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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 96a

— Come and hear what1  R. Zera stated in the name of Samuel:2  'The find of a widow belongs to herself'. Now if you grant that what we learnt was, one who is maintained' [this ruling is] quite justified,3  but if you insist that what we learnt was 'is to be maintained'4  [why,5  it might be objected, should they not] have the same rights as a husband, and just as in the latter case6  a wife's find belongs to her husband, so it, the former case7  also the find of the woman8  should belong to the heirs?9  — I may still insist that what we have learnt10  was 'is to be maintained'; for the reason why11  the Rabbis have ordained that the find of a wife belonged to her husband is in order that he shall bear no grudge12  against her, but as regards these13  let them bear the grudge.14

R. Jose b. Hanina ruled: All manner of work which a wife must render to her husband15  a widow must render to the orphans, with the exception of serving one's drinks,16  making ready one's bed and washing one's face, hands or feet.17

R. Joshua b. Levi ruled: All manner of service that a slave must render to his master a student must render to his teacher, except that of taking off his18  shoe.19  Raba explained: This ruling20  applies only to a place where he21  is not known, but where he is known there can be no objection.22  R. Ashi said: Even where he21  is not known the ruling20  applies only where he does not put on tefillin23  but where he puts on tefillin, he may well perform such a service.22

R. Hiyya b. Abba stated in the name of R. Johanan. A man who deprives his student of [the privilege of] attending on him acts as if he had deprived him of [an act of] kindness, for it is said in Scripture, To him that deprives24  his friend25  of kindness.26  R. Nahman b. Isaac said: He also deprives27  him of the fear of heaven, for it is said in Scripture, And he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.28

R. Eleazar ruled: If a widow29  seized movables [to provide] for her maintenance, her act is30  valid.31  So it was also taught: If a widow seized movables [to provide] for her maintenance, her act is30  valid.31  And so R. Dimi, when he came,32  related: It once happened that the daughter-in-law of R. Shabbethai seized33  a saddle bag34  that was full of money,35  and the Sages had no power to take it out of her possession.

Rabina ruled: This36  applies only to maintenance but [movables seized] in payment of a kethubah may be taken away from her. Mar son of R. Ashi demurred: Wherein [is the case of seizure] for a kethubah different [from the other]? Is it because [the former may be distrained for] on landed property and not on movables, may not maintenance also, [it may be objected, be distrained] on landed property and not on movables? The fact, however, is that as in respect of maintenance seizure30  is valid,31  so it is also valid in respect of a kethubah.

Said R. Isaac b. Naphtali to Rabina: Thus, in agreement with your view, it has also been stated in the name of Raba. R. Johanan stated in the name of R. Jose b. Zimra: A widow who allowed two or three years to pass37  before38  she claimed maintenance loses her maintenance. Now [that it has been said that] she loses [her maintenance after] two years, was it necessary [to mention also] three? — This is no difficulty; the lesser number39  refers to a poor woman while the bigger one39  refers to a rich woman;40  or else: The former39  refers to a bold woman and the latter39  to a modest woman.41  Raba ruled: This42  applies only to a retrospective claim,43  but in respect of the future she is entitled [to maintenance].

R. Johanan enquired: If the orphans plead, 'We have already paid44  [the cost of maintenance45  in advance]', and she retorts, 'I did not receive it', who must produce the proof?

