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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin

Folio 17a

and took away their lamp;1  whereupon Rabbah b. Bar Hanah ejaculated: 'O All Merciful One! either in Thy shadow or in the shadow of the son of Esau!'2  This is as much as to say, [is it not,] that the Romans are better than the Persians? How does this square with what R. Hiyyah taught: 'What is the point of the verse, God understood her way and he knew her place?3  It means that the Holy One, blessed be He, knew that Israel would not be able to endure the persecution of the Romans, so he drove them to Babylon'?4  — There is no contradiction. One dictum refers to the period before the Guebers came to Babylon, the other to the period subsequent to their coming.5

IF ONE SAYS, IT WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE' AND TWO SAY IT WAS SIGNED IN OUR PRESENCE, IT IS VALID. R. Ammi said in the name of Johanan: This applies only to the case in which the Get is produced by the witness to the writing [as bearer]. since in that case there is the equivalent of two witnesses6  to the writing and two to the signing. If, however, it is produced by the witnesses to the signing [as bearers], [the Get] is invalid. This would show, [would it not,] that he is of opinion that if two [bearers] bring a Get from 'foreign parts', they are required to declare, 'It was written in our presence and signed in our presence'? Said R. Assi to him: Accepting this view, look at the preceding clause: IF TWO SAY, 'IT WAS WRITTEN IN OUR PRESENCE' AND ONE SAYS, 'IT WAS SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE', IT IS INVALID: R. JUDAH, HOWEVER, DECLARES IT VALID. Do the Rabbis declare it invalid even if the Get is produced by both [as bearers]? — He replied: That is so. At another time R. Assi found R. Ammi poring [over the Mishnah] and saying that even if the Get [is produced] by the witnesses to the signing [as bearers],7  it is valid. This seemed to show that he was of opinion that if two [bearers jointly] brought a Get from foreign parts, they are not required to declare, 'It was written in our presence and signed in our presence'. Said R. Assi to him: If that is so, what of the preceding clause: IF TWO SAY, 'IT WAS WRITTEN IN OUR PRESENCE' AND ONE SAYS, 'IT WAS SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE', THE GET IS INVALID; R. JUDAH, HOWEVER, DECLARES IT VALID. The reason why the Rabbis declare it invalid is because the Get is not produced by both [as bearers]. If then it is produced by both [as bearers], do the Rabbis declare it valid? — He replied: That is so. But, said R. Assi, at another time you told me differently? — He said: This is a peg which cannot be dislodged.8


GEMARA. It has been stated: Why did [the Rabbis] ordain that bills of divorce should be dated? — R. Johanan says: Lest [the husband] might shield his sister's daughter:11  Resh Lakish said: So that he should not sell the increment of his wife's property.12  Why did Resh Lakish not give the reason that R. Johanan gave? — He might argue

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Because it was some Gueber festival on which the lighting of fire was forbidden.
  2. I.e., the Roman Empire.
  3. Job XXVIII, 23.
  4. Apparently this refers to the larger number of Jews inhabiting Babylon as compared with Palestine in the day of R. Hiyya.
  5. [After 226 when Ardashir I, having defeated the last of the Parthian kings. Artaban V, established the Sassanid dynasty that held sway over Babylon for several centuries. The Sassanides, whose original home was Haber near Shiraz, S. Persia, (hence the name [H], Gueber) were ardent and zealous supporters of the Zoroastrian faith and very intolerant of the other faiths their antipathy to which found expression in persecution; v. Keth. 63b and Kid. 73a, Obermeyer op. cit. p. 262, and B.K. (Sonc. ed.) p. 699. n. 2 (where the date should be 226) and n. 3.]
  6. Because the bearer who makes the declaration is regarded as equivalent to two witnesses.
  7. And not the witness to the writing.
  8. I.e., you may take this as fixed and certain.
  9. Which is still the same date, the Jewish day being from evening to evening.
  10. Which is a different date.
  11. Who is his wife. If she misconducted herself, he might, out of affection for his sister, say that it was after he had given her the divorce.
  12. Lit., 'on account of the usufruct'. The so-called 'property of sucking' (mulug) which was settled on the wife at the time of marriage but of which the husband was to have the usufruct so long as they were married. (V. Glos. and B.B., Sonc. ed., p. 206, n. 7). If the Get was undated, he might wrongfully assert that he had sold the increment before the divorce.

Gittin 17b

that adultery is exceptional.1  And why did R. Johanan not give the reason that Resh Lakish gave? — He was of opinion that the increment of the wife's property belongs to the husband until the Get is actually delivered.2  On the theory of Resh Lakish we can understand why R. Simeon should declare valid [a Get signed on the following night].3  But on the theory of R. Johanan, what is R. Simeon's reason for declaring such a Get valid?4  — R. Johanan might answer that his theory is not meant to square with the view of R. Simeon but with the view of the Rabbis. On the theory of R. Johanan5  we understand why R. Simeon and the Rabbis differ;6  but on the theory of Resh Lakish, why should there be any difference between them? — They differ with regard to the increment that accrues between the time of writing [the Get] and the time of signing it.7  But have we not been told just the opposite [with regard to R. Johanan and Resh Lakish]? For it has been stated: 'From what point of time can the divorced woman begin to draw the increment? R. Johanan says: From the time [when the Get] is written; Resh Lakish says: From the time when it is delivered'? — Reverse the names.

Said Abaye to R. Joseph: [We have learnt that] three kinds of Get are invalid,8  but if a woman marries again on the strength of them [and bears a child], the child is legitimate. This being so, what good have the Rabbis done with their regulation [that the Get should be dated]? — They at least raise an initial bar against her marrying again.9  Suppose the husband cut off the date and gave it to her? — He replied: We do not take precautions against a fraud [of this kind]. Suppose it is dated only by the septennate,10  by the year, by the month, by the week? — He replied: It is valid. What good then have the Rabbis done with their regulation? — It is of value [where a question arises] about the septennate before or the septennate after.11  For if you say this is of no value, [I might retort,] even when the day is specified, do we know whether the morning or the evening is meant? What [it does is] to distinguish it from the day before and the day after. So here, [by specifying the septennate] we are enabled to distinguish it from the septennate before and the septennate after [should a question arise about them].

Rabina said to Raba: If a man writes a Get

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. And therefore it was unnecessary to make a special regulation dealing with it.
  2. Hence dating the Get would not help the wife to recover the increment from the purchasers as long as the woman could not produce evidence when she received the Get.
  3. Because according to R. Simeon he loses his title to the increment when he decides to divorce her; v. infra 18b.
  4. Seeing that it gives him an improper opportunity of shielding his sister's daughter.
  5. That the Rabbis required the Get to be dated so that the husband should not shield the wife and R. Simeon so that he should not draw the increment.
  6. On the question of a Get signed on the following night.
  7. The Rabbis holding that the husband is entitled to it till the time of signing. Hence if it is dated the previous day he loses a day, and therefore the Get is invalid. For R. Simeon, however, who holds that the husband loses his title from the time he decided to divorce her, this objection does not apply.
  8. One of them being an undated Get; infra 86a.
  9. Because the scribes will be unwilling to write and the witnesses to sign a Get without a date.
  10. The seven-year period between one Sabbatical year and the next.
  11. E.g., if the alleged unchastity took place in the septennate before, or if the husband continued to draw the increment in the septennate after.