תניא כוותיה דרב עדים שאין יודעין לחתום מקרעין להן נייר חלק וממלאים את הקרעים דיו
It is taught in a baraita in accordance with the opinion of Rav: In the case of witnesses who do not know how to sign, one tears a blank piece of paper for them, and they fill in the gaps with ink.
אמר רבן שמעון בן גמליאל בד"א בגיטי נשים אבל בשחרורי עבדים ושאר כל השטרות אם יודעין לקרות ולחתום חותמין ואם לאו אין חותמין
Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: In what case is this statement said? For bills of divorce. However, for bills of manumission and for all other documents, if the witnesses know how to read and how to sign, then they sign, and if they do not know how to read and sign they do not sign.
קרייה מאן דכר שמה חסורי מיחסרא והכי קתני עדים שאין יודעין לקרות קורין לפניהם וחותמים ושאין יודעין לחתום כו' אמר ר"ש בן גמליאל במה דברים אמורים בגיטי נשים אבל שחרורי עבדים ושאר כל השטרות אם יודעין לקרות ולחתום חותמין ואם לאו אין חותמין
The Gemara asks: With regard to reading, who mentioned anything about it? Why does Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel mention the need for witnesses to be able to read when the discussion is about a witness who does not know how to sign? The Gemara answers: The baraita is incomplete, and this is what it is teaching: In the case of witnesses who do not know how to read, one reads the document in their presence and they sign. And in the case where they do not know how to sign, then one tears paper in the form of a stencil and they fill in the gaps with ink. With regard to this, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: In what case is this statement said? For bills of divorce. However, for bills of manumission and for all other documents, if the witnesses know how to read and how to sign, then they sign, and if not they do not sign.
א"ר אלעזר מ"ט דרבן שמעון בן גמליאל שלא יהו בנות ישראל עגונות
Rabbi Elazar says: What is the reason of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, who permitted this only for bills of divorce? He holds that there is reason to be lenient with bills of divorce, so that the daughters of Israel should not be deserted. Requiring literate witnesses for bills of divorce could lead to a scenario in which a husband wishes to travel and wants to give his wife a bill of divorce in case he shall not return, but if he does not find literate witnesses he may leave without divorcing her, leaving her unable to remarry.
אמר רבא הלכה כרשב"ג ורב גמדא משמיה דרבא אמר אין הלכה ואלא כמאן כרבנן
Rava says: The halakha is in accordance with Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel. And Rav Gamda said in the name of Rava: The halakha is not in accordance with Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel. The Gemara asks: Rather, in accordance with whose opinion is the halakha? Is it in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbis, and it is permitted to do this for any document?
והא ההוא דעבד עובדא בשאר שטרות ונגדיה רב כהנא תרגמא אקריאה
But wasn’t there a certain person who performed an action, and allowed witnesses to trace their names in a case of other documents that were not bills of divorce, and Rav Kahana ordered that he be flogged for doing so? The Gemara answers: Rav Gamda interpreted the statement of Rava only with regard to reading, meaning that the halakha is in accordance with the Rabbis and not Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel only with regard to the question of whether other documents may be read to the witnesses, but not with regard to whether they may sign other documents by means of a stencil.
רב יהודה מיצטער קרי וחתים א"ל עולא לא צריכת דהא ר' אלעזר מרא דארץ ישראל קרו קמיה וחתים ורב נחמן קרו קמיה ספרי דייני וחתים ודווקא רב נחמן וספרי דייני דאית להו אימתא אבל רב נחמן וספרי אחריני ספרי דייני ואיניש אחרינא לא
It is told that Rav Yehuda was nearly blind in his old age. He could barely read and he took great pains to read and sign documents as a witness or a judge. Ulla said to him: It is not necessary for you to do this, as the court scribes would read in the presence of Rabbi Elazar the master, i.e., the halakhic authority of Eretz Yisrael, and he would sign; and the court scribes would read documents before Rav Naḥman and he would sign; and you may do the same. The Gemara notes: And this was done specifically in a case like that of Rav Naḥman and the court scribes, as they had fear of him because he was a great man and a judge to whom they were subservient. Therefore, there was no concern that they would not read it correctly. However, for Rav Naḥman and other scribes, or the court scribes and another person, no; the document may not be read to the witness, as the scribes may read it incorrectly to him.
