In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to Rabbi Shlomo Weissman - head of Beth Din of America, YU Professor, and former lawyer - about the halakhic complexities of, and attempted solutions for, the agunah crisis.
A halakhic divorce contract, called a “get,” must be given from the husband to wife, and the parties must give/receive the get willingly. When one or the other party doesn’t willingly participate in this process, the marriage cannot be ended, leaving the woman unable to remarry by Jewish law. Traditionally this has lead to women being unable to remarry when their husbands disappeared, but the issue of get-refusal - of husbands refusing to divorce their wives, maybe for leverage or spite, leaving them unable to remarry - is a more recent phenomenon.
Among the topics covered, we discuss the following: What is the scope of the agunah crisis, and more specifically of get-refusal? What halakhic mechanisms does it involve? What makes this problem harder to solve than other problems relating to halakhic contracts? What solutions have been proposed in the past? Tune in to hear Rabbi Shlomo Weissman explain the complexities of this issue, and help contextualize it both in Torah and in modern society.
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For more, visit https://18forty.org/agunah/
Rabbi Shlomo Weissman serves as the Menahel/Director of the Beth Din of America, one of the foremost institutions for rabbinic legal adjudication. Shlomo received rabbinic ordination from RIETS and is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Prior to his association with the Beth Din of America, Rabbi Weissmann worked as an attorney at several prominent law firms, including Debevoise and Plimpton LLP. Shlomo lectures widely on the interface of Jewish and secular law, and is an Adjunct Professor at the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University. Shlomo brings his decades of knowledge, experience, and dedication to helping agunot to his conversation with 18Forty.