- Question: [Sunday, 12th Marcheshvan, 5783]
Years ago when we were newly married, my husband and I got into a major fight and out of sheer anger my husband wrote to me a Get in his personal handwriting on a piece of paper and gave it to me. It was not a formal Get in any way, was written in English, and was only about two sentences long basically saying that he is divorcing me and that this is my Get. There were no witnesses there and was only given between him and me. We made up afterwards and have been happily married ever since having put the matter to rest although recently we both began thinking that perhaps there is Halachic significance to this informal divorce document that would require us to remarry according to Halacha. What should we do?
The status of a self-written Get is debated amongst the Poskim, and dependent on how it was written, could possibly be Biblically valid according to some opinions, and hence I suggest you bring the matter up with a Rav who is expert in Gittin, and review with him the details that were written in the informal Get. If you no longer remember its details, or there is any other Halachic doubt as to its validity, I suggest doing a new Kiddushin Lechumra by a Misader Middushin.
Explanation: One of the 10 invalidating factors of a Get is that it must have witnesses, known as Eideiy Kevia and/or Eideiy Mesira. If there were no witnesses at all, neither Kesiva or Mesira, then the Get is completely invalid, even Biblically. This, however, only applies if the Get was written by a Sofer. If, however, it was written by the husband himself, then it is debated as to whether it is only Rabbinically invalid, or even Biblically invalid. If only Rabbinically invalid, then it means that Biblically she is considered divorced by her husband and needs to remarry him. Now, all the other aspects of a self-written Get, such as language and wording etc, need to be carefully analyzed to see if they meet Biblical validation status. One thing is for certain, it is possible to write a Biblically Kosher Get in English with only a few sentences, and hence due to all the above, you need to see a Rav who is Baki in Gittin or a Misader Kiddushin to re-do the Kiddushin.
Sources: See Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 5 Erech Get pp. 585 and 649; See regarding that a husband may never initially write the Get even if signed by Eidim: Rama E.H. 123:1; Beis Yosef 123; Taz 123:2; Seder Haget 154:10-11; See regarding that the Get is invalid without two witnesses: Michaber E.H. 130:20; Rambam Geirushin 1:1 and 13; See regarding if there are no witnesses but husband wrote the Get: Michaber E.H. 130:20 and Rambam Geirushin 1:13 [is Rabbinically invalid if has one witness, implies that is Biblically invalid if no witnesses]; Radbaz 1013 [is even Biblically invalid according to Rambam and Michaber ibid]; Mishneh Yevamos 3 [Safek Get]; Mishneh Gittin 9:4, 86a and Rashi there [Different opinions of law with some holding it is only Rabbinically invalid]; Toras Gittin of the Nesivos on 130:20 [Is Biblically valid even without Eideiy Mesira]; Rashba Yevamos 31 and Kiddushin 64 [No need for Eideiy Mesirah by Kesav Yado and is Biblically valid]; Rashba Megillah 15a [asks why Mordechai did not write Esther a Get Bekesav Yado]; Noda Beyehuda Tinyana Y.D. 161