Friday, December 23, 2011

Divorce - problems of using secular court & beis din

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

This opinion was issued by New Jersey's Appellate Division this past week.  While I know little- if anything- about divorce law, I wish to make the following observations. 

Some states have laws which require gittin to be issued prior to the settling of a civil divorce.  Obviously, New Jersey isn't one of these states.  We should encourage those "askonim" (read as the Aguda, OU, et al) to try to pass similar legislation in states such as NJ. 

Sadly, I happen to know the husband in the NJ case.  While I do not know this person well, and am not intimately familiar with the situation, this specific case has been festering in the Passaic community for several years.  Whomever handled this issue from the rabinical side clearly botched it.  As with other issues addressed in your blog, our rabonnim need training on how to address these issues properly.

Aside from the primary rabbi(s) involved, the beis din involved also clearly mishandled this situation. We must encourage bottei dinim to seek the assistance of attorneys when drafting such resolutions.  The Court's opinion is heavily reliant on the unclear language in the beis din's ruling.  B'H, some bottei dinim use attorneys (the RCA has one on staff). 

It is clear that we have professionals in our communities who can assist with all of these necessities.  What is unclear is whether the entrenched establishment will issue a mea culpa and seek help.

*Disclaimer: I do not practice divorce law and do not intend to dispense legal advice. As an attorney in private practice, please note that the foregoing is my opinion and not that of my employer. 

A freilechen Channukah


  1. No State is able to legally mandate a husband provide a "Get", as that would be an unconstitutional violation of seperation between church and state. The State cannot mandate any religious ritual.

    Furthermore, even if a state did somehow force a husband to issue a "Get", such a "Get" would be halachicly invalid as it was forced by a non-Jewish entity (the secular court.)

  2. I am not sure the rabbi "botched" the divorce. Lowy was defending men who don't give gittin many years before their divorce. It was part of a general litany of misogynist statements the guy routinely tried to argue me into agreement upon.

    In other words, I'm not sure anyone since Aharon ("oheiv shalom verodeif shalom -- lover of peace and pursuer of peace") could have pulled off what the letter-writer expects of the rabbinate.

    A freilechen Chanukah,

  3. These.problems tend to occur when the wife shops for a feminist beis din that eschews halacha.

  4. No State is able to legally mandate a husband provide a "Get", as that would be an unconstitutional violation of seperation between church and state. The State cannot mandate any religious ritual.

    Furthermore, even if a state did somehow force a husband to issue a "Get", such a "Get" would be halachicly invalid as it was forced by a non-Jewish entity (the secular court.)

    I am a lawyer, but not a matrimonial lawyer. Let me ask a simple question which has been bothering me for some time. Suppose prior to the wedding, the husband and wife execute a pre-nuptial agreement, which states that (1) all matrimonial matters will be handled by a duly formed beis din (you can specify a certain organization if you like, or zablah, whatever works) and (2) the beis din's decision will be binding and enforceable in secular court, including through an injunction (i.e. an order of the Court) and threat of contempt.

    My questions are:

    1. Why is this not enforceable acc. to secular law? To my mind,it is no different to agreeing to arbitration. Arbitration agreements are routinely enforced by secular courts. The fact that you happened to agree to an Orthodox beis din is simply your contractual decision. Can't see the First Amendment violation there.

    2. Acc. to halakha what is wrong with this? The beis din paskened that the husband is obligated to give the wife a get. (assuming that is the psak). If he refuses, the secular court will order him to do so, and if he persists jail him until he complies.

    Is this not the classic case of aseh mah she yisroel omrim lach?

  5. Micha's attacks on Lowy are lies and slander. As someone who's spent a fair amount of time in Passaic, I've never observed Lowy making any misogynist statements or encouraging men not to give Gittin. Mr. Lowy's only offense has been to pass out letters from respected rabbinic authorities which condemn the blatant feminist halachic violations occurring in Passaic. Micha clearly identifies with the powerful YU feminist reformadox cult in Passaic. This feminist cult brazenly violates Torah law and has harassed and slandered numerous Jewish men in divorce situations in Passaic. This cult is so far off the derech of Judaism that a Brooklyn rabbi made a video denouncing a gay rights celebration held in the YU temple in Passaic where I believe Micha davens. Google "Gary Schaer" "Yehuda Levin" or go to

  6. Rabbi Eidensohn,

    The Eidah Chareidis issued a letter strongly condemning forced Gittin and use of non-Jewish courts. You can receive the letter by sending an email to with "1021" (without quotes) in the subject line. (Put 9999 in the subject line to receive an index of all the documents.)

