Siruv Against Isaac Duke

I Dispute a Siruv Against Isaac Duke

By Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn

Isaac Duke Attacked in ORA’s website with letter from Beth Din in Miami

The letter from the Miami Beth Din states that since Isaac Duke did not give his wife a GET he is in contempt of Beth Din and is subject to the ostracizing mentioned in Shulchan Aruch 334. There are the laws of somebody who has been placed in Nidui or Cherem, or cursed for his wickedness. Whereas we feel that the letter issued by the Beth Din on ORA’s website is in error, and that ORA was in error for publishing it, we will explain our position.

That is, if a person has a proper Beth Din and they summon somebody to answer a complaint by somebody else, the person must appear or suggest another Beth Din or zabla, that each litigant chooses a Dayan and the two Dayanim choose a third Dayan. If the person refuses to appear in Beth Din or suggest an alternative Beth Din, and he repeats his refusal, Beth Din then can issue a Siruv, a write of complaint which is a serious thing. But the Beth Din may not adjudicate the case and say that somebody one the day and somebody lost it, because they were not accepted as the Beth Din and did not hear all of the points made by each person.

The Beth Din that wrote this made several mistakes. One, Mr. Duke did not come to the Beth Din at all, and so they could not have heard his reasons for not giving the GET. Consequently, since he refused to appear before them, they could not adjudicate any issues between Mr. Duke and anyone else, such as his wife. The fact that the Beth Din, without hearing the case properly, without being accepted by both sides in the dispute, nonetheless issued a ruling that Mr. Duke has to give his wife a GET, shows that the Beth Din made an error.

Also, a Beth Din that rules that a husband must give a GET has erred in two ways. One, where does it say in Shulchan Aruch that a woman who demands a GET may force the husband to give her one? See EH 77 paragraphs 2 and 3. It is forbidden to force a GET based upon the complaint of the wife. Rabbeinu Tam quoted in Shita Kesubose 64b says that Beth Din may not suggest to the husband that it is a mitzvah to give a GET nor do we tell him that our advice is to give a GET.

The Chazon Ish in EH 99:2 says that if a Beth Din tells the husband that the Torah requires him to give a GET which is almost always not true, the GET given is invalid diorayso for two reasons. One, the force of the Beth Din’s saying that the Torah requires a GET creates a coercion. And the GET is invalid. Also, if the husband would have known that the Beth Din was in error he never would have given the GET, so it is invalid because it was a mistake. (If the Torah requires a GET it is a mitsvah for Beth Din to force it, but that is very rare, see Teshuvose Marshal 41.)

Thus, a Beth Din that tells the husband that he is obligated to give a GET, and certainly when its words are published by ORA telling everyone to humiliate the husband and to force the GET, the GET is invalid and children born from it are mamzerim. When the wife realizes this, she must leave her old husband and she cannot return to her new husband. Thus this Beth Din has made terrible errors.

When a Beth Din summons a person to a Din Torah, to answer the complaints from somebody against him, the person must respond to the Beth Din. Either the person comes to Beth Din to be judged, or he can suggest another Beth Din, or also zabla, that each side selects one judge and the two selected judges select a third judge. Both litigants then appear before the Beth Din they chose and are judged.

In this case, however, the Siruv, meaning “refusal” should have been directed at Mr. Isaac’s refusal to appear at the Beth Din to be judged, or his refusal to state what alternative Beth Din or zabla he wanted. The Siruv is only valid for that one thing, the refusal to respond to a summons to be judged. But the basic quarrel between the two people summoned before the Beth Din cannot be adjudicated until a proper Beth Din has been selected by both sides. Thus, a Beth Din cannot force its opinion on somebody who refuses to accept it.

We must therefore understand why this Beth Din issued a public proclamation that Mr. Duke must divorce his wife and created a public pressure to force him to do so, which was published on Ora’s website, with the full force of Ora’s public humiliations of its victims. This creates a coerced GET which is invalid. And if the Beth Din felt that it should coerce a GET, it is not a Beth Din, as I heard personally from Posek HaDor Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt”l. Thus, this Siruv is in error, because it demands a GET, and because the letter arouses the public against the husband to force a GET, and because the letter was sent to ORA for its mission to force Gittin, which simply creates invalid Gittin and mamzeruth.

This brings us to a very sensitive problem. There are unfortunately Beth Dins and rabbis and Rosh Yeshivas who want to help “Agunos” but who do not know the halacha of Gittin properly. I have spoken to some of the biggest who issue letters about coercing Gittin and do not know the laws of Gittin. They just feel that the wife must be helped.

If there is a community where some prominent Rosh Yeshiva or Beth Din summons the husband, and it is known that this Rosh Yeshiva or Beth Din tries to help ladies and works hard to make a GET, does the husband have to go to it? And if the Beth Din issues commands to the husband does he have to fear the power of the Beth Din? The senior rabbis of Israel, Reb Chaim Kanievsky, Reb Shmuel HaLevi Wosner and other authorities have ruled that whereas there are today Beth Dins that coerce divorces and make invalid Gittin, any such Beth Din does not have the status of a Beth Din, and any GET it issued is not accepted. The woman divorced in such a Beth Din must get another GET.

This does not mean that it is hopeless. It means that first of all a respectable Beth Din that knows the laws of Gittin and practices it properly must be asked to review the GET given by the invalid Beth Din. Maybe they can determine that the witnesses of the GET were kosher and the Sofer did a good job and the names were righ, etc.t and then she is divorced. And if there is a doubt, and she is not allowed to remarry because of that doubt, the Beth Din would have to consult with the Gedolim about any children she had with the invalid GET from a second man.

But most important is that whenever a husband or wife is faced with a claim for a divorce or a reality that divorce must be considered, they must find the right people to talk to, people who are not radicals or “helpers” of people who cannot be helped any way that mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch. Going to parents or close friends is very dangerous, and leads to the worst fights. Today some rabbis tell women on the telephone they have never seen to go to a secular court to force the husband to give a GET. And then comes the great idea of making up lies that the husband is a danger to the wife, a wife-beater, and that he molests the children. And if the wife has a lot of money and the husband does not, the wife can at least have the satisfaction of turning her husband into bankruptcy, and there is a possibility that he can end up in jail. This is a regular feature of Torah life from people who went to the best Yeshivas and Bais Yaacovs, and now commit terrible sins and destroy their former spouse.

“מגיד לאדם מה שיחו” When a person comes to the other world they produce a video that has all of his actions, words and thoughts. And they tell him his words, the words of hate, of lies, of telling children to hate their father, etc., and etc. I don’t know what will happen to people in the other world who play rough about getting a divorce or breaking up a family, but I do know that in this world the Forces of Evil are very busy with this. And the tragedy is that f this evil is done with the idea that it is a mitzvah, leshaim shomayim.

A prominent Rov once said that a Jew cannot do a hideous sin, until he imagines that the sin is a mitzvah. That is what is going on today. And the solution is for people to know the halacha. That is why I have made a to teach people the laws of Gittin and the importance of doing things according to the Torah.

I am organizing a group around the country to help men who are being tortured by Beth Dins and ORA. I would like to help ladies also and perhaps we could improve the situation to make peaceful Gittin. I once solved the worst Agunah cases in Monsey with two peaceful GETS.

If anyone wants to contact me they can write to me at or call me at 845-578-1917.