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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth
At what age?1 — Raba in the name of R. Jeremiah b. Abba who had it from Rab replied: Three months. Samuel, however, said: Thirty days; while R. Isaac stated in the name of R. Johanan: Fifty days. R. Shimi b. Abaye stated: The halachah is in agreement with the statement of R. Isaac which was made in the name of R. Johanan. One can well understand [the respective views of] Rab and R. Johanan since they are guided by the child's keenness of perception.2 According to Samuel, however, is such [precocity]3 at all possible? — When Rami b. Ezekiel came4 he said, 'Pay no regard to those rules which my brother Judah laid down in the name of Samuel; for this said Samuel: As soon as [the child]5 knows her'.6
A [divorced woman] once came to Samuel [declaring her refusal to suckle her son]. 'Go', he said to R. Dimi b. Joseph, 'and test her case'.7 He went and placed her among a row of women and, taking hold of her child, carried him in front of them. When he came up to her [the child]8 looked at her face with joy,9 but she turned her eye away from him. 'Lift up your eyes'. he called to her, 'come, take away your son'. How does a blind child know [its mother]? R. Ashi said: By the smell and the taste.10
Our Rabbis taught: A child must be breast fed for11 twenty-four months. From that age onwards12 he is to be regarded as one who sucks an abominable thing; these are the words of R. Eliezer. R. Joshua said: [He may be breast fed] even for four or five years. If, however, he ceased13 after the twenty-four months and started again14 he is to be regarded as sucking an abominable thing.15
The Master said, 'From that age onwards he is to be regarded as one who sucks an abominable thing'. But I could point out a contradiction: As it might have been presumed that human16 milk is forbidden17 since such [prohibition may be deduced from the following] logical argument: If in the case of a beast18 in respect of which the law of contact19 has been relaxed20 [the use of] its milk has nevertheless been restricted,21 how much more should the use of his milk be restricted in the case of a human being in respect of whom the law of contact has been restricted;22 hence it was specifically stated, The camel because it23 cheweth the cud [… it is unclean unto you],24 only 'it' is unclean; human milk, however, is not unclean but clean. As it might also have been presumed that only [human] milk is excluded25 because [the use of milk] is not equally [forbidden] in all cases26 but that [human] blood is not excluded27 since [the prohibition of eating blood] is equally applicable in all cases,28 hence it was specifically stated, it,29 only 'it' is forbidden; human blood, however, is not forbidden but permitted.30 And [in connection with this teaching] R. Shesheth has stated: Even [a Rabbinical] ordinance of abstinence is not applicable to it!31 — This is no difficulty. The latter32 [refers to milk] that has left [the breast]33 whereas the former34 [refers to milk] which has not left [the breast]. [This law, however], is reversed in the case of blood,35 as it was taught: [Human] blood which [is found] upon a loaf of bread must be scraped off and [the bread] may only then be eaten; but that which is between the teeth36 may be sucked without any scruple.37
The Master stated, 'R. Joshua said: [He may be breast fed] even for four or five years'. But was it not taught that R. Joshua said: Even when [he carries] his bundle on his shoulders?38 — Both represent the same age.39 R. Joseph stated: The halachah is in agreement with R. Joshua.
It was taught: R. Marinus said, A man suffering from an attack on the chest40 may suck milk41 [from a beast] on the Sabbath.42 What is the reason? — Sucking is an act of unusual43 unloading44 against which, where pain45 is involved, no preventive measure has been enacted by the Rabbis. R. Joseph stated: The halachah is in agreement with R. Marinus.
It was taught: Nahum the Galatian46 stated, If rubbish47 was collected48 in a gutter49 it is permissible to crush it with one's foot quietly50 on the Sabbath, and one need have no scruples about the matter. What is the reason? — Such repair is carried out in an unusual manner51 against which, when loss is involved,52 the Rabbis enacted no preventive measure. R. Joseph stated: The halachah is in agreement with the ruling of Nahum the Galatian.
'If he ceased, however, after the twenty-four months and started again he is to be regarded as one who sucks an abominable thing'. And for how long?53 — R. Judah b. Habiba replied in the name of Samuel: For three days. Others read: R. Judah b. Habiba recited54 before Samuel: 'For three days'.
