Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Is 'Chained' Wife Tamar Epstein's Remarriage Kosher — Even Without Orthodox Divorce?


The decision to allow Epstein to remarry ignited a firestorm within the Orthodox community. Opponents of the decision are making it clear that Epstein and any future children she may have will not find acceptance in the Orthodox community of which she considers herself a part.
“The woman is considered married for all purposes and is forbidden for any other man until a religious court rules otherwise,” Rabbi Aharon Feldman, head of Baltimore’s Ner Israel Rabbinical College, wrote in an open letter he addressed to fellow rabbis and religious leaders. “In the meanwhile, she must leave her second ‘husband,’ and if she has children, they will be considered bastards until relieved by a religious court.” Under traditional Jewish law, children classified as bastards — mamzerim in Hebrew — are not allowed to marry other Jews who are born to women considered to be legitimately married.
 The breakthrough came earlier this fall, when a rabbinic authority in Philadelphia issued a heter, or permission, that annulled Epstein’s marriage based on the claim that Friedman was mentally ill at the time the couple married. The identity of this rabbinical authority was not disclosed, but according to several ultra-Orthodox websites it was likely to have been Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, head of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia. In the past, Kamenetsky has worked to resolve Epstein’s situation.
Although the unnamed rabbinical authority was not provided with any professional mental evaluation of Friedman’s condition, the rabbi ruled that had Epstein known of these mental issues in advance, she would never have married Friedman, and therefore the marriage is annulled and Epstein is free to remarry. Annulment, while existing in traditional Jewish law, is a very rare procedure, and according to a source in the Orthodox community, it has never been used in modern times.
 Epstein’s marriage to Adam Fleischer in a traditional Jewish ceremony in Memphis was officiated by Rabbi Nota Greenblatt, who is the head of the city’s Orthodox umbrella organization, Vaad Hakehilloth, and is a well known halachic authority.
The controversy that ensued centered on interpretation of religious law rather than on Epstein’s right to be released from her husband. Even those critical of the unusual halachic procedure were, for the most part, sympathetic to Epstein’s plight. They reiterated their call for Friedman to issue a religious divorce.
All parties involved declined to discuss the permission given to Epstein for her subsequent marriage, stating it was a private, personal issue.

1 comment :

  1. Not exactly Kosher, but can't happen to notice her black clothes she is wearing in compliance with misatef shchorim. Maybe this was the reference in the so called Heter *Mutar" by "Sod H' lireiov" psak.


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