June 2, 2024
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June 2, 2024
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Dispelling Myths About Orthodox Gittin

Recently, I administered a get (Jewish divorce) for a less affiliated Jewish woman who was already civilly divorced for many years. She delayed obtaining a Jewish divorce because of unfounded concerns about the Orthodox get process. Here are some unfortunate myths that persist about Gittin that we need to dispel to ensure that all Jewish divorcing couples are Jewishly, as well as civilly divorced.

Myth No. 1: I must confront my former spouse at the get.

The Reality: When it is intolerable for couples to appear together to administer the get, we conduct it via agency. The husband appoints a member of the rabbinic court to act as his agent to deliver the get. When done in one sitting, I do not charge extra for a get conducted by agency.

Myth No. 2: Any rabbi can administer a get.

The Reality: The gold standard is the recognition of the rabbinic court by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. If one receives a get administered under auspices not recognized by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, he or she risks encountering difficulty at remarriage.

Myth No. 3: I cannot bring a friend to support me at a get.

The Reality: Most rabbinic courts permit a friend to be present at the get proceeding as long as it does not disturb the other party. If one plans to bring a friend, it should be communicated to the other side that one intends to do so. It is best to avoid surprises at a get.

Myth No. 4: The wife circles the husband seven times, as is done at an Ashkenazic wedding.

The Reality: There is nothing further from the truth. After acquiring title to the get, the rabbinic court asks the wife to walk with the get for four cubits (eight feet) to exhibit her controlling the document she was just handed.

Myth No. 5: A Jewish man may remarry without a get.

The Reality: An early 11th-century rabbi named “Rabbeinu Gershom” banned polygamy. Rabbinic authorities deeply respect Rabbeinu Gershom’s ban.

Myth No. 6: There is no rush to receive a get.

The Reality: If a Jewish woman remarries without a get, children from the subsequent union run the grave risk of illegitimacy/mamzeirut. Receiving a get before embarking on a new relationship is of utmost importance.

Myth No. 7: Only Orthodox Jews require a get.

The Reality: A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Even if the couple were not married in an Orthodox ceremony, it is proper for them to receive an Orthodox get. There are many Jews whose only encounter with an Orthodox rabbi is at a get.

Myth No. 8: The husband spits at the wife at an Orthodox get.

The Reality: This is false. This only takes place at a “chalitzah” ceremony, which rarely occurs. Chalitzah occurs only when a husband dies without children and has a brother.

Myth No. 9: The rabbis ask for details about the divorce.

The Reality: The rabbis only ask if the parties are participating in the get of their own free will and unconditionally. They do not inquire as to the reason for the breakup. They do not judge and try to determine who is at fault. When a couple comes to me to administer a get, we administer a get and nothing else is addressed.

Myth No. 10: The get is done in a courtroom, making the parties feel they are on trial.

The Reality: I make every effort to create a comfortable setting and feel for the couple and try to lighten the mood a bit when appropriate.



Many rabbis make every effort to ensure that all divorcing Jews receive a get. However, we depend on the Orthodox lay community to reach out to less affiliated Jews to get the word out on the critical necessity of a get. Now that one has read this article, readers are better prepared to help guide their less observant friends, colleagues and relatives to an appropriate rabbi who can administer a get accepted by the full spectrum of Jewry.

Rabbi Jachter serves as the rav of Congregation Shaarei Orah, rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a get administrator with the Beth Din of Elizabeth. Rabbi Jachter’s 18 books may be purchased at Amazon and Judaica House.

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