    Can you please post that Eidah letter with a translation on your blog?

  7. Maccabee,

    You clearly have no idea where I daven. My LOR is an old-time Lakewood musmach, with no connection to YU at all. For that matter, YU has no major voice in Passaic, so that whole "reformadox" thing comes across as a rant. Passaic is so firmly yeshivish, even its rabbanim who are YU musmachim are not readily identifiable. Our community is pretty monochromatic, actually.

    As for your not hearing misogynism from Lowy's mouth... I can only report my own experience. His comments against women, feminism and MO are common.


    There are about 100 Jews in Iceland, more than 90% of which are r"l intermarried.

    Is it so simple that Chabad is seeking to do kiruv there? And what about the fact that one of the community "leaders" there is a gay man who is "married" to another gay? Does Chabad give kavod to these kind of degenerates if it makes conducting business easier? What do you think?

  9. "Reformadox" is actually a pretty apt if not funny description of the feminist tendencies of YU rabbis from RHS on down. Rabbi Feivel Mendlowitz has also challenged RHS on his dubious gerus of Ivanka. A number of apologists stepped forward on behalf of RHS hoping Rabbi Mendlowitz would take down his anti-YU blog post but none of ninnies made any sense.

  10. Passaic is a Baal Teshuva town.

  11. "YU - Torah Madua": A little reading comprehension. I didn't even try to attack Maccabee's use of " YU feminist reformadox cult", because sometimes someone is too obviously gone to be worth convincing. But the next two words "in Passaic", as though any left wing in YU has a real voice, a following, a "cult"... that's a second layer that is self-evidently false to anyone who has been to Passaic. Pointing that out is enough to bring others to question Maccabee's judgement.

    If I were to discuss the basic accusation, I would point out my suspicion that a number of the comments (although under different pseudonyms) are actually from the party being described in the blog post under discussion.

    As for a YU feminist kabal, see R Herschel Schachter's comments on women reading the kesuvah, and how JOFA members attacked him for it.

    Besides, under discussion is halakhah pesuqah by Rav Moshe.

    YU has nothing to do with it. Nor does Gary Schaer (NJ State Assemblyman and Passaic City Council Pres.) These are just Lowy's favorite bugaboos.

    FWIW, this thread makes me wonder what our host's comment moderation rules are. To allow such vile drivel through makes the whole exercise of moderation pointless.

  12. JOFA taking RHS to task for not being all the way on the extreme feminist left, is almost akin to
    the Aryan Nation criticizing the KKK for not being sufficiently pro-white.

    Don't get me wrong, RHS is a Talmid Chochom. Nevertheless, he must cater to his customers.

  13. Micha's comments reveal a number of interesting points:

    "rabbanim who are YU musmachim are not readily identifiable." - This is true. Some Passaic YU rabbanim are wearing Chareidi clothes and beards, so baal tshuvas and the frum olam falsely assume these rabbanim are Chareidim.

    "My LOR (orthodox rabbi) is an old-time Lakewood musmach" - Note that Micha never denies his own YU background, he simply tries to divert attention from it.

    "His comments against women, feminism and MO are common." - If Micha is holding by a rav with Lakewood musmach (instead of YU feminist theologians), why would Micha object to comments against feminism and modern Orthodoxy?

    "see R Herschel Schachter's comments on women " - If Micha does not have a YU background, why is he defending Herschel Schachter? If Herschel Schachter is not a feminist, then why did a Monsey Bais Din put a cherem on Herschel Schachter while accusing him of Reform feminist practices? See

    "YU has nothing to do with it." - Micha is caught lying again. The vicious and corrupt YU "ORA" organization, lead by Herschel Schachter, assisted the women plaintiff in the court case that prompted this blog posting, along with many other Jewish women plaintiffs litigating in courts against their husbands around the US. See the ORA Report at

    Email with 1020 in the subject line to receive a letter signed by at 50 Gadolim sharply condemning Jewish women who sue their husbands in non-Jewish courts, and condemning the rabbis and groups assisting them (such as Herschel Schachter and his ORA group).

