Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A New Way To Look At the Agunah problem...

So, I've thought about what an agunah is and how they become one, the Torah creating this ill and the set up of the current get and its system. I've actually thought about this for a while. Back in maybe 2008, I discussed this with a woman friendly kollel wife and then her husband came home and we added him to our discussion.

The idea is when a man marries a woman the katubbah is a commitment to provide all these things to her. It's a one sided contract. The woman does not sign it or anything for that matter. Then when a man is tired of his wife, the Torah dictates that instead of just kicking her out, he has to write up a letter and send her on her way. It seems like from the verse that this was so she could try to go get a new man as men would have feared sleeping with a married woman and having the husband show up to beat him up or whatever. At no point does a woman actually sign anything saying she will cook and clean for him, men just assume that part. At no point does a woman sign over the rights to her body for sex at his whim. All of these things are assumed but not in any contract.

The get is essentially the man buying out of what he signs-the katubbah... so my argument is that first off, the katubbah isn't a valid contract. Even from one law class, I know that a contract contains: offer, consideration and acceptance. This is nothing more than a written offer. There is no consideration or acceptance that makes it onto paper. It is all assumed. Furthermore, if a man doesn't hold up his end of the offer, it seems to me the whole contract should be null and void.

So we asked the husband about this. His response was that the contract isn't valid, so calling it null and void doesn't matter, it's never an enforceable contract in the first place. Ow, my forehead hurts as my palm just went flying into it.... So, if the contract isn't a contract, why do women need another contract to get out of it? What are the women "getting out of" since they never sign away any rights on paper? I mean with a state marriage contract, both men and women are expected to only have sex with each other and figure out their bills and kids together. Both parties have obligations and both parties can initiate divorce. Nevertheless, in the Jewish marriage, actually only a man obligates himself to provide for a woman and their children. In reading the passage about the get, it sounds like it's a courtesy to women so that they can find someone else without the new man fearing repercussions. However, the Torah states unequivocally for men to give this document. Nowhere does it refer to it as a nice thing to do or an option. The Torah communicates it as necessary as keeping Shabbos.... so take that boys!

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