Court backs get for woman in ground-breaking ruling
FOLLOWING AN unusual combination of religious and secular court rulings, a woman from northern Israel has finally been allowed to remarry under Jewish law after the High Court in Jerusalem upheld the decision of a rabbinical court in Safed to grant her a divorce from her comatose husband.
The High Court ruled that the Israeli Rabbinate’s Supreme Court did not have the authority to annul the divorce.
The court in Safed, headed by Rabbi Uriel Lavi, had reached the decision that there was no prospect of the husband — who had been severely injured in a traffic accident — regaining consciousness. The court, which consulted the doctors caring for the husband before coming to its decision, therefore ruled that his wife would be given a one-sided divorce.
Their decision to use the rare halachic device of get zikuy, whereby the court assumes that the husband would not have wanted his wife to remain an agunah (a chained wife), angered some of the more conservative-minded rabbis, including Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who convened a special hearing of the Supreme Rabbinical Court in an attempt to annul the decision.
The woman who is known only as “Plaintiff H”, had petitioned the High Court which, by Israeli law, cannot intervene in halachic rulings, but has jurisdiction over the rabbinical courts on administrative matters.
The High Court, presided over by Deputy Supreme Court President Elyakim Rubinstein, decided not to proceed with the case on the grounds that the petition to the Supreme Rabbinical Court had been brought by a man with no relation or connection to the case.
In addition, the court said, the Rabbinate’s Supreme Court did not have the authority to annul a divorce already granted by another rabbinical court.
Sealing his ruling, Justice Rubinstein, himself a deeply religious man, wrote: “Let the plaintiff go in peace and carry on with her life”.
Let the plaintiff go in peace and carry on with her life’