April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Years ago a lovely woman in Montreal received a civil divorce but tragically was unable to obtain a get. Her former husband was not an extortionist, he just refused to give her a get! His children refused to talk to him, nevertheless he would not budge. The Beis Din issued a siruv, and he still refused. Many members of the community became involved in this tragedy to no avail. Interestingly, community members from very different walks of life and many different stripes of Yiddishkeit worked together to try to get this situation rectified.

After years, the recalcitrant husband moved to Tosh, a chassidishe community about an hour north of Montreal. A close friend who is a Tosher chassid agreed after much cajoling from me to try to befriend the man in question in order to convince him of the travesty that he was enacting. No matter what he said or anyone else said, he refused. The people in Tosh eventually ignored him, didn’t invite him for meals and wouldn’t talk to him, and he was left alone in a small basement room.

This fiasco went on for many years. Nothing seemed to be working. A rally was held in Tosh and the members of the Montreal community joined together with members of the Tosh community to stand in front of the man’s home. They then drove through the streets of Tosh with large signs deriding this man and making sure that everyone in the community should be advised of what he was doing. Miraculously, on Erev Pesach, he agreed to give her a get! She was already in New Jersey visiting one of her children for Pesach, but immediately flew back to Montreal, got her get and returned to New Jersey to finally begin to heal in her personal geulah at the time of Bnai Yisroel’s celebration of their national thanksgiving of Zman Geulasainu. A true celebration for Bnai Yisroel, but in the midst of an age-old terrible plague.

For thousands of years, this scenario has been repeated over and over. Fortunately, some time ago, after much, much effort, a wonderful idea was worked out: a pre-nuptial agreement that would force a person after a divorce to give his spouse a get or be legally responsible to pay her (or in theory, him) a significant amount of money until he did. It was a legal coup. And it works! But recently, I was reminded that nothing good will ever go unpunished. A young couple were getting married and had certainly agreed to sign a pre-nup. But their Mesader Kiddushin said he wouldn’t officiate if they signed this document!! This Rav is well known and a highly respected Rosh Yeshivah. He made it clear that he would not officiate at any ceremony where a pre-nuptial agreement had been arranged.

Why should the right of a get only lie on the husband’s shoulders, with the wife having no say? It is a built-in prejudice against women! Even if one were to say that for some inconceivable reason it once made sense to give men all the power, and even more amazing to allow some groups of men to call themselves a “beis din” so they can complete the charade and issue a heter meah Rabbonim to enable the husband to remarry while his wife endures forever the beastly status of an agunah, why must we allow this terrible injustice to continue? We have a small part of the answer with the pre-nuptial agreement, but now, even more amazing, is the refusal of some rabbonim to endorse it!!

One day, please God, VERY soon, we will find a way to get rid of this travesty. But in the meantime let EVERY couple refuse to get married without a prior pre-nup in place. There is no better way for the couple to show their commitment and love than by ensuring that justice will always be their guideline.

Rabbi Dr. Glick for many years was a psychologist, college professor, and Rav of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel in Montreal before relocating to Bergenfield. You can contact him with questions or comments, or to arrange couple or personal therapy, by writing to him at [email protected].

By Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Glick

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