The Children of Neviim: Random Suggestions From Our People

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divorceBy Rabbi Menachem Rosenfeld

In my former work as a Bais Din Menahel, and in my present work as a Divorce Mediator, I have heard various suggestions and reactions from the people the Gemara Pesachim refers to as “Children of Neviim.”  People who have experienced our Batei Din have varied comments and suggestions that flow from their experiences. I have collected 8 of these below in the hopes that they will lead to some constructive discussion, and will serve as valuable feedback for our Batei Din and communal organizations.

1.  Rabbanim will deal, from time to time, with the anguishing tale that comes from an ex-spouse who is dealing with a non-cooperative mate who is not cooperating in the Get process. Rabbanim will advise the spouse and/or parents that for X dollars the mate can be “persuaded” to give the Get. While this proposal may “help” a specific individual, it does perpetuate the idea that a Get can be withheld for a financial ransom. The social problem that this creates is quite harmful to our community. Rabbenu Gershom did not wish to be ransomed from non-Jewish extortionists and yet we have, inadvertently, created the same situation in contemporary times, in some situations. Perhaps the time has come to hold a candid discussion as to whether or not such behavior truly furthers the goals of our community.

2.  Many people who have had Dinei Torah have lamented the role of “Toanim” (i.e. “advisors”) who prolong the Din Torah process and who will, on occasion, resort to behavior that is far from constructive. There are Batei Din like the Beth Din of America, which have barred the presence of Toanim on halachic and professional grounds. Do we wish our system of Batei Din to grant access to individuals who are neither professionally regulated nor trained for their roles in Dinei Torah? Should Toanim be allowed to be part of the Bais Din process?

3.  The number of Gittin given each year is far less than the number of Jewish divorces. Have we done everything possible to reach out to the non-frum members of our community and encourage them to use our Batei Din for the Get process? I have heard many individuals state that they would gladly seek out a Get but they were unsure if they would be well-received by the Batei Din, due to their non-observance. The benefit of such outreach to those less observant would of inestimable help to Klal Yisrael.

4.  By the nature of the Bait Din structure, every woman who comes to such a forum will be outnumbered by the number of males in the room. Can we make our Batei Din less foreboding by having these women greeted by female office members and by encouraging them to take a female friend along for support and Chizuk?  On occasion, a male will come to the Bais Din and will know one of the rabbanim. He will likely be greeted warmly by this acquaintance. This is less likely to occur when a female enters our Batei Din. These are small items but they require our attention and sensitivity. (When I mediate matters, I always try to be careful to spend my “face time” equally divided between the male and female. These are small concerns, but they can make all the difference in how the process is viewed by all parties.)

5.  The rise of divorce and litigation in our community, is a warning signal to our leadership. Civility is becoming a lost art. Rabbanim may wish to dedicate drashos, seminars, and communal efforts towards an embrace of messages about positive communication, Shalom Bayis, and proper ways to resolve disputes. Rabbanim may even desire to learn more about mediation techniques and promote use of ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution”.) I stand ready, as do others, to volunteer to train Rabbanim in the basics of mediation theory so that the message of civility is brought to our communal consciousness.

6.  There has been a great increase in recent years in the number of frum therapists, social workers, mediators, etc. It would behoove Rabbanim to have formal relationships with such professionals.  A Rav once told me that Rav Pam ZT”L had been shown a book written on the topic of marriage and Shalom Bayis. When asked for a haskamah, Rav Pam said he would do so only if the author added the comment, in the book, that if the marriage as in peril, professional help had to be sought. There are many worthy individuals, and organizations, willing to be of assistance in such situations. It is of great importance that such “partnerships” be forged.

7.  The cost of litigation has spiraled out-of-sight. The average cost of a contested divorce is estimated to be $20,000. (The cost of divorce in the East is considerably higher due to the higher legal fees charged in this area.) It is a natural choice to allow Batei Din to be the forum for resolving marital and commercial disputes. In order for such rulings to be upheld by secular courts, Batei Din need to have clearly articulated policies and procedures.  The effort to universally achieve this is well worth it. Let the Bais Din be the first choice for disputes and not be the choice only when all other options fail. In addition, Batei Din need to get out the message that they stand ready to resolve all disputes that arise in our communities. This message cannot be emphasized enough.

