liberation

Life or Death

The two teshuvos below concern one especially sensitive topic: agunos (presumed widows prohibited by Jewish law from remarrying because their husbands´ deaths had not been verified). After the Holocaust, women married prior to the war could not find their husbands, and questions involving agunos proliferated. These resolutions helped Jews rebuild their lives.

Question: On the night of the 26/27 of July 1944, a combat bomber plane of the South African air force flew a mission to drop bombs on the enemy. The plane never returned from this action and the assumption is that it fell into the Adriatic Sea and was destroyed, along with its crew of eight men. One of the crewmembers was a Jewish officer, Second Lieutenant J., who was never heard from again after that night...

One year later, the officer in charge of the military archives informed J.´s family that he saw Nazis lead a man to be murdered in a gas chamber, and also that the man was sick with an illness such that the Nazis would not have permitted him to live in any case. May his wife remarry?

Answer: She is permitted to remarry. (Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac Herzog)

Question: (Dated Tishrei 5706/ September 1946): A witness testified that he saw Nazis lead a man to be murdered in a gas chamber, and also that the man was sick with an illness such that the Nazis would not have permitted him to live in any case. May his wife remarry?

Answer: She is permitted to remarry. (Rabbi Moshe Feinstein)