כ״ב באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ו (March 2, 2016)

Gittin 80a-b: Dating a Divorce

As we learned on yesterday’s daf, the date written in the geṭ is an essential part of the document. The Mishna on our daf discusses the date and how it must be written. While today the Jewish calendar begins its count from the time of Creation, and the secular (Gregorian) calendar is based on a count that begins with the birth of the founder of Christianity, throughout history different calendars were used. Our Mishna was written at a time when the common practice was to count from the time of the ruling king of a given country, and established a rule that religious documents like a get should include that date as well, mishum shalom malkhut – in order to keep the peace with the governing body. The Mishna teaches that it is essential for the date to accurately reflect the ruling monarchy’s current reign. In the event that the date refers to another government or to some historical event (e.g., the building of the Temple or the destruction of the Temple) the geṭ will be invalid.

When discussing other governments whose rule cannot be used as the dating source on a document like a geṭ, as one example the Mishna mentions malkhut she-ainah hogenet – an “inappropriate” kingdom. The Gemara explains that this refers to Rome, and it is labeled with this epithet because it does not have its own writing or language, rather it borrowed its language from others. This assertion is based on Roman history. Latin, the language used in the Roman Empire, is the native tongue of the Latin people, a nation that was swallowed up by the city of Rome. Similarly, the alphabet used by the Romans is based primarily on the Italic alphabet together with the changes made in it by the Latins. For all the strength of the Roman army and its political independence much of Roman culture was derived from other nations.

Previous
Next