Why do People Refuse to Accept the Shulchan Aruch?
On my brother’s blog when I talk about the sin of coercing a GET when a woman breaks the marriage, people respond that this is a sin only according to the minority of authorities. And I ask, again and again, without getting a proper response, “If I am the minority, who is the majority?” And there is no answer. Why?
I once asked a friend of mine why he, personally, refused to accept what it says clearly in the Shulchan Aruch and the poskim, with no disagreement, that a husband whose wife has left him cannot be coerced to give a GET. This is stated in Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer 77 paragraphs two and three. The Gro there says that nobody disagrees. And this is rooted in a Rashbo (teshuva VII:414) The Maharshal in a teshuva (41) in a lengthy discussion shows that a woman may leave the house of her husband if she truly despises him, but may not coerce a GET, even if he wears things that indicate a change of religion.
I never got an answer, and that itself was amazing to me. This was truly a pious person, and yet, when it came to coercing the husband, he was in favor, to some degree, of giving the wife what she demanded, although a lot of mumbling confused the issue. Why the mumbling, and why the refusal to accept what the Shulchan Aruch and authorities teach?
Jacques Barzun’s “From Dawn to Decadence” quotes Alexis de Tocquevilles classic book on America “Democracy in America” (1835). This was a book that produced favorable impressions for Europeans about America. But Tocqueville had this warning, “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America. The majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barrier an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.”
Thus, Barzun adds, “The great danger was the tyranny of the majority. No protection against it was provided--or could be, given the principle of one man, one vote. And that tyranny was not legal only but social also—pressure from the neighbors, tacit or expressed.”
Reb Yehuda HaChosid tells us that Jews in every country where they reside are influenced by their gentile surroundings. American Jews also are influenced to some degree by the way of the surrounding populations. And in America, when the majority has erected a barrier to an idea, it is a very powerful barrier. But what is the idea in America that promotes the coercion of men when the wife breaks the marriage and wants a divorce? We could say that Americans by majority have erected a barrier to causing pain to a woman, but there is more to it than that. And once again, we apply to Tocqueville who was asked about Americans, and the secret of their great success. He had various good and otherwise statements about the men, but he concluded, that America’s success was due “to the superiority of their women.”
Here we see in “the superiority of their women” a recognition that in America the success of the country was due to the women. This itself gives them a special role. And when we combine this with the natural tendency of men to want to help women, we see that coercing husbands to divorce when the wife breaks the marriage is a very powerful idea.
Now let us quote an unknown rabbi who said, “When you see a Jew doing a hideous sin, know that he does it leshaim shomayim, for the sake of heaven.” That is, a Jew has a limit when he sins, because he has a Jewish soul and can’t go too far. But once convinced that he is doing not a bad deed but a mitzvah, a Jew is capable of sinning hideously. And therefore we see that people can make a mitzvah out of breaking up marriages and destroying husbands, once convinced that this is a mitzvah. A woman once lied about her husband and got him jailed. Then she asked me to help her because she feared what the husband could do. It seems he knew a few things about her. I asked her, “Do you want a GET?” She said, “No.” I asked, “So why did you jail your husband?” She said, “The ladies told me to do it.” Okay, that sounds ridiculous, but it happens. There are people who feel it is a mitzvah to save people from their marriage and they make more problems with their “mitzvah” than they would if they thought it was an aveiro.
A woman once called the police on her husband claiming that he attacked her little daughter. The police and the experts came rushing over, did tests, and found out that the story was a complete lie. This came to court, and the judge said that the mother lied, but she could still have custody of the children.
Coercing a husband to give a GET makes an invalid GET in almost all occasions. This itself is a hideous sin, because it produces an invalid GET that makes mamzerim and a wife a noef. A woman with an invalid GET who remarries must get another GET. She is forbidden in marriage to the first and second husband. Her child may be a mamzer. And yet, we find major Rosh Yeshivas and dayanim who produce and indeed militate for coerced Gittin. They are in their opinion doing a good deed, although the Shulchan Aruch and poskim consider it a terrible sin.
And things just get worse every day. The Philly Rosh Yeshivas are working to “help” a woman who refuses to settle with her husband and get a GET. So to save her the trouble of settling with her husband, who wants to settle, and wants to go to Beth Din, these “Roshei Yeshiva” have permitted the woman to remarry without a GET! And guess what! Nobody except my brother and myself publically protest this!
But let us put aside the consideration of sin and the punishment of the Other World. Let us just note what suffering a husband has when his wife breaks the marriage. I know husbands who were successful in their lives and were happy with their family and children. One fine day the marriage is over. The husband leaves the house and his children and much of his assets. He must pay child support for children who may be learning to hate him. If the wife turns up the pressure on the husband to divorce with a GET, Beth Din or secular courts may take away the husband’s rights with the children, and drain him fiscally, even jail him, if he does not give a GET. And if he beset with such pressures gives a GET, it is invalid and the children are mamzerim. And if he refuses to give an invalid GET, he can be tormented by the courts even jailed.
A husband told me how he was on top of the world, with a wonderful job, plenty of money, etc., and his wife broke the marriage, took the children, took his house, and he ended up sleeping in a car and losing everything.
Let us not take sides, who was right and who was wrong. The process of war in marriage destroys, and the suffering of the children is also terrible. And yet, there are people who strongly believe in the need to educate women to break their marriages.
There are those who encourage women to make an order of protection by lying about their husband. And then whenever the husband comes to see what the child is doing in school, etc., the wife shows up, calls the police, and the husband is arrested. A major therapist told me that he had a man who was jailed 58 times but he insisted in participating in his son’s life, to watch him in school and in sports, and when he showed up, so did the wife and the police. Eventually, even in this extreme case, the judge may realize that enough is enough. And of course, there are those who are successful in getting an order of protection against the husband seeing the children. This is besides the ability of the mother to influence the children to hate their father.
How, in the name of Torah, in the name of being a human being, can people enthusiastically embrace the idea of coercing husbands to divorce their wives? How can a community, a Beth Din, or Torah people, destroy a husband because he wants his family, his wife and his children? Is this evil? Or is the destruction of such a husband evil?
When husbands are confronted with the pressure to give a GET or else, and refuse to give a coerced GET, and are driven from their positions in the community, and despised and humiliated constantly, some people rejoice. But why? Does the Torah permit this? Does human decency permit this? No.
Therefore, in the coming generation, children born from such Gittin will be unable to marry children from homes who accept the Shulchan Aruch and the pesak of Gedolim in Israel that a GET coerced is invalid. A woman who has such a GET may not remarry. And if she receives a GET from such a Beth Din that makes coerced Gittin, even if her GET was not coerced, we don’t recognize the Beth Din as a Beth Din and we don’t recognize their Gittin. I heard this personally from Posek HaDor Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l and it has now come out in a letter from Gedolim Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner and other Israeli Geonim.
Thus, the coming generation will be divided between those who feel it is a mitzvah to destroy the marriage and the husband, and those who believe in the Shulchan Aruch and the Gedolim. Only then will some people realize that they have the sin of child molestation, among other things, for their “mitzvah.”