A or ''gett'' (; he|גט, plural ) is a document in Jewish religious law which effectuates a divorce between a Jewish couple. The requirements for a ''get'' include that the document be presented by a husband to his wife. The essential part of the ' is a very short declaration: "You are hereby permitted to all men". The effect of the ''get'' is to free the woman from the marriage, and consequently she is free to marry another and that the laws of adultery no longer apply. The ' also returns to the wife the legal rights that a husband held in regard to her.


The biblical term for the divorce document, described in , is "Sefer Keritut", ( he|ספר כריתת). The word may have its origins in the Sumerian word for document, . It appears to have passed from Sumerian into Akkadian as and from there into Mishnaic Hebrew. In fact in the Mishnah, can refer to any legal document although it refers primarily to a divorce document. (Tosefet Beracha to Ki Tisa) A number of popular etymological speculations were offered by early modern Rabbinic authorities. According to ''Shiltei Giborim'', it refers to the stone agate, which purportedly has some form of anti-magnetic property symbolizing the divorce. The Gaon of Vilna posits that the Hebrew letters of Gimel and Tet of the word are the only letters of the Hebrew alphabet that cannot make a word together, again symbolizing the divorce. Baruch Epstein states that it comes from the Latin word gestus "action, gesture", which refers to any legal document. Marcus Jastrow posits a Semitic root, arguing that it derives from the Hebrew word for engraving ( he|חטט). Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg posits that after the Bar Kokhba revolt the Romans decreed that all documents be processed in a Roman court (in order to weaken Jewish nationalism). The term ''get'' may have entered the vernacular language during this time.


''Halakha'' (Jewish law) requires the following specific formalities for a to be considered valid: * A divorce document must be written;Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Gerushin 1:1 this is usually done by a sofer (professional religious scribe). It must have been written on the explicit instruction and free-willed approval of the husband, with the specific intention that it is to be used by the man and for the specific woman. It cannot be initially written with blanks to be filled in later. * It must be delivered to the wife, whose physical acceptance of the is required to complete and validate the divorce process. * There are certain detailed requirements relating to the legal and religious nature of the itself. For example: ** It must be written on a fresh document, and there must be no possibility of cleanly erasing the text. ** It may not be written on anything attached to the ground (for instance, a fig leaf). ** The may not be pre-dated. Any deviation from these requirements invalidates the and the divorce procedure. A must be given of the free will of the husband; however, consent of the wife is not biblically mandated (nevertheless, Ashkenazic tradition provides that a husband may not divorce his wife without her consent). A may not be given out of fear of any obligation either party undertook to fulfill in a separation agreement. Such an agreement may provide for matters such as custody of the children and their maintenance, and property settlement. But either party may withdraw from such an agreement, on the question of the dissolution of the marriage only, if they can satisfy the court of a genuine desire to restore matrimonial harmony. In such a situation all the recognised matrimonial obligations continue to apply. On the other hand, pecuniary conditions stipulated by the parties in the separation agreement would still be valid and enforceable, though the marriage state continues to exist.

''Mesorevet get'' (''Get'' refusal)

