The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 11 October 2008 / 12 Tishri 5769

Gittin 89 - Kiddushin 6

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Grounds For Divorce

Our mesechta, which is dedicated to all the laws pertaining to the writing and delivery of a get divorce document, concludes with a discussion of what are considered legitimate grounds for divorce. Three opinions are mentioned in the last mishna and they all revolve around the same passage:

When a man takes a woman in marriage and she subsequently does not find favor in his eyes, for he discovered some shameful thing, he shall write her a document of severance, place it in her hand and send her away from his home. (Devarim 24:1)

The sages of the school of Beit Shammai interpret this passage as informing us that she does not find favor because she committed a shameful act of infidelity. They therefore conclude that a man should not divorce his wife unless such a serious offense has been committed.

The sages of the school of Beit Hillel read the passages listing two different categories as grounds for divorce either something shameful like infidelity, or some other thing which causes her to lose favor, even if it is only because she burned his food.

Rabbi Akiva substitutes or in place of for in the translation of the Hebrew word ki in this passage. He therefore concludes that the Torah permitted divorce either for something as serious as infidelity which is the discovery referred to in the passage, or for something as slight as deciding that he prefers another woman over her which is the reason she does not find favor in his eyes.

  • Gittin 77a

Unworthy Kingdom

In Talmudic times the date written into the get document was in accordance with the yearf the reign of the king in whose country it was written. This was instituted by our Sages as a way of maintaining good relations with the local government, which would certainly resent any other dating system. (Today, Tosefot points out this is no longer the dating system of nations, so we write the year from creation.)

Should someone in Babylon write the date according to the years of the ruler of the "unworthy kingdom," says the mishna, the get is considered invalid because it is in violation of this rabbinical decree. The "unworthy kingdom" is identified by the gemara as the Roman Empire, so characterized because "it lacks its own script and language." Rashi explains that this is a reference to the eclectic nature of its national tongue.

Tosefot (Mesechta Avoda Zara 10a) challenges this explanation based on the existence of nations such as the children of Yishmael and Ketura, the Ammonites and the Moabites. These nations came into being after Hashem introduced pluralistic language to the world as a means of dispersing the people who sought to rebel against Heaven by building the Tower of Babel. Since they were not around when the multiplicity of languages began, we must conclude that they, too, borrowed their languages from other nations. Why, then, is Rome singled out as "unworthy" for not having its own language?

Tosefot therefore concludes that not having its own language is not the issue. What Rome was lacking was a special language which was reserved for royal use, such as we find "Greek wisdom" as a name for such an aristocratic form of expression. This, Tosefot points out, is what is meant in Mesechta Megilla (10b) when the prophet says that Hashem will punish the Babylonians for destroying the Beit Hamikdash by cutting off their language. Even though their language is Aramaic and they long continued to speak that tongue, they did lose the royal language they once used.

  • Gittin 80a

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