Why is it that a man can give his wife a gett, whereas the wife cannot demand a gett or give a gett?
He’s saying that it’s unfair that a wife cannot demand a gett whereas a husband can give a gett at his will.
First of all it’s true that according to the Torah a husband could give a gett at will, but not today. Today, he cannot give a gett unless his wife consents to take the gett. And that’s a long established takanah from Rabeinu Gershom. No man can give a gett unless his wife consents. If she doesn’t consent, he just cannot give a gett. And he can never marry anybody else unless she consents to a gett. But originally the din Torah m’doraysa was that a man can give a gett without his wife’s consent.
Now if you’re asking why the original din is so, the explanation is quite simple. Because we have to understand that according to the Torah – not only the Torah; I don’t want to limit this to Torah – it was lehavdil the standards of all of Mankind before they become corrupted by modern ideas. It was the standard of Mankind that when a woman marries she becomes under the jurisdiction of her husband. She and her husband are not just two partners. That’s an error that only recently became promulgated. In all the nations of the world it was understood that the husband is the captain of the ship. And there’s only one captain! Not two! Now I’m able to say this because I don’t care what people think; so I can tell you the truth.
And I explained recently that the captain wears a special uniform: A beard. It’s a sign he’s the boss. Of course if you remove it, so it’s your fault. If you’re the captain and you take off your captain’s insignia, so every sailor thinks he’s just as good as you are. And therefore, the feminists, they look at all the smooth-faced liberals and they don’t see any reason why they should be different. Whereas if all men wore their uniform, then the feminists wouldn’t even think of making a revolution.
Suzy B. Anthony of unblessed memory, she began her activities only after people started shaving. Before they started shaving, she couldn’t open her mouth. It was ridiculous! A beardless person should speak up? The presidents all had beards. Generals all had beards. Soldiers all had beards. Nobody would think of such a ridiculous thing of making a woman the prime minister or even that a woman should be in Congress. Everybody in Congress had beards. Some had beards like this, some had beards like this; all styles of beards, but everybody carried identification of a male. That’s common sense according to nature and that’s the way the Borei planned it. It’s only after they started breaking down the standards of Mankind that things began to change.
Now it’s true that the Romans didn’t have beards, but the Romans had many things that nobody even today would like to emulate. The Romans had, for instance, an idea of a good time on a Sunday afternoon, that you take your wife and children out to the circus where you’d see men being eaten up alive by lions. And even though we made a lot of advances in the last ten years, but we didn’t reach this stage yet. This, we didn’t arrive at yet. So therefore we cannot measure ourselves by Roman so called “civilization.”
Now when a woman marries, she has to first of all make up her mind that this is it. Either don’t marry him or if you do, that’s it! And you’re there forever. Or if you’re not going to behave, so he is going to send you away.
Now I know that the ladies will rebel at this. Even the good ones today. The Orthodox girls of today will rebel at this because the ideas of the marketplace have permeated all levels of society. But in the olden days, even among non-Jews it was common sense there had to be one captain and there had to be obedience.
So therefore if the little boy didn’t want to get up in the morning to go to work or to go to school in the later generations, there was no such thing as letting him have his way. Today you have boys who don’t go to school at all! Thirteen-year-old boys don’t go to school at all! Do you know why? Because there’s no father. Why is there no father? Because there’s divorce. She goes to the courts. She wants to be independent. And he has to support her. The husband supports her and she lives with her son separately. And so the son if doesn’t want to go to school, he doesn’t go to school. You have a lot of boys today who don’t go to school at all! What do they do? I don’t want to tell you the wicked things that they do. They bring girls home with them. And because she’s a mother, so everything goes. But in the olden days…
I once saw an article – this was a long time ago – and it was describing which country in Europe is there the least juvenile delinquency. And it was explained that Italy was the place. And the reason was because in Italy of all the countries in Europe, the father was the boss. The husband was the boss. His word was law. That’s a long time ago already. And therefore, there was the least juvenile delinquency. You need a strong hand to lead the family. Of course sometimes the father is the weak one. Sometimes the mother is stronger, but by and large that’s the principle.
And that’s why it’s paramount, it was important that the husband should have the final word. “You want to remain my wife, then you’ll have to cooperate.”
Now of course there was a certain amount of injustice too. Every system has some unfairness to some people, but most of the women benefited by that more than they benefited after they gained the right to oppose their husband’s gett. Why they made that takanah, you have to ask Rabbeinu Gershom. I won’t go into that now, but it’s certainly true that in general it was not a benefit because there’s so much unhappiness that resulted from that uncertainty.
When a woman knows that this is it, so she makes up her mind to take it and to live this way and to enjoy it; and she can live to 120 years under husband’s hegemony. But when she has ideas that maybe there’s hope of breaking out, maybe she can rebel, maybe she can make a revolution, so that causes her a lot of unrest, uneasiness and unhappiness. People are happy when their minds are made up for them. It’s a fact that in the stable homes where there’s an authority, there’s much more happiness than in the liberal homes when people can do as they wish and women can break away from their husbands more easily. First of all, they compete with them in authority and sometimes they seek to gain the upper hand in authority and the end is separation and divorce and all the heartache and tragedies that follow and broken homes.
And today from every four couples that marry, three end up in divorce. And so, it’s an epidemic today, which means an epidemic of unhappiness.
And therefore the modern system has nothing to say in its favor at all. Nothing at all in its favor! It’s nothing but unhappiness. And the old system was a system that ensured the maximum happiness.
Now there’s no system that’s foolproof. No system will guarantee happiness. There’s no real happiness in this world anyhow. You cannot have perfect happiness. There will always be some complaints against any system but the Torah system will guarantee the least amount of unhappiness.
TAPE # 287 (November 1979)