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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin
with signatures which are obviously those of heathens.1 Can you give some examples of names which are obviously those of heathens? — Said R. Papa: For instance, Hannez and Abudina, Bar Shibthai, Bar Kidri, Batti and Nakim and Una. What then if the signatures are not obviously those of heathens? [The document, you will say,] is invalid? If so, instead of going on to say, 'THEY WERE ONLY PRONOUNCED TO BE INVALID WHEN DRAWN UP BY UNAUTHORISED PERSONS, R. Simeon should draw a distinction between [the signatures] themselves, and should continue thus: 'when I say [they are valid, I mean] when the names are obviously [heathen], but otherwise they are invalid!' — This in fact is what he does mean, viz.: 'When I say [they are valid I mean] when the names are obviously [heathen], but where they are not so, the document is on a par with one drawn up by unauthorised persons and is invalid.' Or if you like I can reply that the last clause [of the Mishnah] refers to monetary documents, and the meaning is as follows: 'Monetary documents were not pronounced to be invalid save when they were drawn up by unauthorised persons.' It has been taught: R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Jose: Thus did R. Simeon say to the Rabbis in Sidon: R. Akiba and the Sages were agreed in reference to all documents entered in heathen courts that even if those that signed them were heathens they are valid, including also writs of divorce and of emancipation. They differed only in the case where they were drawn up by unauthorised persons, R. Akiba declaring all such documents to be valid and the Sages declaring them all invalid, save only writs of divorce and of emancipation. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says that these too are valid only in places where Jews are not allowed to sign documents,2 but where Jews are allowed to sign documents they are not valid. Why does not Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel declare them invalid even in places where Jews are allowed to sign, for fear lest they should come to be deemed valid even in places where they are not? — Names may be confused but not places. Rabina had a mind to declare valid a document which had been drawn up in a gathering3 of Arameans. Said Rafram to him: 'We learnt [distinctly] "COURTS".'
Raba said:4 A document drawn up in Persian which has been handed over in the presence of Jewish witnesses is sufficient warrant for recovering from property on which there is no previous lien. But the witnesses to the transfer cannot read it? — We speak of the case where they can. But we require writing which cannot be erased? — We speak of a case where the sheet has been dressed with gall-nut juice.5 But we require the rule [to be observed] that the gist of the document must be summarised in the last line?6 — We speak of a case where this has been done. If so, why not recover from mortgaged property also? — [The contents of a document of this kind] do not become generally known.7
Resh Lakish put the following question to R. Johanan:
'If a Get1 is attested by witnesses with heathen names, how do we proceed?' — He replied: 'The only [heathen names] that have come before us in this way were Lucus and Lus, and in both cases we declared [the Get] valid.'2 This ruling applies strictly to names like Lucus and Lus3 which are never borne by Israelites, but not to heathen names which are also borne by Israelites.4 He [thereupon] raised an objection [from the following]: 'Writs of divorce brought from foreign parts and attested by signatures, even if the names are like those of heathens, are valid, because most Jews in foreign parts bear heathen names!'5 — There the reason is as given, because most Jews in foreign parts bear heathen names.6 According to another version, Resh Lakish put the question to R. Johanan on the lines of the Baraitha [just quoted],7 and he answered him by quoting [the second] clause of the Baraitha.8
MISHNAH. IF A MAN SAYS: GIVE THIS WRIT OF DIVORCE TO MY WIFE AND THIS BILL OF EMANCIPATION TO MY SLAVE, HE IS AT LIBERTY IF HE PLEASES TO COUNTERMAND BOTH INSTRUCTIONS.9 THIS IS THE RULING OF R. MEIR. THE SAGES, HOWEVER, SAY THAT HE MAY COUNTERMAND IN THE CASE OF THE GET BUT NOT IN THAT OF THE WRIT OF EMANCIPATION, ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT A BENEFIT MAY BE CONFERRED ON A MAN IN HIS ABSENCE BUT A DISABILITY MAY BE IMPOSED ON HIM ONLY IN HIS PRESENCE; FOR IF HE DOES NOT WANT TO MAINTAIN HIS SLAVE HE IS NOT BOUND TO DO SO,10 BUT IF HE DOES NOT WANT TO GIVE MAINTENANCE TO HIS WIFE HE IS STILL ROUND TO DO SO. SAID R. MEIR TO THEM: DOES HE NOT DISQUALIFY HIS SLAVE FROM EATING THE PRIESTLY HEAVE-OFFERING [BY EMANCIPAT10 NG HIM] IN THE SAME WAY AS HE DISQUALIFIES HIS WIFE [BY DIVORCING HER]?11 — THEY REPLIED: [THE SLAVE IS DISQUALIFIED] BECAUSE HE IS THE PRIEST'S PROPERTY.
GEMARA. R. Huna12 and R. Isaac b. Joseph were sitting [studying] before R. Jeremiah whilst R. Jeremiah was sitting and dozing, when R. Huna remarked that we learn from the ruling of the Rabbis [in our Mishnah] that if a man seizes the goods [of a third party] on behalf of a creditor, he acquires [them].13 Said R. Isaac b. Joseph to him: Even if by doing so he causes loss to others?14 — He replied: Yes. At this point R. Jeremiah woke up [and overheard them]. He said: Youngsters, this is what R. Johanan said: If a man seizes goods on behalf of a creditor when by so doing he causes loss to others, he does not acquire. If you ask [how this can be reconciled with] our Mishnah,15 [the answer is that] for a man to say 'give' is equivalent to saying 'acquire on behalf of'.
R. Hisda says: [The case of the man] who seizes goods on behalf of a creditor and by so doing causes loss to others admits of the same difference of opinion as we find between R. Eliezer and the Rabbis. For we learnt:16 If a man garners the corner [of his field], and said: This is for such-and-such a poor man, he acquires it on his behalf. The Sages, however, say that he must give it to the first poor man that comes along. Said Amemar (others say it was R. Papa:)
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