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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth
of a robust constitution. One who eats eggs will have children with big eyes. One who eats fish will have graceful children. One who eats parsley1 will have beautiful children. One who eats coriander will have stout2 children. One who eats ethrog3 will have fragrant children. The daughter of King Shapur, whose mother had eaten ethrog3 [while she was pregnant] with her, used to be presented before her father as his principal perfume.
R. Huna4 related: R. Huna b. Hinena tested us [with the following question:] If she5 says that she wishes to suckle her child and he6 says that she shall not suckle it her wish is to be granted,7 for she would be the sufferer.8 What, [however, is the law] where he says that she shall suckle the child and she says that she will not suckle it? Whenever this9 is not the practice in her family we, of course, comply with her wish; what, [however, is the law] where this is the practice in her family but not in his? Do we follow the practice of his family or that of hers? And we solved his problem from this: She10 rises with him11 but does not go down with him.12 What, said R. Huna, is the Scriptural proof?13 — For she is a man's wife,14 [she is to participate] in the rise of her husband but not in his descent. R. Eleazar said, [The proof is] from here: Because she15 was the mother of all living16 she was given [to her husband]17 to live but not to suffer pain.
IF SHE BROUGHT HIM ONE BONDWOMAN etc. Her other duties, however, she must obviously perform; [but why?] Let her say to him, 'I brought you a wife in my place'!18 — Because he might reply, 'That bondwoman works for me and for herself, who will work for you!'
[IF SHE BROUGHT] TWO BONDWOMEN, SHE NEED NOT EVEN COOK OR SUCKLE etc. Her other duties, however, she must obviously perform; [but why]? Let her say to him, 'I brought you another wife who will work for me and for her, while the first one [will work] for you and for herself!' — Because he might reply, 'Who will do the work for our guests19 and occasional visitors!'20
IF THREE, SHE NEED NEITHER MAKE READY HIS BED. Her other duties, however, she must perform; [but why]? Let her say to him, 'I brought you a third one21 to attend upon our guests and occasional visitors!' — Because he might reply, 'The more the number of the household the more the number of guests and occasional visitors'. If so,22 [the same plea could also be advanced] even [when the number of bondwomen was] four! — [In the case of] four bondwomen, since their number is considerable they assist one another.
R. Hana, or some say R. Samuel b. Nahmani, stated: [SHE BROUGHT] does not mean that she had actually brought; but: Wherever she is in a position to bring,23 even though she has not brought any. A Tanna taught: [A wife is entitled to the same privileges] whether she brought [a bondwoman] to him24 or whether she saved up for one out of her income.
IF FOUR, SHE MAY LOUNGE IN AN EASY CHAIR. R. Isaac b. Hanania25 stated in the name of R. Huna: Although it has been said, SHE MAY LOUNGE IN AN EASY CHAIR she should26 nevertheless fill27 for him his cup, make ready his bed and wash his face, hands and feet.28
R. Isaac b. Hanania29 further30 stated in the name of R. Huna: All kinds of work which a wife performs for her husband a menstruant also may perform for her husband, with the exception of filling31 his cup, making ready his bed and washing his face, hands and feet.32 As to 'the making ready of his bed' Raba explained that [the prohibition] applies only in his presence but [if it is done] in his absence it does not matter.33 With regard to 'the filling of his cup'. Samuel's wife made a change34 [by serving] him with her left hand. [The wife of] Abaye placed it35 on the edge36 of the wine cask. Raba's [wife placed it] at the head-side of his couch, and R. Papa's [wife put it] on his foot-stool.37
R. Isaac b. Hanania38 further39 stated: All [foodstuffs] may be held back from the waiter40 except meat and wine.41 Said R. Hisda: [This applies only to] fat meat and old wine. Raba said: Fat meat42 throughout the year but old wine only in the Tammuz43 season.44
R. Anan b. Tahlifa related: I was once standing in the presence of Samuel when they brought him a dish of mushrooms, and, had he not given me [some of it], I would have been exposed to danger.45 I, related R. Ashi, was once standing before R. Kahana when they brought him slices46 of turnips in vinegar, and had he not given me some, I would have been exposed to danger.
R. Papa said: Even a fragrant date [if not tasted may expose one to danger].45 This is the rule: Any foodstuff that has a strong flavour or an acrid taste [will expose a man to danger45 if he is not allowed to taste of it].
Both Abbuha47 b. Ihi and Minjamin b. Ihi [shewed consideration for their waiter] the one giving [him a portion] of every kind of dish48 while the other gave [him a portion]49 of one kind only.50 With the former Elijah51 conversed, with the latter he did not.
