Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dr. Yael,

When we discuss cruelty in a divorce situation, our thoughts generally go to the woman whose husband is refusing to give her a get – the agunah.


However, there is more than one way for an errant husband to oppress his wife. Among them is withholding child support. In my situation it is also at times not paying yeshiva tuition.

It was twenty years until I received the child support owed to me for my one child. I say my child specifically as my ex-husband never acted like a father. We had to rely on social services agencies both secular and religious for help, as my salary was not enough at times to support us. It was very humiliating for me and caused a great deal of stress. The person, though, who suffered the most was my child.

I am writing this letter now, as we get closer to Yomim Noraim because it is when we should reflect on our lives and how we handled situations halachically and socially.

I think it is truly a chillul Hashem for people who purport to be frum to act this way, to be spiteful and mean, in order to get back at one’s spouse. It was even more painful to have the family of the spouse who is withholding funds condone this type of behavior and to take sides.

I know in my heart that Hashem was testing me all this time. It is unimportant to me whether I passed or not. I do see the real purpose to this suffering, and that is to help others who are suffering as I was.

I hope that you will print this letter and open people’s eyes. Thank you for letting me vent here.

A Shana tovah to one and all


Dear Friend,

My heart breaks for all the trauma that you have endured. It should never be. Unfortunately, divorce is terrible for everyone involved. And yes, the ones who suffer the most are the children.

It is sad that our Batei Din do not have the power they need to make sure these issues don’t get out of control. It is sad that the courts are not doing their job adequately. We all know that in Israel the system works together to try and prevent this type of behavior – not always successfully.

However, it is not always the woman who suffers. There are honest men who get full custody of their children and if their wife is emotionally imbalanced, still have to provide her with monetary support. If a man earns an excellent income on paper, he can still have many problems even if he is trying to be fair when dealing with a mentally ill wife.

However, unfortunately every situation is different. I feel for you in this difficult situation. Only Hashem knows the truth. I wish you hatzlocha in dealing with your life.

I do hope that your letter will influence others to be more fair in this process.


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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at