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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 49a

But might not one suggest that if she1  returned2  to her parental home she resumes her former status?3  — Raba replied: A Tanna of the school of R. Ishmael has long ago settled this difficulty. For a Tanna of the school of R. Ishmael taught: What need was there for Scripture to state, But the vow of a widow, or of her that is divorced, even everything wherewith she bath bound her soul, shall stand against her?4  Is she not free from the authority of her father5  and also from that of her husband?6  [The fact], however, is that where7  her father had delivered her to the agents of her husband, or where the agents of her father had delivered her to the agents of her husband and, on the way,8  she became a widow or was divorced9  [one would not know] whether she was to be described as of10  the house of her father11  or as of the house of her husband;12  hence the need for the text13  to tell you that as soon as she has left her father's authority,14  even if only for a short while, he may no longer annul her vows.15

Said R. Papa: We also learned [a similar ruling]:16  A man who has intercourse with a betrothed girl incurs no penalties17  unless she is a na'arah,18  a virgin, betrothed, and in her father's house.19  Now one can well see that 'na'arah' excludes20  one who is adolescent, 'virgin' excludes20  one with whom a man has had intercourse, and 'betrothed' excludes one who married [by entry into the bridal chamber].21  What, [however, could the expression] 'in her father's house' exclude? Obviously this:22  [The case where] her father delivered her to the agents of the husband.23

R. Nahman b. Isaac said: We also learned [a similar ruling]:24  Should one have intercourse with a 'married woman'25  the latter,26  provided she entered under the authority of her husband,27  although no intercourse had taken place, is to he punished by strangulation.28  'She entered under the authority of her husband' [implies]29  in any form whatever.30  This is conclusive proof.


GEMARA. [Since it has been said that] he is UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO MAINTAIN HIS DAUGHTER Only, it follows36  that he is under an obligation to maintain his son, [and in the case of] his daughter also, since he is only exempt from37  legal OBLIGATION he is, obviously, still subject38  to a moral duty; who, [then, it may be asked, is the author] of our Mishnah? [Is it] neither R. Meir nor R. Judah nor R. Johanan b. Beroka? For it was taught: It is a moral duty39  to feed one's daughters, and much more so ones sons, (since the latter are engaged in the study of the Torah);40  so R. Meir. R. Judah ruled: It is a moral duty to feed ones sons, and much more so one's daughters, (in order [to prevent their] degradation).41  R. Johanan b. Beroka ruled: It is a legal obligation to feed one's daughters42  after their father's death; but during the lifetime of their father neither sons nor daughters need be43  fed.44  Now who [could be the author of] our Mishnah? If R. Meir, he, surely, [it may be objected] ruled that [the maintenance of] sons [was only] a moral duty.45  If R. Judah, he, surely ruled that also46  [the maintenance of] sons [was only] a moral duty.45  And if R. Johanan b. Beroka [should be suggested, the objection would be: Is not his opinion that] one is not even subject to47  a moral duty?45  — If you wish I might say [that the author is] R. Meir; If you wish I might Say: R. Judah; and if you prefer I might Say: R. Johanan b. Beroka. 'If you wish I might say [that the author is] R. Meir', and it is this that he meant:48  A FATHER IS UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO MAINTAIN HIS DAUGHTER, and the same law applies to his son. [Maintenance], however, is a moral duty in the case of his daughter and, much more so, in the case of his sons; and the reason why49  HIS DAUGHTER was mentioned50  was to teach us this:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  2. Before she reached her husband's house.
  3. Since she is again 'in her father's house' her penalty might again be changed from strangulation (the penalty for a married woman) to stoning (the penalty for one betrothed who is in her father's house, (Deut. XXII, 21). This does not exactly raise a difficulty against our Mishnah, but is an attempt merely at elucidating the law (Rashi).
  4. Num. XXX, 10.
  5. Since she was once married. A father's control over his daughter ceases with her marriage.
  6. Being now a widow or a divorcee. Now since neither father nor husband may annul her vows it is self-evident that her vows 'stand against her'. What need then was there for the text of Num. XXX, 10.
  7. Lit., 'behold'.
  8. To her husband's house.
  9. And so returned to her parental home.
  10. Lit., 'how I read about her'.
  11. Because, not having reached her husband's house, she has not passed entirely out of her father's control. Her father should consequently be entitled to annul her vows.
  12. Who is now dead or divorced. Her vows consequently, like those of any other widow or divorcee, could no longer be annulled.
  13. Lit., 'but'.
  14. As, for instance, where she was delivered to the husband's agents.
  15. Yeb. 87a. As in respect of vows the woman is no longer regarded as being 'in her father's house' so also in respect of her penalties.
  16. Sc. a Mishnah which supports the ruling of the Baraitha supra 48b: 'If a father delivered … her penalty is that of strangulation'.
  17. Sc. the penalties prescribed in Deut. XXII, 24ff.
  18. V. Glos.
  19. Sanh. 66b.
  20. Lit., 'and not'.
  21. Before intercourse Lad taken Place (cf. supra 48b 3d fit.).
  22. Lit., 'not, to exclude?'
  23. Cf. supra p, 280, notes 4 and 16.
  24. V. supra p. note 1.
  25. Lit., 'the wife of a man'.
  26. Sc. the woman. So according to MS.M. (v. infra n. 13).
  27. So MS.M. Cur. edd. insert 'for marriage'.
  28. So MS.M., [H] Cur. edd. [H].
  29. Since even 'bridal chamber' was not mentioned.
  30. Lit., 'in the world'; even mere delivery to the husband's agents.
  31. During his lifetime. V. infra.
  32. On the formula of the kethubah.
  33. On the day when he was appointed president of the College (Rashi, cf. Ber. 27b).
  34. Or Jamnia. The [H] was either the name of the school, so called because the students 'sat in rows' like 'vines in a vineyard' (Rashi), or an actual vineyard in which the scholars met (Krauss). The school of Jabneh was established by R. Johanan b. Zakkai during the siege of Jerusalem by Vespasian. Cf. B.B. (Sonc. ed.) p. 549, n. 4.
  35. A formula to that effect must be entered in a kethubah, v. Mishnah infra 52b.
  36. As DAUGHTER only was mentioned.
  37. Lit., 'there is not'.
  38. Lit., 'there is'.
  39. Though after a certain age there is no legal obligation.
  40. The bracketed words are the Talmudic comment on this teaching. (V. Rashb. s.v. [H] B.B. 141a).
  41. In their search for a livelihood, cf. n. 6.
  42. In accordance with the terms of their mother's kethubah.
  43. Lit., 'these and these are not'
  44. Cf. Tosef. Keth. IV and BB. 141a.
  45. While our Mishnah implies a legal obligation.
  46. [H]. This may be omitted with MS.M.
  47. Lit., 'there is not.
  48. In his statement in our Mishnah.
  49. Lit., 'and that'.
  50. And not 'son'. Cf. supra p. 282, n. 2 and text.

