New York – In Exclusive Ami Magzine Intreview Noted Rabbi Schachter Slams Set Up Of Rabbinical Court System


    Rabbi Shachter, is the rosh yeshiva at Yeshivas Rabbenu Isaac Elchonon, one of the main halachic consultants for the Orthodox Union, and a renowned posek, marbitz Torah and author of sefarim. He is a passionate advocate for reforming the present bais din system.New York – In an exclusive interview conducted by Ami Magazine for their Succot edition, Rabbi Hershel Schachter speaks out forcefully on the issue of the set up of ‘Battei Din’, saying “There is worse than a crisis in the present Bais Din system.”

    Read below the full interview:

    Q: Unfortunately many kehillos in the charedi community are taking their disputes not to bais din, but to court. That seems to say that there is a problem with the way people perceive batei din, a crisis. You have been outspoken about the bais din system. What is your assessment?
    A: The present system is terrible. There is a Mishna in Pirkei Avos that the oilam says a vort on. It says, “K’sheyihiyu habaalei dinim lifanecha, yihiyu b’einecha k’resha’im. K’she’yaamdu m’lifanecha yihiyub’einecha k’tzaddikim, shekiblu aleihem es hadin.” [“When the litigants stand before you (the judges), they should be in your eyes like wicked people. When they stand up from being in front of you, they should be in your eyes like righteous people, because they have accepted the judgment.”] They say from a few different dayanim that they would put a tallis over their face, to not see the face of a rasha. But that is wrong; part of the din Torah is to look at the person and see from his facial expression and how he talks…whether or not he is saying the truth. You have to be able to detect whether he is telling the truth. Any judicial panel must get to the underlying facts and the truth in order to render a proper decision. Unfortunately that is not always the case in the present-day bais din system.

    Q: Did you come to this conclusion from personal experience?
    A: I was once asked to sit in on a din Torah to see that there wouldn’t be any shenanigans. I believe that it was a yeshiva against an administrator. The administrator just sat there while the toain [lawyer in bais din] presented the whole case. You have to hear from the administrator himself! How can the toain present the case? The toain can say all sorts of shekarim [lies], because he just says whatever the baal din told him. If the baal din himself says it, he’d be scared; he’d be shaking. You can tell if he’s telling the truth; nikarim divrei emes, nikarim divrei sheker. I thought it was terrible. What kind of a din Torah was that?

    Q: Is that experience indicative of dinei Torah today?
    A: Certainly. I remember another case where a widow had died and she had no children. The question had become who would get the yerusha [estate]. One of her relatives probably thought that, just as in the case of a geir shemais v’ain lo yorshim [a convert who dies without inheritors], the nichasim [property] become hefker (the property becomes ownerless), so too in the case of this almanah everything would become hefker [which is not true]. This relative, I believe it was a great-nephew, pocketed all the money. The other members of the family wanted a din Torah. Someone asked me to watch. The head of the bais din asked the great nephew, “How many bankbooks were there when your great-aunt asked you to take care of her finances?”He answered, “Four.”The dayan asked, “How much money was there in each account?”Suddenly the toain screamed out, “Don’t answer! You’re not mechuyav [obligated] to answer!”That was the end of the case. Had this been a secular court, they would have thrown him out the window. What do you mean, you don’t have to answer? A chutzpah! The dayanim want to find out the facts. But that was the end; there was nowhere to go after that.

    Q: Are you saying that this is nowadays the general trend to obfuscate the facts?
    A: There are countless similar instances when the toain instructs his client not to respond to a question. It also became the style now that when a couple is getting divorced, the toanim tell the husband to say that he wants shalom bayis, so that the bais din assumes that she is a moredes (rebellious wife), and she doesn’t get the kesuba. Ridiculous. One of the latest pieces of shtick was where a wife had apartment buildings, and the husband wanted a heter meah rabbanim so that he could have peiros nichsei milug [proceeds from a wife’s property], even after he was living with the second wife. This was written up in the New York Times and the non-Jewish lawyers were laughing at us. Such a chillul Hashem! This is what our religion stands for? Now they tell the husband to take peiros nichsei milug, even though he never took peiros during the marriage. He doesn’t know about it, so why tell him? Even if he knows that there are nichsei milug, but he doesn’t know that the husband gets peiros nichsei milug, Rav Moshe Feinstein says in his teshuvos that they are considered nichasim she’sinam yiduim [unpublicized property] and the Gemara in Kesubos says that the husband doesn’t get peiros from that property. So why are the toanim telling the husband that he is entitled? Just to make more agmas nefesh (aggravation)?

