A Tel Aviv family court judge was recently forced to choose between two bad options. As a result of her decision, would the child become listed as a Mamzer, the child of an illicit relationship between a married woman and someone who wasn’t her husband, or would the child grow up financially unsupported and not know who his real father is?
Three years ago, possibly as the result of the affair between a then married woman from Petach Tikva and another man, a child was born.
According to Halacha, the confirmed offspring of such a relationship takes on the halachic status of a mamzer, a bastard in colloquial terms. That child is then forbidden to marry most other Jews. As per Jewish law, a mamzer is only allowed to marry another mamzer or a convert. In nearly all other aspects of Jewish life and law there is no halachic difference between a mamzer and an ordinary Jew.
For clarification purposes for our readers, someone born out of wedlock is not considered a mamzer and there is no halachic stigma or ramifications attached to the child. It is only when the woman is married to another man, or the result of incest, is there a problem.
Whenever possible, Judaism prefers to not expose a person as a mamzer, and tries very hard to keep his status buried, including offering benefit of the doubt to the husband, rather than expose what might be the truth and place the involuntary victim in that tragic position.
In the case that appeared before the court, the woman demanded the man take a paternity test to prove he is the father, and begin paying child support. The woman claimed, that the child deserved to know who his real father was. A paternity test would leave no room for benefit of the doubt.
While the man did not deny that he had relations with the woman while she was married and at the right time to be the father, he said that by taking the paternity test (and if it proved positive), as well as by providing financial support for the child, it would be an admission of guilt, and mark the child a mamzer for life.
The judge ruled that the man has to take the paternity test, and the excuse he gave of wanting to prevent the child from becoming a mamzer is an attempt to avoid his financial obligations, adding that a child wants to know who his real parents are, no matter what the pain.
The judge added that in the court case following the paternity test, they can argue the halachic issue of who is the father. Of course, at that point it will be a matter of public record, and too late. The man also had to pay NIS 7500 to the woman for court fees, and another NIS 1500 to the court.
All in all, a lot of very stupid people made this story possible.
If you were the judge, how would you have ruled regarding the paternity test?