Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Unaccepted Proposals to Solve the Aguna Problem - Part IV by Rabbi Chaim Jachter

            As we have mentioned in the last two weeks, there have been interesting proposals made to solve the Aguna problem which have been rejected by the Orthodox rabbinate.  There have been other very innovative suggestions, such as proposals made by Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin (Peirushei Ibra pp. 115-117) and Israeli Chief Rabbi Rav Benzion Uzziel (Teshuvot Mishpetei Uzziel, E.H. 1:27) which have simply not been accepted.  What is crucial to note is that these proposals were not implemented in practice, because the rabbinic consensus rejected these proposals.  Radical changes to Gittin procedures require a rabbinic consensus because of the potential for a communal split if part the community rejects the proposal. 

            The tragic consequences of the actions of this court are enormous.  Recent newspaper articles report that this court claims to have told more than two hundred women that Jewish law permits them to remarry without a Get.  Virtually the entire Orthodox rabbinate will regard any children  that these women will give birth to  as "Mamzeirim." 

            Rabbi Rackman bases his approach on a number of responsa written by Rav Moshe Feinstein regarding "Kiddushei Ta'ut" (marriages that lack halachic validity because the marriage was entered into on a fraudulent basis).  We will summarize the basic approach of Rav Feinstein, seek to demonstrate how Rav Moshe was extraordinarily lenient and applied the halacha to its very limits, and see how an attempt by Rabbi Rackman to further extend this ruling is baseless.  We will begin discussing Rav Moshe's Kiddushei Ta'ut responsa.

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