Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weiss Dodelson: Primary problem isn't how to make divorce easy or equitable - it is to convince couples to work on their marriage

  I received the following question in one of the comments. It is a reoccuring question - especially for new readers who have not followed the discussion from the beginning. Therefore I am reposting his question and my answer.

R Eidensohn-
I apologize if this was something you addressed in an earlier post. Can you clarify the position you maintain regarding a woman who feels trapped in a marriage.
I think everyone can agree on a few salient points:
a- The pressure to marry early, and often after only a few weeks of meeting a person, will yield many "wrong" matches.
b- It is better that when a couple have irreconcilable differences both sides deserve freedom to go on with their lives.
c- the corruption of batei din is a "davar yaduah" and many people are concerned when dealing with a B"D.
With these ideas in mind (if you disagree with these assumptions, please respond) what is a woman supposed to do if she is trapped in a loveless marriage? Is she supposed to remain trapped? Is applying terms "moredet" really applicable? Do we really believe nowadays a woman is "commanded" to "obey" her husband? Can she only apply for divorce if he agrees? Another term that I have seen on your site and others is "maus aly." I also think that term is antiquated in our society. Meaning, a woman who doesn't want to live with her husband should not be forced to. Also her choice not to remain married in no way compromises her claims to custody and support. Also using a get as financial leverage is inherently unfair because the bias is on the man's side.
Towards a solution, I don't understand why every B"D can not demand a get and then hold the p'tur until the the resolution of the conflict? Lastly, when there is no unified B"D system what koach does one court have over another to force anyone to do anything? What are your solutions to preventing the next agunah?
I responded

yes Daniel your questions have been discussed in great detail in previous posts

I am not going into a repeat that which is readily available by reading past posts and discussion. Let me just state something which you have failed to include in your list of important concerns.

When two people marry - whether it is because of an arranged match, 6 dates, 4 years of dating or living together for 5 years - there is a possibility that one or both will feel that they could do better after 1 day or 20 years of marriage. The question now is what should be the response if your daughter or son come to you after 6 months or a year  of marriage and says - "I don't think I want to spend the rest of my life with him/her. He/shey bores/irritates/repulses me and I feel I can do better because obviously this is not my beshert."

You refer to such couples as "trapped". You might be aware there is a profession called marital counseling which in fact deals with couples with such problems. Many times it is possible to change the relationship to a positive one. Marriage is usually not something that works without effort. For some that effort has to be primarily in the beginning and others need constant vigilance and others have marriages fall apart after 30 years. Rav Shlomo Zalman once agreed that a particular couple with mental health issues could get married but only on the condition that they agreed to go to marriage counselling for 20 years and the money set aside in advance. I know a young lady who decided she had made a mistake after a week of marriage because she thought her husband's nose looked funny.

It is clear that the halacha does not accept the idea of divorce on demand - something which according to secular society for the last 20 years - is a G-d given right. It is expected in halacha that a couple who have married - especially if they have children - will not simply walk about from marital difficulties but will work on shalom bayis or marital harmony. This is important because it is clear that there is no such thing a divorce which doesn't have negative consequences - especially on children. Your questions are really only relevant after all avenues to achieve shalom bayis have failed.

In the present case Gital walked out of the marriage after 10 months and one child. Despite the pleading of her husband to make the marriage work - she agreed only to go to a therapist of her choice for no more than 4 sessions. The therapist said the marriage could be saved. Gital said she wasn't interested in saving the marriage. She left him saying "you are not a bad person just not for me".

What I am saying is that the halacha puts great emphasis on a stable family. That is really the issue - not the involvement of beis din. If obtaining a get is easy - there is no stability to family life. (And that has a negative ripple effect on the community.) There is no motivation to work at marriage. It is the Hollywood values system. As long as bells are ringing and birds are singing you know that this the right relationship.When the excitement dims that proves that it is time to move on to another relationship. For example it is not unusual when a doctor finishes his medical training - with the devoted support of his wife - he divorces her  for a better and more exciting woman. One Californian said, "When your wife turns 30 it is time for a change." That is not the Jewish way!


  1. "I think everyone can agree on a few salient points:

    a- The pressure to marry early, and often after only a few weeks of meeting a person, will yield many "wrong" matches."

    Absolutely incorrect. Those who marry after dating much longer than the Chareidi style have a much higher divorce rate than Chareidim.

    "b- It is better that when a couple have irreconcilable differences both sides deserve freedom to go on with their lives."

    Absolutely incorrect. It is best that they reconcile their differences and remain husband and wife.

    c- the corruption of batei din is a "davar yaduah" and many people are concerned when dealing with a B"D.

    Absolutely incorrect. The secular courts are FAR FAR worse and far far more corrupt and have far far worse laws than the Torah to even start with.

    1. I am of the belief that Jewish people need to find yasher dayanim to solve their conflicts. That is a VERY DIFFICULT TASK HOWEVER.
      I can say from first hand experience in my divorce that the secular court was MUCH more straight in its decision making process than the horrifically corrupt yet well- known bais din I went to. It is MUCH MORE LIKELY FOR BAIS DIN TO BE CORRUPT than a secular court due to many critical factors.

      1) There is no oversight of the Bais Din process and no possibility of appeal.

      2) Proceedings are basically never recorded, so there is no possibility of review for inconsistencies and lies in presentatation of evidence or in judicial mistakes or misconduct.

      3) There are no standardized procedures, qualifications for dayanim, or protocols for judicial restraint and/or judicial discipline.

