I assume that anyone who has political ambitions would like their name to appear at some point or other in the New York Times, but I would guess that Mr. Friedman, the subject of this article, didn’t have this in mind.
Public shaming is a good method for pressuring for a get, and I suspect particularly effective when someone is shamed before the powers-that-be who don’t want to be associated with unethical behaviors, particularly when the shaming is seen as airing Jewish dirty laundry before the world.
Withholding a get simply has to become socially unacceptable behavior – and now, politically unacceptable behavior. There is no justification for not getting divorced once it’s clear that the marriage is over. Sounds like what’s going on here is withholding the get in order to force the mother to make concessions about custody and visitation.
Despite the fact that the judge’s decision about visitation (and here I’m obviously just working with what was written in the article, so apologies if any of the facts are wrong) – forcing the father to choose between violating Shabbat or seeing his daughter, and thereby compromising the very principles by which both parents ostensibly wish to educate their child – appears to be a decision that patently does not serve the best interests of the child, withholding a get is just not the way to go.
I once heard a lecture from a psychologist who works with children of divorce, and as a point tangential to his lecture, he said that people in the throes of divorce proceedings are not candidates for therapy; they are irrational, in emotional turmoil, and don’t have the requisite inner quiet necessary for effective therapy. (Actually, he used a stronger, clinical term, which was a little harsh).
This was a helpful observation for me to hear, since it gave me a frame to understand something I knew from experience. It is abundantly clear that people in proceedings often make, or want to make, highly irrational decisions, either because they have been shamed by the rejection inherent in the divorce, by their own sense of failure, or are just plain angry about a wide array of issues and want a way to get back (no pun intended).
Of course, I’ve seen lawyers who literally feed on these urges to the detriment of all involved, including their own client.
It’s a question I hope to explore in a later post: how does one fulfill one’s legal and ethical obligations to a client embarked on such a path? Is there a golden mean between doing whatever he/she wants you to do and sitting them down to try and point out that they are in fact damaging their own long-term interests? All of this of course is to say nothing of the cost to the children of such a path.
In any case, we wish Ms. Epstein success in obtaining her get with all due speed, and Mr. Friedman success in doing the right thing and (this time pun intended), getting on with his life.