Kethuboth 49b

That even in the case of his daughter1  he is only exempt from a legal obligation but is nevertheless subject to a moral duty.2  'If you wish I might say: R. Judah'; and it is this that he meant: A FATHER is UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO MAINTAIN HIS DAUGHTER, and much more so3  his son.4  It is, however, a moral duty [to maintain] one's son and, much more so, ones daughters; and the only reason why HIS DAUGHTER was mentioned Was to teach us this: That even [the maintenance of] one's daughter is no5  legal obligation. 'And if you prefer I might say: R. Johanan b. Beroka', and what Was meant is this: HE IS UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO MAINTAIN HIS DAUGHTER, and the same law applies to his son; and this, furthermore, means6  that [such maintenance] is not even5  a moral duty; only because [the maintenance of daughters] after their father's death is a legal obligation, the expression, HE IS UNDER NO OBLIGATION, was used here also.7

R. Elai stated in the name of Resh Lakish who had it from R. Judah8  b. Hanina: At Usha9  it was ordained that a man must maintain his sons and daughters while they are young.10  The question was raised: Is the law in agreement with his statement or not? — Come and hear: When people came before Rab Judah,11  he used to tell them, 'A Yarod12  bears progeny and13  throws them upon [the tender mercies of] the townspeople'.14

When people came before R. Hisda,10  he used to tell them, 'Turn a mortar15  for him upside down,16  in public and let one17  stand [on it] and say: The raven cares18  for its young but that man19  does not care for his children'.20  But does a raven care18  for its young? Is it not written in Scripture,21  To the young ravens which cry?22  — This is no difficulty. The latter23  applies to white ravens24  and the former25  to black ones.26 

When a man27  came before Raba he used to tell him, 'Will it please you that your children should be maintained from the charity funds?'28 

This ruling,29  however, has been laid down only for one who is not a wealthy man, but if the man is wealthy he may be compelled30  even against his wish; as was the case with31  Raba who used compulsion against R. Nathan b. Ammi32  and extracted front him four hundred zuz33  for charity.34 

