I read in today’s paper about a rabbi who would have husbands who refused to give their wives a get (bill of divorcement) abducted. Once abducted, the husbands would be beaten and tortured — even cattle prods were used — until they agreed to provide the get.

This was being done — and sanctioned — in the name of fairness to the wife.

Without getting into the serious problem of a woman from whom a get is withheld by a vengeful husband — and certainly without underestimating it — I spoke to the question of whether inhumane means can and/or should be applied when seeking to achieve “legal” or “religious” ends:


If we accept this as a categorical principle, then we validate the rationale of suicide bombers and anti-abortionists who murder abortion-providing doctors. We might even validate Eric Harris’ and Dylan Klebold’s rationale in committing the Columbine massacre.

If we accept this only on a “per case” basis, then, even if we can reasonably argue for it, we must realize that the ethical problems it opens up are insurmountable; at the very least, they bring more disrespect than respect for Torah — just as suicide bombers bring more disrespect to Islam than the respect it deserves.