      4) Becuase SO MUCH money is involved in fees, hundreds of dollars an hour per dayan, the field attracts people who are often characterlogically flawed and just plain greedy.

      5) The orthodox community is so tight knit and small that it is almost impossible that the dayanim do not have a close connection to the extended families or supporters of one of the conflicting parties. This exponentially increases the risk for corrupt influence, especially when there is no judicial oversight and the chaRacter and training of so many "official" dayanim is really quite sketchy.

    2. The goyishe courts are more corrupt because not only are their judges more corrupt but their very laws that are the basis for all their judgments are corrupt and twisted themselves.

      1. Most secular court decisions will never be accepted for appeal. And even if it is the appeals court are not much better than the lower court. But it won't usually even get to them.

      2. Judicial mistakes in secular court, too, will usually go uncorrected. In Beis Din, with three dayanim instead of just one all powerful secular judge, it is less likely a mistake will be made in the first place.

      3. Secular judges are mostly political hacks appointed by the Governor for supporting him and being in the same political party as himself.

      4. Secular courts are corrupted and tainted by money more than anyone else. He who has the most powerful lawyer can wipe the court floor over his opponent. Even if he is wrong but has the better lawyer he will usually win.

      5. The lawyers have connections to the judges in secular court and the judges will favor the lawyers they know, socialize with and are friends with. This happens all the time in secular court.

    3. Corrupt American Batei ShekerDecember 17, 2013 at 1:51 AM

      While I realized there are serious problems in the secular court system, the problems in the bais din non- system are actually deeper and more fundamental. Not because secualr judges are inherently more moral, but because the bais din non-system has no judicial protocols - at least none in practice that are even remotely enforceable.

      For example, a secular coirt judge who would render a decisiln without representation or the appearance from one of the parties to the case would be summarily removed from his position. Yet this exact thinv happens frequently in the bais hefkerot of people like epstein wolmark belsky et al and their c travesty of piskei halacha that render decisions allowing for kidnappimg and torure using cattle prods to force posul gittin without even speaking to the husband or even verifying that he exists!!! See the recent fbi sting and arrests.

    4. Without the slightest doubt the deep corruption in secular LAWS and courts are far far more fundamental than any problems in beis din.

      See my above five points.

      Wolmark/Esptein are no representitives of beis din. They are corrupt.

  2. Do we really believe nowadays a woman is "commanded" to "obey" her husband?

    Yes. It is Halacha as such.

    Can she only apply for divorce if he agrees?

    Correct. Unless the wife has cause where the husband wronged her. Otherwise she has no right to divorce.

    Another term that I have seen on your site and others is "maus aly." I also think that term is antiquated in our society.

    It is Halacha and it is applicable today as always.

    Meaning, a woman who doesn't want to live with her husband should not be forced to.

    Halacha disagrees with you.

    Also her choice not to remain married in no way compromises her claims to custody and support.

    Incorrect. If she demands (and receives) a divorce even though she was not halachicly entitled to force her husband to divorce her, then she loses her kesuba and she certainly loses any automatic assumption that she gets custody.

    The husband should not lose every-day living with his children because his wife woke up one morning, decided marriage was boring and she could do better elsewhere, and walked out. She cannot take the kids with her like that.

    Also using a get as financial leverage is inherently unfair because the bias is on the man's side.

    The Get may be withheld until the wife fulfills all her obligations towards him on the end-of-marriage issues and until all outstanding end-of-marriage issues are resolved in Beis Din.

    Towards a solution, I don't understand why every B"D can not demand a get and then hold the p'tur until the the resolution of the conflict?

    Because Halacha states that the giving of the Get is the LAST thing that is done in the divorce procedure. That it is only given after all outstanding end-of-marriage issues have been halachicly resolved.

    That is correct. The Get is the last step and is the last instrument in the process and the Get is only to be given once everything is resolved.

  3. Your response is ironic because the writer is - rightly or wrongly - chafing at the pressure to conform within the Orthodox community and you respond with absolutes. I can't think of two more opposite points of view in one place, but that's what this blog is for. While I don't know whether or not marrying young leads to more divorces, it is certainly true that such a pressure exists and telling someone that the alternatives are worse isn't going to be persuasive to someone under those constraints.

    Regarding the corruption of batei din, I doubt that you have any empirical evidence as to whether secular courts are infact "far far worse". I doubt that you have ever been in secular court, for that matter. As has been mentioned elsewhere in this blog, community acceptance and confidence is a major stabilizing influence within the Torah community. In other words, a gadol is "gadol" because he is accepted. (For example, see the oft-quoted introduction to the Igros Moshe.)

    What that writer is demonstrating is that there is a crisis of confidence in community with batei din and you will not succeed in generating confidence with your black-and-white, my-way-is-the-right-way attitude. Especially when you have no evidence regarding secular courts. In a sense, however, you may be correct - it is a davar yadua that the most recent Brooklyn DA was corrupt in how he protected child molesters at the behest of the Chassidishe community.

    1. The Torah has many absolutes. People who chafe at the pressure to conform to Torah law and values have no standing to change the Torah.

    2. "Meaning, a woman who doesn't want to live with her husband should not be forced to."

      "Halacha disagrees with you."

      Another troll who uses this blog to spread falsehoods about halacha in order to make halacha look bad...

    3. According to Rambam, bais din can force a wife against her will to live with her husband.

    4. source? what case are you talking about?

