Henry VIII and Yevamos

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15 Responses

  1. Paul Murphy says:

    Excellent item above.

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  2. Ori Pomerantz says:

    At the risk of sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong, the Pope was right. The issue for them was not about contemporary Jewish practice, but the interpretation of Torah verses. Both Pope and King believed that we lost our divine guidance when we rejected Jesus – so it was irrelevant for them that Yibum fell into disuse after the end of the Talmudic period, or that Rabbeinu Gershom and Rabbeinu Tam were against it.

  3. Tal Benschar says:

    The Pope was right for the wrong reason. The prohibition of marrying one’s brother’s wife (eshet ach>/i>) does not apply to Bnei Noach. Nor does the mitzvah of yibbum, for that matter.

  4. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    The events recounted had quite a few more shades of nuance than you give credit for. First of all, Rome was occupied by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain, ruler of half of Europe, and Katherine’s nephew. He couldn’t be angered. Second, the Pope’s representative in England tried to resolve things in Henry’s favor as best he could. If Catherine had become a nun, the marriage would automatically be annulled, so he tried to convince Katherine. No dice. Henry had an illegitimate son. The Vatican offered to legitimate him, give a dispensation for the son to marry his half-sister, and then the two of them would be Henry’s successors as rulers of England. Henry vetoed that one, because he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn. The next offer was a dispensation for Henry to take two wives, so he could be married to both. Anne Boleyn vetoed that one. In the end, Henry VIII did not bring Protestantism to England; it was already there. All he did was to make himself supreme ruler of the church. Otherwise, things continued as before. Protestantism marched forward only on Henry’s death, with the 6 year reign of his legitimate son, Edward VI. When his daughter Mary became queen, she “restored” Catholicism by enacting a law that returned all forms of worship to what they were when Henry had died. Principle had very little to do with any thing.

  5. Michoel @Chareidio says:

    Similarly, it was very recently announced that the Vatican overturned the annulment of the marriage of Joseph kennedy to his first wife Sheila Rauch. Kennedy, (Son of Bobby Kennedy), received the annulment in secret, back in 1991, and Sheila, who learned about it 5 years later, was furious, and wrote a book called ‘Shattered Faith’, in which she accused the Church of kowtowing to the Kennedy family. In the meantime, Kennedy married his congressional aide, Beth Kelly in 1993. L’ch’ora, he remarried when the annulment was in force. When it got overturned, does that shlug up the 2nd marriage le’maf’rea?

  6. Ken says:

    Whats with the backhanded slap at far-left orthodox? What do they mangle so badly? How about some clarifications and examples if youre going to bash them?!

  7. michoel halberstam says:

    Ragarding the MItzvoh of Yibbum and Bnei Noach, see the Ramban on Parshas Vayeshev, regarding the Story of Yehuda and Tamar, and the Story of Rus.

  8. al says:

    I think that Henry did not establish a protestant church but rather a national catholic church with him as its leader.
    It was his daughter eliz that made it truly protestant.

  9. HILLEL says:


  10. Noam says:

    “I suppose, that neither Neturei Karta nor the far-left Orthodox invented the art of mangling Torah sources”

    Do we really need the gratuitous insults? And if so, please define who you mean so I can know if my hashkafa is included in the accusation of mangling.

  11. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Al writes that:

    “Henry did not establish a protestant church but rather a national catholic church with him as its leader.” Correct. And when his daughter Mary “restored” Catholicism, this is what she restored.

    “It was his daughter eliz that made it truly protestant.” Wrong. During the reign of Edward VI, Cranmer tried to make the church protestant, but met with widespread resistance. It was the popular reaction to Cranmer’s obdurate protestant theology that propelled the Marian revolution and brought Mary to the throne on the death of Edward VI. All Elizabeth did was to moderate some of Mary’s stands. She did not, by any means, make the church protestant.

  12. SM says:

    No, but what Henry did was alter the rules of engagement. In Germany it was Catholicism v Lutherism. After Henry it was Catholicism v England. The English have never been terribly interested in religion – hence the Church of England – a church which makes no demands on its membership and even belief in God is optional. But they are very keen on being English and Henry identified that with their own church.

    Consequently the opposition to Mary was based not on religion (the concern only of a few) but on importing foreign elements. Elizabeth tried hard not to chose between Protestantism and Catholicism but had little hesitation in persecuting individual Catholics on the basis that they were foreign agents. And Spain made her case when they sent over the Armada.

    English coins still bear the inscription (in Latin) – ‘Defender of the Faith’ which the Pope granted to Henry before they fell out. Proof that the English religion is being English.

    This is the mirror image of the position taken by the Irish. When R Herzog was Chief Rabbi of Ireland he was stopped on his way home from shul one Friday night during the troubles and asked, menacingly, ‘Protestant or Catholic?’ In those days the wrongs answer led to a beating or worse. The Chief Rabbi replied, absolutely truthfully, ‘I’m a Jew.’ Pause. Then – ‘Protestant Jew or Catholic Jew?’

  13. Nachum says:

    The dispensation to marry his sister-in-law was not granted on the basis of yibum; it was granted on the basis of the claim that the first marriage (between two kids who barely got to see each other) had never been consumated. When he wanted the marriage annulled, Henry claimed that it had, in fact, been consumated, although to her dying day, Katherine claimed that it hadn’t and that therefore, her second marriage had been valid.

  14. Charles B. Hall says:

    It was pointed out that Pope Clement VII (born Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici) didn’t have a completely free hand in deciding whether to grant King Henry VIII an annulment. It should also be noted that he was not the pope who had approved the marriage in the first place; that would likely have been Julius II, famous as the warrior pope in the movie “The Agony and the Ecstacy”. Church policies can and do change with popes. Pope Clement was in that time a rare friend of the Jewish people; there would be no pope following him about whom we can truly say that until John XXIII. Unfortunately for the Church, Clement was an otherwise incompetant pope.

    Regarding the Anglican Church, the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, the now-retired Bishop of New Jersey, publically condemned the anti-Semitism of the Anglican Church in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, not enough of the Anglican community has followed Bishop Spong’s lead in pointing out the obvious.

  15. Oldster says:

    Are there any Anglicans in England? Last I heard they were only to be found in Africa.

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