Mamzer Scandal in Philadelphia
- Book:: Philly Scandal of Remarriage without a GET
- Shalom Bayis Beth Din - For All Ages
- Men and Women: Who is Superior? And the Moon Woman...
- Broken Marriages and Derech Erets Today
- Teshuva Created a Stable World
- Projects of Jewish Outreach Congregation
- Table of Contents
- Marital Intimacy
- BLOGS BY RABBI DOVID E. EIDENSOHN
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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My blog www.torahhalacha.blogspot.com
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Sunday, October 15, 2017
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. 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 Zoharnote 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.
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 Even Hoezer 26:1 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 a viable marriage, 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 when I promote Pilegesh they are at war with me. But when I tell them about Kiddushin making mamzerim, they are not at war with me. 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 feel 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 maybe he will refuse to divorce her willingly. If so, 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.
I want to make it clear that a woman who marries with Kiddushin must be aware of the potential problem if the marriage doesn’t work out well. In earlier generations when great Gedolim like Reb Aharon Kotler and Reb Moshe Feinstein were actively involved in all kinds of issues, nobody would dream of doing what so many people do today, to go to a “rabbi” and violate the Shulchan Aruch by forcing the husband to give a GET against his will, which will produce mamzerim if the wife remarries with such an invalid GET. Surely nobody would go further and do what “rabbis” throughout the world are doing today, to tell a woman to leave her husband and remarry with no GET at all. But today, without the giants of yesteryear, people including “rabbis” are not afraid to do what they want to do, and they know how to convince women to force the husband to give a GET or to even leave the husband with no GET. This is a major reason that I suggest Pilegesh today, because Kiddushin does not carry a guarantee that the woman will honor it and if she does not honor it, it could produce mamzerim. Surely better Pilegesh than 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.
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 26:1. 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 somewhat 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, unless he gives her a GET willingly 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 is sanctified by the Kiddushin and becomes forbidden to everyone other than her husband unless he dies or gives her a GET willingly. The Pilegesh married to a man her husband is forbidden to be with other men, as this is zenuse. But the Pilegesh husband doesn’t have power over the wife as does the Kiddushin husband. The Pilegesh husband does not “acquire” the Pilegesh wife.
A Pilegesh does not have this acquiring in the sense that the husband acquires her and has power over her. Now a Pilegesh surely is forbidden to go with men not her husband as long as they are married. 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. 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 lady is not “acquired” and can leave her husband whenever she wants to.
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 her 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.”
In Pilegesh marriage the wife must be faithful to her husband. But the husband may have more than one wife, or the Pilegesh wife and another wife. Nowadays it is rare to find a man with more than one wife but I am referring to the laws of Pilegesh. There the woman must be faithful to her husband but the husband is allowed to marry other women. Today, marrying more than one wife is a problem but in ancient times men did have the right to marry more than one woman. But the woman never had the right to marry more than one husband.
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.
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. 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 begins the laws of Kiddushin. 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 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 protected from problems that crop up when somebody is different than most other people. This is especially true 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. Of course, money is needed to build a Mikva. But many good things require money. 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.
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 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 who are marrying women without a GET. The same thing was publicized in the name of a 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? Do they plan after their Pilegesh marriage to live in a neighborhood where Orthodox Jews live? This is a problem because these Orthodox Jews may assume that they are married with Kiddushin. To avoid such a problem the rabbi who takes care of the Pilegesh family would want to notify the rabbis in the community that this family is Pilegesh. And we would want to establish classes for them in laws of Nida, kashruse, Shabbos, etc. Marrying with Pilegesh 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?
 Yevomose 62b
 Devorim 24:5 – Rashi, Targum Unkeluse, Zoharדברים רעז:2
 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.
1) a women who had a kosher divorce and remarried a second husband with a pe
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
1) A woman who (married with Kiddushin) had a (Kosher GET) divorce and remarried a second husband with a pilegesh marriage. Is she allowed to remarry her first husband if the second one died (or "divorced") her?
Dovid Eidensohn – A Kiddushin married and divorced woman who then marries again somebody else with Kiddushin and gets a GET may not return to her first Kiddushin husband. This is a specific law for a woman who married twice with Kiddushin, but if she married once with Kiddushin and then with zenuce or Pilegesh, she may go back to her first husband. Here are some sources of these laws.
