Three Prenuptial Agreements That Just Might Work

Three prenuptial marriage protection agreements have been accepted by Orthodox rabbis as fulfilling halakhah (Jewish law).

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This agreement has received the approval of many halakhic authorities such as Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel; Rabbi Chaim Zimbalist of the Tel Aviv Beit Din; Rabbi Yitzchak Leibes; Rosh Beit Din of the Rabbinical Alliance of America; Rabbi Gedalia Schwartz, Rosh Beit Din of the Rabbinic Council of America; and Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Rosh Kollel of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. On June 15, 1993, the Rabbinical Council of America passed a resolution urging its members to use the agreement at every Jewish wedding in which they officiate. Since then, the agreement has been updated and is available on the website of the beit din of America.

Like the tosefet mezonot agreement, this arrangement protects only the wife. Nonetheless, the recent decision of the Rabbinical Council of America promises to go a long way in eliminating the problem of igun.

Many great halakhic authorities approve of using marriage protection agreements. Rabbis who use these agreements have reported that their use has actually prevented the incidence of igun ["chained" wives, who have not received a get [Jewish bill of divorce] from their husbands]. Despite this, there is sometimes opposition among both rabbis and lay people to the use of marriage protection agreements. This opposition is often not on halakhic grounds, but on personal grounds. The decision to sign a marriage protection agreement could be seen to imply an expectation that the marriage will end in divorce or a suspicion that the bride and groom are capable of victimizing a spouse.

This is why all of us, rabbis and lay people alike, must work to ensure that marriage protection agreements become standard procedure at every Jewish wedding. Once signing a marriage protection agreement becomes a communal decision, the personal burden is removed from individual men and women. Signing the agreement as a standard part of the Jewish wedding affirms the individual's concern for the welfare of the entire community. By signing a halakhic prenuptial agreement, the husband and wife are helping to eliminate igun from our midst.

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Viva Hammer

Viva Hammer is a tax attorney in Washington, D.C. She was the co-founder and director of the Wedding Resource Center, which was established with the goal that no Jewish marriage take place without a Marriage Protection Agreement. She has written for The Washingtonian, Lilith, Jewish Action, Los Angeles Jewish Journal, and many other places.