Can One Be a Righteous, Torah Observant “Agunah” Feminist?
We are defining an “agunah” feminist as a person, either male or female, who spontaneously supports the cause of Jewish women who claim to be victimized in any way by their husbands or ex-husbands. “Agunah” feminists will support such women without seeking any factual knowledge of those women’s divorce cases, and without any concern for whether those women have observed halacha and acted ethically in their divorce matters.
This Torah verse may shed some light on the issue of “agunah” feminism:
וְהָיָ֡ה בְּשָׁמְעוֹ֩ אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֨י הָֽאָלָ֜ה הַזֹּ֗את וְהִתְבָּרֵ֨ךְ בִּלְבָב֤וֹ לֵאמֹר֙ שָׁל֣וֹם יִֽהְיֶה־לִּ֔י כִּ֛י בִּשְׁרִר֥וּת לִבִּ֖י אֵלֵ֑ךְ לְמַ֛עַן סְפ֥וֹת הָרָוָ֖ה אֶת־הַצְּמֵאָֽה׃
“And it will be that when he hears the words of this imprecation, and he will bless himself in his heart, saying, there will be peace unto me for I will walk as my heart sees fit – thereby adding the watered upon the thirsty.”
(Dvorim (Deut.) 29:18)
In the English Torah book “Growth Through Torah” by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Rabbi Pliskin quotes the Chofetz Chaim zt”l that this Torah verse is not simply referring to those who do improper acts due to their impulses. Rather, the verse is referring to those who create an entire ideology based on cruelty and the assumed right to harm others. Those engaged in such behavior have created a whole new set of rules for themselves that are diametrically opposed to Torah principles.
We believe that those who adopt (consciously or unconsciously) the corrupt ideology of “agunah” feminism inevitably create or promote corrupt movements that engage in abusive and cruel treatment of Jewish men. The YU based ORA gang is one such movement among many that seem to promote the anti-Torah ideologies that Rabbi Pliskin’s book was referring to. Corrupt ORA type ideologies are quickly adopted by mobs of supporters (male and female) who self-righteously engage in persecution, abuse and slander against decent divorcing or divorced Jewish men, while falsely assuming that halacha grants them a right to persecute those men.
Jewish society today seems to be suffering from a tragic epidemic of intentionally inflicted parental alienation. Intentionally inflicting, enabling, or excusing the alienation of decent Jewish parents from their children, while not even being aware of the cruelty of such behavior, seems to be another example of an anti-Torah ideology that the Torah verse is warning us to avoid.
Jewish women’s activists can assist Jewish women using ethical and Torah observant methods. But once the women’s activists embrace any foreign ideologies like feminism, they will inevitably promote cruel abuses of Jewish men while deceiving themselves that they are engaged in a righteous Torah based cause.