The Wisdom of a Classic Shul Rov

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6 Responses

  1. Eytan says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein,

    Please could you explain (or outline) the halachic issues involved here – why was there not an umdena demuchach that the get was al tnai?

    Thank you.

    • Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

      Very briefly:
      Legal systems, including halacha, often invalidate devarim she-balev/ thoughts held in pectore. Halacha can only deal with what has been made manifest and observable. You can only undo an action properly executed if there was a tenai that was clearly verbalized. This was not the case here. The husband did not say, “Here is your get on the condition that I receive lots of money.” Had he done so, the get would be invalid. To the contrary, mesadrei gittin demand, as part of their routine, that the husband announce that his get is not contingent, and that he cancels all moda’os – claims that the get was written under duress. It is true that sometimes a tenai does not have to be enunciated. Tosafos writes that when it is clear to all observers what his mind set is, then failing to enunciate is not a problem. This is true only when the matter is not only “in his heart, but in the hearts of all other people.” In our case, only the principals and the Rav understood his insistence on obtaining the money. To make the get contingent on it, he would have to verbalize the conditional phrase, which he did not do.

  2. Nachum says:

    Wow. That’s some story. I think people who are vocal on the aguna issue often don’t realize what can, and is done.

    My brother was once asked to be an eid at a get in New York, with a prominent rav. The couple was Israeli; the woman had brothers with her, large guys. At the last minute, the husband began waffling. This may have been a pattern; in any event, they were ready for it. The rav, sofer, and eidim were asked to step outside; when they were called back in, the husband had clearly been gone over. No one said a word; the get was written and delivered.

    That said, I don’t think that’s ideal. R’ Berman senior’s idea is elegant and almost poetic. Yehi zikhro barukh.

  3. Simcha Younger says:

    When will Rabbanim be wise enough to simply ban marriage, so that women will not become agunot?
    When will they tell women that if they want the right to leave at any point, they should just be a girlfreind, and not bother with a ceremony?
    Or maybe they will be wise enough to stop writing a ketuba, so men should not be restrained in a marriage by monetary demands?

    Or maybe they will realize that just as a woman is entitled to financial compensation when she is divorced against her will, she must be expected to give similar compensation when she walks out. The gemara in gittin seems to consider this normal with its stnadard case of ‘This is your get if you pay me 200 zuz‘ – that the wife is expected to pay a ketuba when she is the divorcing party.
    And perhaps they will realize that such compensation is a statement of the commitment in marriage, because when one side can leave free, there is no commitment in the relationship.

  4. Tal Benschar says:

    This story about the Wisdom of a Shul Rov reminded of another story I once heard from R. Elazar M. Teitz about his father, R. Pinchas Teitz, who was the Rov in Elizabeth, NJ for 55 years (1935 to 1990).

    Shortly after R. Teitz senior became Rov in 1935, a gentleman in the kehilla died, with no children, leaving an almonoh and a brother, meaning she would require chalitzah to remarry. Problem was that the remaining brother was very assimilated, had married a non-Jew, and had quite a bit of disdain for the old-time religion. Needless to say, getting a chalitzah for the almonoh was not going to be an easy task.

    At the funeral of the deceased brother, R. Teitz called over the brother to the aron. He opened the aron, took the living brother’s hand, and told him, “I want you to shake your brother’s hand and promise him that you will give his widow a chalitzah.” And he did. This was the first and last time that R. Teitz opened an aron at a funeral in 55 years of rabbonus.

    When the time came to give the widow her chalitzah, the non-Jewish wife was quite upset about this “primitive” custom. But the living brother said, “Honey, you are right, but what can I do? I shook his hand and promised. A promise is a promise.”

    And so another agunah situation was avoided.

  5. Not Very Important says:

    I believe what happened here is as follows:

    The mesader haget told the husband that the father of the wife is prepared to give him personally, the mesader haget, a check for the money prior to the divorce, on condition the husband then gives a divorce.

    The mesader haget told the husband that after the husband gave a get, he personally would be responsible to hand the check over to him, the husband.

    Under those conditions the husband agreed to give a get. He assumed that the mesader haget would give him over the check without a problem.

    The wife clearly fulfilled the requirements for the get. The rav however reneged on his side of the deal. The husband’s claims are entirely against the mesader haget, not against the wife.

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