ח׳ באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ו (February 17, 2016)

Gittin 66a-b: On the Instruction of the Husband

After the previous Mishna taught that we must be very careful in following the husband’s instructions in writing and delivering a geṭ, our Mishna teaches that if a man instructs two people “give my wife a geṭ” or if he says to three people “write a geṭ and deliver it to my wife,” those people are the ones who must write the geṭ and deliver it; they cannot pass on those responsibilities to others. According to Rabbi Meir, an exception to this rule would be a case where a man says to three people “deliver a geṭ to my wife.” In such a case, since there was no specific instruction that they write the geṭ we can view the three of them as a court, which has the right and the ability to instruct others to fulfill the court’s obligation. Rabbi Yose argues, claiming that his tradition was that under all circumstances the people must follow the instructions of the husband, and even if he approached the ha-gadol she-bi-Yerushalayim – the great court in Jerusalem – and said “give a geṭ to my wife” they would have to do it themselves. Rabbi Yose continues that even if the court does not know how to write a geṭ they will have to learn how to do it in order to fulfill the husband’s command.

In his commentary to the Mishna, the Rambam writes that it is not surprising to find the possibility discussed that even a well established court may not know how to write, since they were appointed to the beit din for their scholarship and not for their abilities as scribes. Nevertheless, we know that required members of a beit din to be proficient in languages and in writing, so what the Mishna most likely refers to is the possibility that the members of the court may not write in the legible and clear manner necessary for this kind of document. If this is the case, Rabbi Yosei would obligate them to learn this method of writing in order to fulfill the requirement of the husband who wants to divorce his wife.

Previous
Next