Sunday, December 10, 2017

Trump's Noble Prize

The gemara in Avoda Zara (17a) tells us about [Rabi] Eliezer ben Durdaya. This fellow made sure to conduct business with any woman who was open for business. During one encounter, he had a sudden jolt of remorse and set out to mend his ways. He went to a valley and cried out his soul until it left him. Whereupon, a Heavenly voice called out, “Rabbi Eliezer ben Durdaya is invited to the world to come.”

The story concludes that when Rebbi [Yehuda HaNasi] heard this Heavenly voice he tearfully exclaimed, “There are those who acquire their ‘world’ only after many years [of righteous deeds] and there are those who acquire it in a single moment.”

The simple way to understand Rebbi is that the "world" he was referring to is one’s World-to-Come, his Olam Haba. It surely fits in with the proclamation of the Heavenly voice. But, at the risk of deviating from the plain interpretation, I want to suggest an alternative intention of Rebbi.

It could be that Rebbi was also telling us that many people need to invest years of good deeds in order to “make the headlines”; in order to be known far and wide for their contribution to mankind. And there are those who can seize the moment and get into the headlines in the actions of a split second.

What kind of Olam Haba did “Rabbi” Eliezer ben Durdaya get? Was it the same Olam Haba that was in store for Rebbi and his chaveirim and those who commit their lives to Torah and chessed?

I doubt it. In fact, I suspect that Rabbi Eliezer ben Durdaya probably needed to go through some harsh Heavenly tikkunim before he was through (but without the teshuva he would not even be zocheh to that.) So what kind of Olam Haba was Rebbi crying about?

Rabbi Eliezer got an Olam Haba that turns us all green with envy – he got his name into the gemara in Avoda Zara 17a. And on an inspirational note, to boot. And it will be there forever. In less than two months from now, on the day after Tu B’Shvat, thousands upon thousands of Jews who learn daf yomi will hear the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Durdaya and his teshuva if they haven’t already.

Don’t tell my wife, but I wouldn't complain if I had to trade places with him. This is Olam Haba.

Rebbi wasn’t kidding about how hard it is to get one's name in the books (if this is what he meant). The gemara in Sukkah 28a tells us that Hillel the Elder had 80 disciples. 30 of whom were worthy that the Shechina should rest on them and another 30 worthy to hold back the sun as could Yehoshua bin Nun. 20 were “in between”. The greatest of whom was Rabi Yonasan ben Uziel and the “least” of whom was Rabi Yochanan ben Zakai who did not leave a word of Torah unstudied.

You mean to tell me that there were 78 talmidim greater than Rabi Yochanan ben Zakai and we don’t know any of their names???

Rabi Akiva had 24,000 talmidim. We don’t know the name of a single one of them. We only know the names of his last five talmidim – who are the foundation of our current Mishna including Rabi Meir, Rabi Yehuda, and Rabi Shimon ben Yochai. Do you think these 24,000 were any less great?

I can assure you that there were hundreds (if not thousands) of worthy Tannayim and Amoraim that we will never know about. Also Geonim, Rishonim, Poskim, Achronim, and great rabbanim from the recent past who wrote volumes of chiddushim that we will never know and never see.

Rabbi Eliezer ben Durdaya?

As Rebbi said (with tears), some people just plain get lucky!

It’s not just Jews. Consider our friend Dama ben Nesina. We know his story. He had a jasper stone for the Choshen but had to pass up the sale so as not to wake up his pop. Next year he was blessed with a parah adumah and told the chachamim that “I know that you would pay me as much as I ask, but I will only ask for the money I lost by honoring my dad”.

Do you think he sold himself short and made a bad deal? Au contraire. This fellow was a sly businessman. He could have gotten a lot more cash for the parah aduma but he got better. He got his name into shas (Kedushin 31a) and he is the poster child for Kibbud Av v'Em for every Jewish kid. I can assure you that if he would have taken the whole jackpot, his name and story wouldn’t be there.

What’s worth more?

A good businessman knows that the intangible value of a sale may pay off a lot more than the full cash value. So it pays off to forego the bottom line for a bit of highly publicized nobility. Perhaps we can call this the “Noble Prize”.

Just ask the 2013 Noble Prize winner, Rabbi Noach Muroff.

Well, the current winner of the Noble Prize is our own president Donald Trump. Kudos on his decision to “deliver”.

I think the events of last week are the most momentous to occur since 9-11. We are anticipating a lot of fireworks and jubilation but just what kind of fireworks and who will come out jubilant remains to be seen. I hope there isn’t any blood, and if there is (R”L), it isn’t ours.

This obviously required a lot of fortitude and carries substantial personal risks, but it suits Trump to the “T”. Nobody thinks of Trump as a politician. He operates like the businessman he is and this moves looks to me like a very sensible business move. Because one thing is assured...

...Donald Trump has bought his place into the history books. And it will be there long after all his Towers of Bavel come crashing down. I think he got a great deal.

Trump is a businessman first and politician last, and I don’t think that his political career means too much to him. His triumph was to get there but there is no glory in staying here. Besides, he is already 71 years old. How much time does he have left? 10 years? 20? Maybe not even 10? Who knows?

What has he really got to lose?

Not too much, but there is plenty to gain. Donald Trump knows an opportunity when he sees one and he was not about to pass this one up.

And it’s about time. Almost every president has some event or accomplishment that gives him some kind of legacy. Also some kind of Mideast breakthrough, real or imagined. Nixon had the Yom Kippur war, Carter had the Sinai accords, Reagan had Osirak and the Iranian hostage breakthrough, Clinton had Oslo and Wye, George W. had 9-11. But Obama had nothing. No bogus peace agreements, Sinai, Wye, Oslo, nothing. No Cuba Missile crisis, no hostage crisis, no 9-11, nothing.  Eight years of absolutely nothing.  And Hillary promised us more of the same!

Oh yeah, he claimed to have nailed Osama bin Laden although nobody saw the body and he brought the US health care system from bad to worse. But fifty years from now, what on earth will he be remembered for? His name may as well be Millard Fillmore.

Oh, right, he won the Nobel Prize. But he didn’t win the Noble Prize.

There are people in our circles who are hailing Trump as a reincarnation of Koresh. I’ve seen somebody else calling him a reincarnation of Alexander the Great complete with a photo comparison.

I look at him as a reincarnation of somebody much more recent. So recent that their lifespans overlap.

Personally, I was always in favor of Trump’s candidacy and victory. I didn’t vote this election because it was too much trouble for me to deal with an absentee ballot. And I was anyway from a strong Hillary state. But I certainly would have voted for Trump.

Many people wouldn’t consider it because he is known as a philandering foul-mouthed businessman who tells it like it is and isn’t much good at diplomacy. This is what I liked.

