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Monday, 18 Av 5775 / August 3, 2015
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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Gerushin - Chapter One

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Gerushin - Chapter One

Halacha 1

A woman may be divorced only by receiving a bill [of divorce].1 This bill is called a get.2

The Torah establishes ten principles as fundamental [for a divorce to be effective].3 They are:4

a) That a man must voluntarily initiate the divorce;

b) That he must effect the divorce by means of a written document and through no other means;

c) That this document must communicate that he is divorcing [his wife] and releasing her from his domain;

d) That it should utterly sever the connection between the husband and his wife;

e) That [the get] should be written for the sake [of the woman being divorced];

f) That once [the get] is written, there should be no action [necessary] except its transfer to the woman;

g) That he should actually transfer [the get] to her;

h) That he should transfer [the get] to her in the presence of witnesses;

i) That he should actually transfer it to her for the sake of divorce;

j) That the husband or his agent should be the one who gives it to her.

The other requirements of a get - e.g., dating it, having it signed by witnesses and the like - are all Rabbinic institutions.

Halacha 2

What are the sources that indicate that these ten requirements stem from Scripture itself? [They are derived from Deuteronomy 24:1, which] states: "And if it comes to pass that she does not find favor in his eyes, and he will write a bill of divorce for her, place it in her hand and send her from his home."

"If... she does not find favor in his eyes" - this indicates that he divorces her only on his own initiative. If a woman is divorced against her husband's will, the divorce is invalid. A woman may, however, be divorced either voluntarily or against her will.5

Halacha 3

"And he will write" - this teaches that a woman can be divorced only by means of a written document.

"For her" - that it should be written for her sake.

"A bill of divorce" - i.e., a deed that severs the relationship between [the husband and his wife], without leaving him any jurisdiction over her. If [the relationship] between them is not entirely severed, the divorce is not effective, as will be explained.6

"He will... place it in her hand" - this teaches that she is not divorced until the bill of divorce is placed in her hand, in the hand of her agent - which is considered to be her hand - or in her domain - which is considered to be her hand - as will be explained.7

"And he will... send her" - [the wording of] the get should indicate that he is sending her away and not that he is sending himself away from her.

Halacha 4

What is implied? If he writes to her: "Behold you are sent away," "Behold you are divorced," "You are [now] independent," "You are now permitted [to marry] any man," or the like, the divorce is effective. The essence [of the text] of a get is the statement: "You are now permitted to [marry] any man."

If, by contrast, he writes to her: "I am no longer your husband," "I am no longer the one who consecrates you," or "I am no longer your man," the divorce is not effective. For "and he will... send her" implies that he should not send himself away from her.

Similarly, if a man writes to his wife: "Behold you are free," the divorce is not effective.8

Halacha 5

The Torah's expression, "And he will... send her from his home," does not mean that the divorce does not become effective until she leaves his home. Instead, the divorce becomes effective when the get reaches [a woman's] hand, even though she still is in her husband's home, as will be explained.9 "And he will... send her" teaches that if he divorces her, but does not send her away from his home, it is as if he divorced her and then remarried [her]. Therefore, she requires another get, as will be explained.10

Halacha 6

What is the source that teaches that once [the get] is written, there should be no action [necessary] except its transfer? The [sequence of the verbs] "And he will write..., [and] place," indicating that a get is acceptable only when [the only things] lacking are writing and transfer. This excludes an article that must be detached after it has been written.11

Therefore, if a man writes a get on the horn of a cow, he must give [his wife] the cow [for the divorce to be effective]. If he cut off the horn after he wrote [the get] on it, it is not effective. Similarly, if he wrote [a get] on a plant that was still attached to its source of nurture, the divorce is not effective.12 [This applies] even if the witnesses signed after it was detached.

Halacha 7

We may not even write the standard text13 of [a get] on an article that is attached to its source of nurture.

If [a scribe] writes the standard text of [a get] on an article that is attached to its source of nurture, and detaches it and afterwards writes the names of the husband and the wife, the date14 and the words, "Behold, you are permitted [to marry] any man," and the witnesses signed and it was given to her, it is acceptable.15

Halacha 8

If the husband writes the get on a leaf growing in a flowerpot with a hole at the bottom, the get is unacceptable, even if he gives her the entire flowerpot. [This is] a decree, [lest] one detach [the leaf].16 He may, however, write [the get] on the pottery of the flowerpot and give it to her.

Halacha 9

What is the source that teaches that [the get] must be given to her for the sake of divorce? It is written: "... a bill of divorce for her, place it in her hand," [implying that] he must place [it in her hand] for the sake of divorce. If, however, he gave it to her as a promissory note or as a mezuzah,17 or he placed it in her hand while she was sleeping, and she awoke and [discovered] it in her hand, the get is void.18 If, however, he told her afterwards, "Behold this is your get, the divorce is effective.19

Halacha 10

[The above principle must be clarified in the context of the following law.] A man tells witnesses, "See the get I am giving her," and then he tells [his wife]: "Take this promissory note," [the get] is effective. For he has told the witnesses that he was giving it to her for the sake of divorce. He told her that it was a promissory note only because he was embarrassed [to face] her.20

Halacha 11

At the time he gives the get, [a man who] divorces [his wife] must tell her: "Behold, your get," or "This is your get," or the like. If he places the get in her hand without saying anything, the get is not acceptable.21

When does the above apply? When the husband was not speaking to her about divorce [immediately beforehand]. If, however, he had been speaking to her about divorce [at the time], and he takes the get and places it in her hand without saying anything, the divorce is acceptable.

Halacha 12

[The following rules apply when] a get has been placed on the ground, and [the husband] tells [his wife], "Pick your get up from the ground," or it was tied to his hand or to his thigh, and she takes it from him. Even if after it reaches her possession, he tells her, "Behold this is your get," it is void.

[The rationale is] that it is written: "And he will... place it in her hand," [implying] that she may not take it on her own accord.22 And [in these instances,] neither [the husband] nor his agent gave it to her.

If, however, he bends his body toward her,23 or tilts his hand until she takes the get from him and says,24 "Behold this is your get," the get is [effective].25

Halacha 13

What is the source that teaches that [a get] must be given in the presence of witnesses? [Deuteronomy 19:16] states: "According to the words of two witnesses or those of three witnesses will the matter be established."

It is impossible that on one day a woman will be considered to be forbidden and sexual relations with her punishable by execution, and on the next day she should be permitted [to any man] unless [the divorce is observed by] witnesses.26

Therefore, if [a husband] gives [his wife] a get in private, or even if the exchange is observed by one witness, the divorce is utterly void.27

Halacha 14

When does the above apply? When the get is written by a scribe.28 When, however, the husband writes the get himself, one witness signs it,29 and [the husband] gives it to her, the get is unacceptable [only by Rabbinic decree,]30 {and the woman is forbidden to marry a priest}.31

Halacha 15

It is an ordinance [enacted] by our Sages that witnesses should sign a get, lest a [husband] give [his wife] a get in the presence of two [witnesses], and they die.32 [In such an instance,] the get she possesses is no more than a shard, for there are no witnesses [to testify to its authenticity]. [To prevent such a situation, our Sages] ordained that the testimony [regarding the authenticity of the get should be contained] within it.

Although witnesses [have signed] within, [the husband] must give [the get] to [his wife] in the presence of two [witnesses] - whether the same witnesses who signed it or two others. For in essence, divorce is established by virtue of the witnesses [who observe] the transfer [of the get].

Halacha 16

When two witnesses sign [the get], and [the husband] transgresses and gives [the get] to [his wife] in private, or if it is discovered that the witnesses [who observed] the transfer [of the get] were unsuitable,33 the divorce is effected.34 For the witnesses [who signed the get] are acceptable, and the get exists in the woman's possession. Some of the geonim have ruled that [the get] is unacceptable.35

Halacha 17

If the witnesses [who signed the get] are unsuitable - or even if one was unsuitable and one was acceptable - and [the husband] gave it to her in the presence of two acceptable witnesses, [the get] is unacceptable. It is as if it were a forgery.36

Halacha 18

If the witnesses signed [the get at a position] more than two lines away from the text [of the get], it is unacceptable.

How far may the witnesses sign away from the text? Less than two lines, so that their [names] will be read together with [the text].

When does the [disqualification] mentioned above apply? When the get is in the woman's possession, and there are no witnesses [who observed its] transfer. If, however, [the husband] gave [his wife the get] in the presence of witnesses, [the get] is acceptable even if the witnesses'[signatures] are far removed from the text.37 [Moreover, this ruling applies] even when there were not any witnesses who signed [the get]. For in essence, divorce is effected by virtue of the witnesses [who observe] the transfer [of the get].