    5. It is statements like these that confirm to the secular nations that we are a backward and misogynistic religion.

    6. Who cares what secular nations think of us? As long as we follow Hashem's will, that's all that counts. Even if the goyim deem Hashem's will to be "backward and misogynistic".

  4. Very well said, right on the money. A partner in life is for life, and not like a car that you reassess, upgrade, compare, trade in for a new car every year and make sure to have the latest model. Imagine, both partners having the same attitude, how many partners can one have in a lifetime. And what about the children, having all those fly by night Tattis' and Mommys' shuffled around, in no time you will have them all related as step-children and step-brothers all over the place, and neither parent being the biological parent. That of course is not what was meant by marriage. It has a divine component as well, ki meHashem yotzo dovor, therefore, it is incumbent on both parties to contribute their whole arsenal to make it go with all seriousness. You must go with an open mind and to ACCEPT the given advice from a Professional, not just to go to be Yotze e.g. setting prejudiced rules and regulations as to whom, what, when and where.. The only comparison you can make is, have a car wash done from time to time, and make it as shiny as possible looking like new, as Yiddish home is intended to be. Bechonuni na bezos, vezeh kol hatorah kula, al regel achas. Talmud lists, what your choice of precedence should, and should not be.

  5. To comment on Dvar Torah,

    Divorce rates among white college educated folks in the US are about twenty percent. Not fifty percent as often quoted.

    Irreconcilable differences suggest no possibility of peace. Best thing that ever happened to my parents was divorce. I never knew they could be that content until I saw them with their new spouses.

    Secular courts are good -- better and fairer. Nothing is perfect, and outcomes are not guaranteed. But secular courts are better equipped to handle divorce.


    1. Divorce rates among Chareidi communities is in the single digits. In the MO community it is in the lower double digits. Both are lower than the divorce rate white college educated folks.

      Secular courts are corrupt. And the laws they enforce are even worse. Beis Din is not only better equipped to handle gittin, they are the only ones capable altogether.

      If a wife wants to get her Get from Judge Christopher McCally of Family Court instead of from Beis Din, gezunte heit. Let her do her entire divorce procedure there instead of beis din.

  6. Daniel your comments are so error ridden I dont know where to begin. A woman is not entitled to support once she is no longer living with her husband al pi halocho. The boys custody is with the father after age 6. If a woman refuses to go to bais din she is a mesareves ldin and loses her rights to litigate for a get in bais din. Not only that she cannot litigate in bais din anyone forever unrelated to this matter until she submits to bais din. If she goes to secular court not only the above but it is forbidden to marry such a woman even if the husbans gives the get voluntarily.

    I strongly echo and endorse the previous commentator's views on secular court - not only are the laws totally unfair to the man they are against the Torah. There are a few honest botei din which are not business enterprises - one in Lakewood, one in brooklyn and 2 in monsey. The problem is that people like you claim they are corrupt presicely becuse they are not and follow hakocho and not American liberal feminist secular values.

    1. The first kedima in mzonos / tzedaka is his grusha, after wife and kids

  7. Daniel you call mo"us olai archic. I call shabbos shaatnez pesach also arcaic. The pick and choose religion is called reform or yu modern orthodoxy. Please dont confuse it with authentic yiddishkeit

  8. I think your position is quite dangerous. It is exactly on these grounds that women have been sent back to abusive husbands for years, decades, centuries. They are always told to "try harder" (not to irritate the husband, to that what he wants, etc.).

    As long as you agree that one party should have the right to withhold divorce unilateraly or to sell divorce for large sums of money (as is the case here), I deem you a promoter of domestic abuse.

    1. Wait, you have a problem that "one party should have the right to withhold divorce unilateraly (sic)" but you have no problem that one party should have the right to demand a divorce unilaterally?

    2. well; why don't you join ''rabbi'' wolkoff and his conservative congregation if you have a problem with the torah which was proven true throughout the generations even though many argued in the past it was always proven perfect and just because you don't understand it now have no fear when moshiach comes you will

  9. How much of this argument is based on the flawed premise that Avraham Meir Weiss didn't abuse his wife?

    1. AMW never abused his wife by any definition, notwithstanding GD lies in her shmutzy NY Post article.

    2. You see, you can say that, as many times as you want, and it can even be true that he didn't. But the fact that she alleges mild abusiveness in the Post, & people close to the situation from the Dodelsons side say that she claims there was more, more mefurash abuse, means that she isn't claiming Mous Alai. Which changes the entire premise of this discussion, if it can be intellectually honest.

    3. EVS: She and they may claim anything they want. They may even claim he would beat her with a stick every afternoon at 12:00, 7 days a week. But they must prove their claim to beis din for their claim to be worth anything. And if they don't prove it, the claim has no standing and is not believed. And they have never proved it or even claimed it in beis din. So it has no bearing.

    4. That's exactly why I say that your position fosters domestic abuse.

    5. Well: Following Halacha does not foster domestic abuse. Halacha demands allegations be proven and not accepted at face value of the claim.

    6. emes vshalom; what you are saying is absolutely false he never abused her even the little bit that she wrote in the post can't be believed because it is filled with lies and there is no way there is anything that happened that she didn't write in her post article so now stop with your lies and smear campaign against the innocent

  10. Well thanks for calling the torah a promoter of domestic vuolence as interpretwd not by me but by rav pam, rav shmuel birenbaum, rav menashe klein, the previous bobover rebbe etc.

    No one is forcing her to live with anyone she doesn't want to. However dont expect a get if you go to secular court.

