Monday, December 19, 2016

Jerusalem - Top Israeli Rabbinical Court Allows Man To Marry Second Wife

A decision by the Supreme Rabbinical Court to allow a man to marry a second wife because his first wife refused to accept a divorce has evoked consternation from women’s rights groups due to what they describe as the unequal status of men and women facing divorce refusal.

A case published this week by the Rabbinical Courts Administration involved a married couple whose relationship broke down for a number of reasons, including possible infidelity on behalf of the wife.

In 2005, the husband moved out of their marital home, and in 2008 the regional rabbinical court in Haifa issued a ruling of “obligatory divorce,” essentially instructing a partner, in this case the woman, to agree to the divorce.

The court also permitted the husband to give the money owed to the woman under the terms of their marriage contract to a third party, which would then release him of financial obligations to the woman such as child sustenance and living payments.

The woman appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court against the ruling regarding the husband’s monetary obligations, but the court rejected the appeal. She then filed a suit for reconciliation with her husband to the regional court, which she also lost, as well as a subsequent appeal of that decision to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

Due to the lengthy and ongoing legal proceedings over the termination of the marriage, the husband filed a suit with the Haifa Rabbinical Court for what is known as the Dispensation of 100 Rabbis.

Under Jewish law, men may have more than one wife, although the practice was banned for Ashkenazi Jews by a decree of Rabbi Gershom Ben Judah in the 11th century. However, a man may be given dispensation from this decree in certain circumstances if he cannot obtain consent from his wife for a divorce, a measure which is known as the Dispensation of 100 Rabbis.

In 2014, the Haifa Rabbinical Court granted the husband’s request, after which his wife appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

In June of this year, the court rejected her appeal and permitted the husband to marry another woman if he so wished. The ruling was published earlier this week.[...]

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