Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Rav Dovid Eidensohn: Telephone Conference Shiur #10 – The Chazon Ish and the Laws of Coercion of a GET

Dial 605-562-3130 enter code 411161#

1. There are times when a husband can be forced to give a GET, even with a beating, such as one who marries his close relative. And there are time when the husband cannot be forced with a beating to divorce his wife, but people can tell the husband he is wicked for not giving a GET. See EH 154:21. And then there are times when the husband cannot be pressured at all to give a GET. Even Hoezer 77 paragraphs 2 and 3 and commentators.

2. The Chazon Ish Even Hoezer Chapter 99:1 says that when Beth Din errs and rules that the husband can be forced with a beating and he agrees to give a GET only because of the beating, the GET he gives is negated by the Torah not just by the rabbis.

3. If Beth Din had a case where the only coercion allowed was words but not a beating, and the Beth Din gave a beating, the GET from that beating is negated by the Torah and not just the rabbis. EH 99:1

4. Rambam maintains differently, that if Beth Din made an error and coerced a GET with a beating when it was not called for, the GET is kosher by the Torah standard, but invalid by rabbinic standard. The Chazon Ish says that this is true only if Beth Din made an honest error, because they thought the halacha permitted a beating. But if a Beth Din deliberately beat a husband they knew should not be beaten, the GET is invalid by Torah standard not just rabbinic standard even according to the Rambam. EH 99:1

5. The gemora in Shabbos 88b asks how today when there is no longer semicha from Moshe Rabbeinu to be a Dayan, how can rabbis coerce a GET? The gemora answers that today we do the coercion because it was so established by the earlier Semuchim.

6. The Chazon Ish writes there EH 99:1 that when the earlier Musmochim gave permission to coerce Gittin they meant to include a Beth Din that knew the halochose of judging, that knew the logic involved to be a Beth Din, and that mastered the laws of paskening. It would seem from this that any Beth Din that is not a master of the laws of paskening and knowledgeable about judging its laws and practice is not authorized by early generations to coerce Gittin. To coerce a GET without the permission of the earlier Musmochim is unacceptable (Gittin 88b).

7. The Chazon Ish says there that a Beth Din that deliberately twists things to coerce a GET when it is not deserved has a status of no Beth Din. If so, all of those who deliberately give coerced Gittin the opposite of the Shulchan Aruch lose the title of Beth Din and their Gittin are not recognized. I heard a similar thing from Posek HaDor Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l, that a Beth Din that does things against the Shulchan Aruch loses its status of a Beth Din. A similar statement is in a letter from Gedolim in Israel such as Reb Chaim Kanievsky and others. (Brought in the beginning of the Sefer Mishpitei Yisroel.)

8. The Chazon Ish writes EH 99:2 “If the husband being beaten [by mistake] to divorce his wife suddenly feels like giving the GET, not because of the beating but a genuine personal decision, the GET is kosher. But this applies only if he decides that he really wants the GET before the GET is made. But if he says this after the GET is made the GET is invalid.

9. The Chazon Ish says that a husband beaten to divorce when he should not be coerced, the GET is invalid, even if the husband was silent after the beating and he said “I want the GET” without complaining how the GET was obtained. Chazon Ish EH 99:2:2.

10. If the husband is beaten to give the GET and he agrees because of the beating, but in his heart he declares that the GET is negated and invalid, if the beating was proper that he deserved the beating and deserved coercion, the GET is kosher. Ch. Ish EH 99:2:3

11. The Chazon Ish writes that if Beth Din did not force with a beating or any kind of coercion, but they made a mistake and ruled that the husband is obligated by the Torah to give a GET, the GET is invalid by Torah ruling and not just by rabbinical ruling. Ch. Ish EH 99:2: par. 2.

12. There are two reasons for this: One, when the Beth Din told him [falsely because they erred] that the Torah requires a GET, it created a pressure on him to obey the Torah, and this pressure negates the GET.

13. Also, the GET is invalid by the Torah because if the husband had known that the Beth Din was wrong he never would have given the GET. EH 99:2.

14. Thus whenever a Beth Din rules that a husband must give his wife a GET, if the husband is not a candidate for coercion, something very rare, the GET given is invalid by the Torah not just rabbinical ruling. [...]


  1. In modern language, the Mendel Epstein et al case is a game
    changer. I call it a great miracle. The public mood, all the bait din in America,
    and even Agunah International---will drop abductions and beatings to force
    divorces and start thinking of saving “dead” marriages with psychology etc. I predict the prenup agreement will become a
    dead letter, ancient history and never used.

