1

When a person composes a bill of release for his slave and gives it to another person to acquire on the slave's behalf, saying: "Take possession of this bill of release for so and so, my slave," the slave is granted his freedom even though the bill of release did not reach his hand. For it is possible to acquire something of benefit to a person outside his presence.

If, however, a person said: "Give this bill of release to my slave," he may not retract, but the slave does not attain his freedom until the bill of release reaches his hand. Therefore if a person says: "Give this bill of release to my slave" and dies, it should not be given to him after his master's death.

א

הַכּוֹתֵב גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר לְעַבְדּוֹ וְזִכָּה לוֹ בּוֹ עַל יְדֵי אַחֵר וְאָמַר זְכֵה בְּגֵט זֶה לִפְלוֹנִי עַבְדִּי יָצָא לְחֵרוּת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ גֵּט לְיָדוֹ שֶׁזָּכִין לְאָדָם שֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר תְּנוּ גֵּט זֶה לְעַבְדִּי אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ וְלֹא יֵצֵא הָעֶבֶד לְחֵרוּת עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ הַגֵּט לְיָדוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ הָאוֹמֵר תְּנוּ גֵּט זֶה לְעַבְדִּי וּמֵת לֹא יִתְּנוּ לְאַחַר מִיתָה:

2

When a person composes a legal document saying: "I made my slave so and so a free man," "My servant so and so was made a free man," or "He is a free man," he is released. If, however, the document states: "I will make him a free man," he is not released.

ב

הַכּוֹתֵב בִּשְׁטָר עָשִׂיתִי פְּלוֹנִי עַבְדִּי בֶּן חוֹרִין אוֹ נַעֲשָׂה פְּלוֹנִי עַבְדִּי בֶּן חוֹרִין אוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא בֶּן חוֹרִין הֲרֵי זֶה יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת. כָּתַב בַּשְּׁטָר אֶעֱשֶׂנּוּ בֶּן חוֹרִין לֹא יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת:

3

When a master states that he released his slave and the slave denies being released, we suspect that the master had another person acquire the bill of release on behalf of the slave.

If the master said: "I composed a deed of release and gave it to the slave," and the slave says: "You neither wrote it nor gave it to me," the statement of a principal is considered as equivalent to the testimony of 100 witnesses, and he is considered a slave until he is freed in the presence of witnesses.

ג

הָאוֹמֵר עָשִׂיתִי פְּלוֹנִי עַבְדִּי בֶּן חוֹרִין וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא עֲשָׂאַנִי חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא זִכָּה לוֹ עַל יְדֵי אַחֵר. אָמַר כָּתַבְתִּי גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר וְנָתַתִּי לוֹ וְהוּא אָמַר לֹא כָּתַב וְלֹא נָתַן הוֹדָאַת בַּעַל דִּין כְּמֵאָה עֵדִים וַהֲרֵי זֶה עֶבֶד עַד שֶׁיְּשַׁחְרְרֵנוּ בְּפָנֵינוּ:

4

When a person commands at the time of his death: "My heirs should not subjugate so and so, my maid-servant," she is still considered a maid-servant as before, but it is forbidden for his heir to subjugate her. For it is a mitzvah to fulfill the words of a deceased person.

Similarly, if a dying man says: "Generate satisfaction for so and so, my maid-servant," we compel the heirs not to make her perform any tasks other than the ones that she desires to perform. If he commanded them to free her, we compel them to free her.

ד

מִי שֶׁצִּוָּה בִּשְׁעַת מִיתָתוֹ פְּלוֹנִית שִׁפְחָתִי אַל יִשְׁתַּעְבְּדוּ בָּהּ יוֹרְשַׁי הֲרֵי זוֹ שִׁפְחָה כְּשֶׁהָיְתָה וְאָסוּר לַיּוֹרְשִׁים לְהִשְׁתַּעְבֵּד בָּהּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמִּצְוָה לְקַיֵּם דִּבְרֵי הַמֵּת. וְכֵן אִם אָמַר עֲשׂוּ לָהּ קוֹרַת רוּחַ כּוֹפִין אֶת הַיּוֹרְשִׁין וְאֵין מִשְׁתַּעְבְּדִין בָּהּ אֶלָּא בִּמְלָאכָה שֶׁהִיא רוֹצָה בָּהּ. צִוָּה וְאָמַר שַׁחְרְרוּהָ כּוֹפִין אֶת הַיּוֹרְשִׁין לְשַׁחְרֵר אוֹתָהּ:

5

There are six matters in which a bill of release given to a servant is equivalent to a bill of divorce. With regard to other matters, a bill of release is equivalent to other legal documents. These are the six:

a) they are not acceptable if prepared by gentile legal authorities;

b) they are acceptable if one witness is a kuti,

c) they must be written for the sake of the slave who is being freed;

d) they may not be written on an article that is attached to the ground;

e) the witnesses may sign only in the presence of each other; and

f) the same laws apply to a bill of divorce and a bill of release with regard to bringing these legal documents from one place to another.