    Anonymous wanted evidence. I will supply him with basic evidence. Please supply me with cases where rhe costs of the case in bais din exceeded $350 grand and where the botei din allowed the woman to continue litigating forever to where the men down to make ridiculous consessions? I know of at least 2 such cases weiss and another case which I am very familiar with?

    The secular laws are inherently against the torah and produce outcomes that favor rhe woman. There is no equitable distribution in the Torah so from a torah perspective the outcome is not just incorrect bur corrupt. What about custody of boys over 6? The same applies.

    I await the onslaught of the YU chevra

  11. 'What I am saying is that the halacha puts great emphasis on a stable family."

    Are you not, perhaps, projecting your modern, idealistic conception of a stable family into a halachic system that predates these moral ideals?
    There were Amoraim who would have temporary marriages when they traveled, and then they said goodbye and parted ways.

    similarly you write "One Californian said, ""When your wife turns 30 it is time for a change." That is not the Jewish way!"
    yet until Rabbeinu Gershom, one could have gotten "better and more exciting woman"
    without even getting divorced!

    Now you might respond that at least the husband would still be responsible for the first wife (provided it was not a temporary marriage.) but so many frum people today talk about the terrible, destruction that pornography causes to a marriage, yet they have no problem accepting that our ancestors had wonderfully stable polygamous families.
    Go ask any women, what would hurt them more, their husband relieving sexual tension with empty pornography, or having a deep meaningful relationship with another women?

  12. The MO are total feminist hypocrites. Why is the woman allowed to use the kids in secular court to extort more money out of the fathers?

  13. well your position is in fact sick and led to the destruction of many innocent men over the years.

  14. As long as you agree one party has the right to unilaterally withold the rights of the other party and the children to have a normal loving relationship without going through years of stupid litigation leading to financial bankruptcy the FAKE Aguna problem will rear its ugly head.

  15. Chochom Fun Di MaNishtanaDecember 15, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    I have just one question that I need addressed by Rabbi Eidenson;

    Avrohom Weiss demanded custody of his son plus a large amount of money for granting the divorce. If he really cared about his son - why has he been refusing to really negotiate for two years.(at this point he's only been making demands, every attempt to have him actually sign onto a binding arbitration agreement has failed, whether it was RG, or RSK) If he thought he had a valid case why didn't he work with the beis din or work through his rabbonim?

    Pardon my stupidity but I simply can not imagine any rational explanation for his behavior that conforms with Torah. Perhaps you can explain how a talmid chachom could justify having his wife be an aguna for 4 years?

    1. AMW has been trying to negotiate in good faith for years. The other side hasn't. AMW has agreed to binding arbitration.

      AMW has not been asking for full custody, though according to halacha he is entitled to custody.

      AMW has asked for Zable Beis Din. Dodelson refused Zabla Beis Din.

      His wife is not an agunah. She is not entitled to a Get. And no beis din ever ordered she be given a Get. Thus she is no aguna.

    2. Chochum, you are the wrong son. Rasha definitely. Possibly the aino yodeah but definitely not the chochum. You are also a sock puppet.
      I love the waybthe dodelsons go around saying he never signed anything. What have they signed? Zippo zilcho Nada. For some reason RG gave a decision. If the letter he first let out is understandable the weisses accepted it. 48 hours later aaron Kotler gets him to write a letter about never being a binding arbitrator. Just curious, which side isnt trying to end it.
      Last I saw , rsk got his father to write a rambling letter about extensive negotiations and the fact that the smear campaign had to end. Now, if the Dodelsons started those negotiations why would they try to sabotage it with more PR to smear the weiss? Answer: weiss started negotiations and the dodelsons don't want the get.
      Now, why don't the dodelsons want the get? Is it because they have full intention of trying to destroy amw and the weisses? The get is not what they want - complete surrender is.
      Dodelsons have a problem though. The right wing of the religion - the orthodox, are on to them. So, they use sock puppets and people from the mo crowd, some reformists and the occasional conservative to further their cause. Congratulations to them for showing us all that these people do not care what the torah says as long as it agrees with them.
      I hope that there are protests at the bmg dinner next week. Maybe aaron Kotler and family will see how sick of them all we really are. But keep going sock puppet. We like to see the dodelsons sweating. Btw, I used to be on your side.

    3. she's not an "aguna"!

      THEY are stuck in a process of divorce.

      A little truth, please.

    4. chochom fun di manishtana; i think you mixed it up because the one who signed a binding agreement by ronni was weiss and if someone put a letter against you would you be interested in signing a binding arbitration with him that being said his wife is NOT an aguna and if she would play fair she would have had her get YEARS ago

    5. Protest at BMG dinnerDecember 16, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Very much like the idea of a protest at BMG dinner - not just for their support of the anti-Torah Doodleson travesty but also for BMG's terriblly unjust and cruel persecution of Kolkos victim and family ( Rabbi S).

    6. The Feinstein/Weiss are very much against such an idea. Rav Reuven Feinstein has stated unequivocally to gvirim who has asked that absolutely no action is permitted against Lakewood - including reducing donations. Yeshivos can not be held hostage to disputes.

    7. Chochom fun di Ma NishtanaDecember 16, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      MG & Shimi- are you saying Weiss SIGNED an arbitration agreement? That's what you say- but then again, all we've seen evidence of is Dodelson sending an arbitration agreement to Weiss for signature- which they never signed. It seems that that bolsters their claim that he refuses to sign anything. Repeating your assertion doesn't make it true.

