Monday, November 25, 2013

A proposal for solving the problem of get me'usa by Rav Dovid Eidensohn

Years ago, somebody told me he was upset with his wife. He had no specific complaint against his wife, but he was very upset. Finally, I asked him who he was talking to that got him in such a mood. He told me so and so. I asked, isn’t that person recently divorced? He said yes. I told him, “Get that person out of your house.” After that it was quiet. 

There was an article in the New York Times about an apartment building in Manhattan peopled by the up and coming. Those people had the good jobs,  great futures, and wonderful marriages. One day, people in the building were shocked to discover that a couple divorced. After a while, a neighbor of that couple divorced. And so it spread like a contagion. Those near a divorced person began to divorce, until the entire building was shaking with divorce. The purpose of the article obviously is to describe the poison that emanates from a bitter person who wants to spread the salvation that divorce brought to them. But this is wrong. If you talk to somebody filled with hate, you are going to learn hate. Never talk to such a person. Your marriage and your life hang in the balance.

Now let’s talk about the average couple in the Torah world who have a problem.  The husband or wife is very angry, but who can they talk to about it? Well, the closest people to them such as parents soon are brought into the secret. Maybe the way the complaint is expressed, filled with bitterness, influences the parent or close friend. Somebody has just lit a match in a very sensitive area. Eventually, the bitterness becomes open and both parents jump in and the marriage is over with.

I spoke with a major rabbi in Israel not long ago and told him that telling parents of your problem with your spouse is very dangerous, because parents have no balance and can really mess up a marriage. He agreed enthusiastically. 

Now let us go to the solution.

Let us assume that every marriage has its problems. The key to survival is to know what to do with these problems. We just described the folly of getting parents to back your hate, until both parents are firing away and the marriage is dead. So what should be done? Our solution is as follows.

First of all, marriage today is too delicate to wait until it falls apart to look for counseling. Then it may be too late. My idea is that before marriage and surely in its early phases the couple sign up with a Shalom Bais Beth Din. Now, this is not the ordinary Beth Din that enters the picture after all of the dishes have been smashed. This Beth Din does not deal with divorce or punishment for destroyed marriages. This Shalom Bais Din is only about Shalom. What is its function and how does it do its work to make Shalom?

The couple signs up with the Beth Din preferably before the marriage. A program of education is begun. Education covers those areas that impact upon Shalom Bayis, such as earnings, being tired or exhausted, unrealistic ambitions and expectations, etc.  We straighten out the road before it is filled with potholes.  We don’t ignore the basic problems that make pressures and confusion and disappointment in marriage, but we educate that they are here and must be faced and dealt with. And we educate the couple how to face and deal with them.

In other words, the Beth Din looks for trouble before it erupts. Most of the trouble is easily identified and can be dealt with, so we are far ahead of our program in the initial educating process. But yet, there can still be problems of personality, sensitivity, family, etc. So we come to phase two, not anticipating trouble, but leaning about it and dealing with it. As soon as husband or wife has a complaint, they are taught how to deal with it, and if they can’t settle it themselves, they must bring it to the Shalom Beth Din. The Shalom Beth Din will try to organize things, although this is easier said than done. Nonetheless, the fact that a Beth Din is involved, not in dividing up the children and money, but in settling things and making shalom, puts us far ahead of the usual process of problems in marriage.

We thus have phase one of pre-marital and early education, phase two of dealing with problems that erupt despite the education, and we come now to phase three, when one of the couple doesn’t listen to the Beth Din and the marriage is in trouble. Phase three is the power to fine, not to force a GET, because this Beth Din is not about divorce, but about Shalom Bayis. The fine is levied for violating Shalom Bayis. The couple signs a paper that is legal in Jewish and secular law that they will obey the Beth Din’s suggestions to make Shalom in the house. And if someone defies the Beth Din, the Beth Din has the power of fining the guilty party.

Now let us jump ahead to a marriage where the husband is tough and continues torturing his wife and refuses to listen to the Beth Din. He is fined, and fined again, and fined again. If it continues, and these legal obligations pile up, threatening his car, his house, his gulf clubs, his seforim, he may decide that he can’t afford this marriage and ask for a divorce. Note, he asks for the divorce to spare himself the fines. At least, this marriage will not make an Agunah. There is no problem of GET MEUSO  a forced GET because the Beth Din is not interested in divorce; it wants Shalom and its fines are directed at creating Shalom not at creating Gittin.