    Also see the Eidah Charedis tshuvah (halachic responsa) condemning use of non-Jewish courts:

  14. I'd like to see Micha offer a reasonable defense of RHS leading the sketchy "beis din" to convert Ivanka with Haskell the Rascal and a chassidishe money grubber. She converted for the sake of marrying a man who had left orthodoxy over a decade earlier. It is quite obvious they never intended to keep Torah umitzvos. She never dressed appropriately which means low cuts with her breasts almost fully exposed and she publicly Tweets from her favorite TREIF restaurants on Shabbos describing the non-kosher taanugim.

  15. A brief response to some comments:
    1) I would encourage Tal to examine Rachel Levmore's work (sefer, if you will) "minei enei m'dimah" which traces several shitos of pre-nups. I never finished the copy that I borrowed from a friend, but nonetheless, it is quite thorough. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and questions.
    Yes "Anonymous", I know that the book was written by a female- please excuse the proper dikduk which she uses. I was told by a first hand witness that the book was shown to a posek in E'Y and he couldn't believe that it was written by a female either.
    2) New York has a famous- and infamous- get law. I would encourage a NY matrimonial attorney to comment on same.
    3) I never alleged to be a boki in gittin (although I have sat on a B'D for same). I realize that there may be two sides to this story. Nonetheless, a get is not a tool to use as leverage. We should all be able to agree that the Appellate Division opinion is a chillul hashem.
    4) Everyone wants to blame feminists, YU or some other sitra achra for these issues until, lo aleinu, we find out that a karov is chained to, or has been beaten by, one of these monsters. We pontificate about how everyone besmirches rabbonim or others who are pedophiles- up until our kids in yeshiva come into contact with them. We figure that since we are normal, we don't need pre-nups because we'll be more than happy to give a get if necessary. Something needs to change. B'H Rabbi Eidensohn has the vision to realize that our community has to change.
    Let us hope that Chanukah helps us spread the light of torah to vanquish the darkness of holilus and am ha'aratzus.

  16. RHS doesn't need to defend his leading a beis din he wasn't on.

    You however, need to defend slander dragginging in irrelevencies, and not giving your wife a get.

    YU had nothing to do with Lowy's situation, RHS had nothing to do with it, and the Trumps had nothing to do with it. Giving a divorce while withholding a get is wrong. Rav Moshe said it's wrong. Nothing to do with YU, feminism, or any other red herring you wish to raise.

    Dragging in all this other stuff, topping it off with name calling, rechilus, and motzi sheim ra, doesn't help the case of the person you're trying to defend.

  17. Troppenstein's monsterDecember 26, 2011 at 2:12 AM

    Isn't R' Hershel Schechter at the very least responsible for all RCA gerus and thus the products of Haskel Lookstein?

  18. No. He isn't sole dictator of the RCA. Still off on irrelevancies, though.

    How did the discussion of someone who refuses to give a get to a wife he legally divorced and is separated from to attacking YU? Answer: When you can't defend yourself, slur someone else!

  19. SYS, the apparent pseudonym for the writer of this post believes by his very wise solution that he just discovered America. However, he is like a person driving over the Verrazano Bridge that with a shout declares he just discovered Staten Island. That writer is not only an attorney ignorant in civil matrimonial law, but is likewise an ignoramus regarding the Halachic laws of divorce as well. There are valid Halachic reasons why the true Gadolim of today and in the past, knowledgeable of the Halacha on all aspects of Gittin (Jewish Divorce) already, even before SYS was born, ruled out, and wrote strongly against and the SYS solution as Halachicly invalid.

    I am not here to educate SYS, only to say if he wants to grow up being a good lawyer, he should first learn to read the signs before announcing his wonderful discoveries.

  20. Rag Elyashiv shlit"a paskened that a Get issued by a husband bound to a prenup, may be an invalid Get, ansd any subsequent children his wife has based on that Get mamzeirim.

