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Agunah Part One : Kia ora Torah Michelle Gezentsvey Lamy March 2012

A When a man takes a wife and possesses her, (if) she fails to please him because he finds something unseemly about her, he writes her a bill of divorcement, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house... (Deuteronomy, Ch 24, V1)

B While a woman can be divorced with her consent as well as without it, a man divorces only with his full consent (Mishnah Yebamot, Ch 14, Mishnah 1) If she fails to please him implies that he may not give a divorce except of his own free will. If she is divorced against his will, she is not divorced. (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Divorce, Ch1, Halakhot 1-2).

C The rabbis were lenient in order to prevent agunot (Talmud Bavli, Yebamot, 88a)

D Mishnah: A get given under compulsion by an Israelite court is valid, but by a gentile court is invalid. A gentile court, however, may flog a man and say to him, do what the Israelite (authorities) commands you (and it is valid) The Gemara then adds that if this compulsion is based on insufficient legal ground it is invalid (Talmud Bavli, Gittin, 88b). If a man may be compelled by law to divorce his wife, yet he refuses to do so, an Israelite court of law of any time and place has the authority to lash him until he says I want to (divorce her). He may then write a writ of divorce and it is valid.... We do not say that someone was forced unless he was pressured and coerced to do something that he was not under any obligation to do according to the Torah; i.e. if someone was lashed until he sold or gave something away. However, if someone was overwhelmed by his evil inclination so that he did not observe a commandment or transgressed the law, and is lashed until he does what is he obligated to do or distances himself from what he is forbidden to do, he is not being forced... it is only his evil inclination which has overwhelmed him once he has been lashed until his evil inclination has been weakened, and he said I want to (divorce her), it is as if he had divorced his wife voluntarily (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Divorce, Ch2, Halakhah 20).
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E I teach that divorce should not be demanded in cases in which one is not allowed to compel divorce [conditions permitting a divorce include hidden or underestimated physical defects, or the husband does not support his wife, or beats his wife]. I am of the opinion that if a divorce is obtained (in such cases) by (threat of) excommunication (of the husband), or is ordered by a rabbinic court, it is based on insufficient legal grounds, is invalid and disqualifies (her from marrying a priest). (Sefer Hayashar, Responsa section, Ch77, Rabbeinu Tam).
*No one can live with (a husband who is like) a serpent in the same basket (Rav Elazar, Talmud Bavli, Ketubot, 77a).

F Ainsi, il pourra par exemple tre insr une clause dans une convention de divorce par consentement mutuel ou pour dautres types de divorce une mention dans le jugement de divorce selon laquelle lpoux sengage aprs le prononc du divorce civil dlivrer sa femme le guet. Si, lissue du divorce civil, lex mari ne respecte pas ses engagements, il sera plus ais pour la femme de faire constater judiciairement linexcution dune obligation de faire pour obtenir des dommages intrts sans quil soit ncessaire de dmontrer lintention de nuire ou labus de lpoux (Sagand-Nahum, Avocat au Barreau de Paris).

References
ICAR (2010). International Coalition for Agunah Rights, texts for Study Groups for International Agunah Day. www.icar.org.il

Lawrence, J. (2010). The Pre-Nuptial Agreement. The Great Synagogue, Sydney.

Court of the Chief Rabbi Pre-Nuptial Agreement. London.

Levmore, R. & Clarke, D. (2009) The Prenuptial Agreement of Mutual respect, Heskem LKavod Hadadi. www.youngisraelrabbis.org.il

Beth Din of America Binding Arbitration Agreement/Prenuptial Agreement http://www.bethdin.org/agreement.asp

ORA, Organization for the Resolution of Agunot www.getora.com/

Mavoi Satum www.mavoisatum.org

Vocabulary

Kiddushin Ketubah Agunah/Agunot Mesorevet get Get/Get mesusse Beit Din Toanot Nidui Seruv Heter Agunah Takkanah

Recalcitrant husband Arbitrator Prenuptial Binding Arbitration Agreement Provisional/delayed get Conditional marriage (tnai bkiddushin) Retrospective annulment (hafkaat Kiddushin) Prospective annulment Persona non grata Sanctions