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If a man calls his rabbi with instructions to give his wife a get, is the get valid? Does the husband have to appear in person before a bet din?

On 9/11, I remember reading about a man who did just that, knowing he was about to die. I could not track that article today, but I found one here where the man stayed on the phone with a friend and told him he was about to die, then the building collapsed. Rav Ovadia Yosef accepted this voice recognition as evidence of the death of the man and allowed his wife to remarry.

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    In a more technical sense, you seem to be asking: when we say that a man can make a Shliach for a get, does this require the man’s voice? If so, does a phone count, and if it doesn’t, is formal shlichus necessary? – DonielF May 22 '18 at 4:10
  • I thought there was a Mishna that one who hears a Bat-Kol - an echo - asking the listeners to divorce his wife, that he can be the shliach to write and present the get. (But right now I can't find it; at least not in Gittin.) – Danny Schoemann May 22 '18 at 9:41
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    @DannySchoemann Are you thinking of Gittin 66a where a man calls out from a pit? – Oliver May 22 '18 at 13:29
  • Yes, @Oliver, that's the one. And I see that others have used that as an answer! :-) – Danny Schoemann May 23 '18 at 10:50
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In his responsa (Tzitz Eliezer 10:47) R. Waldenburg quotes some authorities who maintained that in a state of emergency one can direct by telephone to write a get for his wife without even appearing before Bet Din. Others maintain that witnesses would be required to validate that the husband is the one on the phone directing.

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The sources to allow such a get are the mishna on Gittin 66a (translation and interpolation by R Steinsaltz)

With regard to one who was thrown into a pit and thought that he would die there, and he said that anyone who hears his voice should write a bill of divorce for his wife, and he specified his name, her name, and all relevant details, those who hear him should write this bill of divorce and give it to his wife, even though they do not see the man and do not know him.

The gemara a bit below comments

A Sage from the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: During a time of danger, when there is the likelihood that the wife would assume deserted wife status, one writes and gives a bill of divorce even though the people instructed to do so are not familiar with the man who gave the instructions. Here too, when a voice is heard from a pit, one writes and gives the bill of divorce, as there is no possibility of properly clarifying the issue.

The Rambam codifies this as halacha in Hilchot Gerushin 2:13.

So in case of emergency there is no need to appear in person and someone who knows the caller (in times of danger: even someone who doesn't) would be able to start the get process.

  • But the Gemara in Gittin refers to the person's actual voice, not a "Bas Kol" of a telephone. – Shmuel Brin May 26 '18 at 0:04
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Looks like the Shulchan Aruch has the answer. Shulchan Arukh, Even HaEzer 141:19:

And it is the same regarding someone who was thrown into a pit and said: 'anyone who is able to listen to my voice, go write a divorce bill to my wife', and he makes explicit what are his name and his wife's name, the name of his town and the name of her town, those should write [and deliver] it to her. and even if he was brought up and did not acknowledge [the divorce bill], it is still effective, since it is like [what happens in] a moment of danger: we write and deliver, even if we do not acknowledge [later]. And there are those who say that these words only apply when they saw a figure of a man, or even a faint resemblance, so that one does not suspect it to be a demon, since usually demons are found in pits and fields.

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