Rabbi Raffi Bilek
Yesterday’s presentation at ORA went swimmingly. We all gained some valuable information, myself included.
While I was preparing for yesterday’s presentation to ORA earlier this week, I came across this very interesting article about gett refusal in Israel. It’s in Hebrew, and though you can use Google to translate it, I will share with you what I found to be the most interesting points:
Despite claims that there are thousands of agunot in Israel, the actual number (this is from a 2006 report) is 180.
Even more interesting is that the number of agunim in Israel is 190.
I brought this up at the presentation and it was suggested to me that the situation in Israel is different because the entire divorce process is bound up with the gett, such that if a woman doesn’t like the terms of the divorce that have been presented and doesn’t want to accept them, the husband is considered “chained.” I.e., it may not be a case of “gett refusal” as much as a case of willingness to divorce but wanting better terms. ORA told me that out of the hundreds of cases they have dealt with, only a handful have been men. Similarly, another organization that works with agunot also told me that in 30 years of working with gett issues, they have only been contacted once by a man whose wife refused to accept the gett.
Unrelatedly, another interesting point that came up during the discussion yesterday was the infamous Rambam apparently condoning wife-beating. I referred to questioner to this essay, which I think is a brilliant elucidation of that puzzling statement.