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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 53a

Observing, however, that it was distasteful to him [to enter], he addressed him thus: 'What is it that you have on your mind? [Are you reluctant to enter] because Samuel said to Rab Judah, "Shinena,1  keep away from2  transfers of inheritance3  even though they be from a bad son to a good son, because one never knows what issue will come forth from him,4  and much more so [when the transfer is] from a son to a daughter",5  this6  also [I may point out] is an enactment of the Rabbis; as R. Johanan stated in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai',7  The other replied, 'This enactment applies only [to one who acts] willingly;8  does it also imply that one should be compelled so to act?' — 'Did I tell you' said [R. Papa] to him, 'to come in and coerce him? What I meant was: Come in but exercise no pressure upon him'. 'My entrance', the other replied, 'would amount to compulsion'.9  [As R. Papa, however,] urged him, he entered but, having sat down, remained silent.10  [Abba] thought that he11  was vexed12  and consequently assigned13  [to his daughter as dowry] all that he possessed. Finally, however, he said to him,11  'Will not the Master speak even now? By the life of the Master, I have left nothing for myself!' — 'As far as I am concerned',14  the other replied, 'even the amount you have assigned15  has given me no pleasure'. 'This being the case',16  the first said, 'I will withdraw'. 'l did not suggest', the other said, 'that you should make a rogue17  of yourself'.

R. Yemar the Elder enquired of R. Nahman: Does a woman who sold her kethubah to her husband retain the right to the kethubah for her male children18  or not?19  — Said Raba to him: Why do you not raise the same question in the case of a woman who surrendered her claim [to her kethubah]?20  'Now', the other replied, 'that I [found it necessary to] enquire [concerning a woman] who sold [her kethubah],21  though [in that case] it might well be assumed [that her need for] money compelled her [to the sale; and, furthermore,] it might be said [that she is] like a person who was struck a hundred blows with a hammer,22  was it then necessary [to raise the same question in respect of] a woman who [voluntarily] surrendered her claim [to her kethubah]?23

Raba stated: I have no doubt24  that a woman who sells25  her kethubah to strangers26  retains the right to the male children's kethubah.' What is the reason? [It is her need for] money that has compelled her [to sell].27  A woman [on the other hand] who surrenders her claim [to her kethubah] in favour of her husband does not retain the right to the male children's kethubah. What is the reason? She has lightheartedly surrendered her claims.28  [Is, however, a woman,] Raba enquired, who sells her kethubah to her husband treated as one who sells it to strangers,29  or as one who renounces it in favour of her husband?30  After he raised the question he himself solved it: [The law concerning] a Woman who sells her kethubah to her husband is the same as that of one who sells it to strangers.29

R. Idi b. Abin raised an objection: [We learned]: If she31  died, neither the heirs of the one husband nor the heirs of the other are entitled to inherit her kethubah.32  And in considering the difficulty, 'How does the question of a kethubah at all arise?'33  R. Papa replied, 'The kethubah of the male children [was meant]'.34  But why?35  Could not one36  argue here also:37  'Her passion has overpowered her'?38  — There39  [the loss of her kethubah] is a penalty that the Rabbis have imposed upon her.40

Rabin b. Hanina once sat [at his studies] before R. Hisda and in the course of the session he laid down in the name of R. Eleazar: A woman who surrenders her kethubah to her husband is not entitled to maintenance.41  The other42  said to him: Had you not spoken to me in the name of a great man I would have told you: Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.43

R. Nahman and 'Ulla and Abimi son of R. Papi once sat at their studies, and R. Hiyya b. Ammi was sitting with them when there came before them a man whose betrothed wife had died.44  'Go and bury her', they said to him, 'or pay her kethubah on her account',45  Said R. Hiyya to them, We have a teaching:46  In the case of a betrothed wife47  [the husband] is subject neither to the laws of onan,48  nor may he defile himself for her;49  and she likewise50  is not subject to the laws of onan,51  nor may she defile herself for him;52  if she dies he is not her heir,53  but if he dies she collects her kethubah.54  Now the reason [why she collects her kethubah is] because it was he who died; had she, however, died she would not have been entitled to any kethubah.55  What is the reason?56  — R. Hoshaia replied: Because one cannot apply to her: 'If you will be married to another man you will receive what is prescribed for you'.57 

