י״ד בניסן ה׳תשע״ו (April 22, 2016)

Kiddushin 43a-b: The Agent as Witness

Rava quotes Rav Nahman as affirming the ruling that a person who is acting as a messenger can also play the role of a witness to the matter. Thus, if a man instructs two people to act as his agent and give kiddushin to a woman, when they do so and she accepts the kiddushin, they can act as the witnesses to the marriage. This would be true also where he instructed the messengers to give a geṭ on his behalf or in a business transaction.

The Gemara explains that the rule allowing the messenger to act as a witness must be stated in each of these cases:

  1. If it was only taught regarding marriage we may have thought that it would only apply there, where the woman would now be forbidden to all, but might not apply in the case of a divorce, where we may suspect that the messenger may be interested in marrying her;
  2. If it was only taught in the case of a divorce, we may have thought that the witnesses are believed because they cannot both marry her, but in a case of business maybe we would suspect that they split the money between them.

Thus Rava teaches that the messengers are believed to testify in all such cases.

Based on this explanation, a number of the rishonim ask whether the messengers acting as witnesses can be believed when they were sent to deliver money as kiddushin, and the woman denies having received it from them. Perhaps in such a case we must be concerned that they split the money between them and never delivered it. In order to avoid this question, some of the rishonim suggest that we must be talking about a case where the kiddushin was done by means of a shetar – a written contract – and not money. Others argue that if the amount of money was just the minimum peruta, we do not need to be concerned that they would split such small shares between them.

In truth, the Talmud Yerushalmi considers this question and rejects it; since the man relied upon them to fulfill their , we do not worry that they may do such a thing.

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