See Even Hoezer 10:1 in Ramo and Bahare Haiteev 2: A Pilegesh leaves her husband and marries with Kiddushin, is divorced and then returns to husband. This is permitted. See there Even Hoezer 10:1 – A woman is married with Kiddushin, is divorced, and then is mezaneh. She may return to her husband. But if she marries a second husband with Kiddushin, she is forbidden to return to the first Kedushin husband. Beis Shmuel explains that the Torah forbids a woman who was divorced from her husband after Kiddushin, and then married a second husband with Kiddushin and got a divorce from him, to return to the first Kiddushin husband. But if she had Kiddushin and a GET and was mezaneh she may return to the first husband. The reason is that the sin to return to the first husband if the wife was married twice with Kiddushin is because she had two Kiddushin husbands. After the second husband’s GET she may not return to the first Kiddushin husband. But this is only forbidden if there were two cases of Kiddushin. But if the first husband was zenuse and the second husband was Kiddushin who gave her a GET, she may return to her second or Kiddushin husband. The question is, what if there was Kiddushin and Pilegesh and then she wants to go back to the husband? Pilegesh is not Kiddushin, but it is a real marriage, otherwise, it would be zenuse. But the Bahare Hayteev there says that if there was first Pilegesh and then Kiddushin and then a GET from Kiddushin, she may return to the Pilegesh husband. In other words, Pilegesh and zenuse are the same, even though Pilegesh is a real marriage, it is not Kiddushin, and והלכה והיתה לאיש אחר means only two husbands equal with Kiddushin, but not if the first one was Pilegesh. It would seem likely that if the second husband was Pilegesh and the first husband was Kiddushin, that she may also return to the husband, because there was no והלכה והיתה לאיש אחר meaning the second husband was the same as the first husband, both had Kiddushin but if one was kiddushin and the other zenuse or Pilegesh she may return to her other husband. Again, probably as long as both husbands were not kiddushin but zenuse or Pilegesh, she may return to either husband she happens to be divorced from or removed from. It would seem from the Beis Shmuel and the Bahare Hayteev that as long as there are not two husbands with Kiddushin she may go back to the Kiddushin husband. וצ"ע. See also Pischei Teshuva #1 there in the case where a Kiddushin husband gave his wife a GET posul dirabonon. She was then mezaneh. May she return to her husband who gave her the GET posul? He quotes it seems Birkei Yosef that she may return to him.
2) Would a kohen who married using a pilegesh marriage be allowed to stay with his wife if she was lo alanu raped.
Dovid Eidensohn – This is an interesting question. First, see Even Hoezer 6:10 – If the wife of a Kohen who is married to him with Kiddushin is slept with even if it was forced she is forbidden to her husband the Kohen. 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 anyone 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. Thus, we have a source to forbid the wife of a Cohen who was raped if she was married with Kiddushin. The question is if that holds true even if she is Pilegesh. And this question suggests another question. If a Pilegesh wife is raped, does she become a zonah and is she forbidden to her husband the Cohen?
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 sleep with another man during her marriage of Pilegesh she would violate Pilegesh marriage even in rape, and become a zonah. If so, she is forbidden to her Kohen husband. But if a raped Pilegesh woman would not become a zona despite the fact that her Pilegesh marriage is a real marriage, because the status of zona does not, for any reason, apply to a Pilegesh as it applies to Kiddushin marriages, then we have a question.
3) Would the children of a pilegesh marriage of the father being a kohen be considered kosher kohanim? Dovid Eidensohn – Yes, see Even Hoezer 3:9 that if ten Cohanim stand together and one steps out and sleeps with somebody and has a baby boy, that boy is a Cohen. However, even one who is really a Cohen, if he was born with zenuse, and we are not really sure who the father is, even though we know he was a Cohen, we silence the child when he wants to publicly perform as a Cohen. It would, however, seem that if we know who the father is, such as if people are married properly with Pilegesh, there is no problem as we know who the father is. וצ"ע.
4) Would a man be allowed to marry more than one wife with a pilegesh marriage? Dovid Eidensohn – See Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer 1:10 that Rabbeinu Gershom forbade a man to take two wives. However, the Shulchan Aruch says that this lasted only to the end of the fifth thousand years of world history, which is about 777 years ago. However, the Shulchan Aruch quotes most communities who have on their own established a sin of marrying two wives. See Even Hoezer 1:10 in Ramo and 1:11. Whether these communities made Pilegesh with two wives a sin has nothing to do with anyone other than those communities who made rules for themselves. Rav Yaacov Emden seems to permit marrying in Pilegesh two wives, but only for very urgent reasons, such as when the first wife cannot have children and the husband has a choice of divorcing his wife of many years or marrying Pilegesh. I personally feel that Pilegesh is such a revolutionary thing in most people’s eyes that to start with two wives might destroy Pilegesh. But I do not say that as a general rule, but as a preference in the difficult effort to get people, anybody, interested in marrying with Pilegesh. Once we start permitting strange habits such as having two wives, we threaten the success of Pilegesh so I would prefer not to encourage such things, although some people have sources and rabbis who permit it.
