In the first seemingly forward movement, the office of the state attorney issued a new directive allowing rabbinical courts to determine that a recalcitrant spouse can be tried in a criminal case for refusal to obey a ruling of a recognized rabbinical court. Although the director of the rabbinical courts explained that this is applicable to only 10 to 15 cases of get-refusal each year, since the judges limit themselves to applying the directive solely to cases where the most severe ruling of “coercion” has been issued, each agunah is deserving of all efforts to secure her freedom. […]

In short, the new directive can be viewed in one of two manners.

On the one hand the new regulation is an expression of cooperation between authorities of the State to relieve the oppression of citizens one against the other; a blessed synergy of civil and halachic law as an admirable realization of the dual principles of the Jewish-democratic State.

On the other hand, this new civil regulation, sought after as a tool by the rabbinical court judges, can be viewed as the shirking of their essential responsibility: to act as true halachic decisors for their generation, realizing the powers invested in the rabbis appointed by the people to protect their lives by utilizing Jewish law; maximizing the full potential of the jurisdiction over Jewish law in marriage and divorce awarded to them by the public trust placed both individually and collectively in each of the rabbinical judges.