Sunday, July 24, 2022

An Unsuccessful Defense of the Beit Din of Rabbi Emanuel Rackman: The Tears of The Oppressed by Aviad Hacohen

The Tears of the Oppressed was introduced at a press conference on October 22, 2004 as a solution to the agunah problem. It proposes that the doctrine of kiddushei ta`ut* (error in the creation of marriage) be expanded to include blemishes that arose after the marriage was entered into and that this doctrine then be used by rabbinical courts to solve the modern agunah problems related to recalcitrance. This review essay demonstrates that such an expansion is supported neither by Jewish law sources nor by the responsa cited in the book itself. This review essay also addresses the procedural pitfalls of the book as well as its impact on marriage theory, and explores other solutions to the agunah problems.
In 1997, Rabbi Emanuel Rackman and a small group of rabbis who were not widely recognized as rabbinic decisors (poseqim)1 formed a beit din (rabbinical court) that claimed to be freeing agunot2 without requiring that a get be given by the husband to the wife; this beit din is now called “The Rabbi Emanuel Rackman—Agunah International Beit Din L’Inyanei Agunot.”3 A great many rabbis denounced this beit din, which was defended in a text advertisement placed in the New York Jewish Week by Agunah International.4 Nearly no Orthodox rabbis accept the pronouncements of this beit din as valid; one of the consistent criticisms of this court over the last seven years has been the absence of a serious scholarly work to demonstrate that the theoretical legal underpinnings of the mechanisms employed by the bet din are consistent with generally accepted halakhic

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