[LMB] OT: about the ratio of unmarried to married

Mitch Miller mitchmiller at entertainmenttax.com
Tue Sep 18 19:17:13 BST 2007

A few more facts about the ketuba and the get:

IIRC, "ketuba" actually means the dowry mentioned in the marriage
contract, which the husband must pay back if he wants the divorce.
It is set by tradition at 200 zuzim, (Babylonian currency = the price
of 100 baby goats).  It has since come to refer to the marriage
contract in which it is set forth.

In the US, some states will enforce the ketuba as just a simple 
contract between two parties, and some feel it is too imbued with
religiosity to do so.

The Conservative ketuba, called the "Lieberman Ketuba," after a great
rabbi and professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary who made the change,
added a clause which states that if a civil divorce is granted and the husband 
refuses to issue a get, he automatically appoints the religious court
(Bet Din) of the Conservative movement as his power of attorney to issue one.

Orthodox rabbis will not include the Lieberman clause in the ketuba,
natch, but many insist on a separate pre-nup which says the same thing
(with an Orthodox Bet Din, of course).

My understanding is that in Reform Judaism, there is no requirement for the 
get, or perhaps the get is deemed automatically granted if a civil divorce

In some Sephardic communities, the Syrian, for example, instead of the 
traditional amount, a current value is entered, usually in multiples of $50,
i.e., $5,000, $50,000, or in one case I heard of, $500,000 (the
groom married into a very successful family business).

This works well if the husband wants the divorce; he has to pay the ketuba.
If the wife wants the divorce, she may have to reduce it or give it up entirely.

IIRC, there are a couple of situations where the wife may force a divorce: e.g.,
if the husband refuses to grant her her conjugal rights (in Jewish law,
it is the right of the wife to demand, and the obligation of the husband to
provide, sex, to the extent she wants); or if the husband
takes up some distasteful occupation, the example I remember is tanning hides,
since the smell was then (approx 500 BCE - 400 CE) impossible to clean off,
after the marriage.

Mitch Miller

From: Harimad <harimad2001 at yahoo.com>

Two nitpicks: 

1. The marriage contract is the ketuba.  A get is a religious
divorce.  Only the husband can grant it and although no one can
"force" him to give it, he can be coerced to a remarkable degree, up
to and including jail if he's Israeli.  The coercion is allowed
because there's a strong and lamentable historical precedent of
husbands abandoning their wives but refusing to grant a get, which
leaves the wife - and kids, if any - in limbo, unable to get support,
unable to remarry.  Think about Hindo widows in India and you get the
general idea.

2. The ketuba is as much a divorce contract as a marriage one - a lot
of the text addresses post-marriage support, what belongs to whom,
and who's obliged to do what should the marriage dissolve.  IIRC
correctly in Israel a ketuba is legally binding, outside of Israel
it's generally not and one needs a legal pre-nup as well.  But my
Jewish Law class was long ago and I could be misremembering this last

- Harimad

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