8.  Most states require divorcing couples who have children, to take a course.  The course focuses on raising children who have been involved in a divorce process.  Should not our Batei Din be able to cooperate and develop a similar course from the Torah perspective? In addition, Bais Din personnel can be trained in spotting psychological issues, emotional needs, financial concerns, and need to be prepared to suggest proper referrals for such individuals.  There is more to a Get process than having the Sofer write 12 lines. Are we prepared to meet such challenges?

The above is mere food for thought.  The words may be mine, but the thoughts come from the “children of Neviim”. If this article is able to engage just a few minds in positive discussion, it will benefit us all. The challenge is great, but the structures already exist to implement these proposals.

Rabbi Menachem Rosenfeld is a Fair Lawn, NJ mediator who can be contacted at Rosen[email protected].

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  1. Some Toanim are trully a fruad and a disgrace, and the way the some Batei Din are structured opens for them the way to do untold injustice.

    Ideally it would be great if Dayanim can be paid a flat salary, not by the hour….

  2. As someone who was in Bais din quite a few times
    (for observatory training)
    Once for myself I can tell you that the only way to fix Bais din is to get rid of all the toanim. This is a fr website they will never publish my real intended words
    But suffice it to say that EVERY SINGLE TOAN
    is for sale , they will lie , cheat , offend the other party in public
    And make a mockery of the Bais din at any chance they get!
    They hide behind Halacha while really being ???? ???? ??? ?????
    These people are the only ones responsible for creating chaos in Bais din
    The dayonim are usually very Erlich.
    Just three weeks ago I heard a toan from Lakewood tell his client
    Whic Bais din he is good with!
    Huh what does that mean? The dayonim are corrupt ? NO
    it means he knows he is smarter than them and will confuse them do much he will win the next sentence was I charge $350 an hour.
    If we don’t stop the toanim people will stop going to Bais din.
    Oh and one more thing these toaynim were never considered talmida chachomim just smart people who can manipulate a tshuva or two!!

  3. ” On occasion, a male will come to the Bais Din and will know one of the rabbanim. He will likely be greeted warmly by this acquaintance.”

    This is against the Halacha. A Dayan who violates an halacha of how he should behave in a din Torah is worthless. Having other ideas to counter it is just as worthless, or actually, worse. Now you are purposefully creating an atmosphere where halacha is violated. Hashem’s presence will surly NOT be there.

    Sorry, your whole approach smells of an agenda or a desire to be successful in your business venture.

  4. You begin by claiming that it is women who are getting a sour deal. Item by Item. You also claim that rabbonim encourage them to pay for their get.

    From my own personal case, as well as those of friends and acquaintances, the reality is actually quite different. Of the several cases I’ve been personally involved in, in only one was the woman willing to take a get right away and simultaneously resolve all issues.

    Many women are the ones playing games and doing disgusting things, as well as seeking to prolong the process. I highly doubt that it’s not pretty equal – the amount of men and women behaving disgustingly. Please be honest.

    Which Beit Din were you a menahel of? Please tell us so we may examine the record and reputation of that Beit Din.

    It seems as if you have an agenda, that is not l’shem shomayim, or that you’re seeking to promote your business, and are willing to smudge the facts a little to achieve this end.

  5. I like the author’s points, especially number 5. Concerning point 8, a distinction must be drawn between a secular court requiring a course and a Beis Din. A ruling by a secular court, in the vast majority of cases, will compel people to comply. People are plain scared of a secular court, despite what the reality may be. In contrast, people do not think the same about a Beis Din. A psak of a Beis Din perceptually does not carry the same weight. It is one thing for a Beis Din to develop a course, which I agree is a great idea, and another thing to implement it.

