Rabbis question if spouses may live together if marriage contract burnt in fire

The Chief Rabbi of Zichron Yaakov stated that a man and wife whose marriage contract was burnt in the fires could not live under the same roof until a new contract had been drawn up.

November 28, 2016 18:53
1 minute read.

A bride and groom kiss under the chuppah at their wedding. (photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)

Having suffered through the trauma of infernos that consumed their homes and possessions, families who lost everything in the recent fires around the country are facing one more hurdle – this one from rabbinic quarters.

The municipal chief rabbi of Zichron Ya’acov, who is also in charge of marriage licenses in Haifa, issued a statement saying a man and wife whose marriage contract was destroyed in the fires could not live under the same roof until a new contract had been drawn up.

The national chief rabbis quickly intervened, however, ruling that any couple who had lost their ketuba in the fire could continue to live together but should have a replacement marriage contract drawn up.

Jewish law states that a couple can only live together if they are in possession of a marriage contract, ketuba in Hebrew, and that living together without the document is forbidden and even comparable to concubinage.

The ketuba, in Jewish law, was designed to protect the rights of a woman in her marriage and the sages of the Talmudic era, therefore, forbade a couple from living without one.

Zichron Ya’acov Chief Rabbi Mordechai Abramovski pointed out in an interview with the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) website Kikar Shabbat that the entire contents of many people’s homes had been destroyed in the recent fires and that the prohibition against living together without a ketuba applied to them.

Abramovski said that although Sephardi Jews could rely on the ruling of the late arbiter Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who said the prohibition in this instance was no longer applicable, no such dispensation has been made for Ashkenazi Jews and that Ashkenazi couples need a new ketuba drawn up before they can live together again.

However, Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau issued a statement on Monday saying it is permitted for couples to continue living together even if their ketuba had been burned since local rabbinates maintain copies of ketubot for weddings performed in their jurisdictions.

The chief rabbis added, however, that a replacement ketuba, known as a ketuba d’irkasa, should be obtained by the couples who lost their original in the fires.

If there is a concern a couple’s local rabbinate does not hold a copy of their ketuba, the chief rabbis said such a couple should seek to have a replacement drawn up as soon as possible.

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