I admit that phrase doesn't have as much pull with Orthodox Jews as it might with other religious groups. Still, the story of an Orthodox couple who don't accept that they're divorced even though they have a perfectly valid divorce under state law encapsulates much of what frustrates me about fundamentalists:
The Friedman case has become emblematic of a torturous issue in which only a husband can "give" a get. While Jewish communities have historically pressured obstinate husbands to give gets, this was a very rare case of seeking to shame the husband in the secular world.
Holding signs saying, "Do the right thing" and "Free your wife," the crowd [protesting outside the husband's apartment] included religious women with their heads covered, men in skullcaps and a rabbi with a bullhorn who shouted, "Withholding a get is abusive."
All parties have said that Mr. Friedman is angry about the custody order, which grants him three weekends a month with his daughter, two of them in Philadelphia, beginning at 6 p.m. on Fridays. As a religious Jew, Mr. Friedman will not drive from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday — so he cannot see his daughter until Sunday.
The custody order is "a joke," said Yisroel Belsky, a prominent Brooklyn rabbi. "The court decided in a bullheaded way not to respect the Shabbos," or Sabbath, he said in a interview.
On the first point: they're divorced. The only reason to get the Get is to marry someone else in a religious service. Nothing, at all, legally prevents either party from marrying right now. But they have chosen to follow their religious laws instead of Maryland's and Pennsylvania's. That's a choice.
On the second point, which is similar: Belsky has it backwards. Mr. Friedman is deciding in a bullheaded way not to drive. He's choosing his religious beliefs over seeing his daughter. Rabbi Belsky should be advised that the judge really can't respect the Sabbath qua Sabbath because of the first amendment; but the judge should respect the agreement of the couple. So the question should be, why did Friedman's lawyer agree to a custody arrangement that ran afoul of Friedman's religion? Or what happened in the courtroom that led to this outcome?
Protesting outside the guy's house and writing to his employer (like one rabbi) cross the line. Get your crazy back in shul where it belongs.
And not to fan the crazy, but can someone tell me why the ex-wife doesn't just rip up the ketubah? Doesn't that accomplish the same thing as a get?