Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Kiddushin 12: The Value of a Peruta; Indecent Proposals

The first part of our daf focuses on the value of a peruta.  Is it just another word for a small denomination?  Or does it have a specific value?  Does its value change with place and time; inflation and deflation?  Might certain items be worth less than a peruta - a pile of rags, or one fig?  The rabbis argue about whether a peruta is worth a one eighth or one sixth of an Italian issar - or something else altogether.  They spend quite some time debating the value of different coinage.  

Another question is the valuation of a blue rock, for example, used for betrothal.  Might someone know the value of that stone?  And if we are wrong, and a woman is betrothed with an item that could be challenged in the future, we could have a significant problem on our hands.  Her marriage could be invalid and her children could be mamzerim.  This could lead to generations of difficulty; it could even lead to the dissolution of families.  

One interesting aside tells of the many behaviours that Rav would flog people for transgressing.  Although many of these are disputed, there is one agreed-upon impropriety.  A man should never betroth a woman through sexual intercourse.  This is because it is unseemly for witnesses to watch a couple seclude themselves and engage in intercourse.  One of the other, more contentious transgressions include betrothal without a speaking with a woman about the betrothal first.  It seems that although we learn that certain acts were halachically sound, they were considered to be societally inappropriate.  Rav cites 'licentiousness' as the reasoning for his rulings.  But how is it that the rabbis could make those judgements in only these limited cases?

Rav may have flogged husbands who rescinded gittin, bills of divorce, after they had been sent to their wives.  He also may have flogged sons-in-law who lived with their mothers-in-law due to possible licentiousness.  It is argued that this refers only to men who lived with their wives' families for long periods of time, or who were rumoured to be sexually involved with their mothers-in-law.

Finally, we learn that in some disputed cases, women were consulted as to whether or not they wished to be betrothed.  For example, if a man presented myrtle sticks for the purposes of betrothal and when questioned, stated that four dinars were wrapped within the bundle, the woman has a number of choices.  She could accept or reject the betrothal or she could stay silent.  Her silence was significant and was not considered to be acquiescence.  In such cases, the woman's opinion mattered.  If she wished to be betrothed, she was betrothed.  If not, she was not.

No comments:

Post a Comment