Halacha 19

It is required to read the get [aloud] in the presence of the witnesses who observe its transfer.38 Afterwards, it should be given to her. If it was given to her in their presence first, it should be taken from her and read [aloud] after it was given to her.39

[The following rule applies when the witnesses] read [the get] while it is the possession of the husband or his agent, and they return it to him. If he encloses it within his hand, [obscuring it from the witnesses' view] and then gives it to her, they should read it again.40

Halacha 20

[In the latter instance,] if they did not read it, and it is taken and thrown into the sea or into a fire, the divorce is effective. Since [the witnesses] read it first, we do not suspect that it was exchanged [for another document]. Moreover, even if the husband said, "It was another document [that I gave her] and not the get that you read," his word is not accepted and the divorce is effective.

Halacha 21

[If, however,] they did not read the get beforehand, the husband gives it to [his wife] in their presence, and then it is thrown into a fire or into the sea, the status of the divorce is doubtful.41 [This applies] even if the husband says that it was an acceptable get.42

Halacha 22

If he threw the get into [the woman's] courtyard,43 among barrels in the presence of witnesses,44 and when they looked for it they found a mezuzah or another document, we do not suspect that she [has been divorced]. [We assume that] the article that was found was the one that was thrown.

If two or three mezuzot or documents were discovered there, and we suspect that perhaps he threw a get and it was dragged away by mice, the status of the woman's divorce is in doubt.45

Halacha 23

The witnesses who sign the get must know how to read and sign [their names]. If they do not know how to read, we read [the get] in their presence,46 and they sign, provided they understand the wording of the get.47

If they do not know how to sign [their names], we write out their signatures for them on the paper with spittle or with other substances that will not leave a permanent mark,48 and they sign [their names] over these markings.49

This practice is not followed with regard to other legal documents. It is a leniency adopted with regard to bills of divorce, so that Jewish women will not be forced to live without a marriage partner.50 [This leniency is granted] because the signature of witnesses on a bill of divorce is a Rabbinic institution, as we have explained.51

Halacha 24

Although the signature of witnesses on a bill of divorce is a Rabbinic institution,52 our Sages ordained that the witnesses state their names in the get.53

Similarly, they ordained that the witnesses to the get must sign in the presence of each other. If either signed without the other, [the get] is unacceptable.54

Similarly, our Sages ordained that the date of a get and the place where it was written be recorded [within it], as is required with regard to other legal documents.55 [This was required] lest one's wife also be one's relative and she commit adultery. [Because of the husband's feelings for his wife,] he [might conceivably] write her a get after she had committed adultery and give it to her. If the get was not dated, she could say: "I was divorced before I committed adultery."56 [To prevent this from happening, our Sages] ordained that gittin be dated.

Halacha 25

In all the following instances, [the get] is unacceptable: a) a get signed by witnesses that is not dated, b) one that is predated,57 or postdated,58 c) one that was written during the day and signed on the following night;59 this applies even if they remained involved with the matter [of the divorce until the get was signed],60 d) the get was written in Jerusalem and [the scribe] erred and wrote [that it was written] in Lod.61

[For a get to be acceptable,] it is necessary that it be signed at the time it was written and in the place where it was written.

Halacha 26

A get is acceptable if [the husband] cut off [the portion of the get that contained] the date and gave it to her,62 or did not write the date, merely [the week - i.e.,] the first or the second week of a given month, or he specified merely the month or [merely] the year without mentioning the month, or even if he specified merely the seven-year cycle63 [in which the get was composed].

Similarly, a get is acceptable if [the husband] writes within it: "Today I divorced her." This implies the day on which the get was released.

Halacha 27

Similarly, [our Sages] ordained that the year of the ruling kingdom of that time should be mentioned in a get to gain the favor of the ruling authorities.64

[The following rules apply if] a person writes a get and dated it according to the years of a kingdom other [than that of his locale] or according to the years beginning from the Temple's construction or destruction. If it is customary for people in that locale to date [their documents] in this manner, it is acceptable. If this is not the local custom, it is unacceptable.

It has already become the universal Jewish custom to date gittin from the time of creation,65 or from the crowning of Alexander the Great, which is [the accepted means of dating] for legal documents.66 If one dates [a get] according to the years of a contemporary kingdom, it is acceptable only in the country over which that kingdom rules.