    Rabbis and others in the USA will start referring and quoting
    Rav Dovid Eidensohn excellent treatment of the Chazon Ish and the laws of
    coercion of a get.

    Judge Frieda Wolfson will rule June 15, 2015 that
    Mendel Epstein et al abductions are true USA federal kidnapping crimes. Indeed they are. Just ask any of the hundreds of male victims
    over 30+ years.

  2. Gerald,
    I hope you are right that the Epstein case is a game changer. I am not so sure. One, the Epstein case was only an extreme of what people believe, that women must be given a GET, period. When I began talking about my side of the issue two of my good friends let me have it. They refused to listen to the Shulchan Aruch. They insisted that it is an evil thing not to give a GET. We are still good friends and talk, but not about that.

    I spoke to a senior Dayan who told me that of course we pressure a husband to give a GET when the woman demands one. I showed him the Shulchan Aruch and he mumbled, "I am not familiar with that." . Very few people today know Even Hoezer, laws of Gittin, even rabbis and dayanim who demand a GET or else. There are people who believe that Epstein got caught, but otherwise he was right. They even claim, as in Trenton, that the Torah requires treating men that way if they don't give a GET. They never read EH 77 par 2 and 3, and if they did read it, who knows what they would do then.

    As far as the pre-nup being a dead letter, I don't agree. I just don't believe that anything will change other than people will be careful not to get caught next time.

    What we have to realize is that things are bad and getting worse. The only place you can hear true halacha about Gittin is this blog and my own, and nobody else wants the job. We have a major Rosh Yeshiva helping a woman to remarry without a GET despite the fact that the husband wants to go to Beth Din and give a GET after custody, etc. are worked out. And what that Rosh Yeshiva is doing is to prepare a woman to remarry without a GET and to have mamzerim for children. Major Torah personalities tell me they are very happy with what I am doing, but they will never say this in public. That is the way it is. The only hope is for people to know the halacha as it is in Shulchan Aruch and poskim. And this blog and my own blog are doing this.

  3. With all that pessimism, Rav Dovid, who will ever listen to you explain -- and then follow -- the Shulchan Aruch?

  4. Moe,
    I will say it this way. Years ago when I attacked major rabbis for coercing husbands to divorce, people on this blog and everywhere else were furious with me and condemned me in the worst terms. But today the message has been delivered. I have the sources and the other ones don't have the sources. I put down the sources and take it or leave it. What are their sources? They don't have any. All of this is becoming more and more obvious.

    I was attacked on a few blogs by some very smart people. I wiped the floor with them. People saw it and were flabbergasted that anyone could attack their great rabbis. Yes, it was a new thing. But that is the power of having sources.

    Let me tell you a story about myself and why I am hopeful if not optimistic. Years ago the Gaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt'l spent time with me about what is going on with coercing husbands to divorce. I came back to America and found a very prominent rabbi who guided me in my efforts, and would point out trouble so I could deal with it. One day, I found out that this individual was no longer with me. I was crushed. I sat down in my chair and despaired. Who would listen to me without such backing?

    In my despair I notified the Creator that I am broken and now it is up to Him! The phone rang. It was Joe Orlow, who writes here very often. He asked if I remember the young man who cursed me out for attacking his rebbe. I said yes, I recall it. Joe met this fellow who was furious with me for attacking his rebbe, someone he was very close to. I told Joe to put him on the phone to me. He let me have it. I let him curse me out, then I added, "I have sources such and such. What is your rebbe's source? Call him right now and ask him." He did this, while I was on the phone, and was told by his rebbe that his source was a rabbi in the RCA and the rabbis in Washington, DC. My sources were the Shulchan Aruch, the Ramo, the Beis Shmuel, the Chelkas Mechokake, the Gro and the Rashbo, etc.

    Now this felllow had called Joe Orlow and told him that he had fought against me but people asked him what he did with my sources. He was challenged to look into my sources. He spent a few days checking them out and called up Joe Orlow that his rebbe was wrong and I was right. That, and only that, gave me the strength to continue.

    Thus, I don't despair, not me, not Joe Orlow, not my brother. The Chofetz Chaim told the Ponovitcher Rov that when there is a civil war we have to go with the strongest side. The Rov asked, "But they are anti-Torah." The Chofetz Chaim answered, "HaShem is the strongest."


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