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Shabbat Parashat Shemot| 5763
Classical Agunah Issue – Summary
We have seen over the last several weeks how the level of direct testimony needed to verify the death of a husband is reduced significantly from the regular two “kosher” witnesses needed in matters of marriage and divorce. This is a special ruling due to the great need of the agunah, the unlikelihood of finding additional witnesses, the assumption that the man is dead, and the wife’s realization that she will “pay dearly” if the information she relies upon turns out to be false.
We saw that information can come even from relatives of the supposed deceased and even from the wife herself. Even a statement from the deceased himself prior to his death is valid if the information is coupled with a corpse or an equivalent indication of death. We noted that, while classically, witnesses should have seen an identifiable face (within three days of death), other credible forms of identification (which have been vastly expanded by technological advances) have Talmudic precedence. Finally, we learned that in certain, very complicated cases, poskim have worked to be matir wives in cases where no direct testimony on death existed, but a combination of factors provided convincing circumstantial evidence.
If you wish to receive the entire series of mini-articles on agunot, contact our office with an e-mail address. We pray that these issues will be positively resolved in existing cases and that Klal Yisrael will be spared new tragic cases.
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