It looked like at 70 years old, his philandering (Eliezer ben Durdaya) days are a thing of the past. And as for everything else, I think he would be at least as good as the last president who was a foul-mouthed businessman who tells it like it is and wasn’t much good at diplomacy. And who, just like Trump, wasn’t expected to win the presidency. And who knew, just like Trump, how to assure his place in history.

And, like our current president, his name begins with T-r-u-m…

Harry S Truman wasn’t particularly a friend of the Jews. His ex-partner had to twist his arm to convince him to meet Chaim Weitzman. But he was a man who could make a cost benefit analysis. One who knew what the reality is and could do what had to be done. And, if you ask the survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, they’ll tell you that he “delivered”. And, for his fortitude, the Jews will canonize him forever.

It’s been 70 years since we’ve had such a president, but it's about time.

Give ‘em heck, Donny.

Related posts:

Writing Yourself into the Torah 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Prenups III: The Waive Theory vs. the Particle Theory

Author’s note – This post is intended to clarify some of the Halachic assertions presented in the previous two posts (Part 1 and Part 2) and address some challenging comments. Once again, it includes some highly technical Halachic discussion and is geared for Halachic savvy readers. In an effort to make the points as succinct and user friendly as possible, I was unable to explain some of the points at length. Please contact me offline ( or in the comments for more detailed explanations.

For readers who are not interested in the Halachic debate, you can get a synopsis of this post in the closing section with the heading: Bottom Line.

Of the two pro-PNA commenters who weighed in at my first post, it looks like one of them has given up on me. The second, R. Daniel, still thinks there’s hope.

Incidentally, R. Daniel lives right here with me in Yerushalayim (though not in Har Nof) so I can assume that he understands the prevailing mentality here. I don’t believe we have ever met, but I would be happy to. You know what they say: You never know who your next mechutan will be.

R. Daniel pointed to one of the Halachic assertions that I posited as follows:

"So, does it (the “siluk”) take effect at “the time of the wedding”?

It would, indeed, if this were when he wants the siluk to take effect. But because he does not want it to take effect now and is freezing it for later, it cannot."

And this is what he wrote:

This is a critical mistake. Normally, at the time of the wedding the husband gets the right to the ma'asei yadayim. The siluk prevents him getting some of this right at the time of the wedding. He still gets the right to most of the ma'asei yadayim, but he is mistalek from the right to ma'asei yadyaim for the period after the couple's domestic residence ceases to be together.

Clearly, R. Daniel disagrees with one of the assertions that I made in my post. He calls it a “critical mistake”. This is serious.

I have always acknowledged that I am not a posek, just a Toen Rabbani in training, and my blog (and book) is merely a forum for me to think out loud. (People complain that I am a very loud thinker, so I try not to think too much after midnight.) I don’t need to be right. That is the domain of genuine poskim.

That said, I don’t think I am making a mistake, critical or otherwise, but as a Toen, I can only state my case and the opposing council can state his and the powers-that-be (or the audience) can judge. So let’s understand what I am saying and let’s understand what R. Daniel is saying and let’s evaluate how critical all this may be.

As I wrote in Part 1, the main concept of Siluk is discussed at length in Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 92. It is discussed there exclusively in regard to the proceeds of nichsei malug. There is no indication that it can apply to maaseh yadayim at all.

Yet, sure enough, the concept is brought down by the Rema almost as an afterthought in Choshen Mishpat 209:8 and the poskim seem to apply it to any type of future “zechus” which can include maaseh yadayim. But, even for maaseh yadayim, it works on the same principle, which is that the potential beneficiary is stating: אי אפשי בתקנת חכמים – “I am not interested in [benefiting from] this Rabbinic ordinance [which was only implemented for my benefit]”.

The baseline case discussed in Choshen Mishpat is where a person wants to renounce his upcoming eligibility to this benefit (mesalek). Says Rema that in contrast to being mochel the actual monetary benefits which cannot be done in advance, he can renounce his upcoming eligibility so that it should not begin to take effect. This is as much as the Rema and later poskim tell us and it implies that the person is blocking the eligibility from taking effect at all – from the moment he would first become eligible. They do not discuss a more complex scenario where the beneficiary wants the eligibility to take effect now but is stating that, even though he wants it to take hold, he is as of now renouncing a part of the eligibility that may come at a later time (not the benefits, but the eligibility).

This is what is happening in the BDA Prenup. Can this work?

This depends on an age-old debate in quantum physics – the Waive Theory versus the Particle Theory.

My position- the Waive Theory

I maintain that the concept of אי אפשי בתקנת חכמים is one continuous unbroken waive of the rights – or, eligibility – to the benefits that are granted.  It’s all or nothing; either you want the eligibility to take effect or you don’t. One cannot break it up into pieces and say, “I want it to take effect under the current circumstances, but I am already renouncing it under a different set of circumstances which are definitely not in effect now and may never be.

I see this as contradictory and somewhat absurd. In my mind, one who enacts this is really renouncing the future benefits themselves and not the “eligibility” toward them despite his choice of words. In short, it reverts to a mechila of the earnings, not a siluk. And we know that one cannot renounce future benefits before they come into existence.

R. Daniel’s position – the Particle Theory

R. Daniel maintains that אי אפשי בתקנת חכמים can be broken up into particles.  Each moment that one is enjoying these rights is a new zechus of benefits unrelated to that of a moment earlier. המחדשים בטובם בכל יום תמיד תקנת חכמים. What’s more, the eligibility for all of these particles, present and future, is granted all at the moment of nissuin so as to enable one, at that time, to accept whichever particles he wants and relinquish up front those that he doesn’t.

I suppose in gemara talk, we can call this פלגינן palginan (we split)”. We say this regarding problematic testimony wherein there are times when “we split” the testimony and accept what is kosher and disregard what isn’t. Here, as well, we are splitting the takanas chachamim and accepting it when it serves our purposes and, at the same time, claiming it doesn’t even begin to take effect when doing so does not serve our purposes.

This position is vital.

In my previous post, I explained why, according to my Waive Theory, the waiver in the BDA Prenup cannot take effect right after the nissuin. And since it can only take effect at zero hour (separation or notification), the husband has ample opportunity up to that point to retract it. Comes R. Daniel and he explains to me that if one maintains the Particle Theory – “The siluk prevents him getting some of this right at the time of the wedding. He still gets the right to most of the ma'asei yadayim…” – thus, all is well. We must conclude that Rabbi Willig, Shlita and the framers of the BDA Prenup maintain the Particle Theory as well.

