The Halacha of Coercing a Husband to Give a GET with Humiliation
By Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn
There are various levels of coercions permitted to force the husband to give a GET, as taught in Even Hoezer 154. One is when the husband must divorce because he married somebody forbidden to him, even if it is only forbidden dirabonon. There are also cases where the husband has physical ailments that no woman could tolerate. In these cases a husband may be coerced even with a beating until he gives the GET and says “I want to give the GET.”
Then there are other cases, lesser than the above, when beatings are forbidden, but minor coercions are permitted. Therefore a man who cannot perform in marriage must divorce his wife. But if he refuses, he is not beaten or put in Cherem. But he may be told that he is wicked for not obeying the Talmud that commands him to divorce his wife. See EH end of 154 and Rashbo Teshuvose I:1192.
But most demands for divorce are simply the complaint of the wife that she can’t stand living with her husband. In this case, no coercion is permitted. See Even Hoezer 77 paragraphs 2 and 3 in all of the commentaries including the Gro #5 there who elaborates on this and says that nobody permits coercion in such a case, and this is the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch, the Ramo, the Beis Shmuel, and the Chelkas Mechokake and nobody disagrees.
Furthermore, the Gaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l rules in his teshuva sefer that there is no mitsvah upon the husband to divorce. “If he wants to divorce, he divorces, and if not, not.” Therefore, the terrible practice of many American rabbis and others to coerce a husband whenever the wife leaves the marriage is wrong and if the husband is coerced with beatings or with Cherem or with great loss of money or with humiliation the GET is invalid and if the woman remarries with the invalid GET her children are mamzerim. (But nobody should pronounce on the child mamzerus until a prominent Beth Din or posek has examined carefully the whole situation.)
Letters have gone out from Gedolei Yisroel in Israel in the past and present generations that any Beth Din that coerces husbands to give a GET because of the demands of the wife, that such a Beth Din loses the status of Beth Din, and any Gittin given by it are not accepted. The wife needs another GET from a kosher Beth Din. I heard this myself from Posek HaDor Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l, that he takes away Chezkas Beth Din from any Beth Din that coerces a husband upon the demands of the wife.
One of the great sins done by these rabbis is to call upon people to publicly gather at the home of the husband and humiliate him. The organization ORA is notorious for this. They torture husbands, call up his employers, torture his family, even old people who can can get sick from these public protests and tortures, and do what they can to force the GET. Such a forced GET is invalid and the women born from ORA’s coercions are usually mamzerim. In the coming generation there will be many children that are mamzerim, and the rabbis who created them are true child molesters, because making a mamzer is cruel to the child.
The Rashbo in Teshuvose VII:414 says that when a woman demands a GET because she cannot tolerate the husband we try to make peace and if there is no hope for that than we still cannot coerce the husband to divorce. “We never force the husband to divorce. But if he wants, he divorces, and if he so chooses, he does not divorce.”
This is true for a woman who is upset with her husband but the husband can function as a husband. But a husband who cannot function as a husband and the wife demands a GET we talk tough to the husband and tell him clearly that he must divorce his wife, “but we do not put him in Nidui, and we do not humiliate him, and we do not cause him any physical pain.” We thus see clearly that the Rashbo forbids coercing a husband even one who cannot be a husband, and is therefore obligated by the Talmud to divorce, if the coercion is a pressure of humiliation or beatings. Surely an ordinary man who is not commanded by the Talmud to divorce may not be coerced with humiliation just because the wife cannot stand him.
And those rabbis who do coerce husbands with the organization ORA or otherwise to give a GET, have caused invalid Gittin, and the children born from an invalid GET are mamzerim. In the next generation there will be a tragedy of children who are considered by senior rabbis to be mamzerim. And these rabbis who defy the Shulchan Aruch, the Gro and the Rashbo, with no source differing, will have the sin of making mamzerim and permitting a married woman to remarry without a GET.
The Radvaz in II:118 brings the Rashbo and agrees with it. And so does the Beis Yosef in TUR Even Hoezer page 73b d”h כתוב. The Chazon Ish also agrees see Even Hoezer Gittin 108:12.
But we have ORA and others backed and encouraged by rabbis who “disagree” with the Rashbo, Radvaz, Beis Yosef and Chazon Ish, even though they have not got a single person who agrees with them. If they do, let me know it. I have a lengthy refutation of what one of them decided was a source who disagreed. I showed my findings to gedolim in Israel and they agreed with me. I asked them to hang up signs all over Israel that one who humiliates the husband makes mamzerim and they did so. Lately, this group, mainly the Beth Din in Bnei Braq, has published a sefer endorsed by gedolei hador Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner and other Torah greats in Israel attacking coecing the husband to divorce. But ORA and the assorted rabbis who want to help women disagree.
A student of one of these rabbis once called me up and let me have it for disagreeing with his rebbe. I told him, “Everything you say about me is fine. But I ask you one thing. Ask your rebbe, right now while I am on the phone, what his source is to humiliate a husband that he relies on to defy my sources of the Rashbo, etc.” The fellow agreed and soon came back to me with the source. The source was the rabbi in the RCA and the rabbis in Washington, DC. But the rabbi in the RCA once told me that he permitted a husband and wife to leave his Beth Din without a GET, because he invented some reason to take away the kiddushim, which shows that he is in a new world where there is no Shulchan Aruch. And the rabbis in Washington DC are not experts in Gittin, but relied on this New York rabbi, who says that his source is the rabbis of Washington.
Okay, when I ask this, people can ignore it. But when the children who will be mamzerim ask it, what will these rabbis say? And when nobody wants to marry them because the greatest rabbis in the world consider them mamzerim, will the rabbis who encouraged their birth marry them to their children?