Tuesday, April 5, 2016

For Orthodox Jews, a Different Kind of Prenup

The halachic prenup—which dates back decades and has been championed by the Beth Din of America, the U.S.’s biggest rabbinical court—has gone mainstream in some circles as a mechanism to avoid the messy, sometimes abusive situations that advocates say can arise as divorce becomes more common in the Orthodox Jewish community.

The prenup serves to reduce the incidence of agunot, a Hebrew term for women who remain married against their will. Orthodox Jewish couples need to both civilly and religiously divorce, and only men have the power to grant the religious divorce, called a “get.”

A husband’s refusal to grant a get is part of a pattern often common in domestic-abuse situations because it is an assertion of power and control over his wife, with economic and social ramifications that are unique to Orthodox communities, said Orly Kusher, an attorney at Sanctuary for Families, a New York-based advocacy group for domestic-violence victims. She leads the group’s new legal-services program focused on agunot.

In situations where women are refused a get, Ms. Kusher said, they are often not allowed to participate in religious ceremonies, and can be denied access to shared finances and to children. The women are sometimes ostracized from the larger Orthodox community, she added, their reputations damaged and religiosity called into question.

“It can be tough on their children,” Ms. Kushner said, “because when they approach the age when they are getting married, they are seen as damaged goods.”

Over 15 years of serving domestic-abuse victims, Shoshannah Frydman, a social worker and clinical director of family violence and social services at New York’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, said she has seen an increasing number of Orthodox Jewish women coming to her agency seeking help and who are often unable to obtain a get. 

Most notable, she said, is the change in demographics. Years ago, her clients were in their 50s and 60s, with children who were also married. Now, she said, more of her clients are in their 20s and 30s, with one or two young children. “That is very significant because it means there is more awareness in the community,” Ms. Frydman said.

The drive toward more women seeking help, advocates and rabbis say, is partly a reaction to modern times. It used to be that communities were bound by geography, with limited mobility and strong rabbinical courts. Under those circumstances, a man refusing a get would be ostracized.

Now, to pressure a man withholding a get, people and organizations take to Twitter and Facebook, hold protests at his home or submit his name to a list published in the Jewish Press, an independent weekly newspaper.[...]

Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, said his group is currently aiding about 70 women who have been working for years toward a get. Because of that, the organization has raised awareness about prenups and postnups at high schools, colleges and synagogues, even hosting postnup-signing parties. In the past 12 months, 125 prenups and postnups have been included in a registry, up from 48 from the previous 12 months, he said.

“We are very, very strong advocates of the Jewish prenuptial agreement,” said Rabbi Stern, “and we are looking to go out of business by standardizing its use.”


  1. While claiming to be in compliance with halacha, the MO prenup is a deceptive ,feminist perversion of Torah law and values. The sole purpose of the MO prenup is to allow women to force an invalid Jewish divorce on their husbands using financial coercion in non-Jewish courts. This is a right that Jewish husbands do not have, and it demonstrates the real goals of the MO feminist bamboozlers like Jeremy Stern. The goals of ORA and the MO feminists are to devolve Jewish husbands into subservient pawns of their wives with no rights of their own.

    As explained in an excellent article ( "Why a Prenup is Forbidden by the Mishneh, the Rishonim and Poskim" ) by R. Dovid Eidensohn on his torahhalacha blog, the MO Prenup is a halachic farce for a slew of reasons. For example, if a Jewish wife abandons her husband, the husband has no obligation to provide her "mezonos", as stated in Shulchan Aruch, Evan HaEzer. The huge payments the prenup requires the husband to pay the wife are then in fact just a tactic to force an invalid coerced GET from the husband using a phony facade of halacha.


  2. There is very good halachic basis for the prenup. take a look at the sefer nachlas shiva where he proposes a very similar takanah. and his sefer was a heavily relied upon by the gedolai haposkim over the past 350 years. And there are many possum today even not from the MO circles who advocate some form of the prenup.

  3. Politically IncorrectApril 5, 2016 at 5:20 PM

    Going through my situation, I thought that a prenup agreed between both parties on 1) ruling out court and 2) agreeing on a mutually agreed Rav (later, I would interject that he must be reputable, go figure. ...) to adjudicate any arising controversies would be the solution to the general chaos that is plaguing Jewish divorce. ...

    But after seeing a comment from "Emes", a few days ago that most divorces are initiated by women, due to the financial advantage favoring them, in contrast to non marital relationships, where both genders are about equal in connection to being the initiators of the break up, we should make a default provision that there be no alimony, no equitable distribution and no other Sodomite laws (that make this country an "Eretz ocheles yoshvehoh" ) being incorporated into our sacred marriages...

  4. The Nachlas Shiva's case is completely uncomparable to the RCA prenup. Even Rav Weiss, who supports the the RCA prenup, said so.

