If a halakhah eludes you, go and inquire in the House of Study.
Fasting During Pregnancy
In recent years a significant number of obstetricians have been routinely advising their pregnant patients not to fast on any fast day, including Yom Kippur.1The obligation to fast on Yom Kippur is suspended only in face of possible danger to life. The obligation of pregnant women with regard to other fast days is a matter of dispute. Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 554:5, rules that they are obligated to fast on Tishah be-Av but are exempt from other fasts. Rema, Oraḥ Ḥayyim 550:1, records that they are obligated to fast on all fast days by virtue of custom unless they experience “great discomfort (miẓta‘arot harbeh). Mishnah Berurah 550:5 rules that “if they are weak” they need not fast. This advice is reflected in at least one contemporary rabbinic source. R. Yisra'el Fisher, a member of the Bet Din of the Edah ha-Haredit, in note 11 appended to his letter of approbation to R. Baruch Goldberg's Pnei Barukh: Bikkur Holim ke-Hilkhato (Jerusalem, 5745), writes, "In this day in [which] the generations have become weak and tens of women miscarry because of fasting, all pregnant women other than in the ninth month should eat less than the amount [for which punishment is incurred] on Yom Kippur." It is clear that, heretofore, Halakhah, as recorded both in Pesaḥim 54b and Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Hayyim 617:1, assumed that, in the absence of unusual circumstances, fasting poses no danger either to the fetus or to the pregnant mother who is otherwise in good health. Rabbi Fisher predicates his remarks upon a presumption that a process of general physical deterioration has occurred over the ages.
R. Moshe Sternbuch, presently deputy head of the Bet Din of the Edah ha-Haredit, writing in Oraita, no. 16 (Elul 5748), p. 177, does not quote Rabbi Fisher by name but cites an anonymous rabbi who permits "every pregnant woman" to eat on Yom Kippur upon experiencing even "slight weakness." Rabbi Sternbuch takes issue with that position in arguing that, since pregnancy in itself is not sufficient reason for breaking the fast, the expectant mother must fast unless she "experiences a particular weakness that can cause her complications." In medical literature the only mention of any possible untoward effect of fasting upon otherwise healthy pregnant women is with regard to women in the final days of gestation.2There have been no comprehensive studies regarding the effects of a day-long fast upon an otherwise healthy pregnant woman with no history of medical abnormalities. However, the report of one study of the effects of 12-and 18-hour fasts upon pregnant women indicates that somewhat elevated levels of ketoacids and urinary ketones were observed, especially during the second half of pregnancy. See Boyd E. Metzger, Rita Vileisis, Veronica Ravnikar and Norbert Freinkel, ‘“Accelerated Starvation’ and the Skipped Breakfast in Late Normal Pregnancy,” Lancet, March 13, 1982, I, 585–592. Although the authors indicate that “it has not been established” that those phenomena “are completely innocuous in the fetus” and that “this finding may be relevant to the controversial evidence that increased ketonaemia during pregnancy … may be followed by impaired intellectual development of the offspring” they fail to report any evidence of harm to the fetus. Hence Rabbi Fisher's comments are all the more remarkable since he finds no problem with regard to fasting in the ninth month. Doctors Michael Kaplan, Arthur Eidelman and Yeshaya Aboulafia, "Fasting and the Precipitation of Labor: The Yom Kippur Effect," Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 250, no. 10 (September 9, 1983), pp. 1317–1318, report a significant increase in spontaneous term deliveries in Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Hospital during the 24-hour period following termination of the fast in the years 1981 and 1982. There was no increase, and indeed a slight decrease, in premature births during those 24-hour periods. A less carefully thought-out survey of Jewish birth statistics by Ayalah Cohen, Ha-Refu'ah, vol. 102, no. 7, (April 1, 1982), pp. 306–307, showed similar findings for the general Jewish populace in 1975, 1978 and 1979. The authors of the Shaare Zedek study frankly admit that they cannot explain this phenomenon. They speculate that since total abstinence from food and liquid does lead to a substantial rise in blood viscosity, the resultant hyperviscosity may, in turn, decrease uterine blood flow and stimulate contraction.
Since the "Yom Kippur effect" hastens delivery only in women near term who would otherwise give birth in a matter of days at most, the authors conclude that "at present we do not recommend that pregnant Jewish women refrain from fasting on Yom Kippur." They do, however, caution that there may be additional risk for "mothers with a tendency toward early delivery."
