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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin

Folio 29a

but in the case of an Israelite court once it condemns him to execution he is executed. Said Abaye to him: In an Israelite court also it is possible that some circumstance may be found in his favour [after his condemnation]? — Such a circumstance happens before the sentence is pronounced; after the sentence is pronounced it does not happen.1  May we say that this view is supported by the following: Whenever two persons come forward and say. We testify against So-and-so that he was condemned to death in such-and-such a Beth din, So-and-so and So-and-so being witnesses against him, such a man has to be put to death'? — Perhaps a condemned man who has escaped is different. Come and hear: If he heard [a report] from an Israelite court that So-and-so died or was put to death, they allow his wife to marry again. [If, however, the report came], from a heathen court that he died or was put to death, they do not allow his wife to marry again. Now what is meant here by 'died' and 'put to death'? Shall I say these terms are to be taken literally? Then why in the case of a heathen court is the wife not allowed to marry again, seeing that it is a recognised principle that [the word of] a heathen speaking without ulterior motive is to be accepted [in questions relating to marriage]? I must therefore understand the words 'died' and 'put to death' in the sense of 'taken out to die' or 'to be put to death'; and yet it states [that if the report comes] from an Israelite court they do allow the wife to marry again!2  [The passage means] really 'died' and really 'put to death',3  and as for your question why in such a case [if the report comes] from a heathen court is she not allowed to marry again, seeing that it is a recognised principle with us that the word of a heathen speaking without ulterior motive is to be accepted, [the answer is that] this applies only to a matter in which the heathen has not participated, but where the matter is one in which they have themselves participated, he is prone to indulge in falsehood.


GEMARA. R. Kahana said: We have learnt specifically. IF HE FALLS ILL, Cannot I see that for myself? — [Unless R. Kahana had pointed this out] you might think that the same rule applies even if he does not fall ill, and that [the Mishnah] merely mentioned a usual case. Hence he tells us [that this is not so], How [am I to] understand [the Mishnah]? If the husband said to the bearer simply 'take this [Get]', then surely even if he did not fall ill he can send it on by another? If, however, the husband said, 'You take this,' then even if he did fall ill he cannot send it on by another? And if [the Mishnah] follows R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, then even if he fell ill [although the husband merely said 'take'] he cannot [send it on by another], as it has been taught: 'If a man said, Take this Get to my wife, [the bearer] can send it on by another. If he said, You take this Get to my wife, [the bearer] cannot send it on by another. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: In either case one agent cannot appoint another'? — If you like I can answer that he said 'Take,' for [even this formula authorises the bearer to send it on by another] only if he falls ill; or if you like I can say that he said 'You take', for only where he falls ill it is different:5  and if you like I can say that the Mishnah is in agreement with R. Simeon b. Gamaliel,6  only where the bearer falls ill it is different.

We learnt: IF THE BEARER OF A GET IN ERETZ YISRAEL FALLS ILL, HE CAN SEND IT ON BY ANOTHER. Does not this contradict the following? [For we learnt:] 'If a man says to two persons, "Give a Get to my wife," or to three persons, "Write a Get and give it to my wife," they are to write and give it':7  [which implies, does it not, that] they themselves are [to write it] but not an agent [of theirs]? — Abaye replied: There the reason is that they should not put the husband to shame,8  but here the husband is not particular.9  Raba said: [The reason there is that he only gave them] verbal instructions, and verbal instructions cannot be transmitted to an agent. Does any difference arise in practice between the two? — It does: in the case of a gift,10  their difference being in principle the same as that between Rab and Samuel, Rab holding that a gift is not on all fours with a Get and Samuel holding that it is.

IF THE HUSBAND SAID TO HIM, TAKE FOR ME SUCH-AND-SUCH AN ARTICLE FROM HER. Resh Lakish said: Here Rabbi meant [merely] to teach us that the borrower may not lend the article he has borrowed further, nor may the hirer hire it out further.11  Said R. Johanan to him: This even schoolchildren know. What we should say is that sometimes [if the bearer did send the Get on by another bearer] the Get itself is no Get, because he puts himself in the same position as the bearer who was told by the husband not to divorce the wife except in the lower room and he divorced her in the upper room, or who was told not to divorce her except with the right hand and he divorced her with the left. Now both authorities are agreed that where she goes out to meet him [the second bearer] and gives him the article and then takes from him the Get, it is a perfectly valid Get.12  Where they differ is in the case where the husband said to the bearer,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [I.e., it may happen but rarely (Rashi)].
  2. Which supports R. Joseph.
  3. And so the passage does not support R. Joseph.
  4. When delivering the Get to her.
  5. This formula prohibits the agent from sending it on only when he is well, but not when he falls ill.
  6. That an agent may not appoint an agent.
  7. Infra 66a.
  8. Because if they tell a third party to write it. more people will know that the husband is unable to write it himself.
  9. As there is nothing to be particular about
  10. If a man said to two or three persons. 'Write me a deed of gift for So-and-so.' Here the question of saving the face of the donor does not arise, as the donor was not supposed to write out his own deed of gift. (V. B.B., 167b).
  11. The ruling in the Mishnah is merely intended to state a prohibition, without affecting the validity of the Get should the bearer send it on by someone else.
  12. [Although the husband may not approve of his pledge being in the possession of a third party, the Get is not invalidated since there has been no departure from the husband's instructions in regard to the delivery of the Get itself.]

