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London - Heroic UK Rabbi Fiercely Fights Man That Refused To Give a ‘Get’

Published on: September 11, 2008 02:04 PM
By: Ynet
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Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Lichtenstein London - Dealing with a divorce refuser, UK style. Israeli Newspaper Yediot Ahronot recently received a document describing the ordeal of a woman whose husband refused to grant her a divorce for five years.
The husband declared he would never give his wife a divorce, the judges in Israel’s religious courts were indifferent, and then the man fled to Britain with the help of his family, leaving her to take care of their disabled daughter. The woman thought she would remain abandoned forever, until Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Lichtenstein of London entered the picture.

The rabbi took the woman’s story as a personal project, and even conveyed a message to the husband’s family that should the situation continue they would be expelled from their synagogue.

The threat made an impact, and the refusing husband initiated a phone call to the rabbi, saying he agrees to grant the longed for divorce. So can the solution for abandoned women in Israel only come from rabbis abroad? Here is something for Israel’s religious judges to think about.


About five years ago I filed for a divorce after five difficult years of marriage, which included physical, mental and economic violence, with my husband agreeing to work only once a week. I worked full-time of course.
My ex-husband and I have a daughter together. She seemed healthy when she was born, but when she turned 18 months we noticed there was something wrong with her in terms of development. After consulting a number of doctors for about half a year, we found out that the girl was suffering from a difficult syndrome and that her condition could only deteriorate, and unfortunately that’s what happened.
As time went by, the child stopped speaking altogether, lost her ability to walk, stopped communicating and also suffered from epilepsy. In addition to a 100% disabled child, I also had a bad husband.

In 2003, I filed for a divorce without my ex-husband’s knowledge. In previous years I wanted to divorce but was afraid of him because I knew he refused to be divorced. The week his mother came to Israel I knew I could leave the house with the girl, and when the movers came, my husband made sure that I only take mine and her clothes.
The divorce procedure was very difficult. The husband played tricks and caused difficulties. He wanted the plot I owned, claiming that it was only his, he refused to pay alimony, and indeed did not pay anything. The entire Execution Office procedures failed. There was no way to collect money from him.

At the court he swore that he would never give me a divorce, and didn’t bother showing up to most hearings. When he did show up, he would cause difficulties with the judges, and the discussions would end with nothing.

Unfortunately, the Netanya Rabbinical Court never took any measures against the husband. I was the one who had to maneuver like a tiger between the discussions and the enforcement attempts against the husband, while functioning at work, running the house and raising the child.

About two and a half years ago, the husband escaped to his family in England, despite a stay of exit order issued against him. I don’t know how he managed to flee. He must have received help from people he knew in Israel, and left me abandoned without the possibility of being granted a divorce.

It took me about a year and a half to discover that he was in England with his family, who protected him and concealed the fact that he was there. They did not say he was in England, claiming they didn’t know where he was.

About a year ago, I turned to Mr. David Einhorn of Raanana after a couple of friends of mine told me that he helps abandoned wives. Two months later he traveled to England to look for him, and spoke to the family and to Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Lichtenstein, head of the Federation of Synagogues Beis Din (Jewish Court) in London. Unfortunately, the trip failed and he returned empty-handed.

But my connection with Rabbi Lichtenstein, who took my story as a personal project, continued. I was in contact with him since then, and together (with him in England and me in Israel) we continued to do everything in a bid to locate the husband.

As part of my efforts to find the missing husband, I wrote an article in a local newspaper in England, and at the same time, Rabbi Lichtenstein corresponded with the rabbinate in Israel, spoke with my ex-husband’s sister and got the feeling from the conversations that they were hiding him.
He wrote an angry letter to the Netanya Rabbinate and told them that he believes the husband’s family is hiding him, claiming they were assisting an offender. He also spoke to the rabbi of the synagogue where the family used to pray, informed him of the matter, told him that I must not remain abandoned and conveyed a message to the family that if this situation continues they would be expelled from the synagogue due to their assistance to hide a refusing husband.
Simultaneously, I turned to a private investigator specializing in locating missing people. He also contacted Rabbi Lichtenstein and unfortunately found no traces of the husband, as the family made sure to hide him well.

In the meantime, I received a divorce affirmation from the court in Israel, and when Rabbi Lichtenstein received the copy he made sure to inform the husband’s mother and sister. The rabbi did not let go and made sure that the entire community knows about this, until one day the husband called Rabbi Lichtenstein and told him that he would be willing to grant me a divorce – and that’s what happened.

