Shabbat Parashat Yitro| 5763
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l
Admission of Previous Marriage (excerpt from a psak din, Chavot Binyamin, p. 357)
A man came to court, demanding to be allowed to give a get to his wife or receive permission to remarry. He told the court that his wife admitted that she had been married previously and received neither a get nor official confirmation of her husband’s death. At first, she told the courts that she had been married in a proper Jewish ceremony, but that her husband had been killed in the Russian Army. However, she was unable to provide documentation or sufficient proof to substantiate the claim of death. In the final session, she said that, in fact, they had not been married in a Jewish ceremony and that she had said so previously only out of embarrassment. Her request of the Court was to remain married to her present husband and receive appropriate monetary support. [Ed. note – our discussion relates to just one section of Rav Yisraeli’s ruling, and many details are left out].
When one makes a claim in court and later on changes that claim, beit din does not accept the alteration by monetary cases out of fear that someone taught the litigant to lie (Shulchan Aruch, Chosen Mishpat 80:1). Despite that fear, by matters of a woman’s permissibility to marry, she can make changes in her claims if beit din sees substance in her excuse for making the previous statement (Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 47:4). It can be demonstrated that the excuse need not be convincing, just reasonable. [Ed. note- after a long analysis of the halacha and various testimonies, Rav Yisraeli came to the conclusion that the woman could remarry without further proof of death of the first “husband” because of insufficient evidence that they had been married].
The mishna in Nedarim 90b rules that a woman who says she was involved in an adulterous relationship and is, thus, forbidden to her husband is not believed. The Rama (Even Haezer 178:9) brings two opinions on the question whether the husband is able to say that he believes her and force her to receive a get even after she retracts her admission. There is a fear that the husband does not really believe his wife and claims to believe her only to obviate cherem d’Rabbeinu Gershom, which forbidshim from divorcing her against her will. However, the Noda B’yehuda (II, EH 120) says that if the husband professed his belief of her admission while she was still holding by her story (which he may do), then we cannot compel him to change his mind when she changes her story. Indeed, in the earlier court appearance, when the wife said she had been properly married, he had concurred. Therefore, the wife must accept the get and cannot invoke cherem d’Rabbeinu Gershom.
Regarding the woman’s monetary claims against her husband, we already pointed out that in monetary matters, one cannot make a contradictory claim after leaving court. Therefore, the husband does not have to receive her new version and is exempt from the payments she demands.
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