In very rare cases a husband may be a candidate for a forced GET, but this is not the purpose of the Beth Din, whose purpose is Shalom. If the husband is a candidate for a coerced GET, which is extremely rare, the Beth Din can make recommendations how to proceed, but its basic function is to make Shalom, and if it makes a GET it is a failure and a wrong turn in the process. Thus, there is no problem of forced GET because the Beth Din does not want a GET. Preferably, if there is to be a coerced GET another Beth Din should be involved, and should be under the direct guidance of Gedolei HaDor, as a letter from Rav Wosner states.

To summarize, one should not marry with Kiddushin unless they are cognizant of the chance of being an Agunah and the sin of doing something in violation of accepted halacha to coerce a GET or to annul the marriage. My brother told me that this was the opinion of HaGaon Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”o head of the Beth Din of the Ado in Jerusalem.

Each community should establish a Shalom Bais Din and see that various procedures are implemented to improve the marriages and prevent broken marriages and Agunose.

Such a Beth Din should be founded with the guidance of senior Gittin poskim, although the purpose is not to make a GET but to make Shalom Bayis.

If anyone is interested in such a project they can contact me at 845-578-1917.

Dovid Eidensohn

Musmach from Posek HaDor HaGaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l  to be Rosh Beth Din of Gittin

72 comments :

  1. "Musmach from Posek HaDor HaGaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l to be Rosh Beth Din of Gittin"

    Can you provide some written proof of this as you make it a lot. The burden of proof is on you. None of Rav Elyashiv's talmidim seem to remember this either.

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    1. Dovevos,
      As far as none of Rav Elyashev's talmidim remembering this, perhaps his biggest talmid in Gittin was on my Beth Din. This is a personal matter and you can assume it is wrong. Halacha I have to prove, but not this. Who would be such a rosho as to invent such a thing. If you think I am that rosho, think it.

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  2. @Rav Dovid Eidensohn - "To summarize, one should not marry with Kiddushin" -

    Does this mean that you and/or Rav Shternbuch shlit”o are advocating that in some cases frum couples should utilize a pilegesh type relationship?

    Although the Chareidi world would normally reject pilegesh relationships, perhaps it should be utilized for a temporary period (maybe one year) during which the couple will use halachic birth control.

    After the temporary period has expired, the "Shalom Bayis Beit Din" would investigate the couple's relationship, and recommend KIDDUSHIN if the Beit Din felt the relationship would be stable over the long term.

    If the relationship did not appear stable during the temporary period, then the "Shalom Bayis Beit Din" might order the couple to either make serious improvements within a limited time, or else be forced to separate.

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    1. Emes LiYaacov,
      I feel that it is a sin to make Kiddushin that can produce mamzeruth. But that is not a blanket permission to marry without kiddushin. If just means that if you are going to get punished for sinning anyway, but sin without producing mamzerim at least for the sake of the children.

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    2. A non-answer to a straight question.

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    3. R. Eidensohn, you did not really answer my question above, but I've got another unconventional idea:
      - The couple marries with Kiddushin.
      - They live in separate premises near to each other. Each spouse responsible for their own expenses, wife keeps her own salary.
      - If any children are born, they are shared one week at a time with each parent.
      - The spouses will not own any joint assets like homes or bank accounts.
      - In the event the wife demands a GET, a status quo has been established that the children are to be shared 50/50.
      - Wife cannot pick up her GET until 50/50 parenting arrangement is approved by the family court, without alimony or child support.

      My understanding is that in the past, Jewish husbands have created separate households for their wives. This arrangement would in theory avoid all potential conflicts in advance.

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    4. EmesLeYaacov,
      I don't know how such an arrangement guarantees Shalom Bayis. The Torah way of marriage is regular marriage. Inventing new kinds of marriage will probably not fit in with the will of the Torah and I don't know if it will work.

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  3. "what happens if the man is tough?" please already.

    what happens if the woman is tough? do you fine her also?
    have you performed any statistical survey to find that in royv of the cases it is the man who is tough?

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    1. Stan,
      The issue is about issuing a GET, which only the man can do. If he is tough, it may be a problem.

      Delete
  4. in most marriages, even one with problems, the couple shares financial responsibility to at least some extent. doesn't fining "him" just punish both of them (and their kids)? it's sort of like when two siblings are fighting so you take away the toy. it may work in the sibling context precisely because it does not pick sides. but it seems you think the point of this beis din is precisely to pick sides in fights and correct errant behavior.
    what spouse would complain, even of actually problematic behavior, if the likely result of being found "right" is losing the family car?

