The curious case of the taxi-driver and the re-assigned debt to the London Beth Din raises all kinds of interesting questions about the nature of religious divorce in Britain.
Privately, the Beth Din has conceded that the get certificate is not necessary to allow a couple to re-marry. The aggrieved ex-husband may have felt, since his civil divorce was unpleasant, that he was exacting a below-the-radar revenge by paying off the £405 for the get certificate very, very, slowly. At the rate of £4 a month, his outstanding debt of £160 would have taken over three years to clear.
But it now emerges that the certificate is an administrative creation and that the Beth Din would willingly have told any Orthodox rabbi who wanted to know the divorced wife's status for the purposes of her re-marriage, that she had already received a get. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that the rabbis do not trust the Beth Din, and need to see a physical piece of evidence.
More disturbing is the fact that the Beth Din was ready to sell on a debt to a person without any reference to the original debtor. Was there a belief on the part of the Beth Din that the ex-wife's new partner was about to clear the debt himself, in order to speed up his marriage? If so, it was rather a naive belief.
That the Beth Din somewhat hastily paid off the outstanding amount itself may be a testament to the fact that it knew it had done the wrong thing. That the Beth Din was also unwilling to explain its actions speaks further volumes.