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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What is GET MEUSO גט מעושה?

Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn

1) What is GET MEUSO, גט מעושה? A husband must give a GET willingly. What if the husband does not want to give a GET? Certain types of pressure are permitted and some not. A GET given through the wrong pressure is invalid, and is known as a Forced GET, or GET Meuso.

A thousand years ago, and even later in many countries, a woman who demanded a GET was given one, if she complained that her husband is MAH-OOS AW-LEI מאוס עלי or repugnant.

The Beth Din or Rabbinical Court would enforce this, even coercing the husband to give a GET. About 700 years ago, this practice was blocked in Spain by Rabbeinu Osher, the ROSH. Subsequently, the coercion was not practiced in most countries. For a time afterwards, if a Beth Din did force the husband to give a GET when the wife demanded one as above, it is not clear if others would not honor the GET. Today, the custom is to refuse such GETs, and probably if one was made it would not be honored by anyone.

All the above applies to a woman who demands a divorce simply because she cannot tolerate the husband, for reasons of her own. There are, however, cases where the Beth Din itself may force a GET, but these are rare.

Does all of this mean anything to us today? Definitely. If the great rabbis of a thousand years ago saw a necessity to free a married woman from a marriage she did not want, we must also see such a necessity.

We cannot force the husband to divorce, but we must be aware that the marriage itself presents a problem. There are two problems with a woman in such a marriage. One, she has no marriage, and may decide to get her sex elsewhere, which is adultery. This is a danger to her, and a danger to the community. If she has a child, it is a mamzer, which is a danger to the entire world.

Then there is the issue of sensitivity. As Rambam writes, in his seconding of the opinion that we force the husband to give a GET when his wife demands it. A woman, says Rambam, is not a captive. If she wants freedom, she must have it.

Today, a woman who demands a GET because her husband is repugnant to her, presents a great dilemna. We cannot force the husband to divorce her, but we understand how dangerous the situation is, and how her rights are being violated. She is not a captive, but she is stuck in a marriage she does not want.

A husband must take notice of this. There are many reasons to advance why not to give a GET. However, the husband is not solving a serious situation, where the woman may sin. He is also forcing a woman to remain in a relationship she does not want.

Rabbi Yehuda the Chosid says that we have in life opportunities to hurt people very much with our dominance. We have wives, and they are essentially helpless if we want to treat them without proper sensitivity. We have people who work for us who can be devastated by an insensitive look. For this, says the Chosid, we will be punished by G-d who demands kindness and sensitivity, and not power at another's expense.

Rabbi Yehuda the Chosid says that one who overworks and animal and who is cruel to an animal will be treated like an animal after his death.

How frightening is the Eternal punishment for someone who was insensitive in this world. A husband who denies his wife a GET may be in this category. Only HaShem knows. But if the husband should give a GET and does not, his punishment will be terrible.

A woman who needs a GET is a community responsibility. There are people who know how to get a GET from a bitter and broken husband, and those who do not. The right people can save two people from destruction in this world and the next. The wrong person can do the opposite.

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