Talmud Tips

For the week ending 9 January 2016 / 28 Tevet 5776

Gittin 30 - 36

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

“Whoever marries does so according to the agreement of the Rabbis, and the Rabbis dissolved the marriage from him.”

This statement is taught in our daf to explain how a get that was given to an agent to deliver and was nullified by the husband in the presence of Beit Din is still considered to be valid, and therefore the wife who receives it will not be married. This explains the opinion of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, who says that a husband who transgresses the decree of Rabban Gamliel Hazaken in the mishna on 32a that forbids nullifying a get that has been sent with an agent, even in the presence of a Beit Din — “cannot nullify it or add onto his condition.” As a result, they are not married.

The commentaries explain that Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel’s reason for “dissolving” the marriage if this occurs is because we look at every marriage as being made conditionally. If the Rabbis agree to it, it is a marriage; if not, it is not. Therefore, the gemara explains that if the husband nullifies the get in this proscribed way, we view it as if the Rabbis did not agree with this marriage from the very beginning. In other words, since the marriage is conditional on the Rabbis agreeing to it, in the event that a husband acts in this manner, the Rabbis do not agree to the marriage and the “condition” necessary for the marriage to be valid is not fulfilled. In this sense, the marriage is not really “dissolved”; rather, the marriage never really took place. (Rashi)

If the marriage never took place, we would expect the money the man gave her initially for marriage to return to him at the end. However, Rashi writes in this same sugya, that when the Rabbis don’t agree to the marriage the initial money is now considered to be a gift for her, and not as money for kiddushin which would now return to him. Why is the money a gift for her to keep? Since the Rabbis declared that the condition wasn’t fulfilled and that the marriage never happened, shouldn’t she need to return the money?

One explanation is that the “trigger” which sets off the disqualified marriage is the mere statement of the husband to nullify the get. Only words. No action. The power of these words is enough to undo the power of his words of marriage that he originally spoke to the woman (and invoke the Rabbis not wanting the marriage and therefore not fulfilling the condition of their consent), but the words are not “strong enough” to undo the action of his originally giving her the money. She therefore keeps the money and it is considered as a gift. (See Maharitz Chiyut who discusses this subject at length).

  • Gittin 33a

“What is the meaning of the word ‘pruzbul’? An enactment for the benefit of the ‘buli’ and the ‘buti’.” (Gemara)

The mishna on daf 34b states that Hillel and his Beit Din introduced a halachic device called “pruzbul”, which causes loans to remain intact and not be erased in the Shemita year. This is one of a number of decrees taught in our perek that were made for “tikun olam” — “fixing the world” in the sense that society will function in a smooth and healthy manner. The rich will be willing to lend, and the poor will be able to find lenders, since the fear of the debt being cancelled by the Shemita year is not a factor.

Regarding the word “pruzbul”, Rashi explains that “pruz” means “takana” or a positive enactment; buli refers to the wealthy people who lend; and buti refers to the impoverished ones who borrow.

However, the word used for this enactment is not “pruzbulibuti” which would make reference to both the wealthy and the poor; rather, it mentions only buli — the wealthy. Where is the reference to the poor found in the word “pruzbul”?

One answer is that the letters tet and lamed are interchangeable according to a particular linguistic system in kabbalistic teachings. Therefore the lamed in the word refers to both types of people. However, buli is the preferred word to appear in the word “pruzbul” since the rich people (buli) are the ones who need to actually write the pruzbul in order to insure that they can collect their loans even after Shemita. (Maharsha)

  • Gittin 36b

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