Halacha 28

[The following rules apply when] a person tells two [colleagues]: "Write a get for my wife, sign it and give it to her," and the matter was delayed several days or years, or the get was [discovered to contain an imperfection causing it] to be [considered] void, and it was necessary to write a new get that was acceptable, as will be explained.67 In such an instance, the date and the place when and where the get was written are recorded, and not the date and place when and where the husband told them to compose the get.

What is implied? If the husband told them [to write the get] in Jerusalem, in [the month of] Tishrei, and [the agents] delayed and did not write it until Nisan, at which time they were located in Lod, the get should be dated in Nisan, and Lod [should be recorded as its place], for this is where the get was written. [This is also the practice] with regard to other legal documents.68

FOOTNOTES
1.

In the Guide for the Perplexed (Vol. III, Chapter 49), the Rambam explains a rationale for this mitzvah. If it were possible to effect a divorce through speech alone, a woman might commit adultery and then try to free herself of liability by claiming that she had been divorced previously. Requiring a written bill of divorce prevents such a possibility from arising.

2.

The word get is Aramaic for legal document, and indeed when accompanied by a modifier is used to refer to other types of legal documents. Nevertheless, the most common use of the word is within the context of divorce, and when the term get appears without a modifier, it generally refers to a bill of divorce. (See the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Gittin 2:5.)

3.

Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 222) and Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 579) consider this to be one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

The intent is not that it is a mitzvah to divorce one's wife, but rather that if a man does desire to divorce his wife, it is a mitzvah for him to follow the rules prescribed by the Torah. To cite a parallel example: There is not a mitzvah to eat meat. If, however, one does desire to eat meat, it is a mitzvah to have the animal slaughtered according to the rules prescribed by the Torah.

4.

The details of all these principles are described in the halachot and chapters that follow.

5.

This is the law as prescribed by Scriptural and Talmudic law. Nevertheless, Rabbenu Gershom, one of the Sages who laid the foundations for Ashkenazi custom and tradition, ordained that, except in several unique instances, a man may not divorce his wife without her consent. This practice is followed universally within the Ashkenazi community (Ramah, Even HaEzer 119:6) and has been accepted by many Sephardim as well.

6.

See Chapter 8, Halachah 2.

7.

See Chapter 5, Halachah 1.

8.

This wording is used in the deed freeing a slave from servitude and is not appropriate with regard to a woman's divorce.

9.

See Chapter 5, Halachah 8.

10.

See Chapter 10, Halachah 18.

11.

See Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 124:3), which states that the scribe should cut the paper or parchment used for the get to the right size before writing it. If he cuts it to size after he writes it, it is not acceptable according to Rabbinic law.

12.

Even if the man gives the woman the entire plant and the land on which it grows, the divorce is void (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 124:4).

13.

I.e., the standard text of the get, leaving blank places for the name of the man, his wife, the date and the line that states: "Behold, you are free to [marry] any man." See Chapter 3, Halachah 7.

14.

The date of the get is only a Rabbinic requirement. Nevertheless, if it is written while the get is still attached, the get is not acceptable according to Rabbinic law.

15.

I.e., at the outset, one should not write any portion of the get while it is attached to its source of nurture. After the fact, as long as the fundamental elements of the get were written after it was detached, it is acceptable.

16.

The Chelkat Mechokek 124:12 and the Beit Shmuel 124:12 both emphasize that the term "unacceptable" - pasul in Hebrew - implies that while the get is acceptable according to Scriptural law, it is unacceptable according to Rabbinic decree. Accordingly, they explain that this law applies when there is an interruption between the flowerpot and the earth. If there is no interruption, the get is void according to Scriptural law, because when a flowerpot has a hole at its base, it is considered as though it were attached to the ground.

Similarly, according to the Chelkat Mechokek 124:13, even when a get is written on the leaves of a plant growing in a flowerpot that does not have a hole at its base, the get is unacceptable according to Rabbinic decree.

17.

From this and the following halachah, it appears that the Rambam maintains that it is sufficient that the husband state his intent to the witnesses; the woman need not know that she is being divorced. Tosafot (Gittin 78a, quoted by the Ramah in Even HaEzer 136:5) states that although the woman need not be informed by her husband at the time the get is given, she must be informed by the witnesses afterwards, or in some way have this matter made known to her. The commentaries question whether or not the Rambam differs with this view.

18.

With regard to the latter instance, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 138:3) states that even if he tells the witnesses: "See the get that I am giving her," the divorce is void.

