“We trembled to see that a ruling was issued to permit a married woman (a woman whose husband is [in a] vegetative state, by means of a get zikui) [to be divorced], [a ruling which is] stacked with fabricated reasoning rejected by Jewish law. Therefore we are obligated to vigorously protest this decision [which is contrary to] Jewish law and the permitting [for remarriage] of this married woman."
Top Haredi Rabbis Slam Lenient Rabbinic Court Ruling Granting Divorce To Woman Whose Husband Has Been In A Coma For Seven Years
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A controversial ruling releasing a woman from her marriage issued by the state Rabbinical Court of Safed in March has now been openly attacked by a group of top haredi rabbis, the Jerusalem Post reported today
The woman’s husband has been in a coma for seven years and the religious court issued her what is known as a “get zikui” – a divorce her stricken husband would grant her is he were physically able to do so.
Divorces like these are extremely rare and difficult to grant under Jewish law.
The religious court asked for and got the approval of leading haredi rabbinic decisor Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, the former head of the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Appeals, before issuing the ruling.
Goldberg’s approval was published by the court along with its ruling.
But Goldberg has since backed away from his support, claiming he had been asked about a theoretical case and had only issued theoretical approval.
However, in However, Goldberg’s ruling approving the divorce, Golberg wrote that he approved the divorce in “this special case before us.”
“After having read that which the venerable Rabbi Uriel Lavi wrote and explained, [I find] his words to be very correct and I join his opinion to permit this special case before us,” Goldberg wrote.
Goldberg – who is the leading decisor of Jewish law in the hasidic world – came under intense pressure from other haredi rabbis after his ruling was made public.
It is common for haredi rabbis to deny statements they openly made or wrote in order to protect themselves from internal attack.
A “well placed source” told the Jerusalem Post today that Goldberg was threatened by haredim and, despite his public retraction, still supports the Safed rabbinic court’s ruling.
The 32-year-old woman’s husband fell into a coma after a motorcycle accident seven years ago.
Doctors have consistently told the rabbinic court that there is little chance her husband will ever regain consciousness.
In March this year, the three-man panel of the Safed State Rabbinical Court – Rabbi Uriel Lavi, the court’s president; Rabbi Yosef Yagoda and Rabbi Haim Bazak – reportedly went to the hospital to see the husband and to better understand his medical situation.
After the visit, the rabbis contacted Goldberg and then issued the get zikui, freeing the woman from her marriage and allowing her to remarry. In their ruling, the rabbis noted that they were basing their opinion to issue the get zikui on the rulings of Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, most commonly known as the Hazon Ish,) and Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank, the former Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. Karelitz was the leader of Ashkenazi haredi Jewry in Israel at the time the state was declared and Frank was his contemporary.
But earlier today, Ashkenazi haredi non-hasidic supreme rabbinic leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman; Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, the nephew of the Hazon Ish; Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky; and other senior haredi rabbis published a letter in the Ashkenazi haredi mouthpiece daily newspaper Yated Ne’eman attacking the Safed rabbinic court’s ruling.
“We trembled to see that a ruling was issued to permit a married woman (a woman whose husband is [in a] vegetative state, by means of a get zikui) [to be divorced], [a ruling which is] stacked with fabricated reasoning rejected by Jewish law. Therefore we are obligated to vigorously protest this decision [which is contrary to] Jewish law and the permitting [for remarriage] of this married woman,” the Steinman and the other leading Ashkeanzi haredi rabbis reportedly wrote.
Attorney Batya Kehana Dror, who heads the Mavoi Satum women’s divorce rights organization and who represents the woman, attacked Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau for their failure to support ruling of the Safed Rabbinical Court – which is part of the state rabbinical court system the two chief rabbis oversee.
“We have still not heard the voices of the honorable chief rabbis [regarding] in support of Rabbi Lavi and his rabbinical court, who fulfilled their task with decisiveness and courage, truth and belief, and found a halakhic [Jewish law] solution to the difficult problem of a chained woman. Beyond the halakhic dispute stands a woman whose fate and life are dependent on this ruling, and the suffering caused to her in recent days is indescribable, when from one side [efforts are made] to discredit her divorce and on the other hand there is no one to defend or save her,” Kehana Dror said in a statement.
Both of Israel’s current chief rabbis are haredi.
Sefardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef reportedly told the Safed rabbis he disagreed with their ruling before it was issued. But he and Lau have not yet publicly commented on the case and neither chief rabbi reportedly answered a request for comment from the Post.
All Jews in Israel who choose to marry are mandated by law to be married through the chief rabbinate. Similarly, all divorces stemming from these marriages must be conducted by a state rabbinic court.
All of these courts are Orthodox and most are haredi, even though the vast majority of Jewish Israelis are secular or non-Orthodox"traditional" Jews.