    Q: Would you call then the problem in the bais din system a crisis?
    A: It’s worse than a crisis. They tell me that there is a prominent talmid chacham in Flatbush who tells his baalei battim to go to a secular court because they stand a better chance of yoshor [justice] in a goyishe [non-Jewish] court than in a din Torah. If you ask him, he’ll deny it, but that’s what he tells people. Unfortunately, I think that the comment about yoshor is true.

    Q: Is the problem because of the toanim?
    A: They drei a kup and obstruct the proceedings. They keep repeating the same things over and over. Rabbi Belsky says that they get paid by the hour, so….I asked Rabbi Belsky, “How do you allow toanim in your bais din?” He said that if he didn’t allow toanim, no one will go to him. They will go to a weaker batei din than his. Here in our yeshiva, when a baal habos wants to have a din Torah, we never allow toanim. One time a person did want to have a toain. We told him, “Stay in the other room. We’ll know what the din is; just tell us what the facts are.”

    Q: But isn’t that a problem? Once there is a toain system, people feel that they have a better chance with a toain, so, like Rabbi Belsky said, if you have a bais din without toanim, everyone will go to other batei din?
    A: Yes. It’s terrible.

    Q: How old is this toain system?
    A: Very recent. In the Shulchan Aruch it says that you’re not allowed to have a toain.

    Q: But if the litigant doesn’t know how to express himself, can’t the toain present his claims for him?
    A: If he can’t express it for himself, thereis a rule of psach picha l’ilaim [“speakingfor the mute”]. But what can’t he express? Tell us what the facts of the case are. Often there is no argument about what the facts are.

    Q: When do you believe this system started?
    A: I think it started in America. I wasn’t there in Europe, but I don’t think they had it years ago.

    Q: If you would make a takana, you would say to abolish the entire toain system?
    A: Absolutely. You don’t need a toain. If you have a katan (minor) or someone who doesn’t know the facts, you have to have psach picha l’ilaim; you have to help him out a little. But the bais din, who is learned, can do that. Tayninan l’yisomim;tayninan l’likuchos. Whenever the baal din doesn’t know the facts, we have to helpthem.

    Q: When many people come to bais din, they are not coming because they are having a shaila l’halacha; they are coming to win. So they want a toain for that, don’t they?
    A: It’s terrible. Bais din should tell them that every penny that they have shelo k’din [wrongly] is gezel [theft].Regarding the case I told you about the toain screaming out, “Don’t answer them,” I recently asked someone whether anything changed in the situation. They told me that no, nothing changed, but that the great-nephew who got the money had to spend it all on a relative who was very sick. That’s always the case.

    Q: There is a recent case involving two kehillos that have been fighting for five years in bais din and have no psak. The proceedings are going on and on. Is this the norm today?
    A: Rabbi Belsky told me that, in the case you are referring to, they’ve had over two hundred sessions. He told me, in this language, that why does someone have to go to graduate school and become an engineer? Just become a toain and you can make a fortune of money. Have unlimited sessions, and get paid by the hour. A shanda and a cherpa. [It’s a shame and repulsive matter.]

    Q: How do we bring public awareness to these problems?
    A: Rabbonim should speak about it. Why is there so much cheating in business? Rabbonim should get up once a year in shuls and speak about Lo sigzol, that you’re not allowed to cheat in business, and that you’re not allowed to cheat on your income tax. If you talk about it long enough it will have an effect on some of the baal habattim. Rabbonim have certain topics that they talk about in hashkafa. Let them give chizuk about gezel.

    Q: Do you have a problem with the borerim system [in which two of the dayanim are chosen by the litigants and the two dayanim choose a third]?
    A: The borerim system is also a shanda. A lot of the borerim act like toanim. I was involved in a din Torah. The borer took shochad (bribes). I had to resign from the case. He felt insulted. It was before Rosh Hashanah, and he told me that he was not going to be mochel [forgive] me. I told him, “I don’t need mechila. You took shochad. You’re pasul to be a dayan.”It says in Shulchan Aruch that you can’t have one litigant pay his dayan and the other pay his dayan, unless, which Reb Moshe writes in a teshuva, it is clear that both are being paid the same amount, in which case each one can pay his dayan and they both pay the third. But that isn’t what happens. They don’t pay the same amount. The payment depends on how long each one bothers the dayan. So they don’t pay the same amount and it is true shochad.