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. So MS.M. reading [H] Cur. edd. omit the daleth.
  2. Alfasi and Asheri omitting. 'R. Zera stated' read 'Samuel stated'.
  3. Our Mishnah representing the view of the men of Judaea, Samuel's ruling might be applied to a widow who (v. supra note 7) was not maintained by the orphans.
  4. In agreement with the men of Galilee who allow' the orphans no alternative.
  5. In view of the fact that they must always maintain the widow as a husband must always maintain his wife.
  6. Lit., 'husband'.
  7. Lit., 'here', Sc. the case referred to by Samuel.
  8. I.e., the widow.
  9. As Samuel, however, ruled that it belongs to herself it must be concluded that the reading in our Mishnah is, 'one who is maintained'.
  10. In our Mishnah.
  11. Lit., 'what',
  12. [H] 'enmity'.
  13. The orphans who are legally bound to maintain her.
  14. It is only the handiwork of the widow that belongs to the orphans, in return for the maintenance she receives from them, as the handiwork of a wife, for a similar reason, belongs 10 her husband.
  15. V. supra 59b.
  16. Lit., 'mixing (the drink in his) cup'. Rt. [H] to mix with water (to weaken its strength) or spices.
  17. These are intimate services to which a husband only is entitled.
  18. Lit., 'loosening', 'undoing'.
  19. Only a Canaanite slave performs this menial service, and a student performing it might be mistaken for such a slave,
  20. That a student should not assist his teacher in taking off his shoes.
  21. The student.
  22. Lit., 'we have nothing against it'.
  23. V. Glos. As slaves also do not wear tefillin (v Git. 40a), his status might well be mistaken.
  24. [H], rt. [H] 'to melt'.
  25. Sc. the student one teaches.
  26. Job VI, 14. The previous verse speaks of help which is homiletically applied to that of the student to his teacher. R.V. renders v. 14. To him that is ready to faint kindness should be shewed from his friend. 'Should be shewed' is changed by A.J.V. to 'is due'.
  27. Lit., 'breaks off'.
  28. Job VI, 14; E.V., Even to him that forsaketh etc. [Personal attendance on scholars constitutes in itself a good education in righteous conduct and fear of the Almighty, v. Bet. 7b.
  29. Whose maintenance may be distrained for on landed property only (v. supra 69b).
  30. Ex post facto.
  31. Lit., what she seized she seized'.
  32. From Palestine to Babylon.
  33. From the estate of her deceased husband.
  34. [H] Gr. [G], a bag made up of two pouches.
  35. For her maintenance.
  36. That the seizure of movables by a widow is ex post facto valid.
  37. Lit., 'who delayed'.
  38. Lit., 'and not'.
  39. Lit., 'here'.
  40. Who is able to live for a considerable time on her own means. Such a woman cannot be assumed to have surrendered her right to maintenance before a period of three years had elapsed.
  41. Who is too shy to litigate or to go to court. Cf. supra n. 2 second clause.
  42. The loss of maintenance.
  43. For the time that has passed.
  44. To the widow.
  45. For the ensuing year.

Kethuboth 96b

Is the estate [of the deceased man] in the presumptive possession of the orphans1  and consequently it is the widow who must produce the proof, or is the estate rather in the presumptive possession of the widow2  and the proof must be produced by the orphans? Come and hear what Levi taught: [In a dispute on the maintenance of] a widow, the orphans must produce the proof3  so long as she is unmarried,4  but if she was married5  the proof must be produced by her.6

R. Shimi b. Ashi said: [This point7  is a matter in dispute between] the following8  Tannaim: She9  may sell [portions of her deceased husband's estate] but should specify in writing,10  'These I have sold for maintenance,' and 'These I have sold for the kethubah' [as the case may be]; so R. Judah. R. Jose, however, ruled: She11  may sell [such portions] and need not specify the purpose12  in writing, for in this manner she gains an advantage.13  They14  thus apparently15  differ on the following point: R. Judah, who ruled that it is necessary to specify16  the purpose,17  holds that the [deceased man's] estate is in the presumptive possession of the orphans and that it is the widow who must produce the proof,18  whilst R. Jose, who ruled that it was not necessary to specify the purpose, upholds the view that the estate is in the presumptive possession of the widow and that it is the orphans who must produce the proof.19  Whence [is this20  made so obvious]? It is quite possible that all14  agree that the [deceased man's] estate is in the presumptive possession of his widow and that the orphans must produce the proof,21  but R. Judah22  is merely tendering good advice [by following which the widow] would prevent people from calling23  her a glutton.24  For were you not to admit this,25  could not the question26  raised by R. Johanan27  be answered from the Mishnah:28  She may sell [her deceased husband's estate] for her maintenance out of court but should enter [in the deed of sale,] 'I have sold these for maintenance'?29  Consequently30  It must be concluded31  that no deduction may be made from the Mishnah28  because therein only good advice was tendered;32  and so also here33  [it may similarly be submitted that R. Judah] was only tendering good advice.32  Or else: All34  may agree that the estate [of the deceased] is in the presumptive possession of the orphans, but R. Jose's reason35  is exactly the same as [that given by] Abaye the Elder who stated: To what may the ruling36  of R. Jose be compared? To [the instructions of] a dying man who said, 'Give two hundred zuz37  to So-and-so, my creditor,38  who may take them, if he wishes, in settlement of his debt or, if he prefers, he may take then, as a gift',

