Agunah freed in radical court ruling

A daring ruling by the Safed Rabbinical Court in northern Israel last month ended a seven-year ordeal for a 34 year-old woman who had been considered an agunah (chained woman) since her husband was badly injured in a motorcycle accident.

The husband never emerged from his deep coma and, two years ago, she asked the rabbinical court to grant her a get (divorce), allowing her to remarry by Jewish law.

The dayanim refused her request on the grounds that it would be a get meuse (contrived) and therefore invalid. In addition, the court received a medical report saying that the husband could come out of his coma and therefore she could not be divorced.

But a new head dayan reviewed the case and apparently agreed to use a rare and controversial method, get zikui (transferred), in which the court assumes it is acting upon the subjective will of the husband even though he has not actively authorised them to do so.

Most rabbis are against using a get zikui on the grounds that it could lead to a “slippery slope” of easy divorces. The Orthodox rabbinical world is anxiously waiting for the written reasoning behind the ruling to see if the method will be applicable in other cases.

Last updated: 9:45am, May 2 2014