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    1. em,
      Both husband and wife can be fined. I just mentioned that the fining of the husband produces a situation where he is not fined to divorce, which would produce an invalid GET, but is fined to keep Shalom Bayis. If he realizes he can't afford the marriage because of the fine, he may want to divorce, which would do away with the problem of GET MEUSO. Leading heads of Gittin Beth Din told me if the husband gives a GET to save himself the fines it is not a problem of a coeced GET because we are coercing Shalom, not divorce.

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    2. either i do not understand your proposal or you do not understand my question (or both), so let me try a slightly different way at the same idea.
      If the wife knows that taking a legitimate problem to beis din could result in her husband having to pay, which would usually mean pay money that would otherwise go to their family needs, why would she go to beis din? especially if money is tight. I am assuming that the point is really "shalom bayis" and this is a couple that is still functionally married. if the point is "shalom bayis wink wink" and her objective is to rack up "violations" against her husband so that he will give a get, perhaps she would be willing to make the short-term financial sacrifice (especially if he is not supporting her to begin with), but if the point is actual shalom bayis, how is a fine on him, which is really a fine on the family, good for the family?

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  5. Rabbi Eidensohn:

    Can you explain when the Halacha is "teshev ad shetalbin"?

    I would most appreciate.

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    Replies
    1. BT,
      I don't know if there is an halacha whereby the Torah requires teshev ad shetalbin. Rather, a woman can position herself with her husband in a situation where she rejects him but cannot force a GET. If so, she has no hope of remarrying.

      Delete
    2. Rabbi Eidensohn:

      But wouldn't in such a situation today that you describe also mean the husband is condemning himself to remain unmarried indefinitely?

      Delete
  6. Why do legally enforceable monetary fines imposed by the "Shalom Bais Din" not constitute a forced get, yet non-binding communal pressure would?

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    1. If you read through the many teshovos on get me'usa on this blog you will see one dominant principle. When force is applied to give a get - it is posul. Force applied for other reasons in kosher. Rav Moshe and other's mention for example if a person is in jail for an unrelated charge and you tell him that if he gives a get you help him get out of jail - the get is kosher.

      Here the person is being told that if he doesn't have shalom bayis he needs to pay a fine. If he doesn't want to change the fine becomes unbearable - that is ok. But if there is a prenuptial that says if he doesn't give a get when asked - he has to pay a fine - that is posul.

      http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2013/06/an-apparrent-contradiction-between.html

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    2. Richie,
      I agree with what my brother wrote to answer you. I just emphasize that the fine is to enforce Shalom Bayis, to save a marriage, which is the opposite of forcing the husband to divorce his wife. That is why there is no problem.

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    3. I don't understand this point. What if HE initiates this condition. He sets this on himself willingly prior to marriage. "I only want to stay married so long as we have shalom bayis."

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  7. I cannot imagine why we should wait until a couple is about to get married to teach people how to behave properly under stress. In particular, midot and honesty in business to the Torah's exacting standards should be taught, whether using the techniques of R. Yisroel Salanter's mussar or other techniques, in all the Yeshivot annd girl's schools. (I find the latter already tend to do this more)

    Also establishing respected and respectable batei din should be a priority, and not only for gittin. This is a problem for dinei mammonot as well. How many Chassidic groups have seen competing heirs suing in civil court over the assets? And it seems to me a great many of these contentious divorces involve the parties forum shopping for favorable batei din. If there were established batei din that everyone relied upon we wouldn't have the plague of battei din fighting just like the parties.

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    1. My brother's chidush is not in that there should be premarital counseling but how to solve the problem of get me'usa.

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    2. Mike S,
      My brother wrote that my chidush was to solve get meuso. And that is true. But of course, my program would help all marriages and make true Shalom Bayis. And if as you mention that teaching good traits should begin early in life, of course, that is the desired program. But as my brother mentioned, I target here the problem of Agunoth and coerced Gittin. But once we have Shalom Bayis, many other benefits are realized. And as far as teaching good midose, the earlier the better.

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  8. this is an interesting academic proposal, and it is surprising coming from Reb Dovid and R' Shternbuch.