    Q: You mean that they are not allowed to charge for the private sessions, as well?
    A: Of course not. That’s shochad! They pay more money for the private sessions, and then the dayan, instead of talking like a dayan, talks like a toain. I was once involved in a din Torah. One of the dayanim was making up his mind: “This side is wealthier than the other, so let him pay.” What way to talk is that? A din Torah of a penny has to be treated like a din Torah of a million dollars.

    Q: Are you saying there is a problem with the dayanim?
    A: Of course. Do you think that all of the dayanim are honest? Many are acting like toanim; many of the toanim are acting like criminals. They make up their minds in advance that their side has to win. I don’t walk into a din Torah with the attitude that my side always has to win. If I think my side is wrong, I’ll pasken against them. The Rosh in the beginning of Perek Zeh Borer says that people think that their dayan always has to side with them. He has to explore their position; that’s true. But not to invent reasoning out of nowhere. Once we had a din Torah here. It was over real estate in California where they had invested a couple of million dollars. We asked them, “Do you want a din Torah, or would you rather have a peshara [compromise]?”We told them that a peshara is not a fifty-fifty split. It is whatever yoshor dictates. They agreed. The din of peshara in this case turned out to be one hundred percent in favor of one person. That was the peshara. They thanked us. They shook hands with us, shook hands with each other. That’s the way it should be. Regrettably, dayanim today don’t judge with yoshor.

    Q: An individual person is affected by this greatly. The big groups can go to a court, because they aren’t worried about any social repercussions. If a regular person did that, he would not be able to get a shidduch for his children, because he would be called a rasha.
    A: It’s terrible. The dayanim themselves are misusing the system. Someone told me that he was divorcing his wife. He gave the get (divorce) first; he didn’t want to hold it up. So now every time there is a question about custody, his wife goes to court with impunity. Each time he goes to court for anything, the bais din sends him a seruv [summons]. They misuse the seruv. They vilify him, and if there would be a seruv against him, he would lose his job. He is a rabbi.

    Q: Could there be a watchdog group, with rabbanim getting together to examine how the batei din are behaving?
    A: It’s a safek sakana [possible danger] for the watchdog group; they’re going to be killed.

    Q: Meaning physically?
    A: Yes. These people are chashud [suspected] on shifichas damim [murder].Many years ago, Rav Dovid Cohen from Gvul Yaavetz visited me in the summertime. He said that he wanted to set up a dayanim system from all the yeshivos. Whenever someone would want to have a din Torah, they would have to pick three dayanim from the group. They wouldn’t be able to pick a professional who would act like a toain. They would get paid from an outside source, not by the baalei dinim at all. He asked me if I would join, and I said,” Fine.” He said that he would be working on it. It never got off the ground. I don’t know what happened. That we can’t have a bais din system that works is an embarrassment, a shanda and a cherpa.

    Q: What should a person who has a claim do, other than go to secular court?
    A: People who have a dispute should find an honest rav to make a din Torah between them. I remember that the Mirrer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim had an arrangement with a headhunter in New York. They ended up having a din Torah between them. The headhunter was Modern Orthodox. Mir wanted a veryyeshivish bais din; he wanted a Modern Orthodox bais din. Somehow they both agreed on me. So they came and presented both sides, and I paskened that the yeshiva owed him the money. But then I took out my checkbook and wrote the yeshiva a check. Everybody knows that the Mirrer Yeshiva needs money. So the baal habayis also realized that he should give the yeshiva money. I think that he gave up all his claims.

    Q: Are you saying it is preferable to go to one upstanding rav?
    A: If you can find one trustworthy person, that would be the best. The zabla system [of choosing dayanim by each party choosing one judge] is no good. The borer will sometimes say things that are not true. The party tells him something in the private session, where he is being paid by the hour, and he repeats what he has been told, and then in the next session we find out that it’s not true. Better to just have one person that both trust.

    Q: Is it common to choose one dayan to hear a case?
    A: I remember one time there was a chassidishe rebbe who died and was buried in Eretz Yisrael. There was a plot next to him and the question became who would get it. His oldest son was in business, though he had semicha. The second had taken over the title of rebbe, so he felt that he should get it, but the oldest said that he should get it because he was the bechor [firstborn]. They both came to Rav Soloveitchik. He told them that kol hakodem zacha; whoever would die first would get it. Eventually the oldest son died first, but he had realized that his brother was right and before he died he asked to be buried in another cemetery.

