AUCTION 47 | Thursday, December 10th, 2009 at 1:00
Fine Judaica: Hebrew Printed Books, Manuscripts, Graphic & Ceremonial Art

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Lot 295


Three items pertaining to Agunoth and Heter Me'ah Rabbanim: 1. A scribal letter signed by Rabbi Samuel Mohilever and two members of the Beth Din of Suvalk, dated 1866, written to the Rabbi of Maneshest concerning a recalcitrant husband who disappeared and left his pregnant wife and children penniless. He was later reported to be living in Maneshest and about to marry a Gentile woman. The abandoned wife was forced to travel to Maneshest to receive a divorce, entrusting her infant to a wetnurse. The Rabbi is requested to help in whatever way he can, either to make peace or to help the couple separate. 2. A similar letter dated 1866 concerning a wife abandoned by her husband, leaving her to care for small children. The letter implores that funds be made available to her for traveling expenses. It is signed by two dayanim and bears the stamp of the community of Mariampol (formerly known as Stariapolie). 3. A printed double postcard (ca. 1930) requesting participation in a Heter Meah Rabbanim [permission signed by 100 rabbis] allowing a man to remarry without obtaining a get, following his spouse's internment in an insane asylum. With the printed signatures of the Warsaw Rabbinate


Est: $200 - $300
These letters are indicative of the social milieu and the sad state of affairs when agunoth (literally "chained women") had to actively search for the whereabouts of their missing husbands. Samuel Mohilever (1824-1898), one of the founders of Religious Zionism, was an outstanding student of the Volozhin Yeshiva and considered one of the great rabbinic leaders of Russia. He was appointed Rabbi of Suvalk in 1860, later serving in Bialystok. See EJ, Vol. XII, cols. 217-219; Leo Jung (ed.), Men of the Spirit (1964), pp. 415-36