Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fly like a Bird

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The Gemora cites a braisa: If a husband says (this is your get), “On condition that you go up into the sky,” “that you go to the depths of the earth,” “that you swallow a reed of four cubits,” “that you bring me a reed one hundred cubits long,” “that you walk over the Great Ocean with your feet,” if the condition is fulfilled, the get is valid; if not, the get is invalid. Rabbi Yehudah ben Teima says: Something such as this is a get. He said the following rule: Any condition that cannot eventually be fulfilled and the husband stipulates at the outset, he is just doing that to pain his wife, and the get is therefore valid.

There is another case brought down in the Tosefta: If the husband said, “On condition that you fly in the air.”

Reb Yosef Engel in Gilyonei HaShas asks: Isn’t this something that is possible? Don’t we find such an occurrence by Alexander the Great? And in today’s age (of Reb Yosef Engel), people fly in the air using air balloons!?

He answers that the language “fly” connotes “by himself,” similar to a bird, and floating in the air using exterior devices is not what he had in mind. A condition must be fulfilled according to the language of the stipulator!