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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Gerushin - Chapter Four, Gerushin - Chapter Five, Gerushin - Chapter Six

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Gerushin - Chapter Four

1

A get may be written only with a substance that leaves a permanent impression - e.g., ink,1 sikra, kumus, kankantum2 or the like. If, however, [a get] is written with a substance that does not leave a permanent impression - e.g., beverages, fruit juices or the like - the get is void.

If [a get] is written with lead, a stylus or charcoal,3it is acceptable. At the outset, however, these substances should not be used.

א

אין כותבין את הגט אלא בדבר שרישומו עומד כגון דיו וסקרא וקומוס וקנקנתום וכיוצא בהן. אבל אם כתבו בדבר שאינו עומד כגון משקין ומי פירות וכיוצא בהן אינו גט. כתבו באבר בשחור ובשיחור כשר ואין כותבין בהן לכתחלה:

2

A priori, we may write with gallnut juice on paper, on a hide or the like. We may not use it to write on parchment that has been treated with gallnut juice, for it will not be distinct. If such a get is written, it is void. The same applies in all similar situations.

A get may be written on any substance, even a substance from which one is forbidden to benefit.4 We may write [a get] on a substance on which an erasure would not be noticed, provided it is given [to the woman] in the presence of witnesses who observe the transfer.5

ב

כותבין במי עפצא לכתחלה על גב הנייר והעור וכיוצא בהן אבל לא על גבי מגילה עפוצה מפני שאינו ניכר ואם כתב אינו גט וכן כל כיוצא בו. על הכל כותבין את הגט ואפילו על איסורי הנאה. וכותבין על דבר שיכול להזדייף והוא שיתנו לה בעדי מסירה:

3

What is implied? If a get is written on paper with erasures,6 on parchment that has not been fully processed, on a shard, on leaves, on the arm of a servant or on the horn of a cow,7 [it is acceptable, provided the husband] gives [his wife] the servant, the cow,8 the paper, the parchment or the like in the presence of witnesses.

ג

כיצד כותב (אותו) על הנייר המחוק על הדפתרא ועל החרס ועל העלין ועל ידו של עבד ועל קרן של פרה ומוסר לה העבד והפרה או הנייר המחוק והדפתרא וכיוצא בו בפני עדים:

4

When the get is tattooed on the hand of a servant,9the signature of the witnesses is also tattooed there,10 and he is in the possession of [the wife], the divorce is effective, even though there are no witnesses to [the servant's] transfer,11 for [the tattoo] cannot be forged.

Even when it is known to us that the servant [previously] belonged to the husband, the get is tattooed on his hand, and he is in the possession of the woman, and she says: "He was given to me in the presence of witnesses," the status of the divorce is in doubt.12 For the possession of living beings that can move independently is not considered proof of their ownership.13

ד

היה הגט חקוק על ידו של עבד בכתובת קעקע והיה יוצא מתחת ידה והיו העדים חקוקים על ידו הרי זו מגורשת אע"פ שאין לה עדי מסירה. שהרי אין יכול להזדייף. אפילו היו מוחזקין בעבד שהוא שלו וגט חקוק על ידו והוא יוצא מתחת ידה והיא אומרת בעדים נמסר לי הרי זו ספק מגורשת שמא מעצמו נכנס לה שהגודרות אין להן חזקה:

5

If a get is engraved on a tablet [with a stylus], and it is signed by witnesses, and [the tablet] is in [the woman's] possession, the divorce is effective. [This applies] even when it is known to us that the tablet [had previously] belonged to [the wife].14For a woman is allowed to write her get herself. The verification of a get is dependent on [the witnesses who] signed it, if there are no witnesses to its transfer.15

ה

היה הגט חקוק על הטבלא והעדים עליו והוא יוצא מתחת ידה אע"פ שהן מוחזקין בטבלא שהוא שלה הרי זו מגורשת שהאשה עצמה כותבת את גיטה. שאין קיום הגט אלא בחותמיו אם אין שם עדי מסירה:

6

[The following laws apply when] a get is engraved on a board, on a stone or on a metal plate: If the scribe engraved the form of the letters,16 it is acceptable. This is considered writing, as [reflected by] the verse, [Jeremiah 17:1]: "Written with a pen of iron" - i.e., hewed out. Similarly, if one engraved the letters from the back of the plate until they projected from the front of the plate [the get is acceptable].

If, however, one hewed out the inside of the letter, [and the area around it,] until the form of the letter protruded on both sides, like the protruding writing on golden dinarim, the get is void, because this is not considered writing.17

ו

חקק הגט על הלוח או על האבן או על טס של מתכת אם חפר ירכי האותיות כשר. שזה כתב הוא, הרי הוא אומר כתובה בעט ברזל כלומר שהוא חפרו. וכן אם חקק הירכות מאחורי הטס עד שבלטו בפני הטס אבל אם חפר תוך האות עד שיראו הירכות גבוהות מכאן ומכאן ככתב דינר זהב שהכתב בולט אינו גט שאין זה כתב:

7

If one etches out the shape of letters on a hide,18 or one sketches the form of letters on a hide19 [the get is acceptable].20

A get may be written with any letters21 and in any language.22 A get that is written with the letters of one language and whose witnesses sign with the letters of another language is acceptable, provided the witnesses comprehend the language and the letters used.23

ז

המקרע על העור תבנית כתב או שרשם על העור תבנית כתב הרי זה כשר. כותבין את הגט בכל כתב ובכל לשון. גט שנכתב בכתב מן הלשונות ועדיו חתומין בכתב אחר כשר. והוא שיהו העדים מכירין לשון הכתב והכתיבה:

8

If one of the witnesses signed the get with letters [from one language], and the other signed with letters of another language, the get is acceptable.24

If, however, a portion of the get is written in one language, and another portion is written in another language, it is unacceptable.25

ח

אחד מן העדים חתם בכתב (לשון אחת) והעד השני בכתב לשון אחרת כשר. אבל אם היה מקצת הגט כתוב בלשון אחת ומקצתו בלשון אחרת פסול:

9

Regardless of the language in which a get is written, the scribe must be careful that the wording of the get does not allow for two meanings. It should not [leave] the reader [in doubt, wondering]: "Perhaps this was his intention" - i.e., something other than divorce - "or perhaps this was his intention" - i.e., divorce.26 Instead, [whatever] the language [of the get], the wording should unequivocally state one concept: that so and so divorces so and so.

ט

כל לשון שיכתב בה הגט צריך שיזהר הסופר בדברי הגט שלא יהא משמען שני ענינים עד שנמצא הקורא אומר שמא לכך ולכך נתכוון שאין משמעו לשון גירושין או שמא לענין זה נתכוון שמשמעו לשון גירושין. אלא יהיו הדברים שאין בהן ספק באותו הלשון אלא משמען ענין אחד שגירש ושלח פלוני את פלונית:

10

Similarly, regardless of the letters used, the penmanship [of the scribe] must be clear, so that children who know those letters would be able to read it. [The intent is] children who are not overly bright, nor those who are overly slow, but rather those of average intelligence.27

The writing should not be crooked, nor incoherent, lest one letter be confused with another, changing the meaning of the text.28

י

וכן צריך שיהיה אותו הכתב מבואר היטב באותו הכתב שיכתוב בו עד שידעו הקטנים לקרותו שמכירים אותו כתב שאינן לא נבונים ולא סכלים (ולא בקטנים) אלא בינונים. ולא יהיה כתב מעוקם ומבולבל שמא תדמה אות לאות ונמצא הענין משתנה:

11

If [the wording of a get] has two implications, or its writing is crooked or incoherent to the extent that it is possible to understand a different concept from it, it is unacceptable. [It is not void,] because it may be read as referring to a divorce and its meaning involves divorce.

Although a priori it is permissible to write a get in any language, it has already become universal Jewish practice to write gittin in Aramaic, using the following text.29

יא

היה בו משמעות שני ענינים או שהיה בכתבו עיקום או בלבול עד שאפשר שיקרא ממנו ענין אחר. הואיל ונקרא לענין הגירושין ויש בו משמע גירושין הרי זה פסול. כבר נהגו כל עם ישראל לכתוב הגט לשון ארמי ובנוסח זה אע"פ שמותר לכתבו בכל לשון לכתחלה:

12

This is the text of the get:

On this day of the week, on this day of the month, in this year from creation - or according to the chronology employed for legal documents30 - according to the reckoning that we keep here in [the name of the place where the get is being given], in the following way, I [the husband's name,] the son of [his father's name], from [the name of his city]31 or by whatever names or nicknames32 by which I, my father, my place or his place are called, desire out of independent will without anyone forcing me, to dismiss, to release, to divorce you, [the woman's name,] the daughter of [her father's name], from [the name of her city] or by whatever names or nicknames you, your father, your place or his place is known.33

[Although] previously, you were my wife, now I am dismissing, releasing and divorcing you, so that you have the license and the authority to go and marry any man whom you desire. No one will protest [your actions] from the present day onward. You are free [to marry] any man. This will serve you as a bill of divorce, a get dismissing you, and a letter releasing you, from me, according to the faith of Moses and Israel.

The witnesses sign below, as we explained:34 [The witness's name] the son of [his father's name], a witness, [the witness's name] the son of [his father's name], a witness.

יב

וזה הוא נוסח הגט בכך בשבת בכך וכך לירח פלוני בשנת כך וכך ליצירה או לשטרות למניינא דרגילנא למימני בה הכא במקום פלוני (איך) אנא פלוני בר פלוני דממקום פלוני וכל שום אחרן וחניכה דאית לי ולאבהתי ולאתרי ולאתריהון דאבהתי צביתי ברעות נפשי בדלא אניסנא ופטרית ושבקית ותרוכית יתיכי ליכי אנת פלונית בת פלוני דממתא פלונית וכל שום אחרן וחניכה דאית ליכי ולאבהתיכי ולאתריכי ולאתריהון דאבהתיכי די הוית אנתתי מן קדמת דנא וכדו פטרית ושבקית ותרוכית יתיכי ליכי דיתהוייין רשאה ושלטאה בנפשיכי למהך להתנסבא לכל גבר דיתצבייין ואינש לא ימחה בידיכי (מן שמי) מן יומא דנן ולעלם והרי את מותרת לכל אדם ודן די יהוי ליכי מנאי ספר תרוכין וגט פטורין ואגרת שבוקין כדת משה וישראל. והעדים חותמים למטה כמו שביארנו. פלוני בן פלוני עד. פלוני בן פלוני עד:

13

When a get is written using the above text and wording, [the following rules should be adhered to:] The word ודן should not be written with a yud, so that it might be read as ודין, which might be interpreted as meaning: "There will be a judgment between me and you."

The word ואגרת should not be written with a yud, lest it be read as ואי גרת, meaning "If you commit adultery."

The word למהך should not be written with a yud, lest it be read as לי מהך - i.e., that it is a joke for me.35

The words תהוייין and תצבייין should not be written with only two yuddin, lest a reader get the impression that the man is speaking with two women, and rather than divorce the one, he is divorcing two others.

Similarly, he should elongate the [latter] vav in the word וכדו lest it resemble a yud, which would cause the word to be read as uch'dei, in which instance, it would mean that "I am divorcing you on this condition." By the same token, he should elongate the vav in the words תרוכין and שבוקין, lest they resemble yuddin, in which instance it would mean that he is telling her that she is releasing and divorcing him.

In a similar fashion, care must be taken in every language and with every form of lettering to make certain that [the wording of the get] does not leave the possibility for two implications.

יג

כשיכתוב הגט בלשון הזה ובנוסח זה לא יכתוב ודין ביו"ד שמא יקרא הקורא ודין כלומר משפט יהיה ביני וביניך. ולא יכתוב ואיגרת ביו"ד שמא יקרא הקורא ואי גרת כלומר אם זנית. לא יכתוב לימהך ביו"ד שמא יקרא הקורא לי מהך [וכן ירחיק רגל הה"א מגגה שמא יקרא למחך] כלומר לשחוק. ולא יכתוב תהויין ותצביין בשני יודי"ן שמא יקרא הקורא תהויין ותצביין כלומר שהוא מדבר עם שתי נשים ונמצא שאינו מגרש לזו אלא לשתים אחרות. וכן יאריך לוי"ו דוכדו שמא תדמה ליו"ד ויהיה משמעו וכדי כלומר בתנאי זה אפטור אותך. וכן יאריך לוי"ו דתרוכין ושביקין שמא תדמה ליו"ד ויהיה משמע תריכין ושביקין כלומר שהוא אומר לה שהיא שבקה וגירשה אותו. ועל דרך זה צריך להזהר בכל לשון ובכל כתב שיכתוב שלא יהיה בו משמע שתי עניינות:

14

If [a scribe] wrote [a get] using this text and did not elongate the vavin mentioned, did not write the extra yuddin, or wrote the yuddin that we said should not be written, the get is unacceptable.36 Similarly, [if a get is written] in another language, and imprecise wording or writing is used, it is unacceptable.

