I was going to publish a post about dogs. Seriously. And then another friend became an agunah. Again. And the beth din is sitting on their hands. Again. So I can’t write about dogs. I have to write about humans that act beneath dogs. People who stop being people. People who are so in the energy of their own anger, their own ego, their own pride, that they become worse than animals.
How do I know? I’ve been there. I experienced it first hand, and Baruch Hashem, came out alive, and even grew from it. But I see others, so many others, and my heart breaks for them. One friend just got her gett after over two years. That’s two years of someone’s life! Of feeling totally helpless. Another friend is in it. So many more. If only you knew how many, you’d be shocked. I’ve seen international lists of cases. Pages and pages and pages of abuse. And that was just one month’s amount.
If only the public really knew. But you don’t. Child abuse, drug abuse, domestic abuse. Everything has support groups, advocates, campaigns. Ex-wife abuse? Not much. There’s a few organisations who try to make some noise, try to help with both education and support, but it’s far from enough. The number of cases and the amount of support are not at all in proportion to other ’causes’. We managed to fill a stadium and get the leading international Rabbonim together to talk about the dangers of the internet, but can’t get them together to find a solution to free their own sisters and daughters? Really?
Often the agunah fights quietly, alone, with family, with close friends. Rarely does it become public. Rarely does it hit the media. Localized abuse and deafening support.
I still hear people say “but there’s always two sides of the story”. No, there really isn’t. Abuse is evident by the bruises. It’s evident by the actions. They are never excusable. A person’s freedom can never be a negotiation tool. Blackmail is never excusable. Nor is the lack of organised solid community and organisational support. Where are these beth dins? Where are these Rabbis? Speak up! You can’t halachicly force the gett, fine. We only ask what you CAN halachicly do. And you can. You’re in positions of power to exercise that power, not to put it on your business card. Hashem judges us on our actions, and the lack of action will also be judged. The holy sefardi Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Ovadya Yosef went to extreme lengths after the Yom Kippur war to free women who didn’t know if their husbands were killed at war or alive somewhere. The Rabbis of Israel after the holocaust spent every resource they could to find solutions and exceptions in halacha to help female survivors rebuild their lives. It’s one of the few situations in halacha where you don’t need two male witnesses, you only need one and the witness can be female. Even the halacha itself is lenient. Where are our Rabbis? Where is the leadership?
And this is what it’s really about: Life. Sprouting. Giving birth. A woman is a vessel for life. A holy vessel. And what do you do? You stand by and let it rot?
It’s time we’re not silent anymore. No more hiding. It’s time.
Here’s some resources:
Video of Rabbi Jacobson on the agunah issue (from 49min)