R. Daniel seems to be very smug that his perception is correct; yet I don’t know on what basis he can be so certain. All that I, or anyone, knows is the baseline Halacha professed by the Rema in Ch”M 209:8. This Halacha merely states that a siluk can work on a zechus that has not yet taken effect. Period. R. Daniel and the BDA are extending it to another level of “palginan” and I wonder how anybody can support this extension.  I suppose that his strength is from the fact that the wise sages of the BDA are in his corner. So this must be the true viewpoint. And I am making a mistake. A critical mistake!

How critical is my “mistake”?

Well, at the end of the day what is the difference between the two “theories”? I can only think of these three:

1)  The Integrity of the Text of the PNA

According to my Waive Theory, the declaration in the PNA that “and I recite that I shall be deemed to have repeated this waiver at the time of our wedding” is totally meaningless since no siluk takes effect at that time. At best, the text needs to be changed to read, “and I recite that I shall be deemed to have repeated this waiver at the time of our separation”.  In short, the text needs to be changed.

According to the Particle Theory of R. Daniel/BDA that one can do a partial siluk at the time of the nissuin (wedding) that will take effect in its time, there is no need to change the text of the PNA.

I must add that even if the language of the “I shall be deemed…” clause does not need to be changed, there is another part that must be changed. We previously stated that the terminology: “I waive my halakhic rights to my wife’s earnings…” is too ambiguous in that it can mean to waive by means of pardon (mechila) or by means of abdication (siluk). Since mechila cannot work according to all opinions, the PNA must be clarified to clearly say that we are dealing with siluk and the text should be modified accordingly.

2)  Retracting the Siluk up to the Time of Separation

According to my Waive Theory, at least, up to the time that the separation takes place, not only can the husband retract the waiver clause, but there is not even any need to because no waiver is in effect.

According to the Particle Theory of R. Daniel/BDA that there is a pending siluk in effect until the time of the separation, there is a dispute among the Poskim if it can be retracted in the interim. I wrote about this in the previous post and I will try to briefly explain it here.

The pending siluk that takes effect is the siluk that is discussed in Ch”M 209:8 and, as such, carries all of the issues that are presented in that Halacha. This is where the Ketzos brings a dispute of the later poskim headed by the Moharit who says that in a case where there is only a declaration with no kinyan, there is no problem retracting it before it comes into existence because אתי דיבור ומבטל דיבור a later declaration nullifies an earlier one. Although the Ketzos challenges him, the claim of the Ketzos defies comprehension because he brings a proof from a case of Yibum very different than ours – a case which is not dealing with property that is not in existence and where there was a kinyan on this property. This is contrary to the subject matter of this Halacha. This implies that the Ketzos may agree in our case.

Beyond this, the conclusion of the Ketzos himself is that the issue of retraction remains a dispute in Halacha (Rema and Tumim vs. Shach in Ch”M 112:1). It is beyond the scope of this post to elaborate further with the Halachic technicalities, but after studying this closely and sorting out the nuances in the cases brought as “proofs”, my view is that it is virtually unanimous that in our case the siluk can be retracted as long as the object of the siluk is not yet in existence.

3)  Retracting the Siluk after the Separation

In line with my Waive Theory, it appears to me that if the language is changed to assert the siluk from the time of the separation, it is quite possible that it will take effect and be irrevocable from that point.

According to the Particle Theory, ironically, since there is a new zechus for eligibility every subsequent moment, and each new moment relies on the “pending” siluk of “time of wedding”, then the dispute mentioned in the previous section will extend indefinitely even after the time of separation. This is because, according to the particle theory, each approaching moment requires a new siluk and one can always retract the siluk for the moments that have not yet come. According to the opinions in the dispute that one cannot retract a predesignated siluk, then we are okay. But the dispute stands.

Bottom Line

Here are the final results of our discussion:

·         Perhaps the language of the PNA has to be changed and perhaps not. Although it should definitely be changed to clarify the waiver as a siluk.

·         Either way, the waiver is either totally non-existent or pending until the time of separation.

·         According to my perspective that the waiver is non-existent, there is no waiver to retract until that time. According to the other perspective that it is pending, retraction is a matter of Halachic dispute and, in case the husband indeed retracts, we must be stringent with a question of get meuseh and honor the opinions that the retraction is valid.

·         According to the BDA perspective (if they do not change the text), the Halachic dispute may extend even after the separation and we must likewise honor the opinions that retraction after the separation is valid.

So, whether you accept my position or R. Daniel’s (BDA), the prevailing picture is that the waiver is revocable at least until the point of separation if not even later.

Perhaps there is a “critical” mistake afoot. But either it’s not my mistake or it’s not so critical.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Prenups II: The Emperor's Waiver has no Close - Part 2 - Mechila

Author's note - This is Part 2 of a multi-part series. Please see Part 1 and the Author's note in the heading.

Hello, readers, I am back with Part 2. I apologize for the long delay.

One cause of the delay is the fact that this topic calls for a ton of research. I spent hours scouring the poskim for this post. A second cause is the fact that I had recurring dilemmas as to how to present a critique on highly technical Halachic issues in a way that can be followed by readers who are not Halachic techies. I had to scrap several earlier drafts of this post. This post is for Halachic savvy readers.

In some of the elaborate Halachic series’ such as the Kol Koreh (Mesira) series and the Malka Leifer series, it was necessary to prelude the main posts by dedicating a special post to list and define Talmudic terms and sources. Logic dictates that I should do the same here. Feedback dictates that it is probably a fruitless undertaking so I will try to get by without it. So let’s move on to Part 2.

As of now, two people were brave enough to post comments to Part 1. Both of whom made a point of reminding me that there is a Hebrew version of the main body of the PNA that is endorsed by a number of very prominent poskim that include Harav Hagaon Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, Shlita and Maran Harav Ovadia Yosef, ZT”L.

In response, I must quote one of those commenters, “You are missing my point.” 

I am not trying to assert that the PNA is invalid as automatically engendering a get meuseh. Who am I to say so? Besides, if I wanted to, I can point to a substantial group of prominent poskim who are quite non-supportive of this agreement to say the least. It wouldn’t have to come from me.

What I am trying to assert is that even if the PNA is Halachically valid, there are issues that compromise its enforceability and, by extension, its effectiveness.

I am not the only one who noticed an enforceability issue here; Rabbi Willig saw it, too. But I think it is being swept under the rug and is much more serious than it is being made out to be.

So, to respond to the commenters, let’s refer to the Hebrew version of the PNA. And let’s refer to the English one (Standard Version). One may notice a slight variation. Did these commenters who laud the text of HRHGZN”G notice this subtle yet crucially important difference?

And what is this variation?

In the current English version there is an odd clause added in. It says: and I recite that I shall be deemed to have repeated this waiver at the time of our wedding.” These words are not in the original Hebrew, so why are do they appear in the current English?

