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Rabbis: Couple Must Divorce

A group of Israeli rabbis has ruled that a fervently Orthodox man must divorce his wife, a victim of rape, even though the couple wants to stay together, according to an Israeli newspaper report.

The couple has nine children.

The Yediot Achronot report said the woman, who lives in the town of Bnei Brak, was raped three weeks ago by three men as she was leaving a mikvah, or ritual bath.

She did not report the event to the police, but did tell her husband, who sought the advice of rabbis on what to do.

The husband is a Kohen, making him a descendant of the priests of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Under halachah, or Jewish law, a Kohen must divorce his wife if she has been raped.

Some halachic authorities say the husband could have gotten around the law by saying that he did not believe his wife, but by seeking the advice of the rabbis he implicitly admitted that he believed her.

“The halachah as reported is correct,” said Rabbi J. David Bleich, professor of Jewish law and ethics at Cardozo Law School in New York.

But since a woman is unable to prove her own rape, the rabbis could have advised the husband that he “is under no obligation to believe her.”

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