By Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn
ORA ( the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot ), the organization to torture husbands and force them to give a GET, has a list of recalcitrant husbands featured on its blog. It supplies the SIRUV and other information about them. It also demonstrates and humiliates them to force them to divorce. Such a coerced GET is usually invalid. If the woman remarries with an invalid GET she is living in sin and her children may be mamzerim. ORA follows the teachings of Rabbi Herschel Schachter, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University. He is adamant that we must force husbands to divorce when the marriage is broken. That is, every woman who wants out can just leave the house and call ORA and they will humiliate and harrangue the husband until he gives a GET. Thus, of the many husbands broken by ORA, there are probably many mamzerim by now from the invalid divorces due to ORA’s coercion. But Rabbi Schachter stands beyond this.Therefore, it is important to recognize a huge divide among rabbis and Beth Dins in the world today. Some, especially the Modern Orthodox, but also many Haredi rabbonim, feel that a woman who really wants to leave her husband must be supported and the husband must be humiliatd and forced to divorce. Others, such as the Gedolim in Israel, say that any rabbi or Beth Din that coerces Gittin in such a manner just because the wife wants a divorce is not only wrong, but loses its chezkas Beth Din. All divorces done with that Beth Din are not accepted. The woman needs another GET. If she remarried and has children, a senior Beth Din recognized by the Gedolim must check if there is a way to save the GET.
Here we are interested, not in protesting what ORA has done, and not in defending husbands, even though they may have been treated the wrong way. We want to show something much more important. We want to show how the halacha about divorces are split in the world. And since Posek HaDor Rav Elyashev zt”l told me that any Beth Din that makes coercions he takes from them Chezkas Beth. And since the living Gedolim in Israel have agreed to this in a sefer Mishpitei Yisreol, we must establish the fact that a large number of functioning Beth Dins make invalid Gittin, and women divorced by them are not considered divorced by Gedolim. Of course, if such a Beth Din issues a summons, it is not accepted as a Beth Din, and it is probably a sin to go to it.
We hope to do here what we have done elsehwere many times: Show that the halacha is clearly that in the vast majority of cases the woman has no right to sue for a GET, and if she leaves the house, she may leave, but we cannot coerce the husband or pressure him to give a GET.
Let us take a look at the Siruv published by ORA against a man M. Kin. Again, we are not here interested in who was right. We are interested in the process of the halacha as understood by ORA and its rabbi. And we want to show that this is wrong and not accepted by Posek HaDor Rav Elyashev zt”l and lihavdik bain chaim lichaim, living Gedolim. Here is the text of the Siruv.
Order of Contempt (Seruv)
The three of us sat together on 11 Tammuz 5770 (June 23rd, 2010), and we deliberated on the dispute between Mr. Israel Meir Kin and his wife, Lonna, and his repeated refusal to arrange a Get (writ of Jewish divorce) for his wife in accordance with Jewish law. Despite extraordinary attempts to appease him and to mediate between the two sides, Mr. Kin adamantly refuses to divorce his wife in accordance with Jewish law.
Therefore, we determine that he is considered a “Sarvan” (recalcitrant) and does not comply with Jewish law, and the ramifications of this status are elaborated in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah siman 334. It is incumbent upon anyone who is capable, to influence him to free his wife from an agunah’s chains and comply with Jewish law.
We hereby affix our signatures in New York City:
(Rabbi Hershel Schachter)
(Rabbi Nachum Sauer)
(Rabbi Avrohom Union)
END QUOTE of SIRUV
We make here one point. The letter of SIRUV says that he is being held in contempt and will be banned from the public because he has not given a GET. But this is a violation of the SIRUV. A SIRUV is not about the particular claim somebody has on another. A SIRUV is about refusal to go to Beth Din. The Beth Din in this letter clearly states that the SIRUV and the subsequent banning of the husband is to force him to give a GET. And this is a violation of the SIRUV itself.
Rabbi Schachter has openly declared that a husband is to be forced, beaten, and if he still refuses to divorce, he should be beaten until he dies! This is absolutely wrong. Rabbi Schachter not only believes this. He made a tape stating this that was featured on Yeshiva University’s blog until the FBI sting about rabbis who beat people to force them to give a GET when it was taken down. But many people have copies of the original.
A Beth Din that threatens to kill a husband who will not give a GET is the ultimate GET MEUSO or coerced GET. The Beth Din is plainly in violation of halacha as taught in the Shulchan Aruch and the Gedolei HaDor.
