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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 59a

maintenance [for a wife] in return for her handiwork,1  and a silver ma'ah2  in return for the surplus;3  and since the husband does not give her the silver ma'ah, the surplus remains hers.4  R. Adda b. Ahabah, however, is of the opinion that maintenance was ordained in return for the surplus,3  and the silver ma'ah in return for her handiwork; and since [the husband] supplies her maintenance, the surplus is his. On what principle do they5  differ? — The Masters hold that the usual6  is for the usual,7  and the Master holds that the fixed [sum]8  is for the fixed [quantity].9

An objection was raised: Maintenance [for a wife] was provided in return for her handiwork!10  — Read: In return for the surplus of her handiwork.

Come and hear: If he does not give her a silver ma'ah for her other requirements, her handiwork belongs to her!11  — Read: The surplus of her handiwork belongs to her. But, surely, in connection with this statement it was taught: What [is the quantity of work that] she12  must do for him?13  The weight of five sela's14  of warp in Judaea [etc.]!15  — It is this that was meant: What is the quantity of work [that she must do] in order that we might determine how much is her surplus? The weight of five sela's of warp in Judaea which is ten sela's16  in Galilee.

Samuel stated: The halachah is in agreement with R. Johanan ha-Sandelar.17  But could Samuel have made such a statement? Have we not learned: [If a woman said to her husband],18  if I do aught for your mouth',19  he20  need not annul her vow.21  R. Akiba, however, said: He20  must annul it, since she might do more work than is due to him.22  R. Johanan b. Nuri said: He20  must annul her vow23  since he might happen to divorce her24  and she would [owing to her vow] be forbidden to return25  to him.26  And Samuel stated: The halachah is in agreement with R. Johanan b. Nuri?27  — When Samuel stated, 'The halachah is in agreement with R. Johanan b. Nuri' [he referred only] to the surplus.28  Then let him29  specifically state, 'The halachah is in agreement with R. Johanan b. Nuri in respect of the surplus', or else 'The halachah is not in agreement with the first Tanna',30  or else, 'The halachah is in agreement with R. Akiba!31  — But, replied R. Joseph, you speak of konamoth?32  Konamoth are different. For, as a man may33  forbid to himself the fruit of his fellow34  so may he also consecrate35  that which is not yet in existence.36  Said Abaye to him:37  It is quite logical that a man should be entitled to forbid the use of the fruit of his fellows to himself,38  since he may also forbid his own fruit39  to his fellow;40  should he, however, have the right to forbid something that is not yet in existence,41  seeing that no man has the right42  to forbid the fruit of his fellow to his fellow?43  — But, replied R. Huna son of R. Joshua, [that44  is a case] where the woman said, 'My hands shall be consecrated to Him who created them', [such consecration being valid] since her hands are in existence.45  But even if she had said so, could she consecrate them? Are they not mortgaged to him?46  — [This is a case] where she said,47  'When I shall have been divorced'.48  But is there a consecration that could not take effect now49  and would nevertheless become effective later?50  — And why not? retorted R. Elai. Were a man to say to his friend, 'This field that I am selling you shall be consecrated as soon as I shall have re-purchased it from you', would it not51  become consecrated?52  R. Jeremiah demurred: What a comparison? There53  [the seller] has the right to consecrate [his field];54  here,55  however, [the woman] has no power to divorce herself!56  This55  is rather similar57  to the case of a man who said to another, 'This field which I have sold to you shall become consecrated after I shall have re-purchased it from you', where it does not become consecrated.58  R. Papa demurred: Are the two cases at all similar? There59  both the field itself and its produce are in the possession of the buyer, but here60  the wife's person is in her own possession. This60  is rather similar61  to the case of a man who said to another,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Which belongs to the husband.
  2. Every week.
  3. V. supra p. 347. n. 14.
  4. And cannot consequently be consecrated by him until after her death when he inherits it.
  5. Rab and Samuel on the one hand and R. Adda b. Ahabah on the other.
  6. Maintenance.
  7. The proceeds of the woman's handiwork. A surplus, however, in excess of the sum required for her maintenance, is unusual.
  8. The silver ma'ah.
  9. A wife's handiwork the quantity of which is prescribed (v. infra 64b).
  10. Supra 47b, 58b. An objection against R. Adda b. Ahabah.
  11. Infra 64b; which proves that the ma'ah is in return for her handiwork not for the surplus. An objection against Rab and Samuel,
  12. A wife.
  13. Her husband.
  14. V, Glos. s.v. Sela'.
  15. Infra 64b. This 'handiwork', not the surplus. How then could the insertion of 'surplus' be justified?
  16. The Galilean sela' being equal to half that of Judaea.
  17. In our Mishnah.
  18. [H], (konam) one of the expressions of a vow. V. Glos.
