Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A PRENUP IS FORBIDDEN BY THE MISHNEH IN NEDORIM 90B

The Mishneh in Nedorim 90B is about a woman who tells her husband she slept with another man. The Beth Din believes the woman and forces the husband to give her a GET. But times changed, and women were suspected of lying in order to find a new husband. Then the halacha was changed that no woman has the power to force the husband to give her a GET. That is stated clearly in the Mishneh. In Kesubose 63b Tos אבל אמרה says that a woman is not believed to force her husband to give her a GET when she says מאוס עלי because she is suspected of lying in order to find another husband. Thus, whether the woman claims to be forbidden to her husband to force a GET or a woman claims to hate her husband to force a GET, we fear that she wants to find another husband and don't believe her. A prenup that allows a woman to demand a large sum of money to force a GET is also the same, the rabbis do not allow a woman to force a GET as they fear she is lying and just wants another husband.


Someone wants to prove that a prenup is permitted from נחחלת שבעה in my edition page 33 chapter 9. There it is talking about a man who abused his wife and she ran away to her father. The Beth Din will soon gather to judge the man and force him to behave with his wife. But in the interim, say a few weeks, the wife stays with her father and the husband must pay for her food  the sum of ten pieces of gold every month until the Beth Din settles the case and the husband behaves. This is not the prenup whereby the husband must sign an obligation to give the wife a huge sum of money or give his wife a GET, because that is designed to force the husband who cannot afford such as monetary loss to give his wife a GET.  There the purpose of the money is to force a GET. In the Nachalas Shiva the purpose of the money is to prolong the marriage, so that husband will pay for the wife's food before the Beth Din can deal with the case, and then the Beth Din will force the husband to behave and they will hopefully live happily ever after.  


Again, the prenup is forbidden and this is an open Mishneh in Nedorim 90B. Anyone who permits a prenup is somebody who can't read a Mishneh and denies a Tosfose in Kesubose 63b.

Dovid Eidensohn 845-578-1917

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Rabbi Knofler curses me that I should be bitten by a snake for choosing Pilegesh over mamzerim. My response.

R Knofler's curse on me which he sent to all of my recipients of my blog that פורץ גדר ישכנו נחש that R Knofler cursed me to be bitten by a snake, requires me to  respond to him. I called him up and protested his cursing me. He thought it was a big joke. I told him that when I respond to his remarks, he won't think it will be a big joke. Anyone who publicly states such a thing, besides it being a curse, shows that he is a complete ignoramus, which is not a rare thing among today's Gittin rabbis. There are many of them who think that forcing a GET is wonderful way to help ladies who take Kiddushin and can't get the husband to give them a willing GET. And then we have those rabbis such as Gedaliah Schwartz and Shmuel Kaminetsky who are known to tell women to remarry with no GET. I personally spoke to Gedaliah Schwartz about this and he was honest enough to admit it. The bottom line is that today in American and throughout the world, women are leaving their Kiddushin husbands without a GET or with a forced GET. Such a forced GET and surely no GET means that when the woman remarries with an invalid GET or no GET her children from the new husband are mamzerim. I say, better Pilegesh than mamzerim. We find in Shulchan Aruch then when a mamzer is born and people know about it, which includes all of the women who had no kosher GET but an invalid forced GET, or who had no GET at all, because people do know who they are, it is an obligation to publicize that such a person is a mamzer. Only if there is a whole family with maybe one person a problem we don't have an obligation to publicize it other than a rabbi to a few people. 

The discussion about Pilegesh is in Shulchan Aruch in the very beginning of Laws of Kiddushin chapter 26:1. There we find that if a Pilegesh fears to go to the Mikva it is a terrible problem. But if she goes to the Mikva the first shita in the Ramo is that a Pilegesh is permitted, of course, if she goes to the Mikva. The Vilna Gaon there says that the opinion that Pilegesh is permitted is an open gemora in Sanhedrain 21A, that Pilegesh is without Kiddushin. Meaning that Pilegesh is a real form of marriage. The Ramban says clearly in Mehuchesses of the Rashbo which contains certain teachings clearly labelled as not the Rashbo but the Ramban, we find the Ramban very strongly backing Pilegesh, and he says that the Rambam himself, if the couple marries a real marriage which is not Zenuce, approves of Pilegesh. I feel that with all of the rabbis who don't know hilchose Gittin and are encouraging women to remarry with invalid Gittin or no Gittin, and these women will make mamzerim, and it gets worse all of the time, it is better to do Pilegesh which is permitted by an open gemora than to do Kiddushin and make mamzerim. The Yaavets also strongly backs Pilegesh. But nobody backs mamzerim. 

Thus somebody who curses me for choosing Pilegesh over mamzerim, and then he laughs at the curse when I call him up, has a very interesting way of showing how a head of a Gittin Beth Din is supposed to behave.

I DO NOT FORGIVE HIS CURSE AND I DON'T FORGIVE HIS LAUGHING AT ME WHEN I ASKED HIM ABOUT IT. 


 LET HIM EXPLAIN WHY HE IGNORES THE MODERN VIOLATION OF HALOCHO WHERE MANY WOMEN ARE TAUGHT BY RABBIS TO FORCE THE HUSBAND TO GIVE A GET EITHER BY GOING TO SECULAR COURT OR OTHER WAYS OF FORCING OR AS SOME DO THEY JUST LEAVE THE HUSBAND WITHOUT A GET. DOES HE BELIEVE THAT THESE WOMEN WILL HAVE MAMZERIM? DOES HE BELIEVE THAT FORCING A GET IS A MINOR SIN? LET HIM LOOK IN EVEN HOEZER KESUBOSE 77:2 IN THE GRO #5 WHO SAYS THAT EVERYONE AGREES THAT A GET MAY NOT BE FORCED AND HE REFERS TO TOSFOSE KESUBOSE 63b IN RABBEINU TAM WHO SAYS THAT THERE IS A CLEAR GEMORA IN NEDORIM 90B THAT IN EARLIER GENERATIONS WOMEN WHO SAID CERTAIN THINGS MERITED THAT BETH DIN FORCED THE GET BUT IN LATTER GENERATIONS THIS STOPPED BECAUSE WE ARE AFRAID THAT SHE JUST WANTS TO MARRY ANOTHER MAN SO SHE SAYS LIES ABOUT HER HUSBAND TO FORCE HIM TO GIVE A GET. IF SO THIS IS A LAW FROM THE MISHNEH THAT TODAY NO WOMAN CAN BE GIVEN THE POWER TO FORCE HER HUSBAND TO DIVORCE HER. ON THE SAME PAGE WITH THE GRO IN KESUBOSE 77 THE SHULCHAN ARUCH AND THE RAMO AND THE BEIS SHMUEL AND THE CHELKAS MECHOKAKE ALL AGREE, AND THEY QUOTE A RASHBO VII: 414 THAT THE HUSBAND MAY NOT BE PRESSURED TO GIVE HIS WIFE A GET. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

questions about the Laws of Pilegesh from Deena Tova

marriage be allowed to remarry her first husband if the second one died (or "divorced") her?
Questions about the Laws of Pilegesh from Deena Tova on my blog torahhalacha.blogspot.com.


Questions;
1) A women who had a kosher divorce and remarried a second husband with a pelegesh marriage. Is she allowed to remarry her first husband if the second one died (or "divorced") her?
2) Would a kohen who married using a pelegesh marriage be allowed to stay with his wife if she was lo alanu raped.
3) Would the children of a pelegesh marriage of the father being a kohen be considered kosher kohanim?
4) Would a man be allowed to marry more than one wife with a pelegesh marriage?
5) Would a women who married by pelegesh marriage and "divorced" be allowed to marry a kohen?
6) Why would there be a problem about a lady going to a regular mikvah? Who has to know if it is a marriage by kiddushin or by pelegesh marriage?
7) Would this solve problems if a husband dies but it can't be proven, or he disappears, that the wife could somehow get remarried?
8) Would this mean that the wife’s earning in a pelegesh marriage belongs to her?


Thank you very much for your really excellent questions. First of all, when somebody wants to know what the halacha is in a specific case, there are two kinds. One is a case, such as is a food kosher, or what we may do on Shabbos, which is something taught in many books easily available, and is well known to the various rabbis who work in these areas regularly. Then there is a question about Pilegesh. Who today is involved in these questions? There are here or there somebody married as a Pilegesh, but I don’t know how many rabbis are experts in the halacha of Pilegesh.

Second of all, when I suggest somebody marrying with Pilegesh, it is mainly because I have a terrible fear of Kiddushin. For most women, when the marriage sours, they will find a “rabbi” who will tell them to force a GET from their husband, and some of them, all over the world now, just tell a woman to leave with no GET! Children born from an invalid GET or surely from no GET are mamzerim. Thus, when I trumpet how important Pilegesh is, it is because most women today cannot be trusted to spend their whole lives with a husband they don’t like. People like that should not marry with Kiddushin in the first place. For them Pilegesh is preferable. Whenever she wants, she just leaves. And the gemora in Sanhedrin 21A, quoted by the Vilna Gaon in the beginning of the Laws of Kiddushin in Shulchan Aruch, clearly states that people may marry a Pilegesh without making Kiddushin.

Thus, I would not necessarily tell a woman who is positive she can maintain her life with a bad husband forever, with never violating the Torah and making an invalid GET or no GET, to marry not with Kiddushin but with Pilegesh. Having said that, another side of me says that today things are bad, and in ten years, they will be much worse, and in twenty years, very, very bad. That is what is happening today. If so, I would really be happy if no woman marries with Kiddushin, because who knows?

We have two major poskim who strongly suggest marrying with Pilegesh. One is the Ramban and the other is Reb Yaacov Emden, son of the Chacham Tsvi. The Ramban states clearly that Pilegesh is permitted, period. He even claims that the Rambam agreed with him.  The other person is Reb Yaacov Emden, who is very strong about encouraging Pilegesh, but for different reasons. He maintains that many people need the freedom to marry a Pilegesh, for various reasons. His approach is that Pilegesh can save many people from many terrible sins and problems.

My great fear today of women stuck in marriages done with Kiddushin is rooted in the reality that today major rabbis, the biggest names, are encouraging many women to remarry without a kosher GET and thus have children who are mamzerim. The count of mamzerim is going to rise more and more and the only hope is Pilegesh. Pilegesh is the only way to solve the problem of making mamzerim with invalid Gittin. Unless the husband dies!
Now let us get to the excellent questions. Some questions can have a strong answer and some a doubtful answer, but at least, let us try to answer as well as we can. That is, when we have to answer a question we like to find sources that say clearly what the answer is. But in Pilegesh there are very few sources that tell us clear answers, and even the ones who do tell us various things don’t do it in the clearest fashion. So, some questions here will be answered one way and some the other. I will do what I can bli neder.
Let me add another important thing. The laws of Pilegesh are much more lenient than the laws of Kiddushin. People today are accustomed to Kiddushin and yet, to avoid mamzerim, we encourage people to think about marrying with Pilegesh. And yet, if we talk about the leniencies some rabbis have in Pilegesh, we will lose respect for those who considered marriage in conservative terms. I am very strong in that. Meaning that I believe that somebody who wants to marry Pilegesh must only do it with a rabbi and preferably a Beth Din backing them. This Beth Din, I feel, must prepare for the Pilegesh people the ability to leave the marriage at any time, to avoid the terror of Agunose. But to go into the leniencies some rabbis may have for Pilegesh can spoil people’s appreciation or acceptance of Pilegesh. Therefore, I want to present Pilegesh mainly as a regular marriage with a conservative bent, the exception being that the Pilegesh people can leave at any time with no penalty. The answers I supply here reflect this latter conservative belt.


Questions from Deena Tova;
1) A women had a kosher divorce and remarried a second husband with a pelegesh marriage. Is she  allowed to remarry her first husband if the second one died (or "divorced") her?
Answer from Dovid Eidensohn

Questions from Deena Tova;
1) A women had a kosher divorce and remarried a second husband with a pelegesh marriage. Is she  allowed to remarry her first husband if the second one died (or "divorced") her?
Answer from Dovid Eidensohn
If the first husband gave her kiddushin, as it seems from the question, and then made a kosher divorce, that husband still has a connection with the divorced lady, from Kiddushin. If so, if the lady married previously with kiddushin then married with Pilegesh, whereby the husband does not acquire here and there is no compelling the woman to refrain from this or that husband, and no kiddushin that can interfere here, it would seem that she should be able to return to the first husband who does have a connection with her from his kiddushin. It makes no difference if the second Pilegesh husband died or “divorced” her, because Pilegesh doesn’t have the problems of Kiddushin, only basically to honor marriage with faithful dignity.

See also Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer 12:7  “A Pilegesh is married to a man, and she decides to leave him and marry somebody else, must wait 92 days [as taught in the entire chapter there that people who may be pregnant must wait 92 days and some include even those who cannot have children, etc.] The Chelkas Mechokake there #6 who says, “We are talking that she became pregnant  in error, and yes, if a Pilegesh becomes pregnant from her [Pilegesh] husband and then she goes and takes Kiddushin marriage from another man, and then is divorced from him with a kosher GET, she may return to her first husband [married with Kiddushin], just as a woman married with Kiddushin who was divorced from him with a proper GET may remarry her Kiddushin husband, because a Pilegesh goes with the name of the first husband [who had Kiddushin].

2) Would a kohen who married using a pelegesh marriage be allowed to stay with his wife if she was lo alanu raped?

Answer: See Even Hoezer 6:10 – If the wife of a Kohen is slept with even if it was forced is forbidden to her husband. See Beis Shmuel there 22 that the wife is forbidden to her Kohen husband because she is a zona. Thus even if the rapist was a Yisroel or a gentile the wife becomes a zona because we rule that any one who is forbidden to marry the woman and sleeps with her in sin whether willingly or forced she becomes a zona and is forbidden to a Kohen. If the woman and her husband were Pilegesh  recall that the Ramban says clearly that Pilegesh marriage does not give the husband acquisition like Kiddushin, it does not forbid marrying somebody else as Kiddushin does, and it does not convey a holiness as Kiddushin does, and that holiness can make problems but only in Kiddushin, as it does not function with Pilegesh. On the other hand, Pilegesh is certainly a marriage, otherwise the Torah does not permit men and women to be together with Kiddushin or Pilegesh marriage. If Pilegesh is a marriage even if it has less strict laws than Kiddushin, it is still a marriage. And if it is a real Torah recognized marriage (see Sanhedrin 21A and the Gro in the beginning of the laws of Kiddushin in Shulchan Aruch) and if the woman would leave her husband and go down the block to sleep with somebody she would violate Pilegesh marriage, it is quite possible that the wife would even in rape, become a zonah. If so, she is forbidden to her Kohen husband. However, there is no open source for this and those who talk about Kiddushin and a woman who becomes a zona for sleeping with somebody forbidden to her, do not talk about Pilegesh. So I cannot be sure, because even the Ramban never said that Pilegesh is not a marriage. Because if it is not a marriage, is it from the street? If so, why is Pilegesh not forbidden if it not really a marriage?

3) Would the children of a pelegesh marriage of the father being a kohen be considered kosher kohanim?

Answer. Rav Yaacov Emden the son of the Chacham Tsvi in his sefer שאילת יעקץ  II:15 at the end says that “(in a Pilegesh marriage) the husband should explain to her that a child born from their Pilegesh marriage will be כשרים כשאר מיוחסים בישראל.” Pilegesh is a real marriage and the children are full Jewish children. If the father is a kohen and the marriage is Pilegesh his marriage is one כשאר מיוחסים בישראל. Thus, we would assume that the child is a Cohen. The exception might be in earlier times when Kohanim invented for their own pride higher standards for marriage. Most Jewish marriages give a woman two hundred zuz, but some Kohanim insisted on four hundred zuz. If, for some reason, the family didn’t want Israelites or Levites but only Cohanim, although this has nothing to do with halacha, the non-Kohen may not be welcomed, but not because she is Pilegesh, but because of the invention of higher standards which is a privilege of the priesthood, Kehuna at least in earlier times when people did these things. I don’t know if there are people today who do these things, I just don’t know.



4) Would a man be allowed to marry more than one wife with a pelegesh marriage?

