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ב"ה

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Gerushin - Chapter One, Gerushin - Chapter Two, Gerushin - Chapter Three

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Gerushin - Chapter One

Introduction to Hilchos Gerushin

[This text] contains two mitzvot: one positive commandment, that a person [who desires] to divorce [his wife] should do so [by giving her] a bill of divorce; and one negative commandment, that after a divorcee remarries, her previous husband may never remarry her. These mitzvot are explained in the chapters [that follow].

הלכות גירושין - הקדמה יש בכללן שתי מצות. אחת מצות עשה והוא שיגרש המגרש בספר. ואחת מצות לא תעשה והיא שלא יחזיר גרושתו משנשאת: וביאור שתי מצות אלו בפרקים אלו:

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.

א

אֵין הָאִשָּׁה מִתְגָּרֶשֶׁת אֶלָּא בִּכְתָב שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לָהּ וּכְתָב זֶה הוּא הַנִּקְרָא גֵּט. וַעֲשָׂרָה דְּבָרִים הֵן עִקַּר הַגֵּרוּשִׁין מִן הַתּוֹרָה וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. א) שֶׁלֹּא יְגָרֵשׁ הָאִישׁ אֶלָּא בִּרְצוֹנוֹ. ב) וְשֶׁיְּגָרֵשׁ בִּכְתָב וְלֹא בְּדָבָר אַחֵר. ג) וְשֶׁיִּהְיֶה עִנְיַן הַכְּתָב שֶׁגֵּרְשָׁהּ וֶהֱסִירָהּ מִקִּנְיָנוֹ. ד) וְשֶׁיִּהְיֶה עִנְיָנוֹ דָּבָר הַכּוֹרֵת בֵּינוֹ לְבֵינָהּ. ה) וְשֶׁיִּהְיֶה נִכְתָּב לִשְׁמָהּ. ו) וְשֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה מְחֻסַּר מַעֲשֶׂה אַחַר כְּתִיבָתוֹ אֶלָּא נְתִינָתוֹ לָהּ [בִּלְבַד]. ז) וְשֶׁיִּתְּנֵהוּ לָהּ. ח) וְשֶׁיִּתְּנֵהוּ לָהּ בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים. ט) וְשֶׁיִּתְּנֵהוּ לָהּ בְּתוֹרַת גֵּרוּשִׁין. י) וְשֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַבַּעַל אוֹ שְׁלוּחוֹ הוּא שֶׁנּוֹתְנוֹ לָהּ. וּשְׁאָר הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁבַּגֵּט כְּגוֹן הַזְּמַן וַחֲתִימַת הָעֵדִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן הַכּל מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:

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

ב

וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁעֲשָׂרָה דְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ מִן הַתּוֹרָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כד א) "וְהָיָה אִם לֹא תִמְצָא חֵן בְּעֵינָיו" (דברים כד א) "וְכָתַב לָהּ סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ וְשִׁלְּחָהּ מִבֵּיתוֹ". אִם לֹא תִמְצָא חֵן בְּעֵינָיו. מְלַמֵּד שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְגָרֵשׁ אֶלָּא בִּרְצוֹנוֹ. וְאִם נִתְגָּרְשָׁה שֶׁלֹּא בִּרְצוֹנוֹ אֵינָהּ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת. אֲבָל הָאִשָּׁה מִתְגָּרֶשֶׁת בִּרְצוֹנָהּ וְשֶׁלֹּא בִּרְצוֹנָהּ:

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.

ג

(דברים כד א) "וְכָתַב". מְלַמֵּד שֶׁאֵינָהּ מִתְגָּרֶשֶׁת אֶלָּא בִּכְתָב. (דברים כד א) "לָהּ". לִשְׁמָהּ. (דברים כד א) "סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת". דָּבָר הַכּוֹרֵת בֵּינוֹ לְבֵינָהּ שֶׁלֹּא יִשָּׁאֵר לוֹ עָלֶיהָ רְשׁוּת. וְאִם עֲדַיִן לֹא נִכְרַת בֵּינוֹ לְבֵינָהּ אֵינָהּ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. (דברים כד א) "וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ". מְלַמֵּד שֶׁאֵינָהּ מִתְגָּרֶשֶׁת עַד שֶׁיִּנָּתֵן הַגֵּט בְּיָדָהּ אוֹ בְּיַד שְׁלוּחָה שֶׁהוּא כְּיָדָהּ אוֹ לַחֲצֵרָהּ שֶׁהַכּל כְּיָדָהּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. (דברים כד א) "וְשִׁלְּחָהּ". שֶׁיִּהְיֶה עִנְיַן הַגֵּט שֶׁהוּא הַמְשַׁלֵּחַ אוֹתָהּ. לֹא שֶׁיִּשְׁלַח עַצְמוֹ מִמֶּנָּה:

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

ד

כֵּיצַד. כָּתַב לָהּ הֲרֵי אַתְּ מְשֻׁלַּחַת הֲרֵי אַתְּ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת הֲרֵי אַתְּ לְעַצְמֵךְ הֲרֵי אַתְּ מֻתֶּרֶת לְכָל אָדָם וְכַיּוֹצֵא בְּזֶה הָעִנְיָן הֲרֵי זוֹ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת. וְגוּפוֹ שֶׁל גֵּט הֲרֵי אַתְּ מֻתֶּרֶת לְכָל אָדָם. אֲבָל אִם כָּתַב לָהּ אֵינִי בַּעְלֵךְ אֵינִי אֲרוּסֵךְ אֵינִי אִישֵׁךְ אֵין זֶה גֵּט שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כד א) "וְשִׁלְּחָהּ" וְלֹא שֶׁיִּשְׁלַח אֶת עַצְמוֹ. וְכֵן הַכּוֹתֵב לְאִשְׁתּוֹ הֲרֵי אַתְּ בַּת חוֹרִין אֵינוֹ גֵּט:

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

ה

זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים כד א) "וְשִׁלְּחָהּ מִבֵּיתוֹ" אֵין עִנְיָנוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִגָּמְרוּ גֵּרוּשֶׁיהָ עַד שֶׁתֵּצֵא מִבֵּיתוֹ אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁמַּגִּיעַ גֵּט לְיָדָהּ גָּמְרוּ גֵּרוּשֶׁיהָ וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲדַיִן הִיא בְּבֵיתוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. שֶׁלֹּא נֶאֱמַר וְשִׁלְּחָהּ אֶלָּא שֶׁאִם גֵּרֵשׁ וְלֹא הוֹצִיאָהּ מִבֵּיתוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה כְּמִי שֶׁגֵּרֵשׁ וְהֶחֱזִיר גְּרוּשָׁתוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ צְרִיכָה מִמֶּנּוּ גֵּט כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:

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.

ו

וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה מְחֻסַּר מַעֲשֶׂה אַחַר כְּתִיבָתוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כד א) "וְכָתַב" (דברים כד א) "וְנָתַן" מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְחֻסָּר אֶלָּא כְּתִיבָה וּנְתִינָה הוּא הַגֵּט הַכָּשֵׁר. יָצָא דָּבָר שֶׁמְּחֻסַּר קְצִיצָה אַחַר הַכְּתִיבָה. לְפִיכָךְ אִם כָּתַב גֵּט עַל קֶרֶן הַפָּרָה נוֹתֵן לָהּ הַפָּרָה. וְאִם חָתַךְ הַקֶּרֶן אַחַר שֶׁכְּתָבוֹ וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ אֵינוֹ גֵּט. וְכֵן אִם כָּתַב בִּמְחֻבָּר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחָתְמוּ בּוֹ הָעֵדִים אַחַר שֶׁתְּלָשׁוֹ וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ אֵינוֹ גֵּט:

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

ז

אֵין כּוֹתְבִין בִּמְחֻבָּר אֲפִלּוּ טֹפֶס הַגֵּט. כָּתַב הַטֹּפֶס בִּמְחֻבָּר וּתְלָשׁוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ כָּתַב שֵׁם הָאִישׁ וְשֵׁם הָאִשָּׁה וְהַזְּמַן וַהֲרֵי אַתְּ מֻתֶּרֶת לְכָל אָדָם וַחֲתָמוֹ וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ כָּשֵׁר:

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.

ח

כָּתַב כָּל הַגֵּט עַל הֶעָלֶה הַזָּרוּעַ בְּעָצִיץ נָקוּב אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנָּתַן לָהּ הֶעָצִיץ כֻּלּוֹ הַגֵּט פָּסוּל גְּזֵרָה שֶׁמָּא יִקְטֹם. אֲבָל כּוֹתֵב הוּא עַל חַרְסוֹ שֶׁל עָצִיץ וְנוֹתֵן לָהּ:

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

ט

וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹתְנוֹ לָהּ אֶלָּא בְּתוֹרַת גֵּרוּשִׁין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כד א) "סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת" וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ שֶׁיִּתֵּן אוֹתוֹ בְּתוֹרַת סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת. אֲבָל אִם נְתָנוֹ לָהּ בְּתוֹרַת שֶׁהוּא שְׁטַר חוֹב אוֹ מְזוּזָה אוֹ שֶׁנְּתָנוֹ בְּיָדָהּ וְהִיא יְשֵׁנָה וְנֵעוֹרָה וַהֲרֵי הוּא בְּיָדָהּ אֵינוֹ גֵּט. וְאִם אָמַר לָהּ אַחַר כָּךְ הֲרֵי הוּא גִּטֵּךְ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט:

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

י

אָמַר לְעֵדִים רְאוּ גֵּט שֶׁאֲנִי נוֹתֵן לָהּ וְחָזַר וְאָמַר לָהּ כִּנְסִי שְׁטַר חוֹב זֶה הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר. שֶׁהֲרֵי הוֹדִיעַ אֶת הָעֵדִים שֶׁנְּתָנוֹ בְּתוֹרַת גֵּרוּשִׁין. וְזֶה שֶׁאָמַר לָהּ שְׁטַר חוֹב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּכְלַם מִמֶּנָּה:

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.

יא

הַמְגָרֵשׁ צָרִיךְ שֶׁיֹּאמַר לָהּ כְּשֶׁיִּתֵּן לָהּ הַגֵּט הֲרֵי זֶה גִּטֵּךְ אוֹ הוּא גִּטֵּךְ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. וְאִם נָתַן בְּיָדָהּ וְלֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט פָּסוּל. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁלֹּא הָיָה מְדַבֵּר עִמָּהּ עַל עִסְקֵי גִּטָּהּ. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה מְדַבֵּר עַל עִסְקֵי גִּטָּהּ וְנָטַל הַגֵּט וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ וְלֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט כָּשֵׁר:

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

יב

גֵּט שֶׁהָיָה מֻנָּח עַל הָאָרֶץ וְאָמַר לָהּ טְלִי גִּטֵּךְ מֵעַל גַּבֵּי קַרְקַע וּנְטָלַתּוּ אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה קָשׁוּר עַל יָדוֹ אוֹ עַל יְרֵכוֹ וּשְׁלָפַתּוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָמַר לָהּ אַחַר שֶׁבָּא לְיָדָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה גִּטֵּךְ אֵינוֹ גֵּט שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כד א) "וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ" לֹא שֶׁתִּקַּח הִיא מֵעַצְמָהּ וַהֲרֵי לֹא נָתַן לָהּ לֹא הוּא וְלֹא שְׁלוּחוֹ. אֲבָל אִם הִרְכִּין לָהּ בְּגוּפוֹ אוֹ הִטָּה יָדוֹ עַד שֶׁשָּׁלְפָה הַגֵּט מֵעָלָיו וְאָמַר לָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה גִּטֵּךְ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט:

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

יג

וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁיִּתְּנֶנּוּ לָהּ בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים. הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים יט טו) "עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים אוֹ שְׁלֹשָׁה עֵדִים יָקוּם דָּבָר". וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּהְיֶה זוֹ הַיּוֹם עֶרְוָה וְהַבָּא עָלֶיהָ בְּמִיתַת בֵּית דִּין וּלְמָחָר תִּהְיֶה מֻתֶּרֶת בְּלֹא עֵדִים. לְפִיכָךְ אִם נָתַן לָהּ גֵּט בֵּינוֹ לְבֵינָהּ וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּעֵד אֶחָד אֵינוֹ גֵּט כְּלָל:

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

יד

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיָה הַגֵּט בִּכְתַב יַד סוֹפֵר. אֲבָל אִם כָּתַב הַבַּעַל הַגֵּט בִּכְתַב יָדוֹ וְחָתַם עָלָיו עֵד אֶחָד וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט פָּסוּל [וּפוֹסֵל לִכְהֻנָּה]:

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].

