Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Impossible divorce conditions in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: The Talmud’s Inhumane View of Women Puts Unhappy Wives in Impossible Positions. This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ reiterates a basic inequality in Jewish law: A man can divorce his wife, but a woman can’t divorce her husband.
Last week, Daf Yomi readers learned that, under Jewish law, divorces can be given conditionally. For instance, a man can write a get, a bill of divorce, saying that his wife is divorced provided that she pays him a certain sum of money, or agrees to continue nursing his children. But what happens, the rabbis wondered in this week’s Daf Yomi reading, if the husband deliberately writes an impossible or illegal condition into the get? Can such conditions be enforced, and if not, what happens to the get that includes them?

As noted in a post from years ago, the inequality concerning who can initiate a divorce did not apply in all ancient Jewish communities. The Judeans at Elephantine in Egypt in the fifth century BCE permitted both men and women to initiate a divorce. And there's more on Mibtahiah here and here.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.