May 23, 2012
The IRF Has It Right On The Issue Of The Halachik Pre-Nup
Dr. Rachel Levmore should be commended for writing in this article that “ The time has come for Stern College to take a stand as “Stern College” – its rabbonim, teachers, administration – clarifying that each and every student of Stern and her chosson sign a prenup.” What Dr. Levmore offers is only a partial solution.
It is pulpit rabbis who are on the “front lines” of this issue as they very often perform weddings are are in a position to influence the couple to sign a Halachik Pre Nup. Pulpit rabbis should refuse to perform weddings unless a Pre Nup is signed. So should Roshei Yeshiva. Having a Halachik Pre Nup should be a universal practice and this is the only way to do it.
Years ago the Gerrer Rebee decreed that there should be limits on the number of people invited to weddings as well as limits on the menu and the size of the band. The Rebee realized people were spending too much on weddings and that the time had come to a stop to it.
After the decree was passed a wealthy Chassid approached the Rebee and explained that while he understood why the Rebee had introduced the new rules, since he was wealthy, the new rules should not apply to him. The Rebee’s answer was simple. “You can follow the rules or find a new Rebee.”
At the fourth annual convention of the International Rabbinic Fellowship that took place this week the following policy was enacted. “ IRF Rabbis may not officiate at a wedding unless the couple has signed a halachic prenuptial agreement. IRF Rabbis are further encouraged to participate ritually only in weddings in which the couple has signed a halachic prenuptial agreement. Ritual participation includes but is not limited to reading the ketubah, serving as a witness, and making one of sheva berachot.”
Rabbis should educate their congregations as to why signing the Pre Nup is required and make it part of the culture of the shul.
Some Rabbis claim they cannot sign it as there are poskim who are opposed to it. This is approach, the need for unanimity before a halachik position can be accepted leads to what what Rabbi Daniel Sperber calls “Paralysis In Halacha.”
The tragedy in the case of Halachik agunot is that there are real human casualties whose lives are literally paralyzed by Rabbinic malpractice.