  6. #2
    Sorry to say, but some Dayanim are deffinately corrupt, and they allow and facilitate the Toyanim in their fraud, because they want his bussiness next time.

    That’s why I said they should get paid a flat annual salary.

  7. First of all I would like to say as a rabbi to bh well over a few hundred talmidim
    I unfortunately encountered a few divorces
    I must agree that many times it’s the woman that is guilty of playing games.
    However so many emotions are involved , from both sides that no one can be judged fairly .

    That being said I must tell you about the terrible idea of toanim
    My goodness ! If you ever see one in play you would never believe we are dealing with a frum Jew !
    The blatant lying , disregard for the other side is appalling.
    Halacha by them is usually quite fuzzy they almost never have a clarity in what they are talking about, they just throw names around .
    I challenge anyone here to even find one just one toain who we can point to and say
    Ahh! There goes an erliche yid!they will never turn a case down
    How can that be ? Every person that calls you is always the right party?
    As for gittin I am telling you a fact , instead of focusing on the couple’s divorce they will dig up as much garbage on the other side As possible to extort money.
    ?? ????
    Forgive me but this is not a lengthy piece compared to what has to be said.
    I don’t know how to stop this but one thing I can tell you the chair an that these toanim caused is ???? ?????
    ???? ???? ???? ???

  8. If only anybody would devote time
    To do a real exposé on ??????
    Not an Article that its mentioned in an interview
    But a real exposé ,the frum conmunity
    Would pressure the rabbonim
    To stop allowing this sickness to continue.
    I personally have to do with 3 ?????? (socially)
    Two of which are quite famous
    And one still wants a shot at fame and money
    The persona of these people are so sorely lacking I can’t believe Bais din even listens to them
    Let’s fight these people

  9. I strongly agree with MDshweks and Yaakov tzvi about toanim. We must realize though that these toanim, unfortunately, have lots of business. Who’s hiring them? They don’t advertise, so how do their clients hear of them?

    Word of mouth, of course.

    As such, the clients certainly hear precisely what type of slime they’re hiring. That makes the client just as culpable. Sorry #7, we should judge those who do this. Because if we do, people will be motivated to save face and will be pressured to behave better and not give themselves a bad name.

    (And if they didn’t give themselves a bad name, they wont even have to try and give the other side a bad name to justify their despicable behavior.)

    And there are Botei Din and Dayonim who are most certainly corrupt.

  10. actually, most people hiring toanim don’t know their hiring slime, cause they never knew that they cheated all they know was that he worked.

  11. For those who wish to read more about Toanim, I would refer them to the following post:

    The issue is not whether the use of Toanim is proper Al Pi Halacha. This is not a discussion suitable for this type of forum. The question is whether this system is working for or against the interests of Klal Yisroel. I have yet to find a person who feels it does, but I do no doubt that such people exist.

    In terms of the comment of whether or not women sometimes “hold up” the Get, the answer is that they certainly do. I do not know why the comments here seem to this reader to be aimed at men only. Any use of the Get for financial advantage is a degradation.

    In the few pieces I have written for Matzav, I have found the readers to be uninhibited in offering their opinions. (This interest is not the case in other forums in which I write.) I believe these comments are read widely. It is productive to air these opinions in a way that can potentially lead to something positive, as long as the readers remember that disagreement with a point of view (or agreement, for that matter) does not need to lead to personal attack and invective.

    Perhaps the previous comment will explain to one of the readers why I write these pieces.

  12. Thank you Rabbi Rosenfeld for a thought filled essay. Your points are a great place to start the dialogue.

    Whether religious or secular, navigating through a Get and divorce require negotiation skills. Perhaps all Batei Din should insist that those coming to them for a Get first meet with a mediator/negotiator?

    Perhaps Batei Din can assign milestones and deadlines to the parties in the divorce so that progress is ensured? In this case, ramifications could be made clear if a milestone or deadline is missed.

    It is well within the power of leaders to develop and communicate rules of engagement for those going through a Get. With guidelines in place, Getim that spiral out of control can be better avoided.


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