Gittin 29b

Take the article from her and then give her the Get,1  and he went and gave her the Get and then took from her the article. In such a case R. Johanan declares [the Get] invalid even if [delivered] by [the first bearer] himself, and all the more if by his agent, whereas Resh Lakish declares it valid even if [delivered] by the agent and all the more so if by [the first bearer] himself.2


GEMARA. The Rabbis said to Abimi the son of R. Abbahu: Enquire of R. Abbahu, Can the agent of the original bearer appoint a further agent or not? — He replied: You have no need to ask this. For since it says [in the Mishnah], 'THE LAST AGENT [and not 'the second'] you may conclude that he may appoint another agent. What you should ask, however, is whether, when he appoints an agent, he does so before a Beth din or even without a Beth din. They said to him: We have no need to ask this, since [the Mishnah] says, HE SAYS, I AM THE MESSENGER OF THE BETH DIN. R. Nahman b. Isaac reported the discussion thus: The Rabbis said to Abimi the son of R. Abbahu: Enquire of R. Abbahu, When the agent of the original bearer appoints a second agent, does he do so before the Beth din or even without the Beth din? — He replied: You ought to ask [first] whether he can appoint a second agent at all. They said: This we have no need to ask, since the Mishnah speaks of 'THE LAST AGENT, which shows that the second bearer can appoint a third. What, however, we want to know is whether he must do so before the Beth din or whether he does not need the Beth din. He said to them: This also you need not ask, since it says, HE SAYS, I AM THE MESSENGER OF THE BETH DIN. Rabbah said: A bearer in Eretz Yisrael can appoint any number of further bearers5  [without needing any Beth din].6  R. Ashi said: If the first one dies,7  they all cease to function. Mar son of R. Ashi said: This statement of my father dates from his youth.8  If the husband dies, is there any substance left in them? From whom do they all derive their status? From the husband. As long as the husband is alive, they are all agents; if the husband dies they all cease to be agents.

A certain man wanted to send a Get to his wife. The messenger said to him, I do not know her. So the husband said to him, Go and give it to Abba b. Manyumi who knows her, and he will go and give it to her. The man took the Get,9  but did not find Abba b. Manyumi [in town]. He found R. Abbahu and R. Hanina b. Papa and R. Isaac Nappaha [sitting as a Beth din] with R. Safra also present. They said to him: Transmit your commission to us, so that when R. Abba b. Manyumi comes we can give him [the Get] and he can go and give it to the woman. Said R. Safra to them: But this man has not been made an agent for effecting the divorce?10  They were nonplussed. Said Raba: R. Safra tripped up11  three ordained Rabbis. R. Ashi, however, said: How did he trip them up? Did the husband say to the man, Abba b. Manyumi [shall deliver the Get] and not you?12  According to another version, Raba said: R. Safra thinks he has tripped up, but he is mistaken, three ordained Rabbis. Said R. Ashi: Where is the mistake? What did the husband say to the bearer? 'Abba b. Manyumi [shall give it] and not you.'13

A certain man sent a Get to his wife, telling the bearer not to give it to her till thirty days had passed. Before the thirty days had passed, the man found he could not carry out the commission. He therefore consulted Raba. Said Raba: Why is a bearer who falls ill [allowed to appoint another bearer]? Because he is prevented by circumstances [from carrying out his commission]. This man also is prevented by circumstances [from carrying out his commission]. So he said to the man: Transmit your commission to us, so that after thirty days we can appoint a bearer who will give the Get to the wife. Said the Rabbis to Raba: But he is not [at this moment] commissioned to effect the divorce? — He replied: Since he can divorce her after thirty days, he is practically [now] an agent commissioned to divorce her. They rejoined: Do we not take account of the chance that the husband may have made friends with her [within the thirty days]? Have we not learnt: '[If a man says, This is a Get] from now onward if I do not come within twelve months, if he dies within the twelve months, it is a Get,'14  and in discussing this we raised the question. Do we not take account of the chance that he may [in the meantime] have made friends with her, and Rabba son of R. Huna said: Abba Mari has explained in the name of Rab that this applies to the case where the husband says [on handing the Get to the agent].15  'Her word is to be accepted if [on being challenged] she says, I did not come [near him within the twelve months]'?16  Raba was nonplussed. Later it turned out that the woman in this case was only betrothed. Raba thereupon said: If they said in regard to a married woman [that there is a chance of his making it up with her], it does not follow that they said so in regard to a betrothed woman.17

Said Raba: The real question is this.

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The validity of the Get was apparently made conditional upon the carrying out of the procedure.
  2. Resh Lakish is of the opinion that the husband did not intend his instructions to be treated as strict orders of procedure.
  3. Var. lec., 'He appoints a court and sends it on (by another agent)'.
  4. And therefore presumably the Get is in order.
  5. I.e., the second may appoint a third, and so forth.
  6. Since the first need not declare, 'In my presence it was written etc.,' the last need not declare, 'I am the messenger of the Beth din'. [Rabbah (Var. lec. Raba) extends the ruling of the Mishnah to Eretz Yisrael where it might be maintained the second could not appoint a third since his own appointment need not necessarily have been made in the presence of a Beth din (Trani)].
  7. Before the Get was delivered to the woman.
  8. And is open to criticism.
  9. Lit., 'came'.
  10. But only for giving the Get to Abba b. Manyumi, and therefore he cannot hand it to another.
  11. Lit., 'hamstrung'.
  12. 'Was not therefore the bearer also an agent for delivering the Get?
  13. And therefore he was no agent for delivering the Get.
  14. Infra 76a.
  15. Whom he commissioned to hand over the Get to the wife at the end of the twelve months.
  16. But otherwise we do take this chance into account, and the man is not an agent for divorcing her.
  17. And the man therefore is an agent and can commission us.