According to Jewish law, a couple who separate and received a civil divorce, are not entitled to be married until the wife received a Get (Jewish bill of divorce) from her husband.
The divorce process is by nature a difficult and traumatic one for everyone involved. It normally invokes painful emotions, especially so when undergoing the Jewish divorce procedure which involves unfamiliar language and requires the participants to perform strange actions. We, the members of the Beth Din, and the support staff are very much aware of this difficulty and will do our utmost to treat the couple during this trying process with sensitivity and compassion. All this will be performed in accordance with the relevant Halachic rules governing the divorce procedure. A better understanding of the various components by the parties involved will alleviate some of the apprehension and ease the performance of the necessary actions. In the following paragraphs we will try to explain in brief the basic concepts and actions. The main thing is to enable you to achieve closure and to look forward with hope for a better future, Be'ezrat Hashem.
The Bible states: "And he shall write her a writ of divorce and hand it to her and she shall go and be to another man".
This 'writ' [Get] is to be written specifically for the couple who is to be divorced, by the husband or his appointed agent for this purpose. This agent, the scribe, is to be appointed before the Beth Din and has to verbally express his intention to write the Get for the couple. The Get will be handed over by the husband to the wife before the Beth Din and with this she will be freed from the marriage.
The divorce process is composed of various stages which will be explained in detail.
Registration for a Get
At the first contact with the secretary of the Beth Din, various questions will be asked, which may include whether a divorce agreement regarding finance or child custody has been reached. Additionally, questions may be asked pertaining to how long the couple has been separated and whether they have been in contact with a Rabbi. A request may be made by a Beth Din representative that the parties meet with one of the judges in order to explore the possibility for reconciliation. Once it has become clear to the secretary of the Beth Din, that the divorce decision amongst this couple is final, a time for the execution of the Get will be arranged. One should take into account that the process of a Get takes at least 2 hours and it is incumbent upon the parties to be available during this time period.
At the appointed time for the execution of the Get, both parties should appear at the Beth Din on time. An application for a Get will have to be completed in writing by each party. A charge of $800.00 is payable, prior to the Get commencing. The following items should be prepared:
1) A Valid Photo ID (identification document) of each party, i.e. a passport, a medicare card, driver’s license etc.
2) The Ketuba (marriage document).
3) Modest dress is required
4) Yarmulka must be worn during procedure
5) Each party should bring 2 passport pictures.
Those Present During the Get
Besides the husband and the wife who are present at a Get, 3 Rabbinical judges, 2 witnesses and a scribe who writes the Get, will be present. At times, a secretary of the Beth Din is also in attendance. Should the parties wish to be accompanied by an additional person or friend during the Get procedure, they are welcome to do so. Those present must have respect for the Beth Din at all times and be dressed accordingly.
We recommend that you allow us to contact your rabbi in order for him to accompany you during the Get. He will be able to guide you through this procedure as it takes place, answer any questions you may have, and provide emotional support during this trying time. The Rabbi may also offer to meet with you in advance, if you wish, to review the process and the Get procedure. Should the Rabbi not be available, or if you do not have a Rabbi, we will gladly contact one of the Rabbis of the Rabbinical Council who will willingly fill this role.
Clarification of the Names
Firstly, the Beth Din will inquire about exact names of the parties. In the text of the Get, it is obligatory that the name of both the man and the woman, in addition to their father’s name be clearly detailed. The Beth Din will question the parties, in order to clarify accurately the Hebrew names and whether the parties have any additional nicknames, terms of endearment, shortened names, etc. The Rabbinical judges will also want to know the names of how the person is called up to the Torah. Importance is placed upon the exact pronunciation of the names. All of this is required in order to ensure that the correct name of both parties appears in the Get. At this point the Beth Din will request photo identity documents of the parties.
Giving the Get on One’s Own Free Will
An important condition of the Get, is that it must be executed with the free will of both parties. Forcing any of the parties to give or receive the Get, may affect the validity of the Get. It is with this point in mind that the Rabbinical judges will ask questions of the parties to clarify that the Get is being handed over and received by the respective parties of their own free will, without any compulsion, or forced divorce contract or agreement. The Rabbinical judges will ask the participants, whether any oaths, or promises were made to give or not to give the Get. In order to avoid the possibility of an oath having been made and the parties having forgotten that they may have made the oath, the Beth Din will annul all oaths that may have been made. Furthermore, the husband will be asked to annul any statement which may have been said which may affect the validity of the Get.
Appointing the Scribe & Witnesses
In the verse quoted above, it is stated that, it is incumbent upon the husband to write the Get. As only an expert scribe knows how to write a Get, it is a necessity that a scribe be appointed, as a messenger of the husband, to write the Get. Furthermore, all writing equipment, instruments, as well as the paper, must belong to the husband. The next step will therefore include the husband instructing the scribe to write the Get on his behalf. The scribe in turn, will then hand the paper and all writing instruments, and give them as a gift to the husband, who will then lift these above his head, showing that he has acquired them and that they now belong to him. The husband will then give the items, instruments, equipment, as well as the paper, to the scribe in order that the Get be written on paper, and with items, that belong to him. The husband will then appoint the witnesses to sign the Get on his behalf, as well as instruct the witnesses that they will witness him handing over the Get to the wife.
Writing the Get
The couple will be asked to wait outside the chamber of the Beth Din, until the Get had been completed and signed. During this time, the parties should remain in the vicinity of the Beth Din and should refrain from any discussion pertaining to the Get, between themselves or with anyone else, in order to avoid anything being said which may affect the validity of the Get. Writing of the Get takes approximately 1 hour. At times, unfortunately, mishaps may occur during the writing of the Get, which could cause the time of the Get to be lengthened. The parties are asked to be patient until they are called into the Beth Din for the handing over of the Get.
Handing Over the Get
The final step in the process is for the husband to hand over the Get to the wife. When the parties return to the inner chamber of the Beth Din, the woman will be asked various questions, in order that the Beth Din confirms that she is willing to accept the Get. The husband will also be asked to repeal anything which he may have said, which may affect the Kosher status of the Get. The couple is then asked to face one another in the presence of the 2 witnesses and the Beth Din. The woman is required to remove all rings and jewelry from her hands and to lift up her sleeves slightly. The woman is required to stretch out her hands next to each other with the palms facing upwards. The husband will say a few words whilst the Get is being held in his hand, above her hands. Once the husband has recited the necessary sentences, declaring that his wife is divorced from him, he will place the Get carefully in her hand. Whilst the husband is going through this process the woman is to remain passive, without offering any assistance to receive the Get whatsoever. Once called upon to do so, the woman will then close her hands, cupping the Get between them and lifting it upon her head. After doing so, she will be required to walk a few steps with the Get positioned under her arm and then return to place the Get on the table.
Certificate of Divorce
The original Get document remains in the file of the Beth Din and both parties will receive a certificate confirming that they are divorced in Jewish law. All the 3 members of the Beth Din sign this certificate in addition to the parties themselves. The Beth Din will then explain to the lady that she is forbidden to remarry until after 91 days and she may also not marry a Cohen.
We hope that you will accept the above with understanding and patience. May Hashem give you the strength and fortitude to put this painful period behind you and start a new chapter in your lives, looking forward to a bright and happy future.
For further information, please contact (514)739-6363.