GEMARA GITTIN 5772
Shiur #9 - Daf 20a
The Function of
Names within a Get
In our further
efforts to define the anatomy of a halakhic
get, this shiur will explore the
function of personal names which appear in
get. We might expect the names to constitute an essential element of a
get; however, many of the texts which
discuss the names within a get suggest
a more subordinate role.
The mishna on Gittin 80a mentions several types of
gittin which lack secondary
information which the rabbis required within a document.
For example, the rabbis demanded the
insertion of the date of the operative monarchy in order to show respect to that
governing body. Omission of this
information - though not a biblical invalidation (since the Torah does not
require this information to begin with) - would still disqualify the
get. Fearing a trivializing of their
takanot (enactments), the rabbis fortified their decree by disqualifying
any document which deviates from their format.
Rabbi Meir (the author of our mishna) explains that "Kol ha-meshaneh
mi-matbei'a she-tavu chakhamim ha-velad mamzer" - any alteration of the
format established by the Sages renders the
get invalid and children born of any subsequent marriage mamzerim. Within this context, the mishna cites
the example of someone who wrote a wrong name for the husband or the wife within
a get. This juxtaposition would
suggest a subsidiary role for names within a
get: it is not necessary from a
biblical standpoint, but only rabbinically.
Alteration of this information is tantamount to incorrectly recording the
year of the monarchy.
Additional basis for this position - that a
get does not require names on a
biblical level - stems from the mishna in Gittin (34b), which cites the
takana of Rabban Gamliel to include aliases.
The mishna does not claim that primary names are necessary at a biblical
level, while aliases were demanded subsequently by Rabban Gamliel. By merely presenting Rabban Gamliel's
view, the mishna seems to be claiming that at a biblical level, names are not
necessary at all. A third source for
this position can be located in the gemara in Gittin (87b), which describes a
get which merely contains what the
mishna refers to as "chanikhata;" Rashi explains that the
get merely contained the names of
their respective families and not their personal names. This explanation, too, would suggest
an ancillary role for names within the get.
The Mordekhai (Paragraph 354) cites the position of Rabbeinu Yoel that,
indeed, names are not vital to a get
according to Rabbi Elazar's position.
Since Rabbi Elazar requires eidei
mesira (witnesses to the actual delivery of the document), they will verify
that the document was in fact delivered to this specific woman. Indeed, Rabbi Meir himself might
require names; since Rabbi Meir only requires
eidei chatima, no witnesses can
actually verify the delivery to this specific woman. The aforementioned mishnayot
represent Rabbi Elazar's position, which could potentially eliminate the need
for names within the get. Rabbeinu Yoel himself does not
articulate a rabbinical decree to include names, but such a conclusion is almost
inevitable in light of the mishnayot on 80a and 34b.
Most Rishonim disagree with Rabbeinu Yoel, claiming that names are a
vital ingredient of a get. To
neutralize the proof from the mishna on 80a, Tosafot (both on 20a and 80b) claim
that the mishna refers to a situation in which names were recorded but slightly
altered. In this instance, the disqualification is rabbinical and analogous to
incorrectly registering the date of the monarchy; however, if the names were
completely omitted, the document would be invalidated on a biblical level. To support their claim that names are
essential to a get, the Rishonim cite
two primary sources:
1) They first refer to our gemara (Gittin 20a), which considers the
viability of a Torah scroll to serve as a
get. The gemara dismisses this
option, since a get requires names;
presumably the gemara recognizes a basic need for names within a
get and is therefore quick to dismiss the use of a Torah scroll as a
Interestingly enough, the gemara itself does not cite a source which
spells out a basic need for names; instead, the gemara cites the mishna (80a)
which discusses a get with slightly
altered names. Rashi is quick to
note that the gemara infers from this mishna that the absence of names entirely
would constitute a more basic disqualification (presumably similar to Tosafot,
who assume the mishna refers to a case in which the names were slightly
A second source which many cite to indicate the essential role of names
within a get can also be found on
Gittin 26a. The mishna there cites an
opinion which allows a scribe to write the insignificant parts of a
get without proper intent. (This intent, known as
lishma, will be discussed I"YH in
future shiurim.) The scribe must,
however, delay the writing of the essential
get until he is requested to do so by
the husband and can properly compose the 'vital' parts of the
lishma - with proper intent. Among the many ingredients which the
mishna considers 'vital' are the names of the man and the woman. Indeed, Rabbeinu Yoel himself is
sensitive to this possible proof and maintains that even though names are not
indispensable, they are still necessary le-khatchila. The mishna itself is aware of certain
requirements which are not absolutely binding to a
get's validity but still desirable
(such as writing all aspects of the get
lishma). Even though a
get will be valid without names - according to Rabbi Elazar - it is
still more desirable to include names.
Although logic dictates the necessity of names within a
get, and indeed some sources do invoke
such a requirement, the Gemara itself never articulates the basis of names
within a get. It seems instinctive,
yet the Gemara never formulates the actual function of names. This phenomenon continues in the
Rishonim, many of whom demand names, but several of whom do not stipulate the
exact role. Two notable exceptions
are the Ramban and the Or Zarua. The
latter (Paragraph 745) cites, in the name of Rabbeinu Simcha, that names are
necessary so that the get can be
written lishma; unlike other
documents, a get must be written
specifically for the couple in the process of being divorced. Rabbeinu Simcha claims that such
intent is not merely necessary to qualify the MANNER in which the document was
manufactured; there must, in addition, be some discernible expression within the
actual text of the get.
