Shabbat Parashat Matot| 5765
Payment of Support to Agunah - Based on Piskei Din Rabbaniim - vol. X, pp. 294-309
Case: Beit din instructed a man to give a get to his wife, who is separated from him; he has yet to do so. In the meantime they required him to pay mezonot (support). The husband sued to suspend payments, claiming that his wife got a job, and while she may choose between mezonot and keeping her salary, she cannot demand both. He also claims that he wants to resume joint, domestic residence (sh’lom bayit) and that if she refuses, she does not deserve mezonot.
Majority Ruling: Since beit din ruled that the husband should give a get, even though they did not ruled that he can be coerced, his request for sh’lom bayit isnota factor.
It is true that a wife cannot demand both to receive mezonot and to keep her salary. However, we must consider whether, in this case, the mezonot the man has to pay follow the normal rules.The gemara (Bava Metzia 12b) says that a man who gave his wife a questionable get must give her mezonot but, nevertheless, need not give him objects that she finds (metzia). The rationale is as follows. A husband usually gets metzia in order to avoid discord in the home. However, this is not an issue in the case of a couple who are, very possibly, already divorced. But if they may be divorced, then why does she receive mezonot? Rashi (Ketubot 97b) says that it is because he is the cause for her inability to remarry. There are similar cases of women who receive mezonot but not through the regular arrangements for husbands and wives. They include a man who delays carrying out yibum on his brother’s widow and orphans who support their father’s widow from the inheritance. In the former case, the Rosh (Yevamot 4:24) proves that the payment has a nature of k’nas (penalty) from the fact that the widow does not have to compensate him with her salary.
It stands to reason [ed. note- we have to forgo most of the analysis] that in the case of one who has given his wife a questionable get, the payment is also a k’nas, which exists even according to the possibility that the get is actually valid. That which the gemara gives the reason that we are not concerned about discord is only to explain why he is not able to demand compensation for metzia according to the possibility that the get is invalid and they are married.
In our case, the couple is definitely married, but they are not supposed to remain so. Thus, the husband must support his wife as one who prevents her from getting married by means of their marital status. He cannot make claims on her salary, because the k’nas does not include compensation for him and because we are not concerned about discord in a case where he is required to divorce her.
[Ed. note- a prenuptial agreement can create a similar situation in a broader manner.]
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