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Is it proper to pressure family members of a get-refuser?


Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Get refusal is reprehensible. It is never justified, regardless of any personal grievances that may be at stake. If a marriage has effectively ended, a get must be given and received promptly. The get is not a bargaining tool. The divorcing couple should settle its disputes directly, in a beth din or civil court. Holding back on a get is unethical, sinful, and a chilul Hashem.

Get refusers apparently persist in their wickedness in spite of external pressures. Either they are spiteful, greedy or malicious. Whatever can be done to prod them to give/receive the get should be done. This includes treating the refuser as one in cherem. Isolating the person socially and in business can be helpful.

Is it proper to put pressure on family members of the refuser? The answer depends on whether or not such pressure can be effective. In some cases, family members may strongly support the refuser. In other cases, family members may have no influence on the refuser.

But if there is a chance that family members can play a constructive role, and you can speak with them calmly and reasonably, then by all means speak with them. If the refuser realizes that the family is being disgraced and pressured, perhaps a get will be forthcoming.

Get refusal reflects badly on the refuser, on the family and community. It reflects badly on Torah and halacha. We must do our best to eliminate this shameful behavior from our midst.

– Rabbi Marc D. Angel, director of the
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals


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Rabbi Zev Leff

I assume we are talking about a case where a qualified beis din has issued a ruling that the get must be given and the man or woman refuses to comply. If so, it depends. First, if the family members are aiding and abetting the get refusal, then one should try to pressure them to cease to be a negative influence in complying with the ruling of the beis din. If they are not aiding and abetting the refusal but could possibly influence the refuser to change his or her mind, they should be asked in a civil manner to try and exert their influence.

If they are merely bystanders to this issue and are not aiding the refuser and have no influence over him or her, then I would desist from involving them in anyway since the efforts will achieve nothing except to annoy the innocent family members.

– Rabbi Zev Leff, rav of Moshav Matisyahu,
popular lecturer and educator


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Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet

When a marriage is sadly over, for whatever the reason, then all protocol must be followed to terminate the relationship so that both parties can move on with their lives. When one party seeks to exploit halacha in order to deny the other the ability to move forward, that, in my book, is categorical abuse of the highest order and completely unacceptable. There are some who have held out for years, even as they carried on with their own lives, just out of spite. That is sheer maliciousness and indicative of a controlling abuser. Frankly it only proves why the divorce was necessary in the first instance.

I recently joined as rabbinic liaison to “Gett Out,” an organization that works closely with women who are being abused in this sort of way. I did so out of a sense of conviction because I have seen first-hand, too much of this exploitation.

Every possible means of “arm twisting” within the confines of halacha ought to be utilized to ensure that the divorce can be finalized. If that means sanctions in the community, then so be it. If that can include naming and shaming, so be it. Frankly, no one can exert the right sort of pressure on the get refuser more so than immediate family – and all too often they are also complicit in the “crime.” To that end, any and every pressure point should be pressed on until it hurts if that can help to achieve the objective.

– Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, popular Lubavitch lecturer,
rabbi of London’s Mill Hill Synagogue


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