Mar 14, 2012

Rabbanut Invalidates Two Marriages To Resolve Two Marriages

Mynet is reporting on two recent cases in Modiin that required the beis din to find interesting solutions to serious halachic quandaries. The beis din found the solutions in these recent cases, and received approval from Rav Ovadiah Yosef, but is quick to remind us that not always is it possible to solve the problem and achieve the desired result.

Halachic Quandaries:
Case #1: a young couple was due to be married. At the last minute she decided she did not want to marry him, because she saw hims temper and behavior. To avoid shaming the family in public, she decided to go ahead with the wedding and then divorce. She told her family her plan, and they agreed. Saying nothing to anybody else, the wedding proceeded as usual.

After the wedding, she went to her parents home. Shortly after, she filed for divorce.

Eventually, she met a nice boy and after falling in love they decided to marry. When applying for marriage with the Rabbanut, they found out that his being a kohen is a problem and they could not get married, as a kohen cannot marry a divorcee.

Case #2: A man and a woman have been living together married for many years, having had four children together. Eventually, they began a process of becoming more religious. During this process, they discovered a problem - he, being a kohen, could not be married to her, as she was a divorcee. And this created a problem for their children who are now no longer kosher kohanim.

The issue was not discovered when they married, because they did not marry through the Rabbanut.

In both of the above cases, after extensive research, the beis din of the Rabbanut was able to solve the problem to allow the happy couples to remain married.

Case #1: After exhaustive research to confirm that the husband and wife never actually lived together, and that at the wedding itself they could see she was upset and had decided not to be "really married", the Rabbanut decided to invalidate the original wedding, thus rendering her as a single woman rather than a divorcee. That makes the "second" marriage valid. The questionable validity of the original wedding along with the uncertainty of today's kohanim actually being kohanim, allowed the beis din to decide towards invalidating the original marriage and letting the second marriage stand.

Case #2: After much research, they decided to allow the second marriage to be deemed kosher, thus the children remain kosher kohanim and the couple could stay married. The beis din found, in its extensive research, that the original marriage was conducted by a Conservative rabbi, and the witnesses at the wedding were actually related and therefore invalid. As well, the husband was "unable to perform" his marital obligations, which was the cause for their divorce. Again, the beis din decided that the original marriage was invalid, thus declaring the woman to be single, allowing her to marry the kohen with the children remaining kosher kohanim.

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  1. I would very much like to see the actual teshuvot here, because this does not seem to make sense. It is true, in the second case, that it sounds similar to Rav Moshe's teshuva to save mamzerim. But it is not clear to me how it can be used to avoid a woman being considered a divorcee. Even according to Rav Moshe, even though the wedding was not halachically valid the couple should always try to do the 'get' process, and his leniency is only as a last resort.
    In both cases the women received gittin from Beis Din (I assume). According to my understanding that should be enough to invalidate them from marrying cohanim, even if the get was only required as a chumra (which itself is not clear).
    If you have access to the actual teshuvot written by the Rabbanut of Modi'in (who are certainly bigger talmidei chachamim than me) could you please publish it. Or tell your readers how to access it.
    (I have had several cases of divorced women wishing to marry cohanim, and have never found any kind of heter. This teshuva could change a lot of people's lives!)
    Yashar Koach as always.

  2. all I have is the mynet article. obviously newspaper articles, especially non-religious ones, will not be completely accurate and will be missing some of the important nuances. Does the rabbanut, of modiin or elsewhere, publish their piskei halacha anywhere? I am not aware of such a publication.

  3. Traditionally, Sfardim don't have a Yichud room at their weddings. If that happened to be the case in the first story and the Kallah never went home with her husband, there may be some wiggle room.

    A chumrah is not halacha. In a case where the chumra is causing more harm then it helps, there is certainly room for reevalution. In Mesechet Gittin, there are all kinds of scenarios the Rabbis rejected but allowed Post Facto. It appears the Beit Din was simply taking these considerations into account. Their ruling in this case in no way permits someone from intentionally getting into these types of situations.

  4. It sounds like in the first case, the bride had conveyed a modaah - disclaimer before the wedding. That, coupled with her behavior indicating her unwillingness to be wed to the guy, might provide grounds for saying she wed unwillingly. The halacha doesn't allow for unwilling kiddushin, as far as I know. That may have been a foundation for the beit din's efforts to find other factors to complete the picture of 'no marriage'. Even if a get were given, if the get were determined to be unnecessary, then it is a non-issue. There were teshuvot about such scenarios with gittei milhama where the husband was determined to have been killed, and therefore the issuance of the get by the beit din was meaningless. I too would be curious to see the actual teshuvot, but the rabbanut doesn't usually publish proceedings all that quickly.

  5. Rabbi yosef does these things whosale... Look at his books

  6. Interesting and important. There are very good dayanim who want only the best for the people.

  7. I don't agree with the concept of marriage annulments.

    But in these cases, there really was never a marriage to begin with.

    If I was asked to run the weddings, and knew all the information in both those cases, I would never have allowed the wedding to take place at all.

  8. in the first case it sounds like the rabbi had no idea. maybe he saw some tension, but on the wedding day, people can be nervous and upset.
    in the second case I am surprised. i was not aware that Conservative Rabbis allowed witnesses who are related. it also sounds like they probably got married abroad for this to have happened.

  9. fyi, some of their psakim (though probably not these) are available at (works best in iexplorer)

    Case #1 seemed pretty straight forward to me: she made it clear that she didn't intend to marry. Just that the man wasn't in on the joke.

    My impression is that instances similar to the second case happen frequently in the US, with the beit din actually watching wedding videos.

  10. If they can find this sort of flexibility in these two cases, why can't they find some sort of flexibility that would free agunot?

  11. just because they found solutions in some cases does not mean they can apply solutions "wholesale" to solve agunot. I am sure some agunot cases are solved in unique and innovative fashion, while others unfortunately still remain unsolved because the solutions dont apply.


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