  21. >I'd like to see Micha offer a reasonable defense of RHS leading the sketchy "beis din" to convert Ivanka with Haskell the Rascal and a chassidishe money grubber. She converted for the sake of marrying a man who had left orthodoxy over a decade earlier. It is quite obvious they never intended to keep Torah umitzvos. She never dressed appropriately which means low cuts with her breasts almost fully exposed and she publicly Tweets from her favorite TREIF restaurants on Shabbos describing the non-kosher taanugim.<

    As odious as I find this ML character who seems to be posting many of the comments here (I know him personally and the emails match what comes out of his mouth), I have to agree that RHS owes all of us an explanation re Ivanka Trump. It has caused me to lose all respect for him and he was basically the last rabbi between me and the exit sign.

  22. Despite Micha's phony denials, anyone who investigates carefully will discover that many of the explosive divorce conflicts in the frum world are very much connected with the YU based "ORA" organization. Herschel Schachter's wicked YU ORA activists, totally crazed with perverse feminist ideologies, are the unseen hands causing many of the explosive and festering divorce conflicts in various parts of the frum world, including various Chareidi communities.

    ORA's mad dog "activists" pounce on divorcing Jewish men with a furious vengeance, slandering them, humiliating them, harassing the men and their families, stalking the men, pressuring the men's landlords and employers to have them evicted and fired, and worst of all encouraging their Jewish wives to battle endlessly in non-Jewish courts. The woman plaintiff in the court case which was the subject of this blog posting was well assisted by ORA.

    ORA's crazed feminist thugs hide behind a phony morality of saving "agunot", but their real goal is to allow Jewish wives to destroy their families while obtaining anything and everything they demand in divorce decisions, while trampling all over Torah and halacha, while trampling all over the Jewish husband's G-d given rights, and while forcing a pasul Get out of the women's brutalized husbands. The ORA apologists out there who want to condone and excuse ORA's vicious reeshus may well be ORA's next victim, midah k'neged midah.

  23. Pasen,

    That's interesting in its own right, but not relevant to our case. Do you have a citation for R' Elyashiv's pesaq? It is entirely plausible, I just have heard too many rumors about today's gedolim's pesaqim to accept any just off the grapevine.

    There are numerous gedolei poseqim who signed onto the use of the prenup R' Mordechai Willig aside from organizational statements from YU Rashei Yeshiva and the RCA: R' Ovadiah Yosef, Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, Rabbi Osher Weiss, Rabbi Yitzchok Liebes, zt”l (who was av beis din of the Igud haRabbanim at the time), etc...

    A man who had a civil divorce is not likely to be fulfilling his chiyuv onah (his physical duties for his wife), and depending upon his keeping the terms of the civil divorce, possibly neither she'eir and kesus (food and clothes). This places him in a halachic category where "kofin oso ad sheyomar 'rotzeh ani' -- Jews, or non-Jews on our behalf, may compel the husband until he says 'I want to give here a get'" and give the get on that basis. If he is compelled by a secular court because of their own laws it is not valid, but Jews are allowed to engage non-Jewish ruffians or ask them in other ways to apply pressure. See Rambam Hil' Geirushin 2:20.

  24. "He isn't sole dictator of the RCA."

    Thank you for admitting it is a dictatorship lol.

    So we have a modeh bemiktzas from Micha that RHS is at least partially responsible.

    If you know anything about the RCA, they sweep almost all halacha & policy violations under the carpet. Except in the case of Mordechai Tendler where they had other ulterior motives as well, the phony "Vaad Hakavod" goes through staged motions that a member is under investigation. They strategically wait until the commotion has died down and then they quietly drop the whole matter. It's always the same story, whether for improper gerus, interfaith dialog, womanizers who commit adultery, etc. What happened to the RCA's posturing over expelling Marc Schneier? Nothing. And there are others who were lucky enough to not have had compromising pictures published in major newspapers.

    And now that Pickled Herring is being replaced with Goldin Boy, they are heading towards accepting the non-orthodox musmachim of Avi Weiss which even RHS disagrees with.


    See this letter signed by many roshei yeshiva and poskim.

  26. Micha has served notice that he and his so-called rabbis are huge am haaretzim, with their bogus claim about allowing forced Gittin as a result of a civil divorce. A civil divorce has no halachic connection to a man's possible obligation to provide his wife a Get. According to Micha's bogus "halacha", any time a Jewish wife is a moredes and separates from her husband (for example sueing her husband in court, or abandoning her husband), the husband can be compelled to give a Get. There are no traditional and accepted halachic sources that would support this position.

    Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn denounces these types of forced Gittin as invalid according to all major poskim in a letter on his website. Rabbi Eidensohn's letter was specifically written to the Passaic community, which is mentioned in the letter:

    Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn also protests the halachic violation of forcing "a GET before the fiscal issues and custodies have been decided". Forcing a Get before the issues are settled is a common practice of the YU / ORA theologians who blatantly ignore halacha. Just because a civil divorce was granted, in many cases the issues in dispute have never been settled according to either Torah or civil law, and the divorce dispute may continue in various courts.

    Micha's anti-Torah agenda has nothing to do with Yiddishkeit. Where did Micha conjure up his alleged Torah morality? From Helen of Troy?

  27. Micha,

    If the wife unjustifiably sought the civil divorce and left (or forced out) her husband, the husband is not responsible for fulfilling his chiyuv onah and the other chiyuvim you wrote about, that the civil divorce (or mere separation the wife caused), as the wife caused her husband to be unable to fulfil those chiyuvim.

    As you know, a wife is not entitled to a divorce/get-on-demand according to halacha. A wife cannot halachicly demand a Get one morning without valid halachic cause, just because she wants to get divorced. A wife simply is not entitled to a divorce whenever she wants one. She needs valid halachic cause. Otherwise, her husband is fully entitled under halacha to deny her request for a divorce and in fact demand she return to his home. And she is under the halachic status of being a "moredes" ("rebel") until she does so. And she can face the halachic consequences and punishments (as clearly described in Rambam and elsewhere -- Rambam she can be beaten with a stick) metered out by Beis Din.

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. Rav Eidensohn,

    Is there a reason why you do not see fit to print the attempted comment linking a government sex offender file for the pedophile father in law of one of ORA's leaders?

    How is this different than any other case of a conviction of someone who poses a danger to the community, which is the reason why his picture is on a government website to begin with?

  30. Micha,

    It is also worthwhile pointing out that the general halachic prohibition against Jews availing themselves of a non-Jewish court includes proceedings for divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, separation of marital assets, etc. The halachic prohibition against using a non-Jewish court for those matters is no less than using a secular court for other matters.

    Furthermore, those matters (divorce, custody, assets, etc.) must be adjudicated by Beis Din based upon Jewish Law (halacha) and not secular law. Just as any other disputes amongst Jews must be adjudicated by Beis Din according to Jewish Law. While Jewish Law generally grants the husband all ownership of marital property and assets (that the wife didn't own prior to marriage) and has very different laws granting child custody than non-Jewish local law, the wife must accept Jewish Law on these matters even though they are less beneficial to her than goyish law.

    And after Beis Din adjudicates these matters, per Jewish Law, he and she can file that decision with the secular court as a settlement that they both agree to.

    Looking forward to your acknowledgement.


  31. atty tal b -- i'm surprised at you.

    a pre nup (or ante nup, or even stipulatoin not so ordered) is completely invalid regarding custody, child support, and domestic violence issues,.

    it is only valid regarding property distribution.

    and since batei din (and even civil courts) tie up custody and child support issues with property division, it makes the whole thing completely invalid.

    2. even a court order dividing property, etc, can be changed years or months later. we all know its done all the time, esp if a party claims bet din coercion, other claims, etc.

    2. a (rca type) pre nup can easily be dismissed as a religious document. so far, only one challenge in courts, and the pre nup was invalidated (unreported decision, dont know the exact reason). and its definitely not valid in njersey.

    (among ways to challenge -- its only signed by one party (otherwise there'd definitely be halachic issues, but sometimes both parties sign), it relates to religious issues, no disclosure of financial status at time of execution, notarized by officiating rabbi (never understood that one), no time to consult atty (since it usually comes up in the chosson's tish), interferes with real pre nup agreed to by attys for both sides, other claims.

    and enforcement depends on the jurisdiction the divorce takes place, not where the marriage ceremony takes place.