Without names 'tagging' the
get, we cannot define the document as
one which was written with the halakhic intent of
lishma. This statement has significant consequences about the nature of
lishma and will, IY"H, be revisited in
future shiurim which deal with this topic.
Ingenious as Rabbeinu Simcha's approach might be, it appears from the
gemara that the disqualification of a get
without names is more basic. When
Rav Yosef considers a Torah scroll as a
get, he exclaims, "Le-mai neichush leih?" - why should we even worry
(about its possible viability as a get),
it contains no names. The Rashba
senses in this statement a wholesale dismissal of a
get without names, a disqualification more severe than a properly
written document which was composed without proper intent (she-lo
lishma). The gemara (24b) claims that if a
woman were to be divorced with a get
written she-lo lishma, there is
still some consequence to this divorce. Though the divorce process itself
collapses, since a properly written document was not delivered, she is
considered a divorcee, who cannot marry a
kohen. The Rashba asserts that
if a woman were divorced with a get
containing no names, she is neither legally divorced, nor even disqualified from
marrying a kohen.
Evidently, an unnamed
get possess a more fundamental flaw than one written without
The Rashba does not clarify the exact function of names; still, he
maintains that it plays a more central role than merely assuring the substance
of the intent of lishma.
The Ramban does suggest a different reason for the need of
lishma; by employing the term
to define a
get, the Torah (Devarim
24:1, 3) demands that a get tell a
story. This concept, known as
sefirat devarim (narrative), is unique to
gittin and allows the Chakhamim (who
argue with Rabbi Yosei Ha-gelili) to ignore certain requirements which might
apply to sefer (see shiur #5). A
get must tell a story, even if the story is not inscribed in a book. (Later shiurim will address the exact
role of storytelling within the process of divorce.) Without names, claims the Ramban, a
get cannot properly narrate its story.
Even though the Chakhamim reject Rabbi Yosei Ha-gelili's
sefer claim, they still maintain standards of their own.
The goal of sefirat devarim
is taken seriously, and names are vital toward ensuring that a story is actually
narrated by the document. In fact, the
Ramban in Kiddushin considers extending this storytelling function to a shtar
kiddushin (based on the general analogy between
get and shtar kiddushin), a document which (unlike a
ketuba, which is essentially a prenuptial agreement) effects a marriage, and
consequently a shtar kiddushin would require names as well.
This explanation of get is
crucial toward our overall perspective.
The Ramban assumes two points:
1) To divorce a woman, a story must be told. Unlike formal documents,
which merely encapsulate future testimony, a
get must deliver a narrative.
The statement of the Chakhamim to Rabbi Yosei Ha-gelili is not merely
intended to reject the need for "sefer;" instead, it replaces the
requirement of sefer with one of
2) The story must be told inherently by the document; hence, the
document itself must contain names.
Each of these
presumptions will be examined in future shiurim as we attempt to uncover the
essence of get.
An intriguing source in the Talmud Yerushalmi suggests a third position
regarding the role of names within a get. In Gittin 3:2, the Yerushalmi
suggests that the name of the husband must be recorded, but not the name of the
woman. Had the names served to
complete the story, we presumably would have required the names of both parties. We might explain that the insertion
of the husband's name serves a slightly different - albeit related - function.
The Rosh in his Tikkun Gittin (a brief handbook, providing a practical
guide for one officiating at a divorce procedure, which he includes in his
commentary to Gittin), cites a disagreement about including the word "eich" (whereas)
in a get.
shtar is written in the voice of the eidim transcribing their witnessing
how or that X did y to Z. The
shtar - as a recording of the
testimony of the witnesses - should be written in their voice, witnessing the
performance of an act between two other individuals. The Rosh claims that a
get should not be written in this tense, but should rather be the voice
of the husband sending his wife away; in other words, the Rosh demands that the
story be narrated BY the husband and not by the
shtar or the eidim. We might
posit the same claim about names. The story itself can be narrated without
names; the blanks will be filled in or supplied by the context (the actual
delivery of the document from Reuven to Rachel). Inserting the name of the
husband simply assures that the story we hear will be told by the husband, as
required by the Rosh.
for next week's shiur (#10):
of the Husband in Composing the Get
20a, "Amar Rav Chisda...kasher"
Batra (167a) Mishna; Gemara (168a) "Mai ta'ama...li-shhayeih"
Gittin 20b, s.v. Lo yada
Sefer Ketivat Ha-get (cited after the Rosh), "Ha-sofer...ha-sechar"
Ha-teruma – see:
Gittin 20a, s.v. Dilma
Yosef Bava Batra 77a (in the pages of the Rif), s.v. "Ve-haba'al"
Gittin 9b (in the pages of the Rif), s.v. "Ve-garsinan tu ba-gemara amar Rav
Tosafot 22b, s.v. Ve-ha: "Ve-yesh lomar de-lo be'inan… zevachim"
must the ba'al own the
the husband have a positive role in the composition of the
was the nature of the takana mentioned
by the gemara in Bava Batra? (See
4) If the
sofer doesn't act as the agent of the
husband, why must we wait for the husband's order to write a
(See Tosafot 22b.)