Polygamy is allowed by the Torah but outlawed in the countries where Jews live. So, because of Dina dmalchuta dina, Jews cannot have more than one wife. Rabbenu Gershom imposed a ban on polygamy for Ashkenazim, but it is now expired. So my question is: Would a rabbi perform a second wedding for a married man, knowing the marriage would not be recognized by civil authorities, but would by Jewish law? If not, why not?

  • 1
    Don't you already provide the reason why he wouldn't in your question?
    – Double AA
    Aug 28 '18 at 13:52
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    No, because a "marriage" that is not civilly recorded and recognized does not count for civil authorities. Aug 28 '18 at 13:55
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    In a number of countries, marriages that are not recorded are illegal and rabbis do not perform them. They will ask for a proof of civil marriage before doing the religious one
    – mbloch
    Aug 28 '18 at 14:22
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    "Rabbenu Gershom imposed a ban on polygamy for Ashkenazim, but it is now expired" - that is debatable, but the question would be better if it just ignored that part and posited a Sefardi Rabbi from a community that traditionally did not accept the ban. You could also expand the question to inquire about locations that recognize polygamous Cohabitation contracts but don't allow equivalent "marriage."
    – Yishai
    Aug 28 '18 at 14:26
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    What do you mean would a rabbi perform a wedding? In Judaism you don't NEED a rabbi. You could do everything on your own as long as you have witnesses and everything is done correctly.
    – Orion
    Aug 28 '18 at 19:29

No. See Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 1:9, and the Ba'er Heitev 19(ibid).

The Ba'er Heitev explains that since the custom among Jews is to marry only one woman, even without the cherem of R' Gershom, marriage nowadays is based on the premise/condition of monogamy.

Even in a place where polygamy is permitted by law(not that dina d'malchuta dina would matter, in my opinion) and the cherem of R' Gershom didn't apply(for theoretical purposes), it would still be forbidden to take a second wife because she may claim that she only agreed to be married on the condition of being his only wife. Even if she agreed to have a tzara, Rabanim will not and should not perform the marriage ceremony without special circumstances permitting(see below).

Only in certain situations where a woman is not willing to live with her husband, and won't accept a get; is he allowed to take a second wife after deliberation and permission from 100 Rabanim.

  • 2
    What about communities that don't have the eastern European custom of the baer heitev
    – Double AA
    Aug 30 '18 at 11:41
  • @DoubleAA Then I guess Jewish polygamists should move there. Aug 30 '18 at 11:48
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    Indeed all Jews should move to Israel!
    – Double AA
    Aug 30 '18 at 11:48
  • The Meiri on Ketubot 62b (couldn't find a free source online) infers from the gemara there that polygamy was frowned on by the Rabbis even in the Talmudic era. AFAIK none of the sages had more than one wife. Aug 30 '18 at 12:35
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    @chachamNisan, Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 1:10 says (after the long Ramo) לא פשטה תקנתו בכל הארצות. Jews in Muslim countries tended to not follow it, including in Israel.
    – Yishai
    Aug 30 '18 at 13:43

Some Jews have taken it upon themselves to be polygamous today. There's apparently an underground movement based on this idea in Israel. I've heard personal accounts and found this article from a Google search that claims these ideas could go all the way up to the Sephardic chief Rabbinate.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-defiance-of-israeli-law-polygamy-sanctioned-by-top-rabbis/

But even this article is shrouded in claims and mystery with little hard evidence. Which means it would be hard to be openly polygamous since the social stigmas are very large and real (according to modern social norms adultery is more acceptable than polygamy). So one would probably not be able to legally "register" their second/third/etc wife/marriage in any modern country outside of the Middle East.

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    I don't see where in that article you get "There's actually a seemingly underground movement based on it in Israel from some top (mostly Sephardic) Rabbis" from that article. Besides for bing a click-baity article, it quotes one unnamed Rabbi "who serves a community in [...] Hod Hasharon" who allegedly has a signed letter from R' Shlomo Amar allowing him personally to marry a second wife (without detailing what the specifics of that letter are). While I don't doubt that there are crazy extremist cults promoting polygamy, to claim it is supported by 'top Rabbis' needs a bit more proof. Aug 28 '18 at 18:29
  • You should mention the bein adam lachaveiro aspect. It's never going to be permitted if it causes pain to (one of) the wives - which is more likely nowadays than in the past because of what society accepts. This is deoraita and probably the biggest issue even for Ashkenazim, unless everyone involved is ok with it.
    – Heshy
    Aug 28 '18 at 19:33
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    Eh, I'm not the downvoter, but I still don't think my point is addressed. Your answer as to whether a Jew can be polygamous sounds like it's saying 'Yes, and here's an article speaking about a secret Illuminati club that does it!' Which admittedly, doesn't make an answer invalid (just like saying a sourceless 'I heard people who do it' doesn't invalidate it either), but it doesn't make for a strong answer either. (And even if everything in that article was 100% true, it wouldn't prove the validity of the group, just that the group exists) Aug 28 '18 at 20:54
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    @Heshy By that logic by law countries should make adultery illegal. But they don't, just polygamy. It's Christian politics, nothing else. If a woman doesn't want a sister wife then she has the right to request that in the ketubbah.
    – Aaron
    Aug 28 '18 at 21:50
  • Wouldn't the group mentioned in the article be transgressing the principle of dina d'malchusa dina?
    – ezra
    Aug 28 '18 at 22:28

