The Signing of a Postnuptial Agreement
For the prevention of get-refusal
By Dr. Rachel Levmore
In Kiddushin 30a it states that one of the mitzvot incumbent upon a parent is to marry off the son to a wife - alongside teaching him a trade, Torah and of course seeing to a Brit Milah. All of these indicate that for centuries Jewish parents were entrusted with establishing strong Jewish family units whose stability would bring forth the next generation in the chain.
However, in the recent past Jewish society in Israel and all over the world, is witnessing a rise in divorce rates, which is accompanied by horrifying cases of get-refusal – a phenomenon destructive to the Jewish family unit as the trauma associated with the agunah problem has a deleterious effect on all involved, thus preventing the establishment of new stable families. The need for preventative measures, such as the signing of prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal is recognized more and more through educational efforts.
Most spouses in marriages of 15 years or more did not have the opportunity to sign a prenuptial agreement for the prevention of get-refusal, since the Heskem l’Kavod Hadadi was first made public in the year 2000. As a result, our grown children cannot look to us as a role model for this responsible act. As educated men and women we must realize that with knowledge comes responsibility. We must assure that all Jewish marriages are respectful and dignified – whether in love or in divorce, G-d forbid. We must certainly do all we can to prevent any woman from entering into the existential angst upon becoming an agunah. Those of us who have brought up children can ruefully say that kids don’t necessarily do as we say, but they do tend to do as we do.
Giving the parents of the community the opportunity to sign a postnuptial agreement for the prevention of get-refusal is the most effective educational tool one can provide for the next generation – to teach them how to establish a responsible, healthy Jewish family unit. Within each family and beyond, the Gush Etzion/Jerusalem communities will demonstrate to all our children “Do as I do! This is the minhag of our family and our community. You must sign a prenuptial agreement when you get married.”
Giving the parents of the community the opportunity to sign a postnuptial agreement for the prevention of get-refusal is the most effective educational tool one can provide for the next generation – to teach them how to establish a responsible, healthy Jewish family unit. Within each family and beyond, individuals and communities that get involved will demonstrate to all our children “Do as I do! This is the minhag of our family and our community. You must sign a prenuptial agreement when you get married.”
משנה אבות א יד : אִם אֵין אֲנִי לִי, מִי לִי? וּכְשֶׁאֲנִי לְעַצְמִי, מָה אֲנִי? וְאִם לֹא עַכְשָׁיו, אֵימָתַי
If I don’t take care of myself, who will do it for me? If I take care only of myself, what is my worth? And if I don’t fulfill my responsibility now, when will I?
The above Mishna accurately describes the need for educational leaders and married couples to take on the responsibility of inspiring marrying couples to sign a prenuptial agreement. If we don’t sign a postnuptial—when will others sign?
In any case, the very act of signing is a strong declaration that get-refusal is unacceptable in our community and that we all have to do what we can to prevent this blight from staining our society. It is an active statement to the younger generation—you must sign a prenuptial agreement for the prevention of get-refusal. Such an event is a significant addition to the awareness that is already bringing about the signing of prenuptial agreements as an “automatic” procedure prior to marriage.
Post-Nuptial Signing Events
Following the highly successful 2016 post-nuptial event that took place with the Efrat Women’s Beit Midrash, IYIM is initiating post-nuptial events as standard practice for getting the word out about the game-changing Agreement for Mutual Respect.
How can you spread the word?
Attend an event
Invite your friends and family
Host a post-nup party among friends and neighbors
Chair a city-wide post-nuptial signing event
Good people, good food, good will – all come together to provide a basis for a good life for the younger generation.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the fact that this is a communal signing event which is taking place as a group of couples within the community, if individual couples who sign at the event want to guarantee the validation of the document in a (civil) legal fashion, they may have to go afterwards to the Family Court (or there are legal opinions that it may not be necessary). At the community event attempts are being made to grant the document halakhic validity as each individual couple is signing before two kosher witnesses.
upcoming events and lectures
"Halachic Pre and Post-nuptial Agreements: Preventing Get-refusal in our Communities"
Hosted by Kehillat Nitzanim in conjunction with the International Young Israel Movement (IYIM)
Wednesday, 14 June, 2017 (the evening of 20 Sivan)
Beit Knesset Nitzanim, 3 Asher Street, Baka, Jerusalem.
The lecture will be given in Hebrew by Dr. Rachel Levmore
Post-Nuptial Signing Event
Fall 2017 - exact date to be announced
Hosted by Kehillat Nitzanim, 3 Asher Street, Baka, Jerusalem.