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Who are his legal heirs.
  2. To whom it is pledged in accordance with an enactment of the Rabbis.
  3. That they have paid her in advance.
  4. Since the estate is pledged to her (v. supra n. 9).
  5. And claims the cost of her maintenance for the time past.
  6. Having married she loses the security of her Former husband's estate.
  7. The question of the presumptive ownership of the deceased man's estate.
  8. Lit., 'as', 'like'.
  9. A widow.
  10. In the deeds of sale.
  11. A widow.
  12. Whether it was maintenance or kethubah.
  13. Lit., 'her power is beautiful', as will be explained anon.
  14. R. Judah and R. Jose.
  15. Lit., 'what not'?
  16. In the deeds of sale.
  17. Whether it was maintenance or kethubah.
  18. That she has not been paid the cost of maintenance. Hence it is to her advantage that the purpose of the sale should be specified. Should she fail to do so, the orphans, when she comes to claim her kethubah from them, might refuse payment on the ground that her sale had the purpose of recouping her for her kethubah. Her alternative plea, 'If so, pay me for my maintenance' could be met by the counter plea that they had already Paid for it in movables, a plea which, when coming from orphans, the court must accept.
  19. A specification of the purpose, therefore, would bring no advantage to her. Its omission, on the other hand, might well prove advantageous in the case where the deceased man's estate was completely consumed by the orphans and the widow had recourse to distraining on landed property which he sold during his lifetime. Submitting that her own sales had the purpose of providing for her maintenance she may legally distrain on such property which is pledged for her kethubah. Had she, however, specified that her sales had the purpose of recovering her kethubah she could no longer distrain on her husband's sold property which (v. Git. 48b) is not pledged for her maintenance.
  20. The conclusion of R. Shimi.
  21. That the widow had already received the allowance for her maintenance.
  22. In ruling that the widow should specify the purpose for which her sales are made.
  23. Lit., 'that they shall not call'.
  24. Were she to omit from the deed of sale the mention of her kethubah people might assume that all the proceeds of her sales were spent on her maintenance alone. As a reputed glutton her chances of a second marriage would be diminished (v. Rashi).
  25. Lit., 'say so', that R. Judah in his ruling is merely tendering advice.
  26. Lit., 'that'.
  27. 'Who must produce the proof' (supra 96a ad fin.).
  28. Infra 97b.
  29. Of course it could. The reason for the requirement of a specification of the purpose of the sale that underlies R. Judah's ruling in the Baraitha should obviously hold good for the similar ruling in the Mishnah. If the reason in the former is that the estate remains in the presumptive possession of the orphans, the same reason would apply to the latter. And since a Mishnah, unlike a Baraitha, must be known to all students, R. Johanan's question would easily have been answered.
  30. Since the question had to be solved from Levi's Baraitha.
  31. Lit., 'but'.
  32. But the presumptive possession of the estate is that of the widow.
  33. In the Baraitha.
  34. R. Judah and R. Jose.
  35. For the ruling that the purpose of the sale need not be specified in the deed.
  36. V. supra n. 8. [H] lit., 'simile'.
  37. V. Glos.
  38. Cf. B.B. 138b.