Brought his Mistress into the Home but Refused to Divorce his Wife; Claimed “Divine Will”
A.– who led a cult-like community – was arrested and forced to agree to a divorce following a decade of spousal abuse, including intimate relations with female students and bringing his mistress into the home he shared with his wife
Kobi Nachshoni | Ynet | February 27, 2020
One of the most severe cases of get-refusal in Israel has come to an end: a resident from the center of the country divorced his wife after over ten years of marriage which included severe emotional abuse on his part and affairs he conducted openly within their home. The man ignored summons to appear before the Rabbinical Court, until he was recently located and arrested by the police – and forced to agree to a divorce.
A., a rabbi and teacher, headed a community with messianic cult traits. M. was one of his students, whom he helped during her process of becoming religious. They became a couple, married, and had children. However, over the years the woman and her children lived under A.’s harsh restrictions and cruel regime, culminating in complete isolation, ongoing abuse, and severe neglect that affected every aspect of their lives.
During this period A. had intimate relations with women who were his students – with M.’s knowledge. He even brought one of them to live in their house as his mistress, claiming this was ‘Divine will’. He brought heavy emotional pressure and manipulation to bear on his wife, forcing her to accept the situation, until finally she could bear it no longer and asked for a divorce.
The ‘rabbi’ refused to release her from their miserable marriage. After he announced he would refuse to divorce her to the end of his life, M. decided to escape from the home. With the help of Dvora Brisk, a rabbinical court advocate from Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La’isha: Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center, M. applied to the Rabbinical Court in Tel Aviv.
A. ignored every summons to appear at court hearings – even disregarding a police warrant issued against him.
Drowning in the Swamp of get-refusal
A. was able to avoid the authorities for a long time by frequently moving apartments and employing other tactics. But this ended two weeks ago. Following lengthy surveillance the Yad La’isha team was able to convince A. to come to a restaurant in the center of the country, where policemen lay in wait and arrested him. The next day, after a night in custody, A. was brought to trial – and capitulated. He finally agreed to give M. her long-awaited divorce and release her.
Pnina Omer, director of Yad La’isha, summed it up: “This is a shocking case. The husband completely ignored his wife’s wishes, ruling over her absolutely while abusing religious elements. Thanks to the resourcefulness of rabbinical court advocate Dvora Brisk and social worker Reut Eisenbach, and in cooperation with the police and the Rabbinical Court, we were able to get to the husband before M. drowned in the swamp of get-refusal.”
Omer added that she “prayed for the day when a halachic path will be paved to release women without having to beg or employ tricks and stunts.”