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Polite And Respectful
‘It Is Audacious To Appoint One’s Father A Shliacht’
(Kiddushin 45b)

Out of the blue, a Jewish man living in Pittsburgh, PA, packed his bags and left his family. The only contact the husband subsequently made was in the form of a letter to his father in which he wrote, “Father, I am traveling abroad and I do not intend to remain with my wife anymore. If you want to, you may provide her with a divorce from me.” Afterwards, he severed all ties with his family. The only way to allow the woman to remarry was to contend that in his letter the son intended to appoint his father to be a shliach to divorce his wife. But this contention is halachically problematic.

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No Explicit Appointment

The son’s words – “If you want to” – do not amount to an explicit appointment of his father as a shliach. Indeed, one can argue that these words imply that he wanted his father to make his own decision regarding what to do (see Gittin 66a, Tosafos s.v. “Kol hashome’a“). Acharonim are unsure what the halacha is in such a case (see Beth Shmuel 141:27; Hafla’ah, Kuntress Acharon 70:18). And since the son was unclear concerning his wishes, the father is not allowed to write a get on his son’s behalf.

Ravina’s Statement

An additional reason not to allow the father to act as a shliach for his son is Ravina’s statement on our daf: “A son cannot have the audacity to appoint his father as his shliach.” This rule strengthens the supposition that the son did not intend to appoint his father as a shliach to divorce his wife.

Polite Conduct Of A Son

The Maharsham, however, argues that we should assume – on the contrary – that the son did, in fact, intend to appoint his father as his shliach. The Maharit points out (Even HaEzer 2:43) that proper conduct dictates that a son avoid appointing his father as a shliach in a direct manner. He may, however, do so indirectly, using refined language such as, “If you would like to be my shliach, you may.” Accordingly, writes the Maharsham, we can assume that the son wanted to appoint his father as his agent and intentionally used ambiguous language out of politeness. Therefore, the father can write a get for his daughter-in-law on behalf of his son, thus enabling her to remarry.

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