestyle.
I watch my children use blocks to build a large structure, observing the trepidation with which they add each block. As the structure becomes larger there is a greater risk of it collapsing, thus bringing an end to an hour of playful labor. I anticipate what will happen when one child adds a block to the top floor, compromising the integrity of the building and resulting in the collapse of the entire structure. The argument that ensues is predictable, as each child blames the other for “ruining” the fun. As an adult, I wonder about the need to attribute blame. Will assigning blame be instrumental in rebuilding the structure?
In this week’s parshah the Torah discusses the halachos of when one steals from another and when confronted in beis din, the thief swears falsely with his denial that he stole. This parshah was already taught in parshas Vayikra; however, there are two halachos that the Torah adds in this parshah to this topic.
In order to carry from one’s home into the street (even when the area is enclosed by a properly constructed eruv), the eruvin ceremony must be performed. This ceremony involves the placing of food in one designated home on behalf of all Sabbath observers in the enclosed area. In order for the eruvin ceremony to be valid, however, it must be performed on behalf of all owners of streets and homes in the enclosed area.
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