כ״ז בטבת ה׳תשע״ו (January 8, 2016)

Gittin 26a-b: The Writing Must Be For Her Sake

In order to facilitate the work of scribes, the sages permitted them to write standard forms that would be ready for use. The Mishna on our daf discusses how different types of standardized documents are written. Specifically the spaces that need to be left empty should include:

  • In divorces, the names of the husband, the wife and the date;
  • In loans, the names of the lender, the borrower, the sum of money and the date;
  • In land sales, the purchaser, the seller, the price, the parcel of land and the date.

Rabbi Yehuda does not permit any such forms to be written; Rabbi Elazar permits use of all such forms aside from giṭṭin, which, as we have learned, need to be written li-shmah – with the husband and wife in mind.

All documents are made up of two parts – the tofes, which is the standard language that applies in all cases, and the toref, which are the individualized parts of the documents, like the people’s names, and so forth. The word tofes stems from a Greek term meaning “stamp” or anything that is made using a single mold that is used over and over again. Sometimes the word matbe’a is used, which has a similar meaning. The word toref also likely has it roots in Greek, from a term meaning something that changes or is unstable. Aside from names and dates, the toref can also include special conditions that are applied to this particular situation or business deal.

In the case of giṭṭin, Rav Yehuda quotes Shmuel as teaching that the words, “Harei at muteret le-khol adam,” are also part of the toref and need to be written in at the time that the get is finalized with the names of the couple who are getting divorced. This is necessary because the get must be written li-shmah, and those words are basic to the very definition of the divorce.