Rescinding a Get

One of the reasons I like social media is that I get to participate in awesome conversations in a variety of different settings about multiple issues.

A friend of mine updated his status today that he recently watched a movie with his wife, called “Mekudeshet”. A bunch of us wanted to know what it was about, and he explained that it followed three women in Israel, who had been refused a Get (Jewish bill of divorce) from their husbands. They had become Agunot (chained women). It took two of them five years to receive their Get, and the third was still waiting.

A very interesting discussion ensued. One of his other friends who had apparently been an agunah replied to his post. One of the things that she mentioned was that there was a case, allegedly, in Israel where a divorced woman went to the secular courts to resolve a child support issue, instead of the Bet Din as was specified in her divorce agreement, and her Get was therefore allegedly nullified, even though she had since remarried.

Now, I thought that the Get was 100% final. From all the experience I have had and all the reading that I have done, there is nothing that even hints that this possibility is remotely existent. There is nothing that I have seen anywhere that allows for this revocation to take place.

Reading this I knew a split second of fear. I thought once you walked out of the room in the Beit Din the whole thing was over. I hadn’t realized that there could be a possibility of it being reopened.

I am so hoping this is an urban myth, but the commenter very strongly stressed that this was true.

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39 responses to “Rescinding a Get

  1. From what I’ve read, a ‘get’ cannot be reversed if the original ketubah was torn up or cut, thereby destroying the original covenant agreement.

    But following the same logic – If the ketubah was not destroyed, then there *could* be a chance of reversal of the get…by destroying the get. I haven’t seen such a thing, but I guess in today’s society, anything is possible.

  2. I’m with you. I thought it was final. I have a hard time believing it can be reopened. It wouldn’t make sense and would appear to go against halachah because of causing more trouble than it’s worth.

    The only thing I know that can be nullified is someone converting to Judaism and then marrying a goy. Their conversion becomes null and void.

    I’m not surprised about the Get refusals. I’ve seen it too many times. In Brooklyn we called it the husband bribing the BD. It may also be the reason the “said” woman may have gone to a secular court to settle child support issues. The BD failed to do their job.

  3. conversions can be nullified? I hadn’t heard that either…i thought once you’re a jew you’re a jew for life, no matter what you do later.

    • There’s like a “probationary” period after conversion, a ger friend of mine said it’s 3 years, that if you marry a goy during that period the conversion is null and void. To marry a goy proves you had no intent on following all the halacha which is a requirement in order to convert. Thus, false conversion.

      There’s a number of things that fall under false conversion, like: mental problems at some point prior to conversion, poor middos, etc.

  4. It was my understanding that the Get was declared invalid rather than rescinded because her intent when answering questions of the rabbinical court was proven false by her later actions. I believe you are correct that a Get may not be rescinded.
    The Roman Catholic rules for annulment are very similar. (no, really!)

  5. There’s the get, and there’s the permission to remarry.
    Basically the letter you get in the mail you show the Rabbi who marries you. In Israel its a little more official, but halachically the same thing.
    So, at the gittin I attended the head dayan would always say that he won’t mail out the letter until he gets the civil divorce papers. Theoretically he could have given that any condition he wants. But it doesn’t affect the actual divorce, it just effectively stops them from remarrying.
    In Israel they’re a little more powerful systematically, and are able to revoke the heter nisuin (permission to marry) even after it is given. they will always phrase it as a Halachic inhibition to getting married but its in a very roundabout way. No rabbi will marry them without a heter nisuin, so its an effective tactic. At no point is the validity of the get itself scrutinized.

    • but the paper I got from the Bet Din told me I was able to remarry after 3 months. they didn’t even mention civil divorce papers.

      • This all depends on the B”D and local custom. Lakewood and Philadelphia, the B”D requires civil papers before the Get.

        NY- which has fairly archaic divorce laws based on xtian principles, the B”D does not require. At the same time you would probably get re-married only K’da’at Moshe V’Yisrael.

  6. As an Israeli rabbinut certified Dayan that a Get cannot be rescinded, it just is not possible from a standpoint of Jewish law as brought down in the Shulchan Aruch. In fact to question its validity based on the status or level the Dayanim that sat the Beit Din, or for any other matter is a prohibition for which one is placed in niduy (excommunication) until one does Teshuva. So don’t worry, it is just an urban legend.

    The difference between this an geirus is that a geirus is dependent upon the sincerity of the potential Geir to be mekabel mitzvot. Also strictly according to the Shulchan Aruch(aside from various chumrot that people are trying to impose today) this is determined by a Geir being Shomer Shabbos their first two shabbosim and being shomer Kashrut and Taharat Mishpacha during that same time frame. Even this is to the best of their ability as it is widely accepted that one is not a Talmid Chochom immediately after geirus and thus is in need of a lot of education to not make mistakes. So long as they are only mistakes there should be no problem.

  7. Let’s start with Geirut. A kosher Ger is a Jew even if he becomes an apostate. If his intent was ocrrect at the time of mikvah (And in the case of a ma,n hatafat Dam Brit), he is Jewish according to halakha. There is nothing in Jewish law that says otherwise.

    The Israeli conversion court imposes an artificial restriction as a means of determining the intent of the convert. This is not a halakhic requirement, but a unique (I don’t know of the extent to which it is imposed outside of Israel)dependant clause imposed by “consent” of the ger, without which conversion will be withheld.

    It is worth noting that the Israeli conversion court is highly political (That was the nice was not to say corrupt), and has recently nullified thousands of conversions in mass due to a dispute with a specific rabbi who opposed them politically, and without regard to the merit of the converts.

    • Not true.

      A single Rabbi attempted to nullify the conversions. The Rabbinute under R’ Amar, decided to uphold them unless a compelling reason is brought forth to show that the Geirus of an individual was not valid.

      • It was not one rabbi, though the bet Din’s decision was overturned by the Supreme Court:
        http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/990764.html

        • A B”D run by R’ Attia rescinded one woman’s conversion when it was discovered that she never kept even her first Shabbat.

          R’ Sherman expanded that ruling to all conversions performed by R’ Druckman. within a week R’ Shlomo Amar, chief rabbi of Israel, and current head of conversion for the Rabbinute over-ruled the decision of R’ Sherman, but upheld the decision of R’ Attia concerning the one woman.

          The high court simply has no ability to determine what is and is not halacha, so ultimately any decision you claim they made is less than useless. Despite the fact that they did not do it. They essentially upheld R’ Amar’s ruling, by stating that R’ Sherman had 90 days to justify the annulment of each conversion or rescind his ruling.

          In the end, the one woman is not Jewish and the rest of the converted world is the same as they always were.

          • In the end

            In the end???? But what about the Agmat Nefesh before the end?

            In my book causing such fear and uncertainty for the other converts is akin to embarrassing them, which in turn is akin to murder.

            • I agree 100%. Personally I think it was the stupidest thing any Rabbi could do. It was completely politically motivated… but I don’t want to go into all that on someone else’s blog.

              Fortunately in the end halacha and justice won out.

  8. Both a ketubah and a get are property contracts in Jewish law.

    Like all property contracts they are subject to concept of “Mekach taut,” or accidental purcahse, which is define as the sale be materially usury or having a clause of the sale violated.

    If I ask you for a bag of lemons, pay you for a bag of lemons, and you hand me a bag of oranges, the sale is void. The oranges are not lemons as stated in the agreement to purchase. If I ask for oranges, but you give me oranges of inferior quality, I have less recourse. If you give me the oranges I asked for, and I subsequently learn that I was overcharged by more than 10%, I can nullify the sale.

    This is actually a promsing course of action as a solution to the agunah problem. If all ketubot were dependant on the pre-agreement of the man to give a get upon request, his refusal to provide a get would nullify the marriage rendering the women free in any event.

    Opponents suggest that nullifying the marriage may have the undeseriable side effect of rendering the children of the marriage mamzerim (according to a minority opinion), which is also a problem for the solution of Afkuyei Bet Din.

  9. In this case the get (not to be confused with the heter nisuin as R’ Haber pointed out), may have imposed the jurisdiction of the rabbinic court on custody as a term of the get, thereby creating a situation where the woman suing for custody in secular court would render the get (not the heter nisuin) retroactively void from a physical property perspective, but without creating an issur for her to remain with her current husband.