רב פפא כי הוה אתי לקמיה שטרא פרסאה דעביד בערכאות של כותים מקרי להו לשני כותים זה שלא בפני זה במסיח לפי תומו ומגבי ביה ממשעבדי
The Gemara recounts the behavior of another amora who had documents read to him: When documents that were written in Persian and that were produced in gentile courts came before Rav Pappa, who did not know how to read Persian, he would have it be read by two gentiles, each one not in the presence of the other and in a way that each one would speak offhandedly, without knowing that they were giving testimony. Once he clarified what was written in the document he would collect payment with it even from liened property that had been sold, as he held that such a document is entirely valid with regard to monetary law.
אמר רב אשי אמר לי רב הונא בר נתן הכי אמר אמימר האי שטרא פרסאה דחתימי עליה סהדי ישראל מגבינן ביה ממשעבדי
Rav Ashi said that Rav Huna bar Natan said to me that so said Ameimar: With regard to this Persian document, on which Jews are signed as witnesses, the court is able to collect payment with it, even from liened property that had been sold.
והא לא ידעי למיקרי בדידעי והא בעינן כתב שאינו יכול להזדייף וליכא בדאפיצן והא בעינן צריך לחזור מענינו של שטר בשיטה אחרונה וליכא בדמהדר
The Gemara asks: But they don’t know how to read, as most Jews did not read Persian. The Gemara answers: Ameimar’s statement applies when they know how to read Persian. The Gemara questions how the court can rely upon such a document: But don’t we require all legal documents to be written in a writing that cannot be forged; and it is not so in documents produced by Persians, as the Persians were not particular about this when writing their legal documents. The Gemara answers: His statement applies in a case where the paper of the documents was processed with gall. Consequently, it is not possible to forge the writing. But we require a document to recap the essential topic of the document in its last line; and it is not so in the case of Persian documents. The Gemara answers: Ameimar’s statement applies in a case where the document recapped the essential topic of the document in the final line.
ואלא מאי קמ"ל דכל לשון כשר תנינא גט שכתבו עברית ועדיו יונית יונית ועדיו עברית כשר
The Gemara asks: But if Ameimar’s statement applies only when all these conditions are met, then what is he teaching us, that a document that is properly written in any language is valid? We already learned in a mishna (87b): In the case of a bill of divorce that he wrote in Hebrew and its witnesses signed in Greek, or one that he wrote in Greek and its witnesses signed in Hebrew, it is valid. If this is written in the mishna, Ameimar’s statement would not simply repeat it.
אי מההיא הוה אמינא הני מילי בגיטין אבל בשאר שטרות לא קמ"ל
The Gemara answers: This cannot serve as a clear proof, because if the only source for this halakha were from that mishna then I would say: This statement applies only for bills of divorce, where the Sages were lenient so that a woman would not be unable to remarry. However, for other documents, no. Consequently, Ameimar teaches us that other types of documents are valid if they are written in other languages as well.
אמר שמואל נתן לה נייר חלק ואמר לה ה"ז גיטיך מגורשת חיישינן שמא במי מילין כתבו
§ Shmuel says: If a man gave his wife a blank piece of paper and said to her: This is hereby your bill of divorce, then she is divorced. Why? We are concerned that perhaps he wrote it with gall water, rendering it a valid bill of divorce, and the writing was subsequently absorbed into the paper so that it was no longer visible.
מיתיבי הרי זה גיטך ונטלתו וזרקתו לים או לאור או לכל דבר האבד וחזר ואמר שטר פסים הוא שטר אמנה הוא מגורשת ולא כל הימנו לאוסרה
The Gemara raises an objection based on what was taught in a baraita (Tosefta 8:2): If a husband said to his wife: This is hereby your bill of divorce, and instead of opening it and looking at it she took it and threw it into the sea, or into a fire, or into anything that destroys it; and he later said: It wasn’t actually a bill of divorce, rather it is a document of appeasement [shetar passim], a symbolic promissory note meant only for display so that the person holding it will be considered to be wealthy; or he said: It is a document of trust, which is a false promissory note given by one person to another, trusting that he will not make use of it until there has been an actual loan; then she is divorced. And he does not have the power to make her forbidden to everyone else as a married woman by saying that it was not a bill of divorce and they are still married.
טעמא דאיכא כתב הא ליכא כתב לא כי קאמר שמואל דבדקינן ליה במיא דנרא אי פליט פליט ואי לא פליט לאו כלום הוא
The Gemara makes an inference from the baraita: The reason she is divorced is because this bill of divorce has writing, and there is no way to ascertain what was written, but if it did not have writing, then no, there is no concern that perhaps it was a valid bill of divorce written with gall water. This runs counter to the statement of Shmuel. The Gemara answers: When Shmuel said that the woman was divorced with a blank piece of paper, it was in a case where we check the paper with a colored liquid [maya denara]. If the paper expels the writing, then it expels it and it is a valid bill of divorce. And if it does not expel it, then the document is nothing and she is not divorced.
וכי פליט מאי הוי השתא הוא דפליט שמואל נמי חיישינן קאמר
The Gemara asks: And if the paper expels the writing, what of it? It is possible that only now it expels the writing and the letters become visible, but from the beginning there was no legible writing and therefore the document should be considered invalid. The Gemara answers that even Shmuel said only: We are concerned, and he does not hold that it is a valid bill of divorce. Rather, the court takes into account the possibility that what he gave her in the beginning was a valid bill of divorce, and the halakha is that it is uncertain if she is divorced.
אמר רבינא אמר לי אמימר הכי אמר מרימר משמיה דרב דימי הני בי תרי דיהיב גיטא קמייהו צריכי למיקרייה מיתיבי ה"ז גיטך ונטלתו וזרקתו לים או לאור או לכל דבר האבד וחזר ואמר שטר פסים הוא שטר אמנה הוא מגורשת ולא כל הימנו לאוסרה ואי אמרת צריכי למיקרייה בתר דקריוה מי מצי אמר לה הכי
Ravina said: Ameimar said to me that so said Mareimar in the name of Rav Dimi: These two witnesses who testify that the bill of divorce was given in their presence are required to read it. The Gemara raises an objection to this based on what was taught in a baraita: If a man says to a woman: This is hereby your bill of divorce, and instead of opening it and looking at it she took it and threw it into the sea, or into a fire, or into anything that destroys it, and he later said: It wasn’t actually a bill of divorce, but rather, it is a document of appeasement, or it is a document of trust; then she is divorced, and he does not have the power to make her forbidden to everyone else as a married woman by saying that it was not a bill of divorce and they are still married. And if you say that the witnesses need to read the bill of divorce, then is the husband able to say this to her after they read it?
לא צריכא דבתר דקריוה עייליה לבי ידיה ואפקיה מהו דתימא חלופי חלפיה קמ"ל
The Gemara answers: No, it is necessary for Rav Dimi to teach his halakha in a case where after they read it, the husband placed it under his arm, and later took it out, and gave it to the woman without it being read again. Lest you say that he switched it with another document, and what he gave her was not a bill of divorce but a document of appeasement or trust as he claims, Rav Dimi teaches us that the court need not be concerned that he switched it.
ההוא גברא דזרק לה גיטא לדביתהו לביני דני אשתכח מזוזתא אמר רב נחמן מזוזתא ביני דני לא שכיחא
The Gemara tells: There was a certain man who threw what he claimed was a bill of divorce to his wife, into her courtyard, among the barrels, and in the end a mezuza was found there. The question is: Is there a concern that he threw her a bill of divorce, and the bill of divorce was destroyed, and the mezuza happened to be in the same location? Or perhaps he threw her the mezuza and only claimed that it was a bill of divorce. Rav Naḥman said: A mezuza is infrequently placed among the barrels, and it can be assumed that he threw the mezuza and not a bill of divorce.
וה"מ דאשתכח חדא אבל ב' ג' מדהא הואי הא נמי הואי וגיטא אימור עכברים שקלוה
The Gemara comments: And this statement applies only when one mezuza was found. However, if two or three mezuzot were found, then the assumption is that as this, the other mezuza, was there, this mezuza was also there before the husband came, and as to the bill of divorce, say that the mice later took it, and the woman was already divorced from the moment it reached her courtyard.
ההוא גברא דעל לבי כנישתא שקל ספר תורה יהיב לה לדביתהו ואמר לה הא גיטך אמר רב יוסף למאי ליחוש לה אי משום מי מילין אין מי מילין על גבי מי מילין
It is told: There was a certain man who entered the synagogue, took a Torah scroll, and gave it to his wife. And he said to her: This is your bill of divorce. Rav Yosef said: For what is there to be concerned for it? If you say that there should be a concern due to gall water, that perhaps he wrote a bill of divorce on the outside of the Torah scroll’s parchment with gall water, and this writing is now invisible, gall water is not permanent when applied on top of gall water. Since parchment for the Torah scroll is processed with gall water, it is not possible to write something with gall water that will remain permanently on the parchment itself. Therefore, there is no concern that he wrote a bill of divorce on the parchment.