    On the Modern/Tzioni end of the spectrum, similar issues were discussed, and R Emmanuel Hartom wrote an essay pointing out that secular israelis who married under the rabbanut with Kiddushin, but lived secular lives, and did not respect Kedushat yisrael - ie practiced adultery without blinking an eyelid. One of the suggestions was as above, i.e. to have marriage without Kiddushin. But Rav Hartom, who was open to modernising halacha, could not agree with this solution, because it was too big a change in halacha. So there are dilemmas, and there are problems, and even solutions are not complete solutions.

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    1. When I was a bachur in yeshiva we were told never to serve as witnesses in a non-Orthodox wedding so that they would not be halachically married

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    2. obviously tzohar doesn't agree with the practice of having non-kosher witnesses.

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    3. by non-Orthodox, do you mean conducted by non-orthodox minister, or non practicing couple, but with an Orthodox Rav?

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    4. "When I was a bachur in yeshiva we were told never to serve as witnesses in a non-Orthodox wedding so that they would not be halachically married"

      I think that this shows a promising path to resolve the get crisis, as your brother posted as a comment in a different thread: abolish marriage. have a non-kosher witness at every marriage, so no marriage is valid - problem solved. People are acting in good faith, they think their marriage is valid, but in case of crisis, it is possible to fall back on the position that the marriage was never valid to begin with...

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    5. The secular velt are also pushing for civil marriages, but this is opposed by the Rabbanut.
      There are risks and benefits, and I am in no position to say yes or no. But, what I am happy to see is a chiddush in halacha, to change to extenuating circumstances, which is coming from the Haredi end of the spectrum. We would welcome more chiddushim - the world today is not what it was 200 years ago, and the rate of change is outpacing even the moderns who studied sciences.

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    6. Eddie,
      There are problems with no good solutions. This is one of them. On the other hand, we have a rule, if you have to choose between doing something wrong actively or passively, choose the passive path, because you have done nothing wrong, nothing has been done. You have just ignored a chance to do something good.

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    7. Reb Dovid, yes you are correct. There is a choice between bad, and terrible, and the lesser of the two might be a "better" choice. But Rabbonim have argued that you cannot annul the institution of marriage to avoid problems of marriage. The famous RCA Rav of the 60s, made a similar proposition, but to annul marriages retroactively. It was not a solution that anyone accepted. I hope yours is received with more hatzlacha.

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    8. Eddie,
      Throughout the generations the Agunah issue caused people to look for solutions. They were usually shot down. In recent years, YU rabbonim came up with an idea and Reb Yosher Ber said, "Kolu kol hakatsims." It is the end of the end to talk about these ideas.

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  9. "The purpose of the article obviously is to describe the poison that emanates from a bitter person who wants to spread the salvation that divorce brought to them. But this is wrong. If you talk to somebody filled with hate, you are going to learn hate."

    Bingo in our situation. She went, without telling me, to a Baalas Tshuva woman counselor with questionable credentials in marriage counseling... who turns out to have been divorced and remarried!!

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  10. A hischayvus shelo kedin that a person is forced into because of circumstances, which is then used to force a get, also passels the get. See Beis Yosef Even Ho'ezer 134 where he quotes the Rishonim (R"T?) about a shevua to give a get.

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  11. I am not as sure as you are that a "third force" is beneficial for a marriage...

    I've seen a friend running to rabbonim plus marital counseling for years to save her marriage, she is still utterly unhappy. Furthermore, I am appalled at some things the rabbis told her, e.g. that she has to have sex with her husband, even if she does not want...

    To me, those rabbanim are promoting spousal rape.

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    1. why in the world people go to someone with no training in a subject (even if he is smart and has lots of "life experience") is beyond me.

      in the current OU magazine there is an article on how the rabbinate in the US has changed. one thing now expected of rabbanim is some expertise in financial management (they have to deal with budgets, fund raising, etc). having learned baba metizya doesn't cut it, they need an MBA, accounting degree, something.

      to me it is aleph bet that rav who gives marital advice be trained.

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    2. who turns out to have been divorced and remarried!!

      and that's a problem?

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  12. Why is this better than just getting a prenup that says a man has to give a get once they are divorced in secular court?

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    1. Get me'usa results when you say - if you don't give a get you suffer "X". It is direct pressure to give a get. A prenup provides financial pressure on the husband to give a get.