Says Rabbi Willig (70:45) that, without these words, the waiver part of the agreement will not be enforceable. He points to the gemara in Kesubos (83a) that tells us that one cannot relinquish any “rights” prior to the wedding because he hasn’t been awarded them yet. The opportune time for such a thing would be after the kiddushin but before the nissuin. So by repeating this waiver after the kiddushin, or being deemed to have done so, we have grand-slammed the ball on to Waive-land (Ave. – sorry, Cubs fans, wait till next year century).

So says Rabbi Willig, Shlita. With a poker face, I am seeing Rabbi Willig’s bet and I am raising him. He acknowledges that without adding these additional words, the waiver aspect will not be enforceable. I am betting that even after adding these words, it is not enforceable.

What gives (or takes)?

In this clause, the husband agrees to “waive his rights to his wife’s earnings…” What rights are these?

In Part 1, I asserted that we need to differentiate between “dividend” earnings that come as a result of revenues of property holdings (Peiros), and “job” earnings that come as a result of profits and wages (Maaseh Yedayim). I explained why the waiver cannot apply to the Peiros. The Peiros benefit is a result of obtaining joint title in the property. Once this title is acquired by the husband, the only way to “waive” it is to transfer his share of the title back to his wife.  This requires a fresh kinyan at the time of relinquishing which cannot be done in advance (see Chelkas Mech. Even HaEzer 92:8 SK 17). Hence, even after the PNA is signed, and even if his obligation to increase the support takes effect at the time of the signing (not a sure thing), the husband can still retract the waiver on this income as long as it (the waiver) hasn’t taken effect – which is not until the separation.

We now turn our attention to the Maaseh Yedayim (earnings). Here we will need to get very technical.

When the husband waives his rights to his wife’s earnings what is he doing?

Well, let’s pretend we live in Monopoly-land and that it is a Halachic state (like Palmtree, NY). There is a wonderful law in Monopoly-land that every citizen who passes Go is entitled to collect $200. Yippie!

Let’s assume that the law also says that if one passes Go and neglects to collect his $200, he can no longer claim those $200 – but this applies only after he passes Go, not before (see Rema in Ch”M 209:4).

Now let’s say, R. Doniel Trumpsky, a big-shot loaded gvir, is running for mayor and wants to show off his benevolence so he declares that he is “waiving his rights” to the $200. He still passes Go like everyone else and he is still entitled to the $200. He is merely abstaining from collecting the money (or cashing the check).

We would say that he is being mochel (pardoning) the $200 back to the community chest. In this context “waiving his rights” means that he is choosing not to exercise his right to collect the $200. So now he won’t have these $200 in his pocket, but nothing happens to his basic right to collect it. The “right” is still there.

This is the standard. When someone “waives” a right, it doesn’t technically mean that he gives up the right. In most cases a person cannot give up a right. The right comes from the constitution of the domain (Church or State) that governs one’s life. The 5th amendment to the US Constitution gives us the right to remain silent. One can “waive” his 5th amendment rights in any given instance. But it only means that in this instance he is not exercising his right. The right is still there for him to use whenever he doesn’t want to waive it. He doesn’t lose the right and cannot, even if he wanted to.

The Monopoly-land constitution was written by the founding fathers – the Parker Brothers. If you pass Go you can collect $200. That’s the law of the land. R. Doniel Trumpsky – wealthy as he is – cannot change the law. He cannot get rid of the right. But since the right is a benefit, he cannot be forced to accept the benefit. So he can waive the benefit of the right; but not the right itself.

So, now, let’s say after blowing his life’s savings on his campaign, R. Doniel loses the mayoral race to R. Hillel Clintowitz. He changes his mind about not collecting his $200. Well, it’s his constitutional right, always was and always remains. So he can now begin again to collect the $200 though he may not be able to reclaim the payments that he waived earlier.

So when he declared he is “waiving” his right, what he is saying is that, until further notice, whenever he passes Go he will not exercise his right to collect the money. In effect, the declaration means nothing because he can still collect the money next time he passes Go. Either he will live up to his declaration or not but his right to collect the money doesn’t go away. He can also change his mind even after his declaration if he still hasn’t passed Go.

This is the typical scenario and in a Halachic framework it is called mechila (pardoning or excusing).

Is there any way he can shake off his “rights” once and for all?

There may be. As a citizen of Monopoly-land he is entitled to the rights whether he wants them or not. But perhaps, if it’s not a communist dictatorship, he can renounce his citizenship in Monopoly-land. He doesn’t change any laws or rights, he just removes himself from eligibility. Likewise, suppose he is not a citizen but applies for temporary residency in Monopoly-land. He is told that as a condition for temporary residency he must “waive” his rights to the $200 even though he will have every right to pass Go. He agrees to this.

In this case, he is not pardoning or excusing anyone from giving him $200. He is either relinquishing his eligibility to the rights or not obtaining the eligibility to start with. In this context, the term “waive the rights” means to relinquish or to decline the eligibility for the benefits.

This is a less typical scenario and in a Halachic framework it is called siluk (abdicating or declining eligibility).

What comes out is that the English term “waive” is an ambiguous term that means to “take a pass” on the benefits but it can mean by way of relinquishing the benefits themselves to which he is eligible (mechila) or by way of relinquishing the eligibility to get the benefits (siluk).

So now let’s go straight back to the waiver clause in the PNA and repeat our opening question about the Maaseh Yedayim:  When the husband “waives” his rights to his wife’s earnings (at a future time), what is he doing? 

Is it a mechila or a siluk?

Let us first assume that it is a mechila. The husband is being mochel her Maaseh Yadayim back to her. (Note - Mechila is the term that is used in the Hebrew version)

If he is, there is good news and bad news.

The good news is a short and sweet Halacha in Ch”M 12:8 (one of the shortest in all of Shu”A):
Mechila does not require a kinyan.

Goodie! This means that a mere declaration, spoken in front of witnesses or signed, is sufficient.

Now the bad news - Rema in Ch”M 209:4 (noted previously):

And just as a person cannot transfer [by sale or gift] something that is not yet in existence, likewise one cannot be mochel something that is not yet in existence.


This is saying that one cannot pardon a “promised” (or obligated) benefit before the benefit is in existence. One cannot be mochel the $200 before he passes Go and is eligible to collect it.

So let’s talk about his wife’s earnings. The mechila perspective means that the husband (to-be) is now agreeing that at a future time he will be mochel (pardon or excuse) her obligation to turn over her earnings to him. This “obligation” first comes about when she collects her earnings from her customer, client or employer. Let’s say she is a wage earner and earns $4500 (an arbitrary number). She gets paid promptly on the fifth of each month.  As soon as the paycheck comes in, Chazal obligate her to forward it to her husband.

