The morality of "get-threats": Withholding divorce as extortion

Ram Rivlin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Threatening to withhold Jewish divorce in order to extract concessions, which I term here the "get-threat,"is widely regarded as extortionist. Yet this view is commonly associated with skepticism towards agreements stemming from unequal bargaining power, or with a progressive view of the proper divorce regime. Building on contemporary discussions of what is known as "the paradox of blackmail"this article argues that in many cases get-threats should be regarded as simple cases of extortion even by libertarians and conservatives. It then presents and analyzes the best possible statement of defense for the practice of get-threats, designed for the "reasonable reactionary,"showing that even from that point of view get-threats should be limited in scope and magnitude to a narrow range of cases of justified, reasonable demands. The article thus offers both a precise analysis of a longstanding debate and a normative argument for its proper resolution.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)849-869
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Constitutional Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

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