ד׳ בטבת ה׳תשע״ו (December 16, 2015)

Gittin 3a-b: Written and Signed In My Presence

As we learned on yesterday’s daf, a person who is a messenger to bring a geṭ from a community in the Diaspora to Israel must be able to attest that the document was written and signed in his presence. Two reasons for this are suggested by the Gemara. According to Rabba, it is because Diaspora communities are not all aware that the get must be written for this specific situation, and we must ascertain that it was done correctly. Rava suggests that the reason for this is because in the event that a question arises about this document, it will be difficult to find people who can recognize and attest to the authenticity of the witnesses’ signatures.

Our Gemara examines Rava’s explanation and asks why it suffices for the messenger to state that the document was signed in his presence, since ordinary kiyyum shetarot – other cases where a contract needs to be verified – require two witnesses to do so. The Gemara explains that we follow the position of Reish Lakish, who rules that a legal document that contains witnesses’ signatures really does not need to be verified, and the requirement to do so is of rabbinic origin. Given the desire of to save the woman from possibly becoming an , they were lenient in this case and permitted a single testimony to suffice in verifying the signatures.

The idea of kiyyum shetarot (the ratification of documents) is a function that is carried out today by a notary whose job is to ensure that the contract that is brought before him is valid. Although the basic requirements of Jewish law recognize any signed contract as valid, due to a concern that the defendant will attempt to undermine the plaintiff’s case by questioning the contractual agreement between them, the sages established a requirement to assure the truthfulness of the contract either by having witnesses attest to the signatures or by comparing the signatures to other confirmed signatures.

Previous
Next