בזמן שהבעל מודה מיהת יחזיר לאשה ואפי' לזמן מרובה ומשני כאן במקום שהשיירות מצויות כאן במקום שאין השיירות מצויות
when the husband admits that he wrote it, in any event he should return it to the woman, and by omission this appears to be the halakha even if a long time has passed since the bill of divorce was lost. And Rabbi Zeira answers: Here, in the mishna where it states that he should not return it, it is stated with regard to a place where caravans are frequently found; there, in the baraita where it states that he should return it, it is stated with regard to a place where caravans are not frequently found.
איכא דאמרי והוא שהוחזקו הוא דלא ליהדר והיינו דרבה ואיכא דאמרי אע"ג דלא הוחזקו לא ליהדר ופליגא דרבה
The Gemara compares the rulings of Rabba and Rabbi Zeira. There are those who say with regard to Rabbi Zeira’s statement that he should not return it in a place where caravans are frequently found: And this is the case when it is established that there are two people in the town with the identical name. In that case, Rabbi Zeira holds that it should not be returned, and this is the same ruling as that of Rabba. And there are those who say: In a place where caravans are frequently found, even though it is not established that there are two people with identical names, it should not be returned, and he disagrees with the ruling of Rabba.
בשלמא דרבה לא אמר כר' זירא מתני' אלימא ליה לאקשויי אלא רבי זירא מאי טעמא לא אמר כרבה
The Gemara clarifies: Granted that Rabba did not say a discourse like that of Rabbi Zeira and raise a contradiction from the baraita, as he holds that it is a stronger challenge to raise a difficulty from the mishna in tractate Bava Metzia because the Mishna, redacted by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, employs more precise language than baraitot. But what is the reason that Rabbi Zeira did not say a discourse like that of Rabba and raise a contradiction from the mishna in tractate Bava Metzia?
אמר לך מי קתני אם אמר תנו נותנין ואפילו לזמן מרובה דלמא אם אמר תנו נותנין כדקי"ל לאלתר
The Gemara answers: Rabbi Zeira could have said to you: Does the mishna teach that if he said: Give the found document to the intended recipient, one gives it, and this is so even if a long time passed? This was only an inference from the mishna. Perhaps the mishna should be interpreted differently, so as to teach: If he said: Give it, then one gives it, but this is only as we maintain in the mishna, when it is found immediately, not if a long time has passed.
רבי ירמיה אמר כגון דקאמרי עדים מעולם לא חתמנו אלא על גט אחד של יוסף בן שמעון
The Gemara offers an alternative resolution to the contradiction between the mishna here, on the one hand, and the mishna in tractate Bava Metzia and the baraita, on the other hand. Rabbi Yirmeya said: It is possible to resolve the contradiction in a different way: The latter permit one to return a lost bill of divorce only in a case where the witnesses who signed the bill of divorce say: We have never signed a bill of divorce of Yosef ben Shimon other than this one, in which case there is no concern that the bill of divorce belongs to someone else.
אי הכי מאי למימרא מהו דתימא ליחוש דלמא איתרמי שמא כשמא ועדים כעדים קמ"ל
The Gemara asks: If that is so, what is the purpose of stating that one returns the bill of divorce? Since it clearly belongs to her, there is no question that it must be returned to her. The Gemara answers: It is necessary lest you say that one should be concerned that perhaps it happened that another bill of divorce was written in which the names of the husband and the wife are identical to the names of the husband and wife of the second bill of divorce, and the names of the witnesses on that bill of divorce are identical to the names of the witnesses on this bill of divorce, when in fact they are different witnesses. Therefore, the mishna teaches us that this is not a concern.
