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Name of a treatise of the Mishnah and of the Tosefta, elaborated in the Palestinian and in the Babylonian Gemaras. It belongs to the third order, "Nashim" (Women), but occupies different places in the different compilations. Thus, in the separate Mishnah editions and in the Tosefta it stands sixth; in the Tosefta attached to Alfasi and in the Babli, fourth; and in the Yerushalmi, fifth. The number of chapters in this treatise is nine, except in the Tosefta appended to Alfasi, where the number is reduced to seven, the third, fourth, and fifth chapters being united into one. While the name of the treatise signifies "documents," it is specifically applied to bills of divorce, and of these, and of the parties thereto, the treatise discourses, referring only incidentally to other documents. The chapters provide as follows:

Annulment of Geṭ.


Digressions in Gemara.

The Gemaras, both Palestinian and Babylonian, discuss and exemplify the rules laid down in the Mishnah. The Palestinian Gemara is comparatively concise, and contains few digressions; the Babylonian is, as a rule, more diffuse, and quite frequently breaks the argumentation with hagga-dot. One example from the former may be given. Discussing the requirement of the Mishnah (1:2) that the bearer of a geṭ must be able to declare that the bill was written and signed in his presence, it cites the name of the city of Acco. That name recalls to the memory of the compiler a story regarding something that occurred at Acco which gave rise to the decree that no "talmid" (pupil, unordained scholar) should decide ritualistic questions. This, again, recalls a baraita declaring that the premature death of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1 et seq.) was the punishment for presuming to act on their own decisions in the presence of Moses, their master (see 'Er. 63a). This in turn recalls another story. It happened that a talmid decided a question in the presence of R. Eliezer, who thereupon predicted to Imma Shalom, his wife, the early death of that talmid, and the prediction was soon fulfilled. Eliezer's disciples then inquired: "Master, art thou a prophet?" To which the master replied: "I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet; but I am aware of a traditional doctrine declaring that the talmid who decides questions in his master's presence deserves death" (Yer. Giṭ. 1:43c).

The Babylonian Talmud, among other haggadot, describes the last struggle of the Jews with the Romans (55b-58a). It introduces R. Johanan as remarking that the verse, "Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief " (Proverbs 28:14), teaches that man's actions must be governed by caution and prudence, since trifling causes may produce stupendous results. Thus the destruction of Jerusalem resulted from an invitation to a banquet extended by mistake to Bar Ḳamẓa instead of to Ḳamẓa; that of Ṭur Malka was brought about by a cock and a hen; and that of Bettar resulted from some trouble about the shaft of a litter! In the quasi-historical accounts which follow, many legends are embodied. The following is one of them: Nero was ordered to reduce Jerusalem. He came, and prognosticated his fortunes by shooting arrows. He shot eastward, and the arrow fell toward Jerusalem; he shot west-ward, and again the arrow fell toward Jerusalem; he shot toward the other points of the compass-with the same result. Though thus assured that his arms would triumph, he nevertheless sought another oracle: he ordered a Jewish lad to quote a verse of the Bible, in the purport of which he expected to read assurance or discouragement. The lad responded by repeating: "I will lay my vengeance upon Edom [Rome] by the hand of my people Israel," etc. (Ezekiel 25:14). On hearing this, Nero exclaimed: "God wishes to destroy His house and make me His atonement." Thereupon he fled and embraced Judaism, and eventually became the ancestor of R. Meïr (Giṭ. 56a).

Other Haggadot.

Another legend is as follows: A mother and her seven sons were brought before Cæsar. The first son was ordered to worship an idol, but he replied: "It is written in our Law, 'I am the Lord thy God'" (Exodus 20:2). He was led forth and executed. The second refused, saying: "In our Law it is written, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me"' (20:3); he also was executed. The third said: "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed" (22:18 [A.V. 20]); the fourth: "Thou shalt worship no other god" (34:14); the fifth: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4); the sixth: "Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else" (4:39): all of these likewise were killed, At last came, the turn of the seventh son; he, too, refused to desert his God, saying: "It is written in our Law, 'Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God . . . and the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people' [26:17]; thus we have bound ourselves before the Holy One, blessed be He! not to exchange Him for another god, and He has promised us not to desert us for another people." Cæsar then suggested that he would drop a ring, and that the lad should stoop down and pick it up, that it might be thought that he had complied with the royal behest; but the lad vehemently refused, exclaiming: "Wo unto thee, Cæsar! wo unto thee! Thou art thus anxious to preserve thine own honor: how much more should I be anxious for the honor of the Holy One! Blessed be He!" As this son also was led forth to execution, his mother requested permission to kiss him, and then said: "My children, go and say to Abraham, your father, 'Thou hast prepared one altar, while I have offered on seven altars!'" Thereupon she ascended to a roof and threw herself off. As she died a "bat ḳol" was heard repeating the words of Psalm 113:9: "A joyful mother of children!" (Giṭ 57b; comp. II Macc. ).

In its discussions on the first mishnah of the seventh chapter the Babylonian Talmud devotes considerable space to pathology (67b-70b), for which see Bergel, "Medizin der Talmudisten," pp. 32-54, and Brecher, "Das Transcendentale . . . im Talmud," passim.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Giṭṭin'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia.​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​g/giin.html. 1901.