by Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn
Rabbi Broyde's article about protesting to help Agunahs is filled with errors, which I display here. It is part and parcel of the new Torah emanating from the modern YU rabbis. Rabbi Gedaliah Schwartz, head of BDA Beth Din, sent away a couple seeking a GET with no GET by annuling their marriage on the grounds of a ridiculous claim of MEKACH TAOSE when after I spoke to him I am convinced he had no grounds for that. Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva at YU and major posek for the OU, invented a new Torah to permit physical and unbearable emotional coercion in the case of MOOS OLEI with his vivid imagination, as he airly blows away the Rashbo, Rabbi Yosef Caro, Radvaz, Shach and Chazon Ish with a logic that was invented in Gehenum. He quotes nobody who agrees with him, and doesn't display any rabbonim of today who agree with him, but he has helped Agunoth! Posek HaDor Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev shlit”o told me that any Beth Din that invents new ways to help Agunoth outside of accepted halacha that he takes away from them the Chezkas Beth Din, the authority of being a Beth Din. Thus, we have a situation where modern Orthodox divorces may not be recognized by others, and the children of these invented “help” for Agunoth may be mamzerim.
Let us begin.
The article begins by assuring us that “the use of social pressure – picketing, boycotting, withholding aliyot, and the like – in such a situation...there is no problem of a coerced get in such a case.”
This is completely wrong, as we will show, because it is obvious from the great Poskim I will quote with nobody disagreeing that it is a coerced GET and invalid GET to picket and humiliate a husband in MOUS OLEI especially when this is done in public. In fact, even to shame him not in public is a problem of a coerced and therefore invalid GET. This is stated clearly by the Chazon Ish.
The article then begins with the PIRUD of Rabbeinu Tam, whereby Rabbeinu Tam permitted a passive ostracizing of a husband who refused to give a GET. The article quotes a rabbinical council of great rabbinical judges who permitted ostracizing the husband. Therefore, says Rabbi Broyde, we see that one may ostracize a husband who does not give a GET. But this is false advertising, as we will explain. The case of the rabbinical council involved a couple where the man was unable to have children and the wife demanded a GET so she would not be left in her old age with nobody to care for her. In this case, the Talmud clearly teaches that there must be a GET. On the other hand, Rabbi Broyde is talking about the common problem of wives demanding a GET often after they had children from the husband, called MOUS OLEI (my husband is repulsive to me). This is different, as we will explain.
The Shulchan Aruch EH 77 talks about a woman who demands a GET because her husband repels her. Nowhere is any coercion allowed or mentioned there. Even Rabbeinu Tam is not mentioned there, even though he permits only passive ostracizing. In EH 154 we find the laws of husbands who are commanded by the Torah to divorce their wives. There are two categories of these. One is where the Talmud commands that we force the GET, such as when a person marries a woman forbidden to him. Another category is when the Talmud does not talk about coercion, but merely says the husband must give a GET. The latter case of a sterile husband is what the rabbinical council ruled, when the wife demands a GET. In such a case the Talmud clearly demands a GET but does not command coercion. The Ramo suggests that we use the passive coercion of Rabbeinu Tam. But the Ramo does not allow passive ostracizing in chapter 77 for a woman who is repulsed by her husband. Thus, the implication is clear: passive ostracizing is forbidden unless the Talmud clearly demands a GET, such as when the husband is sterile. But with MOUS OLEI, there may not be any coercion, even passive coercion.
The greatest authorities, the Shach and the Chazon Ish, forbid even passive ostracizing of Rabbeinu Tam, even in the case of the sterile husband, claiming that in latter generations such an ostracizing was too strong a coercion and constituted an invalid GET. Maharabil states that nobody ever heard of rabbis permitting this. Therefore, for MOUS OLEI, when even the Shulchan Aruch does not permit even passive coercion, surely it is forbididen to do the passive PIRUD or ostracizing of Rabbeinu Tam. But in the case of the sterile husband, the Ramo permits it, and the Gro and others agree, therefore, the rabbinical council mentioned above permitted it for the case of a sterile husband. This has nothing to do with Rabbi Broyde's article which is about the common “agunah” who left her husband often after having children and demands as GET. Such a husband may not be given the Pirud of Rabbeinu Tam, at least, by the proof that I cited from the Shulchan Aruch and supported by Shach and Chazon Ish and Maharabil.
