A religious rarity: A rabbinical court ordered a man refusing to grant his estrange wife a divorce be sentenced to solitary confinement, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.
The ruling was rendered as part of a bitter divorce battle: The wife asked to divorce her husband of 10 years, he refused and she ended up issuing a restraining order banning him from their house.
The rabbinical court then ordered the husband to grant his wife the divorce and pay her alimony – but he refused to acknowledge the ruling.
Later on, and following several arrest warrants issued against him for failing to pay alimony, he dropped out of sight.
After a several-years search the man was discovered hiding in a Jerusalem yeshiva. The rabbinical court sentenced him to one year in prison – unless he grants the divorce. He preferred to go to jail.
Faced with the man's ongoing refusal to grant his wife a divorce, the Supreme Rabbinical Court was called into play, ruling that at the end of the man's 12 months incarceration – and should he still refuse to grant the divorce – he will be sentenced to four additional years in prison.
A religious first
The Supreme Rabbinical Court then set a religious precedent, ruling that those additional four years be served in solitary confinement.
Solitary confinement in a penalty usually reserved for the criminals deemed extremely dangerous, or those who may be in mortal danger if they came in contact with the general prisoner population.
Prisoners sentenced to solitary confinement are held in complete isolation and are denied any contact with the outside world: They are not allowed to receive visitors, send or receive letters or have any personal possessions.
The court further ruled that in order for the man to understand what he might be facing – and providing he failed to grant his wife a divorce by mid April – he will have to spend a week in isolation.
"A man refusing to grant his wife a divorce cannot be an observant Jew," stated the court.
The man demanded his immediate release as a pre-condition to him making and decision on the divorce. The court denied his requests, further ruling he serve his sentence in a general population ward, not the religious one.