Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Habayit Hayehudi Hashalem Promotes Polygynous Freedom to Marry

This article is a long one looking at a movement in Israel to lift the ban on the polygynous freedom to marry.

A new organization is trying to reinstate polygamy into mainstream Orthodox Judaism, despite it being against the contemporary norm of Jewish law, and prohibited by the state.

This blog supports full marriage equality, not just the polygynous freedom to marry.

It is being promoted as the Jewish solution for the abundance of single women, the Arab demographic threat and the male predicament of seeking extramarital relations.

There is nothing wrong with anyone being single, if that is what they want (the articles say the women prefer polygyny to being unmarried.) But if they want to be married, they should be allowed to marry the consenting adult of their choice, even if that adult is already married. I don’t see any race as a threat. And I have nothing against “extramarital relations” as long as they are consented to by all involved. The best justification for marriage equality is fairness and freedom of choice.

A small advertisement over the weekend in the broadly circulated Shabbat Beshabato, a hand-out distributed in synagogues nationwide dealing with the weekly Torah portion and contemporary issues, quoted a paragraph from senior Sephardi adjudicator Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s Yabi’a Omer treatise, in which he wrote that it is a mistake for non-Ashkenazim to follow Rabbeinu Gershom’s “stringency,” according to which it is prohibited for a man to marry more than one wife. Approximately 1,000 years ago, Rabbeinu Gershom of Mainz, Germany, issued resonating reforms on a variety of subjects pertaining to Jewish life, and those who transgressed them were liable to be socially excommunicated. Perhaps the most well-known of these prohibitions is to not to be married to more than one woman at a time, despite the fact that this was common in biblical times.

You don’t have to read very far to see that is true.

As for the fact that the rabbinate is against bigamy and polygamy, Sopher, who identified himself as a resident of the Central region, explained that “the rabbis at the Chief Rabbinate receive their salaries from the state,” so publicly they have to object to polygamy. “But if you ask them behind closed doors, they will say it’s allowed.”

That’s interesting.

The whole notion of monogamy is not an essentially Jewish one, Sopher stressed. “This [polygamy] is very acceptable in our religion, it’s religious coercion from the establishment under the influence of Catholicism that prevents about 15 percent of women in their fertile age from marrying,” he said.

“It’s cruel. And the Jewish nation is harmed by it. We think national fertility could rise by at least 10%. This is national discrimination, where the state turns a blind eye to Beduin, who freely take more wives. If Jews do, they are thrown into prison. And if a law is implemented in a discriminatory manner, it doesn’t have to be heeded,” he said.

In the US, we have the Constitutional concept of equal protection.

The article has much more about different Jewish opinions and examples.

For me, the bottom line is that religions should be free to have their restrictions, but there should be a way to have the government implement full marriage equality and a way for someone to not support religious organizations that do things with which they disagree. In other words, it is okay for a Rabbi to refuse to do a marriage as long as a government clerk will, but those turned away by that Rabbi should not have to financially support that Rabbi.
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