While the Toaff story
continues to gather steam
(I still don't really understand what his claim was), there is some really disturbing news. A few years ago
, despite strong protests by women's organizations and the Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, Rav Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, a Rav Elyashiv follower, Hagai Isirer, was appointed a judge on the Supreme Rabbinic Court in Israel (The other chief rabbi, Yisrael Lau, left the room, to avoid antagonizing anyone; incidentally, a key factor
in the appointment was Haim Ramon's
deal with the Haredim).
In a court system which denies the existence of aggunot
(according to their website
, there are only 30 cases such cases in Israel - there is some debate
over the numbers, but this is clearly too low), Rav Izirer stands out for his misogyny. Once upon a time, the practitioners of halakhah did all they could to release women from a state of iggun. That does not seem to be the case in the rabbinic court system in Israel.
Another assumption that used to be true of all rabbis and halakhic decisors was that they would do anything to release children from the terrible fate of mamzerut
. This situation most commonly arises when a woman was not divorced from her first husband (for any number of reasons - after WWII, some women assumed their husbands were dead, but years later they turned up alive, after the woman had already remarried and had children from her second husband). Rabbis will turn cartwheels to undo this situation, claiming that there never was a first marriage.
Now, however, Rav Izirer is actually trying to creating new mamzerim!
Women who already received their divorces from their ex-husbands are now being threatened with retroactive nullification of those divorces, which would render their subsequent relationships retroactively forbidden.
Why? This is what Dr. Ruth Halperin-Kadari
calls his "doomsday weapon
" in the power struggle between civil family courts and rabbinic courts in Israel. The retroactive invalidation is being invoked in cases where the woman (or her children) has recourse to civil court over issues such as child support or the education of the children - issues the rabbinic court wants to have exclusive jurisdiction over.
In other words, for the sake of a power struggle, the Supreme Rabbinical Court is creating new mamzerim, using the kind of retroactive nullification
which many rabbis have rejected so vehemently as a solution for aggunot. I don't know what steps can be taken to oppose this perversion of Judaism and miscarriage of justice, but at least I can blog about it.