Does Your Rabbi Own an iPhone? If So, Your Wedding Doesn’t Count

Prominent rabbi reportedly declares marriages and divorces witnessed by those who have Internet access invalid.

If you’re reading this - and you were married sometime within the past decade or so, you just might have an easy way out of your vows.

Blame it on the smartphone or the laptop.

A respected ultra-Orthodox rabbi has reportedly issued a bizarre interpretation of Jewish law, saying that if any witness to your wedding owned an iPhone or has access to “unfiltered” Internet - your wedding was invalid.

Just to make things fair, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, 85, of Bnei Brak, viewed by many as one of the "sages of his generation" says that the same rule also applies to divorce; if the guy handing you a divorce decree surfs the net - you’re still hitched and need to redo the entire process.

The Kanievsky ruling was reported by one Rabbi Aaron Feinhandler, who supposedly heads something called the “Committee for Clean Communications,” which works against spiritual corruption of the Internet in the ultra-Orthodox community. The meeting was reported and a letter by Feinhandler describing the encounter was originally published in the Haredi website Kikar Hashabbat on Monday. In the letter, Feinhandler said the meeting was witnessed by Kanievsky’s grandson Arye (who presumably isn’t online and therefore, is credible). The letter specifies “iPhone” and not “smartphone,” but one can assume that the rabbi isn’t a bigger fan of Samsung or Blackberry than he is of the Apple product.

In addition to marriage and divorce, the letter claims that Kanievsky ruled that Internet-users are disqualified to certify a mikveh, a ritual bathing facility for women as being "kosher" for use. The letter specifies that since rabbis who certify the ritual baths qualify under this ruling in cities like Jerusalem, where many employees of the religious council carry a smartphone, the municipal certification of the baths are invalid. The same goes for rulings of the country’s official religious court system, or any others where employees carry smartphones.

This means that if proven valid, and it does not turn out that interested parties put words in the elderly rabbi’s mouth, Kanievsky’s ruling not only casts doubt on the entire Israeli rabbinate - it sounds like a big headache. If taken at all seriously, it could be a potential source of marital strife, mean that countless children were conceived out of wedlock and lead to the nullification of thousands of court decisions.

The only ones who could possibly be happy about such a development are the attorneys who specialize in religious law. Talk about a bonanza.

A Jewish wedding (illustrative).Credit: Dreamstime

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