Talmud Tips

For the week ending 7 May 2016 / 29 Nisan 5776

Kiddushin 58 - 64

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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A man who says to a friend, “Go out and marry a certain specific woman to me”, and then the friend goes out and marries her for himself — what he did is done (i.e., she is married to him), but he treated him in a treacherous manner.”

This first part of this statement is taught in the first mishna of the third chapter of our Tractate, while the end of the statement is taught in a Tosefta cited by the gemara. Tosefot questions why the Tana of the mishna found it necessary to teach that she is married to the second person. After all, he proposed to her for himself, and isn’t it obvious that she is marrying him?

Tosefot answers that the mishna must be speaking about a very specific case: the friend told the woman that he was sent by another man to effect the marriage between her and the other man, and while speaking with her he said to her the words we still say nowadays under the chupa when marrying, “Harei at mekudeshet li” — “Behold, you are married to me” — to which she agreed. (She understood that he meant “to himself”, because, if not, the result would not be that she is married to him.) Tosefot explains that without the Tana teaching us in the mishna that she is married to him, we might have thought that since he said “to me” after telling her that another person sent him to marry her to the first person, he actually meant “to me for the need of the person who sent me” — i.e., to fulfill the mission I was asked to do, and act as the other man’s agent and “extension” to effect marriage between her and the other man. If that’s what we would understand him to mean, she would not be married to the agent when she agrees. Therefore, it is necessary for the Tana to teach us not to think like this. Rather we should have no doubt, and we should clearly understand that when he says “to me” he means “to himself”, and thus the outcome is that she is married to him.

Another point to add is that the Tana of the Tosefta also states that the agent acted in a treacherous and unethical manner, a teaching which also appears to be obvious and unnecessary. The Rambam writes that this means that the agent is called a “rasha” (with the halachic ramifications of this status). I once heard from a great Rabbi in Jerusalem that the Tana is adding that the man whose trust he betrayed does not need to fulfill the mitzvah to “love your fellow person as yourself” with respect to the person who cheated him in this way.

  • Kiddushin 58b

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