2/17/2005

Kosher Sects

The can of worms opened in Israel regarding pre-nups has created an interesting dilemma, which you can see developing in the comments here.

There's a strong and growing consensus about the need to institutionalize pre-nups that protect women from recalcitrant husbands. However, R' Elyashiv opposes them, would consider coercion based on such a pre-nup to be a get me'useh and therefore passul. Without RYSE, there's no way to get the Rabbanut to agree to the implementatin of a pre-nup. Thus, R' Elyashiv is essentially holding everyone else hostage. That's the reality, without making value judgements.

I think that it's a cultural thing- R' Elyashiv makes an 'Umdenah' that people really don't consider that they'll get divorced when they get married. Thus, the pre-nup is an 'asmakhta' which is not binding. While that umdenah may be true within certain communities, it's certainly NOT the case in the communities where pre-nups are becoming the norm. Divorce is everywhere, young, old, wealthy, poor. It's impossible to ignore.

Furthermore, Catholicism treats marriage as a commitment that can never be broken. Judaism doesn't. Divorce is one of the 613. Apparently this umdenah, assuming it's true, isn't necessarily a good thing. It's perfectly legitimate to agitate for better education regarding divorce. chosson and kallah teachers can discuss divorce. Heck - it's mentioned in the ketubah, why would it be taboo to discuss with an engaged couple. There's an ethics of divorce. It's a mitzvah. It's Torah. Ve-lilmod anu tzrichin. The response to R' Elyashiv is not that he's wrong - whether he is or isn't, the entire chareidi world won't be convinced by anyone or anything that can be marshalled as a counterpoint. The response is - good, there's an umdenah - now let's go change the umdenah. Let's teach every naive, starry-eyed groom that divorce is real, and that with all of his great intentions, it can happen to him. No more asmakhta. He knows exactly what he's getting into.

Better - Take him to a Beis Din to watch divorce proceedings, let him see what a shambles a marriage can be turned into, and then go back and show him the same damn starry eyes and ear-to-ear grins in the wedding photos. Gevalt, there are still people out there that think that a successful marriage is easy!? Allowing them to remain in their blissful ignorance is educationally unsound, and now may even have negative implications for the plight of the agunah. Lan"D, that would obviate R' Elyashiv's objections to the pre-nup and advance the plight of agunot.

realistically, let's say that doesn't happen. Let's say some hold of pre-nups, and some don't. Let's say that one group threatens to refuse to marry into the other because of fears of mamzerut. At that point, should the pre-nup supporters, among whom I count myself, back down for the sake of consensus? Offer these agunot as 'martyrs of peace', to use Shimon Peres's term?

Should we, using Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai as our paradigm, open the books, attempt total transparency of the system, and be totally forthright when a follower of RYSE comes to court someone who is, le-shitaso, a mamzer?

could this develop into 2 communities that eventually will not intermarry at all? BH and BS didn't let that happen, but there were plenty of other Jewish sects that were completely separate, and wouldn't intermarry. BH and BS were the exception, not the rule.

R' Moshe Feinstein, who obviated the problem of 'Bnei Niddah' and the problem of heterodox marriages with two very creative, controversial, and, ultimately, essential hetterim, was the exception, not the rule.

The Gemara in Pesachim 49b is the rule, not the exception. Think about it next time someone starts singing 'invei ha-geffen' at a wedding or sheva brachos or whatever. You've gotta see the whole Gemara. It's scary. The chachamim and chaverim were strongly discouraging intermarriage between themselves and amaratzim.

Chazal, by casting aspersions on their lineage, wine, and shechita, essentialy legislated the Samaritans out of the community without even calling their Jewishness into question. It was brilliant. Probably even necessary. But certainly proves that application of halakhot in this manner is very scary, very powerful, and very tragic if abused.

Personally, I can't in good conscience kowtow to the right, sacrificing agunot for the sake of consensus. I hope that one of the other alternatives comes to fruition.

10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the LORD; I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.
12 When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample My courts?
13 Bring no more vain oblations; it is an offering of abomination unto Me; new moon and sabbath, the holding of convocations--I cannot endure iniquity along with the solemn assembly.
14 Your new moons and your appointed seasons My soul hateth; they are a burden unto Me; I am weary to bear them.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes, cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Isaiah I
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