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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin
an old man is different, because he knows how to make over things. But no, said Raba; [we decide] from the following: 'If the signature of the security [for another] appears below the signatures to the bond, the lender may recover from his [the security's] unmortgaged property.1 Said R. Ashi: What is the difficulty? Perhaps a man is different, because he knows how to make over things. No, said R. Ashi; we decide from the following: A woman may write her own Get2 and a man may write his own receipt,3 because a document is only rendered valid by its signatures.4
Raba said: If a man writes a Get for his wife and entrusts it to his slave, and also writes a deed assigning the slave to her, she becomes the legal owner of the slave and she is divorced by the Get. Why should this be? The slave is a moving courtyard,5 and a moving courtyard cannot transfer ownership. And should you reply that we speak of a slave who stands still, has not Raba laid down that things which do not transfer ownership when moving do not transfer it when standing or sitting? The law, however, is [that the Get is valid if the slave] is bound.6
Raba also said: If a man wrote a Get for his wife and put it in his courtyard and then wrote a deed assigning her the courtyard, she becomes owner of the courtyard and is divorced by the Get. Both of these statements of Raba are necessary. For if he had confined himself to the first statement, about the slave, I should have said that this applies strictly to a slave, but in the case of a courtyard [I should declare the Get invalid], so as not to set a precedent for a courtyard which comes into her possession subsequently.7 And again, if he had stated only the rule about a courtyard, I should have said that this applies strictly to a courtyard, but in the case of a slave I should debar one who is bound so as not to set a precedent for one who is not bound. Now I know [that this is not so].
Said Abaye: Let us see. From what expression in the Scripture do we infer the rule about a courtyard? From the words 'her hand'.8 Therefore, just as, if he gives the Get into her hand, the husband can divorce her with her consent or without her consent, so if he places it in the courtyard he should be able to divorce her with her consent or without her consent. But the gift [of the courtyard] can be made only with her consent and not against her will.9 R. Shimi b. Ashi demurred to this objection. There is, [he said,] the case of her appointing an agent to receive the Get from the husband,10 which appointment can be made only with her will but not against her will, and yet the agent is duly authorised?11 And Abaye? — He rejoins: The rule of agency is not derived from the term 'her hand'; the rule regarding agency is derived from the superfluous letter in the word we-shilhah12 ['and he send her'].13 Or if you prefer, I can reply that we find cases where an agent for receiving [the Get is also appointed] without the consent [of the wife], since a father can accept a Get for his daughter who is still a child14 without her consent.
ON AN OLIVE LEAF etc. We understand the ruling (in the case of a Get written] on the hand of a slave15
, because it is not possible to cut off the hand [and give it to her]. But where [it is written] on the horn of an ox [why need the ox be given to her]? Let the husband cut it off and give it to her? — Scripture says, He shall write and give to her.1 [This means that the Get must be on something] which requires only to be written on and to be given [to make it effective]: it excludes [something like] this which requires to be written on, to be cut off, and to be given [before it can become effective].
R. JOSE THE GALILEAN SAYS etc. What is the reason of R. Jose the Galilean? — As it has been taught: [From the word] sefer2 I understand [that the husband must give the wife] a 'book'.3 How do I know that any thing will serve the purpose? Because it says, 'and he write her', that is to say, any form of written document — If so why does it specify 'book'? To show that, just as a 'book' is not animate and does not eat, so the document used for the Get must be inanimate and not a thing which eats. What do the Rabbis [who allow this say to this]? — [They can reply:] If the text had written be sefer ['in a book'], your deduction would be correct, but as it writes sefer it refers only to the record [sefirath,]4 of the circumstances. What do the Rabbis make of the word we-kathab ['and he shall write']?5 — They require it to [deduce therefrom the rule that a woman] is divorced by a written document and not by a money gift. For you might think that her separation from her husband is to be effected in the same way as her union with him:6 just as the union was effected by a money payment,7 so also the separation. Now I know [that this is not so]. From whence then does R. Jose derive this lesson?8 — From the words 'a writ of cutting off': a written [document] effects the 'cutting' [separation] and not anything else. What then do the Rabbis make of these words?8 — They deduce from them that [for a Get] we require something which genuinely cuts off the husband from the wife, as it has been taught: '[If a man says to his wife], Here is your Get on condition that you never drink wine, that you never go to your father's house, this is no "cutting off".9 But if he says, on condition that you do not do so for thirty days, this is "cutting off".' Whence does R. Jose derive this lesson?8 — From [the fact that the text uses the word] kerithuth when it might use the simpler form kareth.10 What do the Rabbis make of this?8 — They do not stress the difference between kerithuth and kareth.
MISHNAH. [A GET] MUST NOT BE WRITTEN ON SOMETHING STILL ATTACHED TO THE SOIL. IF, HOWEVER, IT WAS WRITTEN ON SOMETHING STILL ATTACHED TO THE SOIL AND THEN DETACHED AND SIGNED AND GIVEN TO THE WIFE, IT IS VALID. R. JUDAH DECLARES IT INVALID UNLESS IT IS BOTH WRITTEN AND SIGNED ON SOMETHING NOT ATTACHED TO THE SOIL. R. JUDAH B. BATHYRA SAYS THAT [A GET] MUST NOT BE WRITTEN ON A SHEET FROM WHICH WRITING HAS BEEN ERASED11 NOR ON DIFTERA,12 BECAUSE WRITING ON IT CAN BE ALTERED [WITHOUT BEING NOTICEABLE]. THE SAGES, HOWEVER, DECLARE SUCH A GET VALID.
GEMARA. IF IT IS WRITTEN ON SOMETHING ATTACHED TO THE SOIL. Does not the Mishnah say just before this that it must not be so written? — Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: It may be so written if a place is left blank for the substantive part.13 The same statement was made by R. Eleazar in the name of R. Oshiah: It may [be so written] if a place is left blank for the substantive part. The same statement was also made by Rabbah b. Bar Hanah in the name of R. Johanan: It may [be so written] if a place is left blank for the substantive part. And [our Mishnah] follows R. Eleazar, who says that it is the witnesses to delivery who [make the Get] effective, and it is to be interpreted as follows: 'The formal14 part [of the Get] must not be written [on something attached to the soil] lest one should come to write thereon the substantive part also. If, however, the formal part was written [on something still attached to the soil] and then detached and the substantive part was then filled in and [the Get] given to her, it is valid.' Resh Lakish, however, said: Our Mishnah says distinctly, AND SIGNED'. [This shows that] it follows the view of R. Meir who said that the signatures of the witnesses make [the Get] effective, and it is to be interpreted as follows: 'The substantive part must not be written [on something still attached to the soil] for fear lest the signatures should also be affixed to it [while in that state]. If, however, the substantive part was so written, and the Get was then detached and signed and given to her, it is valid.'
If it is written on the surface of an earthenware flowerpot with a hole at the bottom15 it is valid, because he can take the pot and give it to her.16 If it is written on a leaf inside a flowerpot with a hole at the bottom, Abaye says it is valid and Raba says it is not valid. Abaye says it is valid
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