Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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19 Tammuz 5767 - July 5, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Statistical Study Shatters Libel Of Drawn Out Proceedings At Rabbinical Courts

By Betzalel Kahn

The distorted claims of National-Religious (modern-orthodox) women's groups that have joined Reform circles to wage a joint campaign against the Rabbinical botei din and the dayanim who act in accordance with halochoh, on account of the alleged "thousands of agunos" and "ongoing foot dragging in resolving their plight" have been exposed as grossly exaggerated and misleading and in fact, altogether groundless. This is the picture that emerges from a statistical study recently carried out by the management of the Israeli Rabbinical Courts.

The study shows that at present approximately one-hundred-and- eighty women are being denied divorces by their husbands and approximately one-hundred-and-ninety men are in a corresponding position i.e. they want to get divorced but are being prevented by difficulties originated by their wives. Thus, more men are being denied divorces than women.

Hundreds of divorce proceedings that were filed in the course of the two years 2005-6 were examined for the study. Results show that nine-hundred-and-forty-two of the couples who filed for divorce in this period have not yet ended their proceedings in the giving of a divorce. Some sixteen thousand new divorce files are opened in the Rabbinical Courts annually.

The cases where divorce proceedings have lasted over two years were further analyzed to reveal the different causes for the delay. Also examined were the numbers of wives being refused a get and of those who have been deserted, both in Israel and abroad, with the aim of rebutting the unfounded claims of abovementioned groups against the Rabbinical botei din. (Yated Hashavua carried an in-depth feature on this subject.)

Research into the causes of lengthy divorce proceedings yielded the following results. Thirteen percent of the cases have not yet been concluded with the granting of a get because of financial disputes between the couple. Nineteen percent of the cases are due to the husband's refusal to give a get. Twenty percent are due to the wife's refusal to reach agreement about the get. In five percent of the cases husband and wife were reconciled and abandoned the divorce proceedings, though their case was still open as an unresolved divorce. In eleven percent of the cases the beis din affirmed the agreement and authorized the get but the couple did not show up for the actual delivery of the get. Eighteen percent of the cases were neglected by the couple (that is, they did not follow through in the rabbinical courts) and underwent administrative closure according to the law, while in three percent of the cases the couple were given a day for the actual divorce at the beginning of 2007, but had not carried it out at the time of the survey.

In an attempt to determine the number of agunos among the hundred-and-eighty women who have not yet received a get, a register was prepared of all the cases of wives whose husbands have disappeared either in Israel or abroad, where the management of the Rabbinical Courts has engaged private investigators to trace the husbands, or appointed an emissary to find the husband and persuade him to give his wife a get.

The results show that out of sixty-nine women whose husbands have disappeared, forty-five traveled abroad, twenty-three have gone missing in Israel, while in one case a husband lost consciousness in an accident. There are another one hundred- and-eleven cases where husbands' whereabouts are known but they refuse to give a get. Nineteen of these men live abroad and ninety-two are in Israel. The total of one hundred- and-eighty is far less than the National-Religious women's groups have been claiming for the past few years.

Dayanim and rabbonim point out that the results of the survey again show the efforts made by the dayanim to conclude divorce proceedings between a couple as swiftly as possible where no possibility of reconciliation exists and a parting of ways is inevitable. "The fact that in an overwhelming majority of cases proceedings end in a very short time and only in about one percent extend for over two years — and even there the causes are usually monetary disputes that can be resolved through arbitration and compromise, or the couple's having let matters slide — shows that the dayanim work with efficiency and determination that are unmatched in the parallel system of [secular] Family Courts."

It should be noted that the dayanim of the botei din are under constant attack from the National-Religious women's groups and their Reform "partners," who do not balk at presenting false information, as Yated Ne'eman has shown in the past. These groups aim to institute changes in halochoh and achieve the appointment of dayanim who will work to change halochoh and "bring it into line" with the norms of secular Israeli society.

Dayanim who we spoke to said that while these groups, who wield the plight of agunos as a weapon in their battle against halochoh and against the botei din and the dayanim who conform to halochoh, have spoken in spurious terms of "hundreds of thousands of agunos and wives who are being refused a get," this is not their worst crime. Most serious of all is the fact that "the women from these groups who act as rabbinical pleaders or as advisors to women are not willing to reach any compromise in the course of the proceedings. They want to exhaust every possible adversary procedure to the very end, while showing utter disregard even for the feelings of the woman involved and certainly for her children."

In addition the dayanim pointed out that every single instance of either a husband's refusal to give a get or a wife's to accept it, is a source of worry and sleeplessness for them, while they try to find ways to alleviate the suffering of the couple and their children. The dayanim make every effort to conclude the proceedings and to minimize the damage to the parties and to their children, caused by the break-up of the family.


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