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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 50a

and I compelled them to maintain him'. Now if it be conceded that this1  was not [in accordance with the strict] law one can well understand why he had to compel them,2  but if it be contended that this3  is the law, would it have been necessary for him [it may be objected] to compel them?4

R. Elai stated: It was ordained at Usha5  that if a man wishes to spend liberally6  he should not spend more than a fifth.7  So it was also taught: If a man desires to spend liberally6  he should not spend more than a fifth,7  [since by spending more] he might himself come to be in need [of the help] of people.8  It once happened that a man wished to spend6  more than a fifth7  but his friend did not allow him. Who was it?9  — R. Yeshebab. Others say [that the man who wished to spend was] R. Yeshebab, but his friend did not allow him. And who was it?9  R. Akiba. R. Nahman, or as some say, R. Aha b. Jacob, said: What [is the proof from] Scripture?10  — And of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth11  into thee.12

But the second tenth,13  surely, is not like the first one? — R. Ashi replied: I will … give a tenth of it14  [implies 'I will make] the second like the first'.

Said R. Shimi b. Ashi: [The number of those who report] these traditions15  steadily diminishes,16  and your mnemonic17  is 'The young18  assigned in writing19  and spend liberally'.20

R. Isaac stated: It was ordained at Usha21  that a man must bear22  with his son until [he is] twelve years [of age]. From that age23  onwards he may threaten24  his life.25  But could this be correct?26  Did not Rab, in fact, say to R. Samuel b. Shilath,27  'Do not accept [a pupil] under the age of six; a pupil of the age of six you shall accept and stuff him like an ox'?28  — Yes, 'stuff him like an ox', but he may not 'threaten him'24  until after [he has reached the age of] twelve years. And if you prefer I may say: This29  is no difficulty, since one may have referred30  to Scripture31  and the other to Mishnah; for Abaye stated: Nurse32  told me that a child of six [is ripe] for Scripture; one of ten, for Mishnah; one of thirteen,33  for a full twenty-four hours'34  fast,35  and, in the case of a girl,36  [one who is of] the age of twelve.37

Abaye stated, Nurse32  told me: A child of the age of six whom a scorpion has bitten on the day on which he has completed his sixth year does not survive [as a rule].38  What is his remedy? — The gall of a white stork39  in beer. This should be rubbed into the wound [and the patient] be made to drink it. A child of the age of one year whom a bee has stung on the day he has completed his first year does not survive [as a rule].38  What is his remedy? — The creepers of a palm-tree in water. This should be rubbed in and [the patient] be made to drink it.

Said R. Kattina: Whosoever brings his son [to school] under the age of six will run after hint but never overtake him.40  Others say: His fellows will run after him but will never overtake him.41  Both statements, however, are correct:42  He is feeble but learned. If you prefer I might say: The former43  applies to one44  who is emaciated; the latter, to one44  who is in good health.

R. Jose b. Hanina stated:45  At Usha46  it was ordained that if a woman had sold usufruct property47  during the lifetime of her husband and then died, the husband48  may seize it from the buyers.49 

R. Isaac b. Joseph found R. Abbahu standing among a crowd of people.50  'Who', he said to hint, 'is the author of the traditions of Usha?' — 'R. Jose b. Hanina', the other informed him. He learned this from him forty times and then it appeared to him as if he had it safely in his bag.51 

Happy are they that keep justice, that do righteousness at all times.52  Is it possible to do righteousness at all times? — This, explained our Rabbis of Jabneh53  (or, as others say. R. Eliezer), refers to a man who maintains his sons and daughters54  while they are young.55  R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: This52  refers to a man who brings up an orphan boy or orphan girl in his house and enables them to marry.

Wealth and riches are in his house; and his merit endureth for ever.56  R. Huna and R. Hisda [expounded the text in different ways]. One said: It applies to a man who studies the Torah57  and teaches it to others;58  and the other said: It applies to a man who writes the Pentateuch, the Prophets and the Hagiographa and lends them to others.59  And see thy children's children,' peace be upon Israel.60  R. Joshua b. Levy said: As soon as your children have children there will be peace upon Israel; for they will not be subject to halizah61  or levirate marriage.62  R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: As soon as your children have children63  there will be peace for the judges of Israel, for [doubtful claimants] will not come to quarrels.64


Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Maintenance of their father by sons to whom he had assigned his estate.
  2. He compelled them to obey the enactment of Usha though they pleaded adherence to the strict law'.
  3. V supra note 2.
  4. Naturally not, Since the sons would have had no ground whatsoever on which to base their refusal.
  5. V. Supra p. 283, n. 12.
  6. In charity.
  7. Of his wealth. (The reason is given anon. Cf. infra 76b, 'Ar. 282).
  8. Lit., 'creatures'.
  9. His friend.
  10. That no more than a fifth may be spent on charity.
  11. [H] raguba (Infinitive and Imperfect), the repetition of the verb [H] ('to give a tenth') implies two tenths or one fifth.
  12. Gen. XXVIII, 22.
  13. Which, being taken from the nine tenths that remained after the first tenth had been given away. represents only (1/10 x 9/10 = ) 9/100 of the original capital.
  14. [H], So lit. imperfect with suffix of 3rd sing. instead of the imperfect [H].
  15. The enactments of Usha reported supra by R Elai.
  16. The first enactment was reported by three Amoraim: R Elai, Resh Lakish and R. Judah (or Jose) b. Hanina (supra 40b), the second only by two: R. Elai and Resh Lakish (supra l.c.). while the third was reported by R Elai alone.
  17. An aid to the recollection of the order in which they were cited and thereby the order of the diminutions.
  18. 'A man shall maintain … while they are young' (supra 49b.
  19. 'If a man assigned … in writing' (supra l.c.).
  20. 'If a man wishes to spend liberally' (the last cited enactment).
  21. V. Supra p. 183, n. 12.
  22. Lit., 'roll', i.e., have patience with him, and employ gentle means to induce him to study.
  23. Lit., 'from here'.
  24. Lit., 'go down with him into'.
  25. Sc. he may adopt drastic measures if his son is neglectful or indifferent.
  26. Lit., 'I am not (in agreement)'.
  27. A teacher of young children (v. B.B. 8b).
  28. B.B. 21a. This seems to shew that the age of compulsion is six, contrary to R. Isaac's tradition which puts it at twelve.
  29. Cf. supra n. 14.
  30. Lit., 'that'.
  31. Which a child should begin studying at the age of six.
  32. His mother died while he was an infant, and his upbringing was entrusted to a nurse from whom he learned many proverbs and maxims, legends and folklore; v. Kid. 31b.
  33. [H]. V. n. 23.
  34. [H], lit., 'from time to time', from a certain hour of one day to the same hour on the following day.
  35. The fast of the Day of Atonement and that of the Ninth of Ab last for a full twenty-four hours, beginning near sunset and terminating at nightfall on the following day.
  36. Who matures earlier.
  37. Sc. twelve years and one day (Tosaf s.v. [H], a.l., contrary to Rashi who interprets 'twelve' as 'twelfth', viz., from the age of eleven years and a day). [The text is uncertain. MS.M. and Asheri read 'and one of twelve ([H]) for a full twenty four hours' fast and in the case of a little girl'. This may mean; (a) 'and that applies to a little girl', whereas in the case of a boy the age for a full fast begins at thirteen, or (b) 'and the same law applies to a girl'; v. Isaiah Trani. Tosaf. seems to have had a still shorter text with no reference to a boy; v. Tosaf. s.v. [H]].
  38. Unless the appropriate remedy is applied (Rashi). Cf., however, Tosaf. s.v. [H] a.l.
  39. [H]. The 'white dayyah' is the Talmudic interpretation of [H] (Lev. XI, 19), E.V. stork (cf. Hul. 63a).
  40. Sc. all his efforts to restore his child to normal health will be of no avail. His health remalns irrevocably ruined.
  41. He will always surpass them in knowledge and attainments.
  42. Lit., 'they are.
  43. V. supra n. 3.
  44. Lit., 'that'.
  45. Infra 78b, B.K. 88b, B.M. 35a, 96b, B.B. 50a. 139b.
  46. V. supra p. 183, n. 12.
  47. Melog (v.Glos).
  48. Who has the legal status of a buyer.
  49. Since he is in the position of the earliest purchaser.
  50. [H], so MS.M. Cur. edd. [H] 'of Usha'. Var. lec. [H] 'engaged in teaching the laws passed at Usha' (Jast.).
  51. Sc. would never forget it.
  52. Ps. CVI, 3.
  53. V. supra p. 181, n. 19.
  54. This is a charitable act, since legally they have no claim upon him for maintenance.
  55. Children being 'at all times' dependent on their father, the text cited may well be applied to such a man. [H] 'righteousness' may also signify 'charity'.
  56. Ps. CXII, 3.
  57. Which is compared to 'wealth and riches'.
  58. His Torah is not thereby diminished so that 'wealth and riches' (v. supra note 7) 'are in his house', and 'his merit' for teaching other people 'endureth for ever'.
  59. Cf. supra notes 7 and 8 mutatis mutandis. The scrolls remain his, while his 'merit endureth for ever' for enabling others to study.
  60. Ps. CXXVIII, 6.
  61. V. Glos.
  62. Which are frequently the cause of quarrels.
  63. Sc. legal heirs.
  64. On the disposal of the estate of the deceased.
  65. So MS.M. and our Mishnah supra 493. Cur. edd. omit 'b. Azariah' from the quotation.

