Gittin 34a-b

August 14, 2008

Our Gemara tells the story of a man named Gidel bar Ri'elai who sent a messenger with a get to be delivered to his wife. As the messenger approached his wife, he found that she was in the middle of weaving. This process, which involved working the loom with both of her hands, did not allow her to accept the get, and she asked him to return the following day. When the messenger shared this with Gidel bar Ri'elai, Gidel responded with a hearty barukh ha-tov ve-ha-meitiv! ? "Blessed is He who is good and who does good to others." Does such a statement affect the status of the undelivered get? Abayye believes that it does not ? gilui da'ata be-gita lav milta he ? and that sharing one's thoughts about a divorce has no significance; Rava rules that the get is no longer valid ? gilui da'ata be-gita milta he ? and that there is significance to sharing one's thoughts about a divorce.


The Ri"d explains the disagreements between Abayye and Rava as being based on the question of how to apply devarim she-ba-lev einam devarim ? that thoughts that have not been clearly stated (i.e. they remain "in your heart") are not significant. Abayye believes that this is a typical case of devarim she-ba-lev; according to Rava, the statement made by Gidel bar Ri'elai is a clear enough statement that it is no longer considered devarim she-ba-lev. Rav Uziel Moshe Rothstein in his Nahalat Moshe suggests that even Abayye would accept this level of gilui da'ata in most cases; it is only with regard to gittin ? where the act was begun with a clear, directive statement ?  that only a straightforward statement will suffice.


Our Gemara concludes that this is one of the few cases in the Talmud in which the halakhah follows Nahmani ? Abayye. While Rashi explains that Abayye was called Nahmani by his adoptive father, Rabbah, as a nickname, the Ge'onim suggest that Abayye's real name was Nahmani and that Rabbah could not call him by that name because it matched his own father's name, a situation that could lead to problems of honoring one's parents. He therefore called him Abayye ? a diminutive "Aba," or "little father" ? a nickname that became accepted by all.

This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the Hebrew version of the Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud.  To learn more about the Steinsaltz Daf Yomi initiative, click here.

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Next: Gittin 35a-b