Simcha Feuerman
Psychology, Torah and the Daf Yomi

Divorce Narrative Gittin 21 Psychology of the Daf Yomi

Our Gemara on Amud Beis explains that unlike the bond of marriage, which can be established through various means as outlined in the first Mishna of Kiddushin, divorce can only be achieved through a written bill. This is derived from the verse that refers to it as a “scroll of severance” (ספר כריתות).

Interestingly, the word “sefer” (scroll) is related to the word “story,” suggesting that there is a narrative within the Get (divorce document). Our Gemara here also understands this literally, implying that certain specific details related to the divorce must be explicitly stated in the text of the Get.

However, there is a deeper metaphysical meaning to this. Likutei Halakhos (Hilchos Gerushin 2-4) delves into the metaphysics of marriage. When two individuals are joined in matrimony, their souls become intertwined by divine decree—an absolute truth. However, when the need for divorce arises, it becomes a temporal and human matter. In the realm of the Divine, only absolute truth exists, but in the human world, we construct narratives to navigate reality, which is contingent upon time and circumstances. Therefore, in order to sever a relationship that is divinely ordained, a physical action must be taken by humans to manifest its effects in this world. The act of writing a divorce document becomes the construction of a narrative that declares these two individuals, in this world, are currently unable to make their relationship work.

Divorce is a painful process that, even under the best of circumstances, evokes deep emotions. However, sometimes it becomes necessary, and that is precisely why it is formalized through a written document. A written document represents the human process of translating reality into practical terms. Despite our best intentions, divorce may be necessary because of our inherent flaws as humans. Yet, it is our right to construct the narratives by which we live and make sense of reality as best we can, on our own terms, within the framework of this world.

About the Author
Rabbi, Psychotherapist with 30 years experience specializing in high conflict couples and families.
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