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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Mazal Tov. You are Divorced.

As it has been my custom since beginning to learn Daf Yomi more than three years ago, I deliver a poem when we finish a Masechet (a volume) of Talmud. Much of what I learned over the past few months has been about the many proceedings leading up to a divorce. There were the many how to's, the intentions, the witnesses, the proclamations, who qualifies to be witnesses and who doesn't, how to write the document, how to deliver, who signs it, how to sign it. Running through Gittin is the fact that it is the male partner who can initiate divorce. He initiates the divorce and it is through him or someone representing him that the Get, the divorce document, is delivered into the possession of the woman.

This Masechet, with all of its cases and questions, was not about the breakdown of a marriage; or the undoing of kiddushin. It was not about the pain, relief, fear, anger or anxiety that accompany the dissolution of a marriage. Poem number one is about those things.

In preparation for poem one, It was surprising and even startling to learn that at the end of a divorce ceremony, when the newly divorced parties exit the Beit Din, it has been the custom of some rabbis to wish each party a mazal tov. The reason? To emphasize that what was past is done and with the words Mazal Tov, the old life is left behind and a new life is possible. Indeed, this is the case. For many, divorce is a relief and a very sad blessing. A get gives the possibility of rebuilding, akin to building following the destruction.

Poem number two is just a statement of support for Agunot, women who are denied divorce by their husbands.

May we all merit blessings.




MazaL tov, you are divorCed.

It’s time to release the shards of the glass

smashed by a leather shoe so long ago

when you still wore rose colored glasses

and he was still a dreamer.

The future lay before you like a glassy ocean,

but you couldn't see the racing current

churning deep in the waters.

MazaL tov, you are divorCed.

It is time to undo the seven circles under the chuppah

tiptoeing backwards and and counterclockwise.

It’s the time to remove ring;

value exchanged for a document.

The words Harei At Mekudeshet seem so far away.

and sometimes even kedusha can be broken.

It’s time to break the contract.

Reverse the words.

To find new witnesses.

To write a new Shtar*

To offer and to accept,

with a full,

if slightly cracked heart.

This is kedushin in reverse,

this time two people

once joined in Yichud

walk out

two different doors.

Once upon a time there was a ketubah

festooned with tiny pink roses,

It’s time to undo what has been

untie the knots,

undo the bonds

formed and reformed,

now broken

with the get.

There are no roses on a get.

Just as a gimel and a tet were unlikely partners in a word,

So shall it be with the kallah, no longer a bride

And the chatan, no longer a groom;

two rusted figures

preparing to start again.

MazaL tov, you are divorCed.

The slate is wiped clean.

kitchens are emptied,

the children's nightmare is over.

The game of stiffened spines,

fiery words,

hollow silences,

end here

with twelve lines

and two signatures

on a document

prepared fastidiously,

especially for you.



and delivered.

Now walk,









MazaL tov, you arE divorCed.

***** ***** ***** *****

*shtar is a document



for some the loop is still not closed

they are captured and

held captive.

Hostage in a

labyrinth of law;

an abyss of conditions,

an hourglass where the sands never stop running.

Let us close this Masechet with a hope and a prayer

for change and closure for women.

Let us break a plate

and keep a shard in support of those who remained chained

for those whose lives remain


to this day.

May we return to you Masechet Gittim, at a time where there will be no more agunot.

A few resources that I used for this poem:

Getting GET a Second Chance by Dovid Milton

Understanding the GET Process by Isaac Gruenbaum

About Jewish Women Denied Divorce

The Role of Women in Jewish Divorce


A P.S.- How I do Daf Yomi

I learn the Daf almost exclusively by listening. I listen to a podcast called Talking Talmud, led by Yardaena Osband and Anne Gordon, both of whom were former students at the Maimonides School in Brookline, but now reside in Israel. Talking Talmud is one of a few podcasts on the website of the larger women's Talmud initiative, called Hadran, where Rabbanit Michelle Farber is the primary teacher. Talking Talmud is used by some as a way to cover just the highlights of each of the Dapim (pages) each day and each episode runs between 10-25 minutes. There are a number of other women who present lessons under the rubric of Hadran.

As a student, I also listen to a podcast by Rabbi Shmuel Silber from the Institute of Jewish Continuity (approximately a one hour podcast each day) and sometimes I listen to Take One, the Podcast, which is produced by Tablet Magazine, which lasts about 10 minutes. Take One takes a very different approach to the Daf. It covers only one idea each day and brings in guest speakers to relate the idea to modern life.

The next Masechet begins on Monday. It is the final Masechet In Seder Nashim (the volumes concerning laws around women) and it is called Kiddushin.

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