      What my brother is proposing is pressure to have shalom bayis - If the husband doesn't comply with measures to produce shalom by then he suffers "X". If he doesn't want the pressure for shalom bayis his only alternative is giving a get. Halachically this is permitted by all the poskim. In contrast demanding he give a Get or suffer "X" is prohibited in a case of ma'us alei.

      See the article http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2013/06/an-apparrent-contradiction-between.htm

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    2. Just as a kesuba states that he willfully enters into a marriage with consequences (paying 200 zuz, etc.), he can also willfully agree to take on additional consequences such as 2,000,200 zuz unless he divorces, if certain failures occur in the marriage. The point being that he forced it all on himself.

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  13. Superintendant ChalmersNovember 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    How is this solution any different than the RCA prenup? To my best recollection the RCA prenup states something like "He is mechayev himself x amount of dollars every day of their Halachic marriage." I believe there is a separate document that states that she is mochel on the money as long as they are living together (or something to that effect.)

    In essence, this accomplishes the exact same thing as the fines you propose - a self-imposed hischayvus which he can pater himself from by giving the get.

    Do you support the RCA prenup? If not, why not?

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    1. Superintendent,
      Pressure to make Shalom that results in a GET is not a forced GET, because nobody asked him to give a GET. He is fined for not making Shalom. But the prenups say the fine is to force a GET and that is a problem of a forced GET.

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    2. The RCA prenup results in a Get Me'usa, adultery upon remarriage and mamzeirus according to Rav Eliashev.

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    3. Superintendant chalmersNovember 25, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      To the best of my knowledge, the prenups don't say that the fine is to force a get. Again, my understanding is that he is mechayev himself x amount of dollars as long as they are halachically married, which she is mochel on as long as they live together. Nowhere does it say (to my knowledge) that the fine is to force a get. To me, this is the same as your proposal.

      Would you support the arrangement that I just described? If not, why not?

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    4. Superintendant,
      My proposal fines to force Shalom, which has nothing whatsoever to do with a forced GET. Calling other things names that are not really valid and pretending they are, such as doing something whose purpose is obviously to force a GET and calling it something else, is different.

      Delete
    5. Superintendant chalmersNovember 25, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      In my proposal also, the monetary chiyuv is levied as long as they are not living together beShalom; if they are living together beshalom, there is no chiyuv. So my proposal also fines to force shalom. The options before him in both proposals to avoid the fines are either reconciliation/living beshalom, or to give a get.

      Can you offer any substantive explanation as to why the two proposals are not identical?

      Delete
  14. I made a mistake when I married. The man turned out to be a charming fiance but once we were married and I am talking about at the wedding a sociopath emerged. Nothing I could do was right. Suddenly as a top seminary graduate he did not even trust me with hilchos shabbes and kashruth. His family lived down the block and I had to feed his brothers and sisters and help his mom cook for shabbes in addition to full-time work. When the kids began coming they were always compared to his siblings kids and of course they always came up short. I stayed and am now a bubby but have never had a day of peace. To the outside world I was a happily married woman and when my kids went off the derech I was blamed because my husband the rov would have only been a good influence on his kids. Little did the outside world know that he despised them

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    Replies
    1. You should both go to coaching or counselling. At best, you are suffering an unhealthy marriage, and at worst, emotional abuse. See if you can get to R Mordechai Twerski or R Ben Tzion Twerski. They can help you get on track to a good marriage, even if you are a bubby already.

      Delete
    2. I made a mistake,
      You didn't make a mistake. The community made a mistake by not implementing my Shalom Bayis Beth Din which had the power to make you a happy bobby. But how could you have known about your husband?

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    3. Shalom Bayis Beth Din which had the power to make you a happy bobby

      Rabbi - your faith in rabbinic power to enforce happiness is naive, but its also charming in a way.

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    4. They can't as my dear husband is and always has had two faces. He tells the children that he can't be good to them because of me. He paints me as sick and I go through the motions of living. There is a whole family that is made up of these sick stuck-up people and to the outside they are nice but to their families they are monsters.
      I have gone for counseling and to rabbonim and it is useless. If the rov is not going to change accept it and try harder. Try to be what he wants you to be.
      I made a big mistake and when people see my kids they still blame me for them going off the derech.

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    5. The combination of the prospect of never being able to halachically terminate a bad marriage added with the prospect that she will be forced to stay in aid bad marraige when her husband gets fined for bad behavior which simulatneously punishes her by a] keeping her in the marriage and b] reducing her access to assets leads one to wonder why a Jewish woman who knows all this going in would willingly assent to kiddushin and chuppah in the first place..."[W]e should have decreed not to marry or have children then the seed of Avraham would die out" [TB BB 60b]

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    6. For the sake of my children's shidduchim and knowing that he would find a better woman and spurn his first kids, I stayed. Many a day he would browbeat me for not having the kids behave properly and give him the right respect when he came home from learning. When I couldn't cope with the kids while pregnant he would lecture me on the duties of a wife when I was in such pain

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    7. Yitz,
      You say that my faith in rabbinical powers to make peace is naive. I don't know about rabbinical powers, but I do know that my ideas make sense. I have discussed them with people who have a lot of experience with Gittin.

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    8. The Odd Cog,
      I don't recognize my proposal in your attack on it. I did not make the Torah laws about divorce that do not empower a woman to leave when she has a bad marriage except in rare circumstances. I therefore accept this law, but try to alleviate the problem with education and guidance from people who have experience and no ibias to help a particular side. If you feel that not marrying and destroying the Jewish nation is a better solution, you are an odd cog for sure, but don't prove it publicly. With my proposal the majority of marriages could be happy ones, and as we improve our techniques and experience things should get better and better. Let's look for light, at least, once in a while.

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    9. To the misunderstood bubby: that's why I suggested the Twerskis. They see through two faced people and help them to see through themselves. They may help you get your husband in by having you tell him that to fix yourself they need both of you to come in together. Try it. You won't be sorry.

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    10. Thank you for this testimony "I made a mistake".

      Dovid Eidensohn should understand that the world is not as simple as he thinks.

      It is easy to create peace by oppressing the wife. This is exactely what would result with his approach, as well as with the katz approach too....

      Delete
    11. He would not go. I have tried. He feels I am a second-hand shmatteh. Jewish men learn, work and study and the wife deserves nothing. His yichus is great so therefore mine is less and therefore I am less. When anyone gets a scent of the real him he never goes near them again.

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    12. At least ask the twerskis if they have an eitzah. They might.

      Delete
    13. The question that may have not been recognized: why any woman in her right mind would agree to enter into such a partnership willingly, when not only can she not exit ever on her own accord, but would have to suffer through an extended period of bad behavior--"He is fined, and fined again, and fined again. If it continues, and these legal obligations pile up, threatening his car, his house, his gulf clubs, his seforim"--will lead to the Shalom Task Force long before it leads to Shalom Bayis [and how exactly does this not impact her share of the joint marital assets as long as its aims to keep the couple together? How is that not punishing HER for HIS sins?] ; the concept of marriage seems to be analogous to an akedah. Maybe promulgating the Jewish nation was supposed to entail that level of sacrifice every time. [Obviously only on a woman's part. But if that ever got out a lot more people might be quoting that gemara...]

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    14. There are no joint assets. By us Jews our Torah says that all marital assets belong to the husband, including even the wife's salary, except anything she owned before marriage.

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    15. I have discussed them with people who have a lot of experience with Gittin.

      i think that the above line makes my point about the need for trained counselors, not rabbis, handling marital problems.

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  15. Since some here brought up the topic (maybe obliquely) I was thinking recently about the proposals in EY to institute "civil marriage." One of the main arguments against this is that it will result in large number of mamzerim, and hence a large group of people that cannot intermarry into the Jewish people.

    But is that really so? Living without the benefit of a kosher marriage is certainly an aveirah (maybe a deoraysa acc. to some Rishonim) but it does not produce mamzerim. The real problem arises when the couple separates and then the wife remarries without a kosher get*

    Question is, if there were "civil marriage" would that even require a get at all? I am aware of the machlokes between Rav Henkin and Rav Moshe Feinstein re Reform and Conservative marriages, but my impression is that most are noheig like R. Moshe, and I would think that his psak applies kal va chomer to a "civil marriage," which involves nothing more than registering with a clerk, who may not even be a shomer shabbos. Does anyone know how they are noheig in, say, France, that has purely civil marriage (although you may voluntarily have a religious marriage performed). Do rabbonim there require a get where the couple originally only had a civil marriage? If no get is given, are the children from a second marriage considered mamzerim?

    If the halakha is what I think it is, then what is the strong objection to civil marriage?

    (Of course, it could just be the general notion of a "Jewish State" operating by secular norms as opposed to the Torah, but that applies to many areas of law, not just marriage/divorce.)