But there is another problem with this SIRUV. The SIRUV clearly states that the Beth Din itself demands a GET. Even if there was no other coercion involved, the very fact that a Beth Din orders the husband to give a GET, telling him that the Torah requires it, can itself invalidate the GET. The Chazon Ish writes, EH 99:2 If a husband is coerced by the mitsvah to obey the rabbis and therefore divorces, the get is invalid because it is forced, and because it is a mistake. Had the husband realized that the rabbis on the Beth Din made a mistake, he never would have issued it. So the GET is botel by Torah standards for two reasons: It is coerced by the mitsvah to obey the sages and if the husband had realized that the Beth Din made an error he would not have written th GET so it is a mistaken GET.
The Rashbo in VII:414 states clearly that when the wife demands a GET because she hates the husband no pressure can be brought upon the husband to divorce. Rather, “If he wants, he gives a GET. And if he doesn’t want, he doesn’t give a GET.” This is brought down as halacha in EH 77 paragraph 2 and 3 in all of the commentators of the Shulchan Aruch, the Shulchan Aruch and the Ramo, Beis Shmuel and Chelkas Mechokake. The Gro there #5 says that nobody disagrees [of the present authorities.] Of course, Rabbi Schachter does disagree. He even says the husband should be killed. So, what kind of Beth Din is that? It is without value, of without Torah identity. It is simply a rebellion against the Torah. I always ask the Beth Dins and the rabbis who coerce husbands: I have all of the sources mentioend above, and what are your sources? That is usually the end of the conversation.
Incidentally, the Rashbo mentioned before says that there is a class of complaint by the wife that does compel the husband to give a GET, but we may not coerce with a strong pressure. Meaning, we may not humiliate him, beat him, or put him in cherem. This is the husband who has a physical problem and cannot be a man in marriage. We coerce him by telling him that the Talmud demands a GET and if he refuses to issue a GET it is permitted to call him a wicked person. Now, this is only mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch regarding this one kind of case, where the Talmud clearly states that the husband is obligated to give a GET. But in all of the average cases of divorce demands, there is no mitsvah from the Talmud or the Torah to divorce. “If he wants to divorce he divorces, and if not he does not.” And if humiliation is forbidden even for a husband who is not a man and cannot maintain a marriage and the Talmud demands he divorces, certainly a husand who has not obligation from the Talmud to divorce may not be humiliated.
This law of not humiliating the husband even one who is not a man and certainly others who are healthy is quoted by the Radvaz IV:118,, Beis Yosef EH 154, and Chazon Ish 108:12. Nobody disagrees. But Rabbi Schachter disagrees.
See Teshuvose Maharshal 41 that a woman who is very upset with her husband because he is clearly not religious and may even be interested in another religion may leave the house but cannot force the husband to divorce.But Rabbi Schachter disagrees. What is his source? I asked one of his disciples to get me his source and he told me, “Rabbi Schwartz head of the RCA Beth Din and rabbis in Washington DC.” Now, I spoke to Rabbi Gedaliah Schartz and he told me that he let a couple who came to him for a GET leave without a GET because he just blew away their marriage. And the Washington rabbis humiliate a husband who doesn’t give a GET because Rabbi Schachter told them that!
Of course, Rabbi Schachter allows murder to force a GET, so why not humiliation? After all, didn’t he once tell somebody to kill the Prime Minister of Israel because he did something that R Schachter opposed? But decent Jews who don’t murder and don’t tell other people to murder don’t talk that way. And any organization that accepts such a person utterly devoid of Torah learning until he disagrees with the Shulchan Aruch and all of the commentators with no source of his own except Rabbi Gedaliah Schwartz, who himself has invented a new Torah, is a disgrace.
I just mention that Rabbeinu Yona in Shaarei Teshuva III:139 says that “humilition is worse than death.” If a GET forced by the threat of killing is invalid, so is a GET forced by humiliation, especially the ORA humiliation that never ends, and involves protests in public so that everyone should despite the victim. This surely makes an invalid GET.
Of course, Rabbi Schachter might feel he doesn’t have to obey the Shulchan Aruch, because he knows better than the Gro and all of the commentators. But what does he do with a gemora in Berochose 23A that a Talmid in a Yeshiva killed himself after being humiliated? Maybe Rabbi Schachter has a different text for that.
We have finished our discussion today, but I just mention as an aside that should be covered in a different post, that when a husband is summoned by Rabbi Schachter or his disciples to come to a Beth Din, the first thing to do is to call the FBI.