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According to Mishna 7:5 of Masechet Gittin, if a man gives a woman a divorce on condition that she give him 200 zuz, she is divorced and must give it to him. But this seems to make the ketubah useless in the case of divorce, because a man could just always divorce his wife on the condition that she pay him more than the value of her ketubah. This seems impossible to me. What am I missing?

Note that this is a question because a woman can be divorced against her will in halacha (at least before the takanah of Rabbeinu Gershom).

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  • Practically speaking, this condition would require her to have 200 zuz on hand (or to easily be able to borrow it). How likely would that be? (And until she gives him the 200 they're not divorced - i.e., he doesn't yet have to pay the kesubah.)
    – Meir
    Nov 2 '20 at 16:09
  • But the plain reading of the mishna says she is already divorced, she just has to give him the money. That may be wrong, but do you have a source? Nov 2 '20 at 17:38
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    It's a machlokes in the Gemara there (74a) whether the divorce takes effect retroactively to when he gives her the get, or only as of when she gives the 200. (The halachah is like the first opinion; see Rambam, Hil. Ishus 6:17-18. The principle is stated further down on that amud: כל האומר על מנת כאומר מעכשיו דמי.) But even the first opinion requires the 200 to be given before that retroactive effect comes into play (i.e., if she never gives the 200, then the get never takes effect).
    – Meir
    Nov 2 '20 at 17:59
  • Meir is correct. I would just add that the husband will also still need to support his wife as long as the condition has not been fulfilled, so he will have nothing to gain from a conditional get.
    – tcdw
    Nov 3 '20 at 18:26
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While a woman can be divorced against her will, no-one can be forced to pay money against their will. In the case in the גמרא, when it says "she is divorced and pays 200 זוז, it means that we assume the husband intended to divorce her from now, on condition that she pays 200 זוז in the future (as opposed to the other opinion that the divorce only takes effect when she pays him). However, if she chooses not to pay 200 זוז she is certainly not divorced. Therefore she can always choose not to pay and in the event of a (hopefully not monetarily incentivized) divorce or husband's death, she will receive the כתובה.

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