Rabbi Lichtenstein fought to get me out of my state of abandonment for about a year and a half.

The woman asked not to reveal her name

Ynet received the document from the Rabbinical Center of Europe, which has been working over the past years to create cooperation between the Jewish communities across Europe in a bid to locate husbands who refuse to grant their wives a divorce and force them to do so

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Read Comments (37)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 11, 2008 at 02:14 PM Zalman Says:

Coming from the source its from, I'd be surprised if even one word in this diatribe is true.

Also notice how she never indicated that a Beis Din indicated that she is halachicly entitled to a divorce. A woman is not entitled to a divorce just because she wants one.

Yeah, yeah, rant on how curropt the butei dinim are and how clean the Zionist court system is. I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale to you.


 Sep 11, 2008 at 02:15 PM Anonymous Says:

We need more such Rabbonim!


 Sep 11, 2008 at 02:16 PM Anonymous Says:

This rabbi is a Tzaddik.


 Sep 11, 2008 at 02:44 PM Yo Zalman Says:

Please explain what benefit it is to anyone to withhold the Get even if she is not "halachicly entitled to a divorce".


 Sep 11, 2008 at 03:01 PM Anonymous Says:

i am involved first hand with 3 such cases and deal with them thank god the men gave in by different measures of force physical and non physical


 Sep 11, 2008 at 03:10 PM Anonymous Says:

My friend is waiting for over 6 years for a get. The husband refuses to give yet was found going out on dates...


 Sep 11, 2008 at 03:34 PM shiandel Says:

3:10 ur sure hes just going out on dates? dont be so golible


 Sep 11, 2008 at 03:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Zalman, by Halachically entitled, it basically means that they had a Din Torah and the Rabbonim felt that she did not have to stay in this abusive situation any longer and therefore he should give her a Get. As a matter of fact, the fact that he didn't give it to her means that he was a mesarev badin. Unfortunatly, not giving a Get is his way of just getting her to suffer, longer, as he has made her suffer during the years that they were together, this is just another way of his continuing it. A big Yasher Koach to the Rabbonim and individuals who take it upon themselves to help women inthese situations, as it is mamish an inyan of Pidyon Shivuyim.


 Sep 11, 2008 at 03:18 PM anon Says:

physical violence may render a get posul.


 Sep 11, 2008 at 03:17 PM neturei karte Says:

Anonymous Says:
This rabbi is a Tzaddik.
09-11-2008 - 2:16 PM

a tzaddik?? a ende tzaddik


 Sep 11, 2008 at 04:03 PM Anonymous Says:

A man can get remarried without a divorce if necessary.


 Sep 11, 2008 at 04:27 PM Avraham Abba Says:

Our community has a guy like that who loves to tell each rabbi he meets the same knaych on a dvar Torah to show what a "genius' he is.
Once he gets the rabbi's confidence, the people in that shul begin to lend him money.
All during this time he gives no get. When the people of this shul get wise to his "lending/stealing" habits, he cries "loshon Hora" and goes to impress his next rabbi victim and you can guess how this goes on and on.
He is an anti Semite.
He has never hurt a non Jew. He only hurtas his Jewish wife, his Jewish kids, his parents, his "friends" his "fellow" talmedei chachamim and cruises the neighborhoods looking for concubines.
We all know who he is, so now it's our turn to trick him. We smile to him like we all think he is a tzadik while we all know he hates Jews and the only thing we are now careful about is not to lend him money and not to fight him. We want to watch and wait while we help his wife and kids and as he gets older and older, he becomes more frustrated every day. WHEN HE APPEARS IN YOUR SHUL WITH HIS WELL TRIMMED BODY AND BEARD, TRYING TO SHOW ALL HOW WISE HE IS, REMEMBER....


 Sep 11, 2008 at 04:57 PM Anonymous Says:

A friend of mine is pleading for a "get" for almost 3 years, but her husband, is demanding "shalom bayis". Can anyone explain that? Why is bais din shlepping this out? Perhaps they stand to gain from a long process...


 Sep 11, 2008 at 05:55 PM bayla Says:

We personally know this Dayan Lichtenstein and he is truly one of the unsung heroes of our time, taking on cases that others shun. He has a good heart, and is a man of integrity which is unusual in many Rabbonim with powerful positions these days.


