Yom Hashoa: Minchat Yitzchak: Concentration Camps & Remarriage
This is with regard to those thousands of women who are Agunot, referring specifically to the remnant which escaped from the death camps, Auschwitz, etc., which were founded for the purpose of destroying our people, young, old, children and women. The procedure was this: When, after great worry and grief, family groups came to those places, the Nazis separated them from each other, one going to the right for a temporary continuation of life and the other group going to the left to immediate death, on the road that led to the crematorium, of which group we are told not one soul escaped. As for those who were left for temporary survival, these two were afterwards condemned to die by horrible deaths. Thus died, for the sanctification of gods Name, about 6 million Jews. There were left approximately 300,000 in all the lands of Europe into which the evil government had spread; make its name be blotted out.
Now in my humble opinion the decision in this matter depends upon a premise with regard to people going down in unlimited waters and whose memory is lost. In the Mordechai, at the end of Yevamot, there appears the following: “in the answer of Rabbi Eliezer of Verdun there is a careful analysis of the statement of the rabbis that if a man goes down in unlimited waters, his wife is prohibited from remarriage. Now it does not say that she is prohibited forever. Therefore, since for ever is not said in the rabbinical statement, it seems reasonable to assume that our rabbis put it up to the sages of every generation to study and come to conclusions with regard to the circumstances of their own generation. So he makes a strong effort to find grounds for permission for remarriage for a woman who was an Agunah for four years and there are many presumptions indicating that her husband was really drowned, for the articles which he took with him onto the ship were found on the shore.”
According to what is known to us, the order of the killing was conducted as follows: first they selected a large proportion for death; the few that were left they divided into camps, and from those camps they constantly chose people to be killed. In the camp itself, people were killed in various ways. Of the few that were left, they led them so far on foot, making them run, that many of them died on the road. Very few were those who remained to move on from one exile to another; and every time they were mixed up with other men and many of those died. So only a minimum of a minimum were left.
We need in this the agreement of the great rabbis of the generation. (Minchat Yitzchak)