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    *It is al pi din possible to have mamzerus either through plain old adultery or through incest, but there is nothing the rabbanut can do about either.

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    Replies
    1. Tal,
      There is a might war going on in Israel now about civil marriage and the rabbinate. The greatest rabbis in Israel have signed on to a sefer that condemns the rabbinate in Israel for producing invalid coerced Gittin and mamzeruth. The war will only get worse. And the problems of mamzeruth is obvious when the only way to marry in the whole country is with a rabbi. This is a mamzer factory.

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    2. R. Eidensohn -- did you even read my post? Seems to me you are only adding arguments to abolishing the rabbanut, or at least making it voluntary. If, as you say, the rabbanut is a mamzer factory, then all the more reason to abolish it.

      (In fact, in the early years of the State, most charedim opposed the rabbinate precisely because forcing a religious institution onto a secular public inevitably leads to pressure on the rabbinate to bend halakha to make life for the secular public easier. For example, the State needs a quick and easy way to convert tens of thousands of olim from Russia, so they find someone willing to bend hilchos geirus for the purpose.)

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    3. Tal,
      You have a long post, and some of it touches on area that I didn't want to comment on. That is, true, some kinds of marriage are actions that do not in themselves produce a couple married by Torah standards, but if the couple continues to live together and there are Orthodox people who know this, perhaps this itself could be a problem. There was once a wedding where it was discovered that the witnesses were either related or had some other problem so that the Kiddushin was not in effect at the wedding. And yet, there were rabbonim who did not think that this was the final word. And I don't want to get into it here, so I did not comment, and I don't want to comment, as this is an area that requires a Beth Din to really clarify the situation.

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  16. What's wrong with the prenuptial agreement approved by Rav Ovadiah Yosef and Rav Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg?

    ben dov-
    1honestlyfrum.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Rav Eliashev paskened that the RCA type prenup is halachicly invalid and if it is used to obtain a Get, then it is a Get Me'usa, she remains an eishes ish and if remarries is committing adultery and bearing mamzeirim.

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  17. Rav Ovadiah and Rav Zalman Nechemia can be relied upon with out any doubt. There is no chiyuv on everybody to follow R' Elyashiv's Psokim across the board. He wasn't the Posek Acharon, as great as he was. Those who asked their Shaylos to him, should follow his Psokim. This is the way of Torah. There is no such thing as Daas Torah. Can you imagine what a Daas Torah Shulchan Aruch would look like? It would be like the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. A set of decisions, with no arguments followed eventually by new additions with new Psokim, the Psokim of the Chazon Ish, the Psokim of the Shulchan Aruch HoRav, the Psokim of the Mishneh Brura, and if you get a deluxe edition, you might get all three, with some Chayei Odom thrown in, all colour coded in their own fonts, and beautifully laid out.

    I have a fundamental question: who says an untrained and uneducated Rov on issues of marriage is the best way to deal with such situations, let alone a confronting "Beis Din" shel "Shalom".

    I don't go to a Rav when I have a cold.

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  18. Rav Dovid,

    Great idea about this Shalom Bayis fine initiative. But how will they enforce it? If the American husband is fined and doesn't pay the fine will the Shalom Bais Beth Din sue the guy in Kings County Court?

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    Replies
    1. MG,
      The couple that sign up with the Beth Din sign a paper that is enforceable in Jewish and secular law. If the person does not pay, the Beth Din can go to secular court, if they so rule and collect the money.

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    2. Eddie,
      Let's try to keep it simple. There are always differences of opinion among rabbis about many things. But usually and almost always they do not impact upon the mamzeruth of future generations. Only the problems of an invalid GET can do that. And yes, you are right, this fight will split the Orthodox world and who knows what will happn.

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  19. So you will end up with several tiers of society. Those who follow R' Elyashiv, will not intermarry with anyone who had a Rabbanut divorce - as they will deem them to be mamzerim. In any case, those who follow R Elyashiv have their own problems, and are split into warring factions now. If you are going to be ultra-machmir on everything, you end up in hostile situations. This is the tragedy of ultra orthodoxy. Litvish world is at war with itself. The Eda is at war with itself. R' Shternbuch who is usually ultra strict, is being attacked by the even-more strict group of his own BD. Remember how this same pattern took place in the Hurban of the 2nd Temple.

    ReplyDelete

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