יד

הרי שכתב בנוסח זה ולא האריך ווי"ן אלו או לא כתב היודי"ן היתרות או שכתב היודי"ן שאמרנו שלא יכתבו הרי זה גט פסול וכן כל כיוצא בזה בכל לשון פסול:

15

[The following rules apply if] a letter or a word of a get was rubbed out or written between the lines. If it is from the standard portion of the get, it is acceptable. If it is from the portions of the get that are of fundamental importance, the get is void. If, however, at the conclusion of the get, it is stated that the particular letter has been written between the lines or has been rubbed out, the get is acceptable, as other legal documents would be,37 even if [the difficulty] concerns the portions of the get that are of fundamental importance.38

Similarly, if a get was discovered to be torn [both] horizontally and vertically, as is customary for a court [to tear a legal document], the get is void, as would be other legal documents.39 If, however, it is torn in a way other than the manner customary for a court [to tear a legal document], it is acceptable.

טו

גט שמחק בו אות או תיבה או שתלה בין השטין. אם מטופס הגט הרי זה כשר. ואם מן התורף אינו גט. ואם חזר ופירש בסוף הגט שאות פלונית תלויה או על מחק אפילו מתורף הגט כשר כשאר שטרות. וכן גט שנמצא קרוע שתי וערב שהוא קרע של בית דין הרי זה גט בטל כשאר השטרות. אבל אם נקרע ואינו קרע של בית דין כשר:

16

If [the get] has faded, rotted or become [filled with holes like] a sieve, it is acceptable. [The following rules apply if] it has been rubbed out or the letters have become blurred, but their form remains. If it can be read, it is acceptable;40 if not, it is void.

טז

נימוק או שהרקיב או שנעשה ככברה כשר. נמחק או נטשטש ובבואה שלו קיימת אם יכול לקרות כשר ואם לאו אינו גט:

17

When does the above41 apply? When the woman is in possession of a get that has been signed by witnesses, and there are no witnesses to its transfer. If, however, there are witnesses who testify that the get was transferred in their presence, and at that time it was acceptable, the divorce is binding.42

[This applies] even if the fundamental portions of the get were written on erased parchment or between the lines, or [the get] was torn [both] horizontally and vertically when it was given to [the woman] in their presence.43

יז

בד"א כשהיה הגט יוצא מתחת ידה בעדי חתימה ואין שם עדי מסירה אבל אם יש שם עדים שנמסר לה הגט בפניהם והיה כשר הרי זה כשר. אע"פ שהיה תורף הגט על המחק או בין השיטין או שהיה קרוע שתי וערב כשנתן לה בפניהם:

18

[The following rules apply when] five men write a single get to divorce their five wives. The get is acceptable if the wording they use is inclusive - i.e., they wrote "On the day of the week, so and so divorced so and so, and so and so divorced so and so..." - every husband making a statement to his wife. Similarly, each of them told his wife: "so that you have the license to...," including the entire standard portion of the get. Two witnesses must sign below.

[This get] must be given to each of the women in the presence of witnesses who observe its transfer. If no witnesses observe its transfer at all, the woman who is in possession of the get is considered to be divorced.44

[Different rules apply if,] by contrast, [the scribe] wrote: "On the day of the week, so and so divorced so and so...," completing the entire text of the get and then began writing a second get directly under it in the same scroll. [He continued] writing: "On the day of the week, so and so divorced so and so...," and so completed the entire text of the second get and similarly completed all the gittin in this manner [on the same scroll], and the witnesses signed below [the final get].

If this scroll was given to each of the women in the presence of witnesses who observed the transfer, all their divorces are effective.45 [More stringent rules apply] if there are no witnesses who observed the transfer, and the scroll is in the possession of one of the women: If hers was the last get written on the scroll and the signatures of the witnesses are read together with [that statement], her divorce is effective.46 If the scroll is in the possession of one of the women whose gittin precede the last one, the status of her divorce is in doubt.

יח

חמשה שכתבו גט אחד לחמש נשותיהן. אם כתבוהו בכלל כגון שכתבו בכך בשבת גירש פלוני לפלונית ופלוני לפלונית וכן אמר כל אחד מהן לאשתו ליכי די תהויין וכל טופס הגט ושני עדים חותמין מלמטה הרי זה גט כשר וינתן לכל אחת מהן בעדי מסירה. ואם אין שם עדי מסירה כלל כל מי שתצא מגילה זו מתחת ידה מגורשת. אבל אם כתב בכך בשבת גירש פלוני לפלונית והשלים הגט והתחיל תחתיו גט אחר באותה מגילה וכתב וביום זה או בכך בשבת גירש פלוני לפלונית והשלים הגט השני. וכן עד שהשלים כל הגיטין והעדים מלמטה אם ניתנה מגילה זו לכל אחת מהן בעדי מסירה הרי כולן מגורשות. ואם אין שם עדי מסירה והיתה מגילה זו יוצאה מתחת יד אחת מהן אם היתה זו שגיטה באחרונה שהעדים נקראין עמו הרי זו מגורשת ואם היתה המגילה יוצאה מתחת יד אחת מן הראשונות הרי זו ספק מגורשת:

19

If [the scribe] writes: "We, so and so and so and so, divorce our wives, so and so and so and so,..." and then completes the get, the get is void, even though it was given to each one of them in the presence of witnesses who observed its transfer. [The rationale:] two women cannot be divorced with the same get, as [we can infer from Deuteronomy 24:1]: "And he shall write for her," [implied is:] for her and not for her and her colleague.

If after [writing the text as above], he continued and wrote individual statements for each one within the get, stating, "So and so is divorcing so and so, and so and so is divorcing so and so on this date,"47 the divorces are acceptable.

יט

כתב אנו פלוני ופלוני גירשנו נשותינו פלונית ופלונית והשלים הגט אע"פ שנמסר לכל אחת מהן בעדי מסירה אינו גט שאין שתי נשים מתגרשות בגט אחד שנאמר וכתב לה ולא לה ולחברתה. חזר ופרטן בתוך הגט וכתב פלוני גירש פלונית ופלוני גירש פלונית בזמן פלוני הרי אלו כשרים:

20

[The following rules apply when a scribe] wrote two gittin in two columns on one scroll side by side. If there are two witnesses [whose signatures] are read [as a continuation of] one get, and two witnesses [whose signatures] are read [as a continuation of] the other get, the get is acceptable.48 Whichever woman is in possession of the get is divorced.49

כ

כתב שני גיטין בשני דפין במגילה אחת זה בצד זה. אם יש שם שני עדים נקראים בסוף גט זה ושני עדים בסוף גט זה הרי זה כשר וכל שתצא מגילה זו מתחת ידה מגורשת:

21

[In the above instance, if the gittin] were signed by only two witnesses, who signed across the width of both gittin, the divorce is valid only when the scroll is in the possession of the woman under whose get the signatures appear.50

If the scroll is in the possession of the woman under whose get the signatures of the witnesses do not appear, the get is not acceptable unless it is given to her in the presence of witnesses [who observe the transfer].51

כא

היו שם שני עדים בלבד באים מתחת גט זה לתחת גט זה. אם יצא מתחת יד זו שהעדים נקראים עם גיטה הרי זו מגורשת. ואם יצא מתחת יד שנייה שאין העדים נקראים עמו אינו גט עד שימסור לה בעדים:

22

[The following rules apply if a scribe] writes two gittin, one above the other, and the witnesses sign between the two gittin - their signatures thus being below the first get and above the second get. If the scroll is in the possession of the woman under whose get the signatures appear, her divorce is valid, and the woman above whose get the signatures appear is not divorced.52

If the witnesses signed at the top of a get, at its side or on its overside, it is not a get.53 If it was given to [the woman] in the presence of witnesses, it is acceptable.54

כב

כתב שני גיטין בשני דפין זה למעלה מזה והעדים בין שני הגיטין שנמצאו בסוף הראשון ולמעלה מן השני. אם היה יוצא מתחת יד זו שהעדים נקראין בסוף גיטה הרי זו מגורשת. וזו שהעדים נקראין בראש גיטה מלמעלה אינה מגורשת. העדים שחתמו בראש הדף של גט או מצדו או מאחריו אינו גט ואם נמסר לה בעדים כשר:

23

If two gittin [were written in an arc,] with the beginning of one get facing the beginning of the other get, and the signature of the witnesses is located between the tops of both gittin, both are void. If they are transferred in the presence of witnesses, both are acceptable.

כג

הקיף ראש הדף זה לראש דף זה והעדים באמצע שנמצאו העדים בראש שני הגיטין שניהם בטלין. ואם נמסרו להן בעדים שניהם כשרים:

24

[The following rules apply if the scribe did not complete the text of the get in one column,] left a portion unwritten and wrote it at the top of a second column. If the witnesses signed below, at the end of the second column, it is acceptable, provided it is obvious that the scroll was not cut off, and it was the scribe's intent to complete the get in the second column.

If, however, this is not apparent, the status of the divorce is in doubt, even if the get was given in the presence of witnesses. [The rationale is that] perhaps there were two gittin, and the portion below the get in the first column and a portion above the get in the second column were cut off.55

כד

שייר מקצת הגט וכתבו בדף השני והעדים מלמטה בסוף הדף השני כשר. והוא שיהיה ניכר במגילה שלא נחתך ושלכך נתכוון הסופר שישלים בדף השני. אבל אם אינו ניכר אע"פ שנמסר בעדים הרי זו ספק מגורשת. שמא שני גיטין היו ונחתך מקצת זה מסוף הדף ומקצת השני מראש הדף:

25

If, after writing the get and completing it, [the scribe] wrote: "Give regards to so and so," "Greetings to you, so and so, my friend," or the like, and afterwards the witnesses signed beneath the greeting, the status of the divorce is doubtful,56 despite the fact that the woman is in possession of the get. [The rationale is] perhaps the witnesses signed only for the greeting [without paying attention to the get].

If, however, the scribe wrote: "And give regards to so and so," "And greetings to you, so and so, my friend," or the like, the get is acceptable. Since [the greeting] accompanies the get,57 [we presume that the witnesses] signed with both these thoughts in mind.

If [the get] was given to her in the presence of witnesses, it is acceptable in either instance.58

כה

הרי שכתב הגט ואחר שגמר כתב שאלו בשלום פלוני או שלום עליך פלוני רעי וכיוצא בזה וחתמו העדים מלמטה והרי גט זה יוצא מתחת ידה הרי זו ספק מגורשת. שמא לא חתמו העדים אלא על שאילת שלום. אבל אם כתב ושאלו בשלום פלוני או ושלום עליך רעי וכיוצא בזה שהרי ליוה דברים אלו על דברי הגט ועל שניהם חתמו הרי זו מגורשת. ואם נמסר לה בעדים בין כך ובין כך הרי זה גט כשר:

Footnotes
1.

In Hilchot Tefillin 1:4, the Rambam describes the process by which ink is made as follows:

One collects the vapor of oils, of tar, of wax or the like, [causes it to condense,] and kneads it together with sap from a tree and a drop of honey. It is moistened extensively, crushed until it is formed into flat cakes, dried and then stored.

When one desires to write with it, one soaks [the cakes of ink] in gallnut juice or the like and writes with it. Thus, if one attempts to rub it out, he would be able to.

2.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Gittin 2:3, the Rambam mentions three Arabic terms for these words. Rav Kapach explains the meaning as follows: sikra refers to red clay that is used for painting. Kumus and kankantum are two similar substances, yellow and green powders, which when mixed with gallnut juice produce a black substance. Other commentaries offer different interpretations.

3.

Our translation of these terms is based on the Aruch, as quoted by the Ramah (Even HaEzer 125:2).

4.

The Beit Shmuel 124:1 explains that, a priori, the Rambam allows a get to be written on a substance from which we are forbidden to benefit. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 124:1) differs and follows the opinion of Tosafot, which states that it is only after the fact that such a get is acceptable. The Ramah adds that if we are obligated to destroy the substance on which the get was written, the get is void.

5.

The Rambam rules that a get signed by acceptable witnesses is valid even when it was given without witnesses' observing the transfer (Chapter 1, Halachah 16). In this instance, however, even he maintains that witnesses must observe the transfer, for it is possible that the signatures of the witnesses on the get could be forged (Chelkat Mechokek 124:2).

6.

The difficulty with a get written on a parchment with erasures is that the text can be erased again and additions or deletions made without making a noticeable difference in the final product. Thus, stipulations could be added to the get, or the signatures of the witnesses altered. Similarly, changes could be made to a get written on any of the other substances that follow.

Another type of legal document written on such parchment would not be acceptable. The laws pertaining to a get are different, for in this instance the purpose of the document is not to serve as proof of the divorce, but instead to effect the dissolution of the marriage bond. The purpose of other legal documents, by contrast, is to serve as an account of the transactions they record.

7.

As stated in Chapter 1, Halachah 6, one may not detach the horn from the cow after the get was written on it, before giving the cow to the woman.

8.

Normally mesirah, transferring the reigns of an animal, is not an acceptable means of acquiring a cow, as stated in Hilchot Mechirah 3:5. Nevertheless, an exception is made in this instance, because the fundamental purpose of this transaction is not to transfer the cow, but to transfer the get (Hafla'ah; see also the gloss of the Maggid Mishneh to Chapter 9, Halachah 3).

9.

As reflected by a comparison to the second clause, this law applies when it is known that the servant belonged to the woman (Beit Shmuel 124:17). (See the notes on the following halachah.)

10.

The commentaries question why the signature of the witnesses is significant, for by tattooing the servant they have committed a transgression that disqualifies them from serving as witnesses.

11.

In this instance, the situation parallels the law described in Chapter 1, Halachah 16, which rules that a get signed by acceptable witnesses is acceptable, even when there are no witnesses to its transfer.

12.

See the Chelkat Mechokek 124:19, which states that if there are witnesses to the transfer of the servant, or the husband admits that the servant was given to the woman, the divorce is effective.

13.

See Hilchot To'en V'Nit'an 10:1.

14.

Although the article on which the husband has the get written must belong to him, there is no difficulty in this instance, as will be explained.

15.

We assume that the witnesses who signed the get would have signed it only after verifying that the woman gave the tablet to her husband for the purpose of the divorce.

16.

I.e., he hewed out the lines that would normally be written.

17.

I.e., the letter is formed by working around the letter, and not on the form of the letter itself. This law has a corollary that is applicable to contemporary halachah. If ink spills near a letter, the shape of the letter may not be formed by scratching out the ink blotch (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 125:8).

18.

Without writing.

19.

In this instance, the writing will not remain permanently, but instead will be rubbed out in a short time. For this reason, the Rambam rules in Hilchot Shabbat 11:16 that sketching on a hide is not considered writing. Nevertheless, in this instance, since there is nothing lacking in the writing itself, the Rambam deems the get acceptable.

20.

See the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 125:5), which mentions that there are some authorities who rule that etching is acceptable and sketching unacceptable, and others who accept sketching and disqualify etching.

21.

I.e., one may use Rashi script, rather than ordinary Hebrew writing (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 126:1). Indeed, in one of his responsa, the Rambam writes that his teacher, Rav Yosef Migash, preferred having a get written in Rashi script rather than using the letters used in writing a Torah scroll. The univeral custom at present, however, is to use the Assyrian script with which Torah scrolls are written [Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 126:1)].

22.

I.e., there is no requirement to write it in Hebrew or Aramaic. Nevertheless, for centuries, it has been customary to use the standard Aramaic text quoted by the Rambam later on in this chapter.

23.

In Chapter 1, Halachah 23, the Rambam allows a get to be read for the witnesses. Nevertheless, in this instance the Rambam requires the witnesses to read the get themselves. Since signing in another language is already a departure from the norm, no further leniency is granted (Ma'aseh Rokeach).

24.

Gittin 9:7 gives an example of one witness signing in Greek and the other in Hebrew. Even though the two languages use different characters, and even require writing in different directions, the get is acceptable.

Each of the witnesses' signatures is a separate and independent statement. Therefore, there is no need for the two signatures to be in the same language. The get, by contrast, is a single unit and must be written in one language (Kessef Mishneh).

25.

This ruling is accepted by all authorities. Although the standard text of the get that is universally employed uses both Aramaic and Hebrew, this does not represent a contradiction. Our Sages explain that since both these languages were used at Mount Sinai, they are considered to be a single tongue (Ramah, Even HaEzer 126:1).

26.

See Halachah 13 for examples of wording that could create such doubt.

27.

See Hilchot Tefillin 1:19, which states that when a question arises concerning the writing for the parchments of the tefillin, a determination may be made on the basis of the reading of such a child.

28.

See Halachah 13 for examples of steps taken to prevent such confusion from arising.

29.

This basic text was already employed during the Talmudic era. At present, the later authorities in both the Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities have suggested minor emendations to the text quoted by the Rambam. As such, there are two standard gittin employed in Eretz Yisrael today.

30.

This refers to the years dating back to the beginning of Alexander the Great's kingdom, as mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 27.

31.

I.e., the city in which he dwells, not the city in which he was born (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 128:2). The Shulchan Aruch continues, stating "At present, when we are constantly being exiled and must wander, our place of residence is not defined." Instead, if the man is present at the composition of the get, it is written "who is located at present in this and this place."

32.

The Ashkenazi custom is not to employ this phrase and instead to specify all the names by which a person is called (Ramah, Even HaEzer 129:1).

33.

The concepts mentioned in the notes above with regard to the husband's place and names also apply with regard to his wife's.

34.

Chapter 1, Hilchot 15, 18, et al. In many manuscripts and early printings of the Mishneh Torah, the phrases that follow are omitted, leading some to consider them to be the additions of a printer.

35.

Some texts of the Mishneh Torah also include the statement that space should be left between the leg of the heh and its roof. According to that text, לי מהך "for me, from now on."

36.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam and maintains that the get is unacceptable only when the husband protests and maintains that he intentionally had the scribe make such a mistake. If he does not issue such a protest, the get is acceptable. The Maggid Mishneh also mentions that there is a difference if the woman subsequently married on the basis of the get or not, and the Tur states that the get may be disqualified on this basis only if the husband writes it himself, or the scribe writes it in response to his explicit instructions.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 126:22) quotes the Rambam's ruling, but also mentions that of the Ra'avad and the Tur. An exception, however, is made with regard to writing the three yuddin in the words תצבייין and תהוייין. If only two yuddin are written, the get is acceptable. (See also the Beit Shmuel 126:32.)

37.

See Hilchot Malveh V'Loveh 27:8.

38.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 125:19) states that at present it is customary to discard a get with a portion that has been rubbed out, instead of adding this line at the conclusion of the get. If, however, there is no alternative, a get is acceptable with an erasure, even if there is no explanation at the end, for we rely on the witnesses who observe the transfer (Beit Shmuel 125:35).

39.

The Ra'avad states that if the get had been certified by the court, it is acceptable even if it is torn in the above manner. The rationale is that we assume that the get was torn so that the woman would not be able to use it to demand payment of her ketubah a second time. The Rambam's ruling is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 125:20), and the Ra'avad's clarification is mentioned by the Chelkat Mechokek 125:41.

40.

As reflected by the following halachah, this refers to an instance in which the get was given when it was acceptable, and its condition deteriorated afterwards.

41.

I.e., the disqualifications mentioned in the previous two halachot.

42.

This represents a difference between gittin and other legal documents, as reflected in Halachah 3 and notes (Maggid Mishneh).

43.

The Maggid Mishneh emphasizes that if the get is faded to the point that it cannot be read at the time it is transferred, the fact that the transfer is observed by witnesses is to no avail, and the divorce is void.

He also mentions the opinion of the Rashba, who states that a get that is torn vertically and horizontally before it is given to the woman is not acceptable. He does not, however, accept that decision. His rulings are paralleled by those of the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 125:21), which mentions both the Rambam's and the Rashba's views, but appears to favor that of the Rambam.

44.

The others, by contrast, are not considered to be divorced, for we have no proof that the woman's husband in fact gave her this get. (See Gittin 86b.)

45.

I.e., no attention is paid to the witnesses who signed the get. Each of the women received a get that was written in acceptable manner, and whose transfer was observed by witnesses. This is sufficient for a divorce to be acceptable.

46.

For hers is an acceptable get, signed by witnesses. We are not concerned with the fact that the scroll contains other gittin above it.

47.

The get is acceptable only if the date that is stated in the beginning of the get is restated in the individual statement written for each woman. (See Beit Shmuel 130:13.)

48.

If the get is given to both women in the presence of witnesses who observe the transfer, both are divorced (Maggid Mishneh).

49.

Even when there are no witnesses who observe the transfer.

50.

I.e., under the first column, the witness signed "Ya'akov, the son of," and in the second column he continued "Yitzchak, a witness." The second witness did the same. In this instance, the witnesses have signed under the first get. If the witnesses signed their first names under one column, and signed "the son of so and so" in the second column, both gittin would be acceptable. For "the son of Ya'akov" is an acceptable signature."

This interpretation is based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Gittin 9:6). The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 130:8) offers a slightly different interpretation.

51.

I.e., the fact that the names of the fathers of the witnesses are located under the woman's get does not cause it to be considered a get with false signatures. (See Ramah, Even HaEzer 130:8.)

52.

These laws apply even when there are no witnesses who observed the transfer of the scroll. If there are witnesses who observed the transfer of the scroll to the second woman, even the second get is acceptable.

If the scroll is in the possession of the woman above whose get the witnesses sign, both the gittin are unacceptable unless there are witnesses who observed their transfer.

53.

When quoting this law, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 130:4) states that the get is pasul, unacceptable. That term implies that it is the Rabbis who disqualified the use of such a get, while according to Scriptural law it is acceptable.

54.

The fact that the witnesses did not sign in the proper place does not make the get invalid.

55.

And thus a portion of the get that the woman receives would not have been written for her sake. For this reason, even if the get was given in the presence of witnesses who observed the transfer, it is not acceptable unless the witnesses testify that the get was originally written in two columns (Maggid Mishneh).

56.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 130:3) uses the term pasul, "unacceptable," meaning that the get was disqualified by Rabbinic decree alone. (See Beit Shmuel 130:4.)

57.

The word "and" (in Hebrew, the letter vav) establishes a connection between the two, and the greeting is not considered to be a separate entity.

58.

In the first instance, even if we were to assume that the intent of the witnesses was to sign on the greeting, that does not disqualify the get. It is acceptable when given in the presence of witnesses.

Gerushin - Chapter Five

1

The Torah's expression, [Deuteronomy, 24:1]: "He will... place it in her hand," need not be interpreted only [according to its strict literal meaning], that the get must be placed in her hand. Regardless of whether the get is placed in her hand, her bosom or her courtyard, or is given to her agent whom she charged that his hand would be as her hand, the same law applies.1

The same laws apply to a courtyard that she acquired, one that she rented or one that is lent to her. They are all considered to be her property, and once the get reaches her property, the divorce is effective.

א

זה שנאמר בתורה ונתן בידה אין ענין הכתוב אלא שיגיע הגט לה ואחד ידה או חיקה או חצרה או שלוחה שעשתה ידו כידה הכל אחד הוא. ואחד חצרה הקנויה לה או חצרה המושכרת או שאולה לה הכל רשותה הוא ומשיגיע גט לרשותה נתגרשה:

2

[The following laws apply when a man] throws a get for his wife into her courtyard. If she is standing next to her courtyard, the divorce is effective.2 If she is not standing next to her courtyard, the divorce is not effective until she stands next to her courtyard.3

[These principles apply] even when the get will be guarded in the courtyard in which [it is placed]. [The rationale is that] divorce is considered to be a liability [and not an advantage] for [a woman]. And a liability may not be invoked against [a person] outside his [or her] presence.4

ב

הזורק גט לאשתו לתוך חצרה. אם היתה עומדת שם בצד חצרה נתגרשה. ואם לאו לא נתגרשה עד שתעמוד בצד חצרה ואף על פי שהיא חצר שישתמר הגט בתוכה. שחוב היא לה הגירושין ואין חבין לאדם אלא בפניו:

3

[These rules apply when a get is given in the following situation. A woman] is standing on her roof, and [her husband] is standing in his courtyard that is located below it. He throws a get upwards to her.

Once the get reaches the space of the guardrail [to her roof] or comes within three handbreadths5 of the roof [when her roof does not have a guardrail], the divorce is effective.6 [This applies provided the get ultimately] comes to rest on her roof.7

If, however, [the writing of the get] is erased or [the get] is consumed by fire before it reaches her, the divorce is not effective. [This applies] even if the get is erased or consumed by fire after it passes the barriers of the woman's property or after it reaches within three handbreadths of her roof. [The rationale is that] since the get will never come to rest [in a complete state], it is void.

