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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin

Folio 6a

Even if he only heard the scratching of the pen and the rustling of the sheet,1  it is sufficient. It has been taught in agreement with R. Ashi: 'If a Get is brought from foreign parts, even if the bearer was downstairs while the scribe was upstairs, or upstairs while the scribe was downstairs, the Get is valid, or even if he was going in and out all day, the Get is valid.' [Now in the case where] he is downstairs and the scribe is upstairs [you may ask, how can this be,] seeing that the bearer cannot have seen him [while writing]?2  Obviously [what is meant is] that he, for instance, heard the scratching of the pen and the rustling of the sheet.3

The Master said: 'Even if he was going in and out all day the Get is valid'. Who is referred to by 'he'? Shall I say it is the bearer? Hardly; for if the Get is valid even when he was in a different room and so did not see it at all, is there any question that it is valid when he simply was going in and out [of the same room]? [Shall I say] then it is the scribe? Surely this is self-evident. Because he leaves the room sometimes [in the middle of writing]. is that any ground for declaring the Get invalid? — It is not [so self-evident]. It is necessary to state the case where he went out into the street and returned. You might say that another man [of the same name] has come across him and commissioned him to write a Get.4  Now we know [that this objection is not maintained].

It has been stated: Babylonia has been declared by Rab to be in the same category with the Land of Israel in respect of writs of divorce, and by Samuel to be in the same category with foreign parts.5  May we assume their point of divergence to be this, that one of them held the reason for requiring the declaration to be that [Jews outside the Land of Israel] are not familiar with the rule of 'special intention', so that [the Babylonians,] being familiar, [are in the same category with the Palestinians], whereas the other held the reason to be the difficulty of finding witnesses to confirm [the signatures], and the same difficulty is found [in Babylonia]? — Can you really presume this, seeing that Rabbah also accepts Raba's reason? No. Both [Rab and Samuel] agree that the Get requires confirmation. Rab, however, is of opinion that since there are Talmudical Colleges in Babylonia witnesses can always be found,6  while Samuel is of opinion that the Colleges are taken up with their studies.7  It has also been stated that R. Abba said in the name of R. Huna: 'In Babylonia we have put ourselves on the same level as Eretz Israel in respect of bills of divorce from the time when Rab came to Babylon.'8  R. Jeremiah raised an objection: R. JUDAH SAYS, FOREIGN PARTS EXTEND FROM REKEM EASTWARDS, REKEM BEING INCLUDED; FROM ASKELON SOUTHWARD, ASKELON BEING INCLUDED: AND FROM ACCO NORTHWARDS, ACCO BEING INCLUDED. Now Babylon is north of Eretz Israel, as we learn from the verse of the Scripture, And the Lord said to me, Out of the north the evil shall break forth.9  It is true, the Mishnah continues: R. MEIR SAYS, ACCO COUNTS AS PART OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL IN THE MATTER OF BILLS OF DIVORCE; but even R. Meir only excepted Acco, which is close to Eretz Israel, but not Babylon, which is remote!10  — R. Jeremiah asked the question and he himself answered [by saying that] 'Babylon is an exception.

How far does Babylon extend? — R. Papa says: On this question there is the same difference of opinion in respect of bills of divorce as there is in respect of family descent.11  R. Joseph, however, says that the difference of opinion exists only in respect of family descent, but in respect of bills of divorce all parties are agreed that Babylonia extends to the second boat of the [floating] bridge.12  R. Hisda required [the declaration to be made by the bearer of a Get] from Ktesifon to Be-Ardashir, but not [by one who brought it] from Be-Ardashir to Ktesifon.13  May we presume that he considered the reason [for requiring the declaration to be that Jews in foreign parts] are not familiar with the rule of 'special intention', and that the people of Be-Ardashir are familiar? — How can you presume this, seeing that Rabbah accepts Raba's reason also? But in point of fact all authorities are agreed that confirmation [of the Get] is required, and the reason of R. Hisda is that as the people of Be-Ardashir go to Ktesifon to market, the inhabitants of the latter are familiar with their signatures,14  but not vice versa, because the Be-Ardashir [buyers] are busy with their marketing. Rabba b. Abbuha required [the declaration to be made if the Get was brought] from one side of the street to the other; R. Shesheth if it was brought from one block [of buildings] to another; and Raba even [from one house to another] within the same block. But was it not Raba who said that the reason was because it was not easy to find witnesses to confirm the signatures? — The people of Mahuzah15  are different, because they are always on the move.16