Answer: It would seem from the Gaon Rav Yaacov Emnden at the end of his teshuva on Pilegesh II:15 that a Talmid Chochom had no children from his wife and therefore got permission to marry a Pilegesh to have a child, and this Rav Yaacov Emden praises and says that Pilegesh can save people from problems such as that. But that was an urgent problem and he doesn’t say that people can just go around marrying two or ten ladies with Pilegesh. Also, I personally would have nothing to do with people who marry with Pilegesh and then marry with such marriages, because it will destroy respect for Pilegesh. Right now there is a very strong push against Pilegesh, and to do these things just makes it worse. I tell people that Pilegesh is better than mamzerim, and that many rabbis permit forced marriages or no marriages for a woman with Kiddushin who wants to leave her husband even if that makes mamzerim. But these same “rabbis” may be against Pilegesh! And some people accept what I say because they know it is true. But if we start with these leniencies, I don’t know if people will tolerate it and it could bring Pilegesh crashing down chas vishalom, and then the mamzerim…


5) Would a women who married by pelegesh marriage and "divorced" be allowed to marry a kohen?

Answer: Rav Yaacov Emden quoted above says that a child from a Pilegesh marriage is כשרים כשאר מיוחסים בישראל. If so, I see no reason to forbid a Pilegesh woman from a Kohen. There were times when Kohanim made up higher standards for themselves than others, but I don’t know if today they do these things. Thus, such a question really belongs to the Kohen. Is he from such a group or family of Kohanim that feels denigrated by taking somebody who is not a Kohen or other such higher standards, and maybe, in that grouping, is a negation of Pilegesh. But if the Kohen himself has no such custom in his family, and the Yaavetz says as mentioned before that the child she will have from Pilegesh are like the מיוחסים בישראל I don’t see why there should be a problem. But again, this depends on whether the Cohanim themselves will accept this, and the one to ask is the husband she wants to marry, or perhaps a Rov who deals with Kohanim.


6  Why would there be a problem about a lady going to a regular mikvah? Who has to know if it is a marriage by kiddushin or by pelegesh marriage?

Answer: This is an area where the people who run the Mikva can make the rules. We had before about a Pilegesh marrying a Kohen. I said that some families of Kohanim have higher standards than the Shulchan Aruch about who they marry. The same is true about people who control the Mikva. They make up rules appropriate for their understanding. I was in Israel once talking to a Gadol HaDor and the Mikva lady came over and said that somebody wants to  use the Mikva, and it was a person that had a problem. The Rov thought a moment and then said let her enter. Yes, it is a mitsvah to go to the Mikva, but on the other hand, there may be, from the people running the Mikva, standards they feel are appropriate.
This is why it is important for people marrying with Pilegesh to work with a local Rov who will point out to them areas that could be a problem. A Mikva is one of these areas. Not because there is any kind of sin for a Pilegesh lady to go to the Mikva. This is clearly taught in the Shulchan Aruch beginning of laws of Kiddushin. If the Pilegesh goes to the Mikva, of course, they should do that. But the smart way is to have their supporting rabbi talk to those in charge of the Mikva so there won’t be problems. The case I mentioned above about a Gadol HaDor who was approached by the Mikva lady was also a case, as I recall, that the Rov was not satisfied that she had received the full education of something, but not to go to a Mikva, if so, that will be much worse. Of course, the proper thing is to make sure that such a lady gets the right teaching and training, like all Jewish ladies, and that should be the job of the Mikva people. Just to refuse somebody to enter a Mikva is not proper, because if somebody doesn’t know where to go to get lessons on Mikva, why not get somebody to teach them instead of expelling them?






7) Would this solve problems if a husband dies but it can't be proven, or he disappears, that the wife could somehow get remarried?

Answer: Yes, the wife could just declare that she breaks the marriage and what happened with the husband will in no way negate that. She is free to remarry.


8) Would this mean that the wife’s earning in a pelegesh marriage belongs to her?

Answer: A Pilegesh marriage is about two married people who have to work things out. Pilegesh does not have a Kesubo as Kiddushin does. It is a marriage, but that marriage is best organized in all of its aspects between the husband and wife. I spoke to a lady who married with Pilegesh and every year she sits with her husband and makes up a list of what to do that year with this or that. She has a wonderful marriage and has been blessed with fine children. But every year they sit down and discuss about next year and their goals.


Thank you very much for your really excellent questions. First of all, when somebody wants to know what the halacha is in a specific case, there are two kinds. One is a case, such as is a food kosher, or what we may do on Shabbos, which is something taught in many books easily available, and is well known to the various rabbis who work in these areas regularly. Then there is a question about Pilegesh. Who today is involved in these questions? There are here or there somebody married as a Pilegesh, but I don’t know how many rabbis are experts in the halacha of Pilegesh.

Second of all, when I suggest somebody marrying with Pilegesh, it is mainly because I have a terrible fear of Kiddushin. For most women, when the marriage sours, they will find a “rabbi” who will tell them to force a GET from their husband, and some of them, all over the world now, just tell a woman to leave with no GET! Children born from an invalid GET or surely from no GET are mamzerim. Thus, when I trumpet how important Pilegesh is, it is because most women today cannot be trusted to spend their whole lives with a husband they don’t like. People like that should not marry with Kiddushin in the first place. For them Pilegesh is preferable. Whenever she wants, she just leaves. And the gemora in Sanhedrin 21A, quoted by the Vilna Gaon in the beginning of the Laws of Kiddushin in Shulchan Aruch, clearly states that people may marry a Pilegesh without making Kiddushin.

Thus, I would not necessarily tell a woman who is positive she can maintain her life with a bad husband forever, with never violating the Torah and making an invalid GET or no GET, to marry not with Kiddushin but with Pilegesh. Having said that, another side of me says that today things are bad, and in ten years, they will be much worse, and in twenty years, very, very bad. That is what is happening today. If so, I would really be happy if no woman marries with Kiddushin, because who knows?

We have two major poskim who strongly suggest marrying with Pilegesh. One is the Ramban and the other is Reb Yaacov Emden, son of the Chacham Tsvi. The Ramban states clearly that Pilegesh is permitted, period. He even claims that the Rambam agreed with him if the Pilegesh marries as husband and wife, not zenuce chas vishalom.  The other person is Reb Yaacov Emden, who is very strong about encouraging Pilegesh, but for different reasons. He maintains that many people need the freedom to marry a Pilegesh, for various reasons. His approach is that Pilegesh can save many people from many terrible sins and problems.

My great fear today of women stuck in marriages done with Kiddushin is rooted in the reality that today major rabbis, the biggest names, are encouraging many women to remarry without a kosher GET and thus have children who are mamzerim. The count of mamzerim is going to rise more and more and the only hope is Pilegesh. Pilegesh is the only way to solve the problem of making mamzerim with invalid Gittin. Unless the husband dies

Thursday, July 20, 2017

WOMEN and the TORAH



Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn


The strangest teaching in the Talmud is the battle between HaShem and the Moon.[1] But let us begin from the Beginning. “In the Beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.” The term for G‑d is ELOKIM, which in Kabbala, refers to the Female Force of Strong Justice. The entire first biblical section dealing with the Creation refers to HaShem in the word ELOKIM, which is the female Kabbalistic level. Only later, when the Torah begins once again the story of Creation, and repeats much of what was done earlier, does the Torah refer to G-d as HaShem Elokim, both the Male (HaShem) and Female (Elokim) Names for heaven. Male is “kindness” and Female is “justice.”
ELOKIM, the term for justice, is a dangerous level. If there is ELOKIM or strong justice, when people sin they can receive strong punishment very quickly. People who are perfectly righteous have no fear of strong justice, but how many perfectly righteous people are there in the world? On the other hand, we must establish at the story of Creation the great value of a world based upon obeying HaShem in a serious manner. On the other hand, such a level can destroy the world, because we know that most people are not ready for it. Therefore, there were two sections of the Creation story. First, that G‑d wanted more than anything the Perfectly Righteous who certainly are important to the Creation. On the other hand, most people are not on that level and can be swept away by such standards. Therefore, for most people, it was necessary to introduce a strong measure of kindness and mercy to offset strong and rigid justice. That is why the first section of the Creation story mentions only ELOKIM for G‑d, to emphasize the importance of being in constant fear of heaven. But the second section of the Creation story deals with reality, that most people are not ready for this, and need a lot of kindness and mercy, along with their constant effort at penitence which they hope will be accepted.
Now we come to the next phase of the Creation story, when things begin to heat up. HaShem created the Sun and Moon at the time of Creation. The Sun and the Moon, as you notice, begin with Capital letters, Sun and Moon, to indicate that we are not talking about the ball of fire which is the sun that we see every day, and we are not talking about the moon, which we see most of the lunar month. We, at the beginning of Creation, are talking about a talking Moon. Not only did the Moon talk, it said outrageous things, and began an argument with HaShem that became “the strangest teaching in the Talmud” as I mentioned before. Obviously, the Sun and Moon were angelic and even higher, because an angel would never talk back to HaShem as the Moon did.
But higher than angels we don’t know about, so let us explain that the Sun and the Moon were angels or angelic. So how did the Moon talk back to G‑d when no angel would do it? Because there are some angels created at the time of Creation to prepare the world for the bad things that go on in the world, such as Chutspah and even much worse things. That is one idea. But the real answer is that the Moon when arguing with HaShem did not step over the line into any kind of wickedness. The proof is that HaShem demoted the Moon but said, “I will bring an atonement for demoting the Moon.”

