In our Gemara on Amud Beis, Rabbi Meir’s opinion is discussed, stating that signatory witnesses on a bill of divorce are the ones who effectuate the divorce. According to Rabbi Meir, it would technically be permissible to write the essential identifying information of the bill of divorce in advance. However, this practice was not followed due to concerns about quarreling, referred to as “Kettata” in the Gemara.
אָמְרִי לַהּ רַבִּי מֵאִיר – דְּאָמַר: עֵדֵי חֲתִימָה כָּרְתִי, וּבְדִין הוּא דַּאֲפִילּוּ תּוֹרֶף נָמֵי לִכְתּוֹב; וְזִמְנִין דְּהָוֵה לֵיהּ קְטָטָה בַּהֲדַהּ, וְרָתַח עֲלַהּ וְזָרֵיק לֵיהּ נִיהֲלַהּ, וּמְעַגֵּן וּמוֹתֵיב לַהּ.
The Gemara clarifies that in some cases, a husband may have a quarrel with his wife and become angry with her. In such situations, if the husband already has a fully prepared bill of divorce, he might impulsively throw it at his wife, leaving her divorced and in a state of distress. The Sages instituted a precautionary measure to avoid this rash action and ensure that the divorce process is approached with thoughtfulness and gravitas.
Rashi offers an interpretation of this quarrel, suggesting that when the husband is angry, he may suddenly divorce his wife without careful consideration. However, Rashba objects to Rashi’s interpretation based on the word “teyagen,” which is derived from the root “agunah” typically associated with the distress of being in a state of halakhic limbo. Additionally, the Gemara mentions the act of throwing the bill of divorce, which seems redundant. Rashba explains that in anger, the husband might throw the bill of divorce at his wife and walk away, potentially leading to an uncertain divorce status if it is unclear whether the bill of divorce was in enough proximity for it to be halakhically acquired. In such cases, she would be considered a true agunah, as her marital/divorce status would be unknown.
The Chasam Sofer offers a different interpretation based on a law concerning workers found in Choshen Mishpat (333:8). If a boss fires a worker in a state of anger, the decision can be retracted and is not considered an automatic dismissal of their contract. This demonstrates that certain actions lose their legal binding status if there is a reasonable claim that they were made impulsively and hastily. The concern here is that the husband may later claim that his declaration of divorce was half-hearted and lacking full intent, leaving his wife in an uncertain status.
These three interpretations offer distinct perspectives on human behavior during conflicts. Rashi’s interpretation captures the raw intensity of anger, Rashba’s highlights the passive-aggressive nature of anger in the act of throwing the bill of divorce and walking away, and the Chasam Sofer’s sheds light on impulsivity and self-destructive tendencies.
By examining these different facets of anger management, the Gemara prompts us to reflect on our own reactions during times of conflict. It encourages us to cultivate emotional intelligence, thoughtfulness, and restraint in our interactions, especially in matters as significant as divorce. Through self-awareness and the ability to navigate difficult emotions, we can strive for healthier and more constructive resolutions, fostering understanding, empathy, and ultimately, stronger relationships.