כ״ט באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ו (March 9, 2016)

Gittin 87a-b: Two Bills of Divorce, One Next to the Other

The Mishna on our daf discusses a situation where two giṭṭin are written on a single parchment, one next to the other, and are signed by two groups of witnesses. The case presented by the Mishna raises questions about the witnesses’ signatures, and, in particular, the issue of witnesses who sign in Greek. According to the Mishna, if we have two signatures in Hebrew, one after another, and then two signatures in Greek, one after another, each geṭ would be fine. If, however, there was a mix between Hebrew names and Greek names, then the document cannot be used.

The assumption appears to be that in the first case one set of witnesses is attesting to the geṭ on the right, while the other set is attesting to the geṭ on the left. In the second case, however, we are concerned that the Greek signers may have made changes to their own signatures, or mimicked the format of the signatures of the Hebrew signers before them.

Two approaches are offered to explain the case of the Greek signers. According to Rashi, all of the witnesses used Hebrew letters in their signatures, and the signatures of some of the people who signed the two giṭṭin continued onto a second line. The concern is that one of the Greek signers may have copied the writing style from the Hebrew signers and switched the order of his name and his father’s name. The Rambam suggests that one set of witnesses actually used Greek characters when signing their names. According to this approach, even though each name was written on a separate line, there is a concern that one of the Greek signers may have tried to sign underneath a Hebrew signer and due to the reverse order of the names, there is now one too many signatures under the geṭ on one side of the parchment.