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Many American rabbis will refuse to perform a wedding unless the couple has a specialized prenup regarding halachic divorce. This is known as "The RCA prenup" or "Rabbi Willig's prenup." From what I understand, its mechanism is almost identical to one found in a document in Nachlas Shiva, from ~350 years ago. Here's the quote from Nachlas Shiva (Shtaros, Siman 9):

ואם ח”ו שיעשה כמר פלוני הנ”ל לזוגתו מרת פלונית איזו דברים שאינה יכולה לסבול וצריכה לבית דין, אז תיכף ומיד יתן לה עשרה זהובים לפיזור מזונות. וכן יתן לה כל חודש וחודש משך ימי הקטט. וכל בגדיה ותכשיטיה השייכים לגופה. וירד עמה בדיני ישראל לבית דין שלהם, תוך שני שבועות אחר בקשתו ממנו, ועל פיהם יעמוד כל ריב וכל נגע.

Should, G-d forbid, Mr. so-and-so do anything that his wife, Mrs. so-and-so, cannot bear, and they shall need a rabbinic court, immediately he must provide her with ten gold coins for her support, and continue to do so monthly for the duration of the conflict ... The husband shall deal with a Jewish court following Jewish law, within two weeks of his wife's request to do so; this court shall have final say.

Yet I've heard that some rabbis are halachically opposed to today's prenup because they feel it's a problem of "get me'useh" (a Jewish divorce can be invalidated if it was done under duress, in some circumstances; here the duress would be the ongoing payments of support). Do they disagree with the above Nachlas Shiva text, or draw some distinction between it and the contemporary case?

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From context, I'm pretty sure the language here was a euphemism for a Get. –  Shalom Nov 3 '10 at 16:58
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Possibly, but keep in mind a society where staying in a bad marriage protected by court orders may have been a better option than divorce. –  YDK Nov 3 '10 at 23:55
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In the Talmud, they would beat the husband until he gave a get, so since that wasn't duress then how would this agreed payment be? The only argument I can see against this, is that if the man knew he was going to get a divorce, he wouldn't have signed this document / wouldn't have agreed to the terms. (Similar to the assumptions regarding gambling) –  avi May 22 '11 at 18:28
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@Avi, to answer your question: physical coercion could only be ordered by the courts in situations where they'd rule he "absolutely must" release her. In many situations it's not quite that bad, so duress would invalidate the Get; the question then becomes whether self-imposed duress is considered duress (and if a support agreement is considered self-imposed duress). –  Shalom May 23 '11 at 20:16
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FTR, Rabbi Willig's halachic pre-nup says absolutely nothing about a get. All it says is that the husband agrees to show up in beis din, if he is summoned, and he agrees to pay X dollars a day to the beis din as a fine, for every day that he ignores the summons. –  user1095 Jan 25 '12 at 10:45

1 Answer 1

Rav Asher Weiss writes in his approbation of the RCA Prenup about supporting the RCA Prenup from the Nachlas Shiva document:

לענ"ד אין זה ענין לני"ד דנראה לכאורה דתקנה זו עיקרה ויסודה באמת להבטיח את קיום האשה והספקת מזונותיה, ולא כאמצעי לאלץ את הבעל לגרש את אשתו, וא"כ אין מזה ראיה לנידון דידן.‏
In my humble opinion this is not related to our case for it seems that this enactment's fundamental purpose is really to guarantee the well-being of the woman and the distribution to her of her food, and not as a medium to force the husband to divorce his wife, and if so there is no proof to our case.

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Thank you because this addresses the issue directly, though I'm not sure I understand Rav Weiss' argument. "Should G-d forbid they require a beit din...", I think we all know what that means. –  Shalom Apr 27 at 11:10
    
@Shalom I think back in the day people went to Beit Din for things besides divorce. –  Double AA Apr 27 at 16:38
    
good point, it could actually mean a dispute over support or the like. But to our 21st-century ears, it sure sounds like something worse. –  Shalom Apr 29 at 2:42

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