כ״ו באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ו (March 6, 2016)

Gittin 84a-b: Here’s Your Divorce – With One Condition

Our Gemara continues the discussion of how to deal with a divorce that is given predicated on various conditions made by the husband. What if he makes the divorce conditional on actions that his wife cannot possibly perform? Among the examples offered by the baraita are that the geṭ is given –

  • On the condition that you climb up to the sky
  • On the condition that you go down to the deepest depths
  • On the condition that you swallow a reed that is four cubits long
  • On the condition that you cross the ocean by foot

In all of these cases the Tanna Kamma rules that since the condition cannot be fulfilled, the geṭ cannot take effect. Rabbi Yehuda ben Teima rules that this divorce does take effect, explaining that as a general rule when a condition is made that clearly cannot be fulfilled, we interpret the intention to be one of exaggeration, without any true significance. Since the condition cannot possibly be fulfilled, we view the establishment of the condition as words that have no meaning. Our Gemara concludes by stating that we follow Rabbi Yehuda ben Teima’s position.

The Gemara continues by raising situations where the condition can, theoretically, be fulfilled, but it is something that is forbidden to do. Examples include:

  • On the condition that you eat pork (Abaye views this case as being identical to the previous one that we discussed; Rava rules that here the woman can choose to eat pork, although if she does, she will be punished for doing so.)
  • On the condition that you have sexual relations with a certain person. In this case all agree that if she has relations with him, the divorce takes effect. The Talmud Yerushalmi argues that she cannot really do this, since she is still married and the divorce has not yet taken effect. Nevertheless, when she engages in relations, the divorce takes effect retroactively, and she has not committed adultery.
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