Halakhah adopts a far less sanguine view of parturition than does modern medicine. Jewish law perceives labor and the ensuing birth to be inherently dangerous and thus would presumably sanction suspension of halakhic strictures in order to prevent even minimal unnatural preponement of delivery.3See Rosh and Ran, Yoma 82a, as well as Teshuvot Bet Shlomoh, Ḥoshen Mishpat, no. 120. Nevertheless, Rabbi Sternbuch's halakhic conclusion seems to be entirely correct.4His reasoning, however, is problematic. Rabbi Sternbuch argues that interruption of the fast may be sanctioned for reasons of pikuaḥ nefesh only if some unusual phenomenon or identifiable cause of danger is already present and argues that it was this consideration that led the Bet Din of Vilna to dispute the position of R. Israel Salanter during the cholera epidemic of 1848 and was the basis of their refusal to grant blanket dispensation to break the fast. That analysis of the controversy as well as the conclusion to be derived therefrom is contradicted by Rabbi Sternbuch himself in his Mo‘adim u-Zemanim, II, no. 140. See also supra, chap. 6, p. 142, note 32. There is ample support in the writings of contemporary decisors for the position that statistically significant evidence of the likelihood of future danger constitutes sufficient warrant for disregarding halakhic strictures for reasons of pikuaḥ nefesh. See, for example, R. Joshua Neuwirth, Shemirat Shabbat ke-Hilkhatah, 2nd edition (Jerusalem, 5739), I, 40:68–69. Pregnant women have fasted from time immemorial with the result that the practice is regarded as entirely normal and natural. Since medical science also finds no danger in the practice, the principle "The Lord preserves the simple" appears to be entirely applicable. That principle reflects the truism that all human activity is accompanied by a measure of danger but that Halakhah takes no cognizance of danger below a certain threshold level. Hence "dangers" that are neither popularly nor scientifically perceived as such do not serve as a basis for setting aside religious obligations. In such matters one must rely upon divine providence and place one's trust in God who preserves the "simple" who do not seek to contravene His decrees. For the same reason, although fasting near term may hasten parturition by a day or two, since no medically recognized danger is entailed and there is no popularly perceived connection between these phenomena, the principle "The Lord preserves the simple" is applicable.
However, the concern voiced by the Shaare Zedek physicians regarding mothers with a tendency toward early delivery is well placed and would be cogent even in the absence of the findings of the Shaare Zedek study. Previous preterm delivery is itself an indication of a predisposition to preterm labor and delivery. It is well-established that a woman who previously gave birth remote from term has an increased likelihood of doing so again even in the absence of another identifiable predisposing factor.5See F. Gary Cunningham, Paul C. MacDonald and Norman F. Grant, Williams Obstetrics, 18th edition (Norwalk, 1989), pp. 748 and 753. A woman who experiences preterm labor in her first pregnancy has a 15% chance of a preterm birth in her second pregnancy. Curiously, if the first preterm labor is preceded by a term birth the danger of preterm birth in the third pregnancy rises to 24%. The probability of preterm birth following two such previous occurrences is 32%.6See Williams Obstetrics, p. 953. Dehydration results in reduced blood volume and studies indicate that reduced plasma volume is associated with preterm labor in the majority of cases. Conversely, approximately one half of women in preterm labor will respond to bed rest and hydration, i.e., therapies designed to increase plasma volume.7See Denise M. Main, “Epidemiology of Preterm Birth,” Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 31, no. 3 (September, 1988), pp. 529–530 and R.C. Goodlin, M.A. Quaife and J.W. Dirksen, “The Significance, Diagnosis and Treatment of Maternal Hypovolemia as Associated with Fetal/Maternal Illness,” Seminars in Perinatology, V (1988), 164. Accordingly, a woman at risk for preterm labor is well-advised to take precautions in preventing hypovolemia and should consult both her obstetrician and a competent rabbinic authority with regard to the need for, as well as the mode of, drinking on Yom Kippur. Although intake of fluids is a necessary precaution in order to prevent a deficit in blood plasma volume, consumption of solid foods is not necessary for that purpose.8Cf., R. Baruch Goldberg, Pnei Barukh; Bikkur Ḥolim ke-Hilkhato 4:13, who advises any woman who has previously suffered two miscarriages to partake of food in quantities smaller than for which punishment is incurred. There is no medical evidence that abstinence from solid food or caloric intake over a twenty-five or twenty-six hour period will, in and of itself, precipitate either a miscarriage or preterm labor. Of course, a competent physician should be consulted in every individual instance since there are conditions in which abstinence from food can result in ketosis which is a life-threatening condition. It should be noted that, when drinking of liquids is indicated by virtue of a history of preterm labor or for any other reason, there is no halakhic reason why the liquid should not be in the form of fruit juice or milk rather than water.
It should be added that any pregnant woman who finds herself in a state of dehydration should immediately rehydrate herself by drinking large quantities of liquid as quickly as possible. The danger to the mother represented by dehydration is greater the closer the mother is to term. Dehydration poses a risk not only because it may cause the onset of labor but also because giving birth while dehydrated constitutes an additional and even more significant danger since the resultant decrease in blood volume may cause the patient to go into shock with relatively minimal postpartum bleeding.9See J. Robert Wilson and Elsie Reid Carrington, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 8th edition (St. Louis, 1987), p. 450. Dehydration during labor also leads to decelerative patterns in the fetal heart tones, maternal exhaustion and ineffective voluntary effort on the part of the mother in assisting in the birth process.10See Martin L. Pemoll and Ralph C. Benson, Current Obstetric & Gynecologic Diagnosis & Treatment, 6th edition (Los Altos, 1987), p. 488. The pregnant woman should be informed of the symptoms of dehydration which include postural hypotension in the sitting or standing position, decreased skin turgor, excessive dryness of oral mucous membranes, severe thirst, decreased axillary sweating and unusual lethargy or weakness.
A woman concerned about possible dehydration during the course of the fast may take a number of precautions to prevent that condition from occurring. Drinking liquids before the fast in quantities larger than usual is of some, albeit limited, value. Reduced exertion and avoidance of heat will conserve body fluids. Spending the day in an air-conditioned environment, particularly during hot weather, is probably the most effective precaution available.
One cautionary note must be added with regard to the problem of dehydration in general. In hot, arid climates, rapid dehydration may cause serious adverse effects before the usual symptoms become manifest. This "desert climate" is also characteristic of Jerusalem during some seasons. Individuals for whom the risk of dehydration constitutes a particular health hazard should be advised to consult a physician and a rabbinic authority.
Dating the Ketubah
During the summer months wedding ceremonies frequently take place at an hour after sunset but before nightfall. The ketubah is perforce written and signed before the ceremony. Predated instruments, however, are invalid in Jewish law. The concern regarding predated instruments is that since they serve to establish a lien against property alienated subsequent to the execution of the instrument, a predated document may be used to seize property from a purchaser who, in reality, holds unencumbered title. Since predated instruments are invalid in Jewish law and since the obligations recited in the ketubah become binding only upon marriage, under these circumstances, the propriety of dating the ketubah on the day of its execution has been questioned. A ketubah dated the day prior to the actual marriage is, in effect, a predated instrument.
A number of articles devoted to dating the ketubah were analyzed in Contemporary Halakhic Problems, II, 88–91. The authors of those articles made the simple point that the groom may quite properly bind himself to the financial obligations of the ketubah even prior to his marriage. The obligation is, quite understandably, conditioned upon the solemnization of the marriage as indicated by the text of the ketubah itself, but subsequent to the marriage all financial obligations become binding retroactively. Although the ketubah serves to establish a lien on all the groom's property for satisfaction of the obligations spelled out in that document, any purchaser of property subsequent to the actual signing of the ketubah is on notice and assumes title subject to the conditional lien established by the ketubah even though the marriage has not yet been solemnized.
This view is sharply challenged by R. Moses Feinstein, Dibberot Mosheh, Baba Mezi'a, I, no. 20, secs. 53 and 54, as well as in Iggerot Mosheh, Even ha-Ezer, IV, no. 100, sec. 5. Rabbi Feinstein bases his position upon the comments of Tosafot, Baba Mezi'a 7b. The Gemara states that if a ketubah is lost, the finder may return it to the wife provided that the husband acknowledges that it is a valid instrument. Tosafot suggest the possibility that the document may be invalid by reason of having been executed prior to the wedding ceremony and hence question the propriety of returning it to the wife lest it be unlawfully used to seize property from a bona fide purchaser who has acquired unencumbered title. Tosafot respond by declaring that there is no reason for such concern because the basic obligation of the ketubah becomes binding upon the groom from the time of betrothal. Hence the document is not invalid by virtue of predating. It is, however, entirely possible that the ketubah was executed even prior to betrothal. That possibility is peremptorily dismissed by Tosafot with the comment that "there is no reason to suspect" that the husband drafted the document at so early a time. Rabbi Feinstein cogently infers that Tosafot means to say that, were the ketubah indeed to have been executed prior to betrothal of the couple, it would be invalid by virtue of being a predated instrument.
