Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Darchei Noam- Making the use of halachic pre-nups commonplace

I left Alon Shvut on a high. The Yom Iyun in Tanach had been everything I had hoped for. I had heard shiurim from, and met, some of the best teachers of Tanach in the world. I was sorry to be leaving, but the second part of my day was about to begin. I was heading for Bet Shemesh for a program about halachic pre-nuptial agreements sponsored by Beit Hillel. Among the speakers were Gush Rosh Yeshiva Rav Baruch Gigi, and Rav Meir Lichtenstein. The program promised to be thought-provoking and informative.

Soon, my mood dropped. The shiurim at Gush had been uplifting and powerful, but despite the high level of the speakers at the halachic pre-nup program, the topic started to get me down. Hearing stories of agunot and marriages that had broken up, was a real emotional letdown, particularly after the yom iyun. I began to wonder whether it had been a mistake to attend this program, and add additional time and travel onto an already exhausting day. I was tired and hungry and eating way too many mint brownies. Then I started thinking a bit, and everything changed.

The shiurim at Gush had been incredible, but they were entirely theoretical. On a theoretical level, it is easy for Torah to be uplifting and powerful. The words of the prophets can easily inspire, when they address people who lived over 2,000 years ago, but do they push us to address the major problems of our generation? What might the neviim have said had they witnessed the massive chilulei HaShem which take place every time a get is used to oppress?

I’m not a posek and I don’t want to get into the halachic particulars. I do want to share one idea that was the biggest takeaway for me from the program. The halachic details need to be properly addressed, and halachic pre-nups have to be done in a way that will be fair for both spouses, but at the end of the day, they will only work if signing them becomes common. Although rabbis can help by discussing pre-nups in shul, and urging couples for whom they are messadrei kiddushin to sign, that is not enough. Parents and educators need to teach about it and discuss it to the point that it becomes so normal as to not seem un-romantic or strange. I would draw a parallel to seat-belt use. When I was a kid, it was still common for people, including young children to sit without a seat-belt. Through education and discussion it has reached the point where buckling up is the norm. The same thing must happen with halachic pre-nups.

It is not enough for Torah to be inspiring and uplifting. It must leave an imprint on our everyday messy and imperfect lives. When halacha is used in an immoral way, we must step up to make it, once again a Torah whose ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment