Volume 55 Number 20
                    Produced: Wed Jul 11 21:59:13 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunah Statistics (2)
         [Elazar M. Teitz, Akiva Miller]
Agunot Statistics in the Yated (2)
         [Shoshana L. Boublil, I. Balbin]
Can a Kohein go to medical school to become a doctor
         [Baruch C. Cohen]
Meticulous and strict
         [Joel Rich]


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2007 02:32:04 GMT
Subject: Re: Agunah Statistics

Aliza Berger writes: 

> This manipulation of categories accounts for most of the huge
> difference between the statistics presented by the two groups - the
> difference between mere hundreds (the batei din) and tens of thousands
> (the women's groups).

     While it is undoubtedly true that manipulation of statistics can
make the picture less bleak than it is, I suspect that the rabbinate's
figures are far closer to the truth than that claimed by women's groups.
Tens of thousands of agunot? Or, as recently quoted claimed in
mailJewish, over 100,000? The _total_ number of divorces in the State of
Israel annually is under 10,000!

       Although even one woman denied a get to which she is entitled is
one too many, the women's groups only harm their cause by their gross

     I cannot match Ms. Berger's Ph.D. in applied statistics, but I _am_
involved with gittin (and have, on several occasions, succeeded in
helping obtain them for agunot).  I doubt if the total number in Israel,
even by the women's group definition of the term, is as much as a

     Bear in mind that Jewish law does not provide for divorce by
unilateral demand.  Neither the wife (by Biblical law) nor the husband
(by enactment of Rabbeinu Gershom) can demand a get when the spouse
wants to continue the marriage, except under certain specific
conditions.  Such a woman is not an agunah; such a man is not an
agun. The term is only properly used where the marriage is over, yet the
husband withholds the get to obtain benefits to which he is not entitled
or to demonstrate his power over the wife.


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2007 12:35:28 GMT
Subject: Re: Agunah Statistics

Aliza Berger-Cooper wrote:
> The women's organizations' statistics take into account that many of
> these mezonot cases are actually cases of men who are offering a get
> only if the woman will give up her right to child support.  The batei
> din allow this blackmail to go on, and cover up this fact by using a
> misleading title for the category that makes it sound as if the two
> sides are equal.

The purpose of this post is not to take sides. I only want to
demonstrate how complicated things can be.

Is child support the ONLY disagreement in these cases? Is it possible
that in some of these cases, additional disagreements exist?

For example, perhaps custody is also disputed. I can see where a father
would feel that it is unfair to pay large amounts of child support and
have zero custody or visitation rights. So he says something like, "If I
don't get to see the kids, then you don't get any child support."

*IF* this sort of case is included in the above category, is it really
fair to label it as "blackmail"?

Akiva Miller


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2007 09:30:33 +0300
Subject: Re: Agunot Statistics in the Yated

> From: Anonymous
> Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2007 11:53:25
> Subject: Agunot Statistics in the Yated

> The online Yated had the following this week article on this topic:
> http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/PNC67aagunos.htm :

> Statistical Study Shatters Libel Of Drawn Out Proceedings At Rabbinical
> Courts
> By Betzalel Kahn
> The distorted claims of National-Religious (modern-orthodox) women's
> groups that have joined Reform circles to wage a joint campaign against
> the Rabbinical botei din and the dayanim who act in accordance with
> halochoh,

It was indeed appropriate that this post was posted anonymously.  So
much Lashon Harah in so few words.

This article is an excellent example of targeted writing.  First define
the target, then present the "facts" to support them.

First, you disenfranchise any claim by religious women, by claiming that
they are partnering with Reform women.  So they obviously are not truly
religious, and they can't possibly be truly halachically concerned with
problems in the Batei Din.

Then, you emphasize in the same paragraph that the Dayanim are following
halacha, which is obviously true, but not the full story.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to see a short film titled "Eishet Cohen".
It presented the story of a wife of a Cohen who was raped and is now
waiting for the Beit Din to decide if she is permitted to her husband or
if he must divorce her.

During the movie, you can see how people state that "the halachah is
 ...."  in a categorical manner, so that it appears "obvious" that the
Beit Din could not possibly render any other verdict than a forced

And yet the Beit Din finds a way to keep the couple together. Also in a
halachic manner.

And THAT is the point.  Yes, it's possible to find halachic support for
forcing a woman to pay for a GET. Oh, it's not called that.  It's called
"complying with the husband's requests" as their is an opinion that if
the Beit Din finds that the husband should be forced (Kefiyat GET) BUT
he says that he will comply if only xxxx [she gives $100,000; never sues
for child support, fill in with whatever you want], then this is

Not only that, but if the wife, having been forced to comply then goes
and sues the guy for what he owes the kids, this same court will
Halachically claim that her GET is null and void.

I am personally aware of a case that is at least 2 years still in court
b/c of this kind of psika [she hasn't received the GET b/c she isn't
willing to pay]. Oh I'm sorry, let me be accurate -- the issue is being
discussed in court.  The Dayanim refuse to put their decision to paper,
so there is no psak and the wife can't appeal....