    3. halchic issues with pre nup -- besides the issues discussed here by others, its just not universally accepted halachic-wise. which could lead to undesirable rejected marriages by future children in future times. you dont know what can happen.

    4. i have seen shtar chatzi zachar with invalid arbitration clauses. who knows what this can lead to in future, esp if there is a second marriage, etc issues and the divorce lawyer forgets to get a waiver in the divorce agreement.

    5. we have all seen cases where a judge (illegally, but they do it anyway) orders a party to give (never to receive) a get by the next hearing date. this gentleman challenged it, but its not always practical. and this was a post divorce action.

    6. someone else's comment re the rca bet din has a lawyer on staff -- almost all their professional staff and dayanim are licensed attorneys (though one almost got reprimanded for not being licensed in the jurisdiction.)

    meaning, when dealing with the rca, you must bring an attorney, besides a toain (which they dont allow)

  32. as for that comment that some bet din "botched" the case, that usually happens cause the bet din knows its psak wont be followed, so they try to wimp out of it. rightly or wrongly.

    and its almost always the case that its the ex wife who wont follow.

  33. the problem is not only when a get is orderd by the court, because even if a bais din rules that the husband must give a get, in most cases that ruling itself makes the get null and void, see 'mishpet hakfiye' page 11,to get a free copy send an email to put in the subject box 5010 and you will find out the big froad that wass implanted falsly in 'igros moshe'.

  34. Micha,

    Any feedback on my last points?

  35. Going to arka'os is permitted in many situations. Obviously if you were correct, more posqim would rule accordingly. And I would think you know that yourself. (Which is why I didn't bother replying.)

    Among the situations is when beis din lacks the authority to enforce decisions. Another, if the parties can't agree on a beis din.

    If the only way you can actually reach a settlement is via secular courts, it's permissible to go.

    Nothing I said above is particular to divorce settlements as opposed to any other financial matter.

    Given the heated nature of divorce, and in particular the divorces under discussion where "refusing to give a get" is an option (or refusing to receive one), we obviously are dealing where a large number of cases do require a court system with enforcement powers.

    Again, I am wondering about the source for R' Elyashiv's ruling. Since the whole kesuvah is a prenup, I find it startling. My default assumption if we can't find a real source is that you heard unfounded rumor.

  36. Reb Micha,

    Even in the limited situations that arkaos are permitted, the party cannot collect from the opposing party more than halachicly entitled. IOW, if halachicly a person is only owed $100 but under secular law he is entitled to $300, and for some reason he was permitted to go to arkaos to collect his due, he is only permitted to collect $100 and not $300. If the secular court orders a $300 payment he is only halachicly allowed to take $100. (Or return $200 if he took $300.)

    In a divorce situation this would mean if arkaos was somehow even permissible and the secular court ordered a 50/50 division of marital assets, but halachicly the husband is entitled to 100% of post-marital assets, the wife is halachicly prohibited from taking it. (Same with alimony and child support payments vis-a-vis halachic entitlement vs. secular legal entitlement. Child custody too has different laws in halacha vs. the secular laws.)

    Now, there are very legitimate cases where a posek will advise the husband to withhold issuing a get until the wife complies with her halachic obligations in divorce matters, should she be refusing to.

    Additionally, I believe you are overestimating how infrequently of situations where arkaos is in fact halachicly permissible.

    I heard Rav Elyashev shlit"a's psak authoritatively a while back. Perhaps I'll have success in tracking it down again.

  37. Micha,

    See this:

    For some discussion on Rav Elyashev's position on prenup's.

  38. "Moreover, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, considered among the haredi community as the senior poseq of our generation, recently launched a scathing attack on this solution. In Rav Elyashiv’sview, such a solution (a prenup) is totally at variance with halakhah, and has a similar, if not the same effect as a get me`useh (forced get), which will lead to instances of mamzerut."

    This psak of Rav Elyashev is well known.

  39. right their is not rule so that divorce type of thing is stop and right No State is able to legally mandate a husband provide a "Get", as that would be an unconstitutional violation of seperation between church and state if you need to get more information then link here גירושין


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