The laws of ''gittin'' only provide for a divorce initiated by the husband. However, the wife has the right to sue for divorce in a rabbinical court. The court, if finding just cause as prescribed in very rare cases in Jewish law, will require the husband to divorce his wife. In such cases, a husband who refused the court's demand that he divorce his wife would be subjected to various penalties in order to pressure him into granting a divorce. Such penalties included monetary punishments, and corporal punishment—including forcing the husband to spend the night at an unmarked grave (with the implication that it could become his grave). In modern-day Israel, rabbinical courts have the power to sentence a husband to prison to compel him to grant his wife a ''get''. Rabbinical courts outside of Israel do not have power to enforce such penalties. This sometimes leads to a situation in which the husband makes demands of the court and of his wife, demanding a monetary settlement or other benefits, such as child custody, in exchange for the '. Prominent Jewish feminists have fought against such demands in recent decades. Prominent Orthodox rabbis have pointed to many years of rabbinical sources that state that any coercion can invalidate a ''get'' except in the most extreme of cases, and have spoken out against "''get'' organizations", which they claim have often inflamed situations that could have otherwise been resolved amicably. Sometimes a man will completely refuse to grant a divorce. This leaves his wife with no possibility of remarriage within Orthodox Judaism. Such a woman is called a ''mesorevet get'' (literally "refused a divorce"), if a court determined she is entitled to a divorce. Such a man who refuses to give his wife a ' is frequently spurned by Orthodox communities, and excluded from communal religious activities, in an effort to force a ''get''. While it is widely assumed that the problem lies primarily in men refusing to grant a ''get'' to their wives and that it is a widespread issue, in Israel, figures released from the chief rabbinate show that women equally refuse to accept a ''get'' and that the numbers are a couple of hundred on each side. However, such a husband has the option of seeking a ''heter meah rabbanim'', while no similar option exists for the wife. In the Conservative movement a traditional ''get'' is required. However, in cases where the husband refuses to grant the ''get'' and the ''bet din'' (rabbinic court) has ruled that the husband's refusal is not justified, the marital condition may be terminated by ''hafqa'at kiddushin'', or annulment of the marriage. This requires a majority vote of the Joint ''bet din'' of the movement, which is made up of nine rabbinic scholars. Upon their authorization of the process, the ''bet din'' may issue a certificate of annulment. This protocol is viewed as extreme and is invoked only in cases of dire necessity.


The rules governing the are subject to the civil law of the country, which has precedence over the Jewish marital law. On the other hand, if a civil divorce is obtained, there is still a need under Jewish law, for the Jewish divorce procedure outlined in this article to be followed if the couple wishes to be considered divorced according to religious Jewish law or to remarry under religious law: i.e., the husband would still need to deliver the to the wife and the wife to accept it. Otherwise, the couple may be divorced under the civil law ("the law of the land") while still be considered to be married under Jewish law, with all the consequences which follow from that status. It is religiously forbidden for either spouse to remarry without a ''get''. For the man, he is in violation of Orthodox Torah law, but it is worse for the woman, since doing so is considered adultery according to Jewish law, and children conceived in it mamzerim.

In history

One of the most contentious ''gittin'' in history was probably the Get of Cleves of the late 18th century, which caused a rift between several rabbinic courts in Western Europe. The case involved a husband who at times exhibited signs of mental illness (in which paranoia was a contributing symptom) who gave his wife a ''get''. As a ''get'' can only be given by a "sane" individual, much analysis and debate ensued regarding how to classify this individual as well as the precise definition of insanity in ''halakha''. In 2013, the New York divorce coercion gang, a group of rabbis that forced ''gittin'' through the use of kidnapping and torture, was closed down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.Shaer, Matthew (September 2, 2014
"Epstein Orthodox Hit Squad"
A second one that utilized murder was closed in 2016.Gajanan, Mahita (September 7, 2016)
"Rabbi and Orthodox Jewish Man Plotted to Kidnap and Murder Husband to Get Divorce for his Wife, Officials Say"

In popular culture

* Rochelle Majer Krich's book ''Till Death Do Us Part'' (1992), . * In ''The Sopranos'' episode "Denial, Anger, Acceptance" (1999), Tony is hired for the purpose of convincing a stubborn Orthodox Jewish man to give a ''get'' to the man's wife. * In the Coen Brothers film ''A Serious Man'' (2009) the demand for a ''get'' is a recurring plot device. * The film ''Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem'' (2014) shows the process of a Jewish woman trying to obtain a divorce from a reluctant husband.

See also

* Agunah * Beth din * Jewish prenuptial agreement * Jewish views on marriage * Ketubah * Lieberman clause (Conservative Judaism)


External links

Beth Din of America: Gittin (Jewish Divorce)

Jewish Virtual Library: Divorce in Judaism

JLaw.com: Jewish Divorce and the Role of Beit Din by Rabbi Jonathan Reiss
{{Authority control Category:Divorce Category:Jewish marital law Category:Talmud concepts and terminology Category:Jewish life cycle Category:Positive Mitzvoth Category:Hebrew words and phrases in Jewish law