י״ב באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ו (February 21, 2016)

Gittin 71a-b: Instructions for the Agent

We learned previously that the Mishna (see daf 66) teaches that if a man instructs two people “give my wife a geṭ” or if he says to three people “write a geṭ and deliver it to my wife,” those people are the ones who must write the geṭ and deliver it; they cannot pass on those responsibilities to others. The underlying rule is that a shali’ah who is instructed to carry out a certain act cannot pass that responsibility onto others.

Our Gemara continues that theme in discussing a case where a man who is ill or is about to leave on a trip is asked whether he would like a geṭ written for his wife (such a suggestion would stem from the concern lest the woman be obligated to yibum should he die or would be left as an aguna should he never return from his trip). If the husband’s response is, “Write it!” the people who received that command are obligated to do it themselves, and if they had others write the geṭ or act as witnesses on it the geṭ will not be valid – even if it was given to the husband who handed it to his wife.

The Pnei Yehoshua asks why the Mishna needs to emphasize that the geṭ will be invalid even if the husband hands the geṭ to his wife personally, given that we have already established that a geṭ that was not written in accordance with the specific directions of the husband is no good. He suggests that one of the underlying ideas behind this halakha is a concern with bizayon ha-ba’al – that the husband is belittled, that he is not being taken seriously – if a divorce is written in a way other than what he ordered. Since in our case he is given the geṭ and chooses to make use of it, we might have thought that it is a clear indication that there is no concern with bizayon ha-ba’al in this case. The Mishna therefore needs to emphasize that such a geṭ is inherently invalid and cannot be used.