We now come to Rabbi Broyde's brazen misquoting of the Gro. He leaves out the key phrase, and thus makes it sound as if the Gro supports ostracizing all husbands, such as in MOUS OLEI. But the GRO as we mention before, is commenting on the Ramo in EH 154 that does not deal with MOUS OLEI but only with husbands who are commanded by the Talmud to divorce. The Gro explains why PIRUD of Rabbeinu Tam is permitted with someone commanded clearly in the Talmud to divorce: “(154:67) because he can be saved from this by going to another city. And whenever we don't do something to him physically it is not called ISUI or coercion. And all of this we do to him because he transgressed on the words of the sages.” Thus, the final phase says that this PIRUD is only permitted when the Talmud clearly commands a divorce. But in MOUS OLEI we don't assume that the husband is wrong and he must divorce his wife and lose his children. Therefore, it is forbidden to ostracize him.
But let us ask Rabbi Broyde, even according to your abridged version of the GRO, the ostracizing is only permitted because the husband can find another city where nobody will ostracize him. But today what city is free from the protestors sent by Rabbi Schachter and ORA to torment a husband? Therefore, what ORA is doing is forbidden by the GRO, and as we explained, it was never permitted by the Ramo in the case of MOUS OLEI to begin with.
But let us return to the ruling of the sages of the above rabbinical council ruling. What kind of ostracizing did they decree on the sterile husband? ONLY PASSIVE THINGS such as not honoring him and ignoring him. But who permitted ORA to publicly demonstrate and humiliate a husband? And especially in a case of MOUS OLEI? This is the brazen invention of Rabbi Broyde.
Now we come to another brazen invention, this time a bald lie about HaGaon Reb Moshe Feinstein zt”l. In Igres Moshe EH III:44 Reb Moshe discusses a broken marriage where the wife will not return to the husband, but the husband won't give a GET. May Beth Din coerce the husband to give a GET? Rabbi Broyde quotes Reb Moshe that this is permitted, because “Compulsion in a case where divorce is truly desired does not create an invalid GET.” But Reb Moshe there says just the opposite. Although he does mention the idea and says it has some merit, he refuses to use it saying, “we must not rely on this.”
So Rabbi Broyde slithers along while we are gasp in admiration for his proof, and then, some lines later, he slips in “While it is true that Rabbi Feinstein is hesitant to rely on this rationale absent other lenient factors...” Hurry, he is wriggling out of his lie.
Here is his full statement there: ““While it is true that Rabbi Feinstein is hesitant to rely on this rationale absent other lenient factors, it is clear that in cases where no real coercion is used – but only harchakot d'Rabbeinu Tam – Rabbi Feinstein's reasoning is fully applicable.” First, note the weasel words. He doesn't say that “Rabbi Feinstein would permit it.” Even he is afraid to invent such a statement in the name of Reb Moshe. But what he does is to apply his own logic that surely that which Reb Moshe rejected would not be rejected for the mild coercion of Rabbeinu Tam's ostracizing.
But wait. He wriggled in the wrong direction. Because Rabbi Broyde was obviously not aware of another teshuva of Reb Moshe whereby he consigns Rabbeinu Tam's pirud to the status of a very serious coercion, more so than coercing with money which most poskim consider very strong coercion even invalidating the GET. (EH I:137) If so, Reb Moshe surely would not agree with Rabbi Broyde to permit the Pirud of Rabbeinu Tam because it is a minor coercion.
Incredibly, Rabbi Broyde concludes “the use of social pressure to encourage the giving of a get in a situation in which the couple has already separated, a secular divorce has been granted and the marriage is over for both of them – and even more so where a bet din has issued a seruv against the husband – never creates a situation of Get Meuso.” He permits active public humiliation of the husband, even though public humiliation is considered murder in the Talmud.
Note that he never mentions that Rabbeinu Tam permits only passive ostracizing, and that the Chazon Ish EH 108 forbids even passive ostracizing and considers active humiliation such as that practiced by ORA to make an invalid GET. Nor does he even mention the Rashbo VII:414 that it is forbidden to coerce a husband with MOUS OLEI at all, and that even the sterile husband may not be humiliated, certainly not the husband of MOUS OLEI. Also Rabbi Yosef Caro in Bais Yosef, 154, Radvaz שו"ת רדב"ז חלק ד סימן קיח quote the Rashbo. The Shach at the end of GEVURAS ANOSHIM forbids even passively ostracizing the husband to obtain a GET at all.
Just brazeneness matched only by his ignorance. But without the ignorance, even the brazeness would have a hard time.