Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Still not getting it

Congratulations to the Jerusalem Family Court for fining a husband who refused to give his wife a get a record NIS 425,000.
Make no mistake, however: this is not a case of a court proactively and decisively dealing with a husband who leaves his wife an agunah. This money was given in compensation to the woman for 12 years of pain and suffering -- because that's how long it's been since she was originally refused a get.
The fact is, the divorce case itself is not in the hands of the Family Court, but in the hands of the Rabbinical Court. Ha'aretz explains:
In 1992, after the husband first refused the divorce, the wife filed suit in the Rabbinical Court in their town to require him to do so. In 2002, the court ruled the husband was required to give the divorce, but set no sanctions if he refused, and the High Rabbinical Court also refused to set sanctions.
The woman then filed suit in Family Court through the Yad L'Isha organization. In a ruling her lawyers are calling precedent-setting, the court fined the man NIS 200,000 and an additional NIS 225,000 fine for pain and suffering.
In the NRG article, a lawyer for Yad La'Isha says he hopes this will send a strong message to husbands who refuse to give their wives gets, that one day they will have to pay for their deeds. But I hope that even more so, it sends a strong message to the Rabbinical Court, who were the husband's accomplices in this case: Your rulings on these matters are unacceptable. Start acting more toughly with husbands holding their wives to ransom, because the rebellion in the ranks is swelling.
(Perhaps, incidentally, this is why the Rabbinic courts are getting tired of Yad L'Isha. Members of the organization -- Chazku VeImtzu!)

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