When Rabin came58  he stated in the name of Resh Lakish: If a betrothed woman died, she is not entitled to a kethubah. Said Abaye to them:59  Go and tell him:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [H] (rt. [H] 'to sharpen'); (i) 'keen witted', (ii) 'man of iron endurance', (iii) 'long toothed' (cf. [H] 'tooth') V. B.B. Sonc. ed. vol. II, p. 561, n. 14.
  2. Lit., 'be not among'.
  3. From persons who are legally entitled to be heirs.
  4. Though the son himself is wicked his children may be righteous.
  5. By giving his daughter a dowry he deprives his sons from a portion of their inheritance. (Cf. supra p. 307, n. 2).
  6. Allowing one's daughter a dowry.
  7. Supra 52b.
  8. Lit., 'from his (own) mind'.
  9. The father of the bride would be ashamed to offer a small dowry in the presence of a distinguished guest.
  10. While R. Papa was discussing the amount of the dowry with the bride's father.
  11. Judah b. Meremar who looked on in silence.
  12. At the smallness of the dowry he was offering.
  13. Lit., 'wrote it'.
  14. Lit., 'if from me'.
  15. Lit., 'that also that you wrote'.
  16. Lit., 'now also'.
  17. [H] (rt. [H] 'to return') a retractor.
  18. V. our Mishnah and supra p. 305, n. 15.
  19. Sc. are her sons still entitled to inherit her kethubah as they are entitled to inherit their share in the estate of their father, or do they lose the former right on account of their mother's sale which had transferred her rights to their father from whose estate they can inherit no bigger shares than those to which his other sons are entitled?
  20. Which is a more common occurrence than a sale.
  21. Believing that even in such a case it is possible that the woman irrevocably loses her rights.
  22. V. Golds. who compares [H] with Syr. [H] 'a hammer', and renders [H], 'hammer blows'. Aliter. They inflicted upon her a hundred strokes with a lash to which a small weight named 'ukla was attached (Rashi). Aliter: I may adopt the opinion of him who said, they struck (defeated) that opinion with a hundred measures against one (a hundred arguments against, for one in favour of it). 'Ukla (cf. [H]) is a small measure of capacity and also of a weight (Jast.).
  23. Obviously not. If she might lose her rights even when she acted under the stress of circumstances, there can be no question that she loses them when she willingly surrenders them.
  24. Lit.,'it is plain to me'.
  25. For a mere trifle, since, to the buyers the transaction is of a highly speculative and doubtful value. v. infra n. 10.
  26. Who recover it only if she is divorced or if she survives her husband, but lose it completely if she predeceases him and he inherits it.
  27. Not her indifference to the welfare of her sons. On this account, therefore (v. infra n. 1), she does not lose her rights on behalf of her sons.
  28. And, having thereby shewn her complete indifference to the interests of her sons, her surrender is deemed to be final and irrevocable.
  29. Since in both cases she sells it for a mere trifle, the husband's purchase being no less of a speculation than that of strangers (cf. p. 310, nn. 9-10). For should she predecease him, her kethubah would in any case be inherited by him; and the only advantage he might possibly derive from his purchase is the knowledge that his sons would benefit from it if he predeceased his wife. As, in fact, he did not predecease her his purchase fully assumes the same nature as that of strangers, and her male children inherit her kethubah.
  30. Since the kethubah is actually in his possession (which is not the case with strangers) and she consented to sell him all her rights.
  31. A woman whose husband went to a country beyond the sea and who, on being told by one witness that her husband was dead, contracted a marriage, and her first husband subsequently returned.
  32. Yeb. 87b.
  33. Lit., 'what is its doing?' How could her children submit any claim to her kethubah when she herself, as stated earlier in the Mishnah cited (Yeb. l.c.), is not entitled to one?
  34. Yeb. 91a; sc. if the woman predeceased her two husbands, who in consequence inherited her estate, her children have no claim to her kethubah and receive shares equal to those of their paternal brothers.
  35. Should her children be deprived of the kethubah of their mothers
  36. Since it has been said above that the reason why the woman does not lose her right to the kethubah for her male children is because it was her need that compelled her to sell it.
  37. In the case of the woman who married a second husband on the evidence of one witness.
  38. And this compelled her to marry again. Now since she acted under compulsion her children should not be deprived of her kethubah.
  39. V. p. 311, n. 10.
  40. For marrying again on insufficient evidence (that of one witness) before instituting further inquiries to verify his evidence.
  41. During her widowhood. As she surrendered her kethubah she surrendered thereby all her rights, including that of maintenance, that are contained therein.
  42. R. Hisda.
  43. Prov. XVII, 13.
  44. Before her marriage.
  45. [The reference is to the statutory amount of the kethubah, these Rabbis being of the opinion that the husband has been allowed to retain the kethubah of his deceased wife for the expenses he incurred in the burial.]
  46. A Baraitha. Cf. infra p. 313, n. 1.
  47. Before her marriage.
  48. V. Glos. Unlike an onan whose married wife died, he may Partake of holy food.
  49. If he is a priest (cf. Lev. XXI, 1f).
  50. If he died.
  51. She also is permitted to partake of holy food.
  52. During a festival when not only priests but also Israelites and women are forbidden to attend on the corpses of those who are not their near relatives (v. R.H. 16b). Aliter: Nor is she under an obligation to defile herself for him. (Cf. Rashi a.l. and Yeb. 29b. s.v. [H] and Tosaf. loc. cit. s.v. [H]).
  53. To the dowry her father gave her.
  54. Yeb. 29b, 43b, infra 89b. Both the statutory amount and any additional jointure, if he provided her with a kethubah on betrothal (cf. infra 89b.
  55. Contrary to the ruling supra that the man must either bury his betrothed wife or pay to her account the amount of her kethubah.
  56. For the man's exemption from the duty of burying his wife despite the statutory amount of her kethubah which he inherits.
  57. This is one of the clauses of a kethubah (v. Yeb. 117a). Since this clause can obviously have no effect except when a husband predeceases his wife or when she is divorced by him, the kethubah cannot be regarded as the wife's property whenever she predeceases her husband, and he, consequently, cannot be regarded as inheriting it from her. [As to the teaching supra 47b that the husband inherits the kethubah in return for her burial, the reference is to the dowry, v. supra p. 272, n. 7 and cf. p. 312, n. 8.
  58. From Palestine to Babylon.
  59. Those present at the college.

