10-year sentence is stretched to ‘indefinite’
In groundbreaking ruling, rabbinical courts decides Meir Gorodetzki will not leave prison until he grants wife a ‘get.’
(Headline from an article by Jeremy Sharon in today’s Jerusalem Post)
So, here we are in the second decade of the 21st century, and a man is sentenced to life imprisonment for the “crime” of not granting his wife a divorce.
If further evidence were needed of the absurdity of religion, created and controlled by men, then this is surely it. Having developed a framework of rules, over many centuries, for defining every single aspect of daily living, the Rabbis now find themselves in 21st century Israel with the power of enforcement. They are also fortunate to have the political support that prevents the separation of religion and state.The state has placed the control of matters pertaining to birth, marriage, divorce and its consequences and, even, death, in the exclusive hands of the Rabbinate.
In this particular case, the couple were originally married in a civil ceremony. Only some years later, after they emigrated to Israel and became religious, did they have a second formal Jewish wedding. In reality, it would have made no difference to the present situation. In a masterstroke of even further absurdity, the state – while recognising civil marriage OUTSIDE of Israel for the purposes of status – still granted the Rabbinate sole control over divorce, even over civil marriages!
According to Jewish Law the man has to hand to his wife the “Get” or document of divorce in a bizarre ceremony which includes the following:
the writing of the get takes place, a process that takes about an hour, and involves the man who is getting divorced and the scribe. The scribe is an expert in writing holy texts, such as Torah scrolls, tefillin, and mezuzot. The scribe writes the get with quill and ink on a parchment that is prepared ahead of time in the appropriate size,
the woman places the get under her left armpit, next to her heart, takes 2-3 steps forwards, turns around, and retraces her steps (walking altogether a distance of 4 amot, approximately 2 meters). By holding the get under her arm and walking with it the woman proclaims her acceptance of her divorce
The judge then rips the parchment of the get, lengthwise and widthwise, so that it is no longer possible to find any mistakes in it (1)
Why is a “Get” so important?
Without this, the woman becomes an “agunah” – literally “chained to her husband” and cannot remarry. Should she do so, any children of such a union would be regarded as “mamzerim”, a specific form of “bastards”, and they, themselves, could never marry under Jewish Law. (2)
It is known that there are hundreds of women in Israel in this unfortunate situation – but not always because the husband will not divorce them. They are in this position even if the husband simply disappears, or suffers from a mental condition preventing rational action. The worst situation of all affects women whose husband died in battle, but the body was never found. Without absolute proof of death she can remain “chained” for life.
Since the divorce agreement must be mutual, there are cases where women have refused to accept the “Get” thus, effectively, preventing the men from remarrying. These situations are much rarer, but they do exist. The grotesque reality of Jewish Law affects everyone.
It is true that during the wedding ceremony, the man declares that he understands that the marriage takes place “according to the Laws of Moses and Israel.”
The words “Till death us do part” are not included in Jewish weddings.
They might as well be!
Andyboy – Telling it as it is
(1) For a full description of the ceremony you may refer to: