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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin
MISHNAH. IF A MAN AFTER DISPATCHING A GET TO HIS WIFE MEETS THE BEARER, OR SENDS A MESSENGER AFTER HIM, AND SAYS TO HIM, THE GET WHICH I HAVE GIVEN TO YOU IS CANCELLED, THEN IT IS CANCELLED. IF THE HUSBAND MEETS THE WIFE BEFORE [THE BEARER] OR SENDS A MESSENGER TO HER AND SAYS, THE GET I HAVE SENT TO YOU IS CANCELLED, THEN IT IS CANCELLED. ONCE, HOWEVER, THE GET HAS REACHED HER HAND, HE CANNOT CANCEL IT. IN FORMER TIMES A MAN WAS ALLOWED TO BRING TOGETHER A BETH DIN3 WHEREVER HE WAS AND CANCEL THE GET. RABBAN GAMALIEL THE ELDER, HOWEVER, LAID DOWN A RULE THAT THIS SHOULD NOT BE DONE, SO AS TO PREVENT ABUSES.4
GEMARA. [The Mishnah] does not say 'meets him,' but simply 'MEETS', that is to say, even accidentally; and we do not say in that case that he merely desires to annoy his wife.5 OR SENDS A MESSENGER AFTER HIM etc. Why state this?6 — You might think that the commission given to the second has no more force than that given to the first and therefore should not countermand it. Now I know [that this is not so]. IF HE MEETS HIS WIFE BEFORE THE BEARER etc. Why state this? — You might think that although we rejected [above the idea] that he desires to annoy [his wife]. this is only when he says to the bearer [that the Get is cancelled]. but [if he says so] to [the wife] herself he certainly does mean merely to annoy her. Now I know [that this is not so]. OR SENDS A MESSENGER TO HER. Why state this? — You might think that while he would not put himself out merely to annoy her, yet if he sends a messenger, to whose trouble he is indifferent, he certainly desires merely to annoy her. Now I know [that this is not so]. ONCE THE GET HAS REACHED HER HAND HE CANNOT CANCEL IT. Is not this self-evident? — It required to be stated in view of the case where he made efforts from the very first to cancel it. You might think that in this case, subsequent events prove him to have actually annulled [the Get]. Now I know [that this is not so].
Our Rabbis have taught: [If he says,] 'It is canceled [batel]', 'I don't want it,' his words take effect. [If he said,] 'It is invalid', 'it is no Get,' his words are of no effect.7 This means to say, does it not, that the expression batel8 is equivalent to 'let it be canceled.'9 How can this be, seeing that Rabbah b. Aibu has said in the name of R. Shesheth (or, according to others, Rabbah b. Abbuah said), If the recipient of a gift says after it has come into his possession. 'This gift is to be cancelled,' 'let it be cancelled', 'I don't want it,' his words are of no effect,10 but if he said, 'It is canceled [batel],' 'it is no gift', his words have effect. This shows, does it not, that batel means 'cancelled from the outset'?11 — Abaye replied: The expression batel
has two meanings: it means 'canceled already' and it means 'will be canceled'. If used either of a Get or of a gift, it is used in the sense most effective for the purpose.
Abaye said: We have it on authority that the bearer of a gift is on the same footing as the bearer of a Get. The outcome of this [principle] is that the expression 'take' has not the same force as 'take on behalf of.'1
Rabina found R. Nahman b. Isaac leaning against the bolt of the door and revolving the question: What of the expression 'batel'?2 This was left unanswered. R. Shesheth said or, according to others, it has been laid down in a Baraitha: [If a man said] 'This Get shall not avail', 'shall not release [the woman]', 'shall not part',3 'shall not dismiss', 'shall not divorce', 'let it be a potsherd', 'let it be like a potsherd,' his words take effect.4 If he said, 'It does not avail', 'it does not free', 'it does not part', 'it does not dismiss', 'it does not divorce', 'it is a potsherd', 'it is like a potsherd', his words are of no effect.5 The question was raised: What of the expression 'Behold it is a potsherd'? — Rabina said to R. Aha the son of Raba, or, according to others, R. Aha the son of Raba said to R. Ashi: How does this differ from the expression, 'Behold it is sanctified', 'behold it is common property'?6
Can the man afterwards [use the same Get to] divorce with or not? — R. Nahman says that he may use it again to divorce with, R. Shesheth says he may not. The law is according to the ruling of R. Nahman. Is that so? Has it not been laid down that the law [in the case of a betrothed woman] is according to the ruling of R. Johanan, who said that she may retract?7 — Are [the two cases] parallel? There it is a case of words merely on each occasion: one set of words comes and cancels another.8 Here, even granted that the husband cancels the commission of the bearer, he surely does not cancel the Get itself.
IN FORMER TIMES etc. It has been stated: How many must be present at the cancelling? — R. Nahman says two, R. Shesheth says three. R. Shesheth says three, because the Mishnah speaks of a 'BETH DIN'; R. Nahman says two, because two are also called a Beth din. Said R. Nahman: What is my ground for saying this? Because we have learnt: [He says:] I hand over in the presence of you
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