רב אשי אמר כגון דקאמר נקב יש בו בצד אות פלונית דהוה ליה סימן מובהק ודוקא בצד אות פלונית דהוה ליה סימן מובהק אבל נקב בעלמא לא
The Gemara suggests an alternative resolution to the contradiction. Rav Ashi said: When do the mishna in tractate Bava Metzia and the baraita rule that one should return the bill of divorce? It is in a case where the one who lost it says: There is a hole in the bill of divorce, next to such and such a letter, as this is a clear-cut distinguishing mark for him. The Gemara comments: And Rav Ashi permits the returning of such a bill of divorce specifically when one says that the hole is next to such and such a letter, as that is a clear-cut distinguishing mark for him. But if he said only that it had a hole without mentioning its precise location, then one should not return the bill of divorce, as that is not considered a clear-cut distinguishing mark.
מספקא ליה סימנין אי דאורייתא אי דרבנן
The Gemara explains: Rav Ashi is uncertain with regard to whether the obligation to return a lost item to its owner on the basis of distinguishing marks is by Torah law or if it is by rabbinic law. Therefore, in the case of a bill of divorce, he holds that one may rely only on a clear-cut distinguishing mark, as everyone agrees that the requirement to return a lost item to its owner on the basis of a clear-cut distinguishing mark is by Torah law.
רבה בר בר חנה אירכס ליה גיטא בי מדרשא אמר אי סימנא אית לי בגויה אי טביעות עינא אית לי בגויה אהדרוה ניהליה אמר לא ידענא אי משום סימנא אהדרוה וקסברי סימנים דאורייתא אי משום טביעות עינא ודוקא צורבא מדרבנן אבל אינש בעלמא לא:
Apropos this discussion the Gemara relates an incident: Rabba bar bar Ḥana lost the bill of divorce that he was transmitting, when he was in the study hall. He said: If they request a distinguishing mark, I have one for it. If it depends on visual recognition, I have methods of recognition for it. They returned the bill of divorce to him. He said afterward: I do not know if they returned it due to the distinguishing mark that I supplied, and they hold that distinguishing marks are used to return lost items by Torah law, or if it was due to my visual recognition, and it is specifically Torah scholars [tzurva miderabbanan] like me who are relied upon when they say that they recognize an item, but an ordinary man would not be relied upon to recognize the item and have it returned to him.
ואם לאו פסול: ת"ר איזהו שלא לאלתר רבי נתן אומר ששהה כדי שתעבור שיירא ותשרה ר"ש בן אלעזר אומר כדי שיהא אדם עומד ורואה שלא עבר שם אדם ויש אומרים שלא שהה אדם שם רבי אומר כדי לכתוב את הגט רבי יצחק אומר כדי לקרותו אחרים אומרים כדי לכותבו ולקרותו
§ The mishna teaches that if one found the bill of divorce immediately, it is valid, but if not, then it is invalid. The Sages taught: What is considered not immediately? Rabbi Natan says: It is when there was a delay equivalent to the amount of time it would take for a caravan to pass by and camp there. Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says: There is no fixed amount of time; rather, it is within the category of immediately as long as there will be a person that stands and sees that no other person passed there. And some say that he said: It is as long as no person stopped there. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: It is within the category of immediately if there was not a delay equivalent to the amount of time it would take to write the bill of divorce. Rabbi Yitzḥak says: It is equivalent not to the amount of time needed write the bill of divorce, but equivalent to the amount of time it would take to read it. Others say: It is equivalent to the amount of time it would take to write it and to read it.
ואפי' שהה ויש בו סימנין מעידים עליו דאמרי נקב יש בו בצד אות פלונית ואין מעידין על סימני הגוף דאמרי ארוך וגוץ
The Gemara adds: And even if there was a delay and the bill of divorce has distinguishing marks on it, the marks attest to it and it is considered a valid bill of divorce. This is the halakha where the distinguishing marks are clear-cut, e.g., when they say: It has a hole next to such and such a letter. And one may not testify with regard to distinguishing marks of the physical description of the bill of divorce itself, e.g., where they say: This bill of divorce is long or short, as these are not considered distinguishing marks.
מצאו קשור בכיס בארנקי ובטבעת
In a case where one found a bill of divorce tied up in a pouch or in a purse [arnaki], or encircled in a ring, and he recognizes the document,