1) WRITING, STOPPING, AND RESTARTING A GET
QUESTION: The Mishnah (87b) states that if one was unable to finish the writing of a Get on one page and completed it on a second page, the Get is valid as long as the witnesses sign below the text. The Gemara asks why there is no concern that the Get was originally two separate Gitin. The husband might have forged this Get by cutting out the date from the second Get and the signatures of the witnesses from the first Get (and he put together the first Get, which he cut at the bottom, and the second Get, which he cut at the top, to give the appearance of a single Get).
The Gemara suspects that the husband would do such a thing because perhaps there was a condition written in the first Get which the husband did not want to include. He therefore used the witnesses on the second Get to make it appear as though the Get was written without the condition.
Rebbi Aba in the name of Rav answers that the Get in the case of the Mishnah is valid where there is a blank space below the first page of the Get. The blank space proves that there is no reason to suspect that the first page was originally a separate Get which contained an unwanted condition.
The Gemara (88a) asks further why there is no concern that in the middle of writing the first page of the Get, the husband changed his mind and decided not to divorce his wife. RASHI (DH v'Dilma) explains that the Gemara's question is that if, after writing the first page, he decided not to divorce her, and then some time passed and he changed his mind again and decided to divorce her and he resumed the writing of the Get, the first page of the Get is nullified.
Rashi's assertion -- that the first page of the Get is nullified if the husband decided in the middle of writing the Get not to divorce her -- seems to contradict the Gemara earlier (32b). The Gemara asks what the Halachah is in the case of a husband who nullifies a Get and then decides that he still wants to use that Get. Rav Nachman answers that he indeed may use the Get, and the Gemara states that the Halachah follows Rav Nachman.
Why does Rashi here state that if the husband decides in the middle of writing a Get that he does not want to give it that he cannot later change his mind and complete the Get, if Rav Nachman rules that he may use such a Get?
(a) TOSFOS (DH v'Dilma) answers in the name of RABEINU EZRA HA'NAVI that a distinction must be made between whether he had finished writing the Get or not. When Rav Nachman says that the Get is valid even after the man changed his mind, he refers to a Get which was completed. In contrast, the Gemara here discusses a Get that was nullified by the husband's retraction before it was completed. Rav Nachman agrees that in this case, the first part of the Get is nullified, since the husband changed his mind before it became a valid Get.
(b) The RAN (48b of the pages of the Rif) answers in the name of the RAMBAN that the husband originally appoint a scribe to write a Get for his wife, and after the scribe had written half of the Get the husband retracted and ordered the scribe not to complete it. Since the husband nullified the Shelichus, the scribe is no longer the husband's agent to write the Get. When the husband afterwards told the scribe that he changed his mind again and that the scribe should complete the writing of the Get, he appointed him as a Shali'ach to write only half of the Get. Such a Shali'ach is not able to effect a divorce. (The RAN questions the answer of the Ramban. See the OR GADOL (9:1, also cited in footnote #473 to CHIDUSHEI RASHBA) who explains the Ramban's position.)
(c) The RAN himself asserts that there is no problem in appointing a Shali'ach to write only half a Get. He explains that the Gemara's question is that there should be a concern that when the husband originally retracted his decision to divorce his wife, he nullified the Shelichus of the scribe, and, afterwards, when the husband decided again to divorce her, the scribe did not take notice to any new appointment as Shali'ach. Rather, the scribe simply completed the writing of the Get on the basis of his original appointment, which in fact was cancelled. Therefore, the Get should be invalid. (D. BLOOM)
2) A RUMOR IS NOT BELIEVED TO CHANGE A WOMAN'S STATUS
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that if a rumor ("Kol") goes out in the town that a certain woman is married, she is given the status of a married woman. RASHI (DH Yatza) explains that the Mishnah refers to a rumor that a certain unmarried woman is getting married to a certain man, and there is some evidence that suggests that the rumor is true (as discussed later in the Gemara). Rashi (DH Harei) writes that if she wants to marry someone else, she must first obtain a Get from her first, "rumored" husband.
The Mishnah continues and states that if a rumor goes out in the town that a certain woman is a divorcee, she is given the status of a divorcee. Rashi (DH Megureshes) explains that the Mishnah, at this stage, is understood to refer to a rumor about the wife of a Kohen who was divorced today. She is forbidden to stay with her husband since a Kohen is forbidden to live with a divorcee. Rashi explains that the Mishnah cannot refer to a rumor that any married woman was divorced and that this rumor should allow her to marry someone else, because a woman who is known to be married clearly cannot become permitted to marry someone else on the basis of a mere rumor.
The Gemara questions the second part of the Mishnah. Rav Ashi ruled that we give no credence to rumors that go out after one's marriage. Why, then, is the wife of the Kohen required to leave her husband because of the rumor that she is divorced? Rashi (DH Lo) explains that a woman is forced to leave her husband only when there is undisputed testimony that she is forbidden to him. A rumor alone is insufficient.
Why does the Gemara understand that the Mishnah refers specifically to a woman who was married to a Kohen? The Mishnah may also refer to a woman who, until now, was assumed to be a widow, and the rumor makes her forbidden to marry a Kohen! In such a case, the rumor would not have been one that goes out after the woman's marriage. Consequently, even Rav Ashi would agree in that case that the rumor has the power to prevent her from marrying a Kohen later. Why does the Gemara not suggest that this is the case of the Mishnah?
(a) The RASHBA answers that the second part of the Mishnah, which discusses the case of a rumor about a divorce, cannot refer to an unmarried woman about whom it is rumored that she was divorced. This would not add anything that was not known from the first part of the Mishnah, that a rumor that a woman was married is sufficient to prevent her from marrying someone else. It must be that the second part of the Mishnah means something different -- that a rumor can even make her forbidden to her present husband.
(b) RABEINU KRESKAS gives a different answer. The rumor which says that the woman, who until now was assumed to a widow, is a divorcee, is not valid -- even though it is a rumor which spread before marriage. The reason it is not valid even though it spread before marriage is that it comes to remove the woman from her Chazakah, the status she had until now. A rumor does not have the power to remove a person from her status.
Rabeinu Kreskas explains this idea further. The primary factor in determining whether or not a rumor is valid is whether or not the rumor challenges the accuracy of the present status-quo, or whether it merely adds new information. For example, the Gemara (89a) writes that if a rumor says that a certain woman was married today, the rumor is believed. That rumor does not challenge or refute her status until now, but rather it says merely that today her status has changed. However, if the rumor contradicts the woman's previously-known status, such as a rumor that says that a woman who was known to be single was married a few weeks ago, the rumor has no credence.
Rabeinu Kreskas adds that this is the reasoning behind another law cited by the Gemara here (89a). The Gemara says that a rumor which says that a woman is a Be'ulah is disregarded. This is because the rumor would remove the woman from the Chazakah that she possessed until now. Rabeinu Kreskas maintains that even if there was a strong rumor that she was a Be'ulah (for example, one witness heard that she was a Be'ulah from two witnesses who went overseas) it is still not believed.
(Rabeinu Kreskas points out that there are other factors which may invalidate even a rumor which adds information. For example, when the Gemara says that if a rumor says that a woman is not a Besulah, it is not given credence even if the rumor says that she became a Be'ulah today (and does not contradict any previous knowledge of her status). It is possible that the rumor started because the girl was seen doing improper things with a man. However, this does not mean that she is actually not a Besulah. See Rabeinu Kreskas at length for other examples.) (D. BLOOM, Y. MONTROSE)