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: