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Saturday, June 21, 2014 

Haredi rabbis detest grant of divorce for woman with comatose husband

Some more Haredis who shouldn't be calling themselves rabbis are up in arms over the grant of divorce for a woman whose former hubby was in a 7 year coma:
A groundbreaking ruling by the Safed Rabbinical Court, which released a woman from her marriage to a man in a seven- year coma, continued to generate controversy on Tuesday, with a group of the country’s most senior haredi rabbis publishing a letter against the decision in the ultra-Orthodox press.

The Safed court issued the ruling back in March, although it only became public in May.

The case relates to a 32-yearold woman whose husband was involved in a motorcycle accident seven years ago and sustained severe injuries. He fell into a coma and has not recovered since.

Jewish law stipulates that a man must freely give his wife a bill of divorce, or a get, for the marriage to be formally terminated.

However, an unconscious person is unable to do so and thereby leaves his wife “chained” to the marriage.

There is leeway in Jewish law to declare such a person dead in regard to the marriage, thus freeing the woman from the marriage.

However, when doctors assessed the case in question several years ago, they initially stated that although the chances of his waking from the coma were very slight, such a possibility did exist. For this reason, the Safed Rabbinical Court would not terminate the marriage, and the woman was unable to obtain a get.

In March, however, the rabbinical court’s three-man panel revisited the case and went to see the husband in hospital.

They concluded that the husband’s physical status was such that there was no serious likelihood that he would ever awaken from his coma.

Using an innovative interpretation of Halacha, the rabbis concluded that they could issue a get zikui – a bill of divorce that is granted on the husband’s behalf, that he would agree and desire to give.

According to this interpretation, it is a positive Torah commandment to end a marriage if the husband is no longer able to fulfill his marital obligations and would therefore want to issue the divorce, allowing the rabbinical judges to enact this wish.
Those Haredi rabbis who opposed the ruling might want to think about what the former husband might feel - did it ever occur to them that he might not want his wife "chained"? Therefore, they'd best shut up and stop feeding the press headlines they'd be better off without.

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