Previous Folio / Kethuboth Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site

Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 62a

What should be the usual periods?1  — Rab said: One month at the college2  and one month at home; for it is said in the Scriptures, In any matter of the courses which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year.3  R. Johanan, however, said: One month at the college and two months at home; for it is said in the Scriptures, A month they were in Lebanon and two months at home.4  Why does not Rab also derive his opinion from this text?4  — The building of the holy Temple is different [from the study of the Torah] since it could be carried on by others.5  Then why does not R. Johanan derive his opinion from the former text?3  — There [the conditions were] different because every man was in receipt of relief.6

Rab said:7  A sigh breaks down half of the human constitution,8  for it is said in Scripture, Sigh, therefore, thou son of man; with the breaking of thy loins9  and with bitterness shalt thou sigh.10  R. Johanan, however, said: Even all the human constitution, for it is said in Scripture, And it shall be when they say unto thee: Wherefore sighest thou? that thou shalt say: Because of the tidings, for it cometh; and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be slack, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall drip with water.11  As to R. Johanan, is it not also written, 'With the breaking of thy loins'? — [The meaning of] this is that when [the breaking] begins it does so from the loins. And as to Rab, is it not also written, 'And every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be slack, and every spirit shall be faint'? — The report of the holy Temple is different since [the calamity] was very severe.

An Israelite and an idolater were once walking together on the same road and the idolater could not keep pace with the Israelite. Reminding him of the destruction of the holy Temple [the latter] grew faint and sighed; but still the idolater was unable to keep pace with him. 'Do you not say', the idolater asked him, 'that a sigh breaks half of the human body'? — 'This applies only', the other replied, 'to a fresh calamity but not to this one with which we are familiar. As people say: A woman who is accustomed to bereavements is not alarmed [when another occurs]'.

MEN OF INDEPENDENCE EVERY DAY. What is meant by tayyalin?12  — Raba replied: Day students.13  Said Abaye to him: [These are the men] of whom it is written in Scripture, It is vain for you14  that ye rise early, and sit up late, ye that eat of the bread of toil; so He giveth15  unto those who chase their sleep away;16  and 'these',17  R. Isaac explained, 'are the wives of the scholars,18  who chase the sleep from their eyes19  in this world and achieve thereby the life of the world to come',20  and yet you Say. Day students'!21  — [The explanation]. however, said Abaye, is in agreement [with a statement] of Rab who said [a man of independence is one.] for instance, like R. Samuel b. Shilath22  who eats of his own, drinks of his own and sleeps in the shadow of his mansion23  and a king's officer24  never passes his door.25  When Rabin came26  he stated: [A man of independence is one]. for instance, like the pampered men of the West,27

R. Abbahu28  was once standing in a bath house, two slaves supporting him, when [the floor of] the bath house collapsed under him.29  By chance he was near a column [upon which] he climbed30  taking up the slaves with him.31  R. Johanan was once ascending a staircase, R. Ammi and R. Assi supporting him, when the staircase collapsed under him. He himself climbed up and brought them up with him. Said the Rabbis to him, 'Since [your strength is] such, why do you require support?32  — 'Otherwise', he replied. what [strength] will I reserve for the time of my old age?'

FOR LABOURERS TWICE A WEEK. Was it not, however, taught: Labourers, once a week? — R. Jose the son of R. Hanina replied: This is no difficulty; the former33  [speaks of labourers] who do their work in their own town while the latter [speaks of those] who do their work in another town — So it was also taught: Labourers [perform their marital duties] twice a week. This applies only [to those] who do their work in their own town, but for those who do their work in another town [the time is only] once a week

FOR ASS-DRIVERS ONCE A WEEK. Rabhah son of R. Hanan34  said to Abaye: Did the Tanna35  go to all this trouble36  to teach us [merely the law relating to] the man of independence37  and the labourer?38  — The other replied: No;

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. That students should (a) be permitted to be away from their wives even with their consent, and (b) remain at home (v. Rashi). According to one opinion the restrictions spoken of here apply to labourers only. Students are allowed greater freedom. (V. Tosaf. s.v. [H], a.l.).
  2. Lit., 'here'.
  3. I Chron. XXVII, emphasis on 'month by month'.
  4. I Kings V, 28.
  5. Solomon had sufficient men for the work and required each group for no longer than one month out of every three. The study of the Torah demands more time.
  6. The stipend allowed by the king. This allowance enabled a husband to provide a comfortable living for his wife who, in return, consented to his absence from home every alternate month. In the case of students, however, whose study brings no worldly reward to their wives, the period of absence from home should not exceed one month in every three.
  7. The following discussion is introduced here on account of the difference of opinion between Rab and R. Johanan on the application of Scriptural texts, which is characteristic of this as of the previous discussion.
  8. Lit., 'body'.
  9. The loins are in the middle of the body.
  10. Ezek. XXI, 11.
  11. Ibid. 12. The prophet's sigh is accompanied by shattering effects on all parts of the body.
  12. Cf. supra p. 369, n, 5.
  13. [H], lit., 'sons of the lesson', i.e., students domiciled in the college town who are able to live in their own homes and to attend the college for lessons only.
  14. This admonition is addressed to those who pursue worldly occupations.
  15. Without toiling for it.
  16. Ps. CXXVII, 2. E.V., unto his beloved. ushshk is homiletically treated as coming from the rt.[H] 'to shake', 'chase away'.
  17. 'Those who chase their sleep away'.
  18. [H]. V. Glos. s.v. talmid hakam.
  19. In sitting up all night waiting for the return of their husbands from the house of study.
  20. As a reward for the consideration they shew to their studious husbands. Since the wives of students who come from other towns would not be expecting their husbands to return home every day, the reference must obviously be to those who live in the college town, i.e., the day students, which proves that even these remain all night at the college.
  21. How could men who spend their nights in study be expected to perform the marital duty daily?
  22. A teacher of children (v. supra 50a) who made an unostentatious but comfortable living.
  23. [H] 'mansion', 'palace', i.e., his own home (cf. 'the Englishman's home is his castle').
  24. [H], MS.M. [H] 'a detachment of soldiers',
  25. To exact from him service or money. As his wants were moderate, he had no need to be under obligation to anyone for his food or drink and had no need to go fat to seek his livelihood. A man in such a position might well be described as a man of independence.
  26. From Palestine to Babylon.
  27. palestine, which lay to the west of Babylon where this statement was made,
  28. This is told in illustration of the physical strength enjoyed by the Palestinians,
  29. And the three were in danger of falling into the pool of water over which the floor was built,
  30. Grasping it with one hand,
  31. With his other hand.
  32. Lit., 'to support him'.
  33. Lit., 'here'. Our Mishnah.
  34. MS.M., R. Hanin b. Papa.
  35. The author of the first clause of out Mishnah, which deals with the ease of a vow.
  36. Lit., 'fold himself up'.
  37. V. supra p. 369. n. 5.
  38. Whose times only could be affected by an abstinence of ONE WEEK (Beth Hillel) or TWO WEEKS (Beth Shammai). The other classes of persons enumerated, whose times are once in thirty days or at longer intervals, would not thereby be affected.

Kethuboth 62b

to all.1  But was it not stated ONCE IN SIX MONTHS?2  — One who has bread in his basket is not like one who has no bread in his basket.3

Said Rabbah4  son of R. Hanan to Abaye: What [is the law where] an ass-driver becomes a camel-driver?5  — The other replied: A woman prefers one kab6  with frivolity to ten kab6  with abstinence.7

FOR SAILORS, ONCE IN SIX MONTHS. THESE ARE THE WORDS OF R. ELIEZER. R. Beruna8  stated in the name of Rab:9  The halachah follows R. Eliezer. R. Adda b. Ahabah, however, stated in the name of Rab: This is the view of R. Eliezer only. but the Sages ruled: Students may go away to study Torah without the permission [of their wives even for] two or three years.10

Raba stated: The Rabbis11  relied on R. Adda b. Ahabah12  and act accordingly at the risk of [losing] their lives.13  Thus R. Rehumi who was frequenting [the school] of Raba at Mahuza14  used to return home on the Eve of every Day of Atonement. On one occasion15  he was so attracted by his subject [that he forgot to return home]. His wife was expecting [him every moment, saying.] 'He is coming soon,16  he is coming soon'16  As he did not arrive she became so depressed that tears began to flow from her eyes. He was [at that moment] sitting on a roof. The roof collapsed under him and he was killed.17

How often18  are scholars to perform their marital duties? — Rab Judah in the name of Samuel replied: Every Friday night.19

That bringeth forth its fruit in its season,20  Rab Judah, and some say R. Huna, or again. as others say. R. Nahman, stated: This [refers to the man] who performs his marital duty every Friday night.21

Judah22  the son of R. Hiyya and son-in-law of R. Jannai was always spending his time23  in the school house but every Sabbath eve24  he came home. Whenever he arrived the people saw25  a pillar of light moving before him. Once he was so attracted by his subject of study [that he forgot to return home]. Not Seeing26  that Sign. R. Jannai said to those [around him], 'Lower27  his bed,28  for had Judah been alive he would not have neglected the performance of his marital duties'. This [remark] was like an error that proceedeth from the ruler,29  for [in consequence] Judah's30  soul returned to its eternal rest.

Rabbi was engaged in the arrangements for the marriage of his son into the family of R. Hiyya,31  but when the kethubah32  was about to be written the bride passed away.33  'Is there, God forbid', said Rabbi, 'any taint [in the proposed union]?'34  An enquiry was instituted35  into [the genealogy of the two] families [and it was discovered that] Rabbi descended from Shephatiah36  the son of Abital37  while R. Hiyya descended from Shimei a brother of David.38

Later39  he40  was engaged in preparations for the marriage of his son into the family of R. Jose b. Zimra. It was agreed that he41  should spend twelve years at the academy.42  When the girl was led before him41  he said to them, 'Let it43  be six years'. When they made her pass before him [a second time] he said,'I would rather marry [her first] and then proceed [to the academy]'. He felt abashed44  before his father, but the latter said to him.'My son, you45  have the mind of your creator;46  for in Scripture it is written first, Thou bringest them in and plantest them47  and later it is written, And let them make Me a sanctuary. that I may dwell among them.48  [After the marriage] he departed and spent twelve years at the academy. By the time he returned his wife49  had lost the power of procreation. 'What shall we do?', said Rabbi. 'Should we order him to divorce her, it would be said: This poor soul waited in vain! Were he to marry another woman, it would be said: The latter is his wife and the other his mistress.' He prayed for mercy to be vouchsafed to her, and she recovered.

R. Hanania b. Hakinai was about to go away to the academy towards the conclusion of R. Simeon b. Yohai's wedding. 'Wait for me', the latter said to him, 'until I am able to join you'.50  He, however, did not wait for him but went away alone and spent twelve years at the academy. By the time he returned the streets of the town were altered and he was unable to find the way51  to his home. Going down to the river bank and sitting down there he heard a girl being addressed thus: 'Daughter of Hakinai, O, daughter of Hakinai, fill up your pitcher and let us go!' 'It is obvious',52  he thought, 'that the girl is ours', and he followed her. [When they reached the house] his wife was sitting and sifting flour. She53  lifted up her eyes and seeing him, was so overcome with joy54  that she fainted.55  'O, Lord of the universe', [the husband] prayed to Him, 'this poor soul; is this her reward?'56  And so he prayed for mercy to be vouchsafed to her and she revived.

R. Hama b. Bisa went away [from home and] spent twelve years at the house of study. When he returned he said, 'I will not act as did b. Hakina'.57  He therefore entered the [local] house of study and sent word to his house. Meanwhile his son, R. Oshaia58  entered, sat down before him and addressed to him a question on [one of the] subjects of study. [R. Hama]. seeing how well versed he was in his studies, became very depressed. 'Had I been here,'59  he said, 'l also could have had such a child'.- [When] he entered his house his son came in, whereupon [the father] rose before him, believing that he wished to ask him some [further] legal questions. 'What60  father', his wife chuckled,61  'stands up before a son!' Rami b. Hama applied to him [the following Scriptural text:] And a threefold cord is not quickly broken62  is a reference to R. Oshaia, son of R. Hania. son of Bisa.63

R. Akiba was a shepherd of Ben Kalba Sabua.64  The latter's daughter. seeing how modest and noble [the shepherd] was, said to him, 'Were I to be betrothed to you. would you go away to [study at] an academy?' 'Yes', he replied. She was then secretly betrothed to him and sent him away. When her father heard [what she had done] he drove her from his house and forbade her by a vow to have any benefit from his estate. [R. Akiba] departed. and spent twelve years at the academy. When he returned home he brought with him twelve thousand disciples. [While in his home town] he heard an old man saying to her, 'How long

