Court backs get for woman in ground-break­ing rul­ing

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

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’

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