Gittin 75 - 81
Week Heart of Week End
If a man divorces his wife with a get on the condition that he will be away until after Shabbat, when is it considered that this condition has been fulfilled?
This question was pondered by the sages against the background of a beraita. The beraita states that a condition to be away "until after shemita" (the seven-year agricultural cycle) is considered fulfilled only if he is still away for one entire year after shemita; that a condition to be away until "after a year" is fulfilled by being away for one month after the year; and being away until "after a month" means a week after the month. The resolution of this question is that the first three days of the week are called "after Shabbat," while the second set of three days are called "before (the next) Shabbat."
This ruling in regard to the fulfillment of a time-oriented condition in divorce is applied by the gemara (Mesechta Pesachim 106a) to the law of havdala made at the conclusion of Shabbat. If one failed to make havdala then, says the gemara, he can do so during the following weekdays. In determining how late in the following week havdala can be made, reference is made to our gemara; according to the text we have, havdala can be made for the first three days after Shabbat.
Other commentaries had a different text which concluded that havdala can only be made the first day of the we ek. Both opinions are cited by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 299:6) but Rema rules that it can be done for three days. In regard to havdala after Yom Tov, however, Mishna Berura (ibid. 16) points out that this concept is inapplicable, and havdala can be done only the first day following the holiday.
(There is a puzzle why Rashbam, in his commentary on Pesachim, gives a different example of the condition made regarding the divorce than the one cited in our gemara, even though the reference there is to our gemara. Readers are invited to offer their solutions.)
This idea of the six weekdays being divided between before and after Shabbat is a dramatic refutation of the characterization of Shabbat as the "weekend." Shabbat is not the end but the heart of the week around which all the other days revolve.
In Talmudic times the date written into the get document was in accordance with the yearf the reign of the king in whose country it was written. This was instituted by our Sages as a way of maintaining good relations with the local government, which would certainly resent any other dating system. (Today, Tosefot points out this is no longer the dating system of nations, so we write the year from creation.)
Should someone in Babylon write the date according to the years of the ruler of the "unworthy kingdom," says the mishna, the get is considered invalid because it is in violation of this rabbinical decree. The "unworthy kingdom" is identified by the gemara as the Roman Empire, so characterized because "it lacks its own script and language." Rashi explains that this is a reference to the eclectic nature of its national tongue.
Tosefot (Mesechta Avoda Zara 10a) challenges this explanation based on the existence of nations such as the children of Yishmael and Ketura, the Ammonites and the Moabites. These nations came into being after Hashem introduced pluralistic language to the world as a means of dispersing the people who sought to rebel against Heaven by building the Tower of Babel. Since they were not around when the multiplicity of languages began, we must conclude that they, too, borrowed their languages from other nations. Why, then, is Rome singled out as "unworthy" for not having its own language?
Tosefot therefore concludes that not having its own language is not the issue. What Rome was lacking was a special language which was reserved for royal use, such as we find "Greek wisdom" as a name for such an aristocratic form of expression. This, Tosefot points out, is what is meant in Mesechta Megilla (10b) when the prophet says that Hashem will punish the Babylonians for destroying the Beit Hamikdash by cutting off their language. Even though their language is Aramaic and they long continued to speak that tongue, they did lose the royal language they once used.