Sunday, September 25, 2022

Kiddushin 6a has Rav Yehuda citing Shmuel that כׇּל שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ בְּטִיב גִּיטִּין וְקִידּוּשִׁין לֹא יְהֵא לוֹ עֵסֶק עִמָּהֶם, whoever isn’t proficient in the intricacies of divorce and marriage shouldn’t involve himself with them. The fear is that slight errors might lead to disaster. Admittedly, in the Lonna Kin case, we already have a disaster. Still, ORA and others are already aware of the intricacies of the case. Well-meaning suggestions may make things worse. For instance, getting rid of the siruv was already done and, as Ruby Kaplan described, just strengthened Israel Meir Kin (“Continuing the Agunah Discussion,” August 11, 2022). Granting him a rabbinic title (does he have semicha?) even for a Google search, and casting his positions as potentially halachically legitimate but seemingly with mere personal disagreement does the same (“Agunah Update,” Rabbi Simcha A. Green, August 11, 2022). Despite Aharon HaKohen's positive traits, Rabbi Eleazar said that one who is compassionate to the cruel is ultimately cruel to the compassionate.

Personally, I also am certainly not יוֹדֵעַ בְּטִיב גִּיטִּין וְקִידּוּשִׁין, but have suggestions. First, Israel Meir Kin likes to say that the get was written and deposited in Rabbi Gestetner’s beit din in 2008, and Lonna can pick it up any time she wants (assuming she caves in to his demands). In a recent Daf Yomi column for The Jewish Link (“Abrogating Betrothal: Ketubot 3a,” June 30, 2022), I discussed the Talmudic development of hafka’at kiddushin, targeting cases like this. As with Amoraic abrogation by Rav Ashi and his son, there is הוּא עָשָׂה שֶׁלֹּא כַּהוֹגֶן. And as with the Savoraic expansion, there’s both an extant get and כׇּל דִּמְקַדֵּשׁ אַדַּעְתָּא דְּרַבָּנַן מְקַדֵּשׁ. Perhaps hafka’at kiddushin is possible, e.g., by a court transferring the get into her domain or by turning the betrothal ring into a gift. On the other hand, perhaps the Talmudic cases are an entirely closed set. This would need to be considered and performed by expert rabbis, not by Josh who writes for The Jewish Link, both for halachic and sociological reasons. (That is, if many Orthodox Jewish men aren’t willing to marry her, out of adultery concerns, then a halachically effective abrogation isn’t helpful.)

Second, perhaps (further) protests at the enabling Monsey beit din, and ongoing social pressure not just on the get refuser but on members of the beit din and those who support them, could have effect. In the meantime, this situation is a blight and an embarrassment, as Torah is weaponized for oppression.

Josh Waxman
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