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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 82a

is it not possible [it might be retorted] that the statement represents the view of R. Nathan, since it was taught: R. Nathan stated, 'Whence is it deduced that if a man claims a maneh1  from another, and this one [claims a similar sum] from a third, the sum is to be collected from the last [named] and handed over to the first? From Scripture, which stated,2  And give unto him against whom he hath trespassed'?3  [This], however, [is the reason:]4  We find nowhere a Tanna who imposes two restrictions5  in the matter of a kethuboth;6  we only find agreement either with R. Meir or with R. Nathan.7  Raba remarked: If so, I can well understand8  what Abaye meant when I heard him say, 'This is not an authentic teaching' and [at the time] I did not understand what [his reason] was.

A sister-in-law at Matha Mehasia9  once fell to the lot of a man10  whose [younger] brother wanted to cause her to be forbidden to marry him11  by [forcing upon her] a letter of divorce.12  'What is it', [the eldest brother] said to him, 'that you have in your mind? If it is on account of the property13  [that you are troubled]14  will share the estate with you'. 'I am afraid', the other replied, 'that you will treat me as the Pumbedithan rogue [has treated his brother]'.15  'If you wish', the first said to him, 'take your half at once'.16  Said Mar son of R. Ashi: Although when R. Dimi came17  he stated in the name of R. Johanan, If a man said to another, 'Go and pull18  this cow, but it shall pass into your legal possession only after thirty days', he legally acquires it after thirty days,19  even if it stands at the time in the meadow,20  [in this case the younger brother cannot acquire possession of the promised share]; for there21  it was in his power [to transfer possession at once]22  but here23  it is not in his power [to transfer immediate possession]. But, surely, when Rabin came24  he stated in the name of R. Johanan25  that 'he does not acquire possession'!26  — This is no difficulty: One27  refers to a case where the seller said, 'Acquire possession28  from now';29  the other, where he did not say, 'Acquire from now'.

'Ulla was asked: What is the ruling where levirate marriage was consummated first and the division of the property30  took place afterwards?31  — The act32  is null and void33  [he replied]. What is the ruling [he was asked] if the division30  took place first and the levirate marriage afterwards?31 — The act32  [he replied] is null and void.33  R. Shesheth demurred: Now [that it has been said that where] levirate marriage took place first and the division30  afterwards the act32  is null and void, was it at all necessary [to ask the question where] the division took place first and the levirate marriage afterwards?34  — [The respective enquiries related to] two independent incidents that occurred [at different times].35

When Rabin came24  he stated in the name of Resh Lakish: Whether levirate marriage was consummated first and the division took place afterwards, or whether the division took place first and the levirate marriage afterwards, the act is null and void. And [in fact] the law is that the act is null and void.

THE SAGES, HOWEVER, RULED: WHAT IS STILL ATTACHED TO THE GROUND BELONGS TO HIM. But why? Is not all his36  landed estate37  a pledge and a guarantee for her kethubah? — Resh Lakish replied: Read, 'Belongs to her'.38

IF [THE LEVIR] MARRIED HER SHE IS REGARDED AS HIS WIFE. In what respect? — R. Jose the son of R. Hanina replied: By this is meant that her separation from him is effected by a letter of divorce39  and that he may marry her again.40  [You say,] 'Her separation from him is effected By a letter of divorce'; [but] is not this obvious? — It might have been assumed that since the All-Merciful said, And perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her,41  she42  is still subject to the original levirate obligations43  and a letter of divorce should not be enough unless [the separation had been effected] by halizah, hence we were taught [that only a letter of divorce is required].

[You say,] 'He may marry her again'; [but] is not this obvious?

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. V. Glos.
  2. Num. V, 7.
  3. Emphasis on the last five words which refer to the first, who is the person against whom the trespass had been committed, and not to the second who is merely an intermediary who, even if the debt had been repaid to him, would also have had to transfer it to the first. Similarly in the statement under discussion the debt which the deceased claims from the levir might well be regarded as a debt due to the widow who has a claim upon the deceased.
  4. Cf. supra p. 515, n. 10.
  5. That of R. Meir as well as that of R. Nathan.
  6. Which is only a Rabbinical institution.
  7. But not with both. Since the statement under discussion does impose both restrictions it must be considered spurious.
  8. Lit., 'that is'.
  9. A suburb of Sura. It was an important seat of learning in the days of Rab, and attained even greater fame in the first two decades of the fifth century under the guidance of R. Ashi.
  10. Cf. supra p. 523, n. 10.
  11. Cf. loc. cit. n. 11.
  12. Cf. supra p. 513, n. 12.
  13. Cf. p. 514, n. 1.
  14. Cf. loc. cit. n. 2.
  15. He did not keep the promise he made (supra Rib). Pumbeditha was notorious for its sharpers (cf. B.E. 46a, Hul. 127a).
  16. Though legal acquisition could not be effected until the consummation of the levirate marriage.
  17. From Palestine to Babylon.
  18. Pulling, meshikah (v. Glos.) is one of the forms of kinyan.
  19. From the moment he pulled it.
  20. Sc., not in the possession of the buyer.
  21. In the case of the cow,
  22. Hence he may legally transfer possession even after thirty days.
  23. In the case of the share of the younger brother. The elder brother cannot possibly convey possession of the deceased brother's estate before performing the levirate marriage, when it then passes into his possession. Hence also the invalidity of the kinyan.
  24. From Palestine to Babylon.
  25. In the case of the deferred acquisition of a cow, just cited.
  26. Which presents a contradiction between the two rulings attributed to R. Johanan.
  27. The first cited ruling.
  28. After the thirty days.
  29. I.e., retrospective possession which is valid.
  30. Between the levir who married the widow and any other of the brothers.
  31. Is the brother entitled to retain the property the levir has allotted to him?
  32. Sc. the division by which the levir deprives the widow whom he married of a security for her kethubah.
  33. And the property remains in the possession of the levir, the kethubah of the widow being secured on it.
  34. If the division is invalid in the first case, where the kinyan might be immediate, how much more so in the second case where the kinyan can only be retrospective.
  35. The second enquiry was addressed by those who did not hear of the first mentioned ruling.
  36. The deceased.
  37. Including whatever is attached to it.
  38. The Sages' dispute being limited to detached produce and money which, they maintain, as movables are not pledged to a kethubah.
  39. Not by halizah (v. Glos.) by which the bond between a levir and his sister-in-law is severed where no levirate marriage is consummated.
  40. Though prior to the levirate marriage a divorced sister-in-law is forbidden to marry any of the brothers.
  41. Deut. XXV, 5.
  42. Since the expression of levirate marriage (duty of a husband's brother) is specifically mentioned in addition to the expression of marriage (And take her to him to wife, ibid.).
  43. Even after the consummation of the levirate marriage.

Kethuboth 82b

— It might have been assumed that since he has already performed the commandment that the All-Merciful has imposed upon him she shall again resume towards him the prohibition of [marrying] a brother's wife,1  hence we were informed [that he may remarry her]. But might it not be suggested that the law is so2  indeed?3  — Scripture stated, And take her to him to wife,4  as soon as he has taken her she becomes his wife [in all respects].

SAVE THAT HER KETHUBAH REMAINS A CHARGE ON HER FIRST HUSBAND'S ESTATE. What is the reason?5  — A wife has been given6  to him from heaven.7  If, however, she is unable to obtain her kethubah from her first husband [provision was made by the Rabbis that] she receives it from the second8  in order that It may not be easy for bin, to divorce her.9

HE CANNOT SAY TO HER, BEHOLD YOUR KETHUBAH [etc.]'. What [need was there for stating] SO, TOO?10  — It might have been suggested [that the restriction mentioned applies only] in the former case11  because the levir does not insert [in her kethubah the clause] 'That which I possess and that which I will acquire',12  but that in the latter case, where he does insert [the pledge clause,] 'That which I possess and that which I will acquire',13  she relies upon this guarantee,14  hence we were told [that the ruling applies in both cases].

IF HE DIVORCED HER SHE IS ENTITLED ONLY TO HER KETHUBAH. Only15  IF HE DIVORCED HER [may he sell the property],16  but if he did not divorce her he may not. Thus we were informed in agreement with the ruling of R. Abba.17

IF HE SUBSEQUENTLY REMARRIED HER SHE IS [TO ENJOY THE SAME RIGHTS AS] ALL OTHER WIVES, AND IS ENTITLED ONLY TO HER KETHUBAH. IF HE SUBSEQUENTLY REMARRIED HER'! What does he thereby18  teach us? Have we not learned: If a man divorced his wife and then remarried her, his second marriage is contracted on the terms of her first kethubah?19  — It might have been assumed that the law applied only to his wife since it was he himself who wrote the kethubah; in the case of his sister-in-law, however, since it was not he20  who wrote the kethubah for her, it might well have been assumed that where he divorced, and then remarried her the kethubah must come from himself, hence we were taught [that in this case also she is entitled only to the first kethubah].

