Husband Who Kept Wife Agunah Loses Burial Rights in Israel

(Thursday, May 23rd, 2013)

hharThe Chief Rabbinate Supreme Court on Tuesday, 12 Sivan 5773 upheld the ruling of a lower court, denying Jewish burial for a recalcitrant husband, Kippa reports. The husband has been withholding a get from his 33-year-old wife for 20 months and has since fled to the United States.

In addition, the court ruled the husband may not receive Israeli consular services abroad but so far, the measures taken do not seem to have persuaded him to give the get.

Israel Radio reported the dayanim feel the matter of denying Jewish kvura is important towards sending a message to the community that “such a rosha” will not be buried in a kever Yisrael.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


16 Comments

  1. akuperma says:

    1. Will the Israeli Foreign Service support this?

    2. What is his reason for refusing?

    3. If he is a dual citizen with foreign roots, these measures are ineffective unless actions are taken against him in the United States.

    4. Perhaps a partial solution would be for someone to pay for the woman to hound him legally in the US (e.g. get a money judgement from Israel, and enforce it in American courts, etc., or even seek an injunction from an American court – and if he’s frum, ask the local Jewish community to take action).

  2. ujm says:

    akuperma, Re: your #3 and #4, in the U.S. the courts cannot involuntarily force a person to engage in a religious ritual, such as a Get. Nor can a U.S. court impose a financial penalty for declining to engage in a religious ritual. (Other than, possibly, awarding marital assets in favor of one party.)

    Your #2 is indeed a good question. Perhaps he is justifiably withholding a Get. A husband does not have to Get his wife simply because she wants one.

  3. ChaimThomas42 says:

    This is why the chief rabbinate and gedolei hador need to start supporting prenups to protect these agunot

  4. crisisoftheweek says:

    I love how the people “in charge” think this might deter someone from withholding a get.

    If someone is that determained to make his wife miserable/extort what he can…then he must not be too concerned with the afterlife. Why would he care where his body rots?

  5. akuperma says:

    #2- First, an American court can easily enforce a money judgement if an Israeli court of record has entered the judgement. There’s more paperwork than entering a judgement from a different state, which is why an effective support of the agunah would be for someone to pay her legal fees. Also remember that until he gives the “get”, he is subject to the laws governing support, and when that support is turned into a money judgement, it can be enforced anywhere.

    In addition, the injunction would be for him to give an bill of divorce as per the law of the State of Israel. That makes it a civil, rather than a religious, ritual.

    In addition, if those supporting agunot wanted to do so, they could take legal action to prevent him from getting an America divorce (while enforcement of a religious rite is problematic, asking an American court not to issue a divorce until he settles the pending Israeli action is not so difficult).

    Prenups wouldn’t help much, but having someone (a non-profit) paying for the “agunah” to “lawyer up” would.

    The fact the he fled the country suggests he has few reasons not to give a “get” – unlike cases when he stays around, offers to support the family, and wants to reconcile (which means it is probably a bit early to consider the divorce settled yet).

  6. ujm says:

    akuperma:

    1. All the international legal maneuvering you are suggesting the wife engage in, in the courts of two countries on different continents, even if possible would be prohibitively expensive. Even for a wealthy individual. So much more so for a middle class fellow, even with charity.

    2. It would be difficult and expensive for a party to a marriage in Israel to prevent his/her spouse in America from issuing an American secular divorce. And once he issues an American divorce, there is no longer any basis for an American court to require a second divorce elsewhere.

    3. It is unlikely any American court would force anyone to issue a divorce in another country, even if the parties are not divorced. In America the expectation is that either spouse themselves can issue the divorce to the other spouse even if the other spouse doesn’t want it. (At-fault divorce requirements has been eliminated in all 50 States.)

    4. A pauper cannot pay monetary support, even if court ordered on either side of the globe, if he doesn’t have the money to pay it.

    5. It is not uncommon for a one-side appointed beis din orders a Get be issued despite their being no halachic requirement for him to issue a Get. If such occurs in the State of Israel, that is a good reason to leave that jurisdiction.

  7. zionflag says:

    Will Chevra Kadisha’s in America also abide by this ruling? That would make a big difference!! But then again when he dies, her agunah status is over, hurray!

  8. akuperma says:

    #6- Which is why instead of whining about agunos, the frum community should set up a Legal Aid organization, funded by tsadakah, to sue people on their behalf. I’ld suggest this might be connect, in America, to Beitei Din – perhaps in the form of providing that whichever party doesn’t accept the ruling of the Beis Din gets sued, with the Beis Din paying the bill. A legal defense fund would be more effective than posting notices in shuls or picketing houses, and a lot more legal than arranging for someone to grab the offender and offer to make his wife a widow if he doesn’t give over the “get”.