If he likes, he can pardon her obligation and let her keep her paycheck. But on the fourth of the month, before it comes in, there is not yet anything for her to forward to him. And, as such, there is nothing for him to pardon. She will have an obligation tomorrow, but there is no obligation in effect now. Moreover, this obligation is perpetual. It renews itself with every paycheck just like she is passing Go. He has to reaffirm his mechila with every paycheck or he can change his mind. He can always retract his mechila from paycheck to paycheck.

Sof davar, with the mechila perspective, his signed declaration before the wedding does not accomplish a thing. Nothing is waived. She hasn’t earned anything for him to waive. Likewise for repeating the declaration “at the time of the wedding.” Even if the PNA would read that he repeats this waiver “at the time of the separation” won’t accomplish anything. Even if they are already separated and fighting a pitched battle, and even if he honored the agreement for some time, but now he changes his position and wants to be more recalcitrant and demand her earnings (and he is being held to pay mezonos), he can still retract his waiver.

One cannot be mochel something that has not yet come into existence.

So how will Rabbi Willig, Shlita, respond to this?

Rabbi Willig is no Am Haaretz. And he will promptly call me one and tell me to look at the SM”A in S.K. 21 and go directly to the Rema in 209:8 not to pass go and not to collect $200. There, the Rema clearly states that:

"even if one cannot transfer something that is not yet in existence he can base a condition on it and likewise to renounce (l’salek) himself and his power [of attorney] from something that is not yet in existence since he has not yet obtained it."

So he cannot be mochel in advance but he can be mesalek (siluk). Or can he?

In theory, now that we are back in Siluk-land, we will face many of the same problems that were discussed in Part 1. Still, in this case there is a bit of very good news. We are no longer discussing siluk from the dividends of property holdings but rather a siluk from a “shiabud” (lien or obligation - words of the Nesivos HaMishpat ibid:28). As such, both the Nesivos and the SM”A (S.K. 29) state that such a siluk does not require a kinyan! A declaration (before witnesses) or signed statement is sufficient.

This helps us (or Rabbi Willig) but not enough. The rules of this siluk are based on the siluk of Nichsei Malug in Kesubos 83, the only difference is that we are not talking about siluk from a title to property but rather from a monetary shiabud. All the other rules apply (see very lengthy Ktzos HaChoshen ibid.).

As such, can this siluk take effect before the wedding?

All opinions hold absolutely not. This is why the PNA adds the words about repeating the waiver afterward.

So, does it take effect at “the time of the wedding”?

It would, indeed, if this were when he wants the siluk to take effect. But because he does not want it to take effect now and is freezing it for later, it cannot.

Can it take effect at the time of the separation?

Believe it or not, this may actually work with the declaration he makes now (if he is “deemed” to repeat it then) because, for this shiabud, there is no need for a kinyan. However, the PNA would need to expressly say that he is deemed to repeat the declaration at that time (when the siluk takes effect) and this is not what it says.

So let’s say the PTB makes this change in the agreement, have we solved our problems?

No, or more precisely, it depends who you ask. If you ask the Shach or the Ktzos, perhaps it does. If you ask the Rema, Tumim or Mohari”t )Rav Yosef Matrani 1568-1639), it does not.

The issue at hand is that once we say that this siluk can only take effect at the time of separation, what happens if he retracts his siluk in the interim? Can he?

Moharit says he certainly can. The Ktzos disagrees. The Ktzos also intimates that this is in line with the Rema in Ch”M 112:1 concerning a lien against a future acquisition. The Rema’s opening position is even if one expressly earmarks a future acquisition for a lien, the lien cannot take effect until the acquisition and in the meantime, he can retract it. He follows this ruling with a terse “yesh cholkim (others disagree)”. This usually means that the first opinion is primary. The Shach announces that the “yesh cholkim” is the primary Halacha against the implication of the Rema.  The Nesivos disputes this Shach based on the Tumim and even the Ktzos.

So the retraction issue in this case seems to be a strong dispute. Furthermore, it is not clear if those who maintain that the husband cannot retract are talking only in a case that the siluk was done with a kinyan.

The basic rule in Halacha is that the burden of proof is upon side that is changing the status quo (motzi m’chezkaso). Hence, if the siluk has not yet taken effect and the husband retracts it. We need to follow the opinions that there is no siluk. (Of course, the BDA will want to follow the other opinion and make the husband agree with their “kim li” clause.)

Grand Summary

Let’s quickly summarize all of our angles:

Dividend Earnings (Peiros)

Declaration or kinyan before the wedding – Waiver doesn’t take effect at all because he has no rights to waive.

Declaration at time of wedding – Waiver doesn’t take effect at all because he doesn’t want it to take effect yet.

Declaration at time of separation – Waiver does not take effect at all because this requires a new kinyan. Husband could make a kinyan at that time if he agrees to it.

Declaration before the wedding that at the time of separation the current kinyan is effective me’achshav – Either his interim use of the peiros negates the me’achshav and the waiver will not take effect at all or the me’achshav negates the interim usage and takes effect retroactively. This will make the husband liable for reimbursement. Also, in the latter viewpoint, many poskim will hold that he can retract the siluk order as long as it hasn’t taken effect.

Job Earnings (Maaseh Yedayim) by way of Mechila

No advance declarations will take effect because the job earnings have not yet come into existence (Ch"M 209:4).
Husband could waive them later once they are earned – if he agrees to it – but he can retract the waiver anytime and continue to collect. 

Job Earnings (Maaseh Yedayim) by way of Siluk

Declaration before the wedding – Waiver doesn’t take effect at all because he has no rights to waive.

Declaration at time of wedding – Waiver doesn’t take effect at all because he doesn’t want it to take effect yet.

Declaration at time of separation (or declaration now for the time of separation) – Waiver may take effect. However, PNA needs to write this expressly. In addition, many poskim will hold that he can retract the siluk order as long as it hasn’t taken effect.

Declaration before the wedding that at the time of separation the current declaration is effective me’achshav – Same problems as Peiros.

Conclusion (to waiver issue)

One of the two commenters on my Part 1 post noted that “Furthermore, even if this mechila doesn’t work the PNA is still extremely helpful for the majority of cases where the wife’s income is not way above average.”

On the face of things, he is 100% correct if this is the majority of cases. But we have to remember a few things.

Firstly, this entire PNA is predicated on the chiddush of the Toras Gittin which is built around this waiver. So the waiver must be solid.

We must also note that we are dealing with a couple who are separated so the wife is living on her own. Today, most women have incomes – especially those who leave their husbands - and it doesn’t take much income to take the bite out of the PNA. I did a bit of googling and came up that a woman in the US earns on the average $700-800 per week and for those in professional or management positions it was a bit over $1000. So we are talking on the average $3000-4000 per month to offset his $4500.

