The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 29 November 2008 / 2 Kislev 5769

Kiddushin 56 - 61

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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A Question of Value

If, for the purpose of kiddushin, a man gives a woman an item such as meat cooked in milk, from which it is forbidden to derive any benefit, the kiddushin is invalid. If he sells that forbidden item, however, and gives the woman the money derived from the sale, the kiddushin is valid.

An interesting question regarding this ruling of the mishna is raised by Mishneh Lamelech in his commentary on Rambam (Laws of Marriage 5:1). What if the woman is sick and requires the forbidden item to save her life, in which case she is allowed to derive benefit from it? Is kiddushin with a forbidden item invalid because the item has no value to the man, and it is therefore considered as if he gave her nothing; or, is it because such kiddushin taking effect will be considered as him deriving benefit from the forbidden item? If either of these is the reason, then the kiddushin will not be valid in a case where the seriously ill woman is allowed to derive benefit from the forbidden item. But perhaps the reason that kiddushin with a forbidden item is invalid is that the woman received nothing of value to her. If this is so, then in a case where her health condition allows her to benefit from the forbidden item, she has received something of value and the kiddushin is valid.

Rabbeinu Nissim (Ran), at the conclusion of the second perek of our mesechta, cites a statement by Rashi (Mesechta Chullin 4b) that the funds received from the sale of an item forbidden for benefit are only permissible for others, but not for the seller himself. According to this, Ran points out, the reason that our mishna rules valid a kiddushin made with funds derived from the sale of a forbidden item is that since the woman is permitted to benefit from those funds, it is considered as if she received something of value.

Mishneh Lamelech cites the above Rashi and Ran as sources for concluding that everything depends on whether the woman is receiving something of value to her and that in a case of an ill woman the kiddushin would be valid. In contrast, he cites the view of Ritva on this mishna that even if the woman receiving the forbidden item may eat it because her life is in danger, the kiddushin is not valid because the matter depends on whether it has value to the giver as well.

  • Kiddushin 56b

Marriage Made in Heaven

If a man appointed an agent to make kiddushin with a woman on his behalf and that agent went ahead and took her as a wife for himself, his kiddushin is valid.

A caveat is added by the gemara to this first mishna in the third perek of our mesechta: What he did is in fact valid, but he is guilty of dishonest behavior. This concept, adds the gemara, is actually hinted at in the superfluous term “went ahead” used by the mishna, which was intended to communicate that he pursued a perfidious course of action.

Such a charge of dishonesty was initially raised against the Sage Ravin Chassida who went to make kiddushin with a woman on behalf of his son, who had expressed an interest in marrying her, but ended up taking her as his own wife instead. His behavior, however, is explained by the gemara: The woman’s family did not consent to her marrying his son, only him. But why didn’t he inform his son of this before making kiddushin, in order to remove any suspicion of dishonesty? Because of the concern that during the interval her family might have a change of heart and marry her off to someone else.

Why should this sage have worried that he would lose this match, since we know that a Heavenly voice dictates who will be united in marriage (Mesechta Mo’ed Katan 18b and Mesechta Sotah 2a)? Ritva offers a solution to this problem based on the approaches of the gemara cited above. In Sotah, the gemara distinguishes between a first and a second marriage, restricting predestination to the first one. As a father, Ravin Chassida was obviously involved in a second marriage, so he could not rely on this woman’s being predestined for him.

In Mo’ed Katan, however, the gemara indicates that even in regard to a first marriage there is a possibility of prayer causing a change in the Heavenly decree. Ritva in Mo’ed Katan explains that the merit of prayer can actually enable a man to marry a woman who had been predestined for another. This is why kiddushin can be made even during the Intermediate Days of a Festival, even though weddings are forbidden then, and this is why Ravin was worried that he would lose his opportunity.

This approach is in the spirit of what Tosefot (Mesechta Shabbat 156a) writes, that even though such circumstances as children, life and prosperity are predestined (Mo’ed Katan 28a), a great merit is capable of effecting a change in the Heavenly decree.

  • Kiddushin 59a

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