Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, , at sacred-texts.com
§ 1. When a husband divorces his wife, and [on delivering the Get] says to her, "Thou art herewith allowed to be married to any man except to A.B.," such a Get is said to be valid by R. Eleazar; but the sages declare it void. How must a husband act in such a case? He must take the Get back, and return it to her, saying at the same time to leer, "Thou art herewith permitted to be married to all men." But if he wrote the exception in the Get, although he took it back and erased it, that Get is void.
§ 2. If the husband said, "Thou art herewith permitted to be married to any man, except to my father or to your father, to my or to your brother, to a slave or to a non-Israelite," or to any other person with whom she is interdicted by law to marry, the Get is valid. If he said, "Thou art herewith permitted to be married to any one, except as a widow to a high priest, or as a divorced woman, or one released by Chalitzah, to an ordinary priest; as a bastardess or Nethinah to an Israelite, or as an Israelitess to a bastard or Netin," or to any with whom the marriage has a legal force, although it was illegally contracted; the Get is void [in all such cases].
§ 3. The essential substance of a Get are the following words: "Thou art [herewith] permitted [to be married] to all men." R. Jehudah saith [the following is the essential part], "Thou hast herewith of me a writing of separation, a letter of divorce, and a document of dismissal, that thou mayest go and be married to any man thou mayest like." The essential substance of a document for the manumission of a slave, is the following: "Thou art herewith a free woman [or man], and thou wilt henceforth [by virtue of this document] be dependant on thyself alone."
§ 4. In three cases a Get is invalid, yet, any child born to the wife
in a subsequent marriage is legitimate, viz. When a husband wrote the Get himself, but there are no subscribing witnesses to it; or, if the attestation was attached to it, but it wanted the date; or, that it was [properly] dated, but attested by one witness only. These are three cases when the Get is void, but in which a child born to the wife in a subsequent marriage is nevertheless legitimate. R. Eleazar saith, "Although there be no attesting witnesses to the Get, it is still valid if the husband delivered it to the wife in the presence of witnesses; and [in respect to bonds given for debt, under similar circumstances] the creditor can recover it from mortgaged property, 1 because the attestation of contracts by witnesses has been instituted, solely with a view to the promotion of order and regularity."
§ 5. When two men sent two Gittin, exactly alike in their contents, and these became interchanged, both Gittin are to be delivered to each woman [in turn]; hence, when one of the said Gittin was lost, the other becomes ineffective. When five men write together in a single Get, the man A. to divorce his wife B., and the man C. his wife D., and so forth, and this is duly attested by the signature of witnesses, this Get will be valid to divorce all these [wives], and must be delivered to each [separately]. If, however, a Get was written on the same page for each woman, and duly subscribed by witnesses, then that Get only is valid to which the signature of the witnesses are read [with]. 2
§ 6. When two Gittin are written by the side of each other [on the same page], and they are undersigned by two witnesses [who sign] in Hebrew, underneath each other, and it is further signed by two other witnesses, who sign in Greek, also underneath each other, then, that Get only is valid to which the first witnesses are read 3
[paragraph continues] But if it was signed alternately by a witness in Hebrew, and by another in Greek, underneath each other, both Gittin are void.
§ 7. If part of a Get was written on the second column of a page, and the witnesses have signed underneath, it is valid. If the witnesses signed it at the beginning of the second column, or in the margin, or on the back of a plain Get, 4 it is void. If the commencement of one Get was written at the side of the commencement of the other, and the witnesses signed in the middle, both are void. [If the end of the one is at the side of the end of the other, and the signatures of the witnesses between them, that with which the attestation is read is valid]. If the commencement of the second Get followed immediately the end of the first, with the names of the witnesses at the bottom [between the two], then that Get only is valid to which, at its conclusion, the names of the witnesses are read. 5
§ 8. A Get written in Hebrew but attested in Greek, or one written in Greek but attested in Hebrew, or to which one witness attested in Hebrew and another in Greek, or one attested by the writer and another witness, is valid. If only the plain [or given] name of a witness is signed to the Get [without his father's name], with the addition of the word "witness," it is valid. Also, if it was signed "son of A.B. witness;" or, when he wrote his own and his father's name, but omitted the word "witness" [it is also valid], for thus was it customary among the, pure or liberal men of Jerusalem. If the surname of either the husband or the wife had also been written in the Get, it is valid likewise. A Get written in consequence of a compulsive legal decree by an Israelite tribunal is valid; but not one which was forcibly imposed by the, mandate of a non-Israelite tribunal. Yet the latter is nevertheless valid, when the non-Israelite tribunal compels it in accordance with the Israelite law, and orders the culprit to conform to what the Israelite law requires of him.
§ 9. When a rumour prevails in a town that a woman had been
betrothed, that woman must be considered as one betrothed. 6 If it is again reported that she had been divorced, she must be considered as a divorced woman; but this is only when no reasons for doubt exist. Reasons for doubt are, for instance, when it is reported that such a one was divorced but conditionally; or that he threw the marriage-bond towards her, and it is doubtful whether it fell nearest to him or her. These are reasons for doubt.
§ 10. Beth Shammai say, "No man may divorce his wife, unless he found in her scandalous behaviour [unchastity], for it is said [Deu. xxiv.], 'Because he found in her some scandalous behaviour [ערוה];'" but Beth Hillel say, "Even if she spoiled his food, because it is said, [ערות דבר]". 7 R. Akivah saith, "Even if he found one handsomer than her, for it is said [ibid.] 'If it happen that she found no favor in his eyes.'"
303:1 See chap. V., note 2, page 290 of this Treatise.
303:2 Namely, the last Get on the page, underneath of which the witnesses have signed.
304:4 As contradistinguished from a folded Get, which is signed on the back.
304:5 Viz. the first.
305:6 That is, when there are corroborating circumstances, such as more lights, or more company than usual, having been seen at the house of such a female.
305:7 Which he explains ערוה, "unchastity," or דבר, "for [any other] cause," though trifling, such as spoiling a dish. R. Akivah will understand from the text, that a man is at liberty to divorce his wife, even without any fault on her part, which he exemplifies by the instance of a man finding a woman fairer than his wife. It was from the ambiguous, or rather vague expression of the quoted text, that these sages have drawn these inferences so opposed to each other, not that they intended, at least the latter two [viz. Beth Hillel and R. Akivah], to apply them practically, for, not to mention that the Halacha, or doctrinal decision, rejects this interpretation of the text by R. Akivah, it must be quite obvious, that no society could exist, in which a husband was at liberty to divorce his wife, the moment he could find another that pleased him better. The limits of a note do not permit to show more amply from various parts of the Talmudical writings, that divorces were always discouraged, and permitted only under peculiar circumstances, and for a legal object. It must therefore suffice to quote the concluding words of the Gemara, Treatise Gittin.—R. Eleazar saith, "Even the altar drops tears when a man divorces the wife and companion of his youth, for thus it is written (Mal. ii. 13, 14), 'And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out.… Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord bath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously, although she is thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.'"