Blog Yomi – Kesubos #85/Daf 88

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I swear, the Gemara we’re learning can be challenging at times. Well that is a gratuitous statement if you’ve ever heard one, isn’t it? Not only can all Gemara be challenging at times, but our focus isn’t on colloquial swearing. Rather, it is the more serious issue of a woman potentially having to swear in halachic terms to support her claims vis-a-vis her כְּתוּבָּה. We had five such circumstances in our Mishnah:

  1. הַפּוֹגֶמֶת בִּכְּתוּבָה – she “impairs” her כְּתוּבָּה by admitting it was paid in part, and is looking to claim the reminder of it.
  2. עֵד אֶחָד מְעִידָהּ שֶׁהִיא פְּרוּעָה – one witness testifies against her claim that full amount of the כְּתוּבָּה had not been paid to her yet.
  3. מִנְּכָסִים מְשׁוּעְבָּדִים – from property that the husband sold that was previously included in her כְּתוּבָּה, and which the wife now comes to the purchasers to collect.
  4. מִנִּכְסֵי יְתוֹמִים – from property the husband included in the כְּתוּבָּה that now falls to his heirs if he dies, and on which the deceased husband’s wife now comes to collect from his children.
  5. וְשֶׁלֹּא בְּפנָו – a “recalcitrant” husband who goes overseas and sends his wife a גֶט; she now comes to claim her כְּתוּבָּה without him being present.

With that brief review, we begin our Daf today on דף פ״ח עמוּד א:

מִנְּכָסִים מְשׁוּעְבָּדִים. תְּנַן הָתָם: וְכֵן הַיְּתוֹמִים לֹא יִפָּרְעוּ אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבוּעָה – The Mishnah teaches that if a woman comes to claim her marriage contract from liened property that had been sold to a third party, she must first take an oath. We learned in a Mishnah elsewhere (Shavuos 45a): And similarly (in a case where orphans come to collect from others) orphans can collect payment only by means of an oath. Ultimately the Gemara explains that the tangential case of orphans having to swear is when both the lender and the borrower died, and orphans are coming to collect on the loan from orphans: אָמַר רַב זְרִיקָא אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה, לֹא שָׁנוּ אֶלָּא שֶׁאָמְרוּ יְתוֹמִים: אָמַר לָנוּ אַבָּא ״לָוִיתִי וּפָרַעְתִּי״, אֲבָל אָמְרוּ: אָמַר לָנוּ אַבָּא ״לֹא לָוִיתִי אַף בִּשְׁבוּעָה״ — לֹא יִפָּרְעוּ

As Rashi notes: דכיון דאמר לא לוה מודה הוא שלא פרע והרי שטר מוכיח עליו שלוה – if the orphans claim that their father told them the loan never took place, they are admitting they didn’t pay the loan. Now that a document is being produced that proves there was a loan, the orphans are required to pay and an oath is not taken because it would carry no weight.

Let’s not take a deeper dive into the case where the husband isn’t present:

וְנִפְרַעַת שֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו, לֹא תִּפָּרַע אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבוּעָה. אָמַר רַב אַחָא שַׂר הַבִּירָה: מַעֲשֶׂה בָּא לִפְנֵי רַבִּי יִצְחָק בְּאַנְטוֹכְיָא, וְאָמַר: לֹא שָׁנוּ אֶלָּא לִכְתוּבַּת אִשָּׁה, מִשּׁוּם חִינָּא. אֲבָל בַּעַל חוֹב — לָא

The Mishnah teaches that one who comes to collect her כְּתוּבָּה when not in her husband’s presence can collect it only by means of an oath. רַב אַחָא שַׂר הַבִּירָה said: An incident came before רַבִּי יִצְחָק in אַנְטוֹכְיָא (Antioch), and he said: They taught this halacha only with regard to the wife’s כְּתוּבָּה; she may collect her כְּתוּבָּה in her husband’s absence, because the חַכָמִים wanted men to find favor in the eyes of women. In order to ensure that women would want to marry, the חַכָמִים instituted decrees with regard to a כְּתוּבָּה that are for the woman’s benefit. However, a creditor does not have the right to collect his debt even with an oath if the borrower is absent, in case he has already been paid.

As an aside, Steinsaltz notes that Antioch was the most important of the cities built by Selecuus I Nicator (whose son was Alexander the Great) in honor of his father, Antiochus, around the year 300 BCE. Antiochus became synonymous with monarchy, with iterations of that name given to 13 Seleucid monarchs who ruled Syria for the greater part of two and a half centuries (see here). The city was established in proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.

Ancient Map Showing Location of Antioch

Its location at the crossroads of major trade routes helped it become one of the largest cities in the ancient world. (Today the city is known as Antakya in southern Turkey, near the Syrian border.) From the time of its establishment under the Greeks, Antioch was an important center of Jewish life, and it remained so under Roman and Byzantine rule. It appears that its Jewish inhabitants were in close contact with the Jewish community in אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל and its רַבָּנִים.

The Gemara makes the point that just like the חַכָמִים wanted to safeguard the institution of marriage by preserving the rights of the wife through the כְּתוּבָּה in the husband’s absence, they also wanted to facilitate commerce by encouraging loans. Rules were therefore implemented to prevent the lender to evade payment by going overseas. Essentially this was a type of financial extradition to nab deadbeats.

Zooming along, the Gemara poses this question: רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר: כל זְמַן שֶׁתּוֹבַעַת כְּתוּבָּתָהּ וְכוּ׳. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אַהֵיָיא – R’ Shimon says: Whenever she claims her marriage contract, the heirs administer an oath to her. To which statement in the Mishnah is רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן referring? Rabbi Stern notes that the Gemara will entertain several possible answers, with the final one being that whether or not the husband writes any kind of waiver about swearing, Ima Miriam (who we discussed yesterday) said that when it comes to collecting from יְתוֹמִים, the wife has to swear.

There will be other attempted answers that the Gemara will refute. Another דִין that will be probed is whether or not the wife who is an אַפִּיטְרָפּוּס or gatekeeper of the husband’s property has to swear that she wasn’t skimming off the top. On this, רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן is not מַחְמִיר. In other words he is lenient about swearing only in the case where it doesn’t involve the wife collecting on her כְּתוּבָּה from the יְתוֹמִים.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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