As reported here two and a half weeks ago, a pro-polygamy ad was placed in one of Israel's largest Sabbath leaflets, distributed in synagogues countrywide. Now an Israeli tabloid has picked up (part of) the story.
Basically, here's the story:
Three weeks ago, Shabbat b'Shabato, the large Zionist Orthodox parsha sheet (Sabbath leaflet) distributed in synagogues across Israel, published an ad calling on Jewish men to adopt polygamy and marry a second wife.
That Saturday night, I posted a scan of the ad.
It claimed to be paid for by single Jewish women who had waited through their prime marriage years, but were still alone.
The ad relies in part on a teshuva (opinion on Jewish law) written by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the leading Sefardic decisor of Jewish law, who in theory permits polygamy. (Rabbi Yosef does not encourage polygamy in real life, however. The question asked him was confined to a narrow point of Jewish law and not to the broader points that would have to be taken into account to endorse polygamy today. But the ad doesn't mention this.)
The next day, the Jerusalem Post ran a story on the ad. It noted that the rabbi behind this push for polygamy, Rabbi Yechezkel Sofer, turns out to be a senior figure in the much ridiculed 'Sanhedrin' founded several years ago by hard right rabbis and headed by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (who when asked often distances himself from its rulings and actions).
Now Ynet has picked up this story, minus the 'Sanhedrin' connection.
Ynet's report says the editor of Shabbat b'Shabbato, Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, told Ynet that ads place in Shabbat b'Shabbato aren't checked before publication, and that the pro-polygamy ad was probably a joke.
There's nothing else new in Ynet's report, except for the following brief exchange between its author and the man behind the push for polygamy, Rabbi Yechezkel Sofer:
One of the people behind the new initiative is Rabbi Yechezkel Sofer. I telephoned him and introduced myself as a man who has had enough of living alongside just one woman. This is what the conversation sounded like:
Hello rabbi, married life is not what it used to be. May I take another wife?
"Of course. You can see in Rabbi Ovadia's writings that it's fully permitted."
And what about the law?
"The State laws forbid it, but from a rabbinical perspective – if the woman agrees and you are able to provide for another home – it's permissible.
Aren’t you afraid of promoting a legal offense?
"If you follow the State's law – fine, but you should know that the Torah law allows it."
Can the process be done secretly?
Is it permissible for Ashkenazim too?
"I don't think it’s forbidden."
Are there such couples in Israel already?
And what about you?
"I'm about to take another wife, with the first one's consent."
Aren't you afraid that what was once right isn’t right these days?
"Why, is our Torah wrong? God forbid."
Can I schedule a consultation meeting?
"Sure, send me an email and we'll set a date."
[Hat Tip: Maskil.]