ה׳ באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ו (February 14, 2016)

Gittin 63a-b: An Agent to Receive a Geṭ

The Mishna on our daf discusses the case of a leikabalah – a messenger appointed by a woman to accept a geṭ on her behalf. The Mishna teaches that in the event that the messenger reports that he received the geṭ, but he cannot produce it, the woman needs to produce witnesses both on the original establishment of the messenger and on the fact that the messenger received it and that it was destroyed. The Mishna concludes by noting that these do not need to be two separate sets of witnesses; the same people can attest to both parts of the divorce.

The Gemara explains that our Mishna is describing a situation that took place when the Jews were living under foreign rule which forbade them from practicing certain aspects of their religion – among them religious marriage and divorce. In such a situation, as soon as the divorce took effect, the geṭ itself was destroyed in order to keep any evidence from being found.

The Rambam understands the rule of the Mishna to be teaching that the witnesses must attest to the fact that the geṭ was destroyed. According to other rishonim the point is not that the geṭ was destroyed; all that is really of interest to us is that the sheliaḥ leikabalah received the geṭ, which takes effect immediately, since the sheliah leikabalah represents the woman. That is all the witnesses need to testify about. By mentioning that the geṭ was destroyed, the Mishnah is merely offering an explanation of what happened to the document, but it is not an essential part of their testimony.

With regard to the need for witnesses who will testify to two separate issues:

  • that the woman appointed this person to be her sheliah leikabalah, and
  • that the sheliah leikabalah actually received the geṭ on her behalf.

Tosafot suggests that we may have thought it unlikely that the same two people witnessed both of these events, since they took place at different times and places, and if the same two witnesses testified about both, perhaps we may have suspected them of lying. That is why there is some measure of ḥiddush – a novel point – in a ruling that accepts their testimony for both events.

Previous
Next