  19. I.e., that her husband shall be forbidden to eat anything prepared by her or purchased from the proceeds of her work.
  20. The husband who is empowered to annul his wife's vows. V. Num. XXX, 7f.
  21. As a wife's work belongs to her husband she has no right to dispose of it by vow or in any other way. Her vow is, therefore, null and void and requires no invalidation.
  22. More than the quantity to which he is entitled (v. infra 64b). Any work in excess of that quantity remains at the disposal of the wife who is entitled to forbid it to her husband by a vow. Hence the necessity for annulment.
  23. Not only on account of the surplus as stated by R. Akiba.
  24. When he loses all claim to her work, and her vow becomes effective.
  25. He would not be able to remarry her because her vow would prevent her from performing for him any of the services which a wife must do for her husband. [R. Johanan b. Nuri is of the opinion that the surplus belongs to the husband and the woman has thus no right to forbid it to him by vow.]
  26. V. Ned. 85a and infra 66a and 70a.
  27. According to whom the woman's vow becomes valid after her divorce though at the time the vow was made the work she will do afterwards has not yet come into existence. From this it follows that a person may similarly consecrate anything that is not yet in existence. How, then, could Samuel who adopts this view as the halachah also state that the halachah is in agreement with R. Johanan ha-Sandelar according to whom a thing which is not yet in existence cannot be consecrated? [For this can be the only reason for R. Johanan ha-Sandelar's view in the Mishnah according to Samuel who explained the reference in the Mishnah to be to the surplus after the wife's death (v. supra p. 347) which R. Johanan ha-Sandelar will regard as unconsecrated because, at the time when the husband consecrated his wife's handiwork, it was not yet in existence (Rashi).
  28. And not to all her work which has not yet come into existence. This answer could be easily refuted, since the same objection that has been raised against the 'handiwork' may equally be raised against the 'surplus' which also was not in existence when the vow was made. This had been waived, however, in view of the more general objection that follows (Rashi). [Tosaf: Samuel's statement that the halachah is like R. Johanan b. Nuri is limited to his view that the surplus belongs to the husband v. supra p. 349. n. 14].
  29. Samuel.
  30. From which it would be inferred that annulment of the vow is necessary only on account of the surplus.
  31. Who specifically mentioned the surplus. Since none of these expressions was used it is obvious that Samuel could not have referred to the surplus only.
  32. Plural of konam, a general term for vows which are usually introduced by konam.
  33. In making a vow.
  34. Though he could not consecrate such fruit to the Sanctuary.
  35. I.e., prohibit to himself by a vow.
  36. I.e., seeing that he can, by means of a vow, prohibit to himself a thing which is not in his possession, he can also prohibit a thing which is not yet in existence. Hence the validity of the vow. In our Mishnah, however, where the subject is ordinary consecration to the sanctuary, halachah is indeed in agreement with R. Johanan ha-Sandelar that the consecration is invalid.
  37. R. Joseph. 'To him' is wanting in MS.M.
  38. By a vow.
  39. To any particular person, by means of a vow, or to everybody by a general consecration to the Sanctuary.
  40. He may forbid his fellow's fruit to himself as the master of his own body; and he may forbid his fruit to his fellow as the owner of his fruit.
  41. The woman's work. Neither her work (which has not yet been done) nor her right to it (which she will regain only after divorce) is yet in existence.
  42. Even by a vow.
  43. Certainly not. As a person has no right to do the latter, he being neither master of his fellow's body nor owner of his fruit, so he should not be entitled to do the former (v. supra note 1.)
  44. R. Johanan b. Nuri's ruling which Samuel adopted as the halachah.
  45. Whereas our Mishnah deals with the case where she consecrated her handiwork, and this is not yet in existence.
  46. Her husband. How then could she consecrate that which is not hers?
  47. The consecration shall take effect.
  48. At that time she is again independent of her husband.
  49. As in the case under discussion where the woman while living with her husband is ineligible to dispose of her work.
  50. Obviously not. How then could the halachah be in agreement with R. Johanan b. Nuri?
  51. When it is re-purchased.
  52. It certainly would. Similarly in the case of a woman's work after she is divorced.
  53. The case of the field one is about to sell.
  54. Since at the time of the consecration it is still to his possession. Hence also the effectiveness of his present consecration after he had re-purchased that field.
  55. In the case of the consecration of a wife's work while she is still with her husband.
  56. How then could she have the power to consecrate her work even for the future?
  57. Lit., 'this is not equal but',
  58. Because at the time of the consecration it was no longer in his possession.
  59. The case of the sold field,
  60. V. supra p. 351, n. 15.
  61. V. p. 351, n. 17.

