Restrictions for Future Marriage
If you were divorced in an official rabbinical court, and a get and divorce certificate were issued, you are free to remarry in the future, subject to the following restrictions:
» A Waiting Period:
You must wait 92 days (3 months) from the day of your divorce, before remarrying. In ancient times, when this law was instituted, this period of time was necessary in order to determine whether a woman was pregnant from her former husband, thus avoiding potential uncertainty with regard to a child’s paternity. Despite modern technological and medical advances, this law remains binding, in order to symbolically distinguish between the marriage relationship that was just terminated to the one about to be formed. A similar waiting period, for men and women, is mandated also by civil law in some parts of the Western non-Jewish world. In certain particularly extenuating circumstances, the bet din may permit a shorter waiting period, if a pregnancy test comes back negative.
If you either find out you are pregnant during this ‘waiting period’, knew you were pregnant already during the divorce process, or gave birth prior to your divorce and are still nursing, you are required to wait 24 months from the time of birth, before marrying another man who is not the child’s father. This law was also instituted in ancient times, in an effort to insure that both the nursing child and mother would be provided for, as long as she was nursing him. If you wish to remarry before this 24 month period ends, and you have already stopped nursing, you can submit a medical note certifying that this is so to the bet din, and they will probably grant you special permission.
» The prohibition against the marriage of a kohen and a divorcee:
By Jewish law, a kohen is forbidden to marry a divorcee. Since the prohibition only applies to a kohen, and not to a bat kohen, this restriction affects only divorcees. This restriction stems from the priest’s special status in ancient times due to his responsibilities in the Temple: “God spoke to Moses saying, tell the kohanim the sons of Aharon… that they should be holy unto their God… and a woman who was divorced from her husband, they should not take (Leviticus 21:1, 6-7).” A kohen and divorcee who married abroad will be registered as married in Israel and recognized as such by religious law, yet their children will be considered ‘chalalim’, a term denoting shame and dishonor, which is etymologically completely unrelated to the modern definition of chalal, namely, a corpse. There are several legal-halachic ramifications of this status: the kohen, himself, who marries a divorcee cannot participate in birkat kohanim, or be called up to the Torah as a kohen, his daughters may not, according to Jewish law marry kohanim, and his sons cannot marry the daughters of kohanim.
Kohanim often have an identifying family name, such as Kohen, Kahan, Kahana, Azulai, Katz, Kaplan, or Kagan, but they do not necessarily have such a name. Conversely, not everyone with the name Kohen is necessarily a kohen. A halachic solution to the marriage of a kohen and divorcee is sometimes possible either by casting doubt on the priestly lineage of the groom (by researching the family genealogy) or by raising doubts with regard to the halachic validity of the divorcee’s first marriage, and thus, on her status as a divorcee. These measures are undertaken by Rabbis or via the rabbinical court.
» Remarriage to each other:
As a general rule, a renewed connection and remarriage between a divorced couple is considered desirable and in effect, a mitzvah. This holds true, however, only if the woman did not first marry another different man after her divorce from the man she now wishes to remarry. If she did in fact marry another man, then she is forbidden in marriage to her first husband. A kohen, who divorces his wife, will never be able to remarry, even if his wife doesn’t marry another man first, because of the prohibition, discussed above, regarding the marriage of a kohen and divorcee.
» Individual restrictions:
Occasionally, the bet din will stipulate additional specific restrictions on future marriages. Thus, for example, if the bet din became aware that a woman was involved in an intimate relationship with a Jew who was not her husband before her get was final (and particularly if she had children as a result of this relationship, who were considered mamzerim (illegitimate)), it will probably prohibit her future marriage to that man. In such a case, the man’s name, and sometimes, also his teudat zehut number will be noted on the court decision. In cases that are not clear-cut, the bet din will probably write a note, in its decision to the effect, “In the event that this woman decides to marry so and so in a religious ceremony, a hearing before bet din will first be necessary.”
For assistance finding halachic solutions to marriages of kohen and a divorcee contact us at: 1-700-500-507.