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The Get

I once met a woman who had married a second time without a Get from her first husband. However, after we discussed the matter, the woman agreed to have a Get written and mailed to her ex-husband in Buchara. We were disappointed when he refused to sign it.

Deciding to take the matter into my own hands, I went to see her ex-husband?s brother in Gilo (a distant suburb of Jerusalem ). I persuaded him to write a letter to his brother in Buchara, insisting that the Get be signed. The brother in Buchara still refused.

Again, another opportunity arose for me to pursue this case. The recalcitrant ex-husband?s parents were moving to Israel . The day they arrived, I rushed to their apartment to meet them and talk. After much cajoling, the parents agreed to write a letter to their son. It stated, "Dearest Son, your obstinacy is causing your wife to sin greatly."

Still, he refused to sign the Get.

I persisted, even allowing the parents to call Buchara from my home. After a half hour's conversation, they were still unable to procure a Get; their son would not budge. I was slowly running out of options, but refused to give up hope.
Two months passed. A man from Moscow made a Bris in my home. Although he had no connection with Bucharan Jewry, I happen to mention the story of the Get. To my surprise, the man responded: "I know the man of whom you speak. In fact, he is married to my relative! I will write him a letter at once, but you must know, he is very obstinate and wily."

To my utter disbelief, this new letter was answered and the ex-husband agreed to sign the Get, but with one stipulation: He would only sign the Get if his ex-wife and ten rabbis would sign an enclosed consent form. The consent form was written in the language of the Bucharian Jews and I was unable to understand its contents.

I invited ten rabbis and the woman to my house the following morning. After reading the letter, the woman burst into tears. The consent form stipulated the grounds on which he was willing to divorce her: She must first accept all of his sins upon herself!

I tried to reassure her that there was nothing to fear, considering that one cannot transfer sins. But she would not be comforted and merely exclaimed: "You have no idea how many sins he has! Tons of sins!" She recounted how while she was pregnant, her ex-husband had thrown her out of the house and had taken a concubine.

After two hours of persistance and after having offered her three thousand sheckel, I realized that I had exhausted all my resources. Suddenly, I thought of the perfect solution. I told her, "Sign the form and immediately afterwards I will take all your ex-husband's sins upon myself."

The woman was left with no choice but to agree and I subsequently took all of his sins upon myself. The consent form was signed, sealed and sent to Buchara. The letter was returned with the signed Get enclosed.

Rav Yitzchok Zilber

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