Sunday, July 24, 2022

Grappling With the Problem of Agunot, Flaws in the Proposal of Rabbi Emanuel Rackman

Even if Rabbi Rackman's idea were acceptable in theory, its implementation contains a significant practical problem. It is often very difficult to formally produce incontrovertible evidence that someone physically abused his spouse (see Rama, E.H. 154:3). Proving that someone had an abuser personality is even more difficult, if not impossible. Similarly, it is exceedingly difficult to prove that one who denies his wife a get had a sadistic personality at the time of marriage. At the very least, the dayanim must see psychological records documenting these tendencies from before the marriage. In Rav Moshe's responsa regarding impotent and institutionalized husbands, official medical records proved the women's claims. On the other hand, The Jerusalem Report (August 3, 1998) disclosed that Rabbi Moses Morgenstern issues his rulings merely based on the woman's word, undoubtedly an unacceptable practice.3See, for example, Teshuvot Noda Biy'hudah (vol. 1, E.H. 54), cited in Pitchei Teshuvah (E.H. 157:9). Rabbis can rarely obtain private medical files in today's litigious society, for doctors do not generally release these records to clergy with the same ease that they may have done in Rav Moshe's time.

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