The Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau, is reported to have rejected a candidate for the post of judge in the rabbinical courts because he had previously refused to grant his wife a divorce.
The traditional Jewish divorce procedure requires a husband to give his wife a get, a formal divorce document. This contains the ceremonial phrase in Hebrew “you are hereby permitted to all men” and renders the divorce legal. Problems arise, however, if the husband refuses to grant the get, perhaps because his wife demanded a divorce against his wishes . Such wives are left in legal limbo, unless and until their spouse relents – but such divorce refusers come under a considerable amount of social pressure to back down.
At a recent meeting to discuss candidates who had passed their judging exams, Haaretz reports, Rabbi Lau recognised a name on the list as someone known for having refused a get.
So he was in turn refused accreditation and the Chief Rabbi went on instruct this team to create a new requirement that candidates for the role of judge in the rabbinical court must in future sign a document declaring that they have no criminal record and that they have not refused a get.
A spokesman for the Chief Rabbi’s office told the newspaper:
“Rabbi Lau does not agree on principle that the rabbinate can accredit someone who has a criminal past or refuses to divorce his wife to become a rabbi of a city or a judge on a court of law.”
“The chief rabbi will continue to take all the necessary steps to denounce divorce refusers.”
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