Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The International Beis Din Responds

Rabbi Yosef Blau
In a recent post I discussed issues pertaining to a new Beis Din designed to help  free Agunos. It was based on the views of Rabbi Yehuda Leonard Oppenheimer who – based on his own research into the matter had raised some serious questions about it. I received the following response to that post from this Beis Din which I am happy to publish. It follows unedited  in its entirely.

Rabbi Simcha Krauss met with Rabbi Zalman Nechemya Goldberg prior to starting the International Beit Din, to discuss halachic  approaches to freeing agunot and received his approval for his methodology.  

Recently a rabbi under the impression that the Beit Din was using הפקעת קידושין (annulling marriages) and knowing that Rabbi Goldberg had published his opposition to this approach, contacted Rabbi Goldberg and received the letter from him disapproving of the Beit Din.  None of the rabbis connected to the Beit Din were contacted, who would have corrected that impression.  The Beit Din does not use הפקעה

While a blog is not an appropriate place for a detailed halachic discussion a distinction between two approaches needs to be made.  הפקעת קידושין is based on the power of the rabbinate to annul marriages כל המקדש על דעתן דרבנן מקדש,a power which is restricted to specific cases.  Among the methods used by the Beit Din is  ביטול קידושין (voiding marriages) which is based on a major undisclosed flaw prior to the marriage or a mistake in the wedding ceremony.  

This method  has been utilized by Rabbinic courts in Israel and America.  We are following in the footsteps of a well trodden Mesora of  contemporary poskim such as Rabbis Yehezkel Abramsky,  Yehoshua Ehrenberg, Yosef Elyashiv, Moshe Feinstein, Tzvi Pesach Frank, Sholom Schwadron, Shmuel Stern ,Ovadya Yosef and others.

The International Beit Din has committed itself to transparency.  In the future our reasoned  piskei din will appear on the Beit Din's web site.  We are fully aware that freeing Agunot depends on their ability to remarry.

(Rabbi) Yosef Blau