In the previous Halachot we have discussed the Mitzvah of marriage. It is well-known that after a woman receives an object from her husband as Kiddushin (halachic betrothal), as is customary nowadays that a man gives a woman a ring as Kiddushin, and all conditions for a halachic Kiddushin are met, the woman is considered married for all intents and purposes.
The Method of Divorce
The Torah states (Devarim 24): “When a man takes a woman and lives with her and it will be if she does not find favor in his eyes, for he has found in her an adulterous matter, and he shall write for her a book of severance and he shall place it in her hand and send her away from his house; and when she leaves his house, she shall go and be to another man.”
The Torah thus describes a method to break the marital bond between a husband and wife and by doing so, the woman will no longer be categorized as a “married woman” and she will be permitted to marry another man. The Torah further explains that in order to break this bond, the husband must write his wife a “Book of Severance” also known as a “Get” and place this book in her hands. There are many laws pertaining to a Get comprised of many intricate and tedious details found in the Gemara in Masechet Gittin as well as in Shulchan Aruch Even Ha’Ezer and other places.
Why is a Bill of Divorce Called a “Get”?
The Tosafot in the beginning of Masechet Gittin write that the reason why a Bill of Divorce is called a “Get” is because the numerical value of the word “Get” (spelled “Gimmel, Tet”) is twelve corresponds to the number of lines written in a Get. There are other reasons for this as well. Others write a nice additional explanation which is that there is no Hebrew word in which the letters “Gimmel” and “Tet” are together one after the other. Therefore, a Bill of Divorce is called a “Get” because the letters “Gimmel” and “Tet” together symbolize separation, as does a Get which symbolizes separation as well.
Not to Act Hastily Regarding Divorce
Although the possibility to terminate a marriage indeed exists, the Gemara and Poskim write that one should not be quick to use this tool; indeed, the Mizbe’ach (Altar) sheds tears for one who divorces his first wife. Unfortunately, nowadays, there are many cases involving divorce common in the Jewish community, but this is not the Torah way. Nevertheless, if all efforts and possibilities have been exhausted and after trying to make peace between the couple, it becomes evident that the marriage cannot last, divorce is an option so that no spouse remains captive to the other. We must point out though that without a Get, there is no permissible option for the wife to marry another man, for she is a married woman; even if the couple has gone through a civil divorce, as long as the woman has not received a Get in accordance with Halacha, she is not considered divorced at all.