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Pidyon Shevuyim: Redeeming The Agunah


Kupfer-122112

Why have these men been able to keep their spouses tethered to a sham marriage for so long, cementing them to an unbearable reality where life passes them by. And they are cementing themselves as well – a mutually destructive situation.

Getting involved in someone’s domestic dispute is not a pleasant prospect. It is considered prudent to “mind your own business” and “see not, hear not, speak not.” Everyone has his or her own problems.

But we must try. Ours is a religion based on rachmanut and responsibility to others. It revolves around treating people the way you would want to be treated, with the logical extension being that it is incumbent on everyone to help others be treated the way you would want to be.

Since you would not want to be trapped in a marital nightmare, unable to remarry and build or increase your family; since you would be devastated if your daughter, sister etc. were in this cruel situation for months and potentially years – you need to do what you can to alleviate an agunah’s misery.

Nothing heroic is required, just concern and some time and effort, it could be as simple as approaching the husband -he might be a former classmate, a chevrusha, a relative, someone you do business with. Engage him in dialogue, point out how it is in the community’s best interest, and his, – that he emancipates his wife and allow both to get on with their lives.

Each woman who is prevented from having children – or more children – is a victory for Amalek. Hitler tried to wipe out every Jew on this planet. He succeeded in destroying over six million, and preventing the existence of millions of others. We all know Holocaust survivors who have left dozens, even hundreds of descendants. We are many of them.

Each stubborn husband who prevents a future marriage and future children unwittingly is in league with our enemies who wish to annihilate the Jewish people.

This must be emphasized over and over again. He is not just punishing his wife – he is punishing all Yidden. He is helping in our decimation.

I know that in some cases the wife is the problem: she is unreasonable, punitive and conniving, either refusing to allow her husband to have access to the children; claiming falsely that he did unspeakable things to her or the children, or demanding more than a reasonable share of their assets. For him, withholding the get is his only leverage in getting what is fair. In such situations it is crucial that both be approached and encouraged to go for divorce mediation or therapy, where they can possibly resolve such thorny issues as custody, visitation, support and the division of assets, a resolution that hopefully will result in a mutual giving and acceptance of a get.

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