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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin
that in any case the slave becomes free1 unless he declares [in writing] 'All my property is left to So-and-so my slave except one ten-thousandth part thereof.'2 [But can Raba then rule thus, Seeing that] R. Joseph b. Manyumi said in the name of R. Nahman: Although R. Jose commended R. Simeon, the halachah follows R. Meir.3 For it has been taught: When the discussion was reported to R. Jose, he applied to him [R. Meir] the Scriptural words, He shall be kissed upon the lips that giveth a right answer.4
But was this R. Nahman's opinion?5 Has not R. Joseph b. Manyumi said in the name of R. Nahman: If a man lying dangerously ill assigned all his possessions to his slave and then recovered, he may retract the grant of the property but not the grant of freedom. He may retract the grant of the property because it is a gift made on a death bed.6 He may not retract the grant of the freedom because the slave has already become known as a free man!7 — In fact, said R. Ashi, [R. Nahman's reason] in the former case [where he said that in practice R. Meir was to be followed] was because the document did not expressly sever the connection between the slave and his master,8 [and not because the same statement cannot receive two applications].9
IF ITS VALIDITY IS CHALLENGED, IT MUST BE ESTABLISHED THROUGH THE SIGNATURES. Challenged by how many? Shall I say by one person? Has not R. Johanan laid down that a challenge must come from two at least? Shall I say then two? In that case there are two on each side, and why should you give credence to one set rather than to the other? — The challenge meant is that of the husband.
MISHNAH. WHERE THE BEARER OF A GET FROM FOREIGN PARTS IS NOT ABLE TO DECLARE 'IN MY PRESENCE IT WAS WRITTEN AND IN MY PRESENCE IT WAS SIGNED, IF THE GET HAS BEEN SIGNED BY WITNESSES, ITS VALIDITY CAN BE ESTABLISHED THROUGH ITS SIGNATORIES. WRITS OF DIVORCE AND WRITS OF EMANCIPATION ARE SUBJECT TO THE SAME RULES WHEN TAKEN [FROM THE LAND OF ISRAEL TO FOREIGN PARTS] OR VICE VERSA,10 THIS BEING ONE OF THE POINTS IN WHICH WRITS OF DIVORCE ARE ON A PAR WITH WRITS OF EMANCIPATION.
GEMARA. What is the meaning of the expression, 'IS NOT ABLE TO DECLARE'? Shall I say it means that the bearer is a deaf-mute? Can a deaf-mute then be the bearer of a Get, seeing that we have learnt:11 'All persons are qualified to be bearers of a Get except a deaf-mute, a lunatic, and a minor?' — R. Joseph said: Here we are dealing with a case in which he gave the woman the Get while he was still in possession of his faculties, but before he could utter the formula was struck deaf and dumb.
WRITS OF DIVORCE AND WRITS OF EMANCIPATION etc. Our Rabbis taught: 'In three points writs of divorce are on a par with writs of emancipation. One is in the matter of being taken [from Eretz Israel to foreign parts] or vice versa.12 [Secondly,] any document witnessed by a Cuthean13 is invalid, except writs of divorce and emancipation. [Thirdly,] all documents
entered in heathen courts, even if the signatures in them are those of heathens, are valid, except writs of divorce and of emancipation. According to R. Meir there are four points [the fourth being this]: If a man says, Give this Get to my wife and this writ of emancipation to my slave, he is at liberty, if he wishes, to retract from both. So says R. Meir'.1 We can understand the Rabbis [specifying the number] three, [because they desired] to except the point stated by R. Meir. But what did R. Meir desire to except by specifying the number [four]? — [He desired] to except the following case which has been taught: If the witnesses are not able to sign their names, we make dents on the sheet and they fill them in with ink. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says: This applies only to writs of divorce. With writs of emancipation and all other documents, if the witnesses are able to read and to sign their names, they sign, and if not, they do not sign. How does 'reading' come in here? — There is something omitted, and the passage should run thus: 'If the witnesses cannot read, the document is read to them and they then sign, and if they are unable to sign, dents are made for them.'
Are there no more points [of resemblance]? Is there not [for example this one]: 'If a man says, Give this Get to my wife and this writ of emancipation to my slave and he dies [before they were given], they should not be given after his death. If, however, he said, Give a maneh to So-and-so, it should be given after his death'?2 — [The passage above was] dealing only with points which do not apply to documents in general,3 not with such as apply to all documents. [And this is such a point;] for Rabin sent [the following message] in the name of R. Abbahu: 'Be it known to you that R. Eleazar sent to the Diaspora4 in the name of Our Master5 the following instruction: If a dying man said, Write down and give a maneh to So-and-so, and then died, his words are not committed to writing nor is the gift made, since perhaps he intended only to make the gift through the instrumentality of the document, and a document does not confer possession after the death [of the author].'6
But is there not the point of 'special intention' [in which writs of divorce and of emancipation are on a par]? For Rabbah, indeed, this raises no difficulty, since it is identical with the point of bringing to and from [Eretz Israel],7 but for Raba it does raise a difficulty. And again, whether we accept Rabbah's view or Raba's, there is the law of mehubar?8 — [The passage above] reckoned only the flaws laid down by the Rabbis9 [on their own authority], not those deriving from the Torah. But [the fact of originating in] a Gentile court is a flaw [in the Get] according to the Torah, and yet this point is also reckoned above? — [We are dealing there with the case where there are] witnesses to the delivery [of the document], and the passage follows the opinion of R. Eleazar, who said that it is the witnesses to the delivery [of the Get] who really make it effective.10 [Is that so?] It says later in the passage:11 R. Simeon says that these also [writs of divorce signed by non-Jews] are valid; and [commenting on this] R. Zera said that R. Simeon was here following the view of R. Eleazar, who said that the witnesses to the delivery [of the Get] make it effective; from which we gather that the first Tanna12 was not [of this opinion]?13
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