second-hand knows

Um, please accept my apology for the bad pun.  It is not the worst character trait (because I think it is more than just a bad habit), so it won’t be one that I will try to get rid of.  It’s also become ground into me after years of being with little kids…

So what’s the story today?  I read this post about a woman’s experience with getting a get, which prompted me to ask some rabbis whether this is comparable to what happens at our local Beit Din.  One did answer me, saying:

no-it makes us look pretty good, in fact, and perhaps explains why Norma Joseph believes that rabbis don’t care about the agunah problem. You should come down to observe, and to hold hands if necessary, both for your own knowledge and because it might be very helpful to women in your town if you could describe what we do for them.  Upfront, we interview them regarding names, we ask each of them if they are acting of their own free will, we ask them why (that’s [one particular rav’s]  schtick), I preview the entire process for them before they come in, etc.  But some of this is clearly mistaken memory or misunderstanding – the husband must have made a declaration to her before “throwing” the get, a get is written on paper not parchment, etc.

I think that divorce is one of the things that we don’t want to have any prior knowledge, like the whole death process.  In fact, of course, we end up preferring to have knowledge of the death process because we actually hope that things go in a natural order, with parents dying of very old age, and us outliving them.

Divorce isn’t natural, so we don’t want to know about it.  This blog entry is perhaps proving the point that we should have more first-hand knowledge of the Jewish halakhic world.  We should know the laws of kashrut by learning them “inside” with primary texts, not by mimetic behavior.  And the same with the laws of Mikveh and Taharat haMishpachah, although perhaps that is better studied, but more complicated, so it needs more reviewing.

And other things that we should be learning inside?  I guess the irony is the reason for women being allowed to learn any kind of Limudei Kodesh was because we were losing our halakhic bearings, with women going off to secular studies, and we were allowed to both have the warm and fuzzy learning plus the halakhic stuff.  So we’re basically doing neither, going for the intellectual stimulation, which doesn’t really take care of the whole population, after all.

Women’s learning has a long way to go, doesn’t it?


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