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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin
by the fact that it goes by steps from one number to the next,1 which shows [that it is as R. Johanan said]. Abaye said: It also shows that the relative may sign where he pleases, at the beginning or in the middle or at the end; we gather this from the fact that no fixed place is assigned to him. It also shows that the Get can be confirmed on the strength of any three signatures and we do not require three next to one another, for if you should suppose that we do require them to be together, a place could be assigned to the relative before or between or after every two competent ones,2 and several [relatives] should be allowed.3
MISHNAH. IF A MAN ON DIVORCING HIS WIFE SAYS TO HER, YOU ARE HEREBY FREE TO MARRY ANY MAN BUT SO-AND-SO, R. ELIEZER PERMITS HER [TO MARRY ON THE STRENGTH OF THIS GET], BUT THE RABBIS FORBID HER. WHAT MUST HE DO? HE MUST TAKE IT BACK FROM HER AND GIVE IT TO HER AGAIN SAYING, YOU ARE HEREBY FREE TO MARRY ANY MAN. IF HE WROTE IT6 IN THE GET, EVEN THOUGH HE SUBSEQUENTLY ERASED IT, IT IS INVALID.
GEMARA. The question was raised: Has the word BUT here the force of 'except' or of 'on condition'? Shall we say it means 'except', and it is where he said 'except [So-and-so]' that the Rabbis differ from R. Eliezer, on the ground that he has left an omission in the Get,7 but that where he says 'on condition [that you do not marry So-and-so]' they agree with R. Eliezer, placing this condition on a par with any other?8 Or should we say perhaps that [BUT here] means 'on condition', and it is where he says 'on condition' that R. Eliezer differs from the Rabbis,9 but where he says except' he agrees with them, on the ground that he has left an omission in the Get? — Rabina replied: Come and hear: 'All houses are defiled by strokes of leprosy but those of heathen'.10 Now if you say that it means 'on condition', are we to understand that it is only on condition that the houses of heathens are not defiled that the houses of Israelites are defiled, which would imply that if the houses of heathens are defiled the houses of Israelites are not defiled? And besides, can the houses of heathens be defiled, seeing that it has been taught: 'And I put the plague of leprosy. in a house of the land of your possession:11 [this implies] that the land of your possession is defiled by plague of leprosy, but houses of heathens are not defiled by plague of leprosy'? — We must understand therefore that 'but' means 'except'; and this may be taken as proved.
The Mishnah is not in agreement with the Tanna of the following [passage]. where it is taught: R. Jose said in the name of R. Judah: R. Eliezer and the Rabbis were agreed that if a man on divorcing his wife said to her, You are hereby permitted to any man except So-and-so, she is not divorced. Where they differed was if a man on divorcing his wife said to her, You are hereby permitted to marry any man on condition that you do not marry So-and-so,
in which case R. Eliezer allowed her to marry anyone except that man and the Rabbis forbade her [to marry at all on the strength of that Get]. What is R. Eliezer's reason? — He puts the condition on the same footing as any other condition. And the Rabbis? — They say that any other condition does not involve an omission in the Get, but this one involves an omission in the Get.
And in the Mishnah, where, as we have decided, he means 'except', what is the reason of R. Eliezer? — R. Jannai answered in the name of a certain elder: Because the text says. She shall depart from his house and go and be another man's wife,1 which implies that if he permitted her to marry only one other man she is divorced. And the Rabbis? — The word 'man' here means any other man. R. Johanan, however, says that R. Eliezer derived his reason from this verse: Neither shall they [the priests] take a woman put away from her husband.2 This shows that even though she is only divorced from her husband [without being permitted to any other man], she is disqualified from the privileges of priesthood, which shows that the Get is valid.3 And the Rabbis? — The prohibition of priestly privileges is on a different footing.4
R. Abba raised the question: What is the rule [if a man uses these words] in betrothing?5 The answer is not self-evident whether we adopt the view of R. Eliezer or that of the Rabbis. If we adopt R. Eliezer's view, are we to say that R. Eliezer ruled as he did here [in the case of divorce] only because this is indicated in the Scripture, but in the case of betrothal we require an effective acquisition?6 Or shall we say that R. Eliezer applies the principle of she shall depart and be [married]?7 Again, if we adopt the view of the Rabbis, are we to say that the Rabbis ruled as they did here [in the case of divorce] only because we require a 'cutting off',8 but in the other case any kind of acquisition is sufficient, or shall we say that they apply the analogy of 'she shall depart and be'? — After stating the problem he himself solved it, saying: Whether we adopt the view of R. Eliezer or that of the Rabbis, we require that the analogy of 'she shall depart and be' should hold good.
Abaye said: If we can assume that the answer of R. Abba was sound, then if Reuben came and betrothed a woman with a reservation in favour of [his brother] Simeon, and then Simeon came and betrothed her with a reservation in favour of Reuben, and both of them died, she contracts a levirate marriage with Levi, [the third brother] and I do not call her 'the wife of two dead',9 the reason being that the betrothal of Reuben was effective but the betrothal of Simeon was not effective.10 And in what circumstances would she be the wife of two dead?11 — If, for instance, Reuben came and betrothed her with a reservation in favour of Simeon and then Simeon came and betrothed her without any reservation, in which case the betrothal of Reuben availed to make her forbidden to all other men and the betrothal of Simeon to make her forbidden to Reuben.12
Abaye raised the question: If he said to her, 'You are hereby permitted to any man except Reuben and Simeon', and then said 'to Reuben and Simeon' what is to be done? Do we say that [by these words] he permits what he had forbidden,13 or are we to say that he both permits what he had forbidden and forbids what he had permitted?14 And assuming the answer to be
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