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Rabbis allow mentally challenged to marry

Four special-needs couples get special dispensation to marry after rabbis say their circumstances do not contradict Halacha

Haredi community steps forward: In a progressive move several special-needs couples have been allowed to marry, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.


The ultra-Orthodox community prohibits the intellectually challenged to marry, for fear that their disability would keep them from properly observing matrimonial mitzvot.


The Halacha differentiates between two kinds of mental defects: The "fool" – who lacks all comprehension, and the "simpleton" – who has basic comprehension abilities and is able to observe the Torah's ordinances.


Over the past 18 months, four special-needs couples, determined by rabbis as "simpletons" have been given a special dispensation to marry. One of the happy brides to be is no other than Shulamit Druckman, the daughter of prominent Religious Zionism Rabbi Haim Druckman. Shulamit suffers from Down's Syndrome.


Her future husband also suffers from the trisomy-21 chromosomal disorder. "I want to be a bride just like everyone else and later, a mother, too," she said.


The couples are being chaperoned by "supervisors" – family members or close friends who ensure they follow the relevant mitzvot of house and home.


"Matrimony had been proven to have a positive effect on people with special needs," said Rabbi Shay Piron of Petah Tikva. "Of course, in haredi society couples cannot live together without matrimony, so we welcome special dispensations."


Nevertheless, the rabbis have advised these couples not to have children.


Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog welcomed the decision: "I see great importance in realizing the rights of special needs people, including their right to set up house," he said.


פרסום ראשון: 06.23.09, 00:09
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