More Discussions for this daf
1. Rei'ach Haget 2. Four Zekeinim Visit Rebbi Eliezer Ha'Gadol 3. Coercion to Give a Get

Shalom Spira asked:

Shalom Aleikhem Rabotai,

The gemara (Gittin 88b) rules that if a husband has been unlawfully compelled to deliver a sefer keritut and that the sefer keritut is then disqualified as a "get me'usseh", there then devolves the possibility of invoking the rule of rei'ach haget to rabbinically disqualify the lady from ever marrying into the kehunah (even should she be widowed, R"L). If Jews forced the husband, there is rei'ach haget. If gentiles forced the husband, there is no rei'ach haget (unless the husband was anyway obligated according to Torah law to divorce).

This halakhah is codified in Shulchan Arukh Even Ha'ezer 134:7-8.

My question is as follows. If Jews force a kohen to divorce his own wife against Torah law (which thereby creates a status of rei'ach haget, as in all cases of Jewish compulsion), is that kohen himself forbidden to stay married to his wife, or is rei'ach haget only a rabbinical prohibition designed to stop future kohanim from marrying the lady (if she should be widowed)? Neither the gemara nor the Shulchan Arukh seem to overtly address this point. However, logically, it would seem at first glance that the kohen should not be forced to divorce his own wife, because otherwise the nefarious goals of the unlawful people who unscrupulously compelled the kohen in the first place will have been achieved! (Im ken yihei chotei niskar.) After all, Rabbi J. David Bleich approvingly cites on p. 49 of his Benetivot Hahalakhah chelek aleph the words of Shu"t Maharit Tzahalon no. 40 who quotes a responsum of the Re'em to the effect that it cannot be that paying the husband money (when he is being forced to deliver a sefer keritut) will help, because then any marriage could be easily broken when unscrupulous individuals hire thugs to violently pressure a husband to divorce his wife and compel him to accept money in the process. (Vi'im ken lo hinachta bat li'avraham avinu omedet tachat ba'alah vilo shum ba'al omed im ishto.) By the same reasoning, if it were so that any kohen who is unlawfully forced by Jews to divorce his wife would then actually have to divorce his wife because of rei'ach haget, then no kohen would have a stable marriage because unscrupulous thugs could always pressure kohanim into divorcing their spouses, irrevocably terminating the kohanim's marriages. Nevertheless, since this point is not mentioned in the Shulchan Arukh, I would like to ask the Kollel concerning it, as well.

Thank you very kindly. Kol tuv, lichaim ulishalom, lisasson ulisimchah, lihagdil torah uliha'adirah.

Shalom Spira, Montreal, Canada

The Kollel replies:

Rei'ach ha'Get seems to be a state which cannot work in terms of "applicable for some, but not for others." Moreover, even when a Kohen divorces his wife when he is not allowed to do so (if he married her because he was Me'anes her and therefore has the prohibition of "Lo Yuchal l'Shalchah Kol Yamav"), the Sfas Emes in Makos (15a) says that although he receives Malkos for doing so, the Kohen can no longer remarry his wife (as indicated in the Gemara ibid. and therefore the divorce works) because of Rei'ach ha'Get. This is despite the fact that the Kohen is accomplishing what he set out to do, and is clearly a Chotei Niskar.

As far as your statement that unscrupulous thugs could always beat up Kohen husbands and force a Get, the bottom line is that when someone is willing to commit a prohibition, they sometimes will get what they want in this world (and what they do not want in the next world). They might very well kill the husband as well (as was the practice in Mitzrayim in the days of Avraham Avinu) and therefore not even need to force a Get and proceed to worry about the fact that Kohen will or will not stop living with his wife because of Rei'ach ha'Get.

In any event, I do not think that the common practice of thugs was or will be to go the route of Get Meusah in order to force a Rei'ach ha'Get and a subsequent divorce.

b'Birkas ha'Torah,

Yaakov Montrose