But there can also be some very serious ramifications. Everything that I have written is working in line with the opinions that the PNA does not automatically engender a forced get. I am only challenging the waiver aspect. One can argue that my entire thesis on the frailty of the waiver is only a concern if the husband is knowledgeable enough to challenge the validity of the waiver or to retract it. Very few men from the circles that promote the PNA – mostly Modern Orthodox working class – who don’t read my blog will be that knowledgeable.

But suppose some learned recalcitrant husband – or one who gets a good toen - does indeed challenge or retract the waiver and demands his wife’s earnings.  Suppose the Bais Din does not take his challenge seriously and they enforce the PNA agreement even though the Halacha about his wife’s earnings may be on his side. In such a case we are now dealing with a bona fide gold standard get meuseh l’mehadrin that is invalid according to all opinions.

So it’s critical to take a good look at this waiver and see if it really works. I have my doubts. The hitchayvut of the mezonos – a controversy in itself – may be bolstered with a belt and suspenders. But the waiver to the earnings has neither a belt nor suspenders. Nothing to hold up its trousers.

In my humble opinion and based on the research I have done, I don’t think the Emperor’s waiver has any close at all!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Prenups I: The Emperor’s Waiver has no Close – Part 1 – Siluk

Author's note – This subject involves very emotional and very complex Halachic issues. I am not a dayan or a posek but I strongly stand behind the Halachic corollaries that I present and believe them to be worthy of serious Halachic debate.

The laws of the Torah are longer than the Earth and wider than the sea (Iyov 11:9). No amount of research on these Halachic topics is sufficient. The Halachic arguments presented here are subject to differing interpretations of the Poskim, errors, and oversights. In addition, some concepts require more detailed explanation than can be fit into even a lengthy essay and may not be sufficiently clear. I welcome all respectful comments and questions.

Ever since the dawn of time (or Mattan Torah), man has pursued a never-ending quest to develop two specific mechanisms:

·         A perpetual motion machine

·         A valid Halachic formula to avert agunos and siruvei gittin once and for all.

Both of these quests have proven to be impossible; the former due to the laws of physics and the latter due to the laws of Shulchan Aruch.

Additionally, in an earlier post I wrote another reason why a wholesale hetter-agunah mechanism will never come about. HKBH does not want it to. The logical explanation for this would be that If marriage can be so easily dissolved, it loses its “staying power” and its sanctity.  So He created a system where getting out of a marriage has to come at a price. For everybody.

This is because HKBH wants marriages to last. He wants the couple to invest in the marriage, to maintain it and nurture it as opposed to neglecting it. He also wants people to have the proper goals in mind when they look to get married which will help ensure that they get married to the right people. He wants us to take it seriously.

Of course HKBH doesn’t want recalcitrance, either, but He gives all human beings free will to choose between right and wrong.

Despite the impossibility in both cases, people haven’t stopped trying. And once in a while somebody screams “Eureka!” – I have found it – only to see it ultimately debunked.

In the case of agunos and siruvei gittin, we know the “usual suspects” – hafkaas kiddushin, get zikui, and t’nayim.  Although some of these mechanisms may be applicable in exceptional instances, they never were and never will be approved for commercial use.

Undaunted, the “free-the-agunos” askanim of today, sponsored by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and its judicial branch, Beis Din of America (BDA), are trying to peddle another “solution” – the prenuptial agreements.

The Halachic issues involved have turned it into a very convoluted document and, accordingly, a very controversial one. This is evidenced by the strange kim li clause at the end of the document. Without too much detail, this clause states that the parties agree to accept whatever halachic opinions are required to make this work, even if they are not the prevailing majority opinions. This, by itself indicates that the BDA acknowledges that the validity of the prenup depends on some off-Broadway opinions.

I am not one to say whether it is valid or invalid but I do think it is a stroke of genius. This is because they developed a two-phase agreement. Phase one is that the parties are granting the BDA itself exclusive authority to arbitrate their dispute. Phase two is that (ex-)husband-to-be commits himself to the financial arrangement outlined in the agreement. Since the BDA are the primary backers of the Halachic validity of the agreement and they are also arbitrating the dispute, they will have no problem upholding the agreement at their discretion – with the help of the kim li clause.

To quote chief architect Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Shlita – “a belt and suspenders!”

The more chareidi batei din, who don’t work on kim li’s of minority opinions, are not as supportive of this agreement, nor are they as eager to see problem marriages end in divorce (although they certainly do not condone recalcitrance). And many of these poskim have voiced their objections. The overwhelming issue is the question of a forced get (get meuseh) and the lion’s share of the literature debates this issue. As I look at this, I see some other less prominent Halachic issues that need to be addressed. And these are what I want to discuss.

The Halachic controversy can only be understood from a point of knowledge. So let’s see how this mechanism is supposed to work.

The initial model for the current day BDA prenup was the concept of the husband declaring a self-imposed penalty (knas) for not issuing a get. Since this penalty is self-imposed, his agreement to divorce would not be considered a forced get (get meuseh).

This idea goes way back and is discussed openly in the Rema in Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 134:5. The Rema personally does not see a problem with this system but he notes that there are those who don’t approve (Teshuvos HaRashba). Accordingly, he says it should not be done l’chatchila and even if it is done, the knas should be waived. He rules that despite this, if this system was used the get is still valid, but in his closing words, he throws in some scary language that the get is valid “since initially he was not forced to do this…”

This implies that if it is possible to claim in any given case that the initial “self-imposed” knas was forced, even the Rema might invalidate the get!

Because of all of these problems, it was understood that the right-wing Rabbinic world will not approve of a prenup based on the knas concept to be implemented l’chatchila. We must stay out of Knas-land.

Undaunted, the framers of the prenups created a new domain which seems to be advocated by the Toras Gittin (ibid.):  Mezonos-land!

The Mezonos-land method works as follows. In every standard marriage the husband has rights (benefits from his wife) and obligations to the wife (benefits from the husband).  Chazal defined and arranged these rights and obligations in a way to create a balance where some of the benefits given to the husband balance those awarded to the wife.

The idea of this prenup is that the husband agrees of his own volition that, in case of marital strife, he will uphold and even increase his financial obligations to his wife and at the same time renounce his rights to financial benefits from his wife. Since all he is doing is to uphold his marital obligations, even though he is now creating an imbalance which puts upon him financial duress, this is not construed as a Knas – at least, in the eyes of the Toras Gittin.