5) Would a women who married by pilegesh marriage and "divorced" be allowed to marry a kohen? Dovid Eidensohn – There is no “divorce” in Pilegesh, so the question is only if somebody wrote a document of divorce on his own and gave it to a Pilegesh. It has no religious value, and is surely not considered to be a real “GET” which only is given for Kiddushin. However, there are habits among Kohanim to be overly strict and so such a question must be asked of somebody who knows all of the extreme positions of Cohanim especially as it applies to a specific 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 pilegesh marriage?
Dovid Eidensohn – You are completely right. But people who run the Mikva can have standards that they invent and these things do happen. The fact is that a lot of people are very nervous about the concept of Pilegesh which they think is some kind of bad thing, because they don’t know what Pilegesh is. But it is in the Shulchan Aruch and there the Vilna Gaon Even Hoezer 26:1 quotes a gemora in Sanhedrin 21A that obviously accepts Pilegesh and the Shulchan Aruch talks there about Pilegesh, so it does exist.
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? Dovid Eidensohn – Yes. Kiddushin requires the husband to give the woman a GET or die. But if nobody knows if the husband is alive or dead and nobody knows where the husband is, the wife is stuck. But Pilegesh ladies and men are never stuck. They simply tell the other spouse they are leaving and the marriage is over, just like that. Of course, if I had to deal with an actual parting of the ways, I might prefer to have something in writing and by a Beth Din.
8) Would this mean that the wife’s earning in a pilegesh marriage belongs to her?
Dovid Eidensohn – I know of a Pilegesh couple who sit down every year and write up the rules for their marriage. That makes a lot of sense. Kiddushin assigns great powers to the husband who has “acquired” the wife. This does not exist in Pilegesh. There the ideal is for the two spouses to sit down regularly and decide how to run their lives financially and other such matters.
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 marriage was real and not zenuse. 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, because Pilegesh can save many people from sins and problems.
My great fear today of women stuck in marriages done with Kiddushin is rooted in the reality that today many “rabbis” 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!
Of course, the RCA and other Modern Orthodox rabbis came out with a prenup but many people feel that the prenup is an invalid document that will make mamzerim. Senior rabbis in Israel feel that the RCA prenup and other such prenups will greatly damage Judaism and make mamzeirm.
My great fear today of women stuck in marriages done with Kiddushin is rooted in the reality that today’s rabbi in general are very weak on knowing the laws of Gittin. Thus, they 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!
Kiddushin forces women to remain married with their husband unless he gives her willingly a GET or dies. Some “rabbis” teach these Kiddushin women to force a GET from their husbands. Such forced GETS are invalid and children born from the next marriage will be mamzerim. Recently, a new idea has been invented by “rabbis.” A woman just leaves her husband with no GET. This is happening all over the world. The desperate situation of some women trapped in a Kiddushin marriage is the catalyst for this violation of the Torah. Yes, people want to violate the Torah in order to help desperate women. But what about the fact that a woman who remarries with an invalid GET, such as one forced on the husband, has no GET at all? Thus, her children born from the next marriage will be mamzerim. Why don’t people worry about the children/mamzerim? And is this a normal thing to do to destroy children out of concern for their mother? Will the mother really be happy if she had mamzerim children?
All of this is completely true. And yet, amazingly to me, there is, among the senior ranks of our Torah scholars and experts in Gittin, tremendous opposition to teaching women about Pilegesh. And yet, not only are many senior rabbis teaching women to force a GET from their unwilling husbands, but now the style has become to teach a woman to leave her husband with no GET. Throughout the world, this is becoming the style. I know it happened in America and there was a huge outcry. But it also happened throughout the world. I received a call from the senior rabbi in a section of Brazil about this, and at the same time, there were articles about a senior French rabbi who permitted a woman with no GET to remarry without a GET at all. So, I say, firmly, without Pilegesh we will have, in a short time, many mamzerim. Now, who can tell me that Pilegesh is worse than mamzerim? And yet, when I talk mamzerim, people are quiet. When I talk about Pilegesh these same people hang up the phone, or ridicule me, and when I talk about mamzerim they think it is funny. It isn’t funny. At least, the helpless mamzerim whose children will be mamzerim with no cure forever, are not laughing now and will never laugh. And the mother of this mamzer who learned from a “rabbi” to make mamzerim, is she going to laugh when she hears her child’s bitter tears? Now nobody will ever marry him, and he will be shunned more than a person with leprosy. And these people I talk to are just full of fun. Why?
