When I was a kid…

It was common knowledge that the Cherem – Excommunicatory Ban against polygamy instituted by R. Gershom* was only going to be enforced for One Thousand Years. How come no one announced when it ended, and how come no one celebrated?

*German rabbi, scholar, and religious poet Gershom ben Judah (ca. 950-1028) exerted a great influence on Jewish social institutions. He is also known as Rabbenu Gershom and Meor Ha-Golah, “Light of the Exile.” 

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3 responses to “When I was a kid…

  1. The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel renewed the ban for all time. I daresay no one was surprised.

  2. a.) when did that happen? (I never read about it)

    b.) since it was never a universally accepted ban, north african sefardim and others still practised polygamy in the 1940s, who gave the Israeli Rabbinate power to ban what previous generations of rabbis of greater stature did not?

    c.) they can, by definition only ban it in Israel.

    d.) thanks for commenting

  3. a) I heard about it happening shortly before Rabbainu Gershom’s decree would have expired. I don’t remember when that was. This is something I heard, not something I have documentation on.

    b) I have heard that people who arrived in Israel with multiple wives were allowed to keep them, but in Israel no one could marry more than one wife, no matter where you were from or what the customs were there. Again, something I heard, no documentation.

    c) I suppose that is technically correct. I had the impression, either from the people I heard it from or just in my own mind, that there was no way the ban was going to expire and men be allowed to marry multiple wives. The two chief rabbis banning it forever was to have the effect of banning it forever for everyone. I don’t remember if I heard that or just thought it.

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