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Gerushin - Chapter Two

Gerushin - Chapter Two

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1

The Torah's statement [Deuteronomy 24:1], "And he will write a bill of divorce for her and place it in her hand," refers both to [a husband] who writes [the get] with his own hand and to one who tells [another person] to write it for him. Similarly, [the husband] may place it in her hand or tell an agent to give it to her.1

The verse states, "And he will write," only to teach that divorce is effective only through the medium of a written document. "And [he will] place it" teaches that the woman may not take [the get] herself.

א

זה שנאמר בתורה וכתב לה ספר כריתות ונתן בידה. אחד הכותב בידו או שאמר לאחר לכתוב לו. ואחד הנותן בידו או שאמר לאחר ליתן לה. לא נאמר וכתב אלא להודיע שאין מתגרשת אלא בכתב. ונתן שלא תקח מעצמה:

2

When [a husband] tells two [colleagues]: "Write a get, sign it, and give it to my wife," the two may write it, sign it,2 and give it to her. They are [the husband's] agents [for the divorce], and they are the witnesses [to it].3

Similarly, if [the husband] tells a scribe: "Write a get for my wife for me," and he tells the witnesses to sign, the get may be written, signed and given to [the husband]. He may use it to divorce his wife whenever he desires.4

ב

אמר לשנים כתבו גט וחתמו ותנו לאשתי הרי אלו כותבין וחותמין ונותנין לה והן הן שלוחיו והן הן עדיו. וכן אם אמר לסופר כתוב לי גט לאשתי ואמר לעדים לחתום כותבים וחותמים ונותנים לו והוא מגרש בו בכל עת שירצה:

3

We may write a get for a man even when he is not accompanied by his wife, provided the witnesses and the scribe who wrote and signed [the get] know the identity of the man and his wife.5

If there are two men in a city whose names are the same and whose wives' names are the same, one may divorce his wife only in the presence of the other. [This safeguard was enacted] lest one [of the men] have a get written and give it to the wife of the other man, causing her to [be considered] to be divorced from [her husband].6

ג

וכותבין גט לאיש אע"פ שאין אשתו עמו. והוא שיהיו העדים והסופר שכתבו וחתמו בו מכירין ויודעים שזה הוא פלוני ואשתו היא פלונית. ואם היו באותו מקום שנים ששמותיהם שוים ושמות נשותיהם שוים אין מגרש אחד מהם אלא במעמד חבירו שמא יכתוב גט ויוליכו לאשת חבירו ויאסרנה עליו:

4

In a time of danger,7 we may write a get [on behalf of a husband] and give it [to his wife], even though we are not aware of [their identities].

It is the woman who always pays the scribe's fee.8

ד

ובשעת הסכנה כותבין ונותנין אף על פי שאין מכירים והאשה נותנת שכר הסופר בכל מקום:

5

The husband himself must tell the scribe to write [the get] and the witnesses to sign [it]. When a court of law9 or two [colleagues] ask a man: "Shall we write a get for your wife?" and he tells them to write [it and sign it],10 it is acceptable if they themselves write [the get] and sign it.

If, however, they tell a scribe [to write] and he does, and they tell witnesses [to sign] and they do, the get is void, because it was written by someone who was not told to write it by the husband himself.11 [This ruling applies] even when they give [the get] to the husband, who in turn gives it to his wife in the presence of witnesses.12

ה

וצריך שיאמר הבעל עצמו לסופר כתוב ולעדים חתומו. הרי שאמרו לו בית דין או שנים נכתוב גט לאשתך ואמר להם כתבו וכתבו הן עצמן וחתמו בו הרי זה כשר. אבל אם אמרו הם לסופר וכתב ולעדים וחתמו אף על פי שחזרו ונתנוהו לבעל וחזר ונתן גט זה לאשתו בפני עדים הרי זה גט בטל, שהרי כתבו מי שלא אמר לו הבעל לכתבו:

6

When [a man] tells two or three [colleagues]: "Tell a scribe to write a get for my wife and tell the witnesses to sign," and they convey these instructions, the get is unacceptable.13[The same ruling applies if the husband] tells two [colleagues] to tell a scribe to write a get and tells them to sign it.14

This matter should be deliberated upon at length, because the get is close to being considered void.15

ו

אמר לשנים או לשלשה אמרו לסופר ויכתוב גט לאשתי ואמרו לעדים ויחתומו ואמרו לסופר וכתב ולעדים וחתמו או שאמר לשנים אמרו לסופר ויכתוב גט לאשתי ואתם חתומו הרי זה גט פסול. ומתיישבין בדבר זה הרבה מפני שהוא קרוב להיות גט בטל:

7

What is the difference between the terms "unacceptable" (pasul) and "void" (bateil)? Whenever this text refers to a get as "void," that means that according to Scriptural law it is void. Whenever the term "unacceptable" is used, it refers to a get deemed unacceptable by Rabbinic decree.16

ז

ומה בין פסול לבטל. שכל מקום שנאמר בחיבור זה בגט שהוא בטל הוא בטל מן התורה. ובכל מקום שנאמר פסול הוא פסול מדברי סופרים:

8

When a husband brings a get that has been signed in his hand and tells [two colleagues]: "Give this get to my wife," they should give it to her [and it is acceptable].17

If he tells others to write a get, sign it and give to his wife, and they write it, sign it and give it to her, and then it is discovered that the get is void or unacceptable, they may write another get - or even 100 other gittin - until the woman receives an acceptable get.18

ח

הבעל שהביא גט בידו חתום ואמר תנו גט זה לאשתי הרי אלו יתנו לה. אמר לאחרים לכתוב גט ולחתום בו וליתנו לאשתו וכתבו וחתמו ונתנו לה ונמצא הגט בטל או פסול הרי אלו כותבין גט אחר אפילו מאה עד שיגיע לידה גט כשר:

9

If the husband tells [two colleagues]: Write and sign [a get] and give it to an agent to bring to her, and they do as they were charged, but it was discovered that the get was void or unacceptable, they may not write another [get] until they consult the husband.

[The rationale is] that [the husband] did not charge them with [effecting the divorce]. Perhaps he wanted merely that they write [the get] and give it to the agent. [If so, their agency was completed,] and nothing remains for them to do, for they have written it and given it [to the agent]. Therefore, they should not write another [get].19

If they do write another get that is acceptable and give it to the agent - who in turn gives it to the wife - the status of the divorce is in doubt.20

ט

אמר להם הבעל כתבו וחתמו ותנו לשליח להוליך לה וכתבו וחתמו ונתנו לשליח. ונמצא הגט בטל או פסול אין כותבים אחר עד שימלכו בבעל. שהרי לא עשה אותן שלוחים לגירושין ושמא לא רצה אלא שיכתבו ויתנו לשליח בלבד ולא ישאר להם בו מעשה אחר והרי כתבו ונתנו. לפיכך לא יכתבו אחר. ואם כתבו גט אחר כשר ונתנוהו לשליח (ונתנו לה) הרי זו ספק מגורשת:

10

When a person tells two or more [colleagues]: "Write a get and give to my wife," "Divorce her," "Send her away," "Release her,"21 "Discharge her," or "Write a letter and give it to her," [the colleagues] should write an acceptable get and give it to her.

If, however, he tells them: "Dismiss her," "Give her what she needs," "Do as our faith requires to her," "Do as the law requires to her," "Do unto her as she deserves," his statements are of no consequence.22 If [these individuals] write a get and give it to the woman, the get is void.23

י

האומר לשנים או ליתר משנים כתבו גט ותנו לאשתי גרשוה שלחוה שבקוה תרכוה כתבו אגרת ותנו לה הרי אלו יכתבו גט כשר ויתנו לה. אמר להם פטרוה פרנסוה עשו לה כדת עשו לה כנימוס עשו לה כראוי לא אמר כלום. ואם כתבו גט ונתנו לה הרי זה גט בטל:

11

If he tells them: "Get her out," "Let her go," "Permit her [to remarry]," "Let her be," "Assist her," there is doubt whether or not these terms imply that she should be divorced or whether they have another meaning. Therefore, [these individuals] should not write [a get] for her. If they write a get and give it to her, the status of the divorce is in doubt.

יא

אמר להם הוציאוה עזבוה התירוה הניחוה הועילוה הרי זה ספק אם משמע מלות אלו גרושין או ענין אחר. לפיכך אין כותבין לה ואם כתבו גט ונתנו לה הרי זו ספק מגורשת:

12

When [a man] says: "Write a get for my wife," [the people he addresses] should write the get, sign it and give it to him. They should not give it to the woman unless he tells them to. If they do give it to the woman, the get is not [effective].24

When does the above apply? With regard to a healthy man. If, however, a man is dangerously ill - i.e., he suddenly falls sick and his illness rapidly becomes very severe - or if he is being led away in chains,25 even for financial matters, or he departs on an ocean journey, or he departs with a caravan [on a desert journey] and he says, "Write a get for my wife," they should write it, sign it and give it to her. For it is clear that his intent was that they should write the get and give it to her.26