When I grew up, there were great Gedolim who had control of the Torah community. Nobody would think of defying the great ones like Reb Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev, Reb Aharon Kotler, and others who were the mighty giants of that generation. In a world like that everyone married with Kiddushin, and nobody said a thing about Pilegesh. Now, it did occasionally happen that a rabbi here or there would see the misery of a member of his shull and advise that the next marriage will not be Kiddushin, because the woman has suffered enough. But after the senior rabbis would hear the suffering of the woman in Kiddushin, and the local rabbi advised Pilegesh, they said nothing. If a woman suffered so much from two bad husbands, if she remarries with Kiddushin for a third time, it is quite likely that she may just quit with the Torah chas viShalom. Why are things today so different that “rabbis” begin hanging up the phone and saying the worst things when I mention Pilegesh? The answer is, that today is different. When Reb Moshe or Rav Elyashev or Reb Aharon had power in the community, the occasional emergency to do Pilegesh would not get out of hand. But today things are much different. Today there are no Reb Moshes or Reb Aharons or Rav Elyashev. Let me tell a story I heard from a prominent Gittin posek.
This Posek held a certain way in a problem of Gittin, and he wanted to solve it in his Beth Din, but it was something that required a major Rov to agree to. He therefore went to a country that had a senior Rov who was the accepted authority in that country. But the Rov refused to agree, although he saw nothing wrong with the logic of the Rov who requested the Rov’s backing. Finally, that Rov went to the senior Rov’s son. He asked why his father who for many years did Pasken these questions regularly, refuses to pasken now. Why?
The son replied, “When Rev Elyashev was alive, all Gittin questions were brought to him by my father. Now he is not here, and nobody took his place. My father cannot and never could assume responsibility to pasken complicated Gittin laws. All he did was to ask the question to Reb Elyashev, and Reb Elyashev is no longer with us.”
The poskim who snarled at me with tooth and nail about Pilegesh were from the old school. They were raised in a time of great Gedolim, not a time like today. Those great Gedolim are gone. Nobody has taken their place. Today the major rabbis in the US and elsewhere are very, very different from the past generation when I grew up, and when the rabbis who snarl at me grew up. At that past time, the greats terrified the community so much that nobody would imagine doing something with Pilegesh that is disruptive of the Torah community. But today, this is no longer true. Now a person who makes Pilegesh has nobody to control him, and people are terrified of the results. What these people who mean leshaim shomayim to prevent at all costs Pilegesh don’t realize that they are preventing Pilgesh, but their friends the rabbis who make mamzerim are now free to make mamzerim, plenty of them. Now, somebody has to get up and tell it like it is. There is nobody to control Kiddushin ladies from making mamzerim. And the rabbis who encouraged making invalid Gittin or leaving the husband with no GET at all, are free to do what they want, as there is nobody to fear.
In such a world, my brother and I stood up years ago to fight the “rabbis” who encourage forced Gittin, and we were, for a long time, the only ones. Eventually I threatened senior rabbis, that if they do nothing to attack Shmuel Kaminetsky who is making a woman leave her husband with no GET, I will attack, not just Shmuel Kaminetsky, but the rabbis who are silent. Then things started to pick up. Various prominent rabbis sent their protests to my brother’s blog and it was eventually published elsewhere. And yet, that woman encouraged by Shmuel Kaminetsky to remarry without a GET, is still living with her new “husband” and nobody protests. In fact, when the Philadelphia Yeshiva put out a journal celebrating a Kollel or something like it, the two zonose in person bought an add and were published together in the journal. This is the Yeshiva of Shmuel Kaminetsky. As for me, I will fight for Pilegesh. There will be less mamzerim, and all of the prominent authorities who insult me, hang up on me, and laugh at me, can hang up on me again when I tell them about the latest mamzer. Because that is the halacha. When we know that a mamzer is born in the community, we are obligated to publicize it. But some authorities will just say, well, it is not Pilgesh. Good for them. Let them explain in the other world why they laughed at Pilegesh and ignored mamzerim. Will they laugh then or be sent to a hot place?