Friday, August 15, 2008

Gittin 28-32 – Aging, Agunot, Reductio ad absurdum and the Negev’s Hadley Cell

This week we have a bat mitzvah in shul, and the derashah is really centered on that bat mitzvah, so I won’t be posting it for at-large reading. Here are some notes from recent Daf Yomi topics, though. For those learning Daf Yomi this may be of interest.

For all others – Haveil Havalim is located here on Sunday; see you then!

Gittin 28a
Why am I confident that if I find a Get among a man’s own personal effects, I can be sure it is his? Rashi says it’s because the Get is in his house, but Tosafot או seems to disagree; he says the issue is not the house, since many people may pass through the house, but rather it’s the fact that the Get is among his personal effects.

Statistically, people who reach a certain age without developing key diseases are likely to reach a very old age. The gemara noted this here in its כיון דאיפליג איפליג comment - "once a person has reached a certain age in good health, we expect him to reach an unusually great age."

The gemara says that a proxy sent to deliver a Get need not be concerned that the sender may have died before the delivery, because “it would be impossible” to worry about this. Rashi explains this in light of his definition of Agunah. Rashi takes “Agunah” to refer to a woman who is married but unable to live with her husband, even just because of physical distance, and so he understands that the gemara is concerned with providing a mechanism through which a Get may be delivered long-distance, to prevent this Agunah circumstance.

Gittin 28b

One view in our gemara says that even if we were concerned that a Get-sender might die before delivery, one could still drink from a barrel with the expectation of tithing at the end, and not be concerned lest the barrel break in the interim, since one could appoint someone to guard the barrel. The gemara then asks, “But who will watch the watchman?”
In other circumstances, such as the beginning of Yoma, the gemara answers such reductio ad absurdum questions by saying, “אין לדבר סוף, There is a limit to what we can do.” The gemara here does not give that answer.
I think the reason we do not give that answer here is that here we have a real, practical concern about an existing problem, and we cannot answer that by saying, “Oh, well, we can’t worry about that.” In the other cases, though (like in the beginning of Yoma regarding setting up a backup wife for a Kohen Gadol before Yom Kippur), the idea is a positive enactment to forestall a problem later, and there is a limit to how much forestalling we can do.
In other words: In our case, if the barrel breaks then he drank untithed produce. This is a pressing problem, and it’s right here. In the other cases, if the Kohen Gadol’s wife dies then we simply need to appoint a new Kohen Gadol for Yom Kippur.

Rashi קומנטריסין seems to have a typo – it should be להרוג, not ליהרג. A rather significant difference!

The gemara here talks about believing a secular court when it declares,מסיח לפי תומו, that it has executed someone. The gemara in Bava Kama 114b limits such declarations, saying they apply only to permit a woman to remarry or remain with her husband, or for a rabbinic issue.

Gittin 29a

We know that a court may well find merit for the defendant after the verdict is in; when the gemara says that doesn’t happen, it means that this is not common. (Rashi, Tosafot)

Gittin 30a

See Tosafot מי.

Gittin 30b
The third answer on the page seems to rely on changing the braita, reversing the חוששין and the אין חוששין.

Gittin 31a

Rashi brings two explanations of “when the water gathers in the בוסר”, in the former talking about unripe grapes filling with fluid as they ripen, and in the latter talking about water being added to the pressing of terminally underripe grapes, to produce vinegar. The latter fits our general use of בוסר, as grapes which will never ripen. See Tosafot ובשעת, though.

Gittin 31b
The gemara here spends quite a bit of time on the importance of the winds for the survival of the world. The gemara does this elsewhere, as well.
Certainly, in Israel the winds are of grave importance. The “Hadley cell” formed by hot air rising at the equator, flowing to the 30-degree latitude and then cooling and descending in the Negev causes the Negev air to soak up moisture, which is what dries out that area and prevents rainfall. Changes in wind strength and direction could affect the resulting dryness and temperature.

Gittin 32a

Tosafot מהו points out that a Get may be annulled without witnesses, but that we require clearcut knowledge of his intentions before the Get is delivered.

Gittin 32b

A husband wrote a Get, hired a delivery agent, and then cancelled the Get. The gemara asks if he may then re-start the mission, using the same Get document.
On the face of it, there should be no problem doing this; why is this a question? I heard in the name of Rav Herschel Schachter that the problem might be the interruption between writing (וכתב) and delivering (ונתן) the Get.

Add to Technorati Favorites

No comments:

Post a Comment