    Additionally, Rav Elyashiv, Rav Shternbuch and many others have said the RCA type prenup causes a future Get to potentially be me'usa/invalid and therefore it is prohibited to use this prenup.

  5. There's nothing feminist about a the concept of a prenup, because it can be used to the advantage of the husband just as well.

    For instance, if the prenup would state that the parties agree to adjudicate any matrimonial disputes before the BD of Rabbi Gestetner, or any BD that will pasken strictly according to the Shulchan Aruch, that would be a one-up for the husband.

    On the contrary, it would be wise for the anti-feminists among us to advocate for such a prenup in order to prevent wives from going to court against their husbands.At the very minimum, the prenup would state that all matrimonial differences must be decided according to Jewish Law as codified in the Shulchan Aruch and other such traditional sifrei tshuvos.

  6. And there are many possum today even not from the MO circles who advocate some form of the prenup.

    Many? Incorrect.

    Let's see what certain MO and Zionist rabbis have to say about this.

    הרב ברוך אפרתי, מבכירי רבני הציונות דתית ומי שעומד בראש ארגון 'רבני דרך אמונה', הוסיף "מלבד החשש הפרטי לגט מעושה, הרי זהו חלק ממגמה ברורה לעשות רפורמות במנהגי ישראל, כך שיתאימו לערכי התרבות המערבית. מגמה זו פסולה, וכפי שכתב מרן הרב זצ"ל בעזרת כהן סמ"ב – "שכל התחכמות עד"ת נקרא העברה ע"ד תורה", שלא להנהיג שינויים ברשה"ר בענייני גיטין וקידושין. והגרי"ד סולוביצ'יק זצ"ל אשר עמד מול מגמות כעין אלו באמריקה, אמר עליהם: מה אתם רוצים, להרוס את הכל? האם מצפים אתם לשרוד כרבנים אורתודוקסים? האם חושבים אתם להמשיך את המסורה בתנאים כאלה? תהו ובהו יבואו (ח"ו) במקום התורה".

    יצויין כי הרבנות הראשית לישראל גם היא התנגדה בעבר להסכמים כאלה וכינתה אותם

  7. At the very minimum, the prenup would state that all matrimonial differences must be decided according to Jewish Law as codified in the Shulchan Aruch and other such traditional sifrei tshuvos.

    1) That's legally unacceptable. The primary cause of contentions in the Frum world are the children. Children are legally considered wardens of the court. No parent has a legal right to dethrone the court of their wardenship of the children.

    2) Why did Chazal institute a requirement for a kesubah?
    שלא תהא קלה בעיניו להוציאה
    Rama 66-1 https://he.wikisource.org/wiki/%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%9C%D7%97%D7%9F_%D7%A2%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%9A_%D7%90%D7%91%D7%9F_%D7%94%D7%A2%D7%96%D7%A8_%D7%A1%D7%95_%D7%90

    In fact, them may not completely live with each other until a husband gives his wife a proper kesubah.

    A woman was never required to sign a kesubah, as she never had an ability to divorce her husband. If you are seeking to give her the ability to easily divorce her husband, then you must institute a requirement for a kesubah. If she chooses to divorce, then she should have a financial penalty, payable to her husband, equivalent to what a man must pay if chooses to divorce his wife.

  8. FedupwithcorruprabbisApril 5, 2016 at 7:44 PM

    Moe and menachem are right. It is important to leave thestatus quo when it comes to Gittin as long as the women use the civil courts to rape the men from their halachic rights! This way the equation is balanced. Jeremy stern is a cover for the feminist movement which seeks feminine dominion over the men. My answer to their prenuptial agreement is "FOLLOW THE TORAH OR DONT GET MARRIED!

  9. Politically IncorrectApril 5, 2016 at 11:43 PM

    To Honestly add to Honesty....
    - Why did Chazal make a takanah that a woman gets 200 zuz in case of a divorce? Why not say. .....like the contemporary prenup.....like $150.00? per day that he does not give her a get? Well, [aside that he does not divorce against his will] they obviously held 'ad Kan v'su lo'!

    To his last paragraph, the Gemara in Gittin, Perek Hanizokin, asks " why don't we give a kesuvah for a man? " Answers the Gemara, " a woman leaves the marriage with her will or against her will, but the man only leaves with his will", therefore he is not entitled to a kesuvah. ....

  10. FedupwithcorruprabbisApril 6, 2016 at 12:53 AM

    Your idea wouldn't hold up in The NY courts which are notorious for violating men's constitutional rights! At the very least, the NY Get law needs to be removed prior to signing a prenuptial agreement

  11. Elchanan, please stop trying to hoodwink us. This is the standard technique of MO to pretend like they are implementing a traditional halachic practice when in fact they are implementing a feminist agenda.

    Rav Dovid Eidensohn explained right in the link I already posted how the Nachlas Shiva document is very different from the MO prenups. In the standard MO prenup, the wife can simply abandon her husband without justification, and obligate the husband to make the payments to her. Not so in the Nachlas Shiva document.