What Did the Moon Say to HaShem?


What outrageous things did the Moon say to HaShem? The Moon demanded that “two kings cannot share a throne.” In other words, the Sun and Moon were like kings, and at that time, the luminance in both of them was enormous, and both were equals. The Moon demanded that there not be two “kings” shining great light upon the world. The Moon should be the great light and the Sun a small and diminished light.
The Sun ignored all of this, but the Moon pushed forward with her demands. To make a long story short, finally HaShem told the Moon that she would not drive the Sun away from his great luminance, and furthermore, she would have to shrink, and become the Moon that we know, which is a tiny sliver of shining rock most of the month.
Perhaps we think that HaShem did this because He appreciated the modesty of the Sun who did no pushing or demanding. If so, HaShem “gave the Moon a spanking” and that would be that. But here we find that the Talmud quotes HaShem saying, “bring for Me a sacrifice because I made the Moon small.” HaShem should bring a sacrifice because He insisted that the Moon with her demands be rejected? That is the strangest statement I ever saw in the Talmud. And it requires an explanation.
To understand this, we must turn to the story of Purim, when Mordechai treated Haman, the second most powerful person in the Persian Empire, with disdain. The Jews in Persia were terrified to see a Jew antagonize the powerful Haman. But the miracle end of the story was that King Achashverush became infuriated with Haman during a royal meal with the King and Esther. Haman was killed there and the King made Mordechai his new second in command. This led the Jews to great power in Persia. But how could Mordechai risk the lives of all of the Jews when he antagonized Haman in direct contradiction to the royal ruling that everyone had to honor Haman? It would seem that the many Jews who rebuked Mordechai for this were right.
Here we see the power of a perfectly righteous Jew. Mordechai knew that Haman wore pagan medallions so people would bow to them. Technically, bowing to a   great officer who wore pagan medals was not necessarily a sin, because the bowing was to the officer a royal personage, not to pagan medallions. But Mordechai was a perfect Tsadik, and refused to enter the realm of bowing to somebody who sported pagan idolatry. There is a Torah for people who are not perfectly righteous, and a Torah for the perfectly righteous. The perfectly righteous have no fear of Haman. They keep the Torah and HaShem will protect them. And so it was.
What has that to do with the Moon and HaShem’s decision to atone for defying her? As follows: The Moon, represented by the Name Elokim, meaning rigid justice, taught perfection of the Jew in this world. Mordechai was what she was. He thus had no fear that if he refused to bow to Haman and his idols he would suffer. And he did not. Just the opposite. From that bowing came Haman’s discomfiture predicted by Haman’s friends and family. And then came Haman’s death by the anger of the King.
But the moon wanted the whole world to be perfect! She refused to accept any level of evil! Therefore, she argued that she, not the male Sun, should dominate. The Sun was the male level of kindness, and it represented a world where people did sin, did penitence, and continued on with their lives. The Sun represented a world of sin, not a world of perfection. And the Moon fought against this. Because every level of sin is a Chilul HaShem, a disgrace for Heaven.
If so, the Moon was right, that any sin defiles the purity of G-d’s world, and must be opposed. And G-d admitted that the Moon had a point, that sin has no place when the Divine Presence observes what is happening in the world. Surely, the world was not ready for the perfection desired by the Moon, but when we accept that, we realize that to accept this we demote the Moon, who had the right idea, that never should there be in G‑d’s world people walking around with their sins. And HaShem, who designed an imperfect world, one filled with sin, “atoned” for this by bringing, as if it could be, a sacrifice of atonement. Thus, sin is wrong, and we desire purity. But the world is filled with people sinning, and we don’t want to destroy all of them. But to accept such a world requires an obligation to recognize that the ideal is no sin, or the level of the Moon.

Male and Female, Sun and Moon

We thus understand the Sun and the Moon as Male and Female, also, as Kindness and Strict Justice. The world by day has a blazing sun and by night a tiny moon, invisible some times during the month, and at best, reaching a full shine in the middle of the month. This brings us to a great problem.
We explained before that G‑d recognized the importance of a pure world, represented by the Moon. And yet, He made the Sun the powerful luminance. But the Sun represented a world of sinning, penitence (hopefully), and people maybe dying with their sins uncleansed. The Moon represented a pure world, ideally of people like Mordechai, a perfect Tsadik. But the Moon was tiny and insignificant relative to the Sun. Is this not a problem?
The Book of Shir HaShirim, Song of Songs, is about this problem, the denigration of the female by G‑d who promotes therefore a lot of sinning people walking around the world, which is a disgrace to heaven. Then G‑d declares this sinful and, as if it could be, blames Himself for this!
The Book of Shir HaShirim begins as follows: “A Song of Songs of Shlomo. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, because your love is better than wine. The fragrance of your good oil, your name is poured oil, that is why the maidens love you. Pull me after you, and we will run. The king should bring me to his dwelling, we will celebrate and rejoice with you.  We will remember your love greater than wine, those who go in the proper path love you.
“I am black and I am beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kador as the dwellings of Solomon. Do not look at me that I am very  black, because the sun has blackened me, the sons of my mother turned against me, they made me someone who guards the vineyards, but my vineyard I did not guard.”
This passage is in keeping with the story of the Moon and the Sun. The Sun is the blazing luminance, and the Moon is for the night, barely noticed much of the time. And yet, the Moon declares, “I am black and I am beautiful.” How can that be? Because if HaShem flung her from her wish to be the sole great luminance in the world to being a barely noticed rock in the sky, if this is HaShem’s wish, it cannot be anything less than beautiful.
The morning prayers begin with Baruch Sheomar, followed immediately by Mizmor Lisoda. The Shulchan Aruch[2] says that all of the songs of King David do not come to the level of Mizmor Lisoda, which seems to be nothing more than all of the other songs of King David. And nobody explains what is so important about Mizmor LiSoda, which seems, as we mentioned, just like all of the other Psalms of King David.
I asked this question to Torah scholars and finally, I came up with an answer. In this world, I said, all Jews suffer and immediately mention that if HaShem wanted this it must be for the good. Now, that is what they say and that may be even what they, to some degree, think. But the thinking that suffering is good is only a religious faith, not something that people really know, because how could they know it? Therefore, all acceptance of suffering is a low level, relative to Mizmor LiSoda, which is the higher level when we merit, miraculously, to really know that our suffering is completely for our own good! Again, Mizmor LiSoda represents the ability to actually know that our suffering is for our own good, not as an act of faith which we don’t really know. I don’t know who merits this, but whoever does it is way ahead of those who merely accept G‑d’s goodness with religious faith.
This is the story of male and female, the Sun and the Moon. In this world, we see only “I am black and beautiful” but the black doesn’t go away and returns as “Do not look at me as I am very black because the sun has blackened me.” What happened to “and beautiful”? It remains, in this world, an act of faith. But the time will come when G‑d reveal the secrets of suffering, and why women are denigrated in this world, and how this denigration itself is the secret of the very great glory the female and the Moon merit.
On the one hand, in this world, the man recites a blessing “who has not made me a woman.” On the other hand, the gemora in Berochose says that Greater is the trust that HaShem has for women than what He has for men.” Women in this world are “black” and their beauty is not readily understood. But HaShem, and the women themselves, understand that the Moon, with all of her “minimize yourself” is very close to HaShem, who values the greatness of the Jewish woman, with her suffering, her “blackness” in this world, and challenges, knowing that the woman has the ability to be denigrated by the “Sun” and remain faithful to HaShem. She also knows that HaShem appreciates her faith. In fact, her faith in this world equals the level of Mizmor LiSoda in the other world, where people not just believe that their suffering was for their own good, but see it miraculously! The men cannot readily attain this level in this world therefore the gemora says that the level of faith women have is greater than the level of men. [3]
Furthermore, there is a gemora in Menochose[4] that few men merit the truly high level of heaven. There is a place for women in this world, full of challenge and pain. This is like the Jewish people, who suffer more than the nations of the world, and precisely this guarantees them a high place in the other world. But in this world, filled with very great problems for the women, the woman merit more than men to what the gemora refers to as the trust that HaShem has in the greatness and belief of women, and that this exceeds HaShem’s trust in the belief of men. We have quoted the Book of Shir HaShirim with its sad comments about women. Now, let us take a look into the female in Kabbala.