    8. Chochom fun di Ma NishtanaDecember 16, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      Just saying, you are saying that Weiss approached R Sholom Kanenetzky. That's interesting, I heard that as well. They must think he is a fair shlish. Why has he not been able to resolve this yet? It's been over a month.

    9. Chochom fun di Ma NishtanaDecember 16, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Rabbi Eidenson, with respect, you didn't address my original comment.

    10. Chochom fun di Ma NishtanaDecember 16, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Yy, you say that she is not an aguna, but anyone who ever tried mediating has said that they can't get him to say clearly what exactly he wants to give a get.?

    11. Chochom fun di Ma Nishtana; read the letter from ronni it says clearly that weiss was the one who signed and it was the dodelsons who backed out and now after weiss made consesions and she didn't keep her part of the deal she says she wants to start the negotiations from there so that she can get even more than what ronni gave her but if she would agree to what ronni said she should and not use these disgusting tactics she can have her get TOMORROW and for you to blame it now on weiss is the most ridiculous thing to say because he wants to get it finished while she wants to ruin him and is not too interested in getting a get as we see from all this that she is doing therefore yy is 100% correct that she is not an aguna

  16. It's not credible that a religion that says that one burnt meal is grounds for divorce should put great emphasis on family stability.

    I think you reinterpret those things from a modern perspective.

    1. @Well if you stopped making strident proclamations but simply raised issues as questions for consideration - we might make useful progress

      The issue of changes in society and the mechanism for modification of halacha to meet these changes is definitely an important issue. Perhaps you would like to write a scholarly guest post on this issue?

  17. Discussion about saving the marriage might have been relevant to the case at hand 4 years ago. Right now, it seems neither party wants to continue the marriage, and after four years of what seems to have been a very bitter dispute that seems eminently understandable. At this point the parties need to figure out how to end this marriage and the fighting before everyone is dead of attrition. The one absolutely innocent party who I am sure is suffering needlessly is the young child.

    The gemara in Sanhedrin (daf 7) points to the attitude a Jew is supposed to have toward a dispute--namely even if one loses one should be happy that the beit din made him do the right thing so he can be doing what God wants. Winning isn't supposed to be the main thing; Ratzon Haborei is. The commentators here who are suggesting that it is a positive Torah value for a husband to withhold a get until he gets what he wants or to punish the wife for wanting to end the marriage understand, I am afraid, nothing at all of the Torah. It is disgraceful that the parties cannot agree on a beit din to resolve the issues; as a community we need to take more responsibility for establishing trustworthy and just batei din.

    And even before all the rancor, trying to save the marriage may often be a good answer, but it isn't always. There are some things no one has to put up with in a spouse.

  18. Your simpathy for Gittal is totally misplaced. She was trying to stop the father see his son properly. Then she upped the ante and decided ro have a full divorce battle in arko"oys. Then she can collect the get from the goyshe judge or the new york post or r herschel schachter same difference.

  19. Personally my feeling is that once all the fathers financial arrears caused by litigation have been corrected and future child support for daughters al pi galocho is established and a mechanism to transfer the boys to the father at the halachikally appropriate age a condional get should be given. It should be conditional on the woman upholding the agreement and never running to arko"oys.

    Asking for more than this to to compensate for breaking up a home may be moral but impractical in the current ultra feminist environment. Asking for less is extortion by the woman.

  20. The Doddleson Anti-Torah CrusadeDecember 16, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    The Doddlesons are the ones who scuttled the Rav Greenwald mediation/arbitration effort by pulling out of the process and taking their"case" to the halls of justice in the NY Post

  21. RDE,

    Thank you for posting this. I see much better where you are coming from, and it is hard to disagree. However, given the RG takana, isn't the husband consigning himself to being bound to a dead marriage also? IOW, let's say the wife is 100% dead wrong; by what mechanism can a husband avoid being chained to a dead marriage, all for the sake of the greater good of not allowing his wife (women in general) to flippantly overturn the marital commitments?

    Daniel (not the original commenter)

    1. Important point. That is why I am trying to convince people that it is not simply a question of divorce on demand. Changing each piece changes the tapestry of not only personal life but also community life. Theoretically as Rabbi Gartner pointed out on his article on get me'usa we can collectively shift to the psak of the Rambam - but it would have major consequences on the nature of marriage and family. We need to think through the whole package before making changes. As the Rambam has pointed out - no legal system is going to be fair for everyone - the question is the present system dealing adequate with the needs of our community and can we get widespread consent to change it as we saw in the times of Rabbeinu Gershon?

    2. isn't the husband consigning himself to being bound to a dead marriage also

      Consider that the man's biological clock runs much longer. More importantly, the fact that a man chooses to refrain from (second) marriage does not give him license to withhold the privilege from his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Lose-lose mentality is a sad outcome, but not righteous.

    3. RDE: Where is this Rabbi Gartner article you refer to?

    4. It is on the blog search the archives


    6. RDE, I believe you dodged my question. In the post Rabbeinu Gershom world, how can a husband leave his wife getless -- with full halachic sanction -- considering how it will trap him too? (Yitz, your comment is therefore question assumes she hasn't a right to a get.)
      What I'm starting to believe is that RG understood well that the byproduct of his takkana would be the impossibility of a husband withholding the get. RDE, why punt this issue to our time; maybe it's already the facts on the ground?
      Of course, this leaves the question re: the later poskim. If this were so, why would they ignore it? Or, how do they envision the husband freeing himself if he chooses not to give the get?