    Q: Do you want to share another personal anecdote?
    A: I remember that I was in a din Torah, and the toain was acting so nastily that I said, “Reb So-and-so, you’re a genius!” He didn’t realize that I meant a chacham l’ra [an evil genius] and he went around saying that Rabbi Schachter had said that he was a genius.

    Q: But doesn’t a toain assist a litigant in the halachic research related to his case?
    A: The toanim will quote a line from Shulchan Aruch or a line from a teshuva sefer out of context. They quote it out of context because they know that it will be beneficial for their case.

    Q: Any solution?
    A: The rabbanim should give drashos and tell people that if they take money shelo k’din, Hakadosh Baruch Hu will see to it that they lose that money.

    The above article was reprinted with permission from Ami Magazine

    The special Succot edition of Ami Magaizne

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    1. I am in awe of such frank words. I have heard things like this only about friends of friends. May our current rabbonim heed the call, man-up, and be the leaders we so desparately need. May HaShem restore our judges like before, Melech ohaiv tzedoko u’mishpat.

    2. I remember last year Mishpacha magazine started a series about Din Torahs and they stopped it after the second article..The pressure they had from the Rabunim was so big that they had no choice but to quit..I believe there will be hundreds of comments on this article but with yidden so busy preparing for yom tov sukos they will wait on this..I had very bad experience by din torah but i can also say the court system wasnt much better for the exception that you can appeal a courts decision and at a din torah you are dead once a decision is written (if they decide to write)…

    3. Rabbi Shachter is a true hero for taking this stand. Halevai other rabbonim would publicly support him in this effort. I’m a realist and realize there is no chance of that happening. It might bring Moshiach if it did, and we can’t allow that to happen, chas V’shalom. What would happen to my Lexus?

    4. With all due respect to the Rav, every generation deals with its drei-kep in a manner that fits that particular generation. The gemura says that there were times when a shvuah scared them, and there were times when malkos scared them. The methods of the batei din changed along with the audacity and chutzpa of the ballei din.

      Once upon a time, just simply stating the facts ‘as is’ was enough to get the story straight. Unfortunately, these days most conflicts are not that clear cut, and there is room for a sharp drei-kup businessman to manipulate the beis din.

      The toianim are a safe guard against these gangsters.

      Granted, they too are no saints, but it takes one to fight one.

      (p.s. – Shulchan Aruch (hilchos harsha’ah) actually allows a toiyan for the Tovei’ah, the plaintiff. And the commentators on the spot discuss when and how the defendant may also bring along a toiyan.)

    5. Wow- from reading this article, I must admit the court system sounds a bit archaic in it’s process, but then again… it *is* an ancient system, correct? Set up after Temple times, or…??

      In any case, what do I know? I’m not familiar, but I do worry a little that this gentleman is being so aggressively against the whole process all together, because that seems a little like “throwing the baby out w\the bathwater”, so to speak! (:-o

      Because he wants to see reform & he knows it’s not gonna happen on *his* terms, or as quickly as *he’d* want to see it… he feels the entire Rabbinical Court System should be shut down?!

      Am I correct in feeling like this is sorta a big deal that this guy is saying all of this (lol), or… are there some of you who agree?*


      *Just asking out of curiosity- I am totally unfamiliar w\the process of Bais Din. Hope I am not offending.*

      • It is a very ancient system–Biblical times. This gentleman, R’ Schachter, is arguably one of the greatest Rabbis of this generation: very highly respected by many. He’s not against the “entire Rabbincal Court System.” First, there isn’t really a “system” in the same way that there is a Unified Court System in New York State. Different Batei Dinim (Rabbinal Courts) are run by different communities, synagogues, and organizations. Like any large group, some are better and some are worse.
        He’s not arguing that the entire system should be thrown out. He’s saying (and I hesitate to speak for him) that all of the B”Ds need more diligently follow Jewish law: independent Judges who know halacha (Jewish Law), limiting the use of Lawyers (let the parties to the dispute talk for themselves), elimination of conflicts of interest, etc. He is one of the few Rabbis who have the stature to say “this needs to be fixed” and he’s not arrogant (“*his* terms”). Lastly, yes it is a big deal and there are many who will agree with him. However, vested interests remain in place so real change probably won’t happen in the near future.

