Thursday, August 11, 2011

Some Suggestions for the Jewish Marriage Problem

Sir, - I am not at all certain that civil marriage or any one particular formula will provide the remedy to the many serious and often painful problems that cause so much stress and conflict within our pluralistic society.

What is certain however, is the absolute need for the religious establishment to display its empathy for those who are caught in the agunot net and to fervently work on finding fair and proper solutions. This requires rabbinic leaders who, while they are completely anchored in halacha, have both the courage and compassion to seek the boldest of strategies for the release of those who are thus entrapped.

Some suggestions that could help alleviate the problems:
  1. Pre-nuptial agreements that would clearly spell out the penalties for the refusal of giving a get.
  2. Strict and immediate enforcement of the above agreements and penalties.
  3. Ostracism by religious society of those who refuse to grant a get.
  4. Annulment of marriage in extreme cases.
It is worth noting that the Talmud relates the practice in the times of David whereby soldiers who were going off to war would provide bills of divorcement to their wives so as to prelude their becoming agunot if the husbands fell in battle, and the divorce would be validated retroactively.

Petach Tikva