Remarrying a First Husband After a Forced Marriage

(EH 42:1)

Sarah married Reuven abroad and divorced him after three years. She then returned to Israel and married Shimon shortly thereafter due to intense family pressure. She ran away from Shimon a few hours after the wedding without having sexual relations with him and she divorced him a month later. Sarah now wants to remarry Reuven – is there a halakhic way to permit this?

Normally, in such a case, it would seem to be forbidden for Sarah to remarry Reuven even if she did not have sexual relations with Shimon, because the moment she was betrothed to Shimon (erusin), she became forbidden to Reuven (Sifrei Devarim, par. 270).

However, in the circumstances under discussion, there are grounds to allow Sarah to remarry Reuven, because of the fact that it is absolutely clear that the second wedding was forced upon her (Kiddushin 2b). It is true that the coercion did not stem from Shimon but rather from Sarah’s family, but we rely on Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook who ruled that it does not matter who forced a woman to marry; if she did not consent, the marriage has no validity. Thus, Sarah never gave her consent to the second marriage, the marriage has no validity, there was no need for a divorce, and she may remarry Reuven.

Rabbi David Golinkin
Approved Unanimously