Our Rabbis taught: A nursing mother whose husband died within twenty-four months [of the birth of their child] shall neither be betrothed nor married again
until [the completion of the] twenty-four months;1 so R. Meir. R. Judah however, permits [remarriage] after eighteen months.2 Said R. Nathan3 b. Joseph: Those4 surely, are the very words of Beth Shammai and these5 are the very words of Beth Hillel; for Beth Shammai ruled: Twentyfour months,6 while Beth Hillel ruled: Eighteen months!6 R. Simeon b. Gamaliel replied, I will explain:7 According to the view8 [that a child must be breast fed for] twenty-four months9 [a nursing mother] is permitted to marry again after twenty-one months,10 and according to the view11 [that it is to be breast fed for] eighteen months12 she may marry again after fifteen months;13 because a [nursing mother's] milk deteriorates only three months after [her conception].14
Abaye's metayer once came to Abaye and asked him: Is it permissible to betroth [a nursing woman] fifteen months after [her child's birth]? — The other answered him: In the first place17 [whenever there is disagreement] between R. Meir and R. Judah the halachah is in agreement with the view of R. Judah;15 and, furthermore, [in a dispute between] Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel the halachah is in agreement with the view of Beth Hillel;18 and while 'Ulla said, 'The halachah is in agreement with R. Judah',15 Mar 'Ukba stated, 'R. Hanina permitted me to marry [a nursing woman] fifteen months after [the birth of her child]', how much more then [is there no need for you to wait the longer period] since you only intend betrothal. When he19 came to R. Joseph20 the latter told him, 'Both Rab and Samuel ruled that [a nursing woman] must wait twenty-four months exclusive of the day on which her child was born and exclusive of the day on which she is betrothed'.21 Thereupon he22 ran23 three parasangs24 after him, (some say, one parasang along sand mounds), but failed to overtake him.
Said Abaye: The statement made by the Rabbis that 'Even [a question about the permissibility of eating] an egg25 with kutha26 a man shall not27 decide28 in a district [which is under the jurisdiction] of his Master' was not due [to the view that this might] appear as an act of irreverence29 but to the reason that [a disciple] would have no success in dealing with the matter. For I have in fact learned the tradition of Rab and Samuel and yet I did not get the opportunity of applying it.30
Our Rabbis taught: [If a nursing mother] gave her child to a wet nurse or weaned him, or if he died, she is permitted to marry again forthwith.31 R. Papa and R. Huna son of R. Joshua intended to give a practical decision in accordance with this Baraitha, but an aged woman said to them, 'I have been in such a position32 and R. Nahman forbade me [to marry again].33 Surely, this could not have been so;34 for has not R. Nahman in fact permitted [such remarriage]35 in the Exilarch's family?36 — The family of the Exilarch was different [from ordinary people] because no nurse would break her agreement37 with them.38
Said R. Papi to them:39 Could you not have inferred it40 from the following? It has been taught: [A married woman] who was always anxious41 to spend her time42 at her paternal home,43 or who has some angry quarrel at her husband's home,44 or whose husband was in prison,44 or had gone to a country beyond the sea,45 or was old or infirm,44 or if she herself was barren, old,46 incapable of procreation or a minor,46 or if she miscarried after the death of her husband, or was in any other way incapacitated for propagation, must47 wait three months.48 These are the words of R. Meir. R. Jose,49 however, permits betrothal or marriage forthwith.50 And [in connection with this] R. Nahman stated in the name of Samuel: The halachah is in agreement with R. Meir in respect of his restrictive measures!51 — 'This', they52 answered him, 'did not occur to us'. The law is [that if the child] died [remarriage by his mother] is permitted [forthwith], but if she has weaned him [her remarriage] is53 forbidden. Mar son of R. Ashi ruled: Even if the child died [the remarriage of the mother] is forbidden, it being possible that she has killed it so as to be in a position54 to marry. It once actually happened that a mother strangled her child. This incident, however, is no proof.55 That woman56 was an imbecile, for it is not likely that [sane] women would strangle their children.
Our Rabbis taught: If a woman was given a child to suckle57 she must not suckle together with it either her own child or the child of any friend of hers. If she agreed to a small allowance for board she must nevertheless eat much.58 Whilst in charge of the child59 she must not eat things which are injurious for the milk. Now that you said [that she must] not [suckle] 'her own child' was there any need [to state] 'nor the child of any friend of hers'? — It might have been assumed that only her own child [must not be suckled] because owing to her affection for it she might supply it with more [than the other child] but that the child of a friend of hers [may well be suckled] because if she had no surplus [of milk] she would not have given any at all. Hence we were taught [that even the child of a friend must not be suckled].
'If she agreed to a small allowance for board she must nevertheless eat much'. Wherefrom? — R. Shesheth replied: From her own.60
'Whilst in charge of the child she must not eat things which are injurious'. What are these? — R. Kahana replied: For instance, cuscuta,61 lichen, small fishes and earth.62 Abaye said: Even pumpkins and quinces. R. Papa said: Even a palm's heart63 and unripe dates.64 R. Ashi said: Even kamak65 and fish-hash. Some of these cause the flow of the milk to stop while others cause the milk to become turbid.
A woman who couples in a mill will have epileptic children. One who couples on the ground will have children with long necks. [A woman] who treads66 on the blood67 of an ass will have scabby68 children. One who eats66 mustard will have intemperate children.69 One who eats66 cress will have blear-eyed children. One who eats66 fish brine70 will have children with blinking eyes.71 One who eats72 clay73 will have ugly children. One who drinks72 intoxicating liquor will have ungainly74 children. One who eats72 meat and drinks wine will have children
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