To understand the issues of the prenup, we need to assess the validity of both segments – (1) boosting his obligations and (2) renouncing his benefits. In this post, I will only deal with the renouncing part – the “Waiver” - which has gotten a back seat look from the Poskim. But I think some aspects were overlooked and, hence, it is the more problematic issue. Indeed, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Shlita, in his famous shiur, noted that this segment is “very sticky”. From his brief description, I don’t think he adequately demonstrated how sticky it is. (B’mechilas kvodo, I am not convinced that he grasped it himself).

As stated earlier, in a situation where the wife has a significant income, the waiver is vitally important to create the needed imbalance. Without it, the rules of Mezonos-land dictate that as long as he covers the support, he can collect her earnings. If her earnings are substantial they can offset the augmented support. If this collection is not waived, the force of the agreement is neutralized. So this waiver is a crucial ingredient.

However, for the ingredient to work properly, the waiver would need to be effectual and irrevocable. And herein lies the rub. It is difficult to make this waiver effectual and – as far as I can see – virtually impossible to make it irrevocable.

Let’s discuss why.

In general people earn money through one or more of three basic methods:

·         Dividends

·         Profits

·         Wages

Dividends refer to the yields of property holdings. This would include rental income from real estate, dividends from stocks, and proceeds from other investments. In the Talmudic agricultural society, it refers to the actual yields of produce from fields or the offspring of livestock. In Talmudic language this is called “peiros nechasim”.

Profits are the earnings from buying and selling merchandise or providing self-employed services. In Talmudic terms, we can call this “iska” (business).

Wages are salaries from hired labor. In Modern Hebrew it is called “maskoret”. Also “schar tircha” or “schar pe’ula”.

For our purposes, the first category – Dividends - stands alone as “peiros” (Property rights) and the second two categories – Profits and Wages - can be combined together to be called “maaseh yedayim” (Earnings).

In today’s world, most people obtain their primary income from maaseh yadayim. Some people have investments in stocks and/or property holdings but usually it is stored in savings and not used for income. More important, very few women have any property when they are first married.

We noted that according to the prenup, the husband will renounce some financial rights that he gets from his wife. What rights does a husband get? They are the two kinds that we just described: Property rights and earnings. A woman basically has no property rights from her husband, meaning she has no rights to any property that the husband brings into the marriage except that she has an automatic lien on his property for her Kesuba and other marital rights (mezonos).

These two rights of the husband - Property rights and Earnings - have different rules. Since the husband is the one renouncing some of his rights in the BDA prenup, we need to discuss both of these.

To review the Property rights, by Torah law, when a couple marries, all property that belongs to the husband remains his. Likewise for what he acquires in his own name over the course of the marriage. As for the wife’s properties, things are a bit different. Upon the commencement of the marriage, the property remains under the official ownership of the wife, but, by decree of Chazal, the husband is granted partial rights to the property which are:

·         He can hold her back from selling the property to somebody else.

·         He is entitled to personal consumption of all proceeds from the property in terms of produce or revenues.

·         He inherits the land to be his own upon her demise – if they are still married.  

These rights are looked upon as if the husband has a physical stake in the property. As if he is a part owner. Since the property is tangible, this “stake” is tangible. Thus, at the conclusion of the chuppah, if the woman has any properties, the husband makes a tangible acquisition.

Chazal call this “nichsei malug”.

Incidentally, this also applies to properties that the woman acquires in the course of the marriage through inheritance or as a gift.

Let’s suppose that the wife does not like this arrangement. She does not want her new husband to get a tangible stake in her property. And let’s say the husband agrees to this setup (like she won’t otherwise agree to marry him. This is very common, if not standard, by second marriages where there are children from the first one. ) How do they circumvent the decree of chazal which takes effect automatically at the moment of nissuin?

The simple thing to suggest is: let him be mochel (waive) his rights. Alas, Halacha is not so simple.

The concept of “mochel” cannot apply here. According to most poskim, mechila is like giving a gift. It only applies to a monetary obligation from one to another.

In our case, nobody is obligated to give anything to the other. Chazal are in control and they determine that he automatically gets the property together with the girl. Before the chuppa, it is not yet his and she has no monetary obligations to him that he can be mochel. Even during the betrothal she has no obligations to him. After the chuppa, the property [rights] automatically land in his pocket courtesy of Chazal. At this stage, he cannot be mochel. He has already taken possession. One cannot be mochel what one has in his pocket. It won’t move out by itself.

For this reason, we need to devise a different concept. It is called “Siluk” and it means abdication – not waiving. Although there is no obligation from her to enable him to be mochel, he can choose to be mesalek (abdicate or renounce) his ownership of the property before or after he receives it via Chazal. But there is a difference between before and after.

Before he receives it, all he has to do is recite (or write) that he wants nothing to do with the property. Return to Sender.  Once he receives it (at the conclusion of the chuppa), he cannot do this by a mere statement (even in writing). His stake in the property has already been deposited into his pocket and it’s not going to leave on its own. He needs to do a kinyan with his wife to actively transfer his stake back to her.

Hence, Chazal delineate different rules for three specific periods of time:

·       Before the entire marriage, one cannot do any siluk because he has no stake in the property even in potential. This is like calling your Post Office to refuse a package that has not arrived there at all.

·       After the Kiddushin and before the nissuin, she is already his “wife” but he does not receive his stake in her properties until he brings her in (kenisa=chuppa=sheva brachos ) when the benefits and responsibilities of the kesuba take effect. Still, since it is understood that he is destined to acquire this stake in the property, he can block it with a statement so as not to acquire it in the first place. This is like receiving a notice in your mailbox that there is a package waiting for you to pick up at the Post Office. You can simply call up the PO and tell them that you are refusing the package and to return it to sender.

·       After the nissuin one has already accepted delivery of the package and calling the PO won’t accomplish anything. The only way to return it to sender is to replace the brown paper, go down to the PO, pay postage again and send it back.

All this is the subject matter of the ninth perek of Kesubos and is spelled out in Even HaEzer 92. These Halachos apply exclusively to the nichsei malug of the woman. They do not apply to the maaseh yadayim!

A few more important details about a siluk are in order.

From the description of the gemara and Shulchan Aruch, a siluk is an on the spot action that takes effect immediately in the here and now. The groom recites or writes his siluk sometime during the kiddushin period and his acquisition is immediately “blocked”. If after the marriage, he must do it with a kinyan and it takes effect immediately. There is no discussion in the gemara or Shulchan Aruch about a situation where the groom recites that a siluk will take place at a future time but not now (and not for the interim). Is such a thing possible?

Presumably not.     

It definitely cannot work with a mere declaration because a declaration is only valid if he has not yet accepted delivery on the package. Once he has claimed the package, which he does in the interim,  he will need to do a kinyan.

