Rabbi David Wax Pleads Guilty To Kidnapping in Agunah Case
05/08/14
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New Jersey Rabbi David Wax pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges as part of a scheme to force an Israeli man to give his wife a get.

The rabbi admitted to being paid $100,000 to compel the man — identified by the Associated Press as Yisrael Briskman — to grant his wife a religious writ of divorce, known as a get. The money came from Briskman’s estranged wife.

Wax lured Briskman to his house on Oct. 17, 2010, had him beaten by a group of thugs and threatened to bury him alive in the Pocono Mountains unless he agreed to give the get, according to court papers cited by the N.Y. Daily News.

Under Orthodox law, women whose husbands refuse to grant them religious writs of divorce may not remarry; they are known as agunahs, or chained women.

A native of the heavily haredi Orthodox township of Lakewood, N.J., Wax and eight others were arrested in July 2011 following an FBI investigation into thugs-for-hire who used violence to coerce recalcitrant husbands into granting religious divorces to their wives.

On Tuesday, Wax pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit kidnapping and faces life in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is to be sentenced Aug. 19.

Last Update:

05/13/2014 - 12:15

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Feminists should be defending Rabbi Wax who so bravely championed the cause of women. The fact the these tactics are necessary is due to the decreased power of the bais din, a natural consequence of it being eroded by liberal Jewish groups.

Tommy, how you can possibly blame this mess on liberal groups is beyond me. The problem is not a decreased power of beit din, it is too much coercive power by unscrupulous beit dins who have thoroughly corrupted the intent of the Torah and have ruined the lives of hundreds of women. What Rabbi Wax did was wrong and illegal and he should pay some kind of a penalty. Putting him in jail will not however free one single agunah and a severe punishment will embolden the husbands who are vindictive and/or greedy and their rabbinical enablers, none of whom are remotely connected to any liberal Jewish groups.

The real shame is the whole agunah stain on Judaism. Requiring that the man "offer" a get to his estranged wife before she (but not he) is permitted to remarry was once, in Biblical times, an advance in woman's right, but for centuries now is a troubling element of a male-centric religious practice. Certainly, until a Sanhedren can eliminate or change the terms of the get requirement, couples should sign a ketubot that requires the man to offer a get should the marriage disolve.
Instead, currently, there are may scoundrels who find 100 so-called rabbis to sign a release permitting many an evil husband to remarry while not releasing the wife.

Alan, you are right on all counts. The agunah issue is a huge stain on Judaism. Tying a woman's life to the arbitrary power of a man who can be vindictive, greedy or just plain crazy is a huge stain on Judaism and makes a mockery of the Torah.

I think that what you are referring to as a possible solution is a prenuptial agreement which is fairly standard at least in the Modern Orthodox world. Sadly, in the absence of a prenup, and in the absence of a rabbinical will to act, hundreds of agunot will continue to suffer.

The sad irony is that these women are committed to halacha. If they were not, they'd simply file for a civil divorce and move on with their lives. The reason why they remain agunot is that they are resigned to live with an unfair system, one which is making their lives miserable.

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