 Sep 11, 2008 at 06:04 PM exactly Says:

im afraid of these kind of gitin because halachachily she has a big problem


 Sep 11, 2008 at 06:12 PM chaim yankel Says:

sorry missing the word NOT suffer


 Sep 11, 2008 at 06:11 PM chaim yankel Says:

He is not a Tzadik he is a RUV and does what a RUV is supposed to do..LOI SUGIRI MIPNEI ISH..A tzadik prays that the women and child should suffer mentally and physically and a Ruv makes sure she is free from her TZURE..


 Sep 11, 2008 at 06:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Was this rabbi also subjected to harrassment like Rabbi Twersky?


 Sep 11, 2008 at 09:32 PM Anonymous Says:

he is a great man and should be applauded for what he did, and yes too bad there are not more like him, that can go against conventional wisdom.
with all the rebbe bashing going on it is good to see a story that all can say. I hope, this rebbie did the right thing, and stuck his neck out.

To bad they could not make the bum pay some type of child care, it is his child.

and Zalman this stories happen all the time why so skeptical?


 Sep 11, 2008 at 10:43 PM Milhouse Says:

Zalman's right, the story doesn't even mention whether she had any grounds that would entitle her to a get. A man doesn't have to give his wife a get just because she wants it. If she wants a get and she has no grounds to force him, then she should pay him whatever he wants in order to persuade him; certainly he should not be expected to give her any money at all.


 Sep 11, 2008 at 11:04 PM anonymous Says:



 Sep 11, 2008 at 11:01 PM Anonymous Says:

before people get married they have to make sure that there is a way out if chas veshalom the marriage doesn't work out.... basically do research, research, research,and daven, daven, daven!!! and make sure the guy is not a rasha! any man refusing to give his wife a get is a rotzeach!!!! regardless of waht the reason she wants a get for he has no right to chain and imprison her!!!!! how dare he!!! such a person should not consider himself an observant jew.
any of you commentators who feel that it is right for a husband to do so need to re-evaluate your code of morals and ethics. May Hakadosh Baaruch Hu open your hearts to the peaceful and rightous ways of the Torah!!

p.s. i know a woman who is an agunah for 16 years!!! my best friend is trying to get a get for 1 year already!!!
"di velt is nisht hefker in di himmel is nisht kain boidem"
May we merit to greet mashiach our true redeemer very soon!!


 Sep 11, 2008 at 11:34 PM Milhouse Says:

Anon 11:01, on what basis do you claim that a man must give his wife a get just because she wants one? That is not the halacha. The halacha sets out limited grounds on which a wife can demand a get; without any of those grounds she's a moredes. Do you know what a moredes is? Have you heard of the term before? Your friend is probably a moredes, and is not entitled to anything; if she wants a get, let her pay her husband whatever he demands, or else she can remain a prisoner. If your code of morals and ethics is at odds with the Torah, then it's you who needs to reevaluate it.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 07:44 AM Anonymous Says:

I knew Reb Yankel Lichtenstein many years ago in the Mirrer Yeshivah, and at Bnai Torah. He was a fabulous baal kishron and a real mentch.He allways stood up to do the right thing even if it was unpopular. I havent seen him in many years (25) but I'm proud to see he's fullfilled his potential. Halivay we had more rabbonim like him.
D. Lichtenstein


 Sep 12, 2008 at 08:51 AM Chacham Mah Nishtana Says:

To all you big Talmidei Chachomim,
Just by the fact that he has left his wife & country (especially EY) is full grounds for a GET. In addition if he doesn't support her, then you got another. So please....


 Sep 12, 2008 at 09:50 AM Anonymous Says:

All you men who think she is a moredes and is not entitled to a divorce sound like women haters. If he doesn't support her or their child why is she not entitled to a divorce? She is not a moredes, he is a rasha. I thinl Rav Lichtenstein is doing the right thing by helping her get a divorce. Why do men think they can abuse their wives and then if they want divorces have to pay them to get them? A kesuba is supposed to protect the women not the other way around.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 09:40 AM Anonymous Says:

How can a wife that is being abused by her husband not be halchically entitled to a get? Doesn't abuse entitle automatically any women to a get? Also, if I would've known how restricted a get is to request-I wouldn't get married!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:21 AM anonymous Says:

Zalmen, You are so dumb. It seems like it really hurts reading your own story. Good for you. You shouldn't have let it go this far and just given a get right away.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:17 AM Anonymous Says:

A moredes loses her kesuba.

