Talmud Tips

For the week ending 20 February 2016 / 11 Adar I 5776

Gittin 72 - 78

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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Rava said, “Since Hillel needed to enact a decree (in a specific case) that ‘giving against the receiver’s will is indeed considered giving’, it follows that in other cases ‘giving against a receiver’s will’ is not considered giving.”

A person who sells a house in a walled city may buy it back, even against the will of the buyer, within a year of the sale. A mishna in masechet Arachin (31b) teaches that when buyers began to hide at the end of the year in order to not be available to agree to accept payment from the original seller to redeem the house, Hillel enacted a decree to help the sellers redeem their houses. He decreed that the payment could be made without the presence or agreement of the buyer, and the original owner could just place the payment to the buyer in a room that Beit Din designated for this purpose.

Based on the need for Hillel’s special decree, Rava in our gemara derives that otherwise a “giving” of payment against the will of the recipient is not considered a “giving”, and would therefore not effect a redemption of a house in a walled city.

Regarding this rule, commentaries point out that it seems to be contrary to the Torah law of giving a get, which can indeed be given against the will of the wife. (A later decree of Rabbeinu Gershom Me’or HaGolah forbids divorcing a wife without her consent.) The Torah states regarding a get “v’natan b’yada” — “and he give the get into her hand” (i.e., domain) — even against her will. Why don’t we learn from here that “giving” in general can be accomplished even against a recipient’s will, such as in the case of redeeming a house in a walled city, without the special decree of Hillel? One answer offered is that we could learn from the giving of a get without her consent that payment against a recipient’s will is considered “giving”, but repayment against the recipient’s will is not considered “giving”. (Rashba)

  • Gittin 74b-75a

Rabbi Zeira sat in front of Rabbi Asi, and others say that it was Rabbi Asi sitting in front of Rabbi Yochanan, and said, “The first, second and third days of the week are called ‘before Shabbat’, whereas the fourth, fifth, and sixth days of the week are called ‘before Shabbat’.”

In regard to what scenario is this statement taught on our daf? One explanation is that of a husband who gives his wife a get and says, “This is your get if I do not return after Shabbat.” What does the husband mean when he says “after Shabbat”? Immediately after Shabbat? Within a day after Shabbat? Within a week? Within a year? Or something else?

He means “something else” answers the gemara. He means that that get takes effect if he does return within the first three days after Shabbat. These first three days are called “after Shabbat”. The next three days are called “before Shabbat”. This is how Rashi and other Rishonim explain our gemara.

The Rambam, however, explains it in a different manner. The scenario is if a husband tells two people to write and give his wife a get “after Shabbat”. Until when can they do what they were instructed? Until the end of the third day following Shabbat is the answer provided. And if he said to write and give the get “before Shabbat,” it must be done so only on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of that week. Those three days are called “before Shabbat”. This scenario is the one that is recorded in Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 144:6. (A similar application of the concept taught here is found in the case where a person did not make havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat, see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 299:6.)

  • Gittin 77a

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