    See the section on that web page "They Claim Proof from Nachalas Shiva to Permit Prenups" http://torahhalacha.blogspot.com/2015/08/why-prenup-is-forbidden-by-mishneh.html

  12. a woman leaves the marriage with her will or against her will, but the man only leaves with his will", therefore he is not entitled to a kesuvah. ....

    Argh, archaic stuff. Why not just be modern, get with the times, and add some equality for the men. Why should men nowadays not be able to be forced out of marriage??

  13. Is black and white for you? Are there no innocent women who have married and tried to make it work, been abused, and tried to leave a dead dysfunctional marriage but could not? Are they all raping the men with the civil courts? The women are all feminists trying to take advantage of the poor defenseless men? There are no female victims in your world, couldn't be, they are all manipulating and coniving.

  14. fedupwithcorruptrabbisApril 6, 2016 at 4:07 PM

    yes there are female victims, but this doesnt justify changing something for the few victims..You are so worried about the woman not receiving a GET , but what about the men that cannot see their children, pay exorbitant child support, jailed for false accusations made by the women! How come no one feels bad for these men VICTIMS? The answer is that this whole ORA, AGUNA, PRENUP business is a FEMINIST DRIVEN AGENDA. In Israel its even worse. They are jailing American men for not giving a GET. WHO GAVE THE RABBANUT PERMISSION TO DOMINATE ALL CIVIL CASES FROM AROUND THE WORLD? WHO MADE THEM THE SANHEDRIN OF ISRAEL? Once again its all feminist driven just like the Women Of The Wall who are a bunch of Wackos trying to change religion.

  15. I don't know how many innocent victims there are, male or female. But I don't have a knee-jerk reaction to call every female who has a failed marriage a feminist, and every solution to a women denied a get as a feminist driven agenda. Its not all feminist driven, they are just the loudest. I also wouldn't call every man a wife abuser and women hater. There are many people out there quietly suffering with no agenda.

  16. Oh, it is a feminist agenda is it?
    Have you heard off the rambam? He is the rav who stated the 13 principles that define who is a good jew. He said that women are not slaves to be kept married against their will. So you have a problem with how he sees judaism? Perhaps you have a problem with the principles too after all if you think he was so wrong about marriages why should you rely on him when it comes to the most important principles. Perhaps you would call him a feminist -then every very torah jew should want to consider himself like the rambam and put himself in his feminist group.

  17. his view has been rejected by most poskim including the Shulchan Aruch

  18. My understanding is that the RCA prenup is the one approved by R' Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg.

  19. Student, you're simply setting up strawwomen here. No one is denying there are abused women or female victims, just as there are abused men and male victims.

    The point is that the standard MO prenup imposes all penalties on the husband and violates halacha and denies the husband his halachic rights by automatically forcing a GET with financial coercion whenever a wife might leave for any reason.

  20. Why do you mean his view has been rejected by most Poskim? Which view, that women are not slaves to be kept against their will? Do you believe women are no better than slaves? Is that the view of the shulchan aruch?

  21. I hope you are not seriously asking the above questions. Do you object to the majority view of poskim and say that you will only accept the minority view of the Rambam?!

    The Rambam is stating that a husband can be forced to give a get if the wife says she finds hims disgusting because she is not like a slave who can be forced to have intercourse.

    Most poskim say that a man can not be forced to give his wife a get for that reason - but they also say that she can not be forced to have intercourse.

  22. fedupwithcorruptrabbisApril 7, 2016 at 7:34 AM

    explain me why there arent any organizations trying to put a stop to the abuse against men? also why does it not bother you that a woman who prosecutes her husband in the civil courts AGAINST HALACHA? Who said that the mitzva of GET supercedes the Aveira of prosecuting in the civil courts! LET ME REMIND YOU ALL THAT THE RAMBAM QUOTED IS ONLY APPLICABLE WHEN THE WOMAN IS TOTALLY GUILTLESS. This is not the case when todays feminist women who go against the torah and rob their husbands' halachic rights of custody and other rights.

  23. That's what I was told by a chashuve, widely-accepted rav whom I asked about the RCA prenup. I don't know his source for the information.

    Why, do you believe otherwise? If yes, on what basis?

  24. They claim his endorsement on the official prenup website:


  25. Ye'yasher kochakhem, R' Kishkeyum and R' Moe Ginsburg. It is indeed true that R. Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg approved the RCA prenuptial agreement. However, I argue in Section A of my essay http://www.scribd.com/doc/176990434/Prenuptial-Agreements that (be-mechilat kevod Torato shel R. Goldberg) this was an error. To his credit, it is reported that R. Goldberg may have more reconsidered his support (-though I have no inside information on this latter report). See footnote 110 of my essay. Thank you.


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