Irrational Revenge

Since I have been known to complain about the inaction of the Beit Din on occasion, particularly the unwillingness of some dayanim to make tough decisions about recalcitrant husbands who won’t give a get, it is only right to post the following article, published on Ynet. The article is about a recent decision of the Jerusalem Rabbinic Court to sentence such a husband to a further prison sentence, even though he has already been in prison for ten years,  and still refuses to give his wife a get.

This is what you call irrational revenge.

The man had already served a 10-year prison sentence, and yet was adamant not to grant his wife a divorce.

He was released from jail several days ago, after serving the most severe punishment the court is authorized to sentence a husband to for refusing to divorce his wife – 10 years in prison. He survived tough sanctions, including solitary confinement, but wouldn’t give in.

About two months ago, during a court session, the judges said they were under the impression that “the husband is encouraged by the fact that the 10-year prison term is about to end”.

 They decided to place him in solitary confinement for the entire Passover holiday, including the Seder night – but that didn’t help either, and the man stuck to his refusal not to give his wife a divorce.

 Enforcing obedience

On the eve of his release, the woman asked that he be given another punishment, for fear that she would be chained to her marriage forever, but his lawyers argued that the court no longer had the authority to send him to jail and therefore he must be set free.

 The judges – Rabbi Israel Yifrach, Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil and Rabbi Yosef Goldberg – stood by the woman and for the first time made use of a different law, which allows for the husband to be jailed for an unlimited period of time.

 The law, “Forcing obedience,” authorizes all religious courts to enforce their rulings through a fine or unlimited prison term. The man was sent back to jail until he agrees to give his “chained” wife a divorce.

 The use of this provision of law, enacted in 1981, is for the enforcement of the delivery of documents and upholding rulings on child visitations, and was never used before to force a husband to grant his wife a “get”. It was used for the first time in this case after the judges consulted the rabbinical courts’ legal advisor, Attorney Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi.

 “We are about to see one gate locked in the face of the woman, following the end of the 10-year prison term,” the court said in its decision. “It’s only right that a woman held captive in marriage will have a gate of hope opened to be free of her husband’s burden…”

See here for the full article.

(Hattip: DK)

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4 Responses to Irrational Revenge

  1. i’m not sure you want to use the word “irrational” here. it may be excessive, imbalanced, tenacious, vindictive, but irrational we can’t know. maybe it’s the only thing getting him up in the morning?

  2. shaananlaw says:

    It may be the only thing getting him up in the world, but that in an of itself is irrational in the narrow sense that economists would define the term.

  3. well i never thought i’d hear a divorce lawyer use an economic definition for rationality.if sitting and wallowing in a pit of self-pity and resentment is the only thing that keeps someone going, then it has a claim to being “rational” in an emotional sense. there’s a logic to zero-sum. not a very pretty one, and it hardly shows the individual in the most flattering light (envy being the “sin” to which we least wish to admit), but it has its logic.

  4. Pingback: Leap of Bad Faith | The Missing Peace

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