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Rabbi Simcha Krauss – “If the Jewish Community Doesn’t Feel the Pain…”

Rabbi Simcha Krauss, zt”l, has passed into eternity.

For those who remain in the earthly world, it is a great loss. Rabbi Krauss was multi-faceted, but I choose to share the Rabbi Krauss I knew.

From the moment I walked into the small room in Jerusalem and was introduced to Rabbi Krauss I realized that I was in the presence of a great man. He spoke quietly, which was typical of his humility, and asked me questions to learn about me and my activities. But from that very humility emanated his greatness.

Rabbi Krauss deeply felt the pain of agunot. As a believing Jew who was a truly great talmid chacham he could not accept the manipulation of the halakha which brought about so much suffering. You can begin to understand his pain by just watching the first few minutes of his presentation at an Agunah Day Event on March 8, 2014, held by the International Young Israel Movement in Israel.

As Rabbi Krauss said: “If the Jewish community doesn’t feel the pain, it is problematic…There can be solutions.” Rabbi Krauss took upon himself to find solutions to the agunah problem – both preventative and curative. He published an approbation for the book I authored analyzing and disseminating prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal — מנעי עיניך מדמעה: הסכמי קדם נישואין למניעת סירוב גט. Moreover, he developed a brilliant thesis within the halakha which formed the basis of releasing agunot from their chains and allowing them to build a new healthy family unit. He sought to explain his thesis to rabbinical scholars. And finally, he put it into action by founding the International Beth Din and curing the pain of many agunot who brought their cases before him for judgement – granting these women and their families succor when others failed to do so.

Rabbi Simcha Krauss will be remembered by the Jewish people for his greatness as a Rav, a leader, a talmid chacham, a rebbe and a rabbinical court judge. But for many individual Jews, myself included, he is remembered in our hearts and minds as the epitome of these words:

אָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה רָאִיתִי דִּמְעַת הָעֲשׁוּקִים וְאֵין לָהֶם מְנַחֵם,

וְכָל הַמַּתִּיר עֲגוּנָה אַחַת בַּזְּמַן כְּאִלּוּ בָּנָה אַחַת מֵחָרְבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם הָעֶלְיוֹנָה

(שו”ת בית חדש החדשות, סי’ סד)

Shlomo declared:

I have seen the tears of the oppressed and they have no one to comfort them,

And each who releases one chained woman in a timely manner is as one who built one of the ruins of the heavenly Jerusalem. (Responsa of Bayit Chadash 64)

Rabbi Simcha Krauss has seen the tears and has built the ruins of heavenly Jerusalem in our time. His memory will continue to provide us with blessings.

About the Author
Rachel Levmore, PhD in Talmud and Jewish Law from Bar Ilan University, is the director of the Agunah and Get-Refusal Prevention Project of the International Young Israel Movement in Israel and the Jewish Agency; one of the authors of the prenuptial "Agreement for Mutual Respect"; author of "Min'ee Einayich Medim'a" on prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal; member of Beit Hillel-Attentive Spiritual Leadership; and the first female Rabbinical Court Advocate to serve on the Israel Commission for the Appointment of Rabbinical Court Judges.
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