Recent invitation to rally for an aguna.
I recently came across an energetic invitation on-line to a rally against a man who is refusing to give his wife a get, a Jewish Divorce. The strategy of helping such women by complicating a man’s comfort in his community- taking away his right to be called up to the Torah or boycotting his business – is quite an old idea. Trying to convince but not force a husband to give his wife a get has been the preoccupation of Jewish leaders since the Talmud. Softer than the Rambam’s plan to beat offending men until they said “yes I want to give this get,” most Rabbis today sanction using community and consumer pressure as a way to right the wrong.

I was glad to come across the invitation for this specific rally and am always glad to hear of people who are dedicated enough to the cause to take to the streets and yell about it. However I still have to admit that these individual rallies fall short of my dreams of an ultimate end to the problem. By exerting so much energy on fighting each man on his turf, we simply continue the status quo, which places all the key to unlock marriage entirely in man’s hand, a basic power differential that will always lead to manipulations and abuses of the divorce process.

The invitation to this rally earnestly wanted to persuade people to participate and so it read: “Come out to protect your daughters!” Unfortunately this very well meant call to action reeks of paternalism. Do they only expect men to show up at the rally? Maybe, maybe not. But the underlying point is clear: women need men’s help. A grown woman, who may be a professional, a mother, and clearly a wife, is transformed back into a child, a daughter of the community. However successful this rally may be, the woman’s status in the community will always be in need of protection until the very structure of marriage is equalized.

Leave a Reply.