Shabbat Parashat Miketz | 5763
Classical Agunah Issue – Lack of a Corpse
Is there an absolute need to find a corpse and identify it in order to render a ruling to permit an agunah to remarry?
The gemara (Yevamot 121a) discusses a man who fell into a body of water and was not seen exiting it (after the witness waited longer than the person could survive). The accepted opinion distinguishes between a case where the shore can be seen on all sides, in which case we can assume the man drowned, and a case where he cannot see all of the shoreline (mayim she’ein lahem sof), where we cannot make that assumption. Another pertinent case is of one who was seen falling into a furnace, where we can assume he has died (ibid., 121b). As previously mentioned, most poskim take a pragmatic approach in comparing cases to their Talmudic precedents.
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