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Colonial Cases

Attorney General v. Lubling, 1931


Attorney General v. Lubling

District Court, Jerusalem
Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 13 March 1931



   That the ban on polygamy pronounced by Rabbi Gershom in the year 1000 is not longer valid and Jews, Ashkenazic and Sephardi alike, may now with impunity marry more than one wife, was argued before the District Court of Jerusalem by a Jewish lawyer defending Alexander Lubling, son of a Sephardi father and an Ashkenazi mother, accused of having taken a second wife before obtaining a divorce from the first.

  A certificate from the Rabbinical Office in Jerusalem showing that Lubling at the time of his second marriage described himself as a bachelor was produced in court, as was also evidence of a Jewish police officer to whom Lubling is said to have stated that he had become separated from his first wife almost immediately after their marriage, when he felt convinced that his wife had entered into marriage with some ulterior motive.

  He further pleaded that as the son of a Sephardi, he was in any case allowed more then one wife and that, moreover, his first wife had returned to Poland and remarried.

   The extraordinary feature was the counsel's submission that even if Lubling were considered an Ashkenazi and not a Sephardi Jew, there would be nothing wrong in this second marriage, since Rabbi Gershom's famous edict against Jews living in Europe taking more than one wife had been a temporary provision intended to remain in force until the end of the year 5000, and we were now in the year 5691, according to Jewish reckoning.

   The second wife gave evidence that she had been aware of her husband's first marriage but that it made no difference to her.  Counsel for the defence contended that under the law the change fell to the ground, since no injury had been caused to anyone through his second marriage.

   Although the judges did not accept this reasoning, and countered that in this case the man's first wife might easily have been affected adversely by his second marriage, Lulbing got off lightly with only L. 2 fine and costs instead of three years.  The judges considered his first wife's departure an extenuating circumstance.  The article under which he was tried deals with giving false information to authorities.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School