    7. Daniel S:

      For the same reason that Rabbeinu Gershom specifically gave wives the right to reject her husband's wish to divorce.

      So you have the same question on her: Her refusal to accept a Get will also leave her trapped.

    8. The answer is that either spouse has the right, per RG as well as the later poskim, to demand -- yes DEMAND -- SHALMO BAYIS!! And wait as long as it takes.

    9. RYD,
      You've only compounded my question, not answered it.
      If one side doesn't care that they're trapped, does that mean it is appropriate for them to trap the other party?
      Further, how many of these cases that drag on for years, a la W-D, are about one party being madly in love and wanting Sholom Bayis?
      If you want a divorce, but you don't give/accept a Get, it seems you are doing so for some רשעות purpose, no?

  22. @ DT- Thank you for responding at length. While many were critical of my assumptions and questions I don't think you addressed the issue at hand. As a psychologist I am sure you realize more than most, that not every marriage can be saved. There exists the possibility that one comes t the conclusion that the marriage is over before their soon to be ex-spouse. If the person is leading a religious lifestyle they will in consult with pastoral as well as psychological counsel. Everyone wants shalom bayit, but not every marriage was made in heaven. I find it hard to believe there is a magic formula to heal every marriage. I also think it is irresponsible to force every spouse back to their partner. Once a person availed themselves to pastoral and therapeutic services and through their competent guidance seeks divorce should he/she remain trapped? Really? If the child is young should the mother not take the child to live with her. ( I am not advocating for denial of visitation / joint custody) however child support is for the child and should be maintained by the B"D if they use it for binding arbitration.
    As to the challenges made that this isn't halachically tenable approach because it is modern it must be wrong.--There are many times that times changed and the Chachamim made takanot to address the problems they faced from antiquity to modern times. At some point we as a society realized slavery is wrong, polygamy is not for us and we don't engage minors. There are so many more examples but the point is obvious. This isn't about picking and choosing "chafing," or any other disparaging comment "Dvar Torah" feels the need to insult people who might disagree with him/her.
    In this regard the rabbanim of the BDA, the largest B"D for gittin in the US supports takanot like the halachik pre-nup. Before you jump down my throat, please let me know of one case that the BDA gave a p'tur, even with a get that was assisted by ORA and/or the husband felt pressure to give the get and the p'tur was not recognized. While many may critizize R'Stern or R' Shachter, l'maaseh the gittin are kosher and the women are able to go on with their lives and their future kids are able to marry.
    Lastly, the idea that a husband automatically gets full custody of a boy over six is equally preposterous. Every case is unique and should be decided on it's own merits.
    As i asked before what is your solution? You told me what you are not prepared for- quickie divorces. I did not advocate that position. When is a marriage over? How many psychologists do they need to see? Which rabbi do they need to consult? Is there a list? once one side consulted with a competent rav, and they agreed that the marriage was over and encouraged going to B"D is that not enough. I don't believe there is a simple solution to such complex issues. If you do, i look forward to reading about it.

    1. I agree with what you write here - as I mentioned I only mentioned in my post the one issue that you had missing from your comment. Your concerns are genuine concerns - I was simply trying to put a context and pointing out that divorce on demand is not the solution to a complex issue. My brother did advocate a solution which addresses your concerns

    2. Why don't you make this well-written answer into a guest post?

      It says many of the things I had to say.

    3. good idea - just need some time

    4. Can you please post a link to your brothers article in the comments. Thank you.

  23. Suggested Guest Post: How Divorce Lost Its Groove, from the New York Times, no less.
    In recent years, the educated portions of American society have recognized the danger of divorce when there are children involved. They do not accept the radical claim by the cultural revolution of the 1960s that getting divorced or staying married are two equally valid moral choices. They are beginning to reject the notion that the right to personal liberty and freedom of lifestyle choice means that a parent should have the absolute right to walk away from a marriage just because. And, parents getting divorced are actually finding themselves stigmatized by peers and communities who recognize the destructive effect divorce has not only on individual families but on society as a whole. It is tragically ironic that such a large swath of the Orthodox community, rabbonim and roshei yeshiva included, seems to be embracing the absolute moral “right” to a divorce on demand for any reason or no reason at all, regardless of whether there are children involved, and trying to rewrite halacha to fit into their 1960s-based “morality.”
    Ever since her divorce three years ago, Ms. Thomas said, she has been antisocial, “nervous about what people would say. … All of a sudden, this community I’d lived in for 13 years became this spare and mean savannah,” she said.
    That a woman who has been divorced should feel such awkwardness and isolation seems more part of a Todd Haynes set piece than a scene from “families come in all shapes and sizes” New York, circa 2011. But divorce statistics, which have followed a steady downward slope since their 1980 peak, reveal another interesting trend: According to a 2010 study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, only 11 percent of college-educated Americans divorce within the first 10 years today, compared with almost 37 percent for the rest of the population.
    For this cross section of American families… divorce, especially for mothers with young children underfoot, has become relatively scarce since its “Ice Storm” heyday.