Kethuboth 59b

'This field which I have mortgaged to you shall be consecrated after I have redeemed it,' where it is consecrated. R. Shisha son of R. Idi demurred: Are these cases similar? There it1  is in his2  power to redeem it; but here she has no power to divorce herself. This is rather similar to the case of a man who said to his fellow, 'This field which I have mortgaged to you for ten years3  shall be consecrated when I shall have redeemed it', where it becomes consecrated. R. Ashi demurred: Are these cases similar? There4  he2  has the power to redeem it at least after ten years, but here she has never the power to divorce herself!5  — But, replied R. Ashi, you speak of konamoth! Konamoth are different [from ordinary vows] since they effect the consecration of the body6  itself;7  and [the reason here8  is the same] as that of Raba, for Raba stated: Consecration,9  leavened food10  and manumission11  cancel a mortgage.12  They13  should then14  become consecrated forthwith!15  — The Rabbis have imparted force to a husband's rights16  [over his wife] so that they13  shall not become consecrated forthwith.17


GEMARA. GRINDING CORN! How could you imagine this?27  — Read: Attending to28  the grinding.29  And if you prefer I might say: With a hand mill.

Our Mishnah30  does not agree with the view of R. Hiyya. For R. Hiyya taught: A wife [should be taken] mainly for the sake31  of her beauty; mainly for the sake32  of children.33  And R. Hiyya further taught: A wife is mainly for the wearing32  of a woman's finery. And R. Hiyya further taught: He who wishes his wife to look graceful34  should clothe her in linen garments. He who wishes his daughter to have a bright complexion,35  let him, on the approach of her maturity, feed her with young fowls and give her milk to drink.

SUCKLING HER CHILD. Must it be assumed that our Mishnah36  does not agree with the View of Beth Shammai? For was it not taught: If a woman vowed not to sickle her child she must, said Beth Shammai, pull the breast out of its mouth,37  and Beth Hillel said: [Her husband] may compel her to suckle it.38  If she was divorced he cannot compel her; but if [the child] knows her39  [her husband] pays her the fee and may compel her to suckle it in order [to avert] danger?40  — It may be said to be in agreement even with the view of Beth Shammai, but here41  we are dealing with such a case, for instance, where the woman made a vow and her husband confirmed it; Beth Shammai being of the opinion that he has thereby put his finger between her teeth,42  while Beth Hillel hold that it is she that has put her finger between her teeth.43  Then44  let them45  express their disagreement as regards a kethubah generally.46  Furthermore, it was taught:47  Beth Shammai said: She need not suckle [her child]!48  — But, clearly, our Mishnah is not in agreement with the view of Beth Shammai.

'If [the child] knows her'.

