Monday, 30 March 2015

Ketubot 57: Between Betrothal and the Chupah; Rules of Acquisition and Abrogation

If a ketubah is lost, it is as if the ketubah has been changed.  Until the couple creates a new ketubah, any sexual activity is considered to be the same as licentious sexual activity.  

When can a woman use words alone, and not a written contract, to forego a stipulation in a ketubah? The rabbis discuss this question, referring to a baraita that suggests that she is able to make changes "at the beginning" until "the end".  The beginning of what?  The rabbis agree that she can make changes from the beginning of the wedding ceremony.  The end of what?  Some rabbis believe that she can make changes until the end of the wedding ceremony, and others believe that she can make changes until the end of the act of intercourse.

A new Mishna teaches us that a woman is betrothed and then the couple waits to decide to be married.  Once they have decided to get married, both the chatan, groom, and the kalah, bride, are entitled to up to twelve months to prepare for their wedding and their life together.  If a woman has been divorced or widowed (but not after only betrothal - after the chupah), she is entitled to thirty days.  After that time, she is to be provided for by her chatan.   And if the woman is being married to a priest, she is not entitled to teruma as the halachot are more complex.

The Gemara begins by explaining how we know that a virgin is allowed to prepare for twelve months.  The rabbis pull verses that compare a day with a year and use that (and other interpretations) to compare this experience with the words from a verse in Leviticus that suggests that a "day" refers to a year.  Etc.

Minor girls experience special circumstances. A note teaches us that rabbinical law discourages such marriages, but they were allowed by Torah law and thus they were practiced likely in desperate times.  Minor girls are encouraged to choose their husbands for themselves, and they can renounce their marriages when they become young women.  The rabbis teach us that these girls or their fathers can delay the wedding if either believes that she is not 'ready' for marriage.

The rabbis argue about whether or not a minor girl who then reaches young adulthood should be given 30 days to prepare for marriage, or if she should be given longer. She is young and may change her mind.  The acknowledgement of the immaturity of a 12 year old girl is balanced against what the rabbis see as her obligation to marry.  

Further, the rabbis again discuss whether or not a chatan is permitted to nullify the vows of his betrothed.  If he is providing her sustenance, shouldn't he be permitted to annul her vows?  And if he is sustaining her while she is betrothed, where should she partake of the food and drink? She cannot partake at home in case she shares the teruma with siblings or family.  Thus the chatan finds a place for her to eat and drink while they are betrothed.

Our daf ends with concerns about a purchase made under false pretences.  The rabbis teach us that a betrothed young woman is given only thirty days to prepare for her wedding if she was betrothed as a minor.  But does that contract of betrothal actually ensure that she is sustained?  This brings the rabbis back to issues regarding purchases.  Can a contract be cancelled if a person - a slave, a maidservant or a betrothed woman, in this case - was sold to the kalah/buyer with a 'defect' that was missed? The rabbis decide that if the 'defect' affects his/her worth, the contract can be broken.  If the 'defect' does not affect his/her work, the contract is binding.

It makes one wonder what sort of inspections were done at the time of acquisition.  

No comments:

Post a Comment