    6. I possess a letter from a bais din written against a woman whose husband earned a seruv for refusing to appear in bais din for a get. The seruv had been issued after a few years of effort to coax him into bais din. The seruv was removed by this “bais din”, with warnings against the wife for taking him to arkao’s. The goof here was that the husband was the litigant who summoned her to court 6 separate times without a heter from anyone. The azus from this bais din was obvious, and I responded with a line by line response. It was full of falsehood, and was a psak din against her issued without having spoken to anyone but the husband. These dayanim are deserving of unending disgrace. They violated the Torah proscription against basing a psak on one side only – שמוע בין אחיכם. Shamelessly, I hope none of these scoundrels are in hashgocho or kashrus – anything with their name cannot be trusted. There are others who do this. As with many other community issues, I we would allow or invite HKB”H to be part of what we do, the picture would be quite different. השיבה שופטינו כבראשונה.

    7. Very good pointers, but it’s not fair to make such general assumptions. what do you do when one side is defenseless and lacks the proper skills how to sell his side of the story while the other side knows how to smooth talk? In many situations it is impossible for a rov even a yosher one as R Shechter calls it, to discren the truth especially if one side knows how to present their case better than the other side. I know such cases and their is no choice but to hire a toyan. and by the way you think in the legal system the better lawyer doesn’t usually win and manipulate?

    8. People vote with their feet, as the saying goes. The batei din that allow toianim, and even more so borerus dinei torah, are very busy. Try getting an appointment by rabbi Rosenberg or rabbi Graus or rabbi Silber. The reason that people trust these batei din much more is because they know that they are receiving a fair hearing. Sof kol sof, the psak is a fair one. At the smaller batei din that don’t allow toianim, the dayanim tend to be from a lower quality, and many times the complex issue of the conflict is way above their pay grade (also a hidden reason for not allowing smarter minds into their Chambers…)

    9. With all due respect to Rabbi Shachter that appears to know what he is talking about but the problem is that blanket statements for a magazine especially to say certain psakim that are not the case may be a bit off.

      1) The toain system is an old one and to say it is not allowed by the shulchan aruch is not an accurate statement. The problem is that some toanim are totally unconcerned about halachah and are only concerned for their pockets but this is not the general case.
      2) Borrerus is acceptable and a lot of times a toain is a borer just with a different name.
      3) Unfortunately their have been cases were shrewd (read: screw boys) will without a toain wiggle their way through as some trial lawyers will do with our legal system as well.

      I don’t want to write for hours and hours but I have been involved as an outside observer on multiple cases in bais din and in court as well. In general you will NOT get a more fair trial in court than in bais din the only problem is the time and cost involved

    10. I dont understand why you say that a toan costs so much money
      I was in a din torah and the bais din told the counterpart to get a toan otherwise he will lose. so all of a sudden a toan appeared !!!!! wonder who got him one and he never paid BUT the toan did do work for this bais din on a regular basis!! plus I think the toan is a relative of one of the people sitting on the bais din top this if you can

      They even awarded the guy more money then he asked!!!

      They refused to say on what basis they ruled against me when they even agreed to

      It was a sham!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Ended up in court and the judge ruled that there was somethng wrong with the bais din.

    11. With all due respect, if you would actually look, the shilchun aruch DOES introduce the concept of a toien. Nobody will deny that there are big problems in the system, but to blatantly disrespect all dayanim and toianem is a chutzpah and a churva!

      • Yes, I agree. To blatantly disrespect all dayanim and toianem is a chutzpah and a churva! But what does that have to do with this article and Rav Schachter? He never says that all dayanim and toianem are corrupt or anything. But it does sound to me like you’re looking for a reason to hate on Rav Schachter and the emes he speaks. It’s ok if that’s what you’re doing. Just join the rest of the entire orthodox world who hates on YU for standing for truth and true torah values. I know, I know, it’s horrible to be pro torah-umadah.

    12. if a beis din dosent allow a to’en the psak can not be enforced in court
      this is unwavable (this actualy happened last year

      Not quite. Under secular law, a beis din has to allow lawyers to appear before it, not toanim. I was told that the RCA beis din permits lawyers, but not non-lawyer toanim, to appear before it in cases.

    13. I’ve heard many rabbis complain about toanim because these rabbis want ABSOLUTE POWER. I personally took someone to beis din, we both agreed not to have toanim. Don’t worry, the dayanim were fully capable of messing up the psak without toanim helping. I was so disgusted that even when I was made aware of what they required of me to prove my case, which btw would’ve amounted to hearsay, I just dropped the case. I think we should paskin like rav Henkin and require the litigants to go to beis din and have the beis din paskin according to secular law. That way there are no games from misinterpreting the shulchan aruch, which btw many dayanim should be made aware is read right to left.

    14. A long time ago I went to a very respected member of a bais din because I had questions about how to handle a family matter that was about to get very ugly. This Rabbi advised me to take the issue to court, that no justice would be done through the bais din. This was over 30 years ago. There were problems with the bais din system even then.

    15. Rabbi Schachter in the below quoted case WHO was the person who asked you to watch? Did you have a personal interest in the case? Had the widow already died? The case you refer to would have been thrown out of civil court and your side (sorry, the person who asked you to watch) would have been made to pay the legal fees. You would have been thrown out of court, not the other party. The woman wasn’t dead and you (your relative) were not her Power of Attorney! Courts would not have looked kindly on this frivolous suit.
      Partial quote, see full quote in article:
      “Certainly. I remember another case where a widow had died and she had no children. The question had become who would get the yerusha [estate]…. This relative, I believe it was a great-nephew, pocketed all the money. The other members of the family wanted a din Torah… Someone asked me to watch.

      Had this been a secular court, they would have thrown him out the window. What do you mean, you don’t have to answer? A chutzpah! The dayanim want to find out the facts. But that was the end; there was nowhere to go after that.”

    16. Rabbi Schachter, In the below quoted case (full quote is available in article above, relevant portions excerpted below), were you an unaffiliated party to the Din Torah or were you a close relative of the family member who wanted a Din Torah? Wasn’t the widow still living at the time of the Din Torah? Did you or the someone who asked you to watch have a Power of Attorney for the widow? The courts would indeed have thrown out the case but they would have made you (or the someone) pay the other sides legal fees due to the frivolous nature of your claim. You would have been thrown out of court, not the other party. The woman wasn’t dead and you were not her Power of Attorney!

      “Certainly. I remember another case where a widow had died and she had no children… The other members of the family wanted a din Torah. Someone asked me to watch…. The head of the bais din asked the great nephew… Had this been a secular court, they would have thrown him out the window. “

    17. In response to Rabbi H. Shechter’s article:

      Part 1…..

      I too agree with Rabbi Shechter that the Beis Din system is corrupt. In fact in
      my own divorce, I sadly, have felt the injustice.

      My infant son came home from my ex’s house with a 2nd degree burn. Under threat
      from the Beis Din that I would receive a seiruv and lose my job as a Jewish
      educator, I was forced to bring my case to Beis Din, who took no action.

      The Dayanim took calls from my ex-husband’s “rebbeim” and YU Rosh Yeshiva, who
      commented on and wrote letters and articles about my case without ever speaking
      to me or laying eyes on any documentation from the case.

    18. In response to Rabbi H. Shechter’s article:

      Part 2……

      The sad part is that the injustice I suffered wasn’t just from the Dayanim, who
      allowed my ex to bring me to court, while I refrained from doing so, but also
      important community Rabbis who got involved in my case. Unfortunately, I
      suffered quite a bit of abuse from my ex during our marriage but was able to
      leave him, Baruch Hashem. At this point the Beis Din and other Rabbis allow him
      a vehicle to continue to control and abuse me. It is not only the Batey Din that
      need change but community Rabbis who step into cases and really hurt people as a
      result of acting in areas where they have no training or understanding. Roshei
      Yeshiva and pulpit Rabbis also misuse their power and have personally caused me
      much suffering and pain.


    19. It seems as though R. Schachter is saying that a man should not give his wife a get right away so that he can use it as a bargaining tool. Is that the case? I’m going through a terrible divorce now and some Rabbonim have advised me not to give her a get so quickly so that I can get better financial settlement but other people have said that this would be against halacha. I would feel much better about holding back the get knowing that R. Schachter is in favor.

      • R. Schachter is in no way saying that a get should be used as a bargaining chip (the point of his story was merely that his friend was the victim of dayyanim who abused the seruv process). R. Schachter is the halakhic advisor for ORA, the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, which (according to its website) “works around the clock to ensure that a get is not used as a means of extortion.” Just last week, the director of the Beis Din of America published an opinion piece in The Jewish Week, in which he noted, “[A]s a rule, the Beth Din of America will not issue a seruv (contempt citation) against a woman seeking a get for refusing to litigate in beit din unless the husband first demonstrates his good faith by granting her a get.” Any reputable dayyan will tell you that if you and your wife are no longer living together and beyond the point of reconciling, then you should give her a get and not use it as leverage to get more visitation rights, lower child custody payments, and a more favorable division of your marital assets. Your wife (or, more likely, her attorney) may be acting like a scoundrel in divorce court, but that should not have any bearing on your giving a get.


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