ג

היתה עומדת בראש הגג שלה והוא מלמטה בחצרו וזרקו לה למעלה כיון שהגיע לאויר מחיצות המעקה או לפחות משלשה טפחים סמוך לגג נתגרשה ובלבד שינוח. אבל אם נמחק או נשרף קודם שיגיע לה אע"פ שנמחק לאחר שהגיע לאויר מחיצות או אחר שהגיע לפחות משלשה טפחים סמוך לגג כגון שנשבה הרוח והעלתהו ונמחק או נשרף הואיל ואינו הולך לנוח אינו גט ולא נתגרשה:

4

[Different rules apply when] the roof belongs to the husband and he stands on it, while his wife stands below in a courtyard that belongs to her, and he throws her a get. Once the get passes the boundaries of his property and enters the boundaries of her property, where she is standing, the divorce is binding.8

ד

היה הגג שלו והוא מלמעלה בו והיא מלמטה בחצר שלה וזרק לה גיטה. כיון שיצא הגט ממחיצות הגג והגיע למחיצות מקומה שהיא עומדת בו נתגרשה:

5

If, however, he throws a get into a fire located on the woman's property and it is consumed by the flames, or into water and it is erased or lost, the get is void.9 If, however, it enters her property (and comes to rest),10 and afterwards fire comes and consumes it, the divorce is effective.

ה

זרקו לרשותה לתוך האש ונשרף או לתוך המים [ונמחק או] נאבד אינו גט. אבל אם הגיע לרשותה [ונח] ואח"כ בא האש ושרפתהו הרי זה גט:

6

When the husband tosses the get on top of a reed or a spear implanted in her domain,11 the divorce is not effective until [the get] comes to rest in a place that is protected by her.12

[The following rule applies when] there are two courtyards, the inner courtyard belongs to the woman, the outer courtyard belongs to the man, and the walls of the outer courtyard are taller than those of the inner courtyard. If [the husband] throws the get into the space [of the inner courtyard, above its walls, but lower than the walls] of the outer courtyard, the divorce is effective.13 [The rationale is] the inner [courtyard] is protected by the walls of the outer [courtyard]. This concept does not apply with regard to containers.

ו

זרקו על גבי קנה או רומח הנעוצים ברשותה אינו גט עד שינוח במקום המשתמר בו. שתי חצרות זו לפנים מזו הפנימית שלה והחיצונה שלו וכותלי החיצונה גבוהות על הפנימית כיון שזרק הגט לתוך אויר החיצונה נתגרשה. שהפנימית בכותלי החיצונה משתמרת משא"כ בקופות:

7

What is implied?14 There are two containers, located one inside the other [and both are located in the husband's domain].15 The inner container belongs to her and the outer container belongs to him. If [the husband] throws the get to [his wife] toward the containers, the divorce is not effective16 - even when the get reaches the space of the inner container - until it comes to rest on the side of the inner container.

[Moreover,] the above applies only when [the woman's container] is lying on its side and does not have a bottom.17 If it has a bottom, even if [the get] comes to rest on that bottom, the divorce is not effective.18 For when a container belonging to a woman is located in the domain of the husband, the woman may not acquire a get by means of it unless the husband is not concerned about the place it occupies.

ז

כיצד שתי קופות זו לפנים מזו הפנימית שלה והחיצונה שלו וזרק לה גיטה בתוכן אפילו הגיע לאויר הפנימית אינה מגורשת עד שינוח על צד הקופה הפנימית. במה דברים אמורים בשהיתה מוטה על צדה ואין לה שולים אבל יש לה שולים אפילו נח בקרקעיתה אינה מגורשת שכלי האשה ברשות הבעל אינו קונה לה הגט אלא אם כן אינו מקפיד על מקומו:

8

When [a husband] throws a get to his wife while she is located in his house or in his courtyard, the divorce is not effective until the get reaches the woman's hand or a container that belongs to her, to whose presence within his domain the husband does not object - e.g., a small bottle or basket or the like.19

Similarly, if the get reaches a couch belonging to her20 on which she is sitting that is ten handbreadths high, the divorce is effective. For [the couch] is considered to be a separate domain,21 and the husband does not object to the place taken by its legs.22

ח

זרק לה גיטה והיא בתוך ביתו או בתוך חצרו אינה מגורשת עד שיגיע הגט לידה או לכלי מן הכלים שלה שאין הבעל מקפיד על מקומו כגון צלוחית או כפיפה קטנה או כיוצא בהן. וכן אם הגיע למטה שלה שהיא יושבת עליה והיתה גבוהה עשרה טפחים הרי זו מגורשת שהרי חלקה רשות לעצמה ואין הבעל מקפיד על מקום כרעי המטה:

9

[The following rules apply when] the husband lends his wife a place in his courtyard [for the purpose of receiving her get], without defining its borders.23 If he throws her the get and it reaches within four cubits of where she is standing, the divorce is effective.24

When [in the above instance, the get] rolled away [from the place where the woman is standing,] and fell on a beam or on a rock further removed from her,25 [the following rules apply]. If the place where [the get] fell is not four cubits by four cubits, nor is it ten [handbreadths] high, nor does it have a separate name of its own, it is not considered to be a distinct entity, and it is as if [the get] and [the woman] were in the same place. [Therefore, the divorce is effective.]

If the place is characterized by any of these three factors, it is considered to be a distinct entity. [Since] the husband lent the woman one place, but not two places, the divorce is not effective until the get reaches her hand.

ט

השאיל לה הבעל מקום בחצרו ולא ייחדו [לה] וזרק לה גט והגיע לארבע אמות שלה שהיא עומדת בהן הרי זו מגורשת. נתגלגל ונפל ע"ג קורה או ע"ג סלע רחוק ממנה. אם המקום שנפל עליו אין בו ארבע אמות על ארבע אמות ואינו גבוה עשרה ואין לו שם לווי הרי זה לא חלק רשות לעצמו וכאילו הוא והיא במקום אחד. ואם יש שם אחד משלשה דברים אלו חלק רשות לעצמו ומקום אחד השאיל לה שני מקומות לא השאיל לה ואינה מגורשת עד שיגיע הגט לידה:

10

If [the husband] throws the get to her [while she is in her domain], and [the get] passes through the domain and falls outside her domain [the divorce is not effective]. Even if the get passes within three [handbreadths] of the ground,26 the divorce is not effective27 until [the get] comes to rest in her domain.

י

זרק לה גיטה לרשותה ועבר בתוך רשותה שהיא עומדת בה ונפל חוץ לרשותה אע"פ שעבר בפחות משלשה סמוך לארץ אינה מגורשת עד שינוח ברשותה:

11

[The following rule applies when a woman] is standing on her roof, [her husband] throws her [a get], and [instead of reaching her,] it falls on a roof [belonging to another person].28 If the woman can stretch out her hand and take it, the divorce is effective.

[The rationale is that] although the domains are divided above as they are divided below, [and thus the get is located on a domain that does not belong to the woman, this is not significant,] for people are not concerned with [a neighbor's making use of] their property in such a manner.

יא

היתה עומדת על גגה (זו) וזרקו לה ונפל בגג אחר סמוך לו. אם יכולה לפשוט ידה וליטלו הרי זו מגורשת שאע"פ שדיורין חלוקין למעלה כשם שהן חלוקין למטה אין בני אדם מקפידין על מקום כיוצא בזה:

12

[The following rules apply if a woman holds] her hand at an incline, [her husband] throws a get to her hand, and it falls to the earth. If it falls within four cubits of where she is standing and comes to rest there, the divorce is effective.29

When, [however, the get] falls into the sea or into a fire, the divorce is not effective, if she is standing next to the water or the fire [when the get is thrown to her]. [The rationale is] that, at the outset, it would be destroyed as it fell.

יב

היתה ידה קטפרס וזרק הגט על ידה ונפל לארץ. אם נפל לתוך ארבע אמות שלה ונח הרי זו מגורשת. נפל לתוך הים או לתוך האש אינה מגורשת. והוא שהיתה עומדת ע"ג המים או סמוך לאש שמתחלת נפילתו לאיבוד היה עומד:

13

[The following rules apply when a husband] throws a get to [his wife] in the public domain or in a domain that does not belong to either of them. If [the get] is "close to him," the divorce is not effective. If [the get] is partially "close to him," and partially "close to her," the status of the divorce is in doubt unless it is definitely close to her. If [the get] is close enough to her that she can bend down and pick it up, the divorce is unacceptable [according to Rabbinic decree].30 [Only when] the get reaches her hand may she remarry on this basis a priori.

יג

זרקו לה ברשות הרבים או ברשות שאינה של שניהם קרוב לו אינה מגורשת. היה הגט מחצה למחצה וממחצה למחצה עד שיהיה קרוב לה הרי זו ספק מגורשת. היה קרוב לה כדי שתשוח ותטלנו הרי זו פסול עד שיגיע גט לידה ואחר כך תנשא בו לכתחלה:

14

What is meant by "close to him"? That he could protect the get while she could not. If both are able to protect [the get], or both are unable to protect it, it is considered to be partially "close to him," and partially "close to her."31

יד

כיצד הוא קרוב לו. היה הוא יכול לשמרו והיא אינה יכולה לשמרו זה הוא קרוב לו שניהם יכולים לשמרו או ששניהם אין יכולין לשמרו זה הוא מחצה למחצה:

15

[If a husband] comes to a place first and stands there, and then [his wife] comes and stands opposite him, the divorce is not effective if he throws her [a get] and [it falls] within his four cubits,32 even if she can bend down and pick it up.

If she comes to the place first and stands, and then he comes and stands opposite her and throws it to her, even when [the get] is partially "close to him" and partially "close to her," the get is [merely] deemed unacceptable [by virtue of Rabbinic decree] because it is within her four cubits.33 [Only when] the get reaches her hand [is the divorce effective a priori].

טו

בא הוא תחלה ועמד ואחר כך עמדה היא כנגדו וזרקו לה. אם היה הגט בתוך ארבע אמות שלו אינה מגורשת אע"פ שאם תשוח תטלנו. עמדה היא תחלה ובא הוא ועמד כנגדה וזרקו לה אע"פ שהוא מחצה למחצה הואיל והוא לתוך ארבע אמות שלה הרי זה גט פסול עד שיגיע הגט לידה:

16

[The following rules apply when a husband] throws a get that is tied with a string into [his wife's] hand and he remains holding the other end of the string. If he can pull [the get from her hand] and bring it back to him,34 the divorce is not effective35 until he snaps the string.36 If he cannot pull [the get from her], the divorce is effective.

טז

זרק הגט לידה והיה קשור במשיחה וקצת המשיחה בידו. אם יכול לנתקו ולהביאו אצלו אינה מגורשת עד שתפסק המשיחה. ואם אינו יכול לנתקו הרי זו מגורשת:

17

[The following rules apply when a husband] gives [a woman's] get to a servant belonging to her. If he is awake, he is bound and she is guarding him, the divorce is effective. It is considered to be as if [the get] were placed in a courtyard belonging to her and she is standing at its side. If [the servant] is not bound, the divorce is not effective.37

If [the husband] places [the get] in the servant's hand while he is sleeping, and [the woman] is guarding him, the get is unacceptable [by virtue of Rabbinic decree].38 If [the servant] is bound, the divorce is acceptable.

יז

נתן הגט ביד עבדה והוא נעור והיא משמרתו. אם היה כפות הרי זה גט וכאילו הגיע לחצירה שהיא עומדת בצדה. ואם אינו כפות אינו גט. נתנו ביד העבד והוא ישן והיא משמרתו הרי זה פסול ואם היה כפות הרי זו מגורשת:

18

[The following rules apply if a husband] writes a get, places it in the hand of a servant belonging to him and writes a deed for the woman, giving her the servant as a present. If the servant is bound, the divorce is effective, for when she acquires the servant she also acquires the get. If the servant is unbound and awake, [the woman] acquires the servant; the divorce, however, is not effective until the get reaches her hand.39

Similarly, if [a man] placed a get in a courtyard belonging to him and sold or gave the courtyard to [his wife], the divorce is effective once she acquires the courtyard by virtue of the transfer of a deed or money, or by manifesting her ownership over it.

יח

כתב הגט ונתנו ביד עבדו וכתב לה שטר מתנה עליו כיון שזכתה בעבד זכתה בגט ונתגרשה אם היה כפות. ואם אינו כפות ונעור קנתה העבד ואינה מגורשת עד שיגיע הגט לידה. וכן אם נתן הגט בחצרו ומכר לה החצר או נתנו לה כיון שקנתה החצר בשטר או בכסף או בחזקה נתגרשה:

Footnotes
1.

See Numbers 21:26, which uses the word miyado - literally, "from his hand" - as meaning "from his possession." A similar usage is frequent within the Torah and within Talmudic sources.

It must, however, be emphasized that the accepted practice is to place the get in the woman's hand and not to remain content with depositing it in her courtyard. (See Ramah, Even HaEzer 139:14.)

2.

With regard to a courtyard, a point of clarification is necessary. In general, the benefit from a woman's property belongs to her husband, and whatever is acquired by her property belongs to him. In this instance, however, we say that the acquisition of the bill of the divorce and the right to acquire the articles placed in her property become hers simultaneously.

3.

The Rambam's wording implies, however, that when the woman returns to her courtyard, the divorce is effective. Rav Meir HaLevi, as quoted by the Tur (Even HaEzer 139) differs and maintains that the woman must be present at the time the get is placed in her courtyard. If she is not present at that time, Rav Meir HaLevi maintains that the divorce is not effective unless the husband waits and tells the woman: "This is your get," when she picks it up, or the husband must pick it up and give it to her again.

The Rashba submits a third opinion. He maintains that the status of the divorce is doubtful, for perhaps the woman desired the divorce. (See Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 139:2-3 and commentaries.)

4.

When considering something which is to a person's advantage - e.g., the acquisition of an ownerless object - a person may perform this act on behalf of a colleague without his knowledge, for our Sages postulated: "one may act to a person's advantage outside his presence." The rationale is that the person would probably desire to acquire the object. When, however, a liability is considered, this principle does not apply. Nevertheless, if a woman explicitly states that a get should be placed in her courtyard, the divorce is effective even when she is not standing next to it (Beit Yosef, Even HaEzer 139).

5.

In many different halachic contexts, three handbreadths of empty space is considered to be a continuation of the nearest significant halachic entity. This principle is referred to by the name l'vud.

6.

Since it will ultimately come to rest within her property, it is considered as though it has already come to rest.

Accordingly, from this time onward, even if the husband changes his mind and desires to nullify the divorce before the get reaches the ground, he no longer has that option. The divorce is effective and the marriage bond has been broken. If a second man consecrates her at this time, she is considered to be his wife (Maggid Mishneh).

7.

Most other authorities differ with the Rambam on this point and maintain that as soon as the get enters the woman's possession, the divorce is effective, even though afterwards it is consumed by fire or its writing is wiped away by water, provided the fire or the water was not there before the husband threw the get. [Significantly, in his Commentary on the Mishnah (Gittin 8:3), the Rambam does not mention the provision that ultimately the get must come to rest.] Although the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 139:4-5) mentions the Rambam's view, it is the approach of the other authorities that is favored.

8.

I.e., immediately, even if the get does not reach the woman's property. The rationale is that as long as the conditions mentioned in the following halachah are met, it may be assumed that the laws of gravity will prevail, and the get will come to rest in the woman's property. Therefore, even if it is destroyed by a fluke occurrence beforehand, the divorce is effective (Maggid Mishneh; Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 139:6).

9.

Since he initially threw the get into the fire, it is considered as though it will never come to rest and will never enter the woman's possession in a complete state.

10.

The phrase set off by parentheses is found in the standard printed texts of the Mishneh Torah, but is lacking in many authentic manuscripts and early printings. Eliminating the phrase would imply that there is a difference between the situation described in Halachah 4 and that described in Halachah 3.

This indeed is the Maggid Mishneh's contention. As he explains, in Halachah 3 the husband is throwing the get against the natural gravitational pattern that prevails within the world, while in Halachah 4 the get is being thrown in a manner that conforms with the pattern of gravity. Therefore, as long as the get was not thrown into fire or water, the divorce is binding as soon as the get enters the woman's domain.

11.

The commentaries on Gittin 79a explain that this refers to an instance where the top of the reed or the spear is higher than the walls of the courtyard.

12.

For the wind may blow it outside the courtyard.

13.

Since the get will be protected by the walls of the outer courtyard even within the inner courtyard, if it is thrown toward the inner courtyard the divorce is effective after it enters the space of the outer courtyard (Maggid Mishneh; Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 139:9).

14.

There are two differences between courtyards and containers located in the husband's domain: a) With regard to the courtyard, it is sufficient for the get to enter the space of the husband's courtyard. With regard to a container, by contrast, this is not sufficient.

b) Even when a get comes to rest within a container, the divorce is not effective, except in the specific instance mentioned by the Rambam.

The rationale for both these differences is that the walls of a courtyard are made primarily for protecting the articles contained within, and in the above instance the walls of the outer courtyard also protect the articles within the inner courtyard. In contrast, the function of the wall of a container is to hold the object it contains (Rashi, Gittin 79b).

15.

The bracketed addition is made on the basis of the gloss of the Maggid Mishneh. There are other commentaries that maintain that the containers are located in the woman's domain or in a neutral domain. (See Beit Shmuel 139:13 and the gloss of Rabbi Akiva Eiger on those comments.)

16.

The fundamental principle involved here is that a person cannot acquire an object by virtue of its being placed in a container belonging to him, if that container is located in a domain belonging to the giver, unless the giver is not concerned with the presence of the recipient's container. (See Hilchot Mechirah 4:1.)

It must be emphasized that this concept is not accepted by Rabbenu Asher and the Tur. (See Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 200:3 and commentaries.)

17.

When a container is lying on its side and it does not have a bottom, it will not serve a functional purpose. Therefore, the husband will not be concerned that it is placed in his property. As such, if the get comes to rest on it, the divorce is effective.

18.

In this instance, the woman's container will serve a functional purpose. Therefore, it is likely that the husband will object to its presence on his property.

It must be emphasized that Tosafot, the Ra'avad, Rabbenu Nissim and others interpret the passage in Gittin, loc. cit., differently from the Rambam. It is, however, the Rambam's view that is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 139:9).

19.

Rashi (Gittin 77a) explains that a man must assume that a woman will bring such articles with her when she enters a domain. Therefore, the husband's acceptance of the woman's presence also implies a willingness to allow her to bring in such articles.

20.

If, however, the couch belongs to the husband, the divorce is not effective unless the get is given to the woman, even when the woman is sitting on the couch.

21.

Since the couch is ten handbreadths (80 centimeters according to Shiurei Torah, 96 centimeters according to Chazon Ish) high, it is considered to be a separate entity. (See a parallel concept in Hilchot Kri'at Shema 3:9.)

22.

Note the Maggid Mishneh, which explains that in other situations - e.g., a couch belonging to a purchaser that is in the domain of a seller - this concept would not necessarily apply, and the transfer would not be considered effective. (Note Beit Shmuel 139:15.)

23.

If he specified a place, the get would have to be deposited in that place.

24.

For we assume that the place where the woman is standing is the place that she was granted.

25.

Our translation is based on the interpretation of the Rambam's ruling offered by Rabbenu Nissim. The Maggid Mishneh questions the Rambam's rulings, interpreting his approach as implying that if the place where the get comes to rest is within four cubits of the woman, it would appear that the divorce should be effective even if any of these factors applies. And if the place is further removed, the divorce is never effective. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 139:11) rules according to other authorities, who interpret this passage according to the interpretation offered by Rabbenu Nissim. The interpretation of the Rambam's words offered by the Maggid Mishneh is mentioned as a minority opinion.

26.

Based on the principle of l'vud, three handbreadths is an extension of any given entity. Nevertheless, since, as happened, the get did not come to rest within the woman's domain, the fact that it passed through it close to the ground is not significant. This same principle is cited in several other contexts - e.g., Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 4:9. See also Hilchot Shabbat 13:16.

27.

The Tur (Even HaEzer 139) maintains that, as appears from Bava Metzia 12a, the matter is the subject of an unresolved Talmudic debate. Hence, the status of the divorce is a matter of doubt, and although the woman may not consider herself to be divorced, she may not continue living with her first husband, and if she was consecrated by another person, he is required to divorce her before she may marry anyone else.

28.

Our translation is based on the gloss of the Maggid Mishneh. The Ra'avad and others interpret Gittin 79b, the source for this halachah, as referring to two roofs belonging to the husband, and explain that it teaches a concept similar to that reflected by Halachah 9. Although the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 139:12) mentions the Rambam's view, it favors the other interpretation.

29.

In certain circumstances, our Sages ordained although a person is standing in property that does not belong to him, the four cubits around him [or her] are considered to be his courtyard. And placing an article within that space is considered to be placing it in his domain. (See Hilchot Zechiyah UMatanah 4:9.) Therefore, just as if the get in a woman's courtyard had come to rest in the woman's courtyard, the divorce would be effective, so too it is effective if it comes to rest within four cubits of her.

If the get does not come to rest within four cubits of the woman, one might say that the outcome is dependent on the difference of opinion between the Rambam and the Tur mentioned in the notes on Halachah 10. In this instance, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 139:15) follows the opinion of the Tur and rules that the status of the divorce is doubtful.

30.

In this instance, if the woman erred and remarried she is not forced to divorce her second husband. If, however, she remarried when the status of the divorce is in doubt, she may not remain married to her second husband.

31.

The Rambam does not mention an instance where the woman can protect the get but the husband cannot, and yet it is not close enough to her for her to bend down and pick it up. The Maggid Mishneh states that the Rambam would maintain that in such an instance the status of the divorce is doubtful.

Although with regard to kiddushin, in such an instance the Rambam rules that a marriage bond is established (Hilchot Ishut 4:22), the laws are more stringent with regard to divorce. The Beit Shmuel 139:22 states that most other authorities would differ and would agree that according to Scriptural law, the divorce is effective in such an instance; it is disqualified only by virtue of Rabbinic decree.

32.

Whenever an area becomes considered to be the "four cubits" belonging to one individual, another person may not acquire an article in that area until the first person departs (Gittin 78a).

33.

I.e., according to Scriptural law the divorce is effective, because the four cubits in which the woman is standing become her exclusive property.

34.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 138:2) interprets the intent as being that the knot tying the string to the get must be attached in a manner strong enough to allow the get to be pulled back to the husband. If it is tied loosely, the divorce is effective. If, however, it is the woman who prevents the husband from drawing back the get by clasping it within her hand, the divorce is not effective. The Shulchan Aruch does, however, mention another view, which rules the divorce acceptable in such an instance.

35.

Gittin 78b also derives this concept from the description of a divorce in Deuteronomy 24:3: "And he will write a bill of divorce for her, place it in her hand...." As long as the husband can retake possession of the bill of divorce, he has not severed his connection with the woman.

36.

If, however, the husband does snap the string, the Rambam rules the divorce to be effective. Other commentaries differ, explaining that since the giving of the get was not carried out in the proper manner, the get must be given again for the divorce to be acceptable.

37.

Since the servant has an independent will, he is considered to be a courtyard that is not guarded by the woman herself. Also, the conception of a domain as equivalent to a person's hand applies only when that domain remains still and not when, as in the case of a servant, it moves.

Based on a difference in the version of Gittin 78a, the source for this halachah, the Tur (Even HaEzer 139) and others differ with the Rambam and maintain that it is necessary for the servant to be both bound and asleep for the divorce to be effective. Although the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 139:16) quotes both opinions, the Rambam's view appears to be favored.

38.

I.e., since the servant was not bound, the Sages disqualified the divorce, lest one give a get to a servant while awake and unbound.

39.

The Rambam's wording implies that once the servant gives her the get, however, the divorce is effective. It is not necessary for the husband to take the get from the servant and give it to her. As mentioned by the Beit Shmuel 139:29, this point is not accepted by all authorities.

Gerushin - Chapter Six

1

An agent who is appointed by a woman to receive her get from her husband is called a receiving agent (sh'liach kabbalah). When the get reaches this agent's hand, the divorce is completed,1 as if it has reached the hands of the woman herself.

[The agent] must be appointed in the presence of two witnesses, and two witnesses must be present when the get is conveyed to the agent. Even if the second pair of witnesses is the same as the first pair, or one of them is from the first pair, they are acceptable as witnesses.

