Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Show of Intent

Giddul bar Re’ilai (Daf Yomi: Gittin 34a) sent a get to his wife. The agent went and found her sitting and weaving. He said to her, “Here is your get.” She said to him, “Go away now and come again tomorrow.” The agent returned to Giddul and told him what happened. Giddul exclaimed, “Blessed be He Who is good and does good!”

Abaye said: Blessed be He Who is good and does good, but the get itself is not cancelled. Rava, however, said: Blessed be He Who is good and does good, and the get is cancelled.

The Gemora explains the point at issue between them. It is the revealing of intention in respect of a get. Abaye holds that the revealing of intention (without verbalizing it) in respect of a get makes no difference (and therefore, the get is still valid). Rava maintains that it does make a difference.

The Tosfos R”id explains that the dispute is based upon the following: Do we consider his show of intention as merely “words of the heart” (thoughts), and therefore, it would not be regarded as words? Or perhaps, his display of intent is more than merely a thought, but rather, it is regarded as if he spoke it out!

Accordingly, he adds that if it would be clear beyond a shadow of a doubt as to what his intent was, even Abaye would concede that the get is void, for throughout halachah, we always say that when someone’s thoughts are clear to everyone, it is not regarded as thoughts, but rather as words. Our Gemora is discussing a case where it is not so clear as to what he was thinking, and therefore, Abaye and Rava disagree.

The Chasam Sofer understood the Gemora differently. He explains that even in our Gemora, it is definitely clear as to what the husband is thinking. He wants to cancel the get. Nonetheless, Abaye holds that it still remains only a thought, and to rescind his verbal instruction from before, it is necessary to verbalize it. Thoughts, even thoughts that are clear to everyone, are not sufficient to cancel his previous order.