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Divorce refusal will only be solved if everyone does their part – opinion

10 July 2024

The meeting room of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee crackled as politicians, Mavoi Satum, and other women’s rights organizations, representatives of the rabbinical courts, and lawyers hashed out the details of the updated Rabbinical Courts Bill (Enforcement of Divorce Rulings). Among the topics of debate was a clause containing an extremely limited definition of divorce refusal.

Ultimately, Mavoi Satum and other women’s rights organizations succeeded in eliminating the contentious clause. Only after the committee’s upcoming meeting today, when the Rabbinical Courts Bill will likely be put to a vote, will we know if this definition has been taken off the table for good.

However, what is equally concerning is that the introduction of this definition of divorce refusal and its subsequent withdrawal went entirely under the public’s radar. No public protests, discourse, or pressure on politicians. The damage caused by this definition being voted into law could have been significant – yet seemingly slipped by unnoticed.

The definition appears in a sub-clause of the bill defining the scope of a certain punitive action. Almost as an afterthought, the bill dictates “divorce refusal” as the situation in which a court has issued a ruling requiring the husband to give a divorce that the husband subsequently ignores.

Unfortunately, should this definition be taken as a general definition for the concept of divorce refusal, it falls short. This definition inaccurately implies that the existence of a court order to divorce is what generates a halachic or moral obligation to divorce, and “divorce refusal” is the act of ignoring this obligation. But in reality, divorce refusal is much simpler and more common – anytime a person refuses to give their spouse a divorce, they are committing divorce refusal.


This opinion article was written by Ali Zak, a volunteer at Mavoi Satum.

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Mavoi Satum stands with Am Yisrael during this difficult time and prays for the safety of our soldiers and the quick return of all hostages. We also pray that women will not be left behind as agunot after the war.

We are doing our part to keep the homefront strong, committed to protecting women from further suffering and helping them gain freedom from marriage entrappment.

Join us in these efforts – couples can sign a halachic protective document to grant others’ power of attorney to give a get.


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