Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I am going through a horrible divorce. I have given up on Beis Din being able to convince my husband to deliver a voluntary get and stop with his crazy demands. I write this weeping after attending a mindless session with rabbonim who refuse to see me as a person, but rather, as an annoying obstacle in their effort to award everything to the beast I was married to for twelve years. It’s not enough that he wants the house my parents bought us as a wedding gift, the silver, the car, the summer home, and the bank accounts, they now want to allow him to have the children because I have decided to go to court. I should have listened to those who, from the outset, warned me not to go to Bais Din but to go straight to secular court.
Twelve years ago, I married a man who morphed from a perfect gentleman and caring person during our courtship, into a vile, vindictive, controlling abuser, who didn’t allow me to have any friends, cut me off from family and controlled the purse strings, even on my own salary which I had to turn over to him. The few friends I managed to keep at work were the only ones in whom I confided and they were shocked at what I was going through. It wasn’t until about four years ago that I finally found the courage to fight back. I didn’t hand over my paycheck and even opened my own bank account. He was so furious that he threw me against the wall, grabbed a pair of scissors and cut up some of my clothing and my good sheitel, the one I wore on Shabbosim and for simchas. My everyday one he hid. Needless to say, when I came to work the next day, my two frum friends were stunned to see me in a tichel and were speechless when I told them why. If it hadn’t been for their compassion and support, I think I would have lost my mind long before.
The abuse ratcheted up when I reached out to his parents for help. When that didn’t materialize (they were never close with me or my children), I refused to allow them to see the kids if I was not present.
I went to Bais Din finally where a worthless Toain represented me. During the last session, I could see where things were going, so I left. I hired a lawyer and we filed suit in court. In the secular legal system, at the very least, I am considered a human being and my daughters are not seen as chattel to be bartered and negotiated and bid upon.
The tears I’m shedding are not of fear or regret over the end of an awful marriage, they are tears of anger and disgust that I should be so disrespected and devalued as a Bas Yisroel in a Jewish Court of Law where Daas Torah is completely absent!
I hope rabbonim see this letter and understand that although they foolishly obliterate the faces of little girls and women in the name of some obscure notion that this is tzniyus, what they are really saying is that Jewish woman are invisible. That the eishes chayil they claim to proffer, doesn’t really exist! What we are is really irrelevant in the presence of men and that we are only necessary to serve our husbands without regard for our own value, to procreate on a regular basis while keeping house, caring for and raising our children in tandem with holding down a full time job.
Sorry, but the great women in our history were not hidden away behind a faceless burqua, the heroines of our people were revered, visible and defended by Hakadosh Boruch Hu Himself whenever their wisdom or virtue was challenged by their male counterparts. Our Imahaos, Miriam, Devorah, Yehudis, Esther HaMalka were all beloved by Hashem and exalted as everything our daughters should emulate and aspire to become. Were they hidden away or hushed into silence? On the contrary, they were, strong and visible with the greatest regard for tznius, and the purest form of love and devotion to Hakodosh Boruch Hu.
However, today, instead of lauding the virtue of n’shei Yisrael, rabbonim twist it around and try to make us feel as if we are not important and relevant. I am living proof of this and am paying the price in defense of my being a Bas Melech in the blind eyes of the Bais Din.
All I can say is wow! I just didn’t see the second half of your letter coming, thinking this was the typical cry about Bais Din’s one-sidedness, which sadly is so prevalent. But that “punch to the gut ending” was absolutely priceless and truly timely.
I am proud to say that I write for and am part of a publication that truly understands the value of our great women – of the past and of the present.
What other publication can claim to have had the kavod of featuring modern day present day eishet chayalim like Rebbitzen Esther Jungreis, a”h, who is credited as saving so many thousands of Jewish souls and bringing them back on the derech. How many families were created by her tireless attention and efforts in helping couples find each other when few others cared to expend that energy. We were privileged to have greatness such as Rebbitzen Irene Klass, a”h, who availed herself to the masses in search of a way to return to Yiddishkeit through the many avenues she made available via The Jewish Press. And we all saw their beautiful faces exuding tznius and ruchnius in every byline they wrote in the paper.
When frum publications chose to adopt this ridiculous and harmful practice, encouraged by some rabbonim, what they succeeded in doing was to upset the balance of worth between the genders which was never G-d’s intent. They are supporting male supremacy, dominance and importance while diminishing and obliterating the worth of women. What is left for women to claim as their standard of worth could not have been made any clearer. Our daughters learn to see themselves as faceless, invisible and worthless creatures to be hidden away and excluded from simcha photos. A truly harsh reality that no amount of eishes chayil singing can make less hurtful or more acceptable.
It is time for our mechanchim and leaders to take pause and reflect on what is happening. We are losing many of our bnos Yisroel through the poor regard in which they are held. I have heard, along with the general outcry about poor and harsh treatment of women in the Batei Din, a low and rumbling wave of anger at the egregious treatment they are being subject to under the guise of tznius.