כ״ה בטבת ה׳תשע״ו (January 6, 2016)

Gittin 24a-b: A Geṭ For a Specific Woman

The third perek of Massekhet Gittin begins on our daf and deals with two main issues:

  1. A continuation of the discussions of li-shmah – the law requiring that a geṭ be written with a specific married couple in mind, and
  2. The laws dealing with the messenger who delivers the geṭ. For example, if a messenger travels a significant distance to deliver the geṭ, he cannot be totally certain that the husband is still alive at the time that he hands the geṭ to the wife. As we have learned, a geṭ cannot be given after the husband has died. Although the woman is free to marry whether she is a widow or a divorcee, there are differences between those two situations regarding such laws as marrying a kohen or being obligated in yibum.

The first Mishna in our perek teaches that a person cannot make use of a geṭ that was written without his knowledge, even if the names that appear in the document match his name and his wife’s name. The example that appears in the Mishna is that if a person hears the scribe reading aloud and hears that he is writing a document with names that match his own, it cannot be used. Furthermore, even in cases where the geṭ was written with some level of intention, it will be invalid. For example, if a man is married to two women (something that was permissible until the enactment of the takkanat Rabbeinu Gershom) who had the same name, he cannot use it to divorce one of them if his intent was to divorce the other one when the geṭ was written. Even if he told the scribe to write the geṭ and that he will decide later on which wife to divorce, the geṭ would be invalid.

The Ketav Sofer asks why the Mishna presents the case where a man hears the scribe saying his name aloud, rather than the simpler case of a person who simply finds an already written geṭ that has names that match his own. He suggests that such a geṭ would be invalid even if the man approaches the scribe as he is writing and asks him to have him in mind as he writes the name. Since the rest of the document was not written with this couple in mind it is invalid, even if the names are written with the proper intent.

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