From this clause, it appears that, in addition to the husband's intent, the Rambam requires that the woman take an active part in receiving the get, even if she is not totally aware of what it is.

19.

According to Rav David Arameah, this clause applies to all the instances mentioned in the halachah.

20.

We accept this rationale and do not say that he nullified the get with his statements.

21.

As mentioned previously, the word pasul generally means "unacceptable according to Rabbinic decree." (See Chapter 2, Halachah 7; Chapter 10, Halachah 2.) In this instance, however, there are authorities who maintain that the Rambam's intent is that the get is utterly void. The Tur (Even HaEzer 136) and Rabbenu Nissim indeed rule in that manner.

The Beit Shmuel 136:1, however, explains that the get itself indicates the purpose for which it is given. Hence, in contrast to kiddushin (Hilchot Ishut 3:8), even if it is given in silence, it is acceptable according to Scriptural law and disqualified only by the Rabbis.

22.

See Chapter 2, Halachah 1, where the Rambam states this explicitly.

23.

Based on Gittin 78a, Rabbenu Asher offers a slightly different conception of the activity necessary for a husband to perform so that helping his wife take the get is considered "giving." The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 138:1) quotes both views, but appears to favor that of Rabbenu Asher.

24.

Based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Gittin 8:2), it appears that this statement must be made in the process of transferring the get, and not afterwards.

25.

For he has performed an action making it easier for her to take the get.

26.

The transition of a woman from a state where she is forbidden to one in which she is permitted is one of the "matters" referred to in the above verse.

27.

The commentaries explain that there is a fundamental difference between the function of witnesses in cases involving financial matters and their function with regard to marriage and divorce. With regard to financial matters, the function of witnesses is to clarify the truth (eidei berur). With regard to marriage and divorce, by contrast, the witnesses' function is to notarize the event (eidei kiyyum). For a marriage bond to be established - or broken - even when the husband and wife agree that the event took place, witnesses must observe the proceedings (Tumim 90:14; Tzafenat Paneach; K'lallei HaTorah).

28.

And not signed by the scribe. If the scribe also signs the get, the signature of one witness is enough for the get to be acceptable according to the Rambam. (See the notes on Chapter 2, Halachah 2.)

29.

According to Scriptural law, the get is acceptable, for the husband's writing is equivalent to the testimony of one hundred witnesses. It is unacceptable only because of a Rabbinic decree. Indeed, even if the witness did not sign the get, the exact same laws would apply. The Rambam mentions the signature of the get by a witness only to clarify that, even with such a signature - in contrast to a get signed by a scribe and another witness - the get is still disqualified by the Rabbis (Beit Yosef, Even HaEzer 130).

30.

In such an instance, if the woman transgresses this Rabbinic prohibition and marries again on the basis of this get, she is allowed to remain married. Other authorities, however, maintain that since the get was given without being observed by witnesses, it is void according to Scriptural law, and the woman must leave her second husband (Beit Shmuel 130:31).

31.

Although present in the standard texts of the Mishneh Torah, this phrase is lacking in the authoritative manuscripts and early printings of the text. The Kessef Mishneh states that it is self-evident from the previous clause, and therefore is most likely a printer's addition. For this reason, we have set it off in braces.

32.

Gittin 34b, 36a explains that there is a difference of opinion between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Eliezer maintains, as stated here by the Rambam, that the fundamental requirement for witnesses is with regard to the witnesses who observe the transfer of the get. The signing of the get by witnesses is merely a Rabbinic ordinance. Rabbi Meir, by contrast, maintains that the fundamental requirement is for the witnesses to sign the get. Most authorities follow the perspective of Rabbi Eliezer. The Beit Shmuel maintains, however, that a priori, the perspective of Rabbi Meir should also be respected.

At present, the custom is that the witnesses who sign the get also observe its transfer (Ramah, Even HaEzer 130:1).

33.

I.e., they were deemed unworthy of serving as witnesses because of family ties to the couple, their violation of Scriptural law or other reasons, as detailed in Hilchot Edut, Chapters 9-16).

34.

This ruling indicates that although Rabbi Eliezer places an emphasis on the witnesses who observe the transfer of the get, he does not negate the effect of the signature of the get by witnesses.

35.

The Beit Shmuel 133:3 notes that Tosafot and Rabbenu Asher maintain that such a get is utterly void. He questions why the Rambam states that this opinion considers it unacceptable merely according to Rabbinic decree. If Rabbi Eliezer does not accept the signature of witnesses as sufficient, seemingly the get would be of no consequence whatsoever, not merely disqualified by the Sages.

36.

Gittin 4a explains that even Rabbi Eliezer, who puts the emphasis on the witnesses who observe the transfer of the get, would disqualify such a get. Although - as stated in the following halachah, a get that was not signed by any witnesses is acceptable - when it is signed by unsuitable witnesses, it is not.

37.

The Ra'avad states that if such a get were given, it would be unacceptable despite the fact that witnesses observed its transfer. Many authorities, however, follow the Rambam's view. (See Ramah, Even HaEzer 130:1.)

The Beit Shmuel 130:3 questions the Rambam's decision, noting that in Hilchot Malveh V'Loveh 27:5, the Rambam states that a contract of loan is invalid if the witnesses sign more than two lines away from the text, and he does not mention the option of making it acceptable by giving it in the presence of witnesses. He explains that laws regarding business contracts differ, because they must serve as proof over an extended period of time.

Kin'at Eliyahu explains that this explanation is supported by the distinction between the role of witnesses with regard to marriage and divorce, and their role with regard to business agreements mentioned in the notes on Halachah 13. Since the role of witnesses in business agreements is to clarify the terms of the agreement, such a document is not acceptable, because particulars can be added. With regard to marriage and divorce, by contrast, the witnesses' function is merely to notarize the event, and this is accomplished by the witnesses who observe the transfer of the get.

38.

Since the witnesses who observe the transfer of the get are essential for the divorce to be effective, they must know that the document transferred is in fact a get (Beit Shmuel 135:1).

39.

The Ramah (Even HaEzer 135:1) states that it is customary to read the get aloud both before and after it is given.

40.

After quoting this law, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 135:2) states that if the husband manifests possession of the get after giving a document of unknown contents to the woman, his word is accepted if she has not remarried already. If, however, she has remarried, his word is not accepted.

41.

A second get is necessary. Even if the woman remarries, she must leave her second husband, as explained in Chapter 10, Halachah 3.

42.

With regard to this, Gittin 19b states: "Just as his statements are not acceptable to cause her to be forbidden, they are not acceptable to cause her to be permitted."

43.

Placing the get in a domain belonging to the woman is equivalent to placing it in her hand.

44.

This instance also describes a situation in which the witnesses have not read the get. If they have read the get, the woman's status is in doubt, and we suspect that she has been divorced (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 135:5).

45.

Since he threw only one document and others were discovered, we cannot say with assurance that the article discovered was the one thrown.

46.

The present custom is that both of the witnesses and the Rabbi arranging the divorce read the get (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 154; Seder HaGet 66).

47.

In the Kessef Mishneh and the Beit Yosef (Even HaEzer 130), Rav Yosef Karo explains that the Rambam maintains that if the witnesses do not understand the wording of the get, the divorce is not effective. There is no option of translating it for them, for a witness must have first-hand experience of the matter concerning which he testifies. Hearing its translation from another person would be considered second-hand experience. The Beit Shmuel 130:27, however, quotes other opinions that do not accept this understanding.

48.

If, however, a permanent mark would be left, it is forbidden, for writing that covers an existing text is inadmissible.

49.

The Ramah (Even HaEzer 130:16) states that this is not acceptable, and instead stencils for the witnesses' signature should be made.

50.

We fear that the woman's husband will leave for a foreign country without giving her a divorce, or that he will die and she will be forced to perform either yibbum or chalitzah (Gittin 19a).

51.

Halachah 15 above. I.e., if the matter were a point of Scriptural law, there would not be room for such leniency.

52.

Generally, we follow the principle אין גוזרין גזרה לגזרה - i.e., a second Rabbinic safeguard is never attached to the first one. In these instances, however, an exception is made. Although the requirement for witnesses to sign a get is itself Rabbinic in origin, several safeguards were attached to facilitate the divorce laws.

53.

I.e., originally the witnesses would sign, "I sign as a witness," without mentioning their names. This made the verification of their signatures a very difficult process. Therefore, our Sages required that they mention their names (Rashi, Gittin 36a).

54.

Chapter 9, Halachah 29 explains, based on Gittin 10b, that this decree was instituted lest a husband tell a group of people that they should all act as witnesses, in which case each of them would be obligated to sign the get. Such a get would look acceptable if signed by only two witnesses, but in fact would not be acceptable. To prevent such a circumstance from arising, our Sages required that all the witnesses sign in the presence of each other.

