Rabbi Gets 10-Year Sentence For Torturing Jewish Men Who Refused Give Their Wives A Divorce

Seventy-year-old Rabbi Mendel Epstein was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Tuesday for his role in kidnapping a number of Orthodox Jewish men and torturing them with cattle prods and other devices until they granted their wives a divorce.

In Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, in order for a woman to divorce her husband, she must get permission from him, in the form of a get. A get is a document which reads, in part, “You are hereby permitted to all men.” If the woman doesn’t get the get, she must remain married to her husband and cannot remarry — unless she chooses to give up her religion altogether.

When Orthodox women in the Lakewood, New Jersey, area were denied a get from their husbands, some went to Rabbi Epstein and paid him to torture their husbands until they agreed to a divorce. Epstein was eventually caught in an FBI sting operation in which two agents posed as a woman and her brother looking for help in obtaining a get, and offered Epstein $60,000 in exchange for his “assistance.”

Epstein says he got caught up in his own “tough-guy image,” which he says helped him “convince many of these reprobates to do the right thing.”

I have to admit, I’m a little conflicted about this. More than a little. Like, here is my thought process right now:

  2. OK, but torture is definitely wrong.
  3. How terrible are these men that they would actually withstand torture just to be able to torture their wives by refusing to give them a get? If I were married and the person I was married to was willing to pay $60,000 and have me tortured with a cattle prod just to get rid of me, I would pretty much figure it was time to go our separate ways.
  4. Torture! It’s still wrong! You don’t torture people!
  5. Seriously though, assholes, just give your wife a divorce!
  6. All of this is a terrible way of handling things! Just let women divorce their rat bastard husbands without a get! Wouldn’t that be easier than torture? Everything is terrible!

It’s an altogether sad and messed up situation.

Rabbi Epstein’s daughter has pleaded to the court to consider the positive and charitable acts he has performed during his life, but federal prosecutors are looking to make an example out of him in hopes of deterring “paid vigilantism” in the future.

[Associated Press]