  9. ujm says:

    #8: What Agunas? According to Halacha an Aguna means a wife whose husband is lost at sea or otherwise of unknown whereabouts. In this, as in so many other incorrectly self-declated so-called “Aguna” cases, the husbands whereabouts are very well-known. Thus, she is no Aguna. A wife is not entitled to demand a Get simply because she wants a Get. If she cannot demonstrate a Halachicly justifiable reason why a husband should be forced to give a Get against his will, if he wants reconciliation and he does not want to give a Get he cannot be forced to.

    And as I explained in a previous comment above, arranging international lawsuits is unworkable and impractical for both financial and legal reasons.

    Furthermore, the idea that his life be either threatened or that he be outright murdered for not acquiescing to his wife’s demand for a Get, is unsustainable and impractical. Certainly here in the United States of America. The authorities would throw the book at anyone making such threats. Indeed in Lakewood a self-appointed couple who beat a husband to force him to issue a Get (resulting in an invalid “Get Me’usa”) are now being prosecuted by Federal authorities and are facing the possibility of spending decades behind bars.

  10. akuperma says:

    ujm: It would be very workable. Man shows up in Brooklyn. Wife finds he is there. Beis Din in wife’s home town transfers documents showing he was ordered to write a “get” and has refused (and at same time, Beis Din in home town sues on behalf of wife and get injunction and/or money damages). Beis Din in Brooklyn then sends its lawyer and sues the pants off the guy (assuming he’s been assessed monetary damages in the home town – quite reasonable since he probably hasn’t been paying support to the wife – all they are doing is establishing the valid judgement and suing on the judgement).

    And hiring lawyers is a lot easier than any other solution. And this is fairly routine stuff, and there are plenty of lawyers looking for work, especially in Brooklyn.

  11. yitzyk says:

    Just an observation – I am not condoning any violence or other illegal activities, and not referring to any specific person or case:

    A forced get is not valid, but if he dies by any means, even ‘forced’, she is not only halachically free of him, but she is technically his widow – can she inherit him too? Moral of the story: don’t beat anyone up to within an inch of their life – go the extra inch!

    How convincing is a ban against burial if he is still a young man and not thinking about his ultimate demise? Burial is only for dead people, and he is not dead… yet. It doesn’t sound like much of a threat. But I like the idea anyway, because it shows that he is publicy branded a Rasha.

    .
    .

    now for the soapbox.

    I know of a case with a close friend in America, whose ‘ex’ husband (may he rest in piece very soon) did not give her a get, and did not even give her a secular divorce. He is meanwhile ‘remarried’ living with a new ‘wife’ presumably with no marriage license. (I wonder what Rabbi officiated at the wedding?) I am only assuming that she has a Kedusshin, Nissuin, and Kesubah, because they are all supposedly frum people.

    He has money and she has none, so she is at the mercy of whatever lies he and his lawyers tell the (probably bribed) judges.

    Insanity. Hashem yerachem on the poor agunah, who has been raising young children on her own with not a penny to her name or help from the Rashah who turned his back on his own children. My hope is that he dies soon, and as his legal wife, maybe she can get some of her money.

    Is his new wife so gullible and stupid, that she agreed to live with him out of wedlock? She surely did not consider the future, when he gets tired of her too. She has even less chance of getting anything from him!!

  12. Yanky55 says:

    #8- “WHINING ABOUT AGUNOS”??? You’ve written a lot of sick stuff on this site, but this one takes the cake. You make me ill!!!

    Clearly, you do not know or care about the MANY women out there who are suffering at the hands of recalcitrant husbands. How dare you say something so awful??? YOU should definitely not be buried in E”Y!

  13. laytzonay hador omrim says:

    ADERABA-they should encourage his burial. The sooner he’s buried the sooner she gets out of her aguna status.

  14. BarryLS1 says:

    #9. If he wanted a reconciliation, he wouldn’t have run to the U.S. and stayed away all this time. He probably wants a lot of money for the Get or just wants to punish his wife.

    The solution isn’t to bar his burial in Israel. He should be told he will be buried in Israel…..very soon!

  15. ujm says:

    #14: He may have left Israeli jurisdiction due to legal pressures surmounted upon him by his wife through the Israeli legal system.

    If she threatens murder upon him directly or through a proxy, it would be his natural and legal right of self-defense to kill her and her agents first in self-defense.

  16. happy1027 says:

    I just wanted to say that just because Halacha does not mandate a husband to give a wife a get in some circumstances does not mean that he should not give a get and it does not mean that he will not have to answer to that in heaven after 120. He is still causing her pain Halacha or no.

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