Last week, the FBI arrested two Ultra Orthodox Rabbis for accepting tens of thousands of dollars to beat up, torture, use cattle prods on, kidnap, etc. religious Jewish men who refuse to give their religious Jewish wives a religious Jewish divorce.
So, now the whole Western world knows what some of us have known for a long time now. There is a big problem here.
There is a problem when one party is kept in a dead, non functioning and often very painful relationship that they do not want.
There is a problem when that person has no control over his or her own life (yes, it can and does happen to men).
There is a problem when his or her only recourse is to use nefarious and illegal means.
There is a problem when the religious authorities look at a situation that is causing heartache, ruining lives and shaming an entire people and their religion and thus God and say, “There’s nothing we can do.”
In the Torah it states explicitly (at least half a dozen times) that we are to be kind to, not cause anguish to, widows and orphans. There is no mention of a mesurevet get – more commonly and erroneously referred to as an agunah- a woman who is chained to her husband.
This is because there aren’t meant to be any!
This issue has gone from causing heartache to a few women stuck with a sick or vindictive man- unfortunate, but easy to ignore- to a phenomenon of refusing to give a get for extortion, custody, other demands, or just because they can- harder to ignore, but easy to say ‘our hands are tied’- to a full blown international shanda because the Jews can’t figure out how to let a woman out of a marriage to a bastard who is often not even around without resorting to physical violence and illegal activity.
Is there anyone out there who really thinks this is the way?
Is there anyone who believes that this is what God wants?
Is there anyone who does not want this situation, where a woman cannot leave a marriage that she does not want, to change?
Is there anyone who really thinks this cannot be solved?
Leaving aside the ‘hows’ for now, can we all agree that this situation is untenable and must be made a national agenda?
What greater crisis can there be in a religion based on humane laws when a person is chained to another because laws that were meant to protect her are being used against her?
I ask you not to wait until it is someone you love who is left with no options. Right now, make it a priority.