    It should be noted that the Israeli Supreme Court has subsequently rules that such a clause is illegal under the secular law which gives jurisdiction to the Bet Din System.

    • Jewish law stipulates that heter nisuin is directly contingent upon the Get. We only force a woman to wait 3mos to be sure of the parentage of any child she may be carrying unbeknown to us at the time.

      A nullification of a Get(which is why this is never done) post re-marriage, would put the woman and her new husband over ishet ish, and would make any children they had from that union mamzerim.

      • The women is free, but the property transfer may be nullified, requiring a new contract.

        • Sorry but that simply is not the case. If the Get ChV”Sh would be nullified, she is still married to her first husband. Thus her new “marriage” is an aveira.

          The same unfortunately is the case of an agunah, whose husband is presumed dead. If he should re-emerge living, her new marriage is aveira, and her children mamzerim. For Rabbis who work to free agunot, this is an incredible fear.

          In the end this is why a Get is NEVER nullified. The damage that could be done is inconceivable.

          • PS
            If as stated above you have read Kiddushin, you will know that a M’doraitta a person can be married without a Ketubah, but can only be divorced with a Get. A Get is not a contract. Once a woman is mekudeshet to a man, only a Get can sever that relationship. If that Get is nullified, that relationship never ceased to be.

  10. Also worth noting- this is not a halkhic consideration- current Israeli law automatically grants custody to the woman, leaving the man with the burden of proof to show that the mother is unfit. There is legislation aimed to address this problem.

  11. I dont know if anyone said this I didnt want to read through all the comments, but if you were to have get that was given on condition of something and then whatever the condition was, in this case going to a bet din, was not done the get is then considered as if it wasnt kosher and they were never divorced. If I were her then I would make sure to handle everything before I were to get remarried.

    • If there was a conditional Get there would not be a heter nisuin until the conditions of the Get are fulfilled. For instance in Talmudic times a man going on a long journey in fear of bandits would give his wife a Get stating that this only takes affect if he doesn’t step foot inside the city within three years or some such thing.

      However it should also be noted than any sort of marital affection or relations nullifies such a Get.

      A B”D today won’t use one for various complicated halachic reasons that are far far beyond the scope of a blog post or comment.

  12. Wouldn’t it depend if there was a condition attached to the Get?

    In the US the Batei Dinim do not allow conditions to be attached.

    Halchically, if there was a condition that the woman not challenge any Bais Din rulings and it was attached to the Get, the Get would be nullified retroactively.

    • That is why we don’t attach conditions. Halachically from the Poskim it is generally forbidden. The act of such a nullification could seriously damage innocent parties.

      A B”D has ways, within the bounds of halacha, and civil law(even outside of Israel)to force compliance.

      Assuming though that they did such a thing, first the wording would have be extremely precise as to what constitutes a challenge. So that it could not be done accidentally while remaining within the bounds of halacha(for instance appealing to a higher B”D for din torah). Even then imagine the possible consequences. A woman divorces her husband, ten years later she is remarried with an additional three or four children. Then a dispute erupts involving child support and the original husband paying for a Yeshiva education, and the B”D finds in his favor. The wife torn between giving her children a Torah education and obeying a B”D makes a fatal error and challenges their decision. What has happened. Her Get is nullified, she is still married to her first husband. Every day she has spent with her new husband they have been transgressing numerous commandments and aveairas(sins). Her new children are irrevocably mamzerim and thus have no real place in Judaism… The consequences of such a thing are horrific, which is why it is not done.

      Which is also why a B”D cannot rescind a Get.

  13. What are the terms of a Get? I thought that only a man could apply for one.

  14. If i recall correctly, the gemara talks about annulling a get, but only if the woman has not taken possession of it yet (e.g.-cases where it is sent overseas with the representative of the husband, rather than the wife’s who can accept it for her)

    i don’t remember the conclusion, but i think it is a machlokes if it can be done at all. ask your rabbi if you are concerned as to which way we pasken nowadays.

    as to the question of hafko

  15. Quite funny that the fashion of anulling conversions retroactively should also reach Gittin…

    In the end, we will find out that anything can be anulled anytime and nobody will take the batei Din and their decisions seriously any more.

    They are ridiculing themselves.

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