The argument, however, is by no means as conclusive as it may appear. Tosafot, following the already cited comments, immediately proceed to question the validity of the instrument as a means of seizing property in order to satisfy the obligations assumed by the groom in addition to the statutory minimum (tosefet ketubah). Such obligations are clearly not imposed by statute; accordingly, the document should be invalid insofar as the additional ketubah is concerned. In answer to that question, Tosafot invoke the principle "Witnesses, by virtue of their signature, acquire on his [or her] behalf" (edav be-ḥatumav zokhin leih), i.e., an obligation may be voluntarily assumed by means of written instrument, and since it is secured by bill, the attestation of the witnesses constitutes notice to subsequent purchasers. Tosafot, in formulating that principle, may well be understood as resolving, not only the problem of tosefet ketubah, but also as resolving the previous question regarding the basic statutory obligation of the ketubah. Having formulated the principle of edav be-ḥatumav zokhin leih, Tosafot may be understood as accepting the validity of a ketubah executed even before betrothal.
Rabbi Feinstein's position is unequivocally contradicted by the comments of one eminent latter-day authority. Teshuvot Bet Ya'akov, no. 133, cites the comments of Tosafot, Baba Mezi'a 17a, in demonstrating a position diametrically opposed to that of Rabbi Feinstein.11This is also the position of Teshuvot Kokhav me-Ya‘akov, no. 196. See also R. Samuel Eliezer Stern, Seder Ketubah ke-Hilkhatah (Bnei Brak, 5753), pp. 20 and 79, who reports that R. Samuel ha-Levi Woszner also ruled that the ketubah may be executed and dated on the day preceding the marriage ceremony. See also Rabbi Stern’s comments, ibid., pp. 78f. The Gemara states that the ketubah may be returned to the wife provided that the husband acknowledges its validity. Tosafot indicate that, should the husband contend that the debt represented by the ketubah has already been satisfied, the instrument may not be returned to the wife. On its surface, such a position seems to flout the rule that, without substantiating evidence, a husband has no credibility in pleading that he has satisfied the statutory obligation of the ketubah. Tosafot, however, declare that the plea of prior payment is accepted only because the husband has available to himself an alternative pleading, viz., he might have denied that the woman in question was his wife. The principle invoked is that of migo, i.e., a litigant is granted credibility with regard to a plea actually advanced even though that plea may be defective if he could have advanced another plea which would have been given credence. This principle serves to assign to the litigant the advantages of alternative pleadings which have not been advanced. Obviously, the plea "You are not my wife" would be given credence only in a situation in which there exists no independent evidence establishing an existing matrimonial relationship. But, queries Teshuvot Bet Ya'akov, there is an obvious problem: the fact that the ketubah exists is itself clear and unequivocal testimony to the existence of a marital relationship. If the ketubah does serve ipso facto to establish the existence of a matrimonial relationship, then the husband's plea to the contrary—and hence his plea that the ketubah has already been satisfied—should be denied. The explanation must be, argues Teshuvot Bet Ya'akov, that although it is unusual to execute a ketubah prior to betrothal, nevertheless, it is perfectly possible for a prospective groom to do so. Since a groom may execute a ketubah prior to betrothal, the existence of such a document does not, in and of itself, establish the existence of a marital relationship. It is nevertheless clear that when the husband acknowledges the validity of that instrument it is to be returned to the wife. Quite apparently, concludes Bet Ya'akov, a ketubah drafted and dated prior to betrothal must be entirely valid; otherwise, it could not be returned to the wife in order to enable her to collect thereupon. The comments of Tosafot serve to establish the point that, without substantiating evidence, a husband has no credibility to plead that he has satisfied the statutory obligations of the ketubah in situations in which there is independent evidence that a marriage has taken place.
It should also be pointed out that, although Rabbi Feinstein endeavors to interpret the comments of this authority in a manner compatible with his own thesis, the statement of Rivash cited in Helkat Meḥokek, Hoshen Mishpat 55:19, and in Bet Shmu'el, Hoshen Mishpat 55:13, certainly bears out the position of Teshuvot Bet Ya'akov and supports the view that a groom may voluntarily assume the obligations of the ketubah even prior to betrothal.
Hetter Iska: Student Loans, Margin Accounts, Purchase-Money Mortgages, etc.