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The mortgaged field.
  2. The man who consecrated the field.
  3. During which period he has no power to redeem it, as a wife has no power to divorce herself.
  4. The ten years' mortgage.
  5. The two cases, therefore, cannot be compared.
  6. Of the animal or object consecrated.
  7. In relation to the man concerned; and unlike other consecrations to the Temple Treasury, can never be redeemed.
  8. For the validity of the consecration of the wife's work.
  9. Of a pledged animal for the altar.
  10. Which is pledged to a non-Israelite but kept in the possession of an Israelite when the time for its destruction on the Passover Eve arrives. No leaven or leavened food though pledged to a non-Jew may be kept in Jewish possession from the mid-day of Passover Eve until the conclusion of the Passover festival,
  11. Of a mortgaged slave,
  12. Similarly here, the consecration cancels the husband's claim upon the body or work of his wife. Hence the validity of her consecration.
  13. The wife's hands.
  14. V. supra n. 15.
  15. Why then has it been stated that the consecration becomes effective only after her divorce.
  16. [H] lit., 'the subjection or pledging to the husband'.
  17. His rights, as long as she lives with him, are not merely those of a creditor to whom an object has been mortgaged or pledged but the fuller rights of a buyer. For further notes on the whole of this passage, v. Ned. Sonc. ed. pp. 265ff.
  18. Or a sum that would purchase one.
  19. Or their value. V. supra n. 1.
  20. Lit., 'sit'.
  21. I.e., she need not perform even minor services for him. She is under no obligation to leave her chair to bring him any object even from the same house (cf. Rashi). [H], cf. [G], 'an easy chair', 'soft seat'.
  22. Her husband.
  23. Or, according to another interpretation, 'should'.
  24. I.e., precautions must be taken against idleness not only in the case mentioned by R. Eliezer but also in the following where the husband himself forbade the work.
  25. Thus enabling her to engage in work again.
  26. [H], 'stupefaction', 'dullness'.
  27. A woman, surely, could not be expected to turn the sails or the wheels of a mill.
  28. Lit., 'causing'.
  29. She performs the accompanying services only.
  30. Which imposes duties of work upon a wife.
  31. Lit., 'a woman is not but'.
  32. V. p. 353, n. 14.
  33. Not as a bondwoman for her husband. R. Hiyya agrees, however, that a wife is expected to work in wool in return for the maintenance her husband allow's her. His only objection is to menial work such as the grinding of corn which has an injurious effect upon her womanly grace. V. Tosaf. s.v. [H].
  34. Lit., 'to nurse', 'to make pliant', 'to make graceful'.
  35. Lit., 'that he may make white'.
  36. Which imposes upon a wife the duty of suckling her children.
  37. I.e., her vow is valid, because she is under no obligation to suckle her child.
  38. According to their view it is a mother's duty to suckle her child and her vow is, therefore, null and void.
  39. And refuses to be nursed by any other woman (Rashi). [Isaiah Trani: Even if it does not refuse to be suckled by another woman, its separation from its mother, whom it has learnt to recognize, may prove injurious to the infant].
  40. Tosef. Keth. V. Since Beth Shammai maintain here that a wife is under no obligation to suckle her children (cf. supra n. 6) out Mishnah (cf. supra n. 5) obviously cannot be in agreement with their view.
  41. In the cited Baraitha.
  42. I.e., it is the husband's fault that the vow remained valid. He could easily have annulled it had he wished to do so. (V. Num. XXX, 7ff).
  43. She should not have vowed (cf. supra note 7).
  44. If, as now suggested, the husband has confirmed the vow the woman had made.
  45. Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel.
  46. Where a woman vowed that her husband was to have no benefits from her. According to Beth Shammai she would be entitled to her kethubah because it is the man's fault that her vow remained valid (cf. supra p. 354, n. 11), while according to Beth Hillel she would receive no kethubah because the making of the vow was her fault (cf. p. 354. n. 12).
  47. In respect of any woman, even one who made no vow.
  48. How then could it be suggested that our Mishnah is in agreement with the view of Beth Shammai?