Kethuboth 50b

R. Joseph sat before R. Hamnuna while R. Hamnuna was sitting and discoursing: As sons may obtain their inheritance only from landed property so may one's daughters obtain their maintenance only from landed property. All shouted at him: 'Is it only from a man who leaves land that sons inherit while from him who leaves no land his sons do not inherit?'1  Said R. Joseph to him:2  Might not the Master have been speaking of the kethubah [that is due to] male children?3  The other2  replied: The Master who is a great man understood precisely what I meant.4

R. Hiyya b. Joseph stated: Rab allowed maintenance [to daughters]5  from wheat6  of 'aliyyah.7

The question was raised: Was [Rab's allowance made for] a marriage outfit,8  and by 'aliyyah is meant,9  'in accordance with her father's generans10  disposition', [his ruling being] in agreement with that of Samuel who laid down that in respect of marriage outfit the assessment11  is determined by [the disposition of] the father;12  or was it rather for actual maintenance,13  and by 'aliyyah was meant9  'in accordance with the chivalrous14  enactments made15  in an upper chamber',16  for R. Isaac b. Joseph stated: In an upper chamber it was enacted that daughters shall be maintained even out of movable property?17  — Come and hear: R. Benai the brother of R. Hiyya b. Abba had in his possession orphans' movable property, and when [he and the daughters of the deceased] came before Samuel, the latter said to him, 'Go and provide maintenance [for them]'. Does not [maintenance refer] to actual maintenance, he being of the same opinion as R. Isaac b. Joseph?18  — No; there19  [the claim] was in respect of marriage outfit, and Samuel [acted] in accordance with his own view, since he laid down that in respect of marriage outfit the assessment20  is determined by [the disposition of] the father.21

[Such] a case22  occurred at Nehardea,23  and the Nehardean judges issued an order24  [in favour of the daughters]. At Pumbeditha also25  R. Hana b. Bizna allowed [daughters] to collect [for their maintenance].26  R. Nahman, however, said to them: Proceed to withdraw [your orders], otherwise27  I shall order the seizure of your mansions.

R. Ammi and R. Assi intended to allow maintenance28  out of movable property.29  Said R. Jacob b. Idi to them: In a matter concerning which R. Johanan and Resh Lakish hesitated to act30  would you [venture to] act?

R. Eleazar intended to allow maintenance28  out of movable property.29  Said R. Simeon b. Eliakim to him: 'Master, I know that in your decision31  you are not acting on the line32  of justice but on the line of mercy, but [the possibility ought to be considered that] the students might observe this ruling and fix it as an halachah for future generations'.

A similar case33  was once submitted to34  R. Joseph. 'Give her', he ordered, 'of the dates that [are spread] on the reed-mat'.35  Said Abaye to him, 'Even if she were a creditor36  would the Master have allowed her [a privilege] of such a nature?'37  — 'What I mean is', the other said to him, '[dates] that are suitable38  for [spreading on] the reed-mat'.39

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Certainly not. The Torah did not restrict the laws of inheritance to landed estates only.
  2. R. Hamnuna.
  3. If their mother pre-deceased their father they are entitled to recover her kethubah from his estate over and above the shares to which they like the other sons are entitled.
  4. The comparison made between the maintenance of daughters and the inheritance of sons was not, as the others who shouted assumed, the ordinary inheritance of sons, which is a Pentateuchal right, but their inheritance of their mother's kethubah (v. supra n. 3) which, like the maintenance of daughters, is merely a Rabbinical obligation undertaken by their father in accordance with the terms of the kethubah which he gave to their mother. Cf. infra 52b, and 91b.
  5. In the absence of real estate.
  6. Sc. movable property.
  7. [H]. The noun [H] may signify either 'upper chamber' or 'best' 'generous'. The meaning is discussed anon.
  8. Which is levied from movables also.
  9. Lit., 'and what 'aliyyah?'
  10. Cf. supra n. 7.
  11. For a daughter, out of her deceased father's estate.
  12. Infra 68a. A bigger allowance if he was known to be generous, and a smaller one if he was known to be niggardly.
  13. Which, forming one of the terms of the kethubah, may legally be recovered like the statutory kethubah itself, from landed property only.
  14. Lit., 'good'.
  15. In favour of daughters.
  16. Cf. 'the upper chamber of Hananiah b. Hezekiah' (Shab. 13b) and v. supra
  17. [Despite the fact that the lien clause in the Mishnah on which they base their claims to maintenance did not include movables, v. infra 56b].
  18. Who testified supra to the enactment made in favour of daughters.
  19. In the case dealt with by Samuel.
  20. V. p. 290, n. 11.
  21. V. p. 290, n. 12.
  22. In which daughters claimed maintenance from their deceased father's movable property.
  23. V. supra p. 222, n. 8.
  24. Lit., 'judged'.
  25. Where a similar case (v. supra n. 6) occurred.
  26. From the movable property of their deceased father.
  27. Lit., 'and if not'.
  28. Of daughters.
  29. V. supra n. 10.
  30. Lit., 'did not do a deed'.
  31. Lit., 'in you'.
  32. Lit., 'measure'.
  33. Of a daughter who claimed maintenance out of her deceased father's estate.
  34. Lit., 'that (case) which came before'.
  35. To dry; sc. movable property.
  36. Who is entitled to distrain upon sold property, a right to which a daughter is not entitled.
  37. The seizure of movable assets. The answer being in the negative, the question arises: How could R. Joseph allow a daughter the privilege to which even a creditor is not entitled?
  38. I. e., ripe.
  39. But are still attached to the tree. Attached fruit has the status of landed property.