A discussion of the prohibition concerning interest-taking and the method of converting such loans into joint ventures through execution of a hetter iska was presented in Contemporary Halakhic Problems, II, 376–396. The hetter iska agreement provides that the funds advanced are to be invested in a joint venture with profits and losses to be shared equally. A further stipulation provides that a certain sum computed as a percent per annum of the funds advanced will be accepted in accord and satisfaction of all profits realized in the venture. A claim that no profit has been realized must be substantiated by a solemn oath to that effect with the provision that the recipient of the funds may pay the stipulated amount in lieu of an oath.
As was noted in that discussion, a problem exists in situations in which the person advancing the funds has personal knowledge of failure to realize a profit. It has been contended that, in such circumstances, the stipulated oath serves no purpose and hence is forbidden as a vain oath. This problem typically arises with regard to purchase-money mortgages in which no money changes hands and hence, in the absence of an appreciation in the value of the property itself, there is no possibility of profit. A solution to that problem may be found by either restructuring the transaction as a leasehold agreement with title passing upon expiration of the leasehold or as an agreement for the periodic transfer of partial interest in the property commensurate with the funds actually paid. Sample forms were appended to that discussion.
The selfsame problem arises with regard to loans advanced by brokerage firms for the purchase of stock on margin, by educational institutions for payment of tuition and in other situations in which the funds are retained or expended by the lender rather than by the borrower. In such circumstances, when no profit has been realized, the provider of the funds is fully aware of that fact. Hence payment of a stipulated sum in lieu of an oath becomes problematic since many rabbinic authorities maintain that an oath may not properly be demanded under such circumstances. For obvious reasons, the solutions offered in the case of purchase-money mortgages are of no avail with regard to loans of this nature.
There is, however, another remedy which does suggest itself. The parties may enter into an agreement stipulating that the funds credited to the purchase of stock, payment of tuition or the like shall constitute an interest-free loan but that the beneficiary assumes the obligation of investing an amount of money equal to the sum credited to him in a commercial venture designed to realize a profit. Fifty percent of that sum would be invested on his own behalf and fifty percent on behalf of the lender of the interest-free loan applied to payment of tuition, purchase of stock, the purchase price of real property or the like. Since the lender has no knowledge of whether or not such counterpart funds were indeed invested in a profit-making enterprise or whether a profit was actually realized he is entitled to stipulate that, in the event of a claim that no profit is realized, an oath be sworn to that effect or that a stipulated sum be paid in lieu of an oath.
The following is a sample text of such an agreement:
SHETAR HETTER ISKA
Agreement made this ____ day ____ of ____ by and between ______________ hereafter known as party of the first part and __________________ hereafter known as party of the second part. Whereas the party of the second part acknowledges that he is obligated to the party of the first part for payment of the sum of $________, and
Whereas the party of the second part is desirous of engaging in a commercial enterprise and/or in the acquisition of bonds and securities, and
Whereas he lacks sufficient personal funds to satisfy both this purpose and his obligation to the party of the first part, and
Whereas the party of the first part is desirous of granting a loan to the party of the second part for these purposes, and
Whereas the party of the first part is desirous of engaging in a similar commercial enterprise and/or acquisition of bonds and securities, and
Whereas, as Jews, both parties are bound by religious prohibitions against usury which prevent them from seeking or granting an interest-bearing loan,
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS AGREED AS FOLLOWS:
1. The party of the second part hereby acknowledges receipt of the sum of $_______ from the party of the first part. That sum is to be retained by the party of the first part in satisfaction of an obligation acknowledged by the party of the second part as due and owing to the party of the first part independent of any other provisions of this agreement.
2. The party of the second part hereby obligates himself to invest other monies in the sum of $_______, representing an amount equal to 50% of the sum independently owed to the party of the first part, in a profit-making enterprise on behalf of the party of the first part.
3. The party of the second part shall invest this sum and all fruits thereof in a prudent and advantageous manner in real estate, merchandise, commercial paper, stocks, bonds, commodities or other lawful venture, provided that opportunity for lawful and prudent investment presents itself. Title to all objects of value acquired in this manner and of all fruits thereof shall be vested in the party of the first part.
4. The party of the second part shall have the right to commingle his own funds with those accepted on behalf of the party of the first part to the extent that the party of the second part and the party of the first part each shall have equal proprietary interest in any purchase or investment.
5. Any purchase of a mercantile nature or investment made by the party of the second part, up to the limit of the sum stipulated above, shall be deemed to have been made with these funds.
6. The party of the first part shall in no way participate in any decision or determination regarding the investment of the sum stipulated above or of the fruits thereof, nor shall he be entitled to information concerning such investment. The party of the second part shall not be authorized to bind personally the party of the first part in any manner whatsoever.
