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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Mon, 30 Dec 1996 14:16:33 -0500 Subject: Civil Penalties for Get I would like to (re) bring up the subject of civil penalties for those who refuse to give gets. I realize that this is a controversial topic but in light of-- (a) Ely Klagsbrun's posting [V25n45] about his mother who was not given a religious divorce even though her husband has remarried, (b) Chana Luntz's case posted during the summer of her young friend whose husband died and her brother in law refused to give her Chalitzah---it seems worthwhile to review the issue possibly from a new light. First: I would like to bring the precedent of Kashruth laws. If a restaurant or Katerer has false certificates of Kashruth or true certificates of Kashruth and gives non kosher food than they will receive a civil fine and possibly other penalties. The point to emphasize here is that religious authorities encourage having such laws even though they are asking the state to intervene in religious matters. The reason for this is that the civil laws enable enforcability of the Kashruth laws which is desirable. Second: There are people who sign a prenuptial agreement thru witnesses obligating them to pay fines if they break up and don't give a divorce. Third: I cite the Rambam, Laws of Wounds and Damages, 7:1-2, which lists in effect 3 types of damages: By substance, by form and by value: I can e.g. corrode a silver spoon by placing it in acid (damage to substance) even though it can be used as a spoon; I can break the spoon in half (even though the two halves can be melted and the metal recovered) or I can use the spoon at an idolatrous ceremony prohibiting its use to a partner in its ownership even though the spoon still looks the same and is usable. Let us use this Rambam: If I spill (enough) milk in a meat pot I have damaged the VALUE of the meat since religious people will not eat it. We encourage civil penalties. Suppose by analogy I refuse to give a get to a woman: She, if she wishes to remain religious, has been damaged and is not allow to remarry. Why not legislate laws allowing civil penalties for the lack of giving a get similar to the civil laws penalizing those who intefer with Kashruth? Why not impose these laws even if the couple hasn't explicitly consented? Why not at the very least apply this to cases like those of Luntz and Klugerman? Why not? Any lawyers (or rabbis) out there know of a good reason? Russell Hendel; Ph.d, ASA, rhendel @ mcs drexel edu