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Even in respect of the other classes a vow may be made for the specified periods only.
  2. In the case of sailors. How could these be affected by an abstention of ONE WEEK or TWO WEEKS?
  3. Proverb (Yoma 18b. Yeb. 32b). The latter experiences the pangs of hunger much more than the former who can eat the bread should he decide to use it up. A sailor's wife may partially satisfy her desires by the hope that her husband may at any moment return. A vow extinguishes all her hope; and she must not, therefore, be allowed to suffer longer than the periods indicated.
  4. Var. 'Raba' (MS.S. and Asheri).
  5. I.e., may an ass-driver become a camel-driver without the permission of his wife, in view of the longer absence from home which the new occupation will involve.
  6. V. Glos.
  7. Proverb, (Sotah 20a, 21b). A woman prefers a poor living in the enjoyment of the company of her husband to a more luxurious one in his absence. She would, therefore, rather have her husband for a longer period at home, though as a result he would be earning less, than be deprived of his company for longer periods. though as a result he would be earning more.
  8. Var. lec. 'Mattena' (Alfasi).
  9. Var. Iec, 'Raba' (Asheri).
  10. And the halachah would be in agreement with the Sages who ate the majority.
  11. I.e., his (Raba's) contemporaries.
  12. According to whose statement the Sages permitted students to leave their homes for long periods (v. supra n. 3).
  13. I.e., they die before their time as a penalty for the neglect of their wives (v. Rashi).
  14. A town on the Tigris, noted for Its commerce and its large Jewish population.
  15. Lit., 'one day'.
  16. Lit., 'now',
  17. Lit., 'his soul rested', sc, came to its eternal test.
  18. Lit., 'when'.
  19. Lit., 'from the eve of Sabbath to the eve of Sabbath'.
  20. Ps. 1, 3.
  21. Cf. B.K. 82a.
  22. MS.M., 'R. Judah'.
  23. Lit., 'was going and sitting'.
  24. [H] 'twilight', sc, of the Sabbath eve.
  25. Read with MS.M., [H] Cur. edd., [H] … [H] (sing.) may refer to R. Jannai.
  26. Cf. supra p' 375' n. 18,
  27. Lit., 'bend', a mark of mourning for the dead,
  28. [H]
  29. Cf. Eccl, X, 5'
  30. So MS.M., reading [H].
  31. He was about to marry R. Hiyya's daughter (Rashi).
  32. V. Glos,
  33. Lit., 'the soul of the girl rested'. V. supra p' 375, n. 10.
  34. The unexpected death of the bride being due to providential intervention to prevent an undesirable union,
  35. Lit., 'they sat and looked in',
  36. David's son (II Sam, III, 4).
  37. One of David's wives (ibid.).
  38. As the latter was not a descendent of the anointed king's family it was not proper for his daughter to be united in marriage with one who was.
  39. Lit., 'he went'.
  40. Rabbi,
  41. Rabbi's son.
  42. The marriage to be celebrated at the end of this period.
  43. The period of study prior to the marriage.
  44. On account of his apparent fickleness,
  45. In being influenced by affection to shorten the courting interval and to hasten the marriage day.
  46. Who also hastened the day of His union with Israel,
  47. Ex, XV, 17, i.e., only after settlement in the promised land was the sanctuary (the symbol of the union between God and Israel) to be built.
  48. Ex. XXV, 8, i.e., while still in the wilderness. (V. p. 376, n. 22).
  49. Having been separated from him for more than ten years (Rashi, cf. Yeb. 34b).
  50. At the conclusion of the marriage festivities.
  51. Lit., 'did not know (how) to go'.
  52. Lit., 'infer from this'.
  53. Read with MS.M., [H] Cut. edd., [H] may be rendered 'he lifted up her eye' i.e., he attracted her attention. (v. Jast. s.v. [H]).
  54. Cf. supra p' 355, n. 12.
  55. Lit., 'her spirit fled'.
  56. For depriving herself of her husband so many years for the sake of the Torah.
  57. Who entered his house unexpectedly and thereby neatly caused the death of his wife.
  58. Who was unknown to his father.
  59. I.e., had he remained at home and attended to the education of his son.
  60. Lit., is 'there'.
  61. Lit., 'said'.
  62. Eccl. IV, is.
  63. Three generations of scholars all living at the same time, v. B.B. Sonc. ed. p. 237. n. 8.
  64. One of the three richest men of Jerusalem at the time of the Vespasian siege. V. Git. 56a.