Sunday, January 31, 2010

Get Mekushar Bizman Hazeh

The Mishna states: A plain document - its witnesses are inside it (on the bottom). And a tied one - its witnesses are on the reverse (between one fold and the next). [They began by wring a single line or a number of lines of the essence of the document, and they folded the written part upon the part below and sewed them together. Another line or lines were written, and again the parchment was sewn down, and the procedure was repeated until the last fold. Each such fold was known as a kesher, and that is why it is called a get mekushar. The Gemora explains that the tied document type was ordained by the Rabbis primarily for gittin. They instituted it for the hot-tempered Kohen who might in a fit of anger decide to divorce his wife. Unlike any other Jew, a Kohen may not marry a divorcee, including his own ex-wife. They therefore instituted the tied deed which cannot easily be written quickly in order to allow time for the Kohen’s temper to cool. As this document type was ordained for divorce, the Rabbis also instituted it for other documents, for bills of indebtedness as well as for bills of sale so that one may choose the tied document, so as not to differentiate between bills of divorce and other documents.] A plain one whose witnesses signed on its reverse and a tied one whose witnesses signed inside it - both are invalid. Rabbi Chanania ben Gamliel says: A tied one whose witnesses signed inside it is valid, because he can make it a plain one (by not sewing the knots; and even though there are spaces between one line and the next, one need not be concerned about that, as there are many unskilled scribes who leave considerable space between one line and another). Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: All is in accordance with the custom of the place. A plain document requires two witnesses, while a tied document requires three witnesses. If a plain document contained one witness or a tied document contained two witnesses, they are both invalid.

According to the Ramban, the Tannaim of the Mishna disqualified even a shtar where the witnesses signed on both sides – underneath the body of the shtar as in a plain document, and on the opposite side, in the manner which is done in a tied document. The reason for this is because the “ba’al hashtar” – the owner of the document – is particular as to how the shtar should be written. If he instructed them to write it as a plain document, the signatures of the witnesses on the back side of the shtar will ruin its “openness”; and if his instructions were to make it a tied document, their signatures on the front side remove the document from being called a tied document.

The Nimukei Yosef infers that according to the Ramban, there could be room to validate a tied document nowadays. This is because it is not the custom at all to make a tied document, and it does not enter the mind of the ba’al hashtar to instruct them to make it opened and not tied.

However, he says, according to other Rishonim’s explanation of the Mishna, it would still be invalid. They explain that the reason that a plain document is invalid when the witnesses sign their names on the back is because it was not done in the manner that the Chachamim instituted; it has nothing to do with the ba’al hashtar’s instructions. Accordingly, nowadays, a document where the witnesses signed on the back will be invalid, for it is not being done according to the established practice of the Chachamim.

The Rem”a (42:1) cites both opinions regarding this.

The Shac”h understood that the Rem”a, at least in one opinion, is validating a shtar that was completely made like a tied document – meaning, the witnesses signed only on its back side. The Shac”h disagrees and holds that this would be disqualified according to everyone, for it was not done according to the established practice of the Chachamim.

The Tumim writes that this was never the intention of the Rem”a. He was only referring to a case where the witnesses signed on both sides – underneath the body of the shtar as in a plain document, and on the opposite side, in the manner which is done in a tied document.

1 comments:

Unknown said...

Does the word Get refer only to divorces or is it a synonym of Shetar? See the transaction in Jeremiah, 32.