ה

בְּשִׁשָּׁה דְּבָרִים שָׁוִין שִׁחְרוּרֵי עֲבָדִים לְגִטֵּי נָשִׁים וּבִשְׁאָר דְּבָרִים הֲרֵי הֵן כִּשְׁאָר כָּל הַשְּׁטָרוֹת. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן הַשִּׁשָּׁה. פְּסוּלִים בְּעַרְכָּאוֹת שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם. וּכְשֵׁרִין בְּעֵד עַכּוּ''ם. וּצְרִיכִין כְּתִיבָה לְשֵׁם הַמְשַׁחְרֵר עַצְמוֹ. וְאֵין נִכְתָּבִין בִּמְחֻבָּר. וְאֵין חוֹתְמִין עֵדֵיהֶם אֶלָּא זֶה בִּפְנֵי זֶה. אֶחָד גִּטֵּי נָשִׁים וְאֶחָד שִׁחְרוּרֵי עֲבָדִים שָׁוִין לַמּוֹלִיךְ וְלַמֵּבִיא. כֵּיצַד. כָּל הַשְּׁטָרוֹת הָעוֹלִים בְּעַרְכָּאוֹת שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם כְּשֵׁרִים בְּכָל הַתְּנָאִים שֶׁאָנוּ מְבָאֲרִים בְּהִלְכוֹת הַלְוָאָה חוּץ מִגִּטֵּי נָשִׁים וְשִׁחְרוּרֵי עֲבָדִים:

6

What is implied? All legal documents that are composed by gentile legal authorities are acceptable provided they conform to all the conditions stated in Hilchot Halva'ah with the exception of bills of divorce for women and bills of release for slaves.

Any legal document that is signed by even one witness who is a kuti is not acceptable, with the exception of bills of divorce for women and bills of release for slaves, provided the kuti is known to be precise in his observance.

In the present age, when the kutim are considered as gentiles with regard to all matters, we apply the laws stated with regard to them to the Sadducees. For the Sadducees in the present era are considered like the kutim of the previous era, before it was decreed that they would be considered like gentiles.

With regard to a woman's bill of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1 states: "And he shall write to her," which is interpreted by our Sages to mean: "for her sake." And with regard to a Canaanite maid servant's bill of release, Leviticus 19:2 states: "Nor was freedom given to her," teaching that the bill of release must be written for her sake.

With regard to a woman's bill of divorce, Ibid.:1,3 states: "And he shall write, and he shall give," which is interpreted by our Sages to mean that the bill of divorce should be written on a substance that is lacking only to be given. This excludes a bill of divorce that is written while the article on which it is written is attached and afterwards detached. For it is lacking both being detached and being given. Similarly, with regard to a bill of release, it is written: "given to her," teaching that the bill of release should be lacking only being given.

Witnesses may not sign bills of divorce for women and bills of release for slaves outside each other's presence. We have already explained that reason for this ruling in Hilchot Gerushin.

ו

כָּל שְׁטָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ עָלָיו אֲפִלּוּ עֵד אֶחָד כּוּתִי פָּסוּל חוּץ מִגִּטֵּי נָשִׁים וְשִׁחְרוּרֵי עֲבָדִים שֶׁהֵן כְּשֵׁרִין בְּעֵד אֶחָד יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעֵד אֶחָד כּוּתִי וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כּוּתִי חָבֵר. וּבַזְּמַן הַזֶּה שֶׁהַכּוּתִים כְּעַכּוּ''ם לְכָל דִּבְרֵיהֶם אָנוּ לְמֵדִין מֵהֶן לִצְדוֹקִין שֶׁהַצְּדוֹקִין בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה כְּמוֹ כּוּתִי בְּאוֹתוֹ הַזְּמַן קֹדֶם שֶׁגָּזְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁיִּהְיוּ כְּעַכּוּ''ם לְכָל דִּבְרֵיהֶם. בְּגֵט אִשָּׁה הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים כד א) "וְכָתַב לָהּ" לִשְׁמָהּ וּבְגֵט שִׁחְרוּר הוּא אוֹמֵר (ויקרא יט כ) "אוֹ חֻפְשָׁה לֹא נִתַּן לָהּ", עַד שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב לִשְׁמָהּ. בְּגֵט אִשָּׁה הוּא אוֹמֵר וְכָתַב וְנָתַן מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְחֻסָּר אֶלָּא נְתִינָה יָצָא הַכּוֹתֵב בִּמְחֻבָּר וְאַחַר כָּךְ קִצֵּץ שֶׁהֲרֵי מְחֻסַּר קְצִיצָה וּנְתִינָה וּבְגֵט שִׁחְרוּר הוּא אוֹמֵר (וְנָתַן לָהּ) לֹא יִהְיֶה מְחֻסָּר אֶלָּא נְתִינָה. אֶחָד גִּטֵּי נָשִׁים וְשִׁחְרוּרֵי עֲבָדִים אֵינָן חוֹתְמִין עֵדֵיהֶם אֶלָּא זֶה בִּפְנֵי זֶה. וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ טַעַם הַדָּבָר בְּהִלְכוֹת גֵּרוּשִׁין:

