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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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When in a quandary we must always turn to our holy books and search for answers.
In this week’s parshah Bilam decides to approach Balak with the intention of cursing the Bnei Yisrael. En route his donkey refused to continue on the path, continuing to veer to the side of the road. At one point the donkey smashed Bilam’s leg into the wall. Bilam hit his donkey three different times. The reason that his donkey would not proceed is because it saw that there was a malach standing in the road with his sword drawn.
The GPS had not been invented when Shelly set off on a Friday afternoon many years ago to join the Bnei Akiva camp in the English countryside. The organizers always managed to find a farmer who welcomed young campers under adult supervision; thus they set up their tents and during the week took the opportunity to learn the halachot of building an eruv. There would be no problems on Shabbat and they would be able to carry within the campsite.
The Rambam, therefore, adds a second component: by getting angry, Moshe misled the people as to the nature of God. The masses felt that Moshe’s anger was reflective of God’s anger.
One of the most complex Tanach personalities is the central figure of this week’s Haftorah: Yiftach, the Shofet, Judge.
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She is my first child to reach this stage and, frankly, I’m worried.
Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin
‘Transgressing Bal Tigra’
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. The Mishnah never makes any mention of the Hasmonean kings, the mitzvah to light a Chanukah menorah, or the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days. Some people say that Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi – the redactor of the six orders of the Mishnah and a scion of King David – omitted these topics because the Hasmoneans improperly crowned themselves, ignoring the rule that all Jewish kings are supposed to come from the tribe of Yehudah. They argue that this is also why the Talmud does not include a separate tractate on Chanukah. Is this true?
In this week’s parshah the Torah discusses many halachos of tumah. One halacha is that a person who is tamei may not enter the Mikdash. Doing so makes him liable for kareis.
The highway was packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, and there I sat with hands gripped tightly on the steering wheel, begging the cars to move. My heart swelled at the thought of seeing my son, who was just coming back from his year of learning in Eretz Yisrael. How I had missed him! Though I was used to him being away (if you can ever really get used to a child being away), a special space in my heart was empty – as I waited for him.
No one lives in a vacuum. No, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get sucked up through a vacuum cleaner hose in the pre-Pesach cleaning frenzy, it means that whether we like it or not, our environment—the people and things around us—makes a big impact on who we are.
According to biblical law, once an area has been converted in to a reshut hayachid by enclosing it with a halachically acceptable eruv, one may carry inside the enclosed area. But according to rabbinical law, it is simply not enough to enclose an area in which one wants to carry with an eruv. This alone will not permit carrying from the home into the street or vice versa. Neither will it alone permit carrying from a condominium apartment into the lobby or other common areas.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/pidyon-shevuyim/2013/01/10/
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