Thursday, 24 March 2016

Kiddushin 13: What do Women Want?

The rabbis want to understand how they can determine what women want.  The simple answer would be to ask women what they want.  However, if it is possible that a woman has entered into a contract (ie. betrothal) against her will, the entire community can be facing a problem.

One determination is whether or not a previous arrangement had been agreed upon.  If so, a woman's speech, silence, action or inaction could change its meaning.  For example, if a man steals what a woman is selling - a belt, let's say - and says he'll return it if she betroths him and she silently takes the belt back, are they betrothed?  She has simply taken back stolen property.  But if they had previously arranged for a betrothal, her silence and her action could represent acquiescence.  The rabbis also use the example of a man taking a sela from a woman's hand and claiming that they are betrothed based on this exchange of more than a peruta.

Rabbi Asi claimed that the sale of land also required the exchange of at least one peruta.  The rabbis discuss people who do not have knowledge of halacha and yet make halachic decisions.  Such people are spoken of in terrible terms, and are said to be worse than those of the generation of the flood.

Other rulings of Rav Asi are discussed, beginning with a very long discussion about women who bring burnt offerings following childbirth.  The rabbis discuss this offering in depth, noting past related arguments.  The discussion ends with a debate about one of the men in question; whether or not he is a yavam.  The rabbis note that both divorce and death should fully sever the bond between a husband and a wife.

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