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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin
in order [to render marriage] more attractive1 the Rabbis made a concession in her case. We are told [therefore that this is not so].
THEY [THE RABBIS] REFRAINED FROM IMPOSING AN OATH ON HER. What was the reason of this refusal? Shall we say it is to be found in the incident reported by R. Kahana, or, according to others by Rab Judah in the name of Rab, viz., that in a year of scarcity a certain man deposited a denar of gold with a widow, who put it in a jar of flour. Subsequently she baked the flour and gave [the loaf] to a poor man. In course of time the owner of the denar came and said to her, 'Give me back my denar, and she said to him: May death seize upon one of my sons2 if I have derived any benefit for myself from your denar, and not many days passed — so it was stated — before one of her sons died. When the Sages heard of the incident they remarked: If such is the fate of one who swears truly, what must be the fate of one who swears falsely! Why was she punished? Because she had derived advantage from the place of the denar.3 How then could the Sages speak of her as one who had sworn truly? — What they meant was, One who might be said to have sworn truly. If that is the reason [why the Rabbis refrained from imposing an oath], why only to a widow? Why not also to a divorced woman? Why has R. Zera said in the name of Samuel, 'This rule applies only to a widow, but to a divorced woman an oath is administered'? — There is a special reason in the case of a widow, because she finds a justification for herself [for swearing falsely] on account of the trouble she has taken on behalf of the orphans.4
Rab Judah stated in the name of R. Jeremiah b. Abba: Rab and Samuel were both agreed that this rule applied only to an oath imposed in the Beth din, but outside the Beth din an oath may be imposed on a widow.5 Is this so? Is it not a fact that Rab would not enforce payment of a kethubah [by orphans] to a widow?6 — This is a difficulty. This is the version given in Sura. In Nehardea the version is as follows, Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: This rule applies only to an oath imposed in the Beth din, but outside the Beth din an oath may be imposed on a widow. Rab, however, held that even outside the Beth din an oath may not be imposed on her. [This dictum of] Rab [is] in conformity with his expressed view, for Rab would not enforce payment of a kethubah to a widow. Why did he not make her take a vow7 and so let her recover? — In the time of Rab, vows were not treated lightly.
A certain woman appealed to R. Huna [to enforce payment of her kethubah]. He said to her, What can I do for you, seeing that Rab would not enforce payment of a kethubah to a widow? She said to him: Is not the only reason the fear that perhaps I have already received part of my kethubah? By the Lord of Hosts I swear that I have not received a penny from my kethubah. Said R. Huna: Rab would admit [that we enforce payment] where the widow takes the oath spontaneously.8
A certain woman appealed to Rabbah son of R. Huna [to enforce payment of her kethubah]. He said to her: What can I do for you seeing that Rab would not enforce payment of a kethubah and my father also would not enforce payment of a kethubah to a widow? She said to him: At least grant me maintenance. He replied: You are not entitled to maintenance either, since Rab Judah has said in the name of Samuel: If a woman claims her kethubah in the Beth din, she has no claim to maintenance.9 She said to him: Turn his seat upside down!10 He gives me [the worst of] both authorities.11 They turned his seat over12 and put it straight again, but even so he did not escape an illness. Rab Judah said to R. Jeremiah Bira'ah: impose a vow on her in the Beth din and administer an oath to her outside the Beth din, and see that the report reaches my ears, since I desire to make this a precedent.13
[The text above stated:] 'R. Zera said in the name of Samuel: This rule applies only to a widow, but to a divorced woman an oath is administered.' Cannot then a divorced woman recover her kethubah on [merely] taking a vow? Was not [a communication] sent from there14 saying that 'So-and-so the daughter of So-and-so received a Get from the hand of Aha b. Hedia who is also known as Ayah Mari and took a vow binding herself to abstain from all produce whatsoever if she should be found to have received of her kethubah anything besides a blanket, a book of the Psalms, a copy of Job and a copy of Proverbs much worn,
RABBAN GAMALIEL THE ELDER MADE A REGULATION THAT SHE SHOULD TAKE A VOW, etc. R. Huna said: This rule applies only if she is not married again, but if she is married, she cannot take the vow. What is the reason why she cannot take it if she is married? Because her husband may annul it.3 Even if she is not married, cannot the husband annul it when she marries again? — A husband cannot annul vows taken previously to his marriage with her.4 But is there not a possibility that she may apply to a Sage5 and obtain release from him? — R. Huna held that the particulars of the vow must be stated to the Sage.6 R. Nahman held that even after the [second] marriage [she may take the vow]. But if she is married there is no question that the husband can annul the vow? — The vow must be taken by her in the presence of a company.7
An objection [against R. Huna's ruling] was raised [from the following]: If she has married again, she may recover her kethubah provided she has taken a vow. Does not this mean 'if she takes a vow now'? — No; it means, if she has taken a vow before [the second] marriage. But has it not been taught: 'If she marries again, she can take a vow and recover her kethubah'? — There is a difference on this point between Tannaim, since there is an authority who holds that a vow which has been taken in the presence of a company can be annulled, and there is an authority who holds that it cannot be annulled.8
The question was raised in the Academy: Is it necessary to state the particulars of the vow [on seeking annulment] or is it not necessary? — R. Nahman said that it is not necessary, R. Papa said that it is necessary. R. Nahman said that it is not necessary, because if you say that it is, it may happen that the applicant will not state the case fully9 and the Sage will act on what he has been told.10 R. Papa said it is necessary, to prevent forbidden things being done.11
We have learnt:12 'If [a priest] marries a woman whom he should not,13 he is disqualified [from participating in the Temple service] until he vows to have no benefit [from his wife]:'14 and in this connection it was taught, he can take the vow and participate in the service and give the divorce when he descends.15 Now if you say that it is not necessary to state particulars of the vow, is there not a possibility that he may apply to a Sage and obtain release?16
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