R. Elai stated in the name of Resh Lakish: It was enacted at Usha35  that if a man assigned all his estate to his sons in writing, he and his wife36  may nevertheless37  be maintained out of it. R. Zera, or as some say, R. Samuel b. Nahmani, demurred: Since the Rabbis went so far as to rule38  that [in the case that follows] a widow is maintained out of her husband's estate, was there any necessity [to state that such maintenance is allowed to] the man himself and his wife? For Rabin had sent in his letter:39  If a man died and left a widow and a daughter, his widow is to receive her maintenance from his estate?40  If the daughter married,41  his widow is still to receive her maintenance from his estate. If the daughter died?42  Rab43  Judah the son of the sister of R. Jose b. Hanina said: I had such a case, and it was decided44  that his widow was to receive her maintenance from his estate.45  [In view of this ruling we ask: Was it] necessary [to give a similar ruling46  in respect of] the man himself47  and his wife? — It might have been assumed [that the law applies only] there,48  because there is no one else to provide for her,49  but here [it might well be argued:] Let him provide for himself and for her;50  hence we were taught [that here also the same ruling applies].

The question was raised: Is the law in agreement with his view51  or not? — Come and hear: R. Hanina and R. Jonathan were once standing together when a man approached them and bending down kissed R. Jonathan upon his foot. 'What [is the meaning of] this?' said R. Hanina to him.52  'This man', the other52  replied, 'assigned his estate to his sons in writing

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Who is not engaged in the study of the Torah.
  2. Had 'son' been mentioned instead of DAUGHTER it might have been assumed that the maintenance of a daughter is not even a moral duty.
  3. MS.M., 'and the same law applies to'.
  4. Since it is easier for a man to earn his livelihood.
  5. Lit., 'there is not'.
  6. Lit., 'and that is the law'.
  7. In fact, however, there is neither legal obligation nor moral duty.
  8. Variant, 'R. Jose' (Alfasi and Rosh).
  9. Usha was a town in Galilee, in the vicinity of Sepphoris and Shefar'am, where the Sanhedrin met after it left Jabneh (Jamnia). It was also the place where, after the wars of Bar Cochba, on the cessation of the religious persecutions which characterised the Hadrianic reign in the middle of the second century, an important Rabbinical synod was held. Cf. B.B. (Sonc. ed.) p. 139, n. 1; p. 141, n. 4 and p. 207, n. 3. [On the Synod of Usha v. J.E, XI, 645ff.].
  10. Lit., 'small', under age of puberty (Rashi).
  11. With the case of a father who refused to maintain his young children.
  12. [H] (Heb. [H]) 'A bird of solitary habits' (Jast.); 'dragon' or 'jackal' (Rashi). Cf. the rendering of [H] in Jer. IX, 10 by A.V. and R.V. respectively.
  13. Neglecting them.
  14. From which observation it follows that a judge can only censure a heartless father but has no power to compel him to provide for the maintenance of his children.
  15. [H] v. Krauss, TA, I, 447.
  16. An improvised platform.
  17. [H], 'him', sc. the father.
  18. Lit., 'asks'.
  19. [H], sc. the father. According to the second interpretation, (supra note 8) the expression, as elsewhere, may refer to the speaker himself.
  20. V. supra note 5,
  21. Ps. CXLVII, 9.
  22. Presumably for food; which shews that the parent neglects them.
  23. Lit., 'that', the text implying neglect of the young ravens.
  24. Sc. very young ones. These are disliked by their parents (Rashi).
  25. Rab Judah's statement that ravens do care for their young.
  26. Older birds. For such the parents do care.
  27. Who refused to maintain his young children.
  28. V. supra note 5.
  29. That a father cannot legally be compelled to maintain his children.
  30. To maintain his children.
  31. Lit., 'like that of'.
  32. Who was a wealthy man.
  33. V. Glos.
  34. How much more then may compulsion be used against a wealthy father who refuses to provide for his own children.
  35. Cf. supra p. 183, n. 12.
  36. Though the sons are now the legal owners of the estate.
  37. By virtue of the enactment of Usha.
  38. Lit., 'greater than this did they say'.
  39. From Palestine to Babylon.
  40. In accordance with his undertakings in her kethubah.
  41. And the estate was transferred into her husband's ownership.
  42. And her possessions were inherited by her husband who is her heir.
  43. So in the parallel passage. B.B. 193a. Cur. edd 'Rabbi'.
  44. Lit., 'they said'.
  45. B.B. 193a.
  46. That despite the assignment, maintenance may be drawn from the estate.
  47. Who made the assignment.
  48. The case of the widow spoken of in Rabin's letter.
  49. Lit., 'who may take the trouble'. Her husband being dead she would have been helpless without the allowance for her maintenance.
  50. And consequently should not be allowed to draw upon the estate he assigned to his sons.
  51. That of R. Elai.
  52. R. Jonathan.