• M.P. Geulah

Jerusalem Rabbinical Court Authorizes Polygamy! Men Are Given Permission to Marry 2 Women!!!

In Israel and the Unites States it has become commonplace for husbands to refuse to grant their wives a get (Jewish divorce).  In these cases, the wife remains trapped in marriage and she becomes what's known as an agunah.             Hundreds of years ago Rabbeinu Gershom ben Judah (960-1040) issued a Takanah, called Takanat Rabbeinu Gershom, outlawing a Jewish man from marrying more than one wife.  But this Takanah did so much more than that as we will see.  What is commonly ignored is that Rabbeinu Gershom also issued a law which forbade forcing a woman to accept a divorce against her will. Since the prohibition against polygamy, a Jewish husband who refuses to grant his wife a get also remains trapped in the marriage and cannot marry another woman.       Unfortunately, many Rabbis today are utilizing what's called a Heter Meah Rabbanim.  A Heter Meah Rabbanim allows a man to marry a second wife if he can get 100 Rabbis to sign for him. Although it seems no one knows who 'invented' the Heter, many believe that it dates back to the time of Rabbeinu Gershom.  However, originally, the Heter was supposed to be used only if a woman fled the country and noone knew where she had gone.  Halachic Authorities such as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein vehemently opposed the use of the Heter Meah Rabbanim, because he reasoned that the Takkanat Rabbeinu Gershom basically equated men and women in terms of receipt of the get, and the women must agree to get divorced.  If she doesn't agree to receive the get, the husband cannot remarry. Except in a case where the women actually married another man.  In that case, Harav Moshe Feinstein said that the man doesn't even need a Heter Meah Rabbanim.     The Israeli Rabbinical Courts and the American Rabbinical courts are issuing this Heter Meah Rabbanim like candy.  Often, they put insane conditions on the get, for example they may give the women an ultimatum: 'pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for the get', or 'Give up your Ketubah money and you will get the get', or 'give up custody of the children and you will receive the get', or 'drop all physical assault charges and you will receive the get'.  The courts will literally conspire with the husbands to extort women for money.  If the women refuses to give in to their demands she is deemed uncooperative. The courts declare the men an "agun" and they give him permission to marry a second wife based upon the signature of the hundred Rabbis.    But it gets even worse, the Jerusalem Rabbinical Courts have begun ruling that Sephardic men don't even need a Heter signed by 100 Rabbis, they claim that Sephardic Jews never accepted the Takkanah Rabbeinu Gershon and are in essence allowed to marry more than one wife.  The Jerusalem Rabbinical Courts are ruling that Sephardic Men only need the signature of 3 RABBIS to marry a second wife!  The use of the 3 Rabbis to permit a man to marry a second wife is authorized by the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef.   This insanity has to stop.  Since when do Rabbis have the authority to usurp Halacha?  It is a universal fact that Rabbis are not allowed to uproot Halacha from previous centuries.      In truth, the Israeli Rabbinate is not governed by Halacha.  Even they claim that Halacha is subservient to the laws of the State whenever there is a conflict between Halacha and civil law.  Even in cases where there is no conflict, the Rabbanut on a consistent basis does not follow Halachah, such as in this case where they overruled Rabbeinu Gershom's takana, and Israeli law, by authorizing polygamy.  Are they greater in chachmah than Rabbeinu Gershom and Poskim like Rabbi Moshe Feinstein?     When its convenient for them, The Israeli Rabbinical Courts follow secular law, when its not convenient, they do whatever they feel like.  Issuing a Heter Meah Rabbanim on a mere whim, or because a woman doesn't give in to their demands, negates Jewish law and Israeli law which bans polygamy.   Not all Rabbis are involved in this distortion of Halacha.  Many Rabbis have stood up for Agunot, such as Rabbi Mendel Epstein, Rabbi Meir Kahane, and hundreds more.  But unfortunately, the Jewish courts are controlled by people who have no respect for Halacha.  There needs to be a complete overhaul in the courts for Torah law to be upheld.  Until then, we must protest.

     Page 2 of Gittin states that all must be done to prevent Agunot since there is a high tendency for Mamzerim (illegitimate children) if women are left Agunot. The Rabbanut also does not seem to be concerned with this- yet they are supposed to represent Halacha. By claiming to be a Rabbinic Authority and twisting the truth of the Torah, they are causing the desecration of G-d's name.   

     In conclusion, by granting a man the right to marry 2 women at once, without giving his first wife a get and Ketubah, the Israeli Rabbinate has removed the rights of women that the Ketubah was there to protect to begin with.  They are also directly opposing the ruling of Rabbeinu Gershom, which prohibits forcing a women to get divorced without her consent.  The Israeli Rabbinical Courts are usurping the precepts that are outlined on the second page of Gemara Gittin (page 2) which states that all of the Takanot of the Ketubah and the get are there to prevent agunot and mamzerim (illicit relations). The Israeli Rabbinical Courts and the American Rabbinical Courts who actively use the Heter Meah Rabbanim for no reason, are putting women in a position that in order for them to move on with their lives they must engage in illicit relations or remain agunot forever.

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