Latest update: October 18th, 2012
They were married for more than five years, reports Ynet, they raised two children, and generally lived a happy life together – until she discovered that he was going out with another man. She caught him “red-handed,” and immediately filed for divorce with the chief rabbinate, except he is refusing to divorce her.
On Tuesday, ten years after the initial filing of the case, the rabbinical court sent the husband to prison – until he gives in and gives a get.
The couple, who live in central Israel, are both Haredim. Their marriage snapped when it was discovered that the man has proclivities which he hid from his wife for years.
The Rabbinical Court ruled that the two should divorce, and ordered the man to give his wife a get. Then, for years, despite his refusal to give the get, the judges did not use their authority to impose sanctions on him.
The husband was trying to extort concessions from his wife, as a condition for granting the get – including foregoing the damages she was awarded by the court, and a better visitation arrangement with the children. But even after he got what he wanted, the husband continued to refuse the get.
At one point, the court was already processing a get on the husband’s behalf, with his consent, when suddenly he changed his mind, leaving his wife in the position of an aguna, making her unavailable to a new suitor.
Then, unexpectedly, on Tuesday, during a discussion of a side issue not directly related to the get, the judges unexpectedly responded to the request of the wife’s counsel, Executive Director of Mavoy Satum (dead end) organization attorney Batya Kahana-Dror, and ordered the arrest of the husband – until he gives the get.
A police car was summoned to the court and the cops arrested the husband on the spot. This is an exceptional move, possibly a precedent, on the part of the rabbinical court, to impose an arrest before lighter sanctions have been tried.
Attorney Kahana-Dror welcomed the arrest and said the wife had almost lost hope of ever getting a get through this court. She was even considering asking for an annulment of the marriage, on the grounds that she agreed to the marriage contract based on false claims, since the husband did not reveal his sexual deviation.
If successful, the wife would have still been considered married by the state, but at least halachically she would have been permitted to remarry.
Attorney Kahana-Dror said she regrets that “the court isn’t using jail more often as an incentive,” adding, “It’s illogical, unreasonable and contrary to halacha.”
She described the prison experience as the most effective means of convincing husbands to grant their wives a get: “95 percent of the get objectors are ready to give a get after a few nights in the Russian Compound (Jerusalem city jail) or in Abu-Kabir (Tel Aviv). It works great.”
About the Author: Tibbi Singer is a veteran contributor to publications such as Israel Shelanu and the US supplement of Yedioth, and Jewish Business News.
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