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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin
to my daughter, it is worth twelve maneh; and then she died and the Sages carried out her instruction? He replied: The sons of Rokel — may their mother bury them!1 The first Tanna [in our passage] holds with R. Eleazar,2 and R. Nathan and R. Jacob also hold with R. Eleazar, [so much so] that although the owner dies, we do not say that it is a religious duty to carry out his wishes. 'Some' [authorities] hold with the Rabbis. R. Judah speaking in the name of R. Jacob who himself spoke in the name of R. Meir held with R. Eleazar, only where the sender had died in the meanwhile he applied the principle of carrying out the wishes of the deceased. The Sages said the money should be divided, because they were in doubt. 'Here' [in Babylon] they said that the bearer could best estimate for himself, while R. Simeon the Prince merely desired to give an illustration.
A question was asked in the Beth Hamidrash: Was R. Simeon the Prince really a prince,3 or did he speak in the name of the Prince? — Come and hear: R. Joseph said that the halachah follows the ruling of R. Simeon the Prince. But the question still remains whether he was a Prince or only spoke in the name of a Prince? — Let it stand over.
The text above says: R. Jose said that the halachah follows the ruling of R. Simeon the Prince. But is it not an established rule that the words of a man on his death bed have the same force as if they were written and delivered? [R. Joseph] understands [the Baraitha] to be speaking of the case [where the sender was] in good health. But R. Simeon said it should be returned 'to the heirs of the sender'. though all are agreed it is a fixed rule that it is a religious duty to carry out the instructions of the deceased? — Read: 'returned to the sender'.
MISHNAH. IF THE BEARER OF A GET FROM 'FOREIGN PARTS' DECLARES: 'IT WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE BUT NOT SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE', [OR]. 'IT WAS SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE BUT NOT WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE', [OR] 'THE WHOLE OF IT WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE BUT ONLY ONE OF THE WITNESSES SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE',4 [OR] 'ONLY HALF WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE THOUGH BOTH WITNESSES5 SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE' — IN ALL THESE CASES THE GET IS INVALID.6 IF ONE [PERSON] DECLARES 'IT WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE AND ANOTHER SAYS, 'IT WAS SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE. THE GET IS INVALID. IF TWO [PERSONS] DECLARE, 'IT WAS WRITTEN IN OUR PRESENCE AND ANOTHER SAYS, 'IT WAS SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE', IT IS INVALID: R. JUDAH, HOWEVER, DECLARES IT VALID. IF ONE DECLARES, 'IT WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE' AND TWO SAY, 'IT WAS SIGNED IN OUR PRESENCE', IT IS VALID.
GEMARA. Why this repetition? Is it not all included in what we have already learnt: The bearer of a Get from 'foreign parts' is required to declare, 'In my presence it was written and in my presence it was signed'?7 — If I had only that to go by, I might think that [though] he is required [to make this declaration], yet if he omitted [to do so the Get is still] valid. Now I know that [this is not the case].
ONLY HALF OF IT WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE THOUGH BOTH WITNESSES SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE. Which half is referred to? If you say the first half, what of the dictum of R. Eleazar, that if only one line8 is written with special reference to the woman for whom it is intended, the rest requires no such ['special intention']? — R. Ashi therefore said that the second half is meant.
THE WHOLE WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE BUT ONLY ONE WITNESS SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE. R. Hisda said: Even if two other persons attest the signature of the second witness, the Get is still invalid. What is the reason for this? — In regard to both signatures alike9 we must either insist on confirmation10 or follow the regulation of the Rabbis.11 Raba demurred strongly to this [reasoning]. Is there anything, he said, which is declared valid on the word of one witness12 and invalid on the word of two? No, said Raba; what we must say is that even
if the bearer and another person confirm the signature of the second witness,1 [the Get] is invalid,2 because this might be taken as a precedent for the attestation of other documents, and in this way three-quarters3 of a sum in dispute might be assigned on the word of one witness.4 R. Ashi strongly demurred to this [reasoning]. Is there anything. he said, which if stated by one persons is valid, but becomes invalid if another joins with him? No, said R. Ashi, what we have to say is that even if the bearer Says. 'I myself am the second witness', [the Get] is invalid, because in regard to both signatures alike we must either insist on confirmation or follow the regulation of the Rabbis.
We learnt: [IF HE DECLARES.] 'THE WHOLE WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE BUT ONLY ONE WITNESS SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE', THE GET IS INVALID. What now about the other witness? Do we presume that there is no-one who attests his signature? That cannot be; for even where one [person declares] IT WAS WRITTEN IN MY PRESENCE' AND ANOTHER SAYS 'IT WAS SIGNED IN MY PRESENCE', in which case one testifies to the whole of the writing and the other to the whole of the signing [ — even in that case the Get] is invalid; how much more so then if only half [of the signing is attested]? No; this shows that the proper explanation is either that of Raba or of R. Ashi, and that R. Hisda's is to be excluded.5 And R. Hisda? — He can rejoin: On your theory,6 what need is there to specify the case of 'in my presence it was written but not signed' [etc.]? Obviously the Mishnah was giving first a weaker and then a stronger instance;7 so here, the Mishnah gives first a weaker and then a stronger instance.8
R. Hisda said: An embankment five handbreadths deep and a fence [on it] five handbreadths high are not reckoned together [to form a single partition of ten handbreadths];9 the whole of the ten must be contained either in the embankment or in the fence. Meremar, however, in an exposition, [taught] that an embankment of five handbreadths and a fence on it of five handbreadths are reckoned together; and the law is that they are reckoned together.
Ilfa inquired: Can the hands be half clean and half unclean, or can they not be? How is this question to be understood? Does it mean that two persons wash their hands from a revi'ith?10 Regarding this we have already learnt that a revi'ith is sufficient for washing the hands of one [person] and even of two.11 Is the case then that he washes one hand at a time? In regard to this too we have learnt12 that if a man washes one hand by pouring water over it and the other by dipping [it in a river] the hands are clean. Is it then that he washes a half of his hand at a time? Regarding this it has been laid down in the school of R. Jannai that the hands cannot be made clean by halves. — The question may still be asked in regard to the case where the water is still dripping [from one hand13 when he washes the second]. And suppose the water is dripping, what does it matter? Have we not learnt:
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