א

השליח שעושה האשה לקבל לה גיטה מיד בעלה הוא הנקרא שליח קבלה. ומשיגיע הגט ליד שלוחה תתגרש כאילו הגיע לידה. וצריכה לעשותו בשני עדים. וצריכה שני עדים שיעידו שהגיע הגט ליד שלוחה ואפילו הם הראשונים או אחד מן הראשונים הרי זו עדות גמורה:

2

When does the above2 apply? When the get is lost or torn. If, however, the get is in the possession of the sh'liach kabbalah, there is no need for witnesses. This applies whether the get was given by the husband in private, or it was given in the presence of witnesses. The presence of the get in the possession of the agent is equivalent to its presence in the possession of the woman.3 Nevertheless, a priori, the get should be given only in the presence of witnesses who observe its transfer, as is the case with regard to [a get given to] the woman herself.4

ב

במה דברים אמורים בשאבד הגט או נקרע. אבל אם היה הגט יוצא מתחת ידי שליח קבלה אינו צריך עדים. בין שנתנו לו הבעל בינו לבינו בין שנמסר לו בעדים. יציאתו מתחת ידו כיציאתו מתחת ידי האשה. ואף על פי כן לא יתן לו הגט לכתחלה אלא בעדי מסירה כמו האשה עצמה:

3

A husband may not appoint an agent to receive a get for his wife.5 He may, however, appoint an agent to deliver a get to his wife. Such an agent is referred to as a delivery agent (sh'liach holachah).

ג

הבעל אינו יכול לעשות שליח לקבל גט לאשתו. אבל יכול לעשות שליח להוליך הגט לאשתו וזה הוא הנקרא שליח הולכה:

4

Similarly, a woman may appoint an agent to fetch her get for her from her husband. Such an agent is referred to as an agent who fetches (sh'liach hava'ah). Neither a sh'liach holachah nor a sh'liach hava'ah need [be appointed in the presence of] witnesses.6

ד

וכן האשה שולחת שליח להביא לה גט מיד בעלה וזה הוא הנקרא שליח הבאה. ואין שליח הולכה והבאה צריך עדים:

5

A woman is not divorced through the medium of a get sent by her husband or brought by a sh'liach hava'ah [whom she appointed] until the get reaches her hand.

Whenever the term agent is used with regard to a get without any further explanation, the intent is a sh'liach holachah or a sh'liach hava'ah.

ה

ואין האשה מתגרשת בגט ששלח הבעל או שהביא לה שליח הבאה עד שיגיע גט לידה. וכל מקום שנאמר בענין גיטין שליח סתם הוא שליח הולכה או שליח הובאה:

6

Anyone is acceptable to act as an agent with regard to a divorce, whether as a sh'liach kabbalah, a sh'liach holachah or a sh'liach hava'ah,7 with the exception of five individuals: a gentile, a servant, a deaf mute, a mentally incompetent individual and a minor.8 If one of these individuals brings or receives [a get], the divorce is not effective.

ו

הכל כשרין לשליחות הגט בין לשליח קבלה בין לשליח הולכה והבאה חוץ מן החמשה. העכו"ם והעבד והחרש והשוטה והקטן. ואם קבל או הביא אחד מהן אינו גט:

7

Even women, relatives9 and individuals who are disqualified [from serving as witnesses] because of the violation of Rabbinic law are acceptable to serve as agents for a divorce.10 Individuals who are disqualified because of the violation of Scriptural law, by contrast, are not acceptable [to serve as agents] to deliver a get. If they bring it, the divorce is unacceptable.

When does the above11 apply? When the signatures on the get have been verified.12 If, however, we must rely only on the words of an individual who is disqualified because of the violation of Scriptural law, the divorce is void entirely.13

ז

אבל הנשים והקרובים כשרים. ואפילו הפסולין מדברי סופרים בעבירה כשרין לשליחות גט. אבל הפסולין בעבירה מדברי תורה פסולין להבאת הגט ואם הביאו הרי זה פסול. במה דברים אמורים כשנתקיים הגט בחותמיו אבל אם לא נסמך בו אלא על דברי פסול בעבירה מן התורה אינו גט:

8

If the agent was a minor when he was given the get, and he attained majority when he brought it [to the woman], [or he was a] deaf mute and gained the ability to hear and speak, [or he was] mentally incompetent and gained competence, [or he was] a gentile and converted, or a servant and was freed, the divorce is void.14

If, however, the husband gives [an agent] a get while [the agent] is able to hear and speak, [or the agent then] becomes a deaf mute and afterwards regains his ability to hear and speak, or [the agent] was mentally competent, he lost his competence and then regained it when he brought it to the woman, the get is acceptable, for at the outset and at the conclusion, [the agent] was of sound mind.15

ח

היה השליח קטן כשנתן לו הגט וגדל כשהביאו. חרש ונתפקח. שוטה ונשתפה. עכו"ם ונתגייר. עבד ונשתחרר. הרי זה בטל. אבל אם נתן לו הגט והוא פקח ונתחרש וחזר ונתפקח. היה שפוי כשנתן לו הגט ונשתטה וחזר ונשתפה כשהביא הגט ליד אשה הרי זה גט כשר מפני שתחלתו וסופו בדעת:

9

When a woman appoints an agent in the presence of witnesses and tells him: "Take my get and keep it for me in your possession," the person is a sh'liach kabbalah. It is as if she told him: "Receive my get for me."

A woman may appoint a sh'liach kabbalah to receive her get for her from an agent appointed by her husband.16

A girl below the age of majority may not appoint a sh'liach kabbalah. Although she may acquire property by virtue of her courtyard in the same manner as an adult woman17 [she does not have the privilege of appointing an agent]. The rationale is that [the appointment of] a sh'liach kabbalah requires witnesses, and witnesses may not testify with regard to a minor, because she is not of complete mental competence.18

ט

האשה שעשתה שליח בעדים ואמרה לו טול לי גיטי ויהא לי בידך הרי זה שליח לקבלה וכאילו אמרה לו התקבלי גיטי. ויש לאשה לעשות שליח קבלה לקבל לה גיטה מיד שלוחו של בעלה. וקטנה אינה עושה שליח לקבלה. אע"פ שחצרה קונה לה גיטה כגדולה. מפני ששליח קבלה צריך עדים ואין מעידין על הקטן שאינו בן דעה גמורה:

10

[The following laws apply] when a woman has appointed a sh'liach kabbalah and her husband told him: "I do not want you to receive the get for her. Instead, here is her get. Bring it to her." The husband has this prerogative, and the person becomes a sh'liach holachah, rather than a sh'liach kabbalah.19

If, however, the husband tells [the woman's agent]: "Receive the get for her," "Here it is," or "Acquire it for her," he has not revoked the agency [with which] the sh'liach kabbalah [was charged]. But if [the husband] tells [the agent]: "Bring it to her," he has revoked the agency [with which] the sh'liach kabbalah [was charged] and has made him the agent of the husband.20 Similarly, if the husband said: "Bring it and give it to her," he has revoked the agency [with which] the sh'liach kabbalah [was charged].21

י

האשה שעשתה שליח לקבלה ואמר לו הבעל אין רצוני שתקבל לה גיטה אלא הרי זה גיטה הולך אותו לה. הרשות ביד הבעל ונעשה זה שליח להולכה ולא שליח לקבלה. אבל אם אמר לו התקבל לה גיטה [או הא לך] או זכה לה לא עקר שליחות הקבלה. אבל אם אמר לו הולך לה עקר שליחות הקבלה ונעשה שליח הבעל. וכך אם אמר לו הולך ותן לה עקר שליחות הקבלה:

11

[In the following situation, although the get reaches the woman's hand, the divorce is not effective because of the confusion in the delegation of agency.] An agent appointed by a woman came to receive her get from her husband. The agent told the husband: "I am a sh'liach kabbalah."

The husband responded: "Bring the get [in the capacity] in which she appointed you"22 - i.e., he did not revoke his agency. Instead, it is as if he had said: "Whether she appointed you to be a sh'liach kabbalah or a sh'liach hava'ah, you remain in that capacity."

The agent brought [the woman] the get, but she told him: "I did not appoint you to be a sh'liach kabbalah, but rather to be a sh'liach hava'ah." Even if the agent gives her the get, the divorce is not effective, for in speaking to the husband, the agent revoked the agency that he was granted. It is as if he had told him: "I was never appointed a sh'liach hava'ah on her behalf."

יא

שליח האשה שבא לקבל גט מן הבעל ואמר לו שליח קבלה אני ואומר לו הבעל הולך גט זה כמו שאמרה כלומר איני עוקר שליחותך אלא בין שעשתה אותך שליח קבלה או שליח הבאה הרי אתה כמו שאמרה והביא את הגט. ואמרה לו לא [שליח לקבלה] שמתיך אלא שליח הבאה אפילו הגיע לידה אינה מגורשת. שהרי עקר השליח שליחות שאמרה היא ואמר לבעל מעולם לא נעשיתי שליח הבאה לה:

12

[A different ruling applies in the following instance.] The agent told the husband, "I am a sh'liach hava'ah," and the husband told him, "Bring [the get in the capacity] in which she appointed you."

The agent brought [the woman] the get, but she told him: "I appointed you to be a sh'liach kabbalah." When the get is delivered to the woman, the divorce is effective, for he did not revoke the agency that he was granted. He merely reduced [her dependence on him]. For she appointed him [as an agent] to receive [the get], and he said: "I will merely bring it."23

יב

אמר שליח לבעל שליח הבאה אני ואמר לו הבעל הולך כמו שאמרה והביא את הגט. ואמרה לו שליח לקבלה שמתיך כיון שהגיע גט לידה מגורשת שהרי לא עקר שליחות שאמרה אלא גרע אותה שהרי היא אומרת לקבלה והוא אומר לבעל להבאה בלבד:

13

[The following rules apply when] a husband sends a get to his wife, and when the agent attempts to give it to her, she refuses to take it and tells him in the presence of witnesses, "Hold the get in safekeeping,"24 or "You are an agent to receive it for me." Until the get is given to the woman, the status of the divorce is in doubt.25 Once it reaches her possession, the divorce is definitely binding.

יג

הבעל ששלח גט לאשתו בא שליח ליתנו לה ולא נטלתו. אלא אמרה לו בפני עדים יהיה (לי) גט זה פקדון אצלך. או שאמרה לו הרי אתה שליח לקבלו לי הרי זו מגורשת בספק עד שיגיע גט לידה. ומשיגיע הגט לידה תתגרש ודאי:

14

When an agent brings a get, he must give it to the woman in the presence of two [witnesses].26 These two [witnesses] must read [the get] and then have it given in their presence.27 For the laws applying to the exchange between the agent and the woman are the same as those applying to her exchange with her husband, for the agent is taking his place.

Accordingly, if the agent gave [the get] to her without having it read by the witnesses who observed its transfer, and the woman took it and threw it into the ocean, the status of the divorce is in doubt.28

יד

שליח שהביא גט כשהוא נותנו לה נותנו לה בפני שנים ואותן השנים צריכין לקרותו ואח"כ ינתן לה בפניהם שדין השליח עם האשה כדין הבעל עמה שתחתיו הוא קם. לפיכך אם נתנו השליח לה ולא קראוהו עדי מסירה ונטלתו וזרקתו לים הרי זו ספק מגורשת:

15

When an agent transgresses and gives [a woman her] get in private, he should take it back from her and give it to her in the presence of two [witnesses].29 If he dies [and thus this is no longer possible], and the signatures of the witnesses on the get that the woman possesses have been verified, the divorce is acceptable.

טו

עבר השליח ונתן הגט בינו לבינה יטלנו ממנה ויחזור ויתנו לה בפני שנים. ואם מת הואיל והגט יוצא מתחת ידה מקויים בחותמיו הרי זה גט כשר:

16

Even when a get is delivered to the woman [for whom it is intended], it can be nullified [in the following instances]: The agent took the get, but the husband changed his mind before it reached the woman and told him or her: "The get that I sent you is void," he sent another agent to nullify [the get], or he told others, "The get that I sent to my wife is void."30

When [a husband] nullifies the get in the presence of other people,31 there must be at least two people present.32 If the get has already been delivered to the woman or to a sh'liach kabbalah, the husband can no longer nullify it.33 [This applies] even if he nullifies the get within a very brief time34 [after appointing the agent];35 since [the get] was nullified after being delivered to the woman, to [her] sh'liach kabbalah or to her courtyard, it is not void, and the divorce is effective.

טז

שליח שנטל הגט וקודם שיגיע ליד האשה חזר הבעל ואמר לו גט ששלחתי עמך בטל הוא. או שקדם ואמר לאשה גט ששלחתי ליך בטל הוא. או ששלח שליח אחר לבטלו. או שאמר לאחרים גט ששלחתי לאשתי בטל הוא. הרי זה בטל ואע"פ שהגיע גט לידה. וכל המבטל בפני אחרים צריך שיבטל בפני שנים. ואם אחר שהגיע גט לידה או ליד שליח קבלה אינו יכול לבטלו ואף על פי שחזר בתוך כדי דבור ובטלו הואיל ואחר שהגיע לידה או ליד שליח קבלה או לחצרה בטלו אינו בטל והרי זה גט כשר:

17

Although [a husband] was seeking to appoint an agent to nullify [a get], or he was seeking two individuals so that he could nullify [the get] in their presence, and during the time he was searching for these individuals the get reached the woman's hand, and afterwards he nullified it, it is not void.36 Despite the fact that he was trying to nullify it before it reached her hand [the divorce is effective].

יז

היה מחזר ומבקש שליח כדי לבטלו. או שהיה מבקש שנים שיבטלנו בפניהם ובין שהוא מחזר ורודף הגיע גט לידה ואחר כך בטלו אינו בטל. אע"פ שהיה מחזר לבטלו קודם שהגיע הגט לידה:

18

If [the husband] told ten men: "Write a get and give it to my wife,"37 he may nullify [the get] in the presence of one of the ten, although the others are not present. And he may nullify it in the presence of two other people [who were not involved originally].

If he sent the get via two [agents], he may negate one of the agents although the other is not present. Even when there are ten agents, when he negates [the agency] in the presence of one of them, the get is void.38

יח

אמר לעשרה כתבו גט ותנו לאשתי יכול לבטל לזה שלא בפני זה ואפילו בפני שנים אחרים. שלח הגט ביד שנים הרי זה יכול לבטל זה שלא בפני זה ואפילו היו עשרה משביטלו בפני אחד מהם בטל הגט:

19

Similarly, when a person tells two [witnesses],39 "The get that I [am intending to] write for my wife is nullified," although he has a get written afterwards and gives it to her in the presence of two other [witnesses], the divorce is void. This is referred to as lodging an objection with regard to a get.40

Similarly, if [the husband] were to tell two [witnesses]: "Any get that so and so will write for me is nullified," "Any get that I will have written in the court of so and so is nullified," or "Any get that I will have written in the next twenty years is nullified," the get is nullified.

Similarly, if he told two [witnesses]: "Any get that I write for so and so, my wife, is nullified. And any statements that I make to nullify this objection are nullified," the get is void, although he had it written and given to her, despite the fact that he nullified his objection before having the get written.

יט

וכן מי שאמר לשנים גט שאני כותב לאשתי בטל הוא וכתב אחר כך גט ונתנו לה בפני שנים אחרים הרי זה בטל. וזו היא מסירת המודעא על הגט. וכן אם אמר להם כל גט שיכתוב לי פלוני בטל. או כל גט שאכתוב בבית דינו של פלוני הרי זה גט בטל. או כל גט שאכתוב מכאן ועד עשרים שנה בטל הרי גט בטל. וכן אם אמר בפני שנים כל גט שאכתוב לפלונית אשתי בטל הוא וכל דבר שאבטל בו מודעא זאת הרי הוא בטל וכתב אחר כך ונתנו לה אע"פ שביטל המודעא קודם שיכתוב הגט הרי הגט בטל:

20

How can the latter situation be corrected?41 The witnesses should tell [the husband] before the composition of the get: "Affirm in our presence that any statements that you have made that when verified would cause [this] get to be nullified, are themselves nullified."42 [The husband] must answer "Yes."

Afterwards, he should instruct them to write the get, sign it and give it to his wife. We do not let [the husband] leave until the get is delivered [to his wife], lest he go out and nullify [the get].43

Neither a person who lodges an objection [to a get], nor one who seeks to nullify such an objection needs [to have his statements affirmed by] an act of contract.

כ

אם כן מהו תקנת דבר זה. שיאמרו לו העדים קודם כתיבת הגט אמור בפנינו שכל הדברים שמסרת שגורמין כשיתקיימו אותן הדברים לבטל גט הרי הן בטלים והוא אומר הן. ואחר כך אומר להם לכתוב ולחתום וליתן לה ולא יניחוהו לילך עד שיגיע הגט לידה כדי שלא יצא ויבטלו. ואין המוסר מודעא ולא המבטל מודעא צריך קנין:

21

When a person has sent a get via an agent and [later] nullifies [the giving of] the get, he may divorce the woman with [this get] whenever he desires. He did not nullify the get as a get; he merely nullified the agency.

Therefore, if the get was in the possession of the husband and he nullified it - e.g., he said: "This get is nullified" - he may never use it for a divorce. It is like a broken shard, and if it is used for a divorce, the divorce is not effective.44

Similarly, if the get was entrusted to the agent, but the husband made an explicit statement, saying: "The get that I sent is nullified [and may not] serve as a get," he may never use it to effect a divorce.

כא

השולח גט ביד השליח וביטל הגט הרי חוזר ומגרש בו כשירצה. שלא ביטלו מתורת גט אלא מתורת שליחות. לפיכך אם היה הגט ביד הבעל וביטלו כגון שאמר גט זה בטל הוא אינו מגרש בו לעולם והרי הוא כחרס הנשבר ואם גירש בו אינה מגורשת. וכן אם פירש בעת שבטלו והוא ביד השליח ואמר גט ששלחתי הרי הוא בטל מלהיות גט אין מגרש בו לעולם:

22

Which wording can be used to nullify a get? [The husband] says: "It is nullified," "I cannot abide by it," "May this get not be effective," "[May it] not permit [her]," "[May it] not release [her], "[May it] not send [her] forth," "[May it] not divorce [her]," "May it be a shard," "May it be like a shard," or "Behold it is like a shard" - If he used any of these expressions or a similar one, he has negated it.45

כב

באי זה לשונות מבטל הגט אמר בטל הוא. אי אפשי בו. גט זה לא יועיל. לא יתיר. ולא יעזוב. ולא ישלח. ולא יגרש. יהי כחרס. יהי חרס. הרי הוא כחרס. ואם אמר אחד מאלו וכל הדומה להן הרי זה ביטלו:

23

If, however, [the husband] says: "This get is not a get," "It is unacceptable," "It is not effective," "It does not permit [her]," "It does not release [her], "It does not send [her] forth," "It does not divorce [her]," "It is a shard," his statements are not effective. This wording does not [indicate his desire to] nullify [the get]. Instead, they are statements of fact, and in this instance, statements of incorrect fact.46 It is as if someone said that a forbidden entity were permitted or that an impure object were pure.

כג

אבל אם אמר גט זה אינו. גט פסול הוא. אינו מועיל. אינו מתיר. אינו משלח. אינו מגרש. חרס הוא. לא אמר כלום. שאין זה לשון מבטל אלא לשון מודיע אמתת הדבר והרי הודיע לנו דבר שאינו כן. כמי שאומר על דבר אסור שהוא מותר או על דבר הטמא שהוא טהור:

24

If he says, "This get is nullified," [it is possible that] the implication is the use of the past tense, as in the phrase [Song of Songs 5:6]: "He turned away and was gone." Thus, there is a question concerning the matter.47 Therefore, if [a woman] has been divorced with this get [after such statements were made], the status of the divorce is in doubt.

כד

אמר גט זה בטל שמשמעו פעל שעבר כגון חמק עבר הרי זה ספק. לפיכך אם נתגרשה בגט זה הרי ספק מגורשת:

25

[As reflected in the following instance, an explicit statement must be made to nullify the get: A man] sent a get to his wife [via an agent]. The agent returned to him and said: "I could not find her," or "She did not want to receive it." Although the husband answered: "Blessed be He who is good and does good," or made other statements that imply that he no longer wants to divorce her, and that he is happy that the get was not delivered, the get is not nullified. Instead, he may give it to her and the divorce will be effective. [For the get to be nullified,] he must explicitly say "Do not give it to her," or he should explicitly nullify it [using one of the above expressions].

כה

מי ששלח גט לאשתו ובא שליח ואמר לו לא מצאתיה או לא רצתה ליקח. ואמר הבעל ברוך הטוב והמטיב או כיוצא בדברים אלו שמשמיעין שאין בדעתו לגרשה שהרי שמח בעכוב הגט. לא בטל הגט אלא יתן ותהיה מגורשת עד שיאמר לו בפירוש לא תתן לה או יבטל בפירוש:

26

A person who sent a get to his wife [via an agent] and then nullified [the get] in the presence of two other people,48 and similarly, a person who issued an objection [nullifying] a get, should be given stripes for rebelliousness, because he makes it possible for illegitimate children to be conceived.

Since a get reached [the woman], [it is possible that] she will marry on this basis. [Only] afterwards, when the witnesses in whose presence the husband nullified the get or issued an objection before the get was written appear [will she realize the difficulty]. Thus, a child [conceived in her second marriage] will be illegitimate.

כו

מי ששלח גט לאשתו וחזר וביטלו בפני שנים אחרים. וכן מי שמסר מודעא על הגט מכין אותו מכת מרדות מפני שגורם להיות ממזרים. שהרי יגיע גט לידה ותנשא בו ואחר זמן יצאו עדים שביטל בפניהם או שמסר מודעא בפניהם קודם שיכתוב הגט ונמצא הולד ממזר:

27

When an agent brings a get and gives it to a woman, we do not suspect that the husband nullified it. Instead, he should give it to the woman under the presumption that it is acceptable, and the woman may marry on this basis. If it is discovered afterwards that [the husband] negated it, [the woman] must leave [her second husband], and any children conceived are illegitimate.

Similarly, when [a husband] has a get written and gives it to his wife, we do not suspect that perhaps he lodged an objection regarding this get. Instead, we operate under the conception that the get is acceptable, and the woman is allowed to marry on this basis.

כז

שליח שהביא גט ונתנו לאשה אין אומרים שמא ביטלו הבעל אלא נותנין אותו לה בחזקת שהוא כשר ותנשא בו. ואם נמצא אחר כן שביטלו תצא והולד ממזר. וכן הכותב גט ונתנו לאשתו אין אומרין שמא מסר מודעא על גט זה אלא הרי הוא בחזקת כשרות ותנשא בו:

28

Similarly, when an agent brings a get [that was sent by] a man who was sick or elderly, he may give it to the woman under the presumption that the husband is still alive. If, however, the husband was in his death throes when [the agent left], even when he gives the get to the woman the status of the divorce is in doubt. For the majority of those in their death throes will die, and a get given after death is not effective.49

Similarly, when a city is surrounded by an army50 and held under siege, a ship is in distress at sea,51 or a person is taken out to be judged [with regard to a capital case],52 we presume that any person in such a situation is alive. If a person in such a situation has sent a get [to his wife] via an agent, he may give it to her, and the presumption will be that the divorce is effective.

כח

וכן המביא גט והניח הבעל חולה או שהיה זקן נותנו לה בחזקת שהוא קיים. אבל אם הניחו גוסס שרוב גוססין למיתה ואע"פ שנתנו לה הרי זה ספק גירושין שאין גט לאחר מיתה. וכן עיר שהקיפה החיל והיא במצור וספינה המוטרפת בים והיוצא לדון הרי אלו בחזקת חיים. ואם היה גט אחד מהן ביד השליח נותנו לאשתו ותהיה בחזקת מגורשת:

29

When, by contrast, a city has been conquered by an attacking army and [its wall] broken, a ship is lost at sea,53 a person is being taken out to be executed by a gentile court,54 or he is being dragged by a beast of prey, swept away by a river or an avalanche has fallen upon him, the stringencies applying to both the living and the dead, are followed.

If [a person in one of these situations gave] a get to an agent, the agent should not give it to the husband's wife.55 If, however, he gives it to her, the status of the divorce is in doubt.56 If it is known that the husband died before the get reached his wife, the divorce is void.

כט

אבל עיר שכבשה הגייס והובקעה וספינה שאבדה בים והיוצא ליהרג מב"ד של עכו"ם. ומי שגררתו חיה או שטפו נהר או נפלה עליו מפולת נותנים עליהם חומרי חיים וחומרי מתים. ואם היה גט אחד מהם ביד השליח אינו נותנו לאשתו ואם נתנו לה הרי זו ספק מגורשת. ואם נודע שמת הבעל קודם שיגיע הגט לידה אינו גט:

30

When a husband sends his wife a get, he is obligated to provide her with support and fulfill the other stipulations of the marriage contract, until the get reaches [his wife] or a sh'liach kabbalah she has appointed.57

ל

הבעל ששלח גט לאשתו הרי הוא חייב במזונותיה ובכל תנאי כתובה עד שיגיע הגט לידה או ליד שליח קבלה:

Footnotes
1.

And from that time onward, the husband cannot recant.

2.

That is, when does the requirement for witnesses apply?

3.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 16.

4.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 15.

5.

A divorce is considered to be undesirable and detrimental for a woman. Therefore, an agent cannot be appointed for her without her consent. For an activity that is detrimental to a person cannot be performed on his or her behalf without his will (Gittin 62b).

6.