OTOH, there are still Batei Din which do not consider such "requests"
reasonable -- and they actually send the recaltrant husband to jail
until he relents.  At this point in time, recaltrant wives are not sent
to jail, and their husbands are stuck.

BTW it is equally halachically possible to prevent a woman from gaining
a divorce for 14 years b/c her husband comes to court every year and
claims that he wants Shalom Bayit - though he lives in Beer Sheva and
she lives in the North of Israel.

The facts are that the Batei Din should be siding with the religious
women: If there are 16,000 NEW cases filed each year, as reported in
this article (last sentence in the 3rd paragraph) how many cases does
each court of Dayanim have to view daily?

A year is 356 days.  No courts on Shabbat -- we're left with 300 days.
There are also no court cases on Friday - we're down to 250.

Now, not every court deals with every matter:

There are courts for the actual Gittin; and courts for regular cases,
and each couple also has to see a Beit Din for "Sheimot" between the
psak and the Get.  The waiting time nowadays is usually between 3-6
months between receiving the psak din and actually getting a GET.

Back to the cases.  What about holidays, vacation - we're down to 175
days at most a year in which to hear court cases.  Taking into
consideration that Dayanim get sick; litigants get sick; lawyers get

we're left with an estimate of 91 cases have to be heard every day - and
that's just the new cases.

What about the cases from previous years?

Here is the breakdown of the number of Rabbinical courts in Israel (not
including private Batei Din). I'm referring here to the number of
Herkevim -- each court is resided over by 3 Dayanim. (I'm not counting
special courts for Gittin)
Jerusalem:  6
Tel Aviv: 6
Beer Sheva: 2
Haifa:  4

There are also: 1 Ashkelon; 1 Ashdod; 1 Tzfat and Teveray (roving) and 1
Ariel (roving).

Total: 22 (and if I forgot a few, we're still at less than 25).

This means that each court has to hear 4 new cases daily (!) What
usually happens is that the court convenes, and unless the parties
already reached an agreement -- they just resolve the most immediate
matters requested and set a date for the next meeting.

The usual time lag between court dates is 6 months nowadays. That should
give us some idea of the number of cases actually still pending. I doubt
that only 900 or so cases were left at the end of the year when 16,000
were opened.  If that were the case, the time between court dates would
be much smaller.

Work hours: Official: 8-15:00.  Actual: anywhere in between.  Some
courts close at 12:30 other start at 9:00...

At best you have 7 hours daily (I know, the lawyers here are ROTFL),
with lunch and mincha, that's somewhere around an hour a case -- if we
ignore the cases from previous years.  But if you have older cases to
handle; special requests; urgent motions, some cases will get the hour,
others will get 10 minutes.

And then, you have to remember in a single case, you can have the
original suite; motions to prevent travel; motions to put liens on
property; motions concerning visitation and others.

BTW, the situation in the State Family Courts isn't much better.  There
are cases pending judgement for anywhere from 1 to 3 years after the
last witness appeared and the summations were presented. B"H most judges
have a better handle on their case load, but they also work far more


The statistics presented should be analyzed, for details, duplications
and how they impact on the number of cases that actually end up inside a

But from where I'm standing -- there should be a joint outcry to
nominate immediately at least 120 more Dayanim.  Maybe then things would
indeed look up.

Shoshana L. Boublil

From: I. Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 12:53:30 +1000
Subject: Re: Agunot Statistics in the Yated

> From: Anonymous
> The online Yated had the following this week article on this topic:
> http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/PNC67aagunos.htm :

It is opportunistic, in this the three weeks of mourning, to contrast
the (in my view) aggressive, opportunistic and hate-laden tone
referenced above, with an earlier article below


I make no commentary about the veracity of the statistics.  Ample social
commentary on these have taken place in various well-known blogs.


From: <adbarcoh@...> (Baruch C. Cohen)
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2007 09:03:41 -0400
Subject: Can a Kohein go to medical school to become a doctor

Can a Kohein go to medical school to become a doctor (that necessitates
being exposed to the sin of Tumas Meis ie., dealing with cadavers and
body parts). Are heterim given to Kohanim and by whom? Can a copy of the
heter or article dealing with this subject be emailed to me at
<adbarcoh@...>? Thanks.

Baruch C. Cohen, Esq.
Los Angeles, CA


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 21:54:28 -0400
Subject: Meticulous and strict

> If one has a seder by which he washes his hands thoughtfully and
> without rushing then enters into the sanctuary focusing on davening
> with kavuneh (vs. the business day he has just left behind.)  How does
> "meticulous and strict" reflect on this act and attitude?  Would
> washing a second time (before Ma'ariv as in the original post) have
> any positive impact -- could it even be a distraction?
> Carl

Simpler case - is it Meticulous and strict to walk out on the Rav's
class between mincha and maariv to wash? What about on kaddish

Joel Rich


End of Volume 55 Issue 20