טו

תַּקָּנַת חֲכָמִים הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הָעֵדִים חוֹתְמִין עַל הַגֵּט. שֶׁמָּא יִתֵּן לָהּ גֵּט בִּפְנֵי שְׁנַיִם וְיָמוּתוּ וְנִמְצָא הַגֵּט שֶׁבְּיָדָהּ כְּחֶרֶס מֵחַרְסֵי אֲדָמָה שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין בּוֹ עֵדִים. לְפִיכָךְ תִּקְּנוּ שֶׁיָּעִידוּ מִתּוֹכוֹ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָעֵדִים בְּתוֹכוֹ נוֹתְנוֹ לָהּ בִּפְנֵי שְׁנַיִם בֵּין בִּפְנֵי אוֹתָן הָעֵדִים הַחֲתוּמִין עָלָיו בֵּין בִּפְנֵי שְׁנַיִם אֲחֵרִים. שֶׁעִקַּר הַגֵּרוּשִׁין בְּעֵדֵי מְסִירָה:

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

טז

חָתְמוּ בּוֹ שְׁנַיִם וְעָבַר וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ בֵּינוֹ לְבֵינָהּ אוֹ שֶׁנִּמְצְאוּ עֵדֵי מְסִירָה פְּסוּלִין הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר הוֹאִיל וְעֵדִים שֶׁבּוֹ כְּשֵׁרִין וַהֲרֵי הַגֵּט יוֹצֵא מִתַּחַת יָדֶיהָ. וְיֵשׁ שֶׁהוֹרָה מִן הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁהוּא פָּסוּל:

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

יז

הָיוּ עֵדָיו מִתּוֹכוֹ פְּסוּלִין אֲפִלּוּ אֶחָד פָּסוּל וְאֶחָד כָּשֵׁר וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ בִּפְנֵי שְׁנֵי עֵדִים כְּשֵׁרִין הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל שֶׁנִּמְצָא כִּמְזֻיָּף מִתּוֹכוֹ:

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].

יח

הִרְחִיק אֶת הָעֵדִים מִן הַכְּתָב מְלֹא שְׁנֵי שִׁיטִין פָּסוּל. וְכַמָּה יַרְחִיק אֶת הָעֵדִים מִן הַכְּתָב פָּחוֹת מִכְּדֵי שְׁנֵי שִׁיטִין כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ נִקְרָאִין עִמּוֹ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיָה הַגֵּט יוֹצֵא מִתַּחַת יָדֶיהָ וְלֹא הָיוּ שָׁם עֵדֵי מְסִירָה. אֲבָל אִם מְסָרוֹ לָהּ בְּעֵדִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן מְרֻחָקִין הַרְבֵּה וְאֵין נִקְרָאִין עִמּוֹ וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין חָתוּם עָלָיו עֵד כְּלָל הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר. שֶׁעִקַּר הַגֵּרוּשִׁין בְּעֵדֵי מְסִירָה:

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

יט

הָעֵדִים שֶׁנּוֹתֵן אֶת הַגֵּט בִּפְנֵיהֶם צְרִיכִין לִקְרוֹתוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִתְּנֶנּוּ לָהּ. וְאִם נְתָנוֹ לָהּ בִּפְנֵיהֶם תְּחִלָּה חוֹזְרִין וְקוֹרְאִין אוֹתוֹ אַחַר שֶׁנְּתָנוֹ לָהּ. קְרָאוּהוּ וְהוּא בְּיַד הַבַּעַל אוֹ בְּיַד שְׁלוּחוֹ וְהֶחְזִירוּהוּ לוֹ. וְחָזַר הוּא וְהִכְנִיסוֹ לְתוֹךְ יָדוֹ וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ חוֹזְרִין וְקוֹרְאִין אוֹתוֹ:

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.

כ

לֹא קְרָאוּהוּ אֶלָּא נָטְלָתוֹ וּזְרָקַתּוּ לַיָּם אוֹ לָאֵשׁ הֲרֵי זוֹ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת. הוֹאִיל וּקְרָאוּהוּ תְּחִלָּה אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁים לוֹ שֶׁהֶחֱלִיפוֹ. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ אָמַר הַבַּעַל שְׁטָר אַחֵר הָיָה וְלֹא הָיָה הַגֵּט שֶׁקְּרָאתֶם אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן וַהֲרֵי הִיא מְגֹרֶשֶׁת:

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

כא

הֲרֵי שֶׁלֹּא קָרְאוּ הַגֵּט בַּתְּחִלָּה וְנָתַן לָהּ הַגֵּט בִּפְנֵיהֶם וּזְרָקַתּוּ לָאוּר אוֹ לַיָּם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַבַּעַל אוֹמֵר גֵּט כָּשֵׁר הָיָה הֲרֵי זוֹ סָפֵק מְגֹרֶשֶׁת:

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

כב

זָרַק לָהּ הַגֵּט לַחֲצֵרָהּ לְבֵין הֶחָבִיּוֹת בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים וּבִקְּשׁוּ וּמָצְאוּ מְזוּזָה אוֹ שְׁטָר אַחֵר אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לָהּ. שֶׁזֶּה שֶׁנִּמְצָא הוּא שֶׁזָּרַק. נִמְצְאוּ שָׁם שְׁתַּיִם שָׁלֹשׁ מְזוּזוֹת אוֹ שְׁטָרוֹת חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא גֵּט שֶׁזָּרַק גְּרָרוּהוּ עַכְבָּרִים וַהֲרֵי זוֹ סָפֵק מְגֹרֶשֶׁת:

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

כג

הָעֵדִים שֶׁחוֹתְמִין עַל הַגֵּט צְרִיכִים לִהְיוֹתָם יוֹדְעִים לִקְרוֹת וְלַחְתֹּם. וְאִם אֵינָם יוֹדְעִים לִקְרוֹת קוֹרְאִים בִּפְנֵיהֶם וְחוֹתְמִים. וְהוּא שֶׁיַּכִּירוּ לְשׁוֹן הַגֵּט. וְאִם אֵינָם יוֹדְעִים לַחְתֹּם רוֹשְׁמִין לָהֶם הַנְּיָר בְּרֹק וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ מִדָּבָר שֶׁאֵין רִשּׁוּמוֹ מִתְקַיֵּם וְהֵן כּוֹתְבִין עַל הָרשֶׁם. וְאֵין עוֹשִׂין כָּךְ בִּשְׁאָר שְׁטָרוֹת. קַל הוּא שֶׁהֵקֵלּוּ בְּגִטֵּי נָשִׁים כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲגוּנוֹת הוֹאִיל וַחֲתִימַת הָעֵדִים בְּגֵט מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

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.

כד

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחֲתִימַת הָעֵדִים בְּגֵט מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם הִתְקִינוּ שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הָעֵדִים מְפָרְשִׁין שְׁמוֹתֵיהֶן בַּגֵּט. וְכֵן הִתְקִינוּ בְּעֵדֵי הַגֵּט שֶׁאֵין חוֹתְמִין אֶלָּא זֶה בִּפְנֵי זֶה. וְאִם חָתְמוּ זֶה שֶׁלֹּא בִּפְנֵי זֶה הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט פָּסוּל. וְכֵן הִתְקִינוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב זְמַן בַּגֵּט וּמְקוֹם כְּתִיבָתוֹ כִּשְׁאָר הַשְּׁטָרוֹת. שֶׁמָּא תִּהְיֶה אִשְׁתּוֹ קְרוֹבָתוֹ וְתִזְנֶה כְּשֶׁהִיא תַּחְתָּיו וְיִכְתֹּב לָהּ גֵּט אַחַר הַזְּנוּת וְיִתֵּן לָהּ. וְאִם לֹא יִהְיֶה בּוֹ זְמַן יְכוֹלָה לוֹמַר קֹדֶם הַזְּנוּת נִתְגָּרַשְׁתִּי. וּלְפִיכָךְ תִּקְּנוּ זְמַן בְּגִטִּין:

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.

כה

גֵּט שֶׁיֵּשׁ עָלָיו עֵדִים וְאֵין בּוֹ זְמַן אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה מֻקְדָּם אוֹ מְאֻחָר אוֹ שֶׁנִּכְתַּב בַּיּוֹם וְנֶחְתַּם בַּלַּיְלָה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲסוּקִין בְּאוֹתוֹ הָעִנְיָן. אוֹ כָּתַב אֶת הַגֵּט בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם וְטָעָה וְכָתַב בְּלוּד. כָּל אֵלּוּ פְּסוּלִין עַד שֶׁיַּחְתְּמוּ בּוֹ בִּזְמַן כְּתִיבָתוֹ וּבִמְקוֹם כְּתִיבָתוֹ:

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.

כו

חָתַךְ מִמֶּנּוּ הַזְּמַן וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא כָּתַב שֵׁם הַיּוֹם אֶלָּא בְּשַׁבָּת רִאשׁוֹנָה אוֹ שְׁנִיָּה מֵחֹדֶשׁ פְּלוֹנִי אוֹ בְּחֹדֶשׁ פְּלוֹנִי אוֹ בְּשָׁנָה פְּלוֹנִית וְלֹא הִזְכִּיר הַחֹדֶשׁ אֲפִלּוּ כָּתַב בְּשָׁבוּעַ פְּלוֹנִי כָּשֵׁר. וְכֵן אִם כָּתַב בּוֹ הַיּוֹם גֵּרַשְׁתִּיהָ כָּשֵׁר שֶׁמַּשְׁמָעוֹ הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה שֶׁיָּצָא בּוֹ הַגֵּט:

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.

כז

וְכֵן תִּקְּנוּ שֶׁיְּהוּ מוֹנִין בְּגִטִּין לְמַלְכוּת אוֹתוֹ הַזְּמַן מִשּׁוּם שְׁלוֹם מַלְכוּת. כָּתַב לְשֵׁם מַלְכוּת שֶׁאֵינָהּ מַלְכוּת אוֹתָהּ הַמְּדִינָה אוֹ לְבִנְיַן הַבַּיִת אוֹ לְחֻרְבַּן הַבַּיִת אִם דֶּרֶךְ אַנְשֵׁי אוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם לִמְנוֹת בּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר וְאִם אֵין דַּרְכָּן לִמְנוֹת בּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל. וּכְבָר נָהֲגוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל לִמְנוֹת בְּגִטִּין אוֹ לִיצִירָה אוֹ לַמַּלְכוּת אֲלֶכְּסַנְדְּרוֹס מַקְדוֹן שֶׁהוּא מִנְיַן שְׁטָרוֹת. וְאִם כָּתַב לְשֵׁם מַלְכוּת אוֹתוֹ זְמַן בִּמְדִינָה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ רְשׁוּת אוֹתָהּ מַלְכוּת הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר:

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

כח

הָאוֹמֵר לִשְׁנַיִם כִּתְבוּ וְחִתְמוּ וּתְנוּ גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי וְנִתְאַחֵר הַדָּבָר יָמִים אוֹ שָׁנִים. אוֹ שֶׁנִּמְצָא הַגֵּט בָּטֵל וְהֻצְרְכוּ לִכְתֹּב לָהּ גֵּט אַחֵר כָּשֵׁר אַחַר כַּמָּה שָׁנִים כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כּוֹתְבִין זְמַן הַכְּתִיבָה וּמְקוֹם הַכְּתִיבָה, לֹא הַזְּמַן שֶׁאָמַר לָהֶן הַבַּעַל בּוֹ כִּתְבוּ וְלֹא אוֹתוֹ הַמָּקוֹם. כֵּיצַד. הָיוּ בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם כְּשֶׁאָמַר לָהֶן וְהָיוּ עוֹמְדִין בְּתִשְׁרֵי וְנִתְאַחֲרוּ עַד נִיסָן וַהֲרֵי הֵן בְּלוּד כּוֹתְבִין זְמַן הַגֵּט מִנִּיסָן וּבְלוּד שֶׁשָּׁם נִכְתַּב הַגֵּט כִּשְׁאָר שְׁטָרוֹת:

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.

Gerushin - Chapter Two

1

The Torah's statement [Deuteronomy 24:1], "And he will write a bill of divorce for her and place it in her hand," refers both to [a husband] who writes [the get] with his own hand and to one who tells [another person] to write it for him. Similarly, [the husband] may place it in her hand or tell an agent to give it to her.1

The verse states, "And he will write," only to teach that divorce is effective only through the medium of a written document. "And [he will] place it" teaches that the woman may not take [the get] herself.

א

זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים כד א) "וְכָתַב לָהּ סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ". אֶחָד הַכּוֹתֵב בְּיָדוֹ אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר לְאַחֵר לִכְתֹּב לוֹ. וְאֶחָד הַנּוֹתֵן בְּיָדוֹ אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר לְאַחֵר לִתֵּן לָהּ. לֹא נֶאֱמַר וְכָתַב אֶלָּא לְהוֹדִיעַ שֶׁאֵין מִתְגָּרֶשֶׁת אֶלָּא בִּכְתָב. וְנָתַן שֶׁלֹּא תִּקַּח מֵעַצְמָהּ:

2

When [a husband] tells two [colleagues]: "Write a get, sign it, and give it to my wife," the two may write it, sign it,2 and give it to her. They are [the husband's] agents [for the divorce], and they are the witnesses [to it].3

Similarly, if [the husband] tells a scribe: "Write a get for my wife for me," and he tells the witnesses to sign, the get may be written, signed and given to [the husband]. He may use it to divorce his wife whenever he desires.4

ב

אָמַר לִשְׁנַיִם כִּתְבוּ גֵּט וְחִתְמוּ וּתְנוּ לְאִשְׁתִּי הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כּוֹתְבִין וְחוֹתְמִין וְנוֹתְנִין לָהּ וְהֵן הֵן שְׁלוּחָיו וְהֵן הֵן עֵדָיו. וְכֵן אִם אָמַר לַסּוֹפֵר כְּתֹב לִי גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי וְאָמַר לָעֵדִים לַחְתֹּם כּוֹתְבִים וְחוֹתְמִים וְנוֹתְנִין לוֹ וְהוּא מְגָרֵשׁ בּוֹ בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁיִּרְצֶה:

3

We may write a get for a man even when he is not accompanied by his wife, provided the witnesses and the scribe who wrote and signed [the get] know the identity of the man and his wife.5

If there are two men in a city whose names are the same and whose wives' names are the same, one may divorce his wife only in the presence of the other. [This safeguard was enacted] lest one [of the men] have a get written and give it to the wife of the other man, causing her to [be considered] to be divorced from [her husband].6

ג

וְכוֹתְבִין גֵּט לָאִישׁ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין אִשְׁתּוֹ עִמּוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הָעֵדִים וְהַסּוֹפֵר שֶׁכָּתְבוּ וְחָתְמוּ בּוֹ מַכִּירִין וְיוֹדְעִים שֶׁזֶּה הוּא פְּלוֹנִי וְאִשְׁתּוֹ הִיא פְּלוֹנִית. וְאִם הָיוּ בְּאוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם שְׁנַיִם שֶׁשְּׁמוֹתֵיהֶם שָׁוִים וּשְׁמוֹת נְשׁוֹתֵיהֶם שָׁוִים אֵין מְגָרֵשׁ אֶחָד מֵהֶם אֶלָּא בְּמַעֲמַד חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁמָּא יִכְתֹּב גֵּט וְיוֹלִיכוֹ לְאֵשֶׁת חֲבֵרוֹ וְיַאַסְרֶנָּה עָלָיו:

4

In a time of danger,7 we may write a get [on behalf of a husband] and give it [to his wife], even though we are not aware of [their identities].

It is the woman who always pays the scribe's fee.8

ד

וּבִשְׁעַת הַסַּכָּנָה כּוֹתְבִין וְנוֹתְנִין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין מַכִּירִים. וְהָאִשָּׁה נוֹתֶנֶת שְׂכַר הַסּוֹפֵר בְּכָל מָקוֹם:

5

The husband himself must tell the scribe to write [the get] and the witnesses to sign [it]. When a court of law9 or two [colleagues] ask a man: "Shall we write a get for your wife?" and he tells them to write [it and sign it],10 it is acceptable if they themselves write [the get] and sign it.

If, however, they tell a scribe [to write] and he does, and they tell witnesses [to sign] and they do, the get is void, because it was written by someone who was not told to write it by the husband himself.11 [This ruling applies] even when they give [the get] to the husband, who in turn gives it to his wife in the presence of witnesses.12

ה

וְצָרִיךְ שֶׁיֹּאמַר הַבַּעַל עַצְמוֹ לַסּוֹפֵר כְּתֹב וְלָעֵדִים חֲתֹמוּ. הֲרֵי שֶׁאָמְרוּ לוֹ בֵּית דִּין אוֹ שְׁנַיִם נִכְתֹּב גֵּט לְאִשְׁתְּךָ וְאָמַר לָהֶם כִּתְבוּ וְכָתְבוּ הֵן עַצְמָן וְחָתְמוּ בּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר. אֲבָל אִם אָמְרוּ הֵם לַסּוֹפֵר וְכָתַב וְלָעֵדִים וְחָתְמוּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחָזְרוּ וּנְתָנוּהוּ לַבַּעַל וְחָזַר וְנָתַן גֵּט זֶה לְאִשְׁתּוֹ בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט בָּטֵל, שֶׁהֲרֵי כְּתָבוֹ מִי שֶׁלֹּא אָמַר לוֹ הַבַּעַל לְכָתְבוֹ:

6

When [a man] tells two or three [colleagues]: "Tell a scribe to write a get for my wife and tell the witnesses to sign," and they convey these instructions, the get is unacceptable.13[The same ruling applies if the husband] tells two [colleagues] to tell a scribe to write a get and tells them to sign it.14

This matter should be deliberated upon at length, because the get is close to being considered void.15

ו

אָמַר לִשְׁנַיִם אוֹ לִשְׁלֹשָׁה אִמְרוּ לַסּוֹפֵר וְיִכְתֹּב גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי וְאִמְרוּ לָעֵדִים וְיַחְתֹּמוּ וְאָמְרוּ לַסּוֹפֵר וְכָתַב וְלָעֵדִים וְחָתְמוּ, אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר לִשְׁנַיִם אִמְרוּ לַסּוֹפֵר וְיִכְתֹּב גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי וְאַתֶּם חֲתֹמוּ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט פָּסוּל. וּמִתְיַשְּׁבִין בְּדָבָר זֶה הַרְבֵּה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא קָרוֹב לִהְיוֹת גֵּט בָּטֵל:

7

What is the difference between the terms "unacceptable" (pasul) and "void" (bateil)? Whenever this text refers to a get as "void," that means that according to Scriptural law it is void. Whenever the term "unacceptable" is used, it refers to a get deemed unacceptable by Rabbinic decree.16

ז

וּמַה בֵּין פָּסוּל לְבָטֵל. שֶׁכָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּחִבּוּר זֶה בְּגֵט שֶׁהוּא בָּטֵל הוּא בָּטֵל מִן הַתּוֹרָה. וּבְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר פָּסוּל הוּא פָּסוּל מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:

8

When a husband brings a get that has been signed in his hand and tells [two colleagues]: "Give this get to my wife," they should give it to her [and it is acceptable].17

If he tells others to write a get, sign it and give to his wife, and they write it, sign it and give it to her, and then it is discovered that the get is void or unacceptable, they may write another get - or even 100 other gittin - until the woman receives an acceptable get.18

ח

הַבַּעַל שֶׁהֵבִיא גֵּט בְּיָדוֹ חָתוּם וְאָמַר תְּנוּ גֵּט זֶה לְאִשְׁתִּי הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ יִתְּנוּ לָהּ. אָמַר לַאֲחֵרִים לִכְתֹּב גֵּט וְלַחְתֹּם בּוֹ וְלִתְּנוֹ לְאִשְׁתּוֹ וְכָתְבוּ וְחָתְמוּ וְנָתְנוּ לָהּ וְנִמְצָא הַגֵּט בָּטֵל אוֹ פָּסוּל הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כּוֹתְבִין גֵּט אַחֵר אֲפִלּוּ מֵאָה עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לְיָדָהּ גֵּט כָּשֵׁר:

9

If the husband tells [two colleagues]: Write and sign [a get] and give it to an agent to bring to her, and they do as they were charged, but it was discovered that the get was void or unacceptable, they may not write another [get] until they consult the husband.

[The rationale is] that [the husband] did not charge them with [effecting the divorce]. Perhaps he wanted merely that they write [the get] and give it to the agent. [If so, their agency was completed,] and nothing remains for them to do, for they have written it and given it [to the agent]. Therefore, they should not write another [get].19

If they do write another get that is acceptable and give it to the agent - who in turn gives it to the wife - the status of the divorce is in doubt.20

ט

אָמַר לָהֶם הַבַּעַל כִּתְבוּ וְחִתְמוּ וּתְנוּ לַשָּׁלִיחַ לְהוֹלִיךְ לָהּ וְכָתְבוּ וְחָתְמוּ וְנָתְנוּ לַשָּׁלִיחַ וְנִמְצָא הַגֵּט בָּטֵל אוֹ פָּסוּל אֵין כּוֹתְבִים אַחֵר עַד שֶׁיִּמָּלְכוּ בַּבַּעַל. שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא עָשָׂה אוֹתָן שְׁלוּחִים לְגֵרוּשִׁין וְשֶׁמָּא לֹא רָצָה אֶלָּא שֶׁיִּכְתְּבוּ וְיִתְּנוּ לַשָּׁלִיחַ בִּלְבַד וְלֹא יִשָּׁאֵר לָהֶם בּוֹ מַעֲשֶׂה אַחֵר וַהֲרֵי כָּתְבוּ וְנָתְנוּ. לְפִיכָךְ לֹא יִכְתְּבוּ אַחֵר. וְאִם כָּתְבוּ גֵּט אַחֵר כָּשֵׁר וּנְתָנוּהוּ לַשָּׁלִיחַ (וְנָתְנוּ לָהּ) הֲרֵי זוֹ סָפֵק מְגֹרֶשֶׁת:

10

When a person tells two or more [colleagues]: "Write a get and give to my wife," "Divorce her," "Send her away," "Release her,"21 "Discharge her," or "Write a letter and give it to her," [the colleagues] should write an acceptable get and give it to her.

If, however, he tells them: "Dismiss her," "Give her what she needs," "Do as our faith requires to her," "Do as the law requires to her," "Do unto her as she deserves," his statements are of no consequence.22 If [these individuals] write a get and give it to the woman, the get is void.23

י

הָאוֹמֵר לִשְׁנַיִם אוֹ לְיֶתֶר מִשְּׁנַיִם כִּתְבוּ גֵּט וּתְנוּ לְאִשְׁתִּי גַּרְשׁוּהָ שַׁלְּחוּהָ שִׁבְקוּהָ תַּרְכוּהָ כִּתְבוּ אִגֶּרֶת וּתְנוּ לָהּ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ יִכְתְּבוּ גֵּט כָּשֵׁר וְיִתְּנוּ לָהּ. אָמַר לָהֶם פִּטְרוּהָ פַּרְנְסוּהָ עֲשׂוּ לָהּ כַּדָּת עֲשׂוּ לָהּ כַּנִּימוּס עֲשׂוּ לָהּ כָּרָאוּי לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם. וְאִם כָּתְבוּ גֵּט וְנָתְנוּ לָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט בָּטֵל:

11

If he tells them: "Get her out," "Let her go," "Permit her [to remarry]," "Let her be," "Assist her," there is doubt whether or not these terms imply that she should be divorced or whether they have another meaning. Therefore, [these individuals] should not write [a get] for her. If they write a get and give it to her, the status of the divorce is in doubt.

יא

אָמַר לָהֶם הוֹצִיאוּהָ עִזְבוּהָ הַתִּירוּהָ הַנִּיחוּהָ הוֹעִילוּהָ הֲרֵי זֶה סָפֵק אִם מַשְׁמָע מִלּוֹת אֵלּוּ גֵּרוּשִׁין אוֹ עִנְיָן אַחֵר. לְפִיכָךְ אֵין כּוֹתְבִין לָהּ. וְאִם כָּתְבוּ גֵּט וְנָתְנוּ לָהּ הֲרֵי זוֹ סָפֵק מְגֹרֶשֶׁת:

12

When [a man] says: "Write a get for my wife," [the people he addresses] should write the get, sign it and give it to him. They should not give it to the woman unless he tells them to. If they do give it to the woman, the get is not [effective].24

When does the above apply? With regard to a healthy man. If, however, a man is dangerously ill - i.e., he suddenly falls sick and his illness rapidly becomes very severe - or if he is being led away in chains,25 even for financial matters, or he departs on an ocean journey, or he departs with a caravan [on a desert journey] and he says, "Write a get for my wife," they should write it, sign it and give it to her. For it is clear that his intent was that they should write the get and give it to her.26

יב

הָאוֹמֵר כִּתְבוּ גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כּוֹתְבִין וְחוֹתְמִין וְנוֹתְנִין לַבַּעַל בְּיָדוֹ וְאֵין נוֹתְנִין לְאִשְׁתּוֹ עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לָהֶם לִתֵּן לָהּ. וְאִם נָתְנוּ לָהּ אֵינוֹ גֵּט. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּבָרִיא אֲבָל בִּמְסֻכָּן וְהוּא אָדָם שֶׁקָּפַץ עָלָיו הַחלִי בִּמְהֵרָה וְהִכְבִּיד עָלָיו חָלְיוֹ מִיָּד וְהַיּוֹצֵא בְּקוֹלָר אֲפִלּוּ עַל עִסְקֵי מָמוֹן וְהַמְפָרֵשׁ בַּיָּם וְהַיּוֹצֵא בְּשַׁיָּרָא וְאָמַר כִּתְבוּ גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ יִכְתְּבוּ וְיַחְתְּמוּ וְיִתְּנוּ לָהּ. שֶׁהַדָּבָר יָדוּעַ שֶׁלֹּא נִתְכַּוֵּן זֶה אֶלָּא לִכְתֹּב וְלִתֵּן לָהּ:

13

[The following rules apply when] a healthy person says: "Compose a get for my wife," and [his listeners] write a get, sign it and give it to her. If he commits suicide immediately thereafter - e.g., he throws himself down from a roof or jumps into the sea - the get is acceptable.27

If, however, he climbs up onto a [high] roof, and he is buffeted by the wind until he falls and dies, the get is void.28 If there is doubt whether he threw himself down [from the roof] or was buffeted by the wind, the get is valid unless it becomes known with certainty that he was buffeted by the wind.29

Similarly, if a man was cast into a pit and he said, "Whoever hears my voice should write a get for my wife," [his listeners] should write a get and give it to her, provided they recognize his identity.30 Even if [afterwards,] they took him out of the pit and could not identify him,31 [the divorce] is acceptable. For in time of danger, [a get] can be written and given to [a man's wife] even if they do not know his identity.

Similarly, when a person suffers many severe blows, to the extent that it is impossible to for him to survive - or even if the majority of [his windpipe and gullet]32 have been cut - and he makes motions33 and says: "Write a get for my wife," [his listeners] should write [a get] and give it [to her]. Although he will eventually die, he is alive at this time.34

יג

בָּרִיא שֶׁאָמַר כִּתְבוּ גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי וְכָתְבוּ וְחָתְמוּ וְנָתְנוּ לָהּ וְהָרַג עַצְמוֹ מִיָּד כְּגוֹן שֶׁהִשְׁלִיךְ עַצְמוֹ מִן הַגַּג אוֹ הִפִּיל עַצְמוֹ לַיָּם הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט כָּשֵׁר. עָלָה לַגַּג וּדְחָפַתּוּ הָרוּחַ וְנָפַל וּמֵת אֵינוֹ גֵּט. סָפֵק הִפִּיל עַצְמוֹ סָפֵק דְּחָפַתּוּ הָרוּחַ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט עַד שֶׁיִּוָּדַע לְךָ בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁהָרוּחַ דְּחָפַתּוּ. וְכֵן מִי שֶׁהָיָה מֻשְׁלָךְ בַּבּוֹר וְאָמַר כָּל הַשּׁוֹמֵעַ קוֹלִי יִכְתֹּב גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ יִכְתְּבוּ וְיִתְּנוּ לָהּ. וְהוּא שֶׁיָּדְעוּ אוֹתוֹ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֶעֱלוּהוּ וְלֹא הִכִּירוּהוּ הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר. שֶׁזֶּה כִּשְׁעַת הַסַּכָּנָה הוּא שֶׁכּוֹתְבִים וְנוֹתְנִין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין מַכִּירִין. וְכֵן מִי שֶׁנָּפְלוּ בּוֹ מַכּוֹת רָעוֹת שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיִּחְיֶה מֵהֶן אֲפִלּוּ נִשְׁחֲטוּ בּוֹ רֹב סִימָנִין וְרָמַז וְאָמַר כִּתְבוּ גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ יִכְתְּבוּ וְיִתְּנוּ שֶׁהֲרֵי עַתָּה חַי הוּא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁסּוֹפוֹ לָמוּת:

14

[The following rules apply when] a person is troubled by an evil spirit, and at the time when his infirmity begins to take hold of him says: "Write a get for my wife." His statements are of no consequence, because his thoughts are not organized and settled.35 The same ruling applies to a person who has become as drunk as Lot.36 If a drunkard has not reached that level [of incapacity], [the status of the divorce] is in doubt.37

יד

מִי שֶׁהָיְתָה רוּחַ רָעָה מְבַעֶתֶת אוֹתוֹ וְאָמַר כְּשֶׁהִתְחִיל בּוֹ הַחלִי כִּתְבוּ גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין דַּעְתּוֹ נְכוֹנָה וּמְיֻשֶּׁבֶת. וְכֵן שִׁכּוֹר שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לְשִׁכְרוּתוֹ שֶׁל לוֹט. וְאִם לֹא הִגִּיעַ הֲרֵי זֶה סָפֵק:

15

[The following rules apply when a] healthy [man] says: "Write a get for my wife and give it to her," and afterwards he becomes mentally disturbed. We wait until he becomes healthy again, and then we write the get and give it to her. There is no need to consult with him about the matter again when he regains his heath.38

If a get is written and given before he regains his health, it is unacceptable.39

טו

אָמַר כְּשֶׁהוּא בָּרִיא כִּתְבוּ וּתְנוּ גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִבְעַת מַמְתִּינִין עַד שֶׁיַּבְרִיא וְכוֹתְבִין וְנוֹתְנִין לָהּ. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וּלְהִמָּלֵךְ בּוֹ אַחַר שֶׁהִבְרִיא. וְאִם כָּתְבוּ וְנָתְנוּ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּבָּרֵא הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל:

16

[The following rules apply when] a person loses his ability to speak, but is of sound mind. We ask him: "Should we write a get for your wife?" If he nods his head affirmatively, we test him with three [questions with different answers].40 If he answers those [questions] to be answered affirmatively in the affirmative and those to be answered negatively in the negative, they should write [a get] and give it [to her]. His mental state must be checked thoroughly, lest he not be of sound mind.

Similarly, if he writes by hand: "Write a get and give it to my wife," they should write it and give it to her, if [it appears] that he is of sound mind. For the laws governing a person who loses his ability to speak differ from those governing a deaf-mute.41

טז

מִי שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּתֵּק וַהֲרֵי דַּעְתּוֹ נְכוֹנָה וְאָמְרוּ לוֹ נִכְתֹּב גֵּט לְאִשְׁתְּךָ וְהִרְכִּין בְּרֹאשׁוֹ בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בְּסֵרוּגִין אִם אָמַר לָהֶם עַל לָאו לָאו וְעַל הֵן הֵן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ יִכְתְּבוּ וְיִתְּנוּ. וּצְרִיכִין לְבָדְקוֹ יָפֶה יָפֶה שֶׁמָּא נִטְרְפָה דַּעְתּוֹ. וְכֵן אִם כָּתַב בְּיָדוֹ כִּתְבוּ וּתְנוּ גֵּט לְאִשְׁתִּי הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כּוֹתְבִין וְנוֹתְנִין לָהּ אִם הָיְתָה דַּעְתּוֹ מְיֻשֶּׁבֶת עָלָיו. שֶׁאֵין דִּין מִי שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּתֵּק כְּדִין הַחֵרֵשׁ:

17

When a person married while sound of mind and became a deaf-mute, he cannot divorce his wife until he regains his mental health.42 Needless to say, this applies to a person who loses his mental stability.43 We do not rely on the motions of a deaf-mute or on his writing, even if he is of sound mind.

If, however, a deaf-mute married a woman while he was in that state, he may divorce her by making motions, for his consecration of her is not valid according to Scriptural law, as has been explained.44 Just as he married her by making motions, he may divorce her by making motions.

יז

מִי שֶׁנָּשָׂא כְּשֶׁהוּא פִּקֵּחַ וְנִתְחָרֵשׁ וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר נִשְׁתַּטָּה אֵינוֹ מוֹצִיא לְעוֹלָם עַד שֶׁיַּבְרִיא. וְאֵין סוֹמְכִין עַל רְמִיזַת הַחֵרֵשׁ וְלֹא עַל כְּתָבוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁדַּעְתּוֹ נְכוֹנָה וּמְיֻשֶּׁבֶת עָלָיו. אֲבָל אִם נָשָׂא אִשָּׁה כְּשֶׁהוּא חֵרֵשׁ מְגָרֵשׁ בִּרְמִיזָה שֶׁאֵין קִדּוּשָׁיו קִדּוּשִׁין מִן הַתּוֹרָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁכּוֹנֵס בִּרְמִיזָה כָּךְ מוֹצִיא בִּרְמִיזָה:

18

When a man consecrates a minor via her father's agency and [seeks to] divorce her while she is a minor, her father should accept her get.45 When the get reaches her father's possession, she is divorced.

If [the husband seeks to] divorce [his arusah] when she is a na'arah,46 the divorce is effective when the get reaches her possession or her father's possession. A na'arah who is consecrated may not appoint an agent to receive her get from her husband during her father's lifetime.47 A father, by contrast, may appoint an agent to receive a get for his daughter who has been consecrated, whether she is a minor or a na'arah.

יח

הַמְקַדֵּשׁ קְטַנָּה עַל יְדֵי אָבִיהָ וְגֵרְשָׁהּ כְּשֶׁהִיא קְטַנָּה אָבִיהָ מְקַבֵּל גִּטָּהּ וּמִשֶּׁיַגִּיעַ גֵּט לְיַד הָאָב נִתְגָּרְשָׁה. גֵּרְשָׁהּ כְּשֶׁהִיא נַעֲרָה אִם הִגִּיעַ הַגֵּט לְיָדָהּ אוֹ לְיַד אָבִיהָ נִתְגָּרְשָׁה. וְאֵין עוֹשָׂה נַעֲרָה הַמְאֹרָסָה שָׁלִיחַ לְקַבֵּל גִּטָּהּ מִיַּד בַּעְלָהּ בְּחַיֵּי אָבִיהָ. אֲבָל הָאָב עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלִיחַ לְקַבֵּל הַגֵּט לְבִתּוֹ הַמְאֹרָסָה בֵּין קְטַנָּה בֵּין נַעֲרָה:

19

[The following rules apply when] a girl's father consecrates her48 when she is a minor and then [the father] dies. If [the girl] can differentiate between a get and another object,49 the divorce is effective after the get reaches her possession. If [she is] incapable [of making such a distinction], she cannot be divorced until she becomes capable of making such distinctions.50If such a divorce is carried out, it is of no consequence.

יט

קִדְּשָׁהּ אָבִיהָ כְּשֶׁהִיא קְטַנָּה וּמֵת. אִם מַבְחֶנֶת בֵּין גִּטָּהּ לְדָבָר אַחֵר הֲרֵי זוֹ מִתְגָּרֶשֶׁת מִשֶּׁיַגִּיעַ הַגֵּט לְיָדָהּ. וְאִם לָאו אֵינָהּ מִתְגָּרֶשֶׁת עַד שֶׁתַּבְחִין וְאִם גֵּרְשָׁהּ אֵינָהּ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת:

20

When a man whom the law requires to be compelled to divorce his wife51 does not desire to divorce her, the court should have him beaten until he consents, at which time they should have a get written. The get is acceptable. This applies at all times and in all places.52

Similarly, if gentiles beat him while telling him: "Do what the Jews are telling you to do," and the Jews have the gentiles apply pressure on him until [he consents] to divorce his wife, the divorce is acceptable. If, however, the gentiles compel him to write [a get] on their own initiative, the get is [merely] unacceptable.53The rationale is that the law requires him to give a divorce.

Why is this get not void? For he is being compelled - either by Jews or by gentiles - [to divorce] against his will [and a get must be given voluntarily].

Because the concept of being compelled against one's will applies only when speaking about a person who is being compelled and forced to do something that the Torah does not obligate him to do - e.g., a person who was beaten until he consented to a sale,54 or to give a present. If, however, a person's evil inclination presses him to negate [the observance of] a mitzvah or to commit a transgression, and he was beaten until he performed the action he was obligated to perform, or he dissociated himself from the forbidden action, he is not considered to have been forced against his will. On the contrary, it is he himself who is forcing [his own conduct to become debased].55

With regard to this person who [outwardly] refuses to divorce [his wife] - he wants to be part of the Jewish people, and he wants to perform all the mitzvot and eschew all the transgressions; it is only his evil inclination that presses him. Therefore, when he is beaten until his [evil] inclination has been weakened, and he consents [to the divorce], he is considered to have performed the divorce willfully.

[Different laws apply when] the law does not require him to divorce his wife, and a Jewish court or simple people compel him to divorce her. This get is deemed unacceptable. Since, however, it was Jews who compelled him, he [is advised] to complete the divorce [in a proper manner]. If, by contrast, gentiles compel him to divorce when it was not required, the divorce is void. Even though he tells the gentiles that he consented and tells the Jews to write and sign [a get], since the law does not require him to divorce, and he was compelled to do so by gentiles, the get is void.

כ

מִי שֶׁהַדִּין נוֹתֵן שֶׁכּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ לְגָרֵשׁ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ וְלֹא רָצָה לְגָרֵשׁ. בֵּית דִּין שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל מָקוֹם וּבְכָל זְמַן מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר רוֹצֶה אֲנִי וְיִכְתֹּב הַגֵּט וְהוּא גֵּט כָּשֵׁר. וְכֵן אִם הִכּוּהוּ עַכּוּ''ם וְאָמְרוּ לוֹ עֲשֵׂה מַה שֶּׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל אוֹמְרִין לְךָ וְלָחֲצוּ אוֹתוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּיַד הָעַכּוּ''ם עַד שֶׁיְּגָרֵשׁ הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר. וְאִם הָעַכּוּ''ם מֵעַצְמָן אֲנָסוּהוּ עַד שֶׁכָּתַב הוֹאִיל וְהַדִּין נוֹתֵן שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט פָּסוּל. וְלָמָּה לֹא בִּטֵּל גֵּט זֶה שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא אָנוּס בֵּין בְּיַד עַכּוּ''ם בֵּין בְּיַד יִשְׂרָאֵל. שֶׁאֵין אוֹמְרִין אָנוּס אֶלָּא לְמִי שֶׁנִּלְחַץ וְנִדְחַק לַעֲשׂוֹת דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְחֻיָּב בּוֹ מִן הַתּוֹרָה לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ כְּגוֹן מִי שֶׁהֻכָּה עַד שֶׁמָּכַר אוֹ עַד שֶׁנָּתַן. אֲבָל מִי שֶׁתְּקָפוֹ יִצְרוֹ הָרַע לְבַטֵּל מִצְוָה אוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת עֲבֵרָה וְהֻכָּה עַד שֶׁעָשָׂה דָּבָר שֶׁחַיָּב לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ אוֹ עַד שֶׁנִּתְרַחֵק מִדָּבָר הָאָסוּר לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ אֵין זֶה אָנוּס מִמֶּנּוּ אֶלָּא הוּא אָנַס עַצְמוֹ בְּדַעְתּוֹ הָרָעָה. לְפִיכָךְ זֶה שֶׁאֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגָרֵשׁ מֵאַחַר שֶׁהוּא רוֹצֶה לִהְיוֹת מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְרוֹצֶה הוּא לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת וּלְהִתְרַחֵק מִן הָעֲבֵרוֹת וְיִצְרוֹ הוּא שֶׁתְּקָפוֹ וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהֻכָּה עַד שֶׁתָּשַׁשׁ יִצְרוֹ וְאָמַר רוֹצֶה אֲנִי כְּבָר גֵּרֵשׁ לִרְצוֹנוֹ. לֹא הָיָה הַדִּין נוֹתֵן שֶׁכּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ לְגָרֵשׁ וְטָעוּ בֵּית דִּין שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ הֶדְיוֹטוֹת וַאֲנָסוּהוּ עַד שֶׁגֵּרֵשׁ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט פָּסוּל הוֹאִיל וְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֲנָסוּהוּ יִגְמֹר וִיגָרֵשׁ. וְאִם הָעַכּוּ''ם, אֲנָסוּהוּ לְגָרֵשׁ שֶׁלֹּא כַּדִּין אֵינוֹ גֵּט. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָמַר בְּעַכּוּ''ם רוֹצֶה אֲנִי וְאָמַר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כִּתְבוּ וְחִתְמוּ הוֹאִיל וְאֵין הַדִּין מְחַיְּבוֹ לְהוֹצִיא וְהָעַכּוּ''ם אֲנָסוּהוּ אֵינוֹ גֵּט:

Footnotes
1.

In most matters of Torah law, a person is able to charge an agent to act on his behalf. From the Rambam's wording, Terumat HaDeshen (Responsum 228) and the Kovetz deduce that the Rambam requires that not only the person who gives the get, but also the scribe, must be appointed as agents. This decision is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 120:1). Moreover, the Shulchan Aruch continues, stating that in addition, the scribe must write the get with paper and ink belonging to the husband.

There are, however, other opinions, which maintain that the scribe need not be appointed as an agent. (See Chapter 3, Halachah 16 and notes.)

2.

There is a difficulty in this instance, for the scribe must also act as one of the witnesses who sign the get. Tosafot and many other authorities rule that a get signed by a scribe is unacceptable. In the Beit Yosef (Even HaEzer 130), Rav Yosef Karo explains that the Rambam agrees that a priori, the scribe should not act as one of the witnesses who sign the get. When there is no alternative, however, it is acceptable. (See Lechem Mishneh.)

3.

In this instance, the act the agent effects does not concern him. Therefore, there is no difficulty in his serving as a witness to it. (See also Hilchot Ishut 3:16.)

4.

There are two points of clarification that must be made with regard to this ruling: First, if the husband enters into privacy with his wife after having the get written, the get is nullified, for we assume that the couple engaged in sexual relations, as reflected in Chapter 3, Halachah 5.

Second, there is the problem that the get is predated - i.e., although it was dated on the day it was written, it is the giving of the get and not the writing of the get that effects the divorce. Thus, the date on which the get was given and the date of the divorce are not the same.

With regard to that issue, we are forced to say that the Rambam does not consider it to be problematic. Indeed, when discussing the issue of predated gittin (Chapter 1, Halachah 25), the Rambam makes no mention of this matter at all. Other authorities differ, and it is their view that is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 127:5), which states that if a get is not given on the day on which it was written, it is acceptable only when given by an agent. (See Beit Shmuel 127:7.)

5.

See Hilchot Malveh V'Loveh 24:3-4. The Kessef Mishneh emphasizes that there are several points to be derived from an analysis of the Rambam's choice of wording in the present halachah and in that source:

a) Even if the man is accompanied by a woman he claims to be his wife, the witnesses may not sign a get for her until this fact is established.

b) It is not significant whether or not the scribe knows the identity of the man and his wife. When the scribe does not sign the get (see the notes to the previous halachah), it is the witnesses alone who must be aware of the identity of the husband and wife.

c) As long as a person's name has been established in a city for thirty days - even if it is only according to his own statements - this is sufficient.

d) The witnesses must also know the names of the father of the husband and of the wife.

e) The person's father's name can also be established on the basis of his own statements.

6.

From the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Bava Batra 10:3), it appears that the intent is to prevent the woman receiving the get from engineering such an act of deception.

Our translation is based on authoritative manuscripts and early printings of the Mishneh Torah. The standard printed text states "causing her to be forbidden to him," i.e., she will think that she has been divorced, and on that basis, she will marry another man, and thus become forbidden to her first husband.

7.

A time of danger means an instance when the husband is in danger of dying and asks to have a get written for his wife, so that she will not have to undergo the rites of either yibbum or chalitzah (Gittin 66a).

8.

Although according to Scriptural law it is the husband who should pay for the writing of the get (for it is his responsibility), Bava Batra 168a explains that our Sages transferred this obligation to the woman, lest the husband lack the financial resources and cause the woman to wait unnecessarily for her get.

9.

The Rambam mentions a court of law to indicate that in this instance, their authority is no greater than that of an ordinary person.

10.

The bracketed addition is made on the basis of the gloss of the Kessef Mishneh.

11.

The husband charged these individuals with the composition and the signing of the get. They do not have the authority to convey this responsibility to someone else.

In other instances, an agent can transfer his agency to another person, but here the scribe and the witness were charged with only a verbal command, and a verbal command cannot be transferred to another agent (Gittin 66b).

12.

For the difficulty is with the composition of the get itself.

13.

In contrast to the previous halachah, in which the get is deemed void, here the Rambam rules that it is unacceptable. This more lenient ruling is given because in this instance, the husband's colleagues carried out his instructions.

The Ra'avad and many other authorities also consider this get to be void, for they maintain that the scribe must hear his appointment from the husband directly. The Rambam, however, maintains that the divorce is acceptable according to Scriptural law. As a safeguard, the Rabbis did not accept it, lest a woman hire agents who will tell the scribe and witnesses to compose a get in the husband's name, even though he did not convey such instructions (Gittin 67a).

14.

For the husband did not convey the instructions to the scribe himself.

15.

Rav David HaCohen interprets this to mean that this case is judged more severely than other gittin that are unacceptable, and the status of the woman's divorce is in doubt. This is also the ruling of the Ramah. Rav Moshe Alshacar, however, differs and maintains that there is no difference between this instance and others in which the get is deemed unacceptable.

16.

The practical difference between these two terms is explained in Chapter 10, Halachot 1 and 2. When a get is void, the woman's first marriage is not annulled, and she must leave her second husband if she has remarried. Any children she bears the second husband are considered to be mamzerim. When the get is deemed unacceptable by our Rabbis, by contrast, the woman should not remarry, but if she does remarry she is allowed to remain married to her second husband.

17.

We do not suspect that the husband had a void or unacceptable get composed and gave it to his wife to cause her difficulties (Kessef Mishneh).

18.

We do not say that the agency with which they were entrusted involved only the composition of one get, and that they must receive a new charge from the husband before writing another one.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 122:1) states that if the get is not unacceptable, but does not conform with the standard demanded by the local Rav, the scribe does not have the right to write a second get, for the agency with which he was charged by the husband has already been discharged. Therefore, it is customary for a husband to tell the scribe and the witnesses to write as many gittin as necessary, until one finds favor in the eyes of the Rav arranging the divorce.

19.

If the husband had in fact given them only such a limited agency, were they to have another get written, they would no longer be acting in the agency of the husband, but rather on their own initiative.

Rav Moshe HaCohen differs with the Rambam on this point, maintaining that since they did not write an acceptable get, their agency was not completed. For the husband did not charge them with writing a worthless piece of paper; he wanted them to write a get. Note the Beit Shmuel 122:7, who interprets the disqualifying factor mentioned by the Rambam as referring to a disqualification that occurred after the get was given to the agent. He maintains that if a get that was void or unacceptable was given to the agent, even the Rambam would allow the writing of another get.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 122:2) quotes the ruling of the Rambam, while the Ramah follows the opinion of Rav Moshe HaCohen.

20.

We are not certain that their agency was limited in scope. Perhaps the husband's intent was that they effect the divorce.

21.

This and the following term are acceptable, because they are Aramaic equivalents of the word "divorce."

22.

These expressions do not convey adequately enough the intent that the husband desires to divorce his wife for them to be considered effective in bringing about the appointment of the agents for this purpose.

23.

Note the Beit Shmuel 141:21, who quotes authorities who maintain that even in such instances the status of the divorce should be considered doubtful.

24.

For the husband has not charged them with effecting the divorce.

25.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Gittin 6:5), the Rambam interprets this as referring to a person taken from jail in chains to be judged by a gentile magistrate.

26.

We assume that, in all these instances, his intent was to divorce his wife, lest he die and she be required to undergo the rite of either yibbum or chalitzah. Alternatively, he knew that he was entering a dangerous situation, and feared that he might die, without there being any witnesses of his death. In order to prevent his wife from being forced to remain unmarried for the rest of her life, he charges witnesses with the composition of a get.

He surely wanted to tell the witnesses to give the get, and it was only because of his concern with his personal situation that he forgot to do so (op. cit.). (See Hilchot Zechiyah UMatanah 8:24, which relates similar concepts with regard to a person's division of his estate.)

27.

In this instance as well, we assume that the person intended to say that the get should be given, but failed to mention the point because of his preoccupation with his own concerns.

28.

For his intent is not clear, and it is possible that he wanted to deliberate before having the get given.

29.

The Rambam's ruling is debated by the commentaries, for it is questionable why the get would be considered valid, in light of the doubt that exists. Indeed, there are commentaries that suggest that the text before us is a printing error and that the Rambam considers the status of the divorce to be in doubt. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:18) rules that if the husband falls immediately afterwards, the get is acceptable. If not, the status of the divorce is in doubt.

30.

The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:19) states that the man must state his name, the name of his wife, the name of the city in which he lives and the name of the city in which she lives.

31.

E.g., his face had been cut to the point where his identity was no longer recognizable.

32.

The slitting of these organs are the two signs that determine whether or not ritual slaughter is acceptable.

33.

The Beit Shmuel 121:11 interprets this to mean that the man shakes his head in response to questions (see Halachah 16) and thus indicates that he desires to divorce his wife.

34.

The get is not considered to have been given after the man died, and his wife is not required to undergo the rites of yibbum or chalitzah. See Chapter 6, Halachah 28.

35.

For a person's actions to have halachic significance, he must be mentally competent at the time he performs them.

36.

Whom Genesis, Chapter 19, describes as having become so drunk that he was not aware of having sex with his daughters.

37.

The Rambam appears to be saying that if we are certain that the person is drunk, but see that he is conscious enough to have some control over his behavior, a get that he orders to be given is of doubtful status.

The commentaries question this understanding, noting that in Hilchot Ishut 4:18, the Rambam rules that kiddushin given by a drunk are viable, unless he reaches Lot's state. Similarly, with regard to the entire Torah, a drunk is considered responsible for his conduct. If he commits a transgression punishable by death while drunk, he is executed. Despite these questions, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 121:1) quotes the Rambam's wording. On this basis, the Beit Shmuel states that both a husband and a wife should not drink alcoholic beverages on the day of their divorce.

38.

While the husband (the principal) is incapacitated, his agent (the scribe) cannot act on his behalf. Therefore, the get should not be written until he regains his health. Nevertheless, once he regains his health, the agency that he originally gave is unaffected, and the get should be written and delivered.

39.

In the Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo questions why the Rambam uses the term "unacceptable" (pasul). Seemingly, based on Gittin 70b, this ruling should apply only when we have a means of healing the afflicted person. Otherwise, the get should be void. Indeed, in the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 121:2), Rav Yosef Karo rules accordingly. Note, however, the Beit Shmuel 121:2, who justifies the Rambam's ruling.

[The difference between these two opinions revolves around the fundamental conception of an agent's authority. Is he acting independently of the principal (in which case the principal's state is not of concern to us) or is he considered to be an extension of the principal (in which case, if the principal is unable to perform an act, neither is his agent). See Lekach Tov, Section 1.]

Based on the above, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 121:4) writes that we should check that a person who is giving a get when terminally ill is sound of mind.

40.

According to the Kessef Mishneh, the intent is three questions in which at least one of the answers differs from the other two. There are other authorities who require two sets of three questions. Also, based on Gittin 70b, the Ramah (Even HaEzer 121:5) suggests that the person should be asked questions about fruit - e.g., would he desire a summer fruit in winter? His ability to discern with regard to these matters will serve as an indicator of whether or not he is of sound mind.

41.

A deaf-mute is not considered to be of sound mind and is not held responsible for his conduct.

42.

For the marriage bond he established is binding according to Scriptural law, and he is not capable of initiating divorce proceedings that have that power.

43.

See Hilchot Edut 9:9, where the Rambam defines the term shoteh as including not only maniacs whose behavior is totally beyond control, but also those who are confused and lack the stability to function normally.

44.

Hilchot Ishut 4:9.

45.

Just as the Torah gives him authority to consecrate her, he is responsible for taking part in the divorce, for Deuteronomy 24:2 establishes an association between the forging of the marriage bond and its dissolution (Ketubot 47a).

This applies, however, only before the marriage bond is consummated. After nisu'in, the consummation of the marriage, the father no longer has any authority over his daughter even though she is below the age of majority. (See Hilchot Ishut 3:12.)

We may conclude that, before nisu'in, the Rambam does not consider the girl as having the authority to receive her own get. This opinion is accepted by most authorities and is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:4). The Shulchan Aruch, however, also mentions the opinion of Tosafot, who maintain that the girl possesses this authority.

46.

I.e., a girl between the age of twelve and twelve and a half, who has manifested signs of physical maturity. She is already considered to be past majority with regard to certain dimensions of Torah law. Nevertheless, her father is still granted authority over her in certain contexts. (See Hilchot Ishut 2:1, 3:11.)

47.

A married girl below the age of majority, by contrast, may not appoint an agent to receive her get even if her father dies or her marriage has been consummated (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 141:3.)

48.

If the girl's father consecrates her, the kiddushin are effective according to Scriptural law, and a divorce is required. If, by contrast, the girl's father died, and her mother, her brother or she herself established a marriage bond, it is not binding according to Scriptural law and a get is not required. Instead, this marriage can be dissolved through the rite of mi'un, as described in Hilchot Ishut 4:7.

49.

The Ramah (Even HaEzer 141:6) states that this refers to a girl of six or seven, depending on her intellectual capacities.

50.

If, however, a minor's father is alive, he can accept a get on her behalf regardless of her age or degree of understanding. Rashi (Gittin 64b) differs and maintains that if she is unable to make distinctions, she cannot be divorced even via her father. Although the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:6) quotes both opinions, it appears to favor that of the Rambam.

51.

E.g., a man whose wife says she is repulsed by him (Hilchot Ishut 14:8), a man who was married to a woman for ten years without her bearing a child (Hilchot Ishut 15:7), a man who becomes afflicted by [constant] bad breath or an odor from his nose, one who becomes a collector of dog feces, a miner of copper or a tanner or one who becomes a leper (Hilchot Ishut 25:11-12) or a priest who marries a divorcee (Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 17:7).

52.

The application of this law is not confined to Eretz Yisrael or to the era when the Sanhedrin (the High Court of Law) was in power.

53.

Rav Mesharshia states that the Rabbis deemed the get unacceptable, lest women become accustomed to hiring gentiles for this purpose (Bava Batra 48a). In the Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo notes that Gittin 88b appears to reject Rav Mesharshia's view and states that a get that was forced on a man by gentiles is void entirely. (This indeed is the ruling of Rashi, Rabbenu Nissim and Rabbenu Asher.) In his Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 134:5), Rav Yosef Karo's wording is not specific when dealing with this issue. The Beit Shmuel 134:10 states that such a get is void.

54.

See Hilchot Mechirah 10:1, which states that such a sale is acceptable, after the fact. Nevertheless, if the seller notifies the witnesses that he was compelled to sell against his will, the sale is nullified.

55.

The Rambam's statements have implications far beyond their immediate halachic context. The Rambam is saying that the fundamental desire of every Jew is to affirm his Jewishness and observe the Torah and its mitzvot. Even when a person's conscious mind does not necessarily consent to this inner motivation, it is at work, molding his character without his knowledge. And at times, either because of undesirable circumstances - being compelled against his will as above - or because of desirable ones - an expression of Divine favor - this inner drive will surface.

Gerushin - Chapter Three

1

A get that is not written for the sake of the man [initiating] the divorce and for the sake of the woman who is being divorced is not valid.

What is implied? A scribe wrote a get to learn [scribal arts] or to teach them, and a husband came and discovered that the get was written with his name; the name of the woman was the same as his wife's name; and the name of the city the same as the name of his city. If he took [this get] and used it to divorce [his wife], the divorce is void.1

א

כָּל גֵּט שֶׁלֹּא נִכְתַּב לְשֵׁם הָאִישׁ הַמְגָרֵשׁ וּלְשֵׁם הָאִשָּׁה הַמִּתְגָּרֶשֶׁת אֵינוֹ גֵּט. כֵּיצַד. סוֹפֵר שֶׁכָּתַב גֵּט לְלַמֵּד אוֹ לְהִתְלַמֵּד וּבָא הַבַּעַל וּמָצָא שֵׁם שֶׁנִּכְתַּב בְּגֵט זֶה כִּשְׁמוֹ וְשֵׁם הָאִשָּׁה כְּשֵׁם אִשְׁתּוֹ וְשֵׁם הָעִיר כְּשֵׁם עִירוֹ וּנְטָלוֹ וְגֵרֵשׁ בּוֹ אֵינוֹ גֵּט:

2

Furthermore, [a get is also void in the following instance:] [A man] had a get written so that he could divorce his wife and changed his mind. An inhabitant of his city discovered it and told him: "My name is the same as yours, and my wife's name is the same as your wife's." Although [the second man] took it and used it to divorce his wife, it is invalid,2 despite the fact that it was written in order to effect a divorce.

ב

יֶתֶר עַל זֶה כָּתַב לְגָרֵשׁ אֵת אִשְׁתּוֹ וְנִמְלַךְ וּמָצָא בֶּן עִירוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ שְׁמִי כְּשִׁמְךָ וְשֵׁם אִשְׁתִּי כְּשֵׁם אִשְׁתְּךָ וּנְטָלוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ וְגֵרֵשׁ בּוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּכְתַּב לְשֵׁם גֵּרוּשִׁין אֵינוֹ גֵּט:

3

Furthermore, [a get is also void in the following instance:] [A man] had two wives with the same name, and he wrote a get with the intent of divorcing the older one, and changed his mind and used it to divorce the younger one. The divorce is invalid. Although it was written for the sake of the man [initiating] the divorce, it was not written for the sake of the woman who is being divorced.

ג

יֶתֶר עַל זֶה מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ שְׁתֵּי נָשִׁים שֶׁשְּׁמוֹתֵיהֶן שָׁווֹת וְכָתַב לְגָרֵשׁ אֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה וְנִמְלַךְ וְגֵרֵשׁ בּוֹ אֶת הַקְּטַנָּה אֵינוֹ גֵּט. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּכְתַּב לְשֵׁם הָאִישׁ הַמְגָרֵשׁ לֹא נִכְתַּב לְשֵׁם זוֹ שֶׁנִּתְגָּרְשָׁה בּוֹ:

4

Moreover, [in the above situation,] if he tells the scribe: "Write the get, and I will use it to divorce whichever one I desire," and the scribe wrote the get with that intent, and the husband divorced one of his wives, the status of the divorce is a matter of doubt.3

Whenever a get was not written with the proper intent, it remains void, even if the scribe rewrites the letters with the proper intent.4

ד

יֶתֶר עַל כֵּן אָמַר לְסוֹפֵר כְּתֹב וְאֵי זוֹ שֶׁאֶרְצֶה אֲגָרֵשׁ בּוֹ וְכָתַב הַסּוֹפֵר עַל דַּעַת זוֹ וְגֵרֵשׁ בּוֹ אַחַת מֵהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה סָפֵק גֵּרוּשִׁין. וְכָל גֵּט שֶׁכְּתָבוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֶעֱבִיר עָלָיו קֻלְמוֹס לִשְׁמָהּ אֵינוֹ גֵּט:

5

When a man writes a get [with the intent of] divorcing his wife, but he changes his mind and does not divorce her, he may not divorce her with this same get another time should he so desire, if he entered into privacy with her after [the get] was written.

If, however, he did divorce her with this old get, the divorce is effective, and she may remarry on this basis without any qualms.5 For [the get] was written for her sake and was given to her now in the presence of witnesses, as the law requires.

Why at the outset should it not be used for divorce? [This is] a Rabbinic decree, lest [people] say: "Her get preceded [the birth of] her son."

ה

מִי שֶׁכָּתַב [גֵּט] לְגָרֵשׁ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ וְנִמְלַךְ וְלֹא גֵּרְשָׁהּ וְנִתְיַחֵד עִמָּהּ אַחַר שֶׁכְּתָבוֹ לֹא יְגָרְשֶׁנָהּ בְּאוֹתוֹ הַגֵּט פַּעַם אַחֶרֶת כְּשֶׁיִּרְצֶה לְגָרְשָׁהּ. וְאִם גֵּרְשָׁהּ בְּאוֹתוֹ הַגֵּט הַיָּשָׁן הֲרֵי זוֹ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת וְתִנָּשֵׂא בּוֹ לְכַתְּחִלָּה שֶׁהֲרֵי נִכְתַּב לִשְׁמָהּ וַהֲרֵי נָתַן לָהּ עַתָּה בְּעֵדִים כְּהִלְכָתוֹ. וְלָמָּה לֹא יְגָרְשֶׁנָהּ בּוֹ לְכַתְּחִלָּה גְּזֵרָה שֶׁמָּא יֹאמְרוּ גִּטָּהּ קוֹדֵם לִבְנָהּ:

6

[The following rules apply when a man] tells a scribe, "Write a get for the sake of so and so, and it will remain in my possession. When I marry her, I will divorce her with it." If [the scribe] writes [such a get], and the man marries her and then he divorces her with it, the divorce is void. [The rationale is] that the woman could not be divorced when the get was written. Thus, it is considered not to have been written for the sake of divorce.

If, however, [the man] tells [the scribe]: "Write [a get] for the woman who is consecrated to me. After I consummate the marriage, I will divorce her," should he consummate the marriage and divorce her with such [a get], the divorce is binding.6

If a man had [a get] written for his yevamah, and he divorced her with it after he performed the rite of yibbum, the status of the divorce is doubtful, for she was not his wife in an absolute sense7 when [the get] was written.

ו

אָמַר לְסוֹפֵר כְּתֹב גֵּט לִפְלוֹנִית וְיִהְיֶה עִמִּי לִכְשֶׁאֶשָּׂאֶנָּה אֲגָרְשֶׁנָּה בּוֹ וְנִכְתַּב וּנְשָׂאָהּ וְגֵרְשָׁהּ בּוֹ אֵינוֹ גֵּט. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא הָיְתָה בַּת גֵּרוּשִׁין מִמֶּנּוּ כְּשֶׁנִּכְתַּב גֵּט זֶה וְנִמְצָא שֶׁנִּכְתַּב שֶׁלֹּא לְשֵׁם גֵּרוּשִׁין. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר לוֹ כְּתֹב אוֹתוֹ לַאֲרוּסָתִי לִכְשֶׁאֶשָּׂאֶנָּה אֲגָרְשֶׁנָּה וּכְנָסָהּ וְגֵרְשָׁהּ בּוֹ כָּשֵׁר. כְּתָבוֹ לִיבִמְתּוֹ וְאַחַר שֶׁיִּבְּמָהּ גֵּרְשָׁהּ בּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה סְפֵק גֵּרוּשִׁין הוֹאִיל וְאֵינָהּ אִשְׁתּוֹ גְּמוּרָה כְּשֶׁכְּתָבוֹ:

7

In order to assist scribes,8 our Sages permitted them to write the standard texts of gittin [beforehand] and leave empty the place for the man's [name], the woman's [name], the time and the place for [the sentence]: "Behold, you are permitted [to marry] any man."9 Thus, he can write [these parts of the get] for the sake of the man who gives the get and for the sake of the woman who receives it.10 Afterwards, he should have the witnesses sign for the sake of [the husband and the wife].

ז

מִפְּנֵי תַּקָּנַת סוֹפֵר הִתִּירוּ חֲכָמִים לְסוֹפֵר שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב טָפְסֵי גִּטִּין וְיַנִּיחַ מְקוֹם הָאִישׁ וּמְקוֹם הָאִשָּׁה וּמְקוֹם הַזְּמַן וּמְקוֹם הֲרֵי אַתְּ מֻתֶּרֶת לְכָל אָדָם כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּכְתְּבֵם לְשֵׁם הָאִישׁ הַמְגָרֵשׁ וּלְשֵׁם הָאִשָּׁה הַמִּתְגָּרֶשֶׁת וְאַחַר כָּךְ יַחְתְּמוּ הָעֵדִים לִשְׁמוֹ וְלִשְׁמָהּ:

8

[The following rule applies if] a scribe wrote a get for the sake of the husband and the wife as required, and the witnesses signed without having that intent. Since [the husband] gives it to [his wife] in the presence of witnesses who observe the transfer, the get is valid [according to Scriptural law]. It is, however, {unacceptable [by Rabbinic decree].

Why is [it merely unacceptable and] not void?}11 Because the requirement for witnesses to sign the get [was instituted] only as a measure to aid society.12

There is an opinion that states that if the witnesses signed without the proper intent, since it as if it were a forgery, the get is void. Similarly, they maintain that if one of the witnesses was unacceptable, or if it was signed by one acceptable witness only, it is void even though it was transferred in the presence of witnesses.13

This ruling does not appear [correct] to me. For although [the get] resembles a forgery, it is not an absolute forgery. [Hence,] since it was transferred in the presence of acceptable witnesses, it is [merely] deemed unacceptable by Rabbinic decree.14

ח

סוֹפֵר שֶׁכָּתַב הַגֵּט לִשְׁמוֹ וְלִשְׁמָהּ כְּהִלְכָתוֹ וְחָתְמוּ הָעֵדִים שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ הוֹאִיל וּמְסָרוּ לָהּ בְּעֵדִים הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט. (אֶלָּא שֶׁהוּא פָּסוּל. וְלָמָּה אֵינוֹ בָּטֵל) לְפִי שֶׁאֵין הָעֵדִים חוֹתְמִין עַל הַגֵּט אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי תִּקּוּן הָעוֹלָם. וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵר שֶׁאִם חָתְמוּ הָעֵדִים שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ הוֹאִיל וְהוּא כִּמְזֻיָּף מִתּוֹכוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט בָּטֵל. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה אֶחָד מֵעֵדָיו פָּסוּל אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה בּוֹ עֵד אֶחָד בִּלְבַד כָּשֵׁר. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּמְסַר בְּעֵדִים הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט בָּטֵל. וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה לִי דָּבָר זֶה אֶלָּא כִּמְזֻיָּף לֹא מְזֻיָּף וַדַּאי וְהוֹאִיל וְנִמְסַר בְּעֵדֵי מְסִירָה כְּשֵׁרִין הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם:

9

[The following rule applies when a person] bringing a get loses it, and then it is discovered. If he lost it in a place not frequented by caravans - even if he found it after a long time had passed - we presume that the get that he lost is the get that was found and [the woman] may be divorced with it.15

[However, different rules apply if a get] was lost in a place frequented by caravans. If it was discovered immediately, before any of the passersby had tarried there, or if16 it was found in the container in which it was [originally] placed, and the agent can recognize the length and the width of the get that was rolled up within, we can presume that [it is the same get], and [the woman] may be divorced with it.17

ט

הַמֵּבִיא גֵּט וְאָבַד מִמֶּנּוּ וּמְצָאוֹ. אִם אָבַד מִמֶּנּוּ בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין הַשַּׁיָּרוֹת מְצוּיוֹת אֲפִלּוּ מְצָאוֹ לְאַחַר זְמַן מְרֻבֶּה הֲרֵי זֶה בְּחֶזְקַת שֶׁהַגֵּט שֶׁאָבַד מִמֶּנּוּ הוּא הַגֵּט שֶׁנִּמְצָא וְתִתְגָּרֵשׁ בּוֹ. אָבַד בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁהַשַּׁיָּרוֹת מְצוּיוֹת אִם מְצָאוֹ מִיָּד וַעֲדַיִן לֹא שָׁהָה אָדָם שָׁם מִן הָעוֹבְרִים אוֹ שֶׁמְּצָאוֹ בַּכְּלִי שֶׁהִנִּיחוֹ בּוֹ וְיֵשׁ לוֹ טְבִיעוּת עַיִן בְּאָרְכּוֹ וְרָחְבּוֹ שֶׁל גֵּט שֶׁהָיָה כָּרוּךְ הֲרֵי הוּא בְּחֶזְקָתוֹ וְתִתְגָּרֵשׁ בּוֹ:

10

When it was established that there was another man in that place whose name was the same as the name written in the get,18 if another man passes by the place [the get was lost] - even if he did not tarry there - we suspect that the get that was found belongs to the other person.

If the woman is divorced with this get, the status of the divorce is doubtful. If, however, another person has not passed by this place, we presume that [the get that was discovered was the one that was lost], even though there are two people with the same name.19

י

הֻחְזַק בְּאוֹתוֹ הַמָּקוֹם אִישׁ אֶחָד שֶׁשְּׁמוֹ כִּשְׁמוֹ שֶׁבַּגֵּט חוֹשְׁשִׁים שֶׁמָּא גֵּט זֶה הַנִּמְצָא שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ הָאִישׁ הָאַחֵר הוּא הוֹאִיל וְעָבַר אָדָם שָׁם וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא שָׁהָה. וְאִם נִתְגָּרְשָׁה בּוֹ הֲרֵי זוֹ סָפֵק מְגֹרֶשֶׁת. אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָבַר אָדָם שָׁם הֲרֵי זֶה בְּחֶזְקָתוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֻחְזְקוּ שָׁם שְׁנַיִם שֶׁשְּׁמוֹתֵיהֶן שָׁוִין:

11

If the witnesses knew of a clearly distinctive sign by means of which they could recognize the get20 - e.g., they said it had a hole next to a particular letter, or they said: "We signed only one get with these names" - we presume that [the get that was discovered was the one that was lost], and [the woman] may be divorced with it.

[This ruling applies] even when [the get] was discovered after a long time had passed, [it was lost in] a place frequented by caravans, and it was established that there were two [men] with the same names.21

יא

הָיָה לָעֵדִים בַּגֵּט סִימָן מֻבְהָק כְּגוֹן שֶׁאָמְרוּ נֶקֶב יֵשׁ בּוֹ בְּצַד אוֹת פְּלוֹנִית. אוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ מֵעוֹלָם לֹא חָתַמְנוּ אֶלָּא עַל גֵּט אֶחָד שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ שֵׁמוֹת כְּשֵׁמוֹת אֵלּוּ הֲרֵי זֶה בְּחֶזְקָתוֹ וְתִתְגָּרֵשׁ בּוֹ וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמְּצָאוֹ אַחַר זְמַן מְרֻבֶּה וּבְמָקוֹם שֶׁהַשַּׁיָּרוֹת מְצוּיוֹת וְהֻחְזְקוּ שָׁם שְׁנַיִם שֶׁשְּׁמוֹתֵיהֶן שָׁוִין:

12

[The following rules apply when] two men [with the same names]22 sent gittin together, and they were interchanged [and it is no longer known who sent which get]. Both gittin should be given to each of the women in the presence of witnesses who observe the transfer. [In this manner, both divorces are acceptable.]23

Therefore, if one of the gittin was lost, the second get is void.24

יב

שְׁנַיִם שֶׁשָּׁלְחוּ שְׁנֵי גִּטִּין וְנִתְעָרְבוּ נוֹתְנִין שְׁנֵיהֶן לָזוֹ וּשְׁנֵיהֶן לָזוֹ בְּעֵדֵי מְסִירָה. לְפִיכָךְ אִם אָבַד אֶחָד מֵהֶן הֲרֵי הַשֵּׁנִי בָּטֵל:

13

[The following rules apply when] a man has two names and a woman has two names. When a divorce is initiated, [the husband] should write the names that he and his wife use most frequently and that they are most popularly known by. [The get] should say: "So and so,25 or by whatever names that he is called, divorces so and so or by whatever names she is called."26

If he writes [the husband's] or [the wife's] nickname,27 [the get] is acceptable.28

יג

מִי שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ שְׁנֵי שֵׁמוֹת. וְכֵן אִשָּׁה שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ שְׁנֵי שֵׁמוֹת. כְּשֶׁמְּגָרֵשׁ כּוֹתֵב שְׁמוֹ וּשְׁמָהּ שֶׁהֵן רְגִילִין בּוֹ וִידוּעִין בּוֹ בְּיוֹתֵר וְאוֹמֵר אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי וְכָל שֵׁם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ גֵּרֵשׁ אִשָּׁה פְּלוֹנִית וְכָל שֵׁם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ. וְאִם כָּתַב חֲנִיכָתוֹ וַחֲנִיכָתָהּ כָּשֵׁר:

14

If the name that was less popularly known was written [in the get], and it was also written: "or by whatever names he is called," the get is not acceptable.29

If the name of [the husband] or [the wife,] or the city in which either of them lives30 is written incorrectly, the get is void,31 despite the fact that the phrase "or by whatever names he is called" was also written in the get.

יד

כָּתַב הַשֵּׁם שֶׁאֵינָם יְדוּעִים בּוֹ בְּיוֹתֵר וְכָתַב כָּל שֵׁם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל. שִׁנָּה שְׁמוֹ אוֹ שְׁמָהּ וְשֵׁם עִירוֹ אוֹ שֵׁם עִירָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכָּתַב כָּל שֵׁם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ וְכָל שֵׁם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ אֵינוֹ גֵּט:

15

All are fit to write a get, with the exception of five: a gentile, a servant, a deaf-mute, a mentally incompetent person and a minor. A woman may even write her get herself.

When a Jew becomes an apostate to false gods,32 or he desecrates the Sabbath in public, he is regarded like a gentile with respect to all matters [and is not fit to write a get].33

טו

הַכּל כְּשֵׁרִין לִכְתֹּב אֶת הַגֵּט חוּץ מֵחֲמִשָּׁה. עַכּוּ''ם וְעֶבֶד וְחֵרֵשׁ וְשׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן. אֲפִלּוּ אִשָּׁה עַצְמָהּ כּוֹתֶבֶת אֶת גִּטָּהּ. יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהֵמִיר לְעַכּוּ''ם אוֹ שֶׁהוּא מְחַלֵּל שַׁבָּתוֹת בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא הֲרֵי הוּא כְּעַכּוּ''ם לְכָל דְּבָרָיו:

16

Why are these five individuals [prevented] from writing gittin? Because a get must be written for the sake of the man initiating the divorce and the woman receiving the divorce, and a gentile writes with his own intent.34 A deaf-mute, a mentally incompetent person and a minor are not of [sufficient] mental capacity. And the laws of divorce and marriage do not apply to a servant; therefore, [in this area] he is disqualified; he is like a gentile in all respects.

If one of these five individuals writes a get, it is void,35 even if it was signed by acceptable witnesses and given in the presence of acceptable witnesses.

טז

וְלָמָּה אֵין כּוֹתְבִין אֵלּוּ הַחֲמִשָּׁה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ הַכּוֹתֵב לִכְתֹּב לְשֵׁם הָאִישׁ הַמְגָרֵשׁ וּלְשֵׁם הָאִשָּׁה הַמִּתְגָּרֶשֶׁת וְהָעַכּוּ''ם עַל דַּעַת עַצְמוֹ הוּא כּוֹתֵב. וְחֵרֵשׁ שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן אֵינָן בְּנֵי דֵּעָה. וְהָעֶבֶד אֵינוֹ בְּתוֹרַת גִּטִּין וְקִדּוּשִׁין לְפִיכָךְ הוּא פָּסוּל כְּעַכּוּ''ם לְכָל דְּבָרָיו. וְאִם כָּתַב הַגֵּט אֶחָד מֵחֲמִשָּׁה אֵלּוּ אֵינוֹ גֵּט אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחָתְמוּ בּוֹ עֵדִים כְּשֵׁרִים וְנִמְסַר לָהּ בִּכְשֵׁרִים:

17

When one of these five individuals writes the standard portion of the get and leaves the essential portions - i.e., the place for the man's [name], the woman's [name], the date and the sentence: "Behold, you are permitted [to marry] any man" - unwritten, and these were written by an adult mentally competent Jew with the proper intent, the get is acceptable.36

יז

כָּתַב אֶחָד מֵחֲמִשָּׁה אֵלּוּ טֹפֶס הַגֵּט וְהִנִּיחַ מָקוֹם הַתֹּרֶף שֶׁהוּא מְקוֹם הָאִישׁ וּמְקוֹם הָאִשָּׁה וּמְקוֹם הַזְּמַן וּמְקוֹם הֲרֵי אַתְּ מֻתֶּרֶת לְכָל אָדָם וּכְתָבָן הַפִּקֵּחַ הַגָּדוֹל הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִי לִשְׁמוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט כָּשֵׁר:

18

At the outset, one may allow a deaf-mute, a mentally incompetent person or a minor to write the standard portions of a get, provided they are supervised by a mentally competent adult.37

A gentile or a servant, by contrast, should not be allowed to write the standard portions of a get at the outset, even when supervised by a Jew. For permission to write the standard portions of a get at the outset was granted only as assistance to scribes, as we have explained.38

יח

מֻתָּר לְהָנִיחַ חֵרֵשׁ שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן לִכְתֹּב טֹפֶס הַגֵּט לְכַתְּחִלָּה וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה גָּדוֹל הַפִּקֵּחַ עוֹמֵד עַל גַּבָּן. אֲבָל הָעַכּוּ''ם וְהָעֶבֶד אֵין כּוֹתְבִין הַטֹּפֶס לְכַתְּחִלָּה וַאֲפִלּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹמֵד עַל גַּבָּן שֶׁלֹּא הִתִּירוּ לִכְתֹּב טָפְסֵי גִּטִּין שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ לְכַתְּחִלָּה אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי תַּקָּנַת סוֹפֵר כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

19

When a man writes a get on the Sabbath or on Yom Kippur, without knowing of the transgression,39 and gives it to [his wife], the divorce is effective.40 If it was written and signed on that day41 as a willful transgression and given to her, the divorce is not effective. For the witnesses [who signed] are disqualified by Scriptural law.

If it was written42 on a holiday43 as a willful transgression and given to her in the presence of acceptable witnesses on the holiday, the get is unacceptable [by virtue of Rabbinic decree].

יט

הַכּוֹתֵב גֵּט בְּשַׁבָּת אוֹ בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים בִּשְׁגָגָה וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ הֲרֵי זוֹ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת. כְּתָבוֹ וַחֲתָמוֹ בּוֹ בַּיּוֹם בְּזָדוֹן וּנְתָנוֹ לָהּ אֵינָהּ מְגֹרֶשֶׁת שֶׁהֲרֵי הָעֵדִים פְּסוּלִין מִן הַתּוֹרָה. כְּתָבוֹ בְּיוֹם טוֹב בְּזָדוֹן וְנִמְסַר לָהּ בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים כְּשֵׁרִים בְּיוֹם טוֹב הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּט פָּסוּל:

Footnotes
1.

For the get was not written with the intent of being used to effect a divorce (Gittin 24b).

2.

For the get was not written for the sake of the man [initiating] the divorce and for the sake of the woman who is being divorced (Ibid.).

3.

This ruling depends on the concept of b'reirah - i.e., that since ultimately the husband's intent is clarified, it is considered retroactively as if this had been his intent at the outset.

This concept of b'reirah is relevant not only in the present context, but also with regard to many other contexts discussed in the Talmud and later Rabbinic works. Generally, the rule that is followed is that with regard to questions involving Scriptural law, the concept of b'reirah is not accepted, but with regard to Rabbinic law it is accepted. On this basis, the commentaries question the Rambam's ruling. In the Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo explains that although with regard to following stringencies, we say that the concept of b'reirah does not apply to questions of Scriptural law, it does apply with regard to the acceptance of a leniency. Therefore, although the woman must consider herself divorced, she does not have the prerogative of remarrying. On this basis, Rav Yosef Karo quotes the Rambam's wording in the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 130:4). (See the Beit Shmuel 130:4, who also discusses this issue.)

4.

I.e., tracing over the letters is ineffective, for writing on top of other writing is insignificant (Gittin 20a). A parallel exists with regard to the Sabbath laws. If a person traces over letters on the Sabbath, he is not considered to have violated the forbidden labor of writing (Hilchot Shabbat 11:16).

Although the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 130:5) appears to favor the Rambam's ruling, it also quotes the opinion of the Rashba, which states that consideration must be made of a get given under such circumstances.

5.

As mentioned in the notes on Chapter 2, Halachah 2, the Rambam does not consider a get that was written before it was given to be predated. Other commentaries do, however, and it is their view that is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 127:5).

According to those authorities, such a get can be acceptable only when it was sent via an agent. This relates to another difference of opinion about this issue. The Tur (Even HaEzer 148) states that this ruling applies only when the get remained in the husband's possession until after he emerged from privacy with his wife. If he gave it to an agent beforehand, it is void. In the Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo states that the Rambam does not accept this distinction, and in the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 148:1), although he mentions the Tur's view, he favors his own interpretation of the Rambam's decision.

6.

This law applies only after the fact. At the outset, such a get should not be used, as reflected in the previous halachah.

When quoting this law, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 132:1) follows the opinion of the Tur and Tosafot, who differ with the Rambam and state that the get is acceptable only when it was post-dated, and the date on which it was given was mentioned. If the date on which the get was written was mentioned, the get is unacceptable. (It is worse than an ordinary "old get," because in that instance, the couple merely entered into privacy together; we are not certain that they had relations. In this instance, by contrast, the marriage bond was consummated.)

7.

Although the yevam does not have to consecrate his yevamah, he also does not have to divorce her. Hence, there is a question whether the connection between them is sufficient for the get to be acceptable.

8.

So that they would have a get ready, in order for them to prepare it for a husband in a relatively short time. In this manner, the scribe can use his free time for a useful purpose (Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Gittin 3:2).

9.

These are the parts of the get that are of fundamental importance, and which are referred to as the toref.

10.

On this issue there is a difference of opinion in the Mishnah (loc. cit.) between the Sages and Rabbi Eliezer. It appears that the opinion cited by the Rambam above is that of the Sages. Thus, this ruling is worthy of notice, because it represents a change of mind on the Rambam's part, for he writes in his Commentary on the Mishnah that the halachah follows Rabbi Eliezer. (It is also noteworthy that in the Rambam's manuscripts of his Commentary on the Mishnah, the latter statement was rubbed out and written over, implying that the Rambam deliberated back and forth about the matter when composing that text. See the Kovetz and others, who discuss this issue.)

See also the Beit Shmuel 131:2, who states that the Shulchan Aruch does not mention this law, because most authorities differ with the Rambam and do not grant a scribe such license. (See also Halachah 17 and notes.)

11.

There is a question whether the words within the brackets { } are the Rambam's or a printer's addition. There is, however, no difference in law between the two versions.

12.

As stated in Chapter 1, Halachah 15, it is not necessary for witnesses to sign the get according to Scriptural law. Our Sages required such signatures only to afford an advantage for the woman lest the witnesses die.

13.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 130:17) follows the Rambam's approach and rules that such a get is unacceptable by Rabbinic decree, but not void.

14.

The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 131:6) quote the Rambam's decision, while mentioning the minority opinion.

15.

This and the following two halachot are dependent on the Rambam's understanding of a Talmudic passage that appears in Gittin 27a and Bava Metzia 18a. Many authorities differ with the Rambam in the interpretation of this passage, and it is their view that is favored by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 132:4), although the Rambam's view is also quoted.

According to these views, if there are two people who, with their wives, share the same name in the same town, there is a difficulty if the get was not discovered immediately.

The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) also mentions a difficulty when a person was seen passing by the place where the get was lost, even when the place is not frequented by caravans and it is not known that two people of the same name live in that place. His ruling is, however, questioned by the Beit Shmuel 132:10 and others.

16.

The commentaries question why the Rambam requires both factors, that the get was in its original container, and that it could be recognized. Seemingly, one factor alone is sufficient. Indeed, when discussing this issue, the Shulchan Aruch (op. cit.) requires only one factor: either that it was found in the original container, or that the agent could recognize the get.

Note the Noda BiY'hudah (Even HaEzer, Volume II, Responsum 62), who supports the Rambam's ruling, explaining that there are various levels of recognition. Since the agent recognizes the get only by its length and width, it is necessary that it also be found in its container.

17.

Implied is that if enough time passed for one of the passersby to wait there, the get is unacceptable.

18.

And whose wife's name is the same as the woman's name written in the get.

19.

The Ramah (loc. cit.) states that if the name of the husband's town was mentioned, and we know that there is only one couple with the name mentioned in the get, we are not concerned about the fact that caravans frequent the place. We do not suspect that there are two towns with the same name. The Beit Shmuel 131:16 questions the Ramah's ruling.

20.

A sign is, however, necessary. According to the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.), it is sufficient for the agent who lost the get to say that he recognizes it; witnesses, by contrast, must give signs through which it can be identified (Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.).

21.

When quoting this law, the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.) states that if there are other individuals who share the same name as the witnesses, the witnesses must also recognize their own signatures.

22.

And whose wives have the same names.

23.

I.e., the agent[s] give both gittin to one woman, and thus she receives the get intended for her. They then take the gittin from her and give them to the second woman. There is no necessity for the woman to know which get was intended for her originally (Gittin 86b; Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 132:3).

24.

The Maggid Mishneh (quoted in the Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.) explains that if, however, the agent gives the get that remains to one or the other of the women, the status of the divorce[s] is in doubt.

25.

I.e., his most popular name.

26.

I.e., according to the Rambam, there is no obligation to mention the other names with which the husband or wife is known. Other authorities differ and require that all the names by which a man or a woman is known should be mentioned in the get. This latter view is cited by the Ramah (Even HaEzer 129:1).

This issue is particularly relevant today, when many individuals have Jewish names with which they are called to the Torah, and secular names by which they are known by and large. The Ramah (loc. cit.:16) rules that the Jewish name should be mentioned first, but the secular name should also be mentioned in the get.

27.

I.e., a derivative of the person's name by which he or she is often called - e.g., Danny, which is a derivative of either Dan or Daniel. Other interpretations of the term chanichah are offered by different commentaries.

28.

The Ra'avad states that this applies only when the nickname is more extensively used than the person's actual name. Note the discussion of this issue in the Beit Shmuel 129:1. The Beit Shmuel also discusses whether the intent is that, after the fact, a woman divorced with such a get may remarry, or whether the intent is that at the outset such a get may be given.

29.

By Rabbinic decree. If, however, both names are mentioned in the get, the get is acceptable despite the fact that the less-used name is mentioned first (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 129:2).

30.

At present, it is not customary to mention the woman's city or the man's city. Instead, the location in which the get is given is mentioned.

31.

I.e., even according to Scriptural law.

32.

Our translation is based on the manuscript copies of the Mishneh Torah. The standard printed text was changed by the church's censors.

The equivalence between the desecration of the Sabbath and the worship of false gods is discussed by the Rambam at the conclusion of Hilchot Shabbat, based on Horayot 8a.

33.

Note the Maggid Mishneh, who states that although an apostate is not capable of writing a get, if he is married to a Jewess, he may - and indeed should - divorce her with a get. Just as the kiddushin he gives establish a viable marriage bond (Hilchot Ishut 4:15), a get that he gives can dissolve such a bond.

34.

Even if an observant Jew stands over him, and tells him the intent with which he should write the get, it is void. (See Hilchot Tefillin 1:11.)

The Rambam puts the emphasis on the gentile's lack of proper intent to explain why a get written by an apostate is unacceptable. For the Rambam could have employed the same reason given with regard to a servant - that the laws of marriage and divorce do not apply to him - to exclude a gentile. He chose to give this reason to allude to the law concerning an apostate because an apostate also cannot be relied upon to write with the proper intent (Beit Shmuel 123:5).

The reasons given by the Rambam are significant in another context. As mentioned in the notes on Chapter 2, Halachah 1, there is a difference of opinion among the authorities regarding whether or not the scribe writing the get must be appointed as an agent. All the individuals mentioned are not capable of serving as agents. Since that rationale is not given, it would appear that the Rambam does not require such an appointment. Nevertheless, other sources lead to the opposite conclusion.

35.

The Maggid Mishneh and the Beit Yosef (Even HaEzer 123) quote other opinions, which maintain that such gittin are disqualified by Rabbinic law only. Hence, because of this difference of opinion, the status of the divorce is in doubt (Chelkat Mechokek 123:6).

36.

The Ramah (Even HaEzer 123:3) quotes the opinion of the Tur, who maintains that in such an instance the get is deemed unacceptable by Rabbinic law.

37.

If these individuals are supervised, they will write the get with the proper intent. Hence, there is no reason to negate the feasibility of using the standard portions of the get that they wrote, out of fear that they will write the essential portions without the proper intent.

38.

Halachah 7 above.

39.

It appears that the Rambam's intent is that the get was written by the husband without his knowing of the transgression and not signed. It was given to his wife in the presence of witnesses. Although the same law would apply if the get were signed in unknowing violation of the holy day, the Rambam does not mention that possibility, because it is highly unlikely that both the man writing the get and the witnesses would not know of the transgression (Kessef Mishneh).

40.

Since the transgression was performed unknowingly, the get is acceptable. (See the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Chulin 1:1.)

41.

Our translation follows the standard printed text of the Mishneh Torah. There are other versions that state "If it was written and signed on a holiday...."

The difference between the two versions is that the prohibition against forbidden labor is less severe on the holidays than on the Sabbath and Yom Kippur. The holidays are mentioned to emphasize that the get is void even in such an instance.

42.

By the husband and was not signed by witnesses.

43.

Here a holiday is mentioned rather than the Sabbath, because if a get were written as a willful transgression in public on the Sabbath, the writer would be considered to be an apostate, and a get that he wrote would be disqualified by Scriptural law, as mentioned in Halachah 15. Since the desecration of the holidays is not so severe, the person is not considered to be an apostate. The get he wrote is, however, disqualified by Rabbinic decree.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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