Polygyny is permitted the problem is that most people think its not permitted so it is socially not common. Dina Malkuth Dina is mostly irrelevant as Jewish Torah Marriage and Civil Marriage is usually handled as seperate transactions one can easily do just Jewish Torah Keddushin and in fact many marriages are done without civil REGISTRATION. Further since cohabitation and having several woman one has a sexual aspect to their relationship is not illegal in most Western Countries with exception of a few US States it can easily be done without any concern of Dina Malkuth Dina from another interesting point of view is Jurisdiction their is a concept of LAW regarding four corners and if you apply that every Huppa is a seperate private Jurisdiction and therefore it can be claimed in even a WESTERN COURT that it is not even in the GOVERNMENTS appointed LEGAL JURISDICTION.
Further people including Rabbi's have not studied and so don't even understand Rebenu Gershon's decree as he implemented it and as it was exempted during his lifetime and in the period afterwards.

The views of not practicing has more to do with adopting the morals forced upong the Jewish Communities by the surrounding Roman Catholic and other Christian Clergy since the last 1000 years and continues today.

The biggest challenge is not if its Legal by Torah Law but by the fact that very few people are open to the practice which is sad as HaShem who is the master and overseer of all Shiddichim can seen and decide that a women would be a good match for such a man who has a wife but then nobody accepts it because of ignorance and wanting to behave as Monogmist Christians.

I have studied this subject extensively and discussed various aspects of this hundreds of times over the last 1+ years with learned Rabbi's all Sephardim.

Finally I will quote what my Rabbi said " We dont forbid what the Torah Permits." I welcome any questions or queries from those interested in genuine discussion.

And yes if I found the right sephardi woman or women I would ask them to marry me according to the Torah of Mosheh and Yisrael. Shalom Itzik Michael

  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Can I also recommend you take the tour to get a sense of how the site works?Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Mar 12 '19 at 4:45
  • Note that in many European countries it is forbidden to have a Jewish wedding without first having a civil wedding. Since polygamy is also forbidden, it would be illegal to have a second Jewish wedding. Last, are you aware of any Jewish community in which polygamy was commonly accepted?
    – mbloch
    Mar 12 '19 at 6:05
  • Pre State of Israel it occurred from Morocco to Afghanistan so both Iberian and Syrian and Edut HaMizrach countries such as Iraq and Persia and even I have read of cases in Bukhara. Of course we know it was very common in Yemen. I was not aware of the stance in Europe but is that really the case? Is it only applicable if a Rabbi is licenced by the state for Marriages what of a private ceremony by someone who is not licenced by the State? Mar 12 '19 at 8:46
  • Yes in at least some of Europe (e.g., Switzerland, France) it is strictly forbidden and no respectable rabbi would marry someone who didn't go through a formal civil ceremony before. Rabbis are not licensed there, it is simply the law.
    – mbloch
    Mar 12 '19 at 13:19

In those countries where polygamy is illegal, it would be forbidden for a Jewish man to take on multiple wives, based on the principle of dina d'malchusa dina.

  • I believe when the Yemenites entered Eretz Yisrael they were allowed to keep their extra wives but not accrue anymore
    – Aaron
    Aug 28 '18 at 23:03
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    Is the secular legal definition of polygamy met if there is only a halachic marriage?
    – Alex
    Aug 28 '18 at 23:17
  • @Aaron Because the Israeli government made a special exception for them.
    – ezra
    Aug 28 '18 at 23:20
  • What makes you say Dina D'Malchusa Dina applies to this case (marriages)? Your own link seems to imply that it doesn't. Aug 28 '18 at 23:39
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    This is incorrect. Dina d'malchuta dina only applies to monetary law (דיני ממונות). Aug 30 '18 at 12:29

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