Sunday, January 07, 2007

Desperately Seeking Solutions.

This is one of those stories that boggles the mind; and the halachik and legal gymnastics are even more staggering.

NRG reports about a woman, "Anat" (not her real name) who is in a race against time.

She is 44, and wants to bring a child into the world.

Israel's Health Ministry provides fertility treatments till the age of 45.

However, Anat's case is very unique. In addition to her biological clock ticking away and her race against time to receive fertility treatments -- she needs special approval as well.

Normally, to receive fertility treatment in Israel, both the husband and wife need to want the treatment. Yet Anat is special.

Anat's husband isn't allowing her permission for treatment. Anat's husband ran off with another woman and now has a new child.

Anat is an Aguna.

Her estranged husband is a Misarev Get - one who refuses to grant his wife a Jewish, halachik divorce.

Since he refuses to grant her a Get, she cannot remarry and bear a child, lest the child's status be that of a halachik mamzer, a child born out of wedlock.

Therefore, for the time being, her only recourse to have a child is...through fertility treatments...using a non-Jewish sperm donor to prevent the child's status from being a mamzer...and she has to get all of these complex permissions from a highly bureaucratic country, before she hits 45.

I recall a story from a first-hand source who witnessed a well-known Rosh Yeshiva request from some of his "bar-bouncer-quality" yeshiva students to escort a certain man out of the Beit "convince" him to give his wife a Get.

Fifteen minutes later, they dragged him back in to the Beit Midrash and the Rosh Yeshiva asked the man if he had reconsidered his position about giving his wife a Get. The badly beaten man quickly agreed.

So the next time you see some Soprano-sized guys in yeshiva, just remember that every quality we have can be put to a positive use.

And remember Anat.

You can help her and other agunot here.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


the sabra said...

whatta situation
gd help her

the sabra said...

and kol hakavod jameel for bringing our attention to these 'stories'. people who need our help-whether its financially, emotionally or tefillotdikally.

SephardiLady said...

What a terribly sad story, and what the husband did is just an outrage.

kasamba said...

That poor woman!
I hope she can have as many kids as she wants!

not the hyrax said...

a mamzer is not a child born out of wedlock.

And chalk another point for Gods halacha. Where a woman is trapped for what can be the rest of her life unless ofcourse her husband is beaten up severly. And what if he still says no, will they kill him? What if he decides to leave the country but is still known to be living, are you going to send the thugs across the world to "make him an offer he can't refuse?"

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Not the hyrax: Well, it is rather ironic that a ketuba which is supposed to protect a woman's financial rights is used against her by misarvei get.

I assume that prenumptual agreements could resolve this issue in some manner. (since the majority of misarvei get are only interested in money)

not the hyrax said...

a prenup will go so far. What if he escapes to another country?

Michael said...

The plight of agunot is one of the main reasons why I just cannot call myself "Orthodox." (tho my wife does) I have nothing but sympathy for this poor woman...

A few points:
first, those rabbonim who use, er, persuasion, to convince the recalcitrant to give a get have my unstinting applause. The get must be voluntary, but there is no rule that others can't ... help the decision making process.

Second, a mamzer is not necessarily born out of wedlock, but, rather, to a forbidden union (adultery, or a man with his non-blood-related aunt, for example) when both parties are Jewish. Hence the need for a non-Jewish sperm donor. By Jewish law, a mamzer can only marry another mamzer.

Finally, it's issues like this that, to me, sound the clarion call for some sort of reform or evolution of Jewish marital law. It was on the cutting edge of women's rights 2500 or 1200 years ago, but times have changed. Would it be possible for a properly constituted bey din to issue a get, at the expense of the husband's rights to remarry? Perhaps it is time to consider such changes...

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Michael: You are correct about wedlock. The correct term is "bastard" -- but I wasn't sure if our clean language blocking software would pick up on that or not.

The Rav mentioned in this post was one of the biggest Gedolim of the previous generation. This is important to know, since so many bash the "Gedolim", when there are some who "do the right thing."

Evolving Halacha is definitely an issue; but it's very difficult for Orthodoxy to deal with it. Hopefully, with the onset of the Sanhedrin and mashiach, halacha will be able to evolve again as well.

Michael said...

"Hopefully, with the onset of the Sanhedrin and mashiach"

speedily, speedily, in our days soon.

westbankmama said...

Jameel - Sorry, but I don't agree with you here - this is taking nationalized medicine WAY too far. I feel sorry for her, but at the same time infertility treatments, especially for a woman this age, are not usually successful. Which means that they will need to do a number of attempts, each costing a lot of money. I think that there are other places where the money could be better spent (like the cancer treatments not included in the current basket, for example).

RR said...

I thought a get wasn't "kosher" if the guy was beaten or otherwise forced into giving it?

If it IS kosher, I'm all for beating the hell out of these disgusting jerks until they give in. What they do in withholding a get is much worse than having a few tough guys "sicced" on them to get them to cave.

WBM makes a good point, but I still wish this woman luck. If it were me, I'd want to do everything possible to try and have at least one child.

DTC said...

>>Hopefully, with the onset of the Sanhedrin and mashiach, halacha will be able to evolve again as well.

With the onset of the Sanhedrin and Mashiach, do we really want the Halacha to evolve or do we want PEOPLE to evolve?
(oh, I forgot, Evolution is Kefira.
Never mind...)

tafka PP said...

WBM- it isn't that the money on her or any other's infertility treatment would be spent on cancer research, it's an entirely different allocation. NB other countries don't provide fertility treatment to "older" women- we have a motive- as many Jewish kiddies as possible- surely you can get behind that?

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