יב

האומר כתבו גט לאשתי הרי אלו כותבין וחותמין ונותנין לבעל בידו ואין נותנין לאשתו עד שיאמר להם ליתן לה. ואם נתנו לה אינו גט. במה דברים אמורים בבריא אבל במסוכן והוא אדם שקפץ עליו החלי במהרה והכביד עליו חליו מיד והיוצא בקולר אפילו על עסקי ממון והמפרש בים והיוצא בשיירא ואמר כתבו גט לאשתי הרי אלו יכתבו ויחתמו ויתנו לה. שהדבר ידוע שלא נתכוון זה אלא לכתוב וליתן לה:

13

[The following rules apply when] a healthy person says: "Compose a get for my wife," and [his listeners] write a get, sign it and give it to her. If he commits suicide immediately thereafter - e.g., he throws himself down from a roof or jumps into the sea - the get is acceptable.27

If, however, he climbs up onto a [high] roof, and he is buffeted by the wind until he falls and dies, the get is void.28 If there is doubt whether he threw himself down [from the roof] or was buffeted by the wind, the get is valid unless it becomes known with certainty that he was buffeted by the wind.29

Similarly, if a man was cast into a pit and he said, "Whoever hears my voice should write a get for my wife," [his listeners] should write a get and give it to her, provided they recognize his identity.30 Even if [afterwards,] they took him out of the pit and could not identify him,31 [the divorce] is acceptable. For in time of danger, [a get] can be written and given to [a man's wife] even if they do not know his identity.

Similarly, when a person suffers many severe blows, to the extent that it is impossible to for him to survive - or even if the majority of [his windpipe and gullet]32 have been cut - and he makes motions33 and says: "Write a get for my wife," [his listeners] should write [a get] and give it [to her]. Although he will eventually die, he is alive at this time.34

יג

בריא שאמר כתבו גט לאשתי וכתבו וחתמו ונתנו לה והרג עצמו מיד כגון שהשליך עצמו מן הגג או הפיל עצמו לים הרי זה גט כשר. עלה לגג ודחפתו הרוח ונפל ומת אינו גט. ספק הפיל עצמו ספק דחפתו הרוח הרי זה גט עד שיודע לך בודאי שהרוח דחפתו. וכן מי שהיה מושלך בבור ואמר כל השומע קולי יכתוב גט לאשתי הרי אלו יכתבו ויתנו לה. והוא שידעו אותו. ואע"פ שהעלוהו ולא הכירוהו הרי זה כשר שזה כשעת הסכנה הוא שכותבים ונותנין אע"פ שאינן מכירין. וכן מי שנפלו בו מכות רעות שא"א שיחיה מהן אפילו נשחטו בו רוב סימנין ורמז ואמר כתבו גט לאשתי הרי אלו יכתבו ויתנו שהרי עתה חי הוא אע"פ שסופו למות:

14

[The following rules apply when] a person is troubled by an evil spirit, and at the time when his infirmity begins to take hold of him says: "Write a get for my wife." His statements are of no consequence, because his thoughts are not organized and settled.35 The same ruling applies to a person who has become as drunk as Lot.36 If a drunkard has not reached that level [of incapacity], [the status of the divorce] is in doubt.37

יד

מי שהיתה רוח רעה מבעתת אותו ואמר כשהתחיל בו החלי כתבו גט לאשתי לא אמר כלום. מפני שאין דעתו נכונה ומיושבת. וכן שכור שהגיע לשכרותו של לוט. ואם לא הגיע הרי זה ספק:

15

[The following rules apply when a] healthy [man] says: "Write a get for my wife and give it to her," and afterwards he becomes mentally disturbed. We wait until he becomes healthy again, and then we write the get and give it to her. There is no need to consult with him about the matter again when he regains his heath.38

If a get is written and given before he regains his health, it is unacceptable.39

טו

אמר כשהוא בריא כתבו ותנו גט לאשתי ואח"כ נבעת ממתינין עד שיבריא וכותבין ונותנין לה. ואין צריך לחזור ולהמלך בו אחר שהבריא. ואם כתבו ונתנו קודם שיבריא הרי זה פסול:

16

[The following rules apply when] a person loses his ability to speak, but is of sound mind. We ask him: "Should we write a get for your wife?" If he nods his head affirmatively, we test him with three [questions with different answers].40 If he answers those [questions] to be answered affirmatively in the affirmative and those to be answered negatively in the negative, they should write [a get] and give it [to her]. His mental state must be checked thoroughly, lest he not be of sound mind.

Similarly, if he writes by hand: "Write a get and give it to my wife," they should write it and give it to her, if [it appears] that he is of sound mind. For the laws governing a person who loses his ability to speak differ from those governing a deaf-mute.41

טז

מי שנשתתק והרי דעתו נכונה ואמרו לו נכתוב גט לאשתך והרכין בראשו בודקין אותו שלש פעמים בסירוגין אם אמר להם על לאו לאו ועל הן הן הרי אלו יכתבו ויתנו. וצריכין לבודקו יפה יפה שמא נטרפה דעתו. וכן אם כתב בידו כתבו ותנו גט לאשתי הרי אלו כותבין ונותנין לה אם היתה דעתו מיושבת עליו שאין דין מי שנשתתק כדין החרש:

17

When a person married while sound of mind and became a deaf-mute, he cannot divorce his wife until he regains his mental health.42 Needless to say, this applies to a person who loses his mental stability.43 We do not rely on the motions of a deaf-mute or on his writing, even if he is of sound mind.

If, however, a deaf-mute married a woman while he was in that state, he may divorce her by making motions, for his consecration of her is not valid according to Scriptural law, as has been explained.44 Just as he married her by making motions, he may divorce her by making motions.

יז

מי שנשא כשהוא פקח ונתחרש ואין צריך לומר נשתטה אינו מוציא לעולם עד שיבריא. ואין סומכין על רמיזת החרש ולא על כתבו אף על פי שדעתו נכונה ומיושבת עליו. אבל אם נשא אשה כשהוא חרש מגרש ברמיזה שאין קידושיו קידושין מן התורה כמו שביארנו וכשם שכונס ברמיזה כך מוציא ברמיזה:

18

When a man consecrates a minor via her father's agency and [seeks to] divorce her while she is a minor, her father should accept her get.45 When the get reaches her father's possession, she is divorced.

If [the husband seeks to] divorce [his arusah] when she is a na'arah,46 the divorce is effective when the get reaches her possession or her father's possession. A na'arah who is consecrated may not appoint an agent to receive her get from her husband during her father's lifetime.47 A father, by contrast, may appoint an agent to receive a get for his daughter who has been consecrated, whether she is a minor or a na'arah.

יח

המקדש קטנה על ידי אביה וגירשה כשהיא קטנה אביה מקבל גיטה ומשיגיע גט ליד האב נתגרשה. גירשה כשהיא נערה אם הגיע הגט לידה או ליד אביה נתגרשה. ואין עושה נערה המאורסה שליח לקבל גיטה מיד בעלה בחיי אביה. אבל האב עושה שליח לקבל הגט לבתו המאורסה בין קטנה בין נערה:

19

[The following rules apply when] a girl's father consecrates her48 when she is a minor and then [the father] dies. If [the girl] can differentiate between a get and another object,49 the divorce is effective after the get reaches her possession. If [she is] incapable [of making such a distinction], she cannot be divorced until she becomes capable of making such distinctions.50If such a divorce is carried out, it is of no consequence.

יט

קדשה אביה כשהיא קטנה ומת. אם מבחנת בין גיטה לדבר אחר הרי זו מתגרשת משיגיע הגט לידה ואם לאו אינה מתגרשת עד שתבחין ואם גירשה אינה מגורשת:

20

When a man whom the law requires to be compelled to divorce his wife51 does not desire to divorce her, the court should have him beaten until he consents, at which time they should have a get written. The get is acceptable. This applies at all times and in all places.52

Similarly, if gentiles beat him while telling him: "Do what the Jews are telling you to do," and the Jews have the gentiles apply pressure on him until [he consents] to divorce his wife, the divorce is acceptable. If, however, the gentiles compel him to write [a get] on their own initiative, the get is [merely] unacceptable.53The rationale is that the law requires him to give a divorce.

Why is this get not void? For he is being compelled - either by Jews or by gentiles - [to divorce] against his will [and a get must be given voluntarily].

Because the concept of being compelled against one's will applies only when speaking about a person who is being compelled and forced to do something that the Torah does not obligate him to do - e.g., a person who was beaten until he consented to a sale,54 or to give a present. If, however, a person's evil inclination presses him to negate [the observance of] a mitzvah or to commit a transgression, and he was beaten until he performed the action he was obligated to perform, or he dissociated himself from the forbidden action, he is not considered to have been forced against his will. On the contrary, it is he himself who is forcing [his own conduct to become debased].55

With regard to this person who [outwardly] refuses to divorce [his wife] - he wants to be part of the Jewish people, and he wants to perform all the mitzvot and eschew all the transgressions; it is only his evil inclination that presses him. Therefore, when he is beaten until his [evil] inclination has been weakened, and he consents [to the divorce], he is considered to have performed the divorce willfully.

[Different laws apply when] the law does not require him to divorce his wife, and a Jewish court or simple people compel him to divorce her. This get is deemed unacceptable. Since, however, it was Jews who compelled him, he [is advised] to complete the divorce [in a proper manner]. If, by contrast, gentiles compel him to divorce when it was not required, the divorce is void. Even though he tells the gentiles that he consented and tells the Jews to write and sign [a get], since the law does not require him to divorce, and he was compelled to do so by gentiles, the get is void.

כ

מי שהדין נותן שכופין אותו לגרש את אשתו ולא רצה לגרש. בית דין של ישראל בכל מקום ובכל זמן מכין אותו עד שיאמר רוצה אני ויכתוב הגט והוא גט כשר. וכן אם הכוהו עכו"ם ואמרו לו עשה מה שישראל אומרין לך ולחצו אותו ישראל ביד העכו"ם עד שיגרש הרי זה כשר. ואם העכו"ם מעצמן אנסוהו עד שכתב הואיל והדין נותן שיכתוב הרי זה גט פסול. ולמה לא בטל גט זה שהרי הוא אנוס בין ביד עכו"ם בין ביד ישראל. שאין אומרין אנוס אלא למי שנלחץ ונדחק לעשות דבר שאינו מחוייב בו מן התורה כגון מי שהוכה עד שמכר או עד שנתן. אבל מי שתקפו יצרו הרע לבטל מצוה או לעשות עבירה והוכה עד שעשה דבר שחייב לעשותו או עד שנתרחק מדבר האסור לעשותו אין זה אנוס ממנו אלא הוא אנס עצמו בדעתו הרעה. לפיכך זה שאינו רוצה לגרש מאחר שהוא רוצה להיות מישראל ורוצה הוא לעשות כל המצות ולהתרחק מן העבירות ויצרו הוא שתקפו וכיון שהוכה עד שתשש יצרו ואמר רוצה אני כבר גרש לרצונו. לא היה הדין נותן שכופין אותו לגרש וטעו בית דין של ישראל או שהיו הדיוטות ואנסוהו עד שגירש הרי זה גט פסול הואיל וישראל אנסוהו יגמור ויגרש. ואם העכו"ם אנסוהו לגרש שלא כדין אינו גט. אע"פ שאמר בעכו"ם רוצה אני ואמר לישראל כתבו וחתמו הואיל ואין הדין מחייבו להוציא והעכו"ם אנסוהו אינו גט:

Footnotes
1.

In most matters of Torah law, a person is able to charge an agent to act on his behalf. From the Rambam's wording, Terumat HaDeshen (Responsum 228) and the Kovetz deduce that the Rambam requires that not only the person who gives the get, but also the scribe, must be appointed as agents. This decision is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 120:1). Moreover, the Shulchan Aruch continues, stating that in addition, the scribe must write the get with paper and ink belonging to the husband.

There are, however, other opinions, which maintain that the scribe need not be appointed as an agent. (See Chapter 3, Halachah 16 and notes.)

2.

There is a difficulty in this instance, for the scribe must also act as one of the witnesses who sign the get. Tosafot and many other authorities rule that a get signed by a scribe is unacceptable. In the Beit Yosef (Even HaEzer 130), Rav Yosef Karo explains that the Rambam agrees that a priori, the scribe should not act as one of the witnesses who sign the get. When there is no alternative, however, it is acceptable. (See Lechem Mishneh.)

3.

In this instance, the act the agent effects does not concern him. Therefore, there is no difficulty in his serving as a witness to it. (See also Hilchot Ishut 3:16.)

4.

There are two points of clarification that must be made with regard to this ruling: First, if the husband enters into privacy with his wife after having the get written, the get is nullified, for we assume that the couple engaged in sexual relations, as reflected in Chapter 3, Halachah 5.

Second, there is the problem that the get is predated - i.e., although it was dated on the day it was written, it is the giving of the get and not the writing of the get that effects the divorce. Thus, the date on which the get was given and the date of the divorce are not the same.

With regard to that issue, we are forced to say that the Rambam does not consider it to be problematic. Indeed, when discussing the issue of predated gittin (Chapter 1, Halachah 25), the Rambam makes no mention of this matter at all. Other authorities differ, and it is their view that is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 127:5), which states that if a get is not given on the day on which it was written, it is acceptable only when given by an agent. (See Beit Shmuel 127:7.)

5.

See Hilchot Malveh V'Loveh 24:3-4. The Kessef Mishneh emphasizes that there are several points to be derived from an analysis of the Rambam's choice of wording in the present halachah and in that source:

a) Even if the man is accompanied by a woman he claims to be his wife, the witnesses may not sign a get for her until this fact is established.

b) It is not significant whether or not the scribe knows the identity of the man and his wife. When the scribe does not sign the get (see the notes to the previous halachah), it is the witnesses alone who must be aware of the identity of the husband and wife.

c) As long as a person's name has been established in a city for thirty days - even if it is only according to his own statements - this is sufficient.

d) The witnesses must also know the names of the father of the husband and of the wife.

e) The person's father's name can also be established on the basis of his own statements.

6.

From the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Bava Batra 10:3), it appears that the intent is to prevent the woman receiving the get from engineering such an act of deception.

Our translation is based on authoritative manuscripts and early printings of the Mishneh Torah. The standard printed text states "causing her to be forbidden to him," i.e., she will think that she has been divorced, and on that basis, she will marry another man, and thus become forbidden to her first husband.

7.

A time of danger means an instance when the husband is in danger of dying and asks to have a get written for his wife, so that she will not have to undergo the rites of either yibbum or chalitzah (Gittin 66a).

8.

Although according to Scriptural law it is the husband who should pay for the writing of the get (for it is his responsibility), Bava Batra 168a explains that our Sages transferred this obligation to the woman, lest the husband lack the financial resources and cause the woman to wait unnecessarily for her get.

9.

The Rambam mentions a court of law to indicate that in this instance, their authority is no greater than that of an ordinary person.

10.

The bracketed addition is made on the basis of the gloss of the Kessef Mishneh.

11.

The husband charged these individuals with the composition and the signing of the get. They do not have the authority to convey this responsibility to someone else.

In other instances, an agent can transfer his agency to another person, but here the scribe and the witness were charged with only a verbal command, and a verbal command cannot be transferred to another agent (Gittin 66b).

12.

For the difficulty is with the composition of the get itself.

13.

In contrast to the previous halachah, in which the get is deemed void, here the Rambam rules that it is unacceptable. This more lenient ruling is given because in this instance, the husband's colleagues carried out his instructions.

The Ra'avad and many other authorities also consider this get to be void, for they maintain that the scribe must hear his appointment from the husband directly. The Rambam, however, maintains that the divorce is acceptable according to Scriptural law. As a safeguard, the Rabbis did not accept it, lest a woman hire agents who will tell the scribe and witnesses to compose a get in the husband's name, even though he did not convey such instructions (Gittin 67a).

14.

For the husband did not convey the instructions to the scribe himself.

15.

Rav David HaCohen interprets this to mean that this case is judged more severely than other gittin that are unacceptable, and the status of the woman's divorce is in doubt. This is also the ruling of the Ramah. Rav Moshe Alshacar, however, differs and maintains that there is no difference between this instance and others in which the get is deemed unacceptable.

16.

The practical difference between these two terms is explained in Chapter 10, Halachot 1 and 2. When a get is void, the woman's first marriage is not annulled, and she must leave her second husband if she has remarried. Any children she bears the second husband are considered to be mamzerim. When the get is deemed unacceptable by our Rabbis, by contrast, the woman should not remarry, but if she does remarry she is allowed to remain married to her second husband.

17.

We do not suspect that the husband had a void or unacceptable get composed and gave it to his wife to cause her difficulties (Kessef Mishneh).

18.

We do not say that the agency with which they were entrusted involved only the composition of one get, and that they must receive a new charge from the husband before writing another one.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 122:1) states that if the get is not unacceptable, but does not conform with the standard demanded by the local Rav, the scribe does not have the right to write a second get, for the agency with which he was charged by the husband has already been discharged. Therefore, it is customary for a husband to tell the scribe and the witnesses to write as many gittin as necessary, until one finds favor in the eyes of the Rav arranging the divorce.

19.

If the husband had in fact given them only such a limited agency, were they to have another get written, they would no longer be acting in the agency of the husband, but rather on their own initiative.

Rav Moshe HaCohen differs with the Rambam on this point, maintaining that since they did not write an acceptable get, their agency was not completed. For the husband did not charge them with writing a worthless piece of paper; he wanted them to write a get. Note the Beit Shmuel 122:7, who interprets the disqualifying factor mentioned by the Rambam as referring to a disqualification that occurred after the get was given to the agent. He maintains that if a get that was void or unacceptable was given to the agent, even the Rambam would allow the writing of another get.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 122:2) quotes the ruling of the Rambam, while the Ramah follows the opinion of Rav Moshe HaCohen.

20.

We are not certain that their agency was limited in scope. Perhaps the husband's intent was that they effect the divorce.

21.

This and the following term are acceptable, because they are Aramaic equivalents of the word "divorce."

22.

These expressions do not convey adequately enough the intent that the husband desires to divorce his wife for them to be considered effective in bringing about the appointment of the agents for this purpose.

23.

Note the Beit Shmuel 141:21, who quotes authorities who maintain that even in such instances the status of the divorce should be considered doubtful.

24.

For the husband has not charged them with effecting the divorce.

25.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Gittin 6:5), the Rambam interprets this as referring to a person taken from jail in chains to be judged by a gentile magistrate.

26.

We assume that, in all these instances, his intent was to divorce his wife, lest he die and she be required to undergo the rite of either yibbum or chalitzah. Alternatively, he knew that he was entering a dangerous situation, and feared that he might die, without there being any witnesses of his death. In order to prevent his wife from being forced to remain unmarried for the rest of her life, he charges witnesses with the composition of a get.

He surely wanted to tell the witnesses to give the get, and it was only because of his concern with his personal situation that he forgot to do so (op. cit.). (See Hilchot Zechiyah UMatanah 8:24, which relates similar concepts with regard to a person's division of his estate.)

27.

In this instance as well, we assume that the person intended to say that the get should be given, but failed to mention the point because of his preoccupation with his own concerns.

28.

For his intent is not clear, and it is possible that he wanted to deliberate before having the get given.

29.

The Rambam's ruling is debated by the commentaries, for it is questionable why the get would be considered valid, in light of the doubt that exists. Indeed, there are commentaries that suggest that the text before us is a printing error and that the Rambam considers the status of the divorce to be in doubt. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:18) rules that if the husband falls immediately afterwards, the get is acceptable. If not, the status of the divorce is in doubt.

30.

The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:19) states that the man must state his name, the name of his wife, the name of the city in which he lives and the name of the city in which she lives.

31.

E.g., his face had been cut to the point where his identity was no longer recognizable.

32.

The slitting of these organs are the two signs that determine whether or not ritual slaughter is acceptable.

33.

The Beit Shmuel 121:11 interprets this to mean that the man shakes his head in response to questions (see Halachah 16) and thus indicates that he desires to divorce his wife.

34.

The get is not considered to have been given after the man died, and his wife is not required to undergo the rites of yibbum or chalitzah. See Chapter 6, Halachah 28.

35.

For a person's actions to have halachic significance, he must be mentally competent at the time he performs them.

36.

Whom Genesis, Chapter 19, describes as having become so drunk that he was not aware of having sex with his daughters.

37.

The Rambam appears to be saying that if we are certain that the person is drunk, but see that he is conscious enough to have some control over his behavior, a get that he orders to be given is of doubtful status.

The commentaries question this understanding, noting that in Hilchot Ishut 4:18, the Rambam rules that kiddushin given by a drunk are viable, unless he reaches Lot's state. Similarly, with regard to the entire Torah, a drunk is considered responsible for his conduct. If he commits a transgression punishable by death while drunk, he is executed. Despite these questions, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 121:1) quotes the Rambam's wording. On this basis, the Beit Shmuel states that both a husband and a wife should not drink alcoholic beverages on the day of their divorce.

38.

While the husband (the principal) is incapacitated, his agent (the scribe) cannot act on his behalf. Therefore, the get should not be written until he regains his health. Nevertheless, once he regains his health, the agency that he originally gave is unaffected, and the get should be written and delivered.

39.

In the Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo questions why the Rambam uses the term "unacceptable" (pasul). Seemingly, based on Gittin 70b, this ruling should apply only when we have a means of healing the afflicted person. Otherwise, the get should be void. Indeed, in the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 121:2), Rav Yosef Karo rules accordingly. Note, however, the Beit Shmuel 121:2, who justifies the Rambam's ruling.

[The difference between these two opinions revolves around the fundamental conception of an agent's authority. Is he acting independently of the principal (in which case the principal's state is not of concern to us) or is he considered to be an extension of the principal (in which case, if the principal is unable to perform an act, neither is his agent). See Lekach Tov, Section 1.]