R. Hanin related the following: R. Kahana brought a Get either from Sura to Nehardea or from Nehardea to Sura, I do not know which, and consulted Rab as to whether he was required to declare, 'In my presence it was written and in my presence it was signed.' Rab said to him: You are not required,

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Aliter 'the sound of the pen and the paper as they were being prepared'.
  2. [It is assumed that where the bearer is upstairs he can see the scribe who is working downstairs. V. Trani, who preserves a reading to this effect.]
  3. And this is deemed to be sufficient.
  4. And therefore the Get was not written expressly for the woman to whom the bearer is intended to take it.
  5. [H] lit., 'outside the Land'.
  6. As students and other people are always going from various places to the colleges.
  7. And therefore the students there do not recognise the signatures.
  8. In the year 219 C.E. [He founded, after his return the second time from Palestine, the school of Sura to which there flocked students from all parts. This gave an impetus to the study of the Law and made Babylonia a centre of learning for centuries (Rashi). Tosaf.: Since Rab came and insisted that Babylonia never ceased to be a centre of Torah study, since the days of the exile of Jehoiachin with the flower of Judea. V. II Kings XXIV, 14. Obermeyer. Die Landschaft Babylonien. p. 306, points out that the name 'Babylon' stands here, as in other places in the Talmud, for Sura which was in the neighbourhood of the old great city, Babylon, and in contradistinction to Nehardea, where he had his former seat.]
  9. Jer. I, 14.
  10. [Tosaf. appeals to this question in support of its interpretation cited n. 3.]
  11. The Jews of Babylonia being reputed to have preserved their racial purity more strictly than the Jews of any other part. v. Kid. 72a.
  12. [Over the Euphrates north of Samosata, v. Berliner, A., Beitrage p. 21; v. also Kid. 72a.]
  13. [Two neighbouring places, the former on the eastern, the latter on the western bank of the Tigris. Ktesifon was the larger place of the two, and a marketing centre for the neighbouring towns. V. Obermeyer op. cit. pp. 164ff.]
  14. Because the Be-Ardashir people often buy their goods on credit against promissory notes which they leave with the Ktesifon merchants.
  15. Where Raba had his seminary.
  16. [To sell their merchandise which was brought along the Tigris and Euphrates and caravan routes to Mahuzah which was a great trading centre. V. Obermeyer op. cit. p. 173.]
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Gittin 6b

but if you have done so, so much the better. What [did Rab] mean by these last words? — [He meant] that if the husband came and raised objections against the Get, they would pay no attention to him;1  as it has been taught: A man once brought a Get before R. Ishmael, and asked him whether he was required to declare, 'In my presence etc. Said R. Ishmael to him: My son, from where are you? He replied: Rabbi, I am from Kefar Sisai. Whereupon R. Ishmael said to him: It is necessary for you to declare that It was written and signed in your presence, so that the woman should not require witnesses [in case the husband raises objections]. After the man left, R. Ila'i came in to R. Ishmael and said to him: Is not Kefar Sisai2  within the ambit of the border-line of Eretz Israel, and is it not nearer to Sepphoris than Acco is, and does not the Mishnah tell us that R. MEIR HELD THAT ACCO COUNTS AS ERETZ ISRAEL IN MATTERS OF BILLS OF DIVORCE,3  [and even the Rabbis differ from R. Meir only in regard to Acco, which is some distance away, but not in regard to Kefar Sisai which is near?]4  R. Ishmael said to him: Say nothing, my son, say nothing; now that the thing has been declared permissible, let it remain so. [Why should R. Ila'i have thought otherwise], seeing that [R. Ishmael] also gave as a reason 'that the woman should not require witnesses'? — [R. Ila'i] had not been told of these concluding words.

