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diary of a sofer - part 17

Mordechai Pinchas Sofer

As mentioned elsewhere on the site, writing Gittin (divorce documents) is the saddest part of the sofer’s work, but as they often say when referring to unpleasant occupations - ‘someone’s got to do it’.  And indeed my latest venture in the world of sofrut is to become the scribe for the RSGB’s Bet Din (Court) for the writing of the Get (singular) that is required by halacha to end a marriage, as defined in Deuteronomy.  

Now, unlike many of my other articles it is very difficult to find anything funny to say about Gittin, so this one is quite serious as a Get is a very serious matter indeed and must be word perfect, hand- written with the specific intention of it being written for the parties involved.  As with all of the other things a scribe writes, there are lots of rules, all given in the Talmud tractate Gittin and thus there has been another period of study required as one is warned not to be involved in Gittin until one knows the laws properly to avoid any errors.  Errors would invalidate the Get and thus the parties would not be permitted to remarry.

Friends have asked me how I could get involved in this as it is helping people to seperate.  However,  the Get follows a civil divorce and is the means by which people can move forward in their lives to happier times and thus it is a very worthwhile thing to be part of.


Extract from one of my Gittin (click on the image for a low res image of a whole  Get.

The Get is written in Aramaic and as you can see from the extract the form of the Get is a bit odd with very high ascenders on the letter lamed and descenders on the nun with quite large gaps between the lines.  The descenders and ascenders are apparently there to stop anyone adding anything in between - in which case why have the gaps between the lines in the first place - aha!  There are also some large letters - eg the vav and heh in this extract and two words with three yuds in a row.  The eagle-eyed amongst you will see that it is not S”TAM in that there are no taggin and this is deliberate as the Get is not a holy document.

According to the Talmud, unlike most of the scribes work, the Get can be written with any material that is lasting, ink, paint, blacking, lead etc. and written on almost anything at all - an olive leaf earthenware pots, leaves inside earthenware pots, or even the horn of an ox - though not anything living or which could be called food.  writing surfaces! All of these sound very difficult to achieve so oddly enough I stick to parchment paper despite the choice available!

Mordechai Pinchas

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