See Hilchot Ishut 3:15, where the Rambam states: "For the only purpose witnesses would serve with regard to the agency... is to make known the truth of the matter."

According to the Rambam, the distinction between these agents and a sh'liach kabbalah appointed by the woman is that through the acceptance of the get the marriage bonds are annulled, and "no matters involving forbidden sexual relations [are established if] fewer than two witnesses are present (Yevamot 88a)." Since the sh'liach kabbalah is concerned only with receiving the get, his agency involves nothing else but the actual divorce. Hence, witnesses must be present to acknowledge the appointment of this agent. In contrast, the agency of a sh'liach holachah and a sh'liach hava'ah also involves transporting the get, an activity that is merely a preparatory step for the divorce. Hence, witnesses are not required for his appointment.

It must be emphasized that the Ra'avad and others offer a far more straightforward rationale clarifying the distinction between these agents. A sh'liach holachah and a sh'liach hava'ah each carry the get with them. Hence, they need no further proof of their agency. A sh'liach kabbalah, by contrast, does not have possession of the get before the divorce. Hence, his position must be strengthened by having his appointment observed by witnesses.

In practice, it has already become customary for the appointment of a sh'liach holachah to be certified by a written document. There are opinions that differ and require that the appointment of a sh'liach holachah also be observed by witnesses. (See Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 141:11, 30, 40.)

7.

The Rambam's statements are intended to negate the opinion of his teacher, Rabbi Yosef Migash, who maintains that a servant may serve as a sh'liach holachah. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:31) quotes both views, but appears to favor the Rambam's view.

8.

See Chapter 3, Halachah 15, and Hilchot Ishut 3:17.

9.

The Ramah (Even HaEzer 141:33) states that a priori, it is proper that the agent not share any family ties with the husband, his wife, or the judges executing the divorce.

10.

It would appear that even if the signatures of the witnesses have not been verified, and the acceptability of a get depends on the agents' statements, these individuals may serve as agents.

11.

That the divorce is unacceptable, but not void.

12.

As can be seen in the various manuscript copies of the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Gittin 2:6), the Rambam changed his opinion regarding the acceptance of these individuals as agents when the veracity of the signature on a get has been established. The standard text of the Commentary on the Mishnah states that if the witnesses' signatures have been verified, the get is acceptable unless the person worships false gods or violates the Sabbath in public. This is also the view of other authorities and is the ruling favored by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:33).

13.

See also Chapter 12, Halachah 17. Based on the objections of the Ra'avad, the Kessef Mishneh modifies the Rambam's ruling slightly, explaining that the intent is that the woman may not remarry, and not that the get is void. If, however, she does remarry, her second husband is also required to divorce her.

The get she received from her first husband is not void, because it is possible that witnesses will come and verify the signatures on the get. In such an event, the divorce will be effective retroactively. Nevertheless, since those signatures have not been verified as of yet, her second husband must divorce her.

Rav David Arameah explains that the Rambam's intent is that the get is still viable, but it should be given to another agent to effect the divorce. Note the Maggid Mishneh and others, who question the source for the Rambam's ruling.

14.

In all these instances, since the agent was not fit to serve in that capacity at the time the agency was delegated to him, it is as if the agency had never been conveyed upon him.

15.

The fact that, in the interim, he was unfit to serve as an agent is of no significance. Note the Or Sameach, who on this basis questions what the law would be if the husband negates the agency and then desires to reestablish it. Must he reappoint the agent or not?

16.

Gittin 63b states that our Sages entertained a hypothesis that this involves a disregard for the honor of the husband, and therefore the divorce should be void, but they did not accept this theory.

17.

And thus, if a get were placed in her courtyard, the divorce would be acceptable. Moreover, the effectiveness of a courtyard in the acceptance of a get is associated with the concept of agency. (See Bava Metzia 10b and the gloss of the Maggid Mishneh on Chapter 5, Halachah 2.)

18.

The Ra'avad disagrees with the Rambam and maintains that the rationale is that a minor is never empowered to appoint an agent. And thus, a woman below majority may not appoint a sh'liach hava'ah either. It must be noted that in Hilchot Sh'luchin V'Shutafin 2:2, the Rambam indeed states that in no instance may a minor appoint an agent. See the Lechem Mishneh and Rav Kapach, who emphasize that a special law applies with regard to an agent to receive a get, for he is considered to be the extension of the woman's hand. Note the Rambam's wording in Chapter 1, Halachah 1.

19.

Hence, the divorce does not become final when the agent receives the get. It is only when the get reaches the woman's hand that the divorce takes effect.

20.

I.e., the husband's statements imply that he is unwilling to give the agent the get in his original capacity, but that he is willing to charge him with a different agency - bringing the woman the get as agent of the husband.

This ruling is not accepted by all authorities. The Rashba and Rabbenu Nissim differ, maintaining that in such an instance, the status of the divorce is in doubt. The Rambam's opinion is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 140:6), while the other views are cited by the Ramah.

21.

Although with regard to the transfer of a present the Rambam maintains that the expression "Give it to him" is equivalent to saying "Acquire it on his behalf" (Hilchot Zechiyah UMatanah 4:4), because the husband said "Bring it to her" it is clear that he desired the agent to serve in the capacity of a sh'liach holachah.

22.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 140:8) explains that the phrase "in the capacity in which she appointed you" is of primary significance here. If the husband does not add that phrase and says merely: "Bring the get to her," he is appointing the agent to be a sh'liach holachah, and by taking the get the agent is accepting this appointment. Therefore, if the agent delivers the get to the woman, the divorce is effective.

23.

By serving as a sh'liach hava'ah, the agent accepts far more responsibility and difficulty than by serving as a sh'liach kabbalah. If he served as a sh'liach kabbalah, the divorce would be completed after he received the get. As a sh'liach hava'ah, the agent must trouble himself to bring the get to the woman. As such, we assume that since the woman was willing to accept the agent as a sh'liach kabbalah, she is certainly willing to accept him as a sh'liach hava'ah.

Note the Lechem Mishneh and Rabbenu Nissim, who explain that it is possible that the husband relied on the words of the agent, or it is possible that he was concerned with the words of his wife. Indeed, with regard to questions of commercial law, there is an unresolved question in Bava Metzia 76a regarding this matter. Following this rationale, even if the get never reached the woman, as long as it reached the agent the status of the divorce is in doubt. This ruling is also cited by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 140:9).

24.

With this expression, the woman's intent is that the agent should begin acting as her agent and hold the get for her. For keeping the get as an entrusted article violates the instructions that her husband gave him (Rabbenu Nissim).

25.

The doubt is whether an agent can begin acting in the capacity of the woman's agent before he has completed executing the agency with which he was charged by the husband (Gittin 63b).

26.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 16.

27.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 19.

28.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 21.

29.

The Rambam rules that after the fact, a get given in private is acceptable. There are, however, geonim who hold that such a get is unacceptable (Chapter 1, Halachah 16). Since the status of an agent is weaker than that of the husband himself, a second transfer of the get is required in this instance a priori (Maggid Mishneh).

30.

See Halachah 26. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:59) rules that at the outset, a husband should not nullify a get unless either the agent he appointed or his wife is present. Otherwise, it is possible that the woman may receive the get - and marry another man - before receiving notice that her get was nullified.

31.

I.e., people other than the agent. If he nullifies the get in the presence of the agent, no one else need be present.

32.

Note the Ramah (Even HaEzer 141:59), who cites an opinion that allows the husband to nullify the get by speaking to two people, one outside the presence of the other.

33.

For the divorce has already taken effect.

34.

In this context, the words "a very brief time" are a loose translation. The Hebrew term toch k'dei dibbur has a very specific meaning: the amount of time necessary to say "Shalom alecha, rabbi umori."

35.

The rationale is that divorcing a wife is a very serious matter, and a man would not make such a decision unless he were resolute. Therefore, his change of mind is not considered to be a clarification of his original position (as in certain other instances - e.g., a retraction of a business commitment), but rather an entirely new decision. (Note the parallels to Hilchot Ishut 7:22, Hilchot Avodah Zarah 2:9 and Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:17.)

36.

The fundamental principle involved is that Torah law depends on a person's acts and statements, not his feelings. Although it is obvious that the husband desired to nullify the get, since he was not able to take binding action the divorce is valid. (See also Halachah 25.)

37.

See Chapter 9, Halachah 27.

38.

The Ra'avad differs with Rambam and maintains that although a person may nullify the agency of one of the two (or ten), doing so does not nullify the agency of the other(s), and if they give the woman the get, the divorce is effective. Although the Rambam's opinion is also mentioned, it is that of the Ra'avad that is favored by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 149:61).

39.

The Ramah (Even HaEzer 134:1) states that even when the husband makes statements to two witnesses individually, the objection is binding.

40.

In Hilchot Mechirah, Chapter 6, the Rambam explains the details of lodging an objection with regard to a sale. There he explains that when a person is compelled to make a sale against his will, he can nullify the transaction by issuing an objection stating that he was compelled to make this sale. With regard to an objection to a get, other authorities (see Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, Chapter 134) also mention the concept of compulsion. The Rambam, however, omits mention of the subject entirely.

As reflected in Halachah 27, our Sages considered lodging an objection to a get in a very negative light.

41.

The situation mentioned by the Rambam in the previous halachah is not merely a theoretical question. In many instances, a husband who was compelled to divorce his wife would seek to have the get nullified so that their marriage could continue. Similarly, apostates and men whose feelings toward their wives have soured have sought to nullify their divorces in order to cause their wives difficulties.

42.

Many of the other commentaries differ with the Rambam concerning this point. Some - e.g., the Rashba - are more stringent, for they maintain that the husband can word his objection to nullify even such a statement. They explain that to insure that the get is not nullified, the husband must also disqualify the testimony of any witness who heard his objections.

Others - e.g., Rabbenu Asher - are more lenient and maintain that all that is necessary is for the husband to say that all objections to the get are nullified. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 134:3) rules according to the Rashba. The Ramah maintains that Rabbenu Asher's ruling is halachically acceptable; however, he counsels following the Rashba's ruling to eliminate all doubts.

43.

Despite the statements that he had made previously, if the husband nullified the get afterwards, his statements would be effective and the divorce void (Maggid Mishneh).

44.

There are authorities who differ with the Rambam on this point, based on their version of Gittin 32b. According to these authorities, since the get was written according to law, it is always able to be used for a divorce and can never be nullified by the husband. In consideration of the opinion of these authorities, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:66), when quoting this law, rules that the status of the divorce is in doubt.

45.

The point is that these expressions all indicate that the husband no longer desires to use this get to divorce his wife.

46.

For all the statements quoted above are false. The get is effective; it is the husband who no longer desires to use it.

47.

The Rambam implies that the question is whether the word לטב implies a future tense - i.e., that his intent is to nullify the get - in which instance the divorce would not be effective. Or whether it implies the past tense, in which case, as in the previous halachah, the husband would be giving us incorrect information.

Rashi offers a slightly different interpretation of the passage in Gittin 32b that serves as the source for this halachah. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:63) quotes both opinions.

48.

If, however, the man nullifies the get in the presence of the agent or in the presence of his wife, there is no difficulty.

49.

The primary reason for giving such a get - for the marriage is terminated with the husband's death regardless - is to free a childless woman from the obligations of yibbum and chalitzah. If the get was given before the husband's death, these rites are not necessary. Otherwise, they are. With the current advances in record keeping and communication, it is usually possible to eliminate the doubt mentioned in this halachah.

50.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 141:69) states that this law applies only when a city is surrounded by the army of the ruling authority. If it is surrounded by an army from another country, we no longer operate under the presumption that the husband is alive.

51.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Gittin 3:4), the Rambam defines a ship in distress as follows: "One that faces a tempest-torn sea that threatens to sink it. The sailors are unable to control its path as they desire.... Nevertheless, all the oars and the other instruments remain intact."

52.

This applies regardless of whether the person is being tried by a Jewish court or a gentile court.

53.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (loc. cit.), the Rambam defines this as referring to a ship whose oars, steering mechanism and other navigational tools have been broken, and it is totally at the mercy of the waters.

The laws that apply when a ship has sunk are described in Chapter 13, Halachah 16.

54.

The implication is that if the person was sentenced to death by a Jewish court, we presume that the sentence was carried out. (See Hilchot Terumot 9:2.) In contrast, there is a possibility that a gentile court will accept a bribe.

55.

Lest the husband have died already.

56.

For we do not know which came first, the husband's death or the giving of the get.

57.

Although the husband desires to divorce her, she remains his wife until the get reaches her. Therefore, the husband remains obligated by the marriage contract.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in the one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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