R. Abiathar sent to R. Hisda [the following instruction:] [The bearers of] writs of divorce from there [Babylon] to here [Eretz Israel] are not required to declare, 'In my presence it was written and in my presence it was signed.' May we presume that he was of opinion that the reason for requiring the declaration is because the [Jews outside Palestine] are not familiar with the rule of 'special intention', while these [the Babylonians] are familiar? — Can you really presume this, seeing that Rabbah accepts Raba's reason? No. All agree that [the reason is] because we require someone who can confirm the signatures if necessary, and in this case, as there are always people going to and fro between Babylon and Eretz Israel, witnesses can easily be found.

Said R. Joseph: Can it be maintained that R. Abiathar is an authority who can be relied upon? [Have we not] moreover evidence to the contrary? For it was he who sent a statement to Rab Judah, [running,] 'Jews who come from there [Babylon] to here [Eretz Israel] fulfil in their own persons the words of the Scripture: They have given a boy for a harlot and sold a girl for wine and have drunk,5  and he wrote the words from Scripture without ruling lines under them, although R. Isaac has said that a quotation of two words [from Scripture] may be written without lines but not of three (in a Baraitha it was taught that three may be written without lines but not four)? — Said Abaye to him: Because a man does not know this rule of R. Isaac, is he therefore not to be counted a great scholar? If it were a rule established by logical deduction, we might think so.6  But it is purely a tradition,7  and it is a tradition which R. Abiathar had not heard. Nay more, R. Abiathar is the authority whose view was confirmed by his Master,8  [in the following way]. Commenting on the text, And his concubine played the harlot against him,9  R. Abiathar said that the Levite found a fly with her, and R. Jonathan said that he found a hair on her. R. Abiathar soon afterwards came across Elijah and said to him: 'What is the Holy One, blessed be He, doing?' and he answered, 'He is discussing the question of the concubine in Gibea.' 'What does He say?' said Elijah: '[He says], My son Abiathar says So-and-so, and my son Jonathan says So-and-so,' Said R. Abiathar: 'Can there possibly be uncertainty in the mind of the Heavenly One?' He replied: Both [answers] are the word of the living God. He [the Levite] found a fly and excused it, he found a hair and did not excuse it. Rab Judah explained: He found a fly in his food and a hair in loco concubitus; the fly was merely disgusting, but the hair was dangerous. Some say, he found both in his food; the fly was not her fault, the hair was.

R. Hisda said: A man should never terrorise his household. The concubine of Gibea was terrorised by her husband and she was the cause of many thousands being slaughtered in Israel. Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: If a man terrorises his household, he will eventually commit the three sins of unchastity,10  blood-shedding,11  and desecration of the Sabbath.12  Rabba b. Bar Hanah said:' The three things which a man has to say to his household just before Sabbath commences, 'Have you set aside the tithe? Have you placed the 'Erub? Light the lamp,'13

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Once the declaration was made.
  2. Or Simai, identified with Kefar Sumeija, N.W. of Kefar Hananiah ('Anan); v. Kaftor wa-Ferah, p. 270, and Klein, S., Beitrage, p. 29, n. 4.
  3. Hence the declaration should not be required.
  4. [The bracketed sentence is not in the Tosef. Git. I. whence this passage is quoted.]
  5. Joel IV, 3. [He disapproved of the practice of Babylonian students marrying before graduation and then betaking themselves to the Palestinian schools for the completion of their studies, leaving their wives and children in utter destitution. (V. Nashi and Tosaf.)]
  6. As this would show R. Abiathar to be deficient in logical acumen.
  7. [The whole regulation requiring Biblical passages to be underlined is based on an ancient oral tradition going back to Moses at Sinai; v. Soferim I.]
  8. God Himself.
  9. Judg. XIX, 2.
  10. By having intercourse with his wife when she is unclean, because she is afraid to tell him.
  11. Because the members of his household run away from him and meet with fatal accidents.
  12. Because his wife through fear of him lights the lamp after dark.
  13. V. Shah. 34a.
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