The 10 plagues of Jewish women

On eve of Passover, many women still find themselves in their own personal Egypt, with no light at end of tunnel

In every generation, a person should imagine herself as if she were a slave who had been freed by God from Egypt. But there are women for whom this is not particularly difficult since they are still in their personal Egypt, and do not see any means of escape. Women whose husbands refuse to give them a get cannot achieve that freedom so long as they are living within the framework of a marriage that exists on paper alone.


And here are the 10 plagues that have descended upon a significant number of Jewish women who are in the throes of a Jewish divorce. I have given them an acronym: DZ”K, I”DSH, BAH”V (as it is written in the Haggadah).


D: Derishot (demands) - for the get. He wants her half of the house. He wants to see the kids without supervision despite the fact that they haven't seen him in last three years. He wants her to cover his debts to the National Insurance Institute. If she agrees to all his demands, he will give her the get from his own free will. What's the problem?!


Z: Zedek (justice) - even after the family court has already finished everything and made its decision regarding matters that are ancillary to the divorce, the husband can come and claim that his rights have been infringed upon, that he is the unfortunate one, that justice was not done. In those situations, the rabbinic courts will make the woman a "reasonable offer" in exchange for the get. And if she does not accept that offer, it becomes clear that she is "anchoring herself" to the failed marriage.


K: Ketubah - a document that nobody, but nobody, understands its implications. It seems its purpose was to confuse the parties. A kind of camouflage or threat that never comes to fruition. Wiley attorneys make creative use of this document.


I: Inuy-din (interminable delay of justice) - two years? Three? Five? Can there be any doubt that eight years of judicial proceedings in the rabbinic courts without any type of decision being given is tantamount to an "interminable delay of justice"? You're not alone.


D: Dichovski’s retiring - the final blow to the little hope that is left for women enduring the process of divorce in the Israeli rabbinic courts.


S: Shalom Bayit (reconciliation) - an offer of the rabbinic courts that it is hard to refuse after the couple has been separated for two years, and is conducting a world war on various fronts, in multiple jurisdictions, and hate each other.


B: Begidah (adultery) - a symbol of the inequality rampant in the rabbinic courts. A man is allowed to cheat on his wife (Jacob had two wives, after all). A woman is not allowed. Why? Because that's the way it is.


A: A’ from the Supreme Rabbinic Court - who has held that a husband can set the terms for the divorce, however arbitrary and capricious. And in his words, as they were written in a Supreme Rabbinic Court Decision: “We will make it perfectly clear that the right (of a husband) to dictate the terms (of the divorce) is not only with respect to money matters, but also with respect to behavior, for example: that she should be prevented from eating certain foods, or wearing certain clothes.”


H: Humrah (stringency) - get given in accordance with the most stringent opinion. The get has already been given, but a new situation has arisen in which the court has decided that the parties need another get, just in case. Guess who's hurt by this sort of stringent ruling? And guess who doesn't care about this get le-humrah?


B: Bitul get (rendering the marriage null and void) - a new halacha has arisen in the last few years in Israel. The rabbinic courts render divorces null and void after the get has been given because of certain behavior of the ex-wife (in accordance with the broad discretion of the rabbis).


With each and every plague, and with each and every one of the acronyms DZ”K, I”DSH, BAH”V, a little bit of blood drops from the heart of women, and from the heart of her entire family, shortening their lives by a few years with each drop.


Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinical advocate, working at The Center for Women’s Justice

Tel. 02-5664390


Translated by Susan Weiss


פרסום ראשון: 04.06.09, 09:11
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