Based on the above, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 121:4) writes that we should check that a person who is giving a get when terminally ill is sound of mind.

40.

According to the Kessef Mishneh, the intent is three questions in which at least one of the answers differs from the other two. There are other authorities who require two sets of three questions. Also, based on Gittin 70b, the Ramah (Even HaEzer 121:5) suggests that the person should be asked questions about fruit - e.g., would he desire a summer fruit in winter? His ability to discern with regard to these matters will serve as an indicator of whether or not he is of sound mind.

41.

A deaf-mute is not considered to be of sound mind and is not held responsible for his conduct.

42.

For the marriage bond he established is binding according to Scriptural law, and he is not capable of initiating divorce proceedings that have that power.

43.

See Hilchot Edut 9:9, where the Rambam defines the term shoteh as including not only maniacs whose behavior is totally beyond control, but also those who are confused and lack the stability to function normally.

44.

Hilchot Ishut 4:9.

45.

Just as the Torah gives him authority to consecrate her, he is responsible for taking part in the divorce, for Deuteronomy 24:2 establishes an association between the forging of the marriage bond and its dissolution (Ketubot 47a).

This applies, however, only before the marriage bond is consummated. After nisu'in, the consummation of the marriage, the father no longer has any authority over his daughter even though she is below the age of majority. (See Hilchot Ishut 3:12.)

We may conclude that, before nisu'in, the Rambam does not consider the girl as having the authority to receive her own get. This opinion is accepted by most authorities and is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:4). The Shulchan Aruch, however, also mentions the opinion of Tosafot, who maintain that the girl possesses this authority.

46.

I.e., a girl between the age of twelve and twelve and a half, who has manifested signs of physical maturity. She is already considered to be past majority with regard to certain dimensions of Torah law. Nevertheless, her father is still granted authority over her in certain contexts. (See Hilchot Ishut 2:1, 3:11.)

47.

A married girl below the age of majority, by contrast, may not appoint an agent to receive her get even if her father dies or her marriage has been consummated (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 141:3.)

48.

If the girl's father consecrates her, the kiddushin are effective according to Scriptural law, and a divorce is required. If, by contrast, the girl's father died, and her mother, her brother or she herself established a marriage bond, it is not binding according to Scriptural law and a get is not required. Instead, this marriage can be dissolved through the rite of mi'un, as described in Hilchot Ishut 4:7.

49.

The Ramah (Even HaEzer 141:6) states that this refers to a girl of six or seven, depending on her intellectual capacities.

50.

If, however, a minor's father is alive, he can accept a get on her behalf regardless of her age or degree of understanding. Rashi (Gittin 64b) differs and maintains that if she is unable to make distinctions, she cannot be divorced even via her father. Although the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:6) quotes both opinions, it appears to favor that of the Rambam.

51.

E.g., a man whose wife says she is repulsed by him (Hilchot Ishut 14:8), a man who was married to a woman for ten years without her bearing a child (Hilchot Ishut 15:7), a man who becomes afflicted by [constant] bad breath or an odor from his nose, one who becomes a collector of dog feces, a miner of copper or a tanner or one who becomes a leper (Hilchot Ishut 25:11-12) or a priest who marries a divorcee (Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 17:7).

52.

The application of this law is not confined to Eretz Yisrael or to the era when the Sanhedrin (the High Court of Law) was in power.

53.

Rav Mesharshia states that the Rabbis deemed the get unacceptable, lest women become accustomed to hiring gentiles for this purpose (Bava Batra 48a). In the Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo notes that Gittin 88b appears to reject Rav Mesharshia's view and states that a get that was forced on a man by gentiles is void entirely. (This indeed is the ruling of Rashi, Rabbenu Nissim and Rabbenu Asher.) In his Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 134:5), Rav Yosef Karo's wording is not specific when dealing with this issue. The Beit Shmuel 134:10 states that such a get is void.

54.

See Hilchot Mechirah 10:1, which states that such a sale is acceptable, after the fact. Nevertheless, if the seller notifies the witnesses that he was compelled to sell against his will, the sale is nullified.

55.

The Rambam's statements have implications far beyond their immediate halachic context. The Rambam is saying that the fundamental desire of every Jew is to affirm his Jewishness and observe the Torah and its mitzvot. Even when a person's conscious mind does not necessarily consent to this inner motivation, it is at work, molding his character without his knowledge. And at times, either because of undesirable circumstances - being compelled against his will as above - or because of desirable ones - an expression of Divine favor - this inner drive will surface.

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