She "claims" he abused her. Who can trust a moredes?


 Sep 12, 2008 at 01:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Some women do make up stories about their husbands in order to receive a get. I personally know a man whose wife wants a divorce after over 20 years of marriage. He is an erliche Yid and a very frum hardworking person who gave his family more than he could afford. Now his wife decided she wants a get and she convinced her kids to side with her, even to the point that they were seeing a shrink who got the daughter to say her father molested her! That was a complete sheker. The father would give his his wife divorce but, she wants a ton of money which he doesn't have. She is totally nuts!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:30 PM Milhouse Says:

All these commenters who are talking about abuse, where are you getting that from? There's nothing in the story about abuse. Of course if he abused her, and she can prove it, a bes din will order him to give a get. But in this case she's not even CLAIMING that he abused her, so why are you making up such stories?


 Sep 12, 2008 at 04:23 PM Anonymous Says:

Rav Akiva Eiger (i think) had such a fellow who refused to grant his wife a divorce. He came to the Beis Din, which was in the shul. The Rav explained to him that the Torah gives the wife 2 ways out of a marriage - a divorce or the husband's death. The husband still refused and stormed out of the court angry at the Rabbi's comment. He tripped on the stairs of the shul and died. His wife never needed a divorce.

Our Rabbis were so powerful and are now left powerless. There is almost nothing that can be done to help these poor women at the hands of monsters. It must however be understood that any supposed happiness that this man has in this world will be overshadowed as he repays the suffering of his wife and children THOUSANDS of times over in the next world.

B"H, we are aware that there IS justice and there IS a KING. Nobody gets away with anything. Only on this earth it seems so. But Hashem is not a "vatran" -- one who lets go of things. We are still obligated to work on our part down here, but everything is part of the PLAN!

May Hashem guide us all beDerech Ha'emet, ALWAYS!


 Sep 12, 2008 at 04:52 PM Avrohom Abba Says:

The words, "halachically entitled" are the big hole through which these "men" have dropped down their "wives."
"I want her back so we can start new," is a trick way of saying, "I want money," and " If i get her back, I'm going to make her life miserable for having the chutzpah to reject an incredible tzaddik-talmid-chacham like me."
Down through history these gangster wiseguys have hurt thousands of Jewish women and Jewish children, while yelling, "injustice."
Very few have the strength and power to let her go and move on. Guess what? These guys are dual personalities, tricksters and schemers. I know one who finally got the money and gave a divorce and is now indicted by the U.S. government. I know another who was given the money and then got caught trying to misrepresent himself to collect welfare. They are losers who CAN NOT handle losing. Their wives almost always have excellent reasons for wanting out.


 Sep 12, 2008 at 06:02 PM Anonymous Says:

All of you armchair poskim here (myself included) - back off!!

Hilchos gittin are some of the most complex in the Torah. There are reasons when a husband is REQUIRED to give his wife a get, sometimes with/sometimes without a kesubah.

Leave it up to the experts like R' Lichtenstein to work it out, and don't second guess them.

OMG, if we did that, what would we talk about??


 Sep 13, 2008 at 10:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Milhouse Says:
All these commenters who are talking about abuse, where are you getting that from? There's nothing in the story about abuse. Of course if he abused her, and she can prove it, a bes din will order him to give a get. But in this case she's not even CLAIMING that he abused her, so why are you making up such stories?

Check the article. She writes "which included physical, mental and economic violence". Sounds like abuse to me.


 Sep 14, 2008 at 08:31 AM Enough Says:

My friend is an agunah for thirty years! He swore that he would grant her a divorce and he kept his word. She is no longer young or evern youngish, there was never a dispute over assets, since there were no assets. Such a tragedy!


 Nov 14, 2012 at 04:42 PM hi198 Says:

Reply to #17  
chaim yankel Says:

He is not a Tzadik he is a RUV and does what a RUV is supposed to do..LOI SUGIRI MIPNEI ISH..A tzadik prays that the women and child should suffer mentally and physically and a Ruv makes sure she is free from her TZURE..

sowmeone who does what he is supposed to do is a tzaddik


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