For the week ending 27 February 2016 / 18 Adar I 5776

Gittin 79 - 85

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Divorce on the roof
  • Problem of an "old get"
  • Incorrect information on get and its consequences
  • Why the get mentions the nation in which it is written
  • If an ineffective get disqualifies a woman from marrying a kohen after her husband's death
  • If being together after divorce requires a second get
  • The "get of knots" of a kohen with insufficient signatures of witnesses
  • A get which excludes marriage to a particular individual
  • If ella – except – is an exclusion or a condition
  • The challenges of the four Sages to the position of Rabbi Eliezer on the get excluding one party
  • Conditions in a get which limit the divorcee's freedom or which demand the impossible from her
  • A get excluding marriage to a forbidden partner
  • The proper text of a get and a document of emancipation for a slave

Demanding the Impossible

  • Gittin 84a

A man divorcing his wife has the option of entering into the get a condition, which, if it is not fulfilled, the get is null and void.

What if he makes a condition that she must do something impossible such as descending to heaven or crossing the ocean on foot?

One opinion is that since it is a foregone conclusion that this condition cannot possibly be fulfilled the get is null and void. Rabbi Yehuda ben Taima, however, contends that the get is valid because the husband cannot seriously expect such a condition to be fulfilled and we therefore assume that he did not intend this to be a stipulation.

Tosefot calls attention to another gemara (Bava Metzia 94b) that states in connection with the first opinion that if the woman does fulfill the impossible condition the get is valid. How, asks Tosefot, is it possible for her to do the impossible?

The answer he gives is that impossible feats can be accomplished by proper use of the Ineffable Name of G-d. In his footnotes Rabbi Akiva Eiger raised a challenge to this from another Tosefot (Chagigah 14b) that states that even with the use of the Name one cannot actually reach heaven.

What the Sages Say

"You cannot challenge the lion after his death."

  • Rabbi Yehoshua to his colleagues who challenged Rabbi Eliezer's position after he died - Gittin 83b

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