7. The party of the second part shall receive from the party of the first part the sum of $1 per month until the termination of this agreement as compensation for his services as agent of the party of the first part.
8. All remaining profits shall be divided equally between the parties. All losses shall be borne equally by both parties. Losses of the party of the first part shall be limited to his proportionate share of the sum stipulated above and the fruits thereof.
9. The party of the second part shall be obligated to maintain any merchandise, stock certificates or bonds acquired with these funds in his personal possession at all times. The party of the second part obligates himself to indemnify the party of the first part for any losses sustained as a result of failure meticulously to discharge this obligation. Fulfillment of this obligation is to be substantiated only on the basis of the testimony of two persons qualified to offer testimony. Such qualification is to be understood as meaning qualification in accordance with Jewish law as recorded in Shulḥan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat.
10. In the event of financial loss, the burden of proof shall be upon the party of the second part to consist solely of the testimony of two qualified witnesses as stipulated in the previous paragraph.
11. The party of the second part anticipates realization of a net profit of at least [20%]**This figure should be equal to twice the stipulated return on the money advanced as provided in the final sentence of this paragraph. The party of the second part anticipates this rate of return both on the portion of the funds invested on his own account as well as on the portion invested on behalf of the party of the first part. Thus, in order to realize a profit of 10% on the entire sum invested, the anticipated return must be 20%. This is so because the party of the first part is entitled to profits only on one half of the total sum advanced, i.e., that portion which represents the sum invested on his behalf. per annum of the funds held in this manner after deduction of all expenses including compensation of the party of the second part for services as agent. However, the declaration of the party of the second part with regard to the extent of profit, or the absence thereof, shall be accepted only upon administration of a solemn oath before a rabbinic tribunal. The party of the first part hereby agrees to forgive any and all further claims against the party of the second part upon payment of a sum equal to [10%] per annum of the total sum invested on behalf of both parties.
12. The party of the second part agrees to repay the funds retained by the party of the first part in satisfaction of the obligation acknowledged by the party of the second part as stipulated in paragraph 1 in equal installments payable on the ________ of each month of the civil calendar. An accounting and payment of any and all profits as provided in the previous paragraph shall be made at the same time.
13. In the event of failure to return any portion of the funds in accordance with the previous section by reason of loss or of non-realization and non-payment of the anticipated profit as stipulated in paragraph 1 the entire sum acknowledged as owed to the party of the first part as stipulated in paragraph 1 shall be due and collectible.
14. In the event of any controversy arising out of, or related to, this agreement the same shall be submitted to binding arbitration in accordance with Jewish law by a tripartite panel of qualified rabbis versed in such law. Each party shall be entitled to appoint one member of this panel; the two members appointed in this manner shall appoint the third member of the panel. The award by a majority of such panel shall be confirmed in any court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to the CPLR without any right of appeal therefrom. An action shall be brought before a civil court only in the event of failure of one of the parties to appear before a rabbinic tribunal and only upon leave from a rabbinic tribunal.
15. This undertaking shall be governed solely by the stipulations contained in this agreement. Any further document pertaining to this transaction bearing the signatures of the undersigned is hereby declared null and void insofar as Jewish law is concerned. Any such document is to be construed solely as an expedient designed to provide relief in a civil court in accordance with usual judicial procedures in the event of the undersigned's failure to appear before a rabbinic tribunal or failure to abide by the decision of that tribunal. Accordingly, it is expressly acknowledged that, in the event of recourse to a civil court by the undersigned or by any other party, the claims and privileges of the undersigned arising from any other document or from any other source are in no way to be diminished or compromised by virtue of this agreement.
Made [in the Borough of Manhattan, City and State of New York] on the date aforesaid.
With publication of the hetter iska form in this volume the text need not be reproduced in its entirety in every hetter iska agreement. Henceforth, the manifold provisions contained in this form may be incorporated by reference and made an integral part of any loan agreement. A standard loan form may be used provided that the word "interest" is eliminated wherever it may occur and the word "premium" substituted in its stead and provided that the following clause is inserted:
The parties to this agreement desire to comply fully with the provisions of Jewish law prohibiting payment and acceptance of interest and for this purpose agree that the terms of this agreement shall be made subject to the terms of a hetter iska as provided in the form set forth in Contemporary Halakhic Problems, IV (Hoboken, 1995), pp. 380–383. All provisions of said hetter iska form shall be incorporated and made part of this agreement as if fully set forth herein.