Agunot: Forever Chained?

Frustrated with a rabbinic failure to deal with agunot and the use of a get as extortion, members of Knesset introduced a bill that would allow a divorcing couple to dissolve their financial partnership before the get is given, thereby removing the coercive power of the get. Not surprisingly, the very same rabbis who canceled the international conference on agunot that was to be held late last year in Jerusalem oppose this change in secular law. Why? Because it removes the power of the rabbinic courts and the rabbis to force a couple to stay together. These rabbinic pygmies think it better to save a few marriages than to free hundreds of agunot, women whose lives are destroyed by the current system.

Need I add that telling a 30 year old woman that she may never have sex again, which is in effect what happens to many agunot, leads to those agunot having sex anyway. This is a major violation of halakha, one that today’s rabbis inadvertently encourage.

[Hat Tip: JWB.]



Filed under Haredim, Israel

17 responses to “Agunot: Forever Chained?

  1. anon

    are these the same rabbis who say shelo asanee eeshah each morning? They don’t want to make a brachah l’vatolah.

  2. Noclue

    It would seem that if you untying the knot between finances and the Get would result in less people would receiving a Get and there would be more persons who can not marry according to Halacha, not less.


  3. Rabbi Elyashiv says jump and even the Israeli Chief Rabbinate says how high. It’s getting to the point wehere the Orthodox rabbinate might as well admit women because the male rabbis have no more courage than women.

  4. The Uncola

    Just a correction. These women may have made bad choices, but they are not agunos by any stretch.

  5. Not agunot? Why not? Their husbands refuse to grant a get, the rabbinic courts facilitate this abuse. The idea that the only true aguna is one whose husband has disappeared is not supported in halakha.

  6. The Uncola

    “Not supported in Halacha”

    That’s semantics. These women are in a miserable sitch, but calling them agunos is like calling adam and steve married.

    Let’s hope they’re more careful next time. Israelis are tough to deal with, you know.

  7. Actually, they are agunot. By halakha. You see, when a man won’t give a get until he gets a bribe from his wife’s family or custody of the children, or lower child support payments, etc., the woman is an agunah. Ask a real posek.

  8. “Let’s hope they’re more careful next time. Israelis are tough to deal with, you know.”

    The problem is haredim, not Israelis.

  9. The Uncola

    Oh, cmon Shmarya! If you were objective, you’d rail about the horrific misdoings of the hiloni Israeli society much more than those of the Chareidi Israeli society.

  10. Ahavah bat Sarah

    I’m not sure what this bill would really accomplish. The refusal to sign a get usually has a lot more to do with revenge and power-mongering and preventing the woman from being able to have a normal life than it has to do with money. I don’t believe this bill will do anything to stop that. Instead, divorce should be moved to the secular courts once and for all.

  11. TM

    It’s hard to believe there’s a person here, Uncola, who is actually defending the heinous practice of making women agunot by blaming the women: “Bad decisions…in a miserable stitch…let’s hope they’re more careful next time.” Let me guess, you’ve left your wife and have refused to give her a get unless you get $200,000. In the meantime, you’re dating somebody else, right?

  12. The Uncola

    Get real. I’m not defending the scoundrels. I’m just criticizing the use of the borrowed term “aguna”. The Israelis need to come up with some better solutions, but that does not mean that the rabbis are to blame in almost all of these cases. If the orthodox clans would send out hit squads, you’d be cursing them for violently attacking an innocent man. But you see, the chareidim are being civil. Now let’s hope that the Israeli people can resolve the existing cases, and let’s also hope that these situations are avoided to begin with.

  13. Let’s see. The Israelis need to come up with better solutions. So Chief Rabbi Amar calls a conference of rabbis from all over the world to come up with better solutions. The attendees fly to Israel at their own expense and they’re ready to confer. Then Pope Elyashiv breaks wind and Chief Amar calls off the conference. The attendees are left hanging; naturally Elyashiv does not reimburse their expenses. Elyashiv will always be Elyashiv; you can’t teach an old horse new tricks. But what about Amar? With chiefs like that, who needs Indians? And what about all the poor (literally and figuratively) women, chained to dead marriages by resha’im who will not support them or their many children? It’s a miracle that so few solve their problems extra-halakhically. And what do you call rabbis, from Elyashiv on down, who protect the recalcitrant men? Try “resha’im.”

  14. The Uncola

    Sounds like you’re personally familiar with some of these struggles. Oh my, your life must be full of grief, being that you’re so personally tied to cases like these.

    Take it from me, a black hat (style purposes only, no religious significance) kollel educated Jew, there is no such thing as Justice in Israel. The civil courts are even more of a joke than the “rabbinic” ones, so I don’t see any real hope for resolution through them. Hit squads mean anarchy, which would be worse than the current depraved system. Besides the Shmarya’s of the world would be cursing out those violent srugie-wearing gangs that beat up innocent men in the name of “shalom bayit.”

    See, when there is no justice, there’s no point in welcoming a corrupt legal system to be involved with the institutions of religious sanctimony (marriage, divorce, conversion etc.). I don’t trust the Rabanut courts, but at least they recognize that marital status is a severe halachic matter.

  15. Yes, I am familiar because my sister was an aguna for several years. If not for a secular judge who did a little arm twisting on my ex-brother-in-law, she would still be waiting for a get. That’s how I lost my respect for the Orthodox rabbinical establishment, even before Slifkingate.

  16. B”H
    A frum Jewish woman or should think twice before marrying with a ketubah especially in modern society where community Beis Din can’t don that much to force the husband to give a get.
    Why sell oneself into potential slavery?
    If she wants to have a wedding I’m sure it’s possible to do a wedding but make sure that relationship is halachikly still pilagshut and she can never end up an agunah.
    From my comments here


    As explained in various rabbinic responsa quoted in this blog pilegesh is not necessarily a “mistress” of a married man, but could be a woman living in a committed monogamous relationship with a man. In fact one of the main reasons this blog was created was to publicize the advantages many Jewish women may find in a being a pilegesh with a customized writen agreement as a opposed to a wife with a ketubah . A pilegesh cannot become an agunah yet a good prenuptial agreement would protect the rights of both parties in the relationship.
    See also :

  17. First of all: PilegeshMan – f**k off

    Second of all, I want to witness something: “It’s a miracle that so few [agunot] solve their problems extra-halakhically.” – Neandershort

    I have thought of this too and also give witness to this miracle because there is a very obvious solution for an agunah that I have never seen or heard of anyone acting on. I did discuss it in a blog post a little over two years ago (about 2/3 seriously):

    “How many women who are being held as agunot simply kill their husbands, or have them killed by someone else? We went through this in my conversion class and the only way a woman can be free from a marriage is to receive a get or for the husband’s dead body to be produced. Well, if the man won’t give a get, why don’t some women simply produce their husband’s corpse? They would be free of the marriage, would they not? And as acrimonious as many divorces are I’m sure many women think about killing their soon-to-be ex-husbands.”

    “People commit murders in general, including of their spouses, over all kinds of trifling shit. I’d say that a man keeping you chained up as an agunah with the only freedom coming with his death a much better reason for murder.”

    “Because let me tell you one thing, if men started dying because they left their wives agunot out of spite (or held a get over the women’s head in exchange for money, assets and/or custody, again, out of spite), a halachic will would suddenly materialize, leading to a halachic way much, much sooner.”

    From “Ston’ Col’ Dead In de Market, I Kill Nobody But Me Husband”,

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