The Female in Kabbala

We have mentioned before the great trust that HaShem has in women in this world, and that it exceeds His trust in men. We also credited this with the great challenges that women, not men, have in this world. Let us now look into the higher world, and see how women fare there. Now, we don’t know how individual people fare there, but we will speak Kabbalistically. Just as the Sun and Moon were “male” and “female” so we will speak of the Ten Sefirose or Divine Emanations that comprise the Kabbalistic world. The bottom of these ten is MALCHUSE which is lower than others, has more evil and suffering in it than other Sefirose, and is known as the Female level.
Let us now talk about the high ten Kabbalistic worlds. The highest world is KESER (crown) and the lowest world is MALCHUSE (monarchy). KESER is a world we may not refer to in any way, because it is utterly beyond our mortal understanding. Just as a crown is above the body of the king or person who wears it, so is the ability to understand KESER beyond us completely. The lowest world MALCHUSE (monarch) is the closest to mortal understanding. There we find evil and problems that do not exist in the highest holy dimensions, but they do exist in MALCHUSE.
The world underneath KESER is CHOCHMO (wisdom). CHOCHMO is also a completely hidden world, but not like KESER. We are privileged to know something about CHOCHMO, that it exists. But nothing more. This does not extend to KESER, where even that is hidden from us. Of course, we know that KESER exists, but since we are completely ignorant of KESER, we don’t really know what exists, having absolutely no idea of what it is. But of CHOCHMO we are not so remote and we may know something about it, that it exists, and we may even have some idea of what its existence means. Keser is the highest and first level. Then comes Chochmo or Father, and then comes Bina or Mother, number three. Now, Bina or Mother is far removed from Father, because between them is a barrier that separates the very high unknown world of holiness with the seven lower worlds where things exist that we do understand. But the worlds of one and two Sefirose are completely hidden from us, including BINA or MOTHER, who are separated from these two dimensions. Father, number two, is married to BINA or MOTHER, number three. And yet, BINA is far removed from the hidden holy world of One and Two, Keser and Chochmo. Thus, CHOCHMO is closer to us, even though it is like KESER comprised of such holiness that we are completely remote from understanding what it is. Of Keser we know absolutely nothing of what it is.
 We must add that “Father and Mother were created simultaneously” and that they will never separate. That brings Father or CHOCHMO into our ability to get some idea what CHOCHMO is. And yet, we are still at the stage of knowing him only as one who exists, without understanding what it means to exist in such a high level so close to HaShem.
Now we return to MALCHUSE the bottom level with its suffering and evil and of course a lot of holiness as well, as befits a Sefiro closely connected to the highest heavens.

MALCHUSE AND KESER

Because we on earth, a very low world, are closest to MALCHUSE and very remote from KESER, we can appreciate MALCHUSE with its suffering and its evil even though it is a holy Sefira also. What we find difficult to understand is that MALCHUSE has an extremely close relationship with KESER. How can that be? But yet, MALCHUSE and KESER are so close that they flip up and down sometimes!
Reb Moshe Chaim Lutsato one of the very greatest Kabbalists, writes (ADIR BAMOROM page 119 in my volume) that “MALCHUSE RISES TO KESER”. He has a discussion of what this means and part of it is a statement about KESER MALCHUSE that they are somehow united as one. Let us stop here, but we see that MALCHUSE, the female level, rises to KESER and is intimately involved with KESER. And recall that CHOCHMO which is underneath KESER is married to MOTHER beneath him. But KESER above CHOCHMO is very closely involved with MALCHUSE, the bottom Sefira!
We cannot help but notice that ladies in that world are very high. This encourages us especially when we recall what we said about ladies in this world. We quoted the gemora that ladies are trusted to serve G‑d and believe in Him more than He believes in men. This surely fits in with MALCHUSE, the female, rising to KESER, but CHOCHMO fears and trembles from KESER and shrinks from KESER.
Now, since we are talking about Kabbala, let’s leave it at that. It is enough to make people proud of women. And it is also enough to let us admit that more than that we don’t really understand, but, that is plenty!




[1] Chulin 60B – the Moon demanded that she become greater than the Sun and G‑d made her less than the Sun. She then argued with G‑d who finally ruled, “Go and make yourself small.” Then G‑d decreed that a sacrifice would be brought for His “sin” of making the Moon small.
[2] Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 51:9 – One should recite Mizmor LiSoda with a tune, because all songs will in the future be negated with the exception of Mizmor LiSoda.
[3] Gemora Berochose 17A based upon a passage in Yeshayo the Prophet 32:9 “Comfortable women, hear my voice; women who trust [in G‑d] hearken to my words.”
[4] 29B – Why was the Higher World created with a YUD [a tiny letter] because very few tsaddikim merit to come there.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Jeremy Stern invents the Shulchan Aruch and makes mamzerim

The Halacha of Gittin and ORA’s

Mamzerim

 

By Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn

Blog www.torahhalacha.blogspot.com


Shalom, I am Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn. My blog mentioned above presents halacha with sources. We show that many people involved with Gittin don’t know halacha. They therefore invent reasons to force a GET and torture husbands that violate the Shulchan Aruch. These mistakes create invalid Gittin and eventually mamzerim. Here is an example of Rabbi Jeremy Stern speaking to YU seniors, encouraging people to do things that produce mamzerim. Let us see how.

 

 

 

First, the effort by Stern in regular text. My comments and criticism of Stern are in bold italics, with sources from Shulchan Aruch and Rishonim and Acharonim.

 

 

Rabbi Jeremy Stern, of ORA, Speaks to Seniors

By admin On May 24, 2013

by Shlomo Anapolle (’13)

This past Thursday, Rabbi Jeremy Stern from ORA, the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, delivered a presentation to Seniors regarding a major issue facing our community, the issue of Agunot. There are two ways that a woman can become an Agunah. One is when her husband withholds a […]  [My critical comment – Why is Jeremy Stern permitted to address the seniors of Yeshiva University about Gittin, which is a very sensitive and crucial halacha that belongs with people who have intense knowledge of halacha and have studied under Gedolei HaDor. We will show that his entire program is based upon not halacha but emotional and perhaps false sources. And why is it that only Jeremy Stern is allowed to speak to YU seniors about his opinions? I feel it is only proper that rabbis who know what they are talking about be allowed to talk to the seniors at YU. And if not, we will continue with our war with Jeremy Stern and classify it as a war against all those who honor Stern and establish programs for him to spread his lies. Yes, this is war. It is not against Jeremy Stern who is a young man in YU where people approve of his lies. It is a war against YU itself for their encouraging him.]

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by Shlomo Anapolle (’13)

This past Thursday, Rabbi Jeremy Stern from ORA, the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, delivered a presentation to Seniors regarding a major issue facing our community, the issue of Agunot. There are two ways that a woman can become an Agunah. One is when her husband withholds a Get from her, and she is then not able to remarry. The more classical one, found in the Gemara, is when a man disappears and it is unclear whether or not he has died. For example, if a man traveled overseas by ship, fell overboard, and was not found after that. Because there is a degree of doubt  as to whether or not he survived, then his wife may not remarry because he may still be alive. Today, most of the Agunot cases fall under the first category. Rabbi Stern presented us with two current examples of this type of case: Steve Scher from Roanoke, Virginia and Aharon Friedman from Silver Spring, MD. [My critical comment. Aharon Friedman is backed by the Beth Din of Baltimore. His wife is a tramp who remarried without a GET. If she has a child from the other man the child will be a mamzer. And Jeremy Stern feels that the evil one is not the tramp lady whose wealthy mother spend big money so gangsters since arrested by the police would beat up Aharon Friedman. The evil one is Aharon Stern who has strong support from the Baltimore Beth Din. May I ask what Beth Din backs Jeremy Stern? Is it the YU personality who suggested beating up husbands and perhaps worse things, and who suggested killing a senior Israeli official because he wanted to make peace with the Arabs in Israel?]

Regarding both cases, we heard and saw conversations and demonstrations organized against these husbands in order to try and pressure them to give a Get. However, both have been still been withholding for close to 10 years now, as these issues are very hard to deal with, and require much pressure to make the husbands cave in. [My critical comment. “We heard and saw conversations and demonstrations organized against these husbands in order to try and pressure them to give a GET”. Demonstrations against a husband are designed to force him to give a GET. But such a forced GET is forbidden in the Shulchan Aruch. See Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer chapter 77 par 2-3. All of the poskim forbid forcing a GET, the Shulchan Aruch Beis Yosef, the Ramo, the Vilna Gaon, the Beis Shmuel and the Chelkas Mechokake, with no exceptions. The source for these forbidding a forced GET is the Rashbo in teshuva volume VII:414 who describes different husbands when the wife demanded a GET and says that we never force the husband to divorce his wife. What is Jeremy’s source to permit forcing a husband to give a GET? Who does he have who disagree with the Rashbo, and all of the authors and commentators of the Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer?]

Rabbi Stern then provided a modern day solution: a halachic prenuptial agreement. He showed us two examples of these documents, which are legally binding in the secular court system as well. The document requires the husband to pay the wife $150 per day from the day they separate until he gives her the Get. Rabbi Stern told us that 100% of the couples that have signed this agreement and have needed a divorce have given the Get and not had to pay.

To quote Rabbi Stern, “The reason one would make this type of agreement is to show to his wife-to-be that because he loves her so much, he doesn’t want there to be the possibility of hurting her down the line in case of disagreements.” Therefore, Rabbi Stern encouraged all of us to spread the word about this prenuptial agreement and help and make it a standard in our communities.

[My critical comment. If the prenup is kosher, why is it not mentioned at all in the Shulchan Aruch? Who mentions it anywhere? Somebody did dig deeply to find somebody, anybody, who believes in a prenup. It seems he found a source where a major Torah personality believed in prenups. The source is Nachalas Shiva (page 33 in my volume), a very prominent Sefer from a prominent Gaon of the past generations. There is written that if a wife is mistreated by her husband until she flees from him to her father’s house, the couple must come to Beth Din to straighten things out. If the Beth Din is not immediately available so that the wife must tarry a while in the father’s house, the husband must give her each month she is away from him a certain amount of money to cover the cost of her food at her father’s house. When the Beth Din enters the picture the wife will return to the house and everything will be straightened out.

            Question: Is this a prenup?  Is this a document that can force the husband to give a GET? Nobody in this case mentions a word about a GET. So this is surely not a source for a prenup. It is a source for paying for the wife’s food in her father’s house, until she is rescued by the Beth Din and returns to her home, as the Beth Din will not tolerate the husband mistreating her as he well knows. Thus, this is not a prenup that is designed to force a GET. It is a document to prevent a GET and save a marriage. This is not a prenup that produces for the wife huge sums of money that the husband cannot pay and must therefore give a GET. It is a document to pay a few dollars for a meals and it will end its payments when the Beth Din straightens thing out and the wife is back in the house.]

            Jeremy Stern writes, “The document requires the husband to pay the wife $150 per day from the day they separate until he gives her the Get. Rabbi Stern told us that 100% of the couples that have signed this agreement and have needed a divorce have given the Get and not had to pay.” [My comments on this: $150 a day is $4500 a month. In ten months it will be $45,000. In twenty months it will be #90,000. This the husband cannot pay. So he gives a GET. Is this similar to the case of the Nachlas Shiva? There the payment to the wife was only to cover her food in her father’s house, until the Beth Din takes over the case. Her food is surely not $150 a day. Jeremy notes that in all cases of those who signed a prenup the husband caved in and gave a GET. He was forced by the money involved. But paying for a wife’s food for a few weeks until the Beth Din takes over the case does not force a GET. Furthermore, the Nachlas Shiva’s case is seeking to return the wife to the husband to make Shalom. Jeremy’s case is the wife seeking to break the husband and force a GET. Therefore, we have no source anywhere to advertise as Jeremy does that all men should give prenups that will force them to give a GET immediately or any time when the wife demands a GET.

Furthermore, in Kesubose 63b Rabbeinu Tam proves that a woman cannot force a GET on her husband because if she could just get up and demand a GET and get rid of her husband we cannot believe her because “we fear that she wants to get rid of her husband and marry another man.” If so, since the prenup allows the woman to get rid of her husband whenever she so desires and marry somebody else, we cannot believe her in the first place. Thus, a prenup does not work as it is a forbidden document, because it is  forbidden to give the woman the power to force a GET and banish her husband so she can marry somebody else.

See Nedorim 90B that in earlier times a woman  could go to Beth Din and say that she has sinned with another man and thus may not be with her husband, and was believed and the husband had to give a GET. But later Beth Dins refused to believe her as they feared that she had the power to remove her husband and banish him and marry somebody else. We in latter generations suspect women of being ready to enable themselves to force the husband out of the house and then remarry a new husband. Because of this fear that she will banish her husband and take another husband, we refuse to believe her claims that could destroy the marriage. Thus, all prenups that can drive the husband out of the house and allow the wife to remarry are not acceptable, and the wife is not believed or empowered to use one. Again, a prenup is against this Mishneh and the pesak of Rabbeinu Tam in Kesubose mentioned before that “we fear that she has an interest in another man” and wants a GET from her husband to remarry. So prenups and claims that were once accepted that ended the marriage are no longer accepted, no matter what.

The Bottom Line from me, Dovid Eidensohn, is that a lot of people want to help women force a GET. I don’t blame Jeremy for starting this. I do however ask him personally to do what the other disciple of Hershel Schechter did, to check out my sources, and if they are clearly telling us that forcing a GET is forbidden, I want Jeremy to think about whether he wants to continue. And if he has found a source for his forcing of a GET, I ask him to please inform me of it.


Incidentally, the fellow who told me that Hershel Schechter quoted Gedaliah Schwartz as a source for forcing husbands to give a GET didn’t impress me. I once spoke to Gedaliah Schwartz and asked him why an Orthodox couple married in an Orthodox ceremony with Kiddushin and Chupa was sent away by him with no GET. He replied, “Because there was no Biah (marital intimacy).” Now, in my Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer the laws of Kiddushin 26:4 it says “A woman becomes married in three ways, with monetary value [like a ring] or with a document of marriage, or with Biah.” Each of these creates marriage without the other two. The Gedolim in their teshuva seforim discuss men giving a woman a gift and saying they are married, that this alone could create Kiddushin. Whoever doesn’t know this should not deal with Gittin.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Problems with Kiddushin and Hope with Pilegesh


By Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn

Contents


Kiddushin and Pilegesh


It is known that in the life of a Torah child and family, the greatest happiness is often the marriage of a child, especially a woman, who comes to the wedding with exquisite gowns and jewelry. It is appropriate for a woman to feel special about the marriage day. The gemora and the poskim tell us that a man must love his wife as he loves himself and honor her more than himself.[1] A good marriage is about a husband constantly thinking of ways to honor his wife more than himself. The Torah tells us that a man upon marriage should “make his wife rejoice.” Rashi and the Zohar[2] note that the command is not for the husband to rejoice in marriage “with the wife” but to “make her rejoice” meaning, if it is hard for the husband to give all to make his wife happy, he is doing things properly.  But if he goes about his marriage as a partnership, and he is only willing to go so far in his kindness to his wife as she goes for him, that is wrong, and the marriage is not going in the right direction.[3]
Thus, marriage, at least the beginning of marriage, is ideally an opportunity for the wife to be the center of attention, and the husband is careful to make her happy even if it is hard for him. We have come so far talking about the beginning of the marriage, the first day or so, and of course the first year is also special, and hopefully, afterwards as well. If things go well the first day and the first year, and the husband really trains himself to please his wife, and she reciprocates his love for her, that is a winning combination. But the reality is, especially today, that marriages are not always as smooth and lovely as we wish. In fact, the topic of our discussion here is about when things go wrong, and the marriage does not work out well. We are even discussing here what happens when the wife is fed up with her husband, and yes, sometimes she wants a divorce. But according to the Torah, the man has the power to control giving the GET, or ending the marriage. If he does not give his wife a GET willingly, she is not free of him.
If she finds some rabbi who encourages her to get people to pressure the husband to give her a GET against his will, that GET is invalid. If she remarries with it, an invalid GET, and has children from the next husband, there is a problem of the children born from an invalid GET to be mamzerim. But to stay married to someone she cannot stand is also terrible. Thus, the situation with Kiddushin can begin in a lovely matter, but it can end terribly. What is a woman to do?
Let us be honest. Kiddushin is a problem for women, and it could be a problem even for men, although we are emphasizing now about the problems for women. We know that the majority of Orthodox women marry with Kiddushin, maybe nearly all of them. But what happens when the marriage sours? Rather, is there any way to avoid the crisis of a woman desperate to leave her husband when he is not interested in her leaving? One idea is for the husband to promise to divorce her at a certain time, but he could change his mind, and there is nothing she can do about it. She could refuse to marry at all, but what kind of life is that? It is even a sin to refuse to marry, because people have biological forces that cause sins in one not married. No, the truth is, that Kiddushin is a major problem, with all of its glitter and glory. Increasingly, people find the worst problems from Kiddushin.
There is, however, a solution. But like many solutions, you have to think slowly and carefully into this solution. It may be for you and it may have problems. The solution is to marry without Kiddushin that gives the man the power to control the marriage and the wife’s happiness, and to marry with something known as Pilegesh. Pilegesh is a marriage discussed in the gemora Sanhedrin 21A and the Shulchan Aruch in the beginning of the laws of Kiddushin. The Ramban enthusiastically embraces Pilegesh, and says that the Rambam also accepts it, as long as the couple marries in a serious manner, that is, not as zenuse. A couple committed to marriage, even one without Kiddushin, but as Pilegesh, are married in a kosher matter. It is not only kosher, but it saves the problems of Kiddushin, because the husband and wife, if they see the marriage as a problem, can simply end it, with no penalties at all.
I know some women who married as Pilegesh and they were happy with it. Some had big problems with Kiddushin and were advised that the next marriage should be Pilegesh, and they were very happy with Pilegesh.
And yet, there is definitely a negative feeling in marrying with Pilegesh, at least, in some people. What I say to these people is to understand that if there is a Kiddushin marriage and it fails, and the woman goes to a rabbi who violates the Torah and forces the husband to divorce her, her next children will be mamzerim. Now, can Pilegesh be worse than mamzerim? No. That usually convinces people, but not all people.
I have actually dealt with people who feel that better mamzeruth than Pilegesh. Well, the children born from the Kiddushin marriage that produces mamzerim will not agree, not after they become mamzerim. So how can anyone believe that Pilegesh is worse than mamzeruth? Again, Pilegesh marriage, assuming it is a true marriage and not zenuse, is a completely valid thing, backed by gedolei hadorose, such as Ramban and even Rambam if there is no zenuse but a real marriage. Pilegesh is discussed in the very beginning of the Laws of Kiddushin in the Shulchan Aruch. The Vilna Gaon there quotes the gemora in Sanhedrin 21A that Pilegesh is without Kiddushin and without Kesubo, but it is viable, again, as long as it is a real marriage.
I know people who had problems with Kiddushin, men and women, and who are interested in Pilegesh. But it is a new thing and few people do it today, so that itself is a problem for many people. I understand that. What I don’t understand is the people who tell me strongly that Pilegesh is worse than mamzeruth. What world do they live in? Pilegesh is not a sin and mamzeruth is a sin and the worst pain for a child and for the parents. Who can say such a thing that Pilegesh is worse than mamzeruth? But I repeat that somebody who thinks carefully, will realize that making mamzerim from your children is much worse than marrying with Pilegesh.
I also maintain that a woman who marries with Kiddushin, must realize the danger she is in. Perhaps the husband will not be what she wants, and there is no escape other than the death of the husband. Of course, she could find a “rabbi” who tells her to disobey the Torah and force the husband to divorce her. But if she does that, children born from her second marriage will be likely mamzerim.
We have thus concluded the first section of our discussion of Pilegesh. The next section will be about the laws of Pilegesh and how to arrange a Pilegesh marriage in practical terms.

Pilegesh in Halacha

 We begin with the gemora in Sanhedrin 21A quoted by the Vilna Gaon in his commentary to the beginning of the Laws of Kiddushin in Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer. A Pilegesh has no Kiddushin and no Kesubo. What then are the laws of Pilegesh?
A major source to permit Pilegesh is from the Ramban. The Ramban is found in the volume of the Teshuvose of the Rashbo entitled “Responsa of the Rashbo that seem to be from the Ramban.” Let us explain what this means. The Rashbo has many volumes as he was one of the greatest codifiers and poskim. One of those volumes is known as Meyucheses meaning, it is included as a volume written by the Rashbo, but actually, it is from the Ramban. Let us explain this a bit. The volume called Meyucheses is classified as being from the Rashbo, but at least two teshuvose are clearly not from the Rashbo but from the Ramban. These are responsas number 283 and 284. Both of these teshuvose are clearly marked as being not from the Rashbo but from the Ramban. Many other teshuvose in this volume are not marked as being from the Ramban, and they are generally included with the other responsas of the Rashbo, although at least two of the Teshuvose ascribed to the Rashbo are definitely from the Ramban and not the Rashbo, as stated before. Again, the other of the 288 teshuvose in this volume are not clearly marked as being from the Ramban, which would seemingly indicate that they are not from the Ramban, but from somebody else, maybe the Rashbo. But the two responses that are clearly marked as being from the Ramban, these two are surely from the Ramban. Responsa 284 is about Pilegesh. Let us see what the Ramban says about Pilegesh.
It is a long teshuva but let us take a few passages that clarify exactly what Pilegesh means and what Kiddushin means. It seems that Kiddushin means that the woman the husband marries with kiddushin becomes his wife, as if he has acquired her. The Pilegesh does not have this aspect, and she is not acquired by the husband. Thus, in Kiddushin, since the wife is acquired by the husband through the Kiddushin, she may not leave him without his permission, such as when he gives her a GET or dies. Pilegesh, on the other hand, does not confer upon the husband the right to claim that the woman is acquired by him. She can therefore leave whenever she wants, as can the husband.
The second law the Ramban discusses about Kiddushin and Pilegesh is that in Kiddushin the woman who is sanctified by the Kiddushin becomes forbidden to everyone other than her husband. The Pilegesh is not forbidden to everyone other than the husband as the Kiddushin woman is forbidden. That is, if a woman is married with Kiddushin and has relations with a strange man, she is forbidden to return to her husband, and she is forbidden to be ever again with the strange man she slept with. The Ramban says that Pilegesh does not have this rule, but he does not state clearly what this means. Does it mean that she can sleep with her husband and other men? It surely doesn’t mean that, because this is not marriage but the opposite. What I understand from this is that in Kiddushin the husband acquires her which means that no man other than the husband is ever allowed to sleep with the wife of the husband who made Kiddushin to acquire her. A Pilegesh does not have this acquiring in the sense that the husband acquires her and has power over her to forbid her to be with other men. Now a Pilegesh surely is forbidden to go with men not her husband. But it is not because the husband acquires her as he acquires a Kiddushin wife. It is rather because a Pilegesh must be careful not to turn her relationship with the husband into Zenuse, or prostitution. If the wife of the Pilegesh husband goes around sleeping with other men she has violated the sanctity of marriage for Pilegesh, and Rambam would consider her a sinner because she acted with zenuse.
The third level discussed by Ramban is that Pilegesh is not Mekudesh [sanctified with Kiddushin] as is the woman who is sanctified with Kiddushin. Again, it is not clear what this means. Possibly, it means that a woman who accepts Kiddushin is somewhat sanctified by it, but Pilegesh has no sanctity similar to Kiddushin. She and he her husband must honor their marriage and not run around with zenuse, but she has no sanctity bordering on Kiddushin.  What we gain from this is that a woman with Kiddushin must deal with her elevated status of holiness not to leave the husband without his permission, etc., but the Pilegesh has no such elevated status that forces the Pilegesh to be acquired by the husband, etc., as mentioned above. Despite this, the Pilegesh woman is obligated to honor marriage with one husband, otherwise she sins with zenuse and the husband must drive her from the house as we see later.
The Ramban then says that even though the Rambam in the Laws of Kings says that Pilegesh is permitted only to a king, the Ramban says this means that if one takes a woman as zenuse without marrying her, that is forbidden for somebody who is not a king, but one who takes a Pilegesh to marry her, Rambam agrees that a Pilegesh is permitted. Possibly a king who marries a Pilegesh does not fear that she will commit zenuse, because once the king takes her as a Pilegesh and surely if he has relations with her, nobody will go near here for zenuse, nor will anyone violate her marriage with the king out of fear of the king.
Another major backer of Pilegesh is Rav Yaacov Emden, son of the Chacham Tsvi. See his Teshuva sefer Shaalas Yayvetz II:15; at the end of the lengthy teshuvo there he writes how to do Pilegesh properly: “The husband must designate a room in his house for his wife the Pilegesh, and to warn her against ever being alone with any other man, and if he ever discovers that she sinned and was not careful, that he should immediately send her out of his house, and also he should command her to go to the Mikva regularly, and he should notify her that there is absolutely no shame in this. Also, he should clarify for her that children born from him are kosher children just like the meyuchesdika children in Jewish homes, so long as she guards her covenant and will be faithful to this man her husband, but not if she goes with other men to have zenuse with them. Because then her children are the products of zenuse. And she is a Kedaisho prostitute who deserves a punishment for every biah that she has with this man or any other man.”
We have covered basic halochose of Pilegesh. And now we come to understanding in practical terms the proper halacha applications and status of a Pilegesh marriage.

Proper Halacha Application and Status of a Pilegesh Marriage

Until now I have quoted various sources to explain why Pilegesh is permitted, and we have touched on various aspects of living as a Pilegesh. But now we want to go into a new area, so let me explain what it is.
As I mentioned above, most people marry with Kiddushin and few people marry with Pilegesh. This itself is a problem for those who marry with Pilegesh. For instance, Mr. A marries Mrs. B. as a Pilegesh. They live together for several years, and have children, but then decide to break up the marriage, which for a Pilegesh is basically simple. No GET is required. Permission of the husband is not required. Okay.
Now, let us imagine that Mrs. B. decides to leave her husband and maybe take some children elsewhere. One day somebody comes to her and asks her if she is interested in remarrying. She replies that she wants to know who the man is. So she is told who the man is. Then the shadchon asks the Pilegesh lady, “Can you show me a paper that you received a proper GET?” Mrs. B. never got a GET, because a Pilegesh doesn’t need a GET. But if she replies that she is a Pilegesh and doesn’t need a GET, people may not accept that. Very few people do become Pilegesh. So what does the Pilegesh lady do?
Another Pilegesh problem is mentioned in the section of the Shulchan Aruch that deals with Kiddushin marriage. The very beginning of that section deals with Pilegesh. One of the problems of Pilegesh is that she may be embarrassed to go to the Mikva to be cleansed of Nida. In fact, there is an opinion that forbids marrying a Pilegesh because she may be embarrassed to go to the Mikva, but consequently, if she is prepared to go to the Mikvah, which may have some embarrassment for her, she is permitted. But let us make a mental note of this, that if you are in a community with thousands of people who have Kiddushin and maybe five people have Pilegesh, some people, including the Pilegesh, may not understand or perhaps they will understand too well that they should be embarrassed! If we talk about people married with Pilegesh, we must deal with these issues. We don’t want women refusing to go to the Mikva, and we don’t want women attacked because they have no GET when they are Pilegesh who don’t need a GET.
Recall that our title of this section is Proper Halacha Application and Status of a Pilegesh Marriage. I want to present the following here: Proper Halacha Application and Status means dealing with Pilegesh people as human beings who are given some protection from similar problems that could crop up when somebody is different than most other people in any level of behavior especially in something as sensitive as marriage and having children. So what do I suggest?
One, I suggest that a couple that wants to marry as Pilegesh be trained by a rabbi who is prepared to explain all of the possible difficulties, and who is willing to work hard to find solutions to those problems.
Let us talk about the problem of going to the Mikva. Whose problem is this? It is the problem of the Rov who manages the couple who are Pilegesh. The Rov must find the proper Mikva. I know somebody who is very interested in Pilegesh and told me about a person who paid for an expert in constructing kosher Mikvas, even for ladies, and built such a Mikva. Now men use that Mikva during the day and women at night. Of course, there have to be men on duty by day and women on duty by night. But if the owner of the facility is willing to cooperate, it can be done.
Another solution is to find somewhere a place to build a Mikva, perhaps one for ladies. If the proper expert can be found, and be told that it is for ladies, who require a much more professional Mikva than the one for men, and he agrees to keep it kosher for ladies, we have achieved something. At any rate, there are always things that crop up and the Rov who helps out the Pilegesh people in his area has to be ahead of the game, but it can be done.

The Practical Rules of a Pilegesh


What do we mean by The Practical Rules of a Pilegesh? What it means to me is as follows: There are from the senior rabbis of the generations various teachings about being a Pilegesh. I personally would not want to utilize some of their ideas. I want a Pilegesh family to act like a very conservative family that will try to avoid anything that could somehow be construed as too liberal for people making a family.
Originally, I thought that a person who chooses Pilegesh must tell me that they are not confident that they could keep the laws of Kiddushin, which means essentially to give up one’s hopes for a normal marriage if the marriage sours and the husband won’t give a GET willingly. But if there is any doubt in the person if they would last a lifetime with no happiness in the marriage, then I would accept them as Pilegesh. And furthermore, if the person would tell me that if they take Kiddushin they feel they could give up their lives, but they nonetheless fear that maybe, if certain rabbis tell them to force a GET maybe they will listen and make a GET that is invalid and maybe make mamzerim, if they fear this, I would also give them Pilegesh. That is how I once thought. But today, when I see the great decline in the rabbis and how they encourage things that are plainly forbidden by the Torah, I see that encouraging Pilegesh must be done even if for somebody who won’t fear Kiddushin. Why? Because I fear it. And daily, things get worse out there with the rabbis. Very recently a prominent Rov called me from a far-off country about people in his area are marrying women without a GET. The same thing was publicized in the name of a very senior rabbi in a European country. It just keeps getting worse, HaShem Yerachem. So I feel that marrying with Pilegesh takes off a lot of fear and makes a lot of sense.
Anyone who wants to marry with Pilegesh would have to be trained in the laws of Pilegesh and how to behave properly. They must know the difficulties, such as what happens if the local Mikva doesn’t want to permit a Pilegesh to come there. I am not sure it won’t happen. At any rate, we must anticipate all of the potential problems and hopefully find solutions for them, before they marry as Pilegesh.
Ideally, if I was accepting people to become Pilegesh, I would prefer that several people, let us say me and two others who understand people, and the three of us would talk to the people involved and make sure that they are emotionally and mentally ready for Pilegesh. We would also have to find people who can do the detective work necessary to find out whatever we have to find out about the couple involved. Were they married before with Kiddushin? Did they have a kosher GET? Did they have a relationship with a Jewish person in a neighborhood where some Orthodox Jews lived and noticed this so that people may assume that this constitutes a real Kiddushin marriage? And we would want to establish classes for them in laws of Nida, kashruse, Shabbos, etc. Marrying with Pilegesh or something else doesn’t exempt a person from keeping the Torah.
Making classes and having a Mikva could run into money, and when the first few people become Pilegesh in a community it may not be practical to have to spend a lot of money. We can, however, only do what we can. And if we can find some people who realize the crucial need for Pilegesh, we may succeed. The difference between Pilegesh and Kiddushin is the difference between mamzerim and kosher Jews. Isn’t that worth something?

















[1] Yevomose 62b
[2] Devorim 24:5 – Rashi, Targum Unkeluse, Zohar דברים רעז:2
[3] Rashi and the Zohar are as stated before to make the wife rejoice, not himself. Rashi notes that ViSeemach [Seemach with a chirik] ess eeshto is translated “and he will make his wife rejoice” not himself. However, if the phrase would be “and he will rejoice with his wife” it should say, “Visomach [somach with a komets] ess eeshto” meaning, he will rejoice with his wife meaning both together. The problem is that the Targum Yonoson translates, “and he will rejoice with his wife.”  The gemora in Succa 28A says that Hillel had eighty students and that the greatest student was Yonasan ben Uziel and the most minor of the students was Yochanan ben Zackai.  Yochanan mastered the Torah as mentioned there, but Yonasan was greater. When he taught Torah, a bird that flew over him was burned by the fire of his learning. See Tosfose there. Perhaps we can refer to the gemora above that one should love his wife like himself and honor her more than himself. Perhaps if we refer to one’s love for his wife it should be equal, but he honors her more than himself. Thus when referring to love it is equal as he loves her as he loves himself. But when it comes to honor, he honors her above himself. Rashi thus can be talking about honoring the wife where he honors her more than himself. But Yonasan is talking about love, that they love equally.