Mother insists on proving her son is a 'mamzer'

Telling the truth is more important than increasing the chances for her son to marry Jewish.

By MATTHEW WAGNER
October 23, 2006 00:33
2 minute read.
halacha 88

halacha 88. (photo credit: )

 
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If Moshe's mother had kept quiet, no one would know that she got pregnant from her second husband while she was still in the process of getting divorced from her first. No one would know that her son, Moshe (a fictional name), was a mamzer. But Moshe's mother refused to live a lie, even if the truth meant that Moshe's mamzer status would force him to leave Israel to get married (or marry a convert to Judaism). Despite the negative ramifications for Moshe's marital status, his mother demanded that Moshe's biological father, not her ex, appear on his birth certificate. "Moshe's mother and father have no religious faith," said Irit Rosenblum, director of The Family Organization, an advocacy group that defends the right to unconventional families in a country in which Jewish marriages are performed according to Halacha. "But they are moral people who believe lying is wrong." Moshe's mother, who is in her 20s, gave birth to Moshe, her first child, a few months ago. She refused to be interviewed. From a Jewish standpoint, Moshe's mother should leave his kosher status the way it is, said Rabbi Moshe Rauchverger, a senior member of the Chief Rabbinate's Governing Council and a marriage registrar in the Haifa area. "What does the mother gain from her stubbornness?" he asked. "Does she want her son to be a mamzer?" Moshe's predicament illustrates the tension resulting from the fusing of religion and state in Israel. Sometimes, as in Moshe's case, the moral principles of Israel's secular majority clash with Halacha. For Moshe's mother, telling the truth was more important than increasing the chances for Moshe to marry a Jew and have halachicly Jewish children. Also, as far as Moshe's mother was concerned, she had been divorced from her first husband months before she got pregnant from her present husband, Rosenblum said. The get (divorce certificate) was only a formality, she added. In Moshe's case, Halacha assumes that Moshe is not a mamzer unless contrary evidence proves otherwise. A woman's legal husband is assumed to be the father of all of her children until she is divorced. Even when there is suspicion of infidelity, according to Halacha: "The majority of sexual acts take place with the legal husband." Moshe's mother did not receive her get from her first husband until she was eight months pregnant, although they had separated long before. When Moshe was born she had not yet married Moshe's biological father. The Interior Ministry clerk who registered Moshe's birth automatically assumed, in accordance with Halacha, that Moshe's mother's first husband was the father. Now Moshe's mother plans to go to court to prove the truth. Rosenblum, who is also an attorney, said The Family Organization would petition the state family court, which is bound by Israeli law to rule on Moshe's status in accordance with Halacha. Rosenblum said her organization would demand a DNA check to prove who Moshe's biological father is. There were approximately 10,000 suspected mamzerim in Israel, she added. "It is absurd that in Israel of the 21st century people like Moshe have to suffer because of Halacha," Rosenblum said. "I'm not telling the Orthodox to abandon their faith, I just don't want them to force me to adhere to it."

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