Rab Judah stated: At first they used to give merely a written undertaking21  in respect of [the kethubah of] a virgin for two hundred zuz22  and in respect of that of a widow for a maneh,22  and consequently23  they grew old and could not take any wives, when Simeon b. Shetah took the initiative24  and ordained that all the property of a husband is pledged for the kethubah of his wife. So it was also taught elsewhere: At first they used to give merely a written undertaking25  in respect of [the kethubah of] a virgin for two hundred zuz22  and in respect of that of a widow for a maneh,22  and consequently23  they grew old and could not take any wives. It was then ordained that the amount of the kethubah26  was to be deposited in the wife's father's house. At any time, however, when the husband was angry with her he used to tell her, 'Go to your kethubah'.27  It was ordained, therefore, that the amount of the kethubah26  was to be deposited in the house of her father-in-law.28  Wealthy women29  converted it into silver, or gold baskets, while poor women converted it into brass30  tubs. Still, whenever the husband had occasion to be angry with his wife he would say to her, 'Take your kethubah and go'.31  It was then that32  Simeon b. Shetah ordained that the husband must insert the pledging clause, 'All my property is mortgaged to your kethubah'.33

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Lev. XVIII, 16.
  2. That halizah is required and that he may not remarry her.
  3. Lit., 'thus also'.
  4. Deut. XXV, 5; where only the latter part of the verse, And perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her, would have been sufficient.
  5. I.e., why should not the levir, her present husband, assume responsibility for her kethubah.
  6. Lit., 'they caused him to acquire'.
  7. She was not chosen by him but was imposed upon him by the Divine law of the levirate marriage. He cannot, therefore, be expected to undertake any monetary obligations in respect of her kethubah.
  8. The levir who married her.
  9. Lit., 'that it may not be easy in his eyes to cause her to go out'.
  10. In the case of a wife. Is it not obvious that a husband's obligation towards a wife he himself has chosen cannot possibly be less than those he incurs in respect of a sister-in-law he married only in obedience to a commandment?
  11. The marriage of a sister-inlaw.
  12. 'Shall be pledged to the kethubah'. So that the woman, having her security limited to the levir's possessions that were inherited from her deceased husband, would naturally suspect that by 'putting her kethubah on the table' the levir intends to escape his full responsibility and desires to deprive her of the possibility of collecting her kethubah when the occasion arises. This, as might well be expected, would create animosity between husband and wife (cf. supra p. 513, n. 9).
  13. So that the kethubah is well secured.
  14. And no animosity would ensue despite his 'putting of the kethubah on the table'.
  15. Lit., 'yes'.
  16. Which he inherited from the deceased and which is in excess of the amount of the kethubah.
  17. Supra 81a, that unless the woman can be persuaded to consent to the sale of the property it may be sold only after she had been divorced.
  18. By specifying the law in the case of a sister-in-law whom the levir had married.
  19. I.e., she cannot claim a second kethubah, infra 89b; And this law one would expect to apply also to a sister-in-law. What need then was there to specify it in the case of the latter. (V. Supra n. 1)?
  20. But her first husband.
  21. Lit., 'they would write'. No clause pledging the husband's landed property being inserted in the kethubah.
  22. V. Glos.
  23. Women refusing to marry under such precarious conditions, (v. supra note 4).
  24. Lit., 'until he came'.
  25. V. supra note 4.
  26. Lit., 'it'.
  27. I.e., he could easily get rid of her since the amount of her kethubah was at hand and there was no need for him to make any efforts to find the money.
  28. Sc. husband.
  29. The amount of whose kethubah was high. In addition to the statutory sum the kethubah also contains additional obligations on the part of the husband corresponding to the amount the wife brought to him on marriage.
  30. So Tosaf. s.v. [H]. Cur. edd. 'urine'.
  31. Cf. supra p. 520, n. 10.
  32. V. l.c. n. 7.
  33. So MS.M. Cur. edd., 'to her kethubah'. [For a full discussion of this passage v. Epstein, L., op. cit. pp. 19ff.]