Shabbat Parashat Nitzavim Vayeilech| 5770
P’ninat Mishpat: Validity of a Get When a Father’s Name Was Incorrect(condensed from Shurat Hadin, vol. V, pp. 190-192)
Case: A husband (=pl) who divorced his wife (=def) came to beit din, saying that his father’s name was written incorrectly in the get. (The names of the fathers of both spouses are written in the get to help identify the parties, similar to our family names, many of which come from fathers’ names). Although the name given during preparation of the get is the one written in pl’s teudat zehut (identification papers), pl’s brother and others attested (as indicated also in a shul memorial plaque) to the fact that pl’s father had a Jewish name that was not written. Pl says that he is not willing to give a new, correct get, but wants to reconcile with def, which she is unwilling to do.
Ruling: The Rosh (Shut 17:12) talks about one who changed his name from Yoseph ben Shimon to Yosef ben Shmuel when his father apostatized and used the new name in a get. The Rosh says the get is invalid because one is able to change his own name but not his father’s, and those who see the get are likely to think that it is talking about a different person. The Shulchan Aruch (Even Haezer 129:10) concurs. This should be the ruling in our case, where evidence is that the name that was used for the father, despite its being in the teudat zehut, was actually false.
On the other hand, the Get Pashut (129:43) brings Rishonim who say that the father’s name need not appear in a get, and that if it is incorrect, the get is valid anyway. However, while the Pitchei Teshuva (EH 129:21) cites these opinions, he accepts the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling. It should be noted that some claim that even according to the stringent opinion, the disqualification is only rabbinic, and the reason is that it is confusing to people.
There are further indications that only when the father’s name is known as one thing and another is written is there a disqualification because it looks like someone else. In our case, the father was not a “shul-goer” and few people knew his Jewish name. He also died several decades ago and even his children only knew his name from their mother. In a case like ours where, additionally, pl’s identification papers, which are used in several important contexts, list his father’s name as it is in the get, there is more reason to say that this is now pl’s accepted name in relation to the element of his father’s name. Here, then, we have two reasons to validate the get: 1) The incorrect name of a father may not ruin the get. 2) Even if it does, it could be considered one whose father’s name is known as the way it was written, which might also be valid. Therefore, we should validate the get based on double doubt.
Since the matter still does not look good, it is proper to require another get. If pl is not willing, one should be given by coercion, and if that does not work, def should be allowed to marry
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