Showing posts with label The terror of Kiddushin for trapped women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The terror of Kiddushin for trapped women. Show all posts

Friday, March 24, 2017

Kiddushin and Pilegesh

by Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn
The gemora in Sanhedrin 21A tells us that general marriage of Jews requires two things, Kiddushin and Kesubo. That is, the husband gives his wife a ring and tells her that she is hereby married to him. Once he does that, she can never be free of him unless he either dies or willingly gives her a GET, a bill of divorce. A Kesubo is a document declaring how much money the husband promises his wife when he divorces her or dies.

Today, as predicted in the Talmud, there is great upheaval in families, unlike in earlier generations. Many are the divorces, the bitter battles and hate, and it gets worse all of the time. But the woman who is in agony cannot obtain relief without a GET given by her husband willingly. And he is not always willing to give her a GET willingly. This causes great turmoil, and it even effects rabbis. When rabbis see the pain of the women who cannot escape husbands they hate or despise, they realize that these women have such pain they may give up their religion. Therefore, these rabbis will sometimes force the husband to give a GET through humiliation, or public demonstrations against him and his family, or other matters. These forced divorces are invalid and if the woman gets an invalid GET and remarries, her children are mamzerim. Therefore, Kiddushin with its iron control of helpless women, is a major problem, perhaps the major problem for many helpless women. What, therefore, can be done, if anything?

First of all, we must be realistic, and face the horrible facts, as they are, and not as they are not. A woman trapped in a bad marriage who can't take it, is most likely, today, going to go to one of the many rabbis who want to "save" women from their helpless entrapment with husbands they hate. These rabbis will force the husband to give a GET. And because of the general anger in society at husbands who cause pain to their wives by not giving a GET willingly, many people will join the fight to force the husband to give a GET. There are movements today that have succeeded in using the secular courts to force a GET on a reluctant husband. Such a forced GET is not a kosher GET, and the children are mamzerim born from it, but the secular courts are not concerned, and in major cities, it is rabbis themselves who got the laws passed.
Things are going to get worse, much worse, before they get better. So what can be done? In Torah terms, nothing can be done, other than to create invalid forced GIttin that make mamzerim. That is surely not a solution.

But there is another solution. Before I explain what it is, I want to say that there are two types of women who suffer terribly with husbands they hate. One is religious enough to tolerate her pain until she dies no matter what. And the other is not religious enough to last so long in pain, and will go to a rabbi who forces a GET that is not kosher and makes mamzerim. Keep this in mind as we get to the solution for many women in agony.

The solution is Pilegesh. Pilegesh is a kind of marriage without the problems of Kiddushin. The woman or man can leave any time with no moral or Torah problems. It is a true marriage, but each person is free to leave when they want.

Now I want to say something very important. The great authorities who talk about Pilegesh among the Rishonim and acharonim, sometimes permit with Pilegesh things that I don't want anything to do with. I also want to say that if anybody on their own goes out and makes a marriage of Pilegesh, I want nothing to do with it. That could make major problems for the couple who make such a marriage, for reasons we will soon discuss. The proper way of doing Pilegesh, as I would participate in doing, is when a couple comes to a Rov or Beth Din and clearly announces their acceptance of Pilegesh laws as the Rov or Beth Din describes. They may leave any time, but while they are married they must be faithful to each other. The proper way, as I would guide the couple, is to establish a true marriage, with two faithful spouses, and if any of them wants to leave, they can leave. But they should notify the Beth Din or Rov of their leaving, which protects them from people accusing them of having Kiddushin and leaving without a GET. If I was involved, and I knew they were Pilegesh, and had it in writing with witnesses, nobody could accuse them of violating Kiddushin, because they are clearly Pilegesh. Pilegesh marriage means that the husband and wife live together in a house, and the wife has an honorable part of the house where she lives as a faithful wife with her spouse.

I wish to add this. If a woman can endure the terror of Kiddushin with a husband she hates, it is possible that some Rov will tell her that there is a problem with Pilegesh, but others will tell her that there is no problem. Especially today, Pilegesh marriage rather than Kiddushin means the married woman would no longer have to live in fear that maybe she will commit some terrible sin because she just can't take it anymore. But the only way to be sure is not to have Kiddushin at all. Somebody who cannot tolerate Kiddushin for their entire lives, should not take Kiddushin at all. Such people should definitely take Pilegesh, but as I explained, if I was dealing with a couple who chose Pilegesh, I would insist on a real marriage with two faithful spouses. But if anyone wanted to leave and break up the marriage, there would be no problem. But if I was involved, I would insist on their leaving their marriage with signed letters and witnesses, preferably a Beth Din.

Anyone interested in talking to me about a real Pilegesh marriage, can call me at 845-578-1917.Thank you, Dovid Eidensohn Disciple and Musmoch of Geonim Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev.