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The tractate of Gittin discusses the laws of the get, the biblically mandated bill of divorce. The final Mishnah of the tractate discusses acts or behaviors that constitute grounds for divorce.

The Tractate concludes with a discussion regarding the following verses from Deuteronomy (24:1-3): "When a man takes a wife and is intimate with her, and it happens that she does not find favor in his eyes because he discovers in her an immoral matter, and he writes for her a bill of divorce and places it into her hand, and sends her from his house. And she leaves his house and goes and marries another man, if the latter husband despises her and writes her a bill of divorce, and places it into her hand and sends her from his house, or if the latter husband who took her as a wife dies..."

"And he sends her from his house, and she leaves his house and goes and marries another man."

The verse refers to the second husband as "another," a somewhat pejorative term, implying that he is not the equal of the first husband. For the first husband banished this wicked woman, who was involved in immoral acts, from his home, whereas the second one invited her into his home...

If the second husband is meritorious, he, too, will divorce her, as the verse continues, "if the latter husband despises her..." If he is not meritorious, she will bury him, as the verse concludes, "or if the latter husband who took her as a wife dies..." He is deserving of death for welcoming this immoral woman into his home.

The Talmud then quotes a verse from Malachi (2:16): "כי שנא שלח". The ambiguous wording of this verse lends itself to different translations/interpretations. Rabbi Judah says, "If you despise [your wife], send her away!" Rabbi Yochanan says, "Despised is the one who send away [his wife]."1

Indeed, the Talmud explains, these two opinions are not contradictory. Rabbi Judah is referring to a second marriage; Rabbi Yochanan to a first marriage. The fact that the dissolution of a first marriage is considered a much greater tragedy than a second marriage is borne out by the following statement:

Rabbi Elazar said: When one divorces his first wife, even the Temple Altar sheds tears, as it is said (ibid. 2: 13-14), "And this second thing you do, to cover the altar of G‑d with tears, weeping, and sighing—such that He will no longer turn to the offering, nor will He take anything willingly from your hand. And you will say, 'Why?' —Because G‑d testified between you and the wife of your youth, that you dealt treacherously with her, and she is your companion and the wife of your covenant."