7

What is meant by the statement that the same laws apply to bills of divorce and bills of release with regard to bringing these legal documents from one place to another? When an agent brings a bill of release from one place to another in Eretz Yisrael, he does not have to testify that it was written and signed in his presence. And in the diaspora, if there are no witnesses present to verify the authenticity of the bill of release, and the agent states that it was written and signed in his presence, its authenticity is considered as verified. Afterwards, if the master comes and protests, no attention is paid to him, as we have explained with regard to a bill of divorce.

Just as when a woman brings her bill of divorce, she does not have to have the authenticity of the document verified, because the bill of divorce is in her possession, so too, when a servant's bill of release is in his possession, he does not have to have the authenticity of the document verified.

Just as the woman must say: "It was written and signed in my presence," when it was stipulated that she do so, as we have explained in that context, so too, when a servant brings his bill of release and states: "It was written and signed in my presence," his word is accepted in the same way, and he does not have to have the authenticity of the document verified.

ז

וְכֵיצַד שָׁוִין בְּמוֹלִיךְ וּמֵבִיא שֶׁהַמֵּבִיא גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר בְּפָנַי נִכְתַּב וּבְפָנַי נֶחְתַּם וּבְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ אִם אֵין עֵדִים מְצוּיִין לְקַיְּמוֹ וְאָמַר הַשָּׁלִיחַ בְּפָנַי נִכְתַּב וּבְפָנַי נֶחְתַּם זֶהוּ קִיּוּמוֹ. וְאִם בָּא הָאָדוֹן וְעִרְעֵר אַחַר כָּךְ אֵין מַשְׁגִּיחִין בּוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּגִטֵּי נָשִׁים. כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהָאִשָּׁה עַצְמָהּ מְבִיאָה גִּטָּהּ וְאֵינָהּ צְרִיכָה לְקַיְּמוֹ הוֹאִיל וְהַגֵּט יוֹצֵא מִתַּחַת יָדָהּ כָּךְ הָעֶבֶד שֶׁשְּׁטַר שִׁחְרוּר יוֹצֵא מִתַּחַת יָדוֹ אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְקַיְּמוֹ. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁהָאִשָּׁה אוֹמֶרֶת בְּפָנַי נִכְתַּב וּבְפָנַי נֶחְתַּם אִם הִתְנָה עָלֶיהָ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בִּמְקוֹמוֹ כָּךְ הָעֶבֶד שֶׁהֵבִיא גֵּט וְאָמַר בְּפָנַי נִכְתַּב וּבְפָנַי נֶחְתַּם נֶאֱמָן עַל אוֹתוֹ הַדֶּרֶךְ וְאֵין צָרִיךְ קִיּוּם:

8

Everyone who is acceptable to bring a bill of divorce to a woman as the husband's agent is also acceptable to bring a bill of release for a slave as the agent of the master.

A slave may receive a bill of release for another slave from that slave's master, but not from his own master.

When an owner writes a legal document with which he seeks to consecrate his Canaanite maid-servant, even though he tells her: "Attain your freedom by virtue of this document and become consecrated because of it," this expression is not one that conveys freedom, and she is neither consecrated nor freed.

ח

כָּל הַכָּשֵׁר לְהָבִיא גֵּט הָאִשָּׁה כָּשֵׁר לְהָבִיא גֵּט הָעֶבֶד. וְהָעֶבֶד מְקַבֵּל גֵּט לַחֲבֵרוֹ מִיַּד רַבּוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ אֲבָל לֹא מִיַּד רַבּוֹ שֶׁל מְקַבֵּל. הַכּוֹתֵב שְׁטַר אֵרוּסִין לְשִׁפְחָתוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָמַר לָהּ צְאִי בּוֹ לְחֵרוּת וְהִתְקַדְּשִׁי בּוֹ אֵין בַּלָּשׁוֹן הַזֶּה לְשׁוֹן שִׁחְרוּר וְאֵינָהּ מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת וְלֹא מְשֻׁחְרֶרֶת: