Author Archives: Zev Farber

Zev Farber

About Zev Farber

Zev Farber Zev Farber writes, teaches and edits for a living. He holds an M.A. from Hebrew University (Jewish History), a Ph.D. from Emory University (Jewish Studies/Hebrew Bible), and ordination (yoreh yoreh) and advanced ordination (yadin yadin) from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) Rabbinical School. He currently holds a fellowship at Project TABS and writes/edits for their website, TheTorah.com. He is a founding member of the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), blogs actively at Morethodoxy, and answers questions for Jewish Values Online.

Solving the agunah problem means finding the right address

In the wake of the current discussion of the Gital Dodelson case (about which I know nothing more than what has been written in the New York Post)[1], I thought I would take the opportunity to discuss the origins of the agunah/mesorevet gett problem in our time as I understand them.

JOFA CONFERENCE

WANT TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION ABOUT AGUNOT IN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY? COME TO THE JOFA CONFERENCE! DECEMBER 7-8, JOHN JAY COLLEGE. REGISTER TODAY!

Framing

Divorce in Jewish law, like marriage, is a private ceremony that works along the model of contracts. Whatever the benefits of such a system may be, the Achilles heel has always been the possibility of igun. In order for a couple to be divorced a man is required to give his wife a gett, so if the man is unavailable or unwilling to do so, this leaves a woman stranded as married yet not married—chained to a dead marriage and a lost or recalcitrant husband, unable to move forward with her life.

Igun Then and Now

Through various epochs of Jewish history, the problem of women stuck in dead marriages has expressed itself in different ways. Throughout most of history, the agunah problem was minor and usually involved husbands who were lost in battle or at sea, or they died on business trips. In the period before long distance communication was a reality and documentation of travelers and deaths was haphazard and imprecise at best, the possibility that a woman’s husband could die on a trip and she never know about it was a serious one. In the Geonic period, there was a small but real attrition to Islam, where, once converted, the men would not participate in a Jewish religious divorce. Continue reading

Posted on November 17, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy