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Recent Developments

Statement by Rabbi Michael Broyde

2 Adar 5759
February 18, 1999

Eric Greenberg's sidebar article (Jewish Week, 2/19/99 at page 17) concerning my comments at the EDAH conference about the bet din of Rabbi Rackman and Morgenstern are completely incorrect and misleading in that they imply that I do not find the conduct of that bet din to be fully void according to Jewish law. As was clear from my twice repeated presentation at the EDAH conference as well as my published letters mailed out to all RCA members, it is my view that what Rabbi Rackman and his bet din are engaging in is a naked violation of Jewish Law, with no foundation, and the conduct of that bet din is a nullity. Women released by Rabbi Rackman's bet din remain married in the eyes of Jewish law. There are no qualifiers and modifiers attached, and none were expressed at the conference or in any of my other writings on this topic.

I did note that there have been solutions to the agunah problem predicated on the wholesale abandonment of the Jewish marriage rite whose goal it is to discourage people from entering into valid Jewish marriages generally. That proposal is fraught with public policy objections of a serious type, as well as intense halachic problems, but would solve the agunah problem, I noted. It was that observation that I made to Eric Greenberg in a private conversation after the lecture was over, and which he misunderstood and misconstrued. There is an enormous halachic difference between a prospective decision to decline to enter into Jewish marriages, and a retrospective attempt to void valid Jewish marriages. The latter is always a nullity in the eyes of Jewish law.

The lecture, which was taped, and whose tapes can readily be purchased clearly indicates that it is my view that the conduct of Rabbi Rackman's bet din is a naked violation of Jewish law, and ineffective in terminating marriages.

The Jewish Week and its staff should quite capable of reviewing the tape of my two presentations to determine that its report was completely erroneous, and thus vastly damaging to the cause of Jewish law in the United States. I await a retraction and an apology, and am considering an action for slander and libel if one is not forthcoming.

The tragedy of the agunah problem is compounded by this type of reporting.

Rabbi Michael Broyde
Member, Beth Din of America
212 807-9042

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