Can he do a kinyan now that will take effect later?

The only kinyan one can make “up front” is a kinyan sudar and, in general, a kinyan sudar done today cannot be delayed until tomorrow because tomorrow the sudar is back to its owner (Choshen Mishpat 195:5).

How about we do a kinyan sudar now and we state that when the circumstances call for the siluk, it will take effect retroactively from now (me’achshav)?

Here we walk on thin ice. Even though such a thing is effective for a simple purchase or a self-imposed obligation (hitchayvut), it is very difficult to say that this can work with a siluk. Why? Because me’achshav is not a magic wand. It doesn’t make a delayed kinyan work later hocus pocus. It actually means that we retroactively determine that the transfer of ownership takes effect now. Like now!

Let’s assume a 12 month delay me’achshav. In the case of a purchase, after 12 months, me’achshav determines that the new owner has been the actual owner for the past 12 months. He has held the rights to all the benefits of ownership. If the original owner was using the item in the interim, he is liable to the new owner for its use (unless the new owner is mochel).

If me’achshav will work with a siluk, the trigger point – which may be many years later - will determine retroactively that the siluk took effect from the day (and time) of the kinyan. The husband will be liable to his wife for all the proceeds that he took control of from that time. Thus, a siluk will only work if he is “meirim yadayim” (hands off) in the interim or if he settles with his wife on the proceeds of the interim period. But if he displays that he has no intention of honoring the siluk retroactively, he is megalah daas that he does not want the siluk to take effect until the trigger point. Whereupon, he will need to make a new kinyan at that time to effect the siluk.

You can’t be mesalek from your cake and eat it first!

What if he makes a written agreement now to do a kinyan when it is called for?

No problem with that, but until he does the kinyan, there is no siluk. If he is an honorable person he needs to keep his word but nobody can force him to. So, until the time comes and he actually makes a kinyan, no one can stop him from backing out of the agreement.

What emerges is that in all the earlier suggestions, the siluk is not effectual and in the final suggestion, the pledge to do a siluk in not irrevocable.

So now that we know all of this, let’s go and analyze the BDA prenup.

The BDA wants to put the Toras Gittin’s suggestion in action. This is to have the groom agree now that, in a future time when appropriate, he will increase his mezonos obligation to his wife and at the same time to renounce his financial rights. (Note- Toras Gittin makes no mention of making an agreement now for the future. This is critically important and will be discussed in a future post.) And so they word their prenup as follows:

I hereby now (me’achshav) obligate myself to support my Wife-to-Be from the date …Furthermore, I waive my halakhic rights to my wife’s earnings for the period that she is entitled to the above-stipulated sum, and I recite that I shall be deemed to have repeated this waiver at the time of our wedding. I acknowledge that I have now (me’achshav) effected the above obligation by means of a kinyan (formal Jewish transaction) in an esteemed (chashuv) Beth Din as prescribed by Jewish law. 

Which halakhic rights is this referring to and what makes this waiver take effect?

Are we talking about the maaseh yadayim or the peiros, or both?

Well, I am certain that Rabbi Willig, Shlita wants to cover both bases but it looks like he is weaving shaatnez – wool and linen mixed together.

The term “my wife’s earnings” and “waive” (as opposed to “abdicate from” or “renounce”) certainly indicate that he is renouncing the maaseh yadayim.  Maaseh yadayim does require mechila (we will discuss this in the next post) and, besides, peiros cannot be called “my wife’s earnings” because they are automatically his as soon as they come into existence. Yet, the phrase “and I recite that I shall be deemed to have repeated this waiver at the time of our wedding” indicates otherwise. Why are those words there?

Rabbi Willig explains himself (71:00):  
If you look in Kesubos 83 it says that you can’t do that (waive his rights) before the eirusin

Kesubos 83?? Isn’t that talking about siluk from nichsei malug?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter and this rule of siluk applies to maaseh yadayim as well?

I cannot discuss maaseh yadayim in this post, but I will give you a sneak preview. My perspective is that, for maaseh yadayim, it does not help to recite this not before the wedding and not “at the time of our wedding”. It is only effective at the time of the actual mechila. I will explain this in the ensuing post. So, if it refers to maaseh yadayim it should read: “and I recite that I shall be deemed to have repeated this waiver at the time of our separation (or notification)”.

For the moment, let’s pretend that we are indeed discussing peiros – the proceeds from nichsei malug. Is this clause effective?

Well, I already wrote that, if this is the case, it should read, “I abdicate myself from the proceeds of my wife’s pre-marital properties…” instead of what it says. He cannot waive the peiros that automatically land in his pocket. (It’s like if the Israeli government gives you Child allowance through automatic electronic direct deposit, you can be mochel it all you want but it is still sitting in your bank account.)

Aside from this, it is not bound to be too practical because most women do not have nichsei malug.  If the couple earn their living from renting properties the properties were probably jointly bought in the course of their marriage. In this case, he is a part owner on the keren – the principle - of the property and he is certainly not abdicating from that. Same goes for stock shares.

But, more important, as we discussed, once he took possession of his stake in the nichsei malug, he cannot relinquish them without making a kinyan with his wife at the time he wants to relinquish it. If he is a recalcitrant, good luck with that.

Can the kinyan that he made at the chosson tish take effect retroactively at the time of separation to facilitate a siluk all the way back to the day of the wedding (me’achshav)?

We must say that either it doesn’t at all because he was megalah daas all these years that he had no intention of effecting a siluk from the time of the wedding (and this negates the me’achshav), or, possibly, we can say that it does take effect (me’achshav is not negated) and he is now liable for all the proceeds that he took for himself for all this time.

I think that in order to make the latter viewpoint valid, this ramification would have to be expressly spelled out in the prenup agreement. Moreover, it is very unreasonable to promote an agreement which puts a young groom at such risk and likewise more unreasonable to expect him to want to sign it and it is criminal to demand him to sign it. Remember, the terms of the prenup are independent of whether he is recalcitrant or not.

Incidentally, Rabbi Willig’s assertion that the wife is not required to surrender a “sophisticated” income to her husband (based on a shita of the Bach) might apply to maaseh yadayim but it certainly does not apply for the proceeds of nichsei  malug. Whatever it yields is all his. So there could be a lot to give back for a retroactive siluk.

For all these reasons, it is abundantly clear that the waiver in the prenup has no effect on the husband’s rights to the proceeds of the wife’s personal properties. The intent of the agreement must be relating to the maaseh yadayim. (Note that the Toras Gittin expressly mentions maaseh yadayim  and seems to ignore peiros nichsei malug.)

So now we need to examine if it this “waiver” is effective for the maaseh yadayim. But this is a post in itself.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of…

...The Emperor’s Waiver has no Close.