Aug 21, 2014

Aguna released in psak that retroactively cancels marriage

a little while back there was a very complicated dispute that arose over a psak by a beis din in Tzfat that was reached in order to release an aguna from her situation.

The woman had been in a situation where her husband was in a vegetative state for 7 years after being involved in a car accident. In order to release her from being an aguna the beis din employed an innovative approach of saying that if the husband would know what situation his wife is in he would surely grant her the divorce papers, the get, and therefore they took the authority to release her.

The beis din published a very long psak detailing all the arguments for and against and the decision they arrived at. It became a dispute. They claimed to have support from certain rabbonim. Other rabbonim argued with the psak and eventually the quoted rav withdrew his support.

Now, another Rabbanut beis din has employed a similar approach to resolve the situation of another aguna.

Haaretz is reporting that a woman, a Miriam Katz, whose husband attempted to commit suicide and ended up in a vegetative state after he botched it. The beis din declared that the entire wedding was a "mekach taus" - a mistaken transaction from the start and she was never actually married. The basis for declaring it a mekach taus is that he was mentally disturbed and because she was not made aware of his mental situation, the marriage was based on a mistaken premise and is therefore invalid.

Supposedly this time, unlike with the beis din in Tzfat a few months ago, the beis din has the agreement of "big" haredi rabbonim in advance. The issue of keeping health issues secret, especially mental health issues, is something the has been dealt with by many rabbonim, in the Haredi rabbinate as well, and at least some say it is a reason to invalidate a marriage. We'll see as the story becomes more public whether it has that agreement or if it raises another ruckus..

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  1. This isn't similar at all - it is a case of a preexisting condition - in other words, mekach taut. That is not innovative at all.

  2. Totally different case, with different reason.

  3. LOTS of differences.

    Aside from this being halachically more simple, I bet that the the woman is haredi, given that she hadn't known before marriage that the guy was mentally ill and therefore hardly knew him before marriage.

    She therefore becomes a more sympathetic figure than the woman in the Tzefat case.

    Added to that is that the Av Beis Din rather than being Dati Leumi is haredi (I believe) and had already publicly denounced the Tzefat Get.

    1. The original article in Ha'aretz has a picture of the woman in question, and she most certainly does not look Chareidi - she's wearing a sleeveless low-cut dress, and her hair does not appear to be covered.

  4. Both cases and others which are basically the same should have this result. Otherwise, the poor woman remains a VICTIM of where neither party is guilty of anything and it would be unTorahdik for her to have to suffer.

  5. I heard from someone indirectly involved in the Tzfat case that they tried to disqualify the original wedding (e.g.,invalidate the witnesses), as that would have been a much less innovative method of freeing the Aguna - however in the Tzfat case, the wedding was 100% "K'dat Moshe V'Yisrael", which is why the Beit Din tried to come up with a more innovative (and more halachicly questionable) solution.
    Historically these types of issues were almost unheard of as in the past someone in a serious vegetative state could never have lived for several years, so the aguna would have become an Almana within a short period of time.


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