55.

See Hilchot Malveh V'Loveh 23:6.

56.

This would enable her to avoid receiving the death penalty. The Jerusalem Talmud (Gittin 4:3) records that such an incident did in fact take place.

57.

I.e., the get was written in Kislev and dated in Marcheshvan. This would allow for the difficulty mentioned in the previous halachah and notes.

According to Rabbenu Asher, despite the fact that the requirement is Rabbinic in origin, a get that is predated is void entirely (bateil), not merely unacceptable (pasul). The Ramah (Even HaEzer 127:2) quotes a third opinion, which states that even though the get is pasul, the second husband is required to divorce her, but she is forbidden to remarry her first husband.

The Rambam does not consider predated a get that was not given to the woman on the day it was written, as reflected in Chapter 2, Halachah 2. Other authorities differ, and their opinion is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 127:5), which states that a get that was not given on the day it was written is acceptable only when given by an agent.

58.

E.g., the get was written in Kislev and dated in Tevet.

In this instance, the Ra'avad differs with the Rambam and maintains that a postdated get is acceptable. There are two reasons given by Rav Yosef Karo in the Kessef Mishneh to justify the Rambam's decision:

a) This could also be used as a cover-up, as explained in the previous halachah. For if we see that the date of the get is incorrect, we would disregard the date and consider the get as if it had no date at all.

b) The woman would not receive the rights to her property when due her. As long as she is married, her husband is entitled to the benefits from her property, but not after divorce. Postdating the get would entitle him to benefits beyond what is due him.

Tosafot agree with the Ra'avad that a postdated get is acceptable, but unlike the Ra'avad, maintain that the get is not effective until the date mentioned within. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 127:9) mentions both the views of Tosafot and of the Rambam, but appears to favor that of Tosafot.

59.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 127:2) mentions an opinion that states that in extenuating situations - e.g., when the woman has already remarried, or her husband has gone overseas - such a get is acceptable. The Beit Shmuel states that under such circumstances a get is acceptable, even if it is signed several days after it was written.

60.

Other legal documents, by contrast, are acceptable if the principals were involved in the discussion of the matter that extended from the afternoon until after nightfall. For from the time the contract was written, it was a matter of public knowledge (Beit Shmuel 127:3).

61.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 128:1) differs and states that what is of fundamental importance is the place where the get was signed, and not the place where it was written. It is, however, customary for it to be written and signed in the same place. See also Chapter 7, Halachah 11.

Our translation of the paragraph to follow is based on the interpretation of the Lechem Mishneh. The Maggid Mishneh follows a slightly different perspective.

62.

The Rambam appears to follow Rabbenu Chanan'el's interpretation of Gittin 17b, that our Sages did not suspect that a person would attempt a deception of such a scale to deceive the court. Therefore, the get is acceptable. Rashi and others explain that when saying "our Sages did not suspect that a person would not attempt such large scale deception," the Talmud explains why this instance is not mentioned in the mishnah discussed beforehand. It should not be interpreted to mean that the get is acceptable.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 127:8) mentions both views, but appears to favor that of the Rambam. The Beit Shmuel 127:14, however, states that most authorities accept Rashi's view.

63.

In this context, Gittin 17b explains that even in this instance, the date of the get - though imprecise - is somewhat useful: it excludes the time before or after the time period mentioned. Even when the date of the month is mentioned, the time is not pinpointed exactly, because the woman could have committed adultery in the morning and received the get in the afternoon. Therefore, even these less precise dates are also acceptable.

The Beit Shmuel 127:12 explains that a get that was predated or postdated is unacceptable because the date is false, not merely imprecise. In the former instances, although there is imprecision, there is no falsehood.

64.

I.e., dating our legal documents according to the rulers' years indicates the rulers' importance (Rashi, Gittin 80a).

65.

This is the present custom. The practice of dating documents according to the years of the gentile rulers was discontinued because those rulers ceased to attach importance to the matter.

66.

Alexander's kingdom began 3450 years after creation. Since it encompassed the entire Western world, it provided a uniform dating pattern for people throughout the world. It is, however, no longer customary to date legal documents in this manner.

67.

See Chapter 2, Halachah 8.

68.

See Hilchot Malveh V'Loveh 23:6.

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