Pisqa’ 269

Pisqa’ 2691


“In the event that she doesn’t please him” (Dt.24:1).

On this basis:

The circle of Shammai would say:

A man should not divorce his wife

unless he finds her lewd,

as it is stated:

“And he found in her a lewd thing” (`ervat davar; 2 Dt.24:1).

But the circle of Hillel say:
Even if she burned his dinner,

as it is stated:

“And he found in her a lewd thing” (Dt.24:1).3


Said the circle of Hillel

To the circle of Shammai:

If thing (davar) is said in the verse,,

what is the purpose of lewd (`ervat)?

But, if lewd is said,

what is the purpose of thing?

For if thing [alone] had been stated

without the addition of lewd,

I might have thought:

A woman who is expelled over a thing

should be permitted to remarry,

but one expelled because she is lewd,

shouldn’t be permitted to remarry.

So, don’t be surprised!

If she is prohibited [by her lewdness]

from marrying a man who would

normally be permitted to her,

shouldn’t she be prohibited to one

who is normally prohibited to her?

The Teaching states:

“ A lewd thing. . . and he shall send her from his house,

so she can go out and be with another man” (Dt.24:1-2)—

[thus, the addition of lewd actually

gives the woman an option to remarry].

And, likewise, if lewd [alone] had been stated

without the addition of thing,

I might have thought:

A woman who is lewd should be expelled,

but one who fails to satisfy in a thing shouldn’t be expelled.

The Teaching states:

“A lewd thing . . . and he shall send her from his house.” (Dt.24:1-2)—

[thus, the addition of thing reinforces

a husband’s option to end the marriage].

R. Akiva says:

Even if he found a prettier one

[a husband may divorce his wife,]

for it is stated:

“In the event that she doesn’t please him” (Dt.24:1). 4


“Then he shall have written for her” (Dt.24:1)—

specifically in her name.

On this basis they taught:

Any document of divorce

not written in the name of a specific woman is invalid.

How so?

He was passing in the street

{and heard the voice of scribes reading copy, saying:

The gentleman, So-and-So, divorces

the lady, So-and-So,

from Such-and-Such a place.

And he thought:

This is my name, and that’s my wife’s name!

This is an invalid notice of divorce.}5

Written” (Dt.24:1)—

I might only infer that

it be written in black ink.

How do I know that it can be written  

with pigment, with red ink,

with pine-gum ink, or with vitriol?  

The Teaching states:

“Written” (Dt.24:1)—

with anything [making a permanent mark]. 6

“A document7 (Dt.24:1)—

I might infer only that

it must be written on a parchment-scroll

[like a scriptural text].

How do I know that

it may even be written on leaves

of reeds, nuts, olives, and carob?

The Teaching states:

“He places it in her hand” (Dt.24:1)—

whatever it may be [written on].

Well, if so, why does

[the verse] specify a document [in the form of a scroll]?

Just as a scroll is distinctive for its durability,

any material lacking durability

is excluded [from the rule].

R. Judah b. Betyra says:

Just as a scroll is distinctive

in being detached from the ground,

any writing surface attached to the ground

is excluded [from the rule].8


“Writ of separation” (Dt.24:1)—

it must effect a separation [between the two parties].

On this basis you can teach—

One who says to his wife:

Here is your divorce-document—

on condition that

you never again visit your father’s house;

On condition that

you’ll never again drink wine—

this is not a complete separation

[since the stated condition enables

the husband to control his ex-wife’s

activities after the divorce].

On condition that

you not visit your father’s house

for the next thirty days [prior to the divorce].

On condition that

you drink no wine for the next thirty days—

this is [an effective] separation

[since the husband’s condition

     is fulfilled prior to the divorce].9  

One who divorces his wife, saying to her:

You are indeed permitted to any man,

except for So-and-So!—

R. Eliezer permits [the condition, and accepts the divorce];

But sages forbid it

[since the stated condition enables

the husband to control his ex-wife after the divorce].10


After the death of R. Eliezer,

four elders entered to refute his views

[on the degree of separation required for divorce]:

R. Tarfon, R. Yose the Galilean,

R. Elazar b. Azariah, and R. Akiva.


R. Tarfon spoke up and said:

If the woman [followed R. Eliezer’s view,]

proceeding to marry [So-and-So],

her former-husband’s brother,

who then died without offspring—

how could she contract a levirate marriage

[since marriage to the levir is prohibited by the conditional divorce

imposed by her former-husband].


Hasn’t [her former-husband]

stipulated a condition [contrary]

to what is written in the Torah?

And whoever stipulates a condition [contrary]

to what is written in the Torah—

the condition is void?11


Thus, you learn that

[the original divorce] did not effect a complete separation

[and the divorcee remains married to her former-husband].


Then R. Yose the Galilean spoke:

Where do we find in the Torah

that a woman is permitted to one man

but prohibited to another man [like So-and-So]?

Rather, a woman permitted to any man

is permitted to all men

[unless the partners are close relatives

or the man is a priest, who may not marry a widow or divorcee].

If she’s prohibited to any man

she is prohibited to all men!

Thus, you learn that

[the original divorce] did not effect a complete separation

[and the woman remains married to her first husband].


Said R. Elazar b. Azariah:

Separation implies a complete cutting off

of his [life] from her [life].


Said R. Yose the Galilean:

I prefer the teachings of R. Elazar b. Azariah!


R. Akiva says:

Now which woman has

the Torah treated with greater stringency—

the divorcee [prohibited from marrying So-and-So]

or the widow [of So-and-So’s deceased brother]?

Clearly, the divorcee’s situation

is more stringent than the widow’s

[as the following comparison discloses:]


Just as the widow,

whose case yields a leniency

[in that she is truly free of her dead husband],

nevertheless is prohibited [from marriage]

to a permissible man [until her levir releases her],

so, too, the divorcee, whose case yields a stringency,

[in that she is still encumbered by the flawed divorce]—

isn’t it reasonable that she should be prohibited [from marriage]

to a prohibited man [such as So-and-So]?

Thus, you learn that

[the original divorce] did not effect a complete separation

[and the woman who follows R. Eliezer’s view cannot remarry].


Another word:

If a woman,

[after the death of her first husband,]

went and married the fellow

[So-and-So, whom her husband warned her against],

and he had children with her and then died,

and afterward she married another—

wouldn’t the offspring of the first marriage

carry impaired lineage?12

Thus, you learn that [R. Eliezar’s ruling]

does not effect a complete separation!


“Places it in her hand” (Dt.24:2)—

I might assume only that

he must place the document in her hand.

How do I know to include

[places under he domain], such as:

her roof, her courtyard, or even

the ruins of her house?

The Teaching states:

“Places it in her hand” (Dt.24:2)—

anywhere [her hand can reach].

If so, why does [the verse] specify her hand?

Just as her hand is distinctive,

in being under her control,

so, too, anything under her control

[is considered as her hand.]

Places it in her hand, and sends her from his house” (Dt.24:2)—

as soon as he places it in her hand,

he must send her from his house.

On this basis they taught:

One who throws a divorce-document

to his wife, while she stands

in her house or in her courtyard—

she is indeed divorced.

{If he threw it to her while she stood

in his house or in his courtyard,

even if he was with her on her couch—

she is not divorced.

If [he placed it in] her blouse or in her basket,

she is indeed divorced.      

       If he said to her: bring in this bill of debt,

or she found it behind him—

if she read it, and it was her divorce-document,

this is not a valid divorce-document

[and the woman remains married.}13

  1. H:263-265;JN2:206-210
  2. For more on this term, cf. Pisqa’ 254.2-3
  3. = M. Git. 9:10.
  4. =M. Git. 9:10.
  5. = M. Git. 3:1. The bracketed text fills in a scribal lacuna on the basis of the mishnaic text and the critical apparatus of F:288, l. 15.
  6. Cf. T.Git.2:3.
  7. Heb: sefer. In biblical and rabbinic texts, sefer generally refers to a text of some importance preserved on a scroll and archived in a safe place.
  8. // T. Git.2:3; cf. M.Git.2:4.
  9. =T.Git.7:7.
  10. =M.Git.9:1; cf. T.Git.9:1.
  11. //M.Ket.9:1;// M.BM.7:11
  12. //T.Git.9:1-5.
  13. =M. Git.8:1-2. The bracketed material is supplied on the basis of the Mishnah. See 5-6.