  24. Teresa DiFalco, a 41-year-old mother of two… recalled being shocked when her husband wanted to split up three years ago.
    “I had this sense of: ‘You’re kidding me. We have children. It’s not allowed,’ ” she said. Divorce was not a part of her children’s landscape, Ms. DiFalco said. Her son had just one acquaintance whose parents were divorced, her daughter none.
    Similarly, Molly Monet, a professor of Spanish at Mount Holyoke College who separated from her husband in 2007, said she felt out of sync, “like the ultimate bad mom.”
    “Now my children were from a ‘broken home,’ ” she said. “My first response was, Is this going to devastate the kids?”
    “In the 1970s, when a woman got divorced, she was seen as taking back her life in that Me Decade way. Nowadays, it’s not seen as liberating to divorce. It’s scary.” …
    In the 1970s, “the feminists, the hippies, the protesters, the cultural elite all said, It’s O.K. to drop out.” In contrast, “We made up our minds, my brother and I and so many of the grown children of the runaway moms, that we would put our families first and ourselves second. We would be good, all the time. We would stay married, no matter what, and drink organic milk.”
    “One of the hardest things about divorce today is that you feel like you have to explain or apologize for it…
    “The notion of divorce has become one of failure again,” said Ms. Morrison, 42, a resident of Park Slope. “It used to be, ‘You’re free, rock on!’ Now it’s, ‘You couldn’t make it work, you failed.’ ” Ms. Morrison described people’s reaction as “the two-second blink” when she says something along the lines of, “Zack is with his father today.”Among a certain demographic, marriage is viewed as something that … needs to be continually worked at and improved upon. When Ms. Dolgoff tells others about her divorce, their response, with disquieting frequency, is “Yes, well, marriage is hard” as in, “You knew that getting in.”
    Blogs and child-rearing books suggest a subtle — and sometimes not-so-subtle — social pressure to tough it out. From the 1970s to the 2000s, the percentage of highly educated Americans who believe that divorce should be made more difficult rose from 36 to 48 percent….
    [S]plitting up with tender, vulnerable children in the mix is seen as a parental infraction.
    “I’ve definitely experienced judgment,” said Priscilla Gilman, author of a new memoir, “The Anti-Romantic Child,” which deals in large part with her 2006 divorce. “Everyone said: ‘Isn’t there anything more you can do? Your kids need you to be together. They’re so little.’ ” At the time, Ms. Gilman knew only one other person who was divorced. “I had progressive, feminist friends. None of them were getting divorced, none of them.”
    “There has been a striking shift in both beliefs and behavior towards marriage among educated and affluent Americans,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project. “There’s a tacit or explicit recognition among well-educated parents that their kids are less likely to thrive if Mom and Dad can’t be together.”

  25. The issue is really simple. There are two possibilities.

    Either you say that Rabbi Gershon of Rottenburg was reform, because the true intention of the torah was to allow polygamy and divorce on a whim, unilaterally, on the husband's side. Then you convert to whatever sefardi community will take you in order to live true judaism, as opposed to ashkenazy reform-judaism.

    Or you say that it was OK for Rabbi Gershon to ban polygamy and introduce a right for the wife to reject a get. In this case, you state that judaism evolves with society. And then you will automatically understand that it IS important to make divorce more equitable and to put a halt to get-extortion.

    It's really as simple as that.

    1. Since, as you said Rabbeinu Gershom implemented, a wife may reject a divorce, similarly and at least equally a husband may reject giving a divorce.

    2. Well your make a false dichotomy and show you have no understanding of rabbinic decrees and its relationship to Torah

    3. @DT - if Well's simplistic statement is indeed a false dichotomy, can you kindly elaborate on how to understand both the authority of a Rav in Germany to make such gezeirot, and the context they were made within?


    4. שו"ת הרא"ש כלל מג סימן ח

      תשובה: על ענין אשה הכתובה לעיל, החכם ר' יעקב אלפסי יש"צ, תשובתו. על ענין מורדת אין אדם צריך לימלך; כי בהכרחת נתינת גט, ראיתי לרבותינו חכמי אשכנז וצרפת מתרחקין עד הקצה האחרון מכל מיני הכרחות כפיית האיש לגרש בעסק מרידת האשה, כי נראה להם דברי רבינו ר"ת ז"ל וראיותיו עיקרים וראוי לסמוך עליהם. ואף אם היו הדברים מוכרעים, צריך אדם להרחיק מספק אשת איש ומלהרבות ממזרים בישראל. ואם ראו בדורות שהיו אחר חכמי הגמ', בימי הגאונים ז"ל בישיבות של בבל, שהיה צורך שעה בימיהם להסיע על דברי תורה ולעשות גדר וסייג, ותקנו שיגרש האיש את אשתו בעל כרחו, כשהיא אומרת: לא בעינא ליה לגבראי, כדי שלא תתלה עצמה בכותי ותצאנה בנות ישראל לתרבות רעה, וסמכו על זה: כל המקדש, אדעתא דרבנן מקדש, והסכימה דעתם להפקיע הקידושין כשתמרוד האשה על בעלה; אותה תקנה לא פשטה על כל הארצות. ואף אם יש מקומות שנהגו לכוף, לא נהגו מנהג זה באותן מקומות על פי תקנת הגאונים ז"ל, כגון שבשעה שתקנו הגאונים את התקנה ששליחוה לאותן המקומות וקבלו אותה עליהם; ואם כן, היה הדבר ידוע על פי הקבלה, דור אחר דור, היאך קבלו תקנה זו עליהם בצווי הגאונים. כי תקנה קבועה כזו, אם קבלוה עליהם, לא היתה עומדת לישכח מפי דורות הבאים. דוגמא לדבר: חכם אחד היה בארצנו, והיה שמו רבינו גרשום, תיקן תקנות טובות בענין גירושין, והיה בימי הגאונים ז"ל, ותקנותיו וגזרותיו קבועות ותקועות כאלו נתנו מסיני, בשביל שקבלום עליהם ומסרום לדור דור. אלא אני רואה, שבאלו הארצות רוב הגיונם בספרי רי"ף ז"ל, לפי שראו כפייה זו כתובה בהלכות, ונהגו ביש מקומות לדון כך. ועוד אני אומר, שהגאונים שתקנו תקנה זו, תקנוה לפי הדור ההוא, שהיה נראה להם לפי צורך השעה בשביל בנות ישראל. והאידנא נראה הענין להפך, בנות ישראל בדור הזה שחצניות הן, אם תוכל האשה להפקיע את עצמה מתחת בעלה, באמרה: לא בעינא ליה, לא הנחת בת לאברהם אבינו יושבת תחת בעלה, ויתנו עיניהם באחר וימרדו בבעליהן; על כן טוב להרחיק הכפייה. ויותר התימה הגדול על הרמב"ם ז"ל, שכתב, שאם אמרה: מאסתיהו ואיני יכולה להבעל לו מדעתי, כופין אותו לשעתו לגרש*ה, לפי שאינה כשבויה שתבעל לשנוי לה. ומה נתינת טעם לכוף האיש לגרש ולהתיר אשת איש, לא תבעל לו ותוצרר אלמנות חיות כל ימיה, הלא אינה מצווה על פריה ורביה! וכי בשביל שהיא הולכת אחרי שרירות לבה, ונתנה עיניה באחר וחפצה בו יותר מבעל נעוריה, נשלים תאותה ונכוף האיש, שהוא אוהב אשת נעוריו, שיגרשנה? חלילה וחס לשום דיין לדון כן. ורבי מאיר ז"ל, בעסקי מורדת, בענין הממון, היה דן בדינא דמתיבתא שיתנו לאשה כל מה שהכניסה, אבל לא היה כופה לגרשה. וקודם שיחזירו לה מה שהכניסה לו, היה מצוה להחרים אם שום אדם השיאה עצה זו, כדי להוציא מיד בעלה מה שהכניסה לו. וכשהיה נראה לו שהיה ערמה בדבר, לא הי*ה מצוה להחזיר אפילו מה שהכניסה לו, ולא היה דן כלל דין דמאיס עלי, אם לא שתתן אמתל*א לדבריה, למה אינו מקובל עליה; או שרואין בו שהוא מכלה הממון, אז הי*ה מצוה להחזיר לה מה שהכניסה לו. ומדבריו לענין הממון, כ"ש לענין כפיית הגירושין, דיש לחוש לערמה ולנתינת עיניה באחר; ואשר יבחר וירחיק הגירושין; הרי כתבתי לך בענין כפיית גט מורדת. אמנם, בנדון זה, ספר לי אחיה אמתלאות שנותנת למרידתה, ואתה דיין בדבר הזה, תחזור על הדבר אם יש ממש בדבריה. ואם דעתו לעגנה, ראוי הוא שתסמוך על מנהגכם בעת הזאת, לכופו ליתן גט לזמן. ועוד, כי זאת כבר נתגרשה, אלא שנולד ספק בתנאי, ואם היה בא להחזירה, היתה צריכה להתקדש. ויפה דנת דיתן לה מה שהכניסה לו, ששים זהובים שהודה בהם. וזה הביא לך כתבך חתום. ומן ההוצאה, תעשה כפי מה שיראה לך, ולכל הפחות יפרע שכנגדו חצי ההוצאה. ושלום, אשר בן ה"ר יחיאל זצ"ל.

  26. CHISSUL CHESHBONOT CRYING WOLFDecember 17, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    The more we find out, the more it looks like chisul cheshbonot (payback time/ revenge bela'az). The Kotlers together with long time R' Moshe Feinstein refusniks against the R' Dovid and R' Ruven and the Weiss'es. Kol Kore=> Cease and Desist=> Arbitration R' Gruenwald => downed by a heat seeking missile from fakewood=> O RA...vechozer cholila in and endless loop like the kaf hakela. Bad blood ike beinayhu, and then they cry Wolf. And that is what's WITHOLDING. What a shame, all at the expense of Chilull Shem Shamayim.

  27. Look why I say that the idea that "divorce can be avoided by withholding a get" fosters abuse. It creates an atmosphere where abused spouses find it difficult to walk away from abusive spouses.

    One abuse wife writes:

    "Why didn't I fight for my freedom sooner? Because of religion and abuse." Divorce is against God's way. Divorce means marrying another is adultery. Divorce means sin and unforgiveness. Divorce means I made a mistake and didn't follow God's path for my life. I didn't know that divorce because of abuse absolved me of all of that. I didn't understand that my fear of confrontation and what he kept telling me was just my simple misunderstanding of his needs, was actually because the relationship was abusive. I didn't understand that every time I was happy and he got angry or sullen, it was abuse. I didn't know that abuse had eight levels. I didn't know that I suffered on all levels. I didn't know anything beyond I was being a bad christian because I was hurting and seeking an answer that wasn't God's Way."

    I happens that she was not jewish, but I think that the result of an "anti-divorce climate" is the same in both religions. For women, it might be worse in judaism because of get-withholding.

    So her conclusion is:
    "What I ultimately internalized, inadvertently, is that religion is also abusive."

    If you want to read the whole post in context:


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