Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel recently ruled in the case of a widow who demanded NIS 3 million from her deceased husband’s estate, arguing that the amount was promised to her in her ketubah [marriage contract]. In an unusual move, Arbel decided to arbitrate the case according to Jewish law, and based her decision on criteria contained in the Shulchan Aruch, a centuries-old Jewish legal text.
The widow in question had received her husband’s pension, worth NIS 1 million, his half of their shared home, worth roughly NIS 1.1 million, and his half of their shared bank account, worth NIS 3 million. Months after receiving the property left to her in her husband’s will, she decided to demand the NIS 3 million promised in her ketubah as well, asking that the money be taken from the money granted to her deceased husband’s children by an earlier marriage. Arbel rejected the widow’s request, pointing out that according to Jewish law a woman who accepts the terms of her husband’s will upon hearing them cannot later demand her ketubah as well.