Kethuboth 53b

'You are deprived of your benefaction;1  it is cast upon the thorns',2  for R. Hoshaia has already expounded his traditional teachings3  in Babylon.4

THE FEMALE CHILDREN THAT WILL BE BORN FROM OUR MARRIAGE etc. Rab5  taught: Until they shall be taken in marriage;6  but Levi taught: Until they shall attain adolescence.7  [Would daughters then be maintained] according to Rab although they attained adolescence, and according8  to Levi even though they married?9  — The fact, however, [is that where a daughter] attained adolescence though she was not married or where she was married though she did not attain adolescence no one10  disputes [the ruling that she is not entitled to maintenance]. They11  differ only on the question of a [daughter who was] betrothed but did not attain adolescence.12

So also did Levi teach in his Baraitha:13  Until they shall attain adolescence and the time for their marriages arrives. Both?14  — What was meant is this:15  Either they shall attain adolescence or16  the time for their marriage17  shall arrive.

[They18  differ on the same principles] as the following Tannaim: How long is a daughter to be maintained? Until she is betrothed. In the name of R. Eleazar it was stated: Until she attains adolescence.

R. Joseph learnt: [Daughters must be maintained] until they become [wives]. The question was raised: Does this19  mean becoming [wives] at marriage or becoming [wives] at betrothal? — The question must stand unanswered.20

Said R. Hisda to R. Joseph: Did you ever hear from Rab Judah whether a betrothed [orphan] is entitled to maintenance21  or not?22  The other replied: I have not actually heard it, but it may logically be concluded that she is not entitled, because [her future husband], having betrothed her, would not allow23  her to be degraded.24  'If you have not actually heard this', [R. Hisda] retorted 'it may logically be concluded that she is entitled, for [her intended husband], not being sure of her,25  would not throw his money away for nothing'.26 

Another reading:27  He28  replied: I have not actually heard it, but it may logically be concluded that she is entitled [to maintenance]; for [her intended husband], not being sure of her, would not throw his money away for nothing. The other29  retorted: If you have not actually heard this it may logically be concluded that she is not entitled to maintenance; because [her future husband], having betrothed her, would not allow her to be degraded. (Mnemonic of the men:30  SHaK ZaRaP.31  [Subjects:] She refused and a sister-in-law of the second degree is betrothed and he outraged her.)

R. Shesheth was asked: Is a minor who exercised her right of refusal32  entitled to maintenance33  or not?34  — You, replied R. Shesheth, have learned this: A widow35  in her father's house, a divorced woman35  in her father's house or a woman35  who was awaiting the decision of a levir36  in her father's house is entitled to maintenance. R. Judah ruled: [Only a woman who] is still in her father's house is entitled to maintenance but [a woman who] is no longer in her father's house is not entitled to maintenance. [Now is not] R. Judah's ruling exactly the same as that of the first Tanna?37  Consequently it may be concluded that38  the difference between them is the case of a minor who had exercised her right of refusal,39  the first Tanna being of the opinion that she is entitled [to maintenance]40  while R. Judah upholds the view that she is not entitled to it.41

Resh Lakish enquired: Is the daughter of a sister-in-law42  entitled to maintenance43  or not? Has she no claim to it, since the Master said,44  Her kethubah is a charge on the estate of her first husband45  or is it possible that she is entitled to it since the Rabbis have enacted that whenever she46  is unable to collect her kethubah from [the estate of] the first, she may recover it from that of the second?47  — The question must remain unanswered.48

R. Eleazar enquired: Is the daughter of a forbidden relative of the second degree of incest49  entitled to maintenance50  or not?

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Or 'recognition' (v. Rashi).
  2. [H], a proverb. The information whereby he intended to benefit the students was of no use to them. Aliter: Your good-natured information is taken and thrown over the hedge (slight adaptation from fast.). Aliter: Take your favours and throw them in the bush, v. B.M. Sonc. ed. p. 377.
  3. Which included the one reported by Rabin.
  4. They were in no need, therefore, to wait for the Palestinian report of Rabin.
  5. In dealing with this clause in the kethubah.
  6. Lit., 'to men'. Cf. our Mishnah which agrees with Rab's ruling.
  7. V. Glos. s.v. bogereth.
  8. So MS.M. Cur. edd., 'and Levi'.
  9. Surely not; since either of these conditions liberates a daughter from her father's control and she must in consequence lose her claim to maintenance (cf. infra 68b).
  10. Lit., 'all the world'. V. infra n. 2.
  11. Rab and Levi.
  12. According to Rab she is maintained only until betrothal though by that time she may still be under age, and according to Levi, either adolescence or marriage deprives her of her rights to maintenance.
  13. Levi, like R. Hiyya and R. Oshaia, was the compiler of six orders of Baraithoth corresponding to the six orders of the Mishnah compiled by R. Judah the Patriarch.
  14. Cf. p. 313, n. 14.
  15. Lit., 'but'.
  16. The 'Waw' in [H] may be rendered, 'and' as well as 'or'.
  17. A period of twelve months from the time her intended husband had claimed her, in the case of a virgin, and one of thirty days in the case of a widow (v. Mishnah infra 57a).
  18. Rab and Levi.
  19. The expression 'become (wives)' in R. Joseph's statement.
  20. Teku, v. Glos.
  21. By her brothers, out of their deceased father's estate.
  22. [He wished to know according to which of the two Tannaim, whose views have just been cited, was the law to be fixed (Tosaf.)]
  23. Lit., 'it would not be pleasing to him'.
  24. As the maintenance of an orphan daughter by her brothers was ordained in order to prevent her degradation (v. supra 49a) it cannot be enforced in this case where no degradation is to be expected.
  25. A betrothal does not always lead to marriage.
  26. As he would not maintain her, the duty (for the reason stated supra p. 314, n. 15) devolves upon her brothers.
  27. Reversing the respective views of R. Joseph and R. Hisda.
  28. R. Joseph.
  29. R. Hisda.
  30. Who raised the following questions.
  31. SHesheth, LaKish, ElaZar, Raba, Papa.
  32. V. Glos. s.v. mi'un.
  33. By her brothers, out of their deceased father's estate.
  34. The point of the question is whether (a) the declaration of refusal to live with her husband dissolved her marriage retrospectively and she resumes in consequence the status of one who was never married and is, therefore, entitled to maintenance until she reaches her adolescence; or (b) since her marriage had once removed her from her father's control, in consequence of which she has lost her right to maintenance, her subsequent declaration of refusal cannot again restore to her the right she had once lost.
  35. Who had been only betrothed but had never married.
  36. Shomereth yabam. v. Glos.
  37. Who also spoke only of a woman 'in her father's house'. Wherein, then, do they differ?
  38. Lit., 'what, not?'
  39. V. Glos. s.v. mi'un.
  40. Cf. p. 315, n. 10. By mentioning a 'widow (cf. supra n. 11) in her father's house' the first Tanna meant to include also the minor who exercised her right of refusal who is thereby restored to the status of one who had never been married and had always been 'in her father's house'.
  41. V. supra p. 315. n. 10. He ruled, 'who is still in her father's house', sc. who has never left it to be married, is entitled to maintenance; not, however, one who had once been married though that marriage bad taken place during minority.
  42. Whom the levir married in fulfilment of the law of the levirate marriage (v. Deut. XXV, 5).
  43. By her brothers, out of their deceased father's estate.
  44. Yeb. 85a.
  45. This refers to the sister-in-law. That is to say the mother of the daughter in question. As her kethubah cannot be made a charge upon the estate of her second husband (her original brother-in-law), so cannot the maintenance of her daughter, which is one of the obligations undertaken in the same document.
  46. The sister-in-law.
  47. Cf. supra n. 8 mutatis mutandis.
  48. Teku, v. Glos.
  49. V. Yeb. 20a, 213.
  50. Out of the estate of her deceased father.