[It was related of] two pious men, and others say of R. Mari and R. Phinehas the sons of R. Hisda, that one of them52 gave [a share to his waiter]53 first54 while the other gave him last.55 With the one who gave [the waiter his share] first, Elijah56 conversed; with the one, however, who gave his waiter last, Elijah did not converse.57
turned pale in the face, took up with his finger [some food from the dish and] put it to his mouth. 'You have spoilt the King's meal' [the table-steward]1 cried. 'Why did you do such a thing?' he was asked [by the King's officers].1 'The man who prepared that dish',2 he3 replied, 'has rendered the King's food objectionable'. 'Why?' they asked him. 'I noticed', he replied, 'a piece of leprous swine4 flesh in it'. They examined [the dish] but did not find [such a thing]. Thereupon he took hold of his finger and put it on it,5 saying, 'Did you examine this part?' They examined it and found it [to be as R. Ashi had said]. 'Why did you rely upon a miracle?' the Rabbis asked him. 'I saw', he replied, 'the demon of leprosy hovering over him'.6
A Roman once said to a woman, 'Will you marry me?' — 'No,' she replied. Thereupon7 he brought some pomegranates, split them open and ate them in her presence. She kept on swallowing all the saliva8 that irritated her, but he did not give her [any of the fruit] until [her body] became swollen.9 Ultimately he said to her, 'If I cure you, will you marry me?' — 'Yes', she replied. Again7 he brought some pomegranates, split them and ate them in her presence. 'Spit out at once, and again and again',10 he said to her, all saliva that irritated you'. [She did so] until [the matter] issued forth from her body in the shape of a green palm-branch; and she recovered.
AND WORKING IN WOOL. Only IN WOOL but not in flax. Whose [view then is represented in] our Mishnah? — It is that of R. Judah. For it was taught: [Her husband] may not compel her to wait11 upon his father or upon his son, or to put straw before his beast;12 but he may compel her to put straw before his herd.13 R. Judah said: Nor may he compel her to work in flax because flax causes one's mouth to be sore14 and makes one's lips stiff.15 This refers, however, only to Roman flax.
R. ELIEZER SAID: EVEN IF SHE BROUGHT HIM A HUNDRED BONDWOMEN. R. Malkio stated in the name of R. Adda b. Ahabah: The halachah is in agreement with R. Eliezer. Said R. Hanina the son of R. Ika: [The rulings concerning] a spit,16 bondwomen17 and follicles18 [were laid down by] R. Malkio; [but those concerning] a forelock,19 wood-ash20 and cheese21 [were laid down by] R. Malkia. R. Papa, however, said: [If the statement is made on] a Mishnah or a Baraitha [the author is] R. Malkia [but if on] a reported statement22 [the author is] R. Malkio. And your mnemonic23 is, 'The Mishnah24 is queen'.25 What is the practical difference between them?26 — [The statement on] Bondwomen.27 R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAID etc. Is not this the same view as that of the first Tanna?28 — The practical difference between them [is the case of a woman] who plays with little cubs29 or [is addicted to] checkers.30
MISHNAH. IF A MAN FORBADE HIMSELF BY VOW TO HAVE INTERCOURSE WITH HIS WIFE31 BETH SHAMMAI RULED: [SHE MUST CONSENT TO THE DEPRIVATION FOR] TWO WEEKS;32 BETH HILLEL RULED: [ONLY FOR] ONE WEEK.32
STUDENTS MAY GO AWAY33 TO STUDY THE TORAH, WITHOUT THE PERMISSION [OF THEIR WIVES FOR A PERIOD OF] THIRTY DAYS; LABOURERS [ONLY FOR] ONE WEEK.
THE TIMES FOR CONJUGAL DUTY PRESCRIBED IN THE TORAH34 ARE: FOR MEN OF INDEPENDENCE,35 EVERY DAY; FOR LABOURERS, TWICE A WEEK; FOR ASS-DRIVERS,36 ONCE A WEEK; FOR CAMEL-DRIVERS,37 ONCE IN THIRTY DAYS; FOR SAILORS,38 ONCE IN SIX MONTHS. THESE ARE THE RULINGS OF R. ELIEZER.
GEMARA. What is the reason of Beth Shammai?39 — They derive their ruling from [the law relating to] a woman who bears a female child.40 And Beth Hillel? — They derive their ruling from [the law relating to] one who bears a male child.41 Why should not Beth Hillel also derive their ruling from [the law relating to] a woman who bears a female child?42 — If they had derived their ruling from [the law relating to] a woman who bears a child they should indeed have ruled thus, but [the fact is that] Beth Hillel derive their ruling from [the law of] the menstruant.43 On what principle do they44 differ? — One45 is of the opinion that the usual46 [is to be inferred] from the usual,47 and the other48 is of the opinion that what a husband has caused49 should be derived from that which he has caused.50
Rab stated: They44 differ only in the case of one who specified [the period of abstention] but where he did not specify the period it is the opinion of both that he must divorce her forthwith and give her the kethubah. Samuel, however, stated: Even where the period had not been specified the husband may delay [his divorce],51 since it might be possible for him to discover some reason52 for [the remission of] his vow.53 But surely, they54 once disputed this question; for have we not learned: If a man forbade his wife by vow to have any benefit from him he may, for thirty days, appoint a steward,55 but if for a longer period he must divorce her and give her the kethubah. And [in connection with this] Rab stated: This ruling applies only where he specified [the period] but where he did not specify it he must divorce her forthwith and give her the kethubah, while Samuel stated: Even where the period had not been specified the husband may also postpone [his divorce],51 since it might be possible for him, to discover some grounds52 for [the annulment of his vow]?56 — [Both disputes are] required. For if [their views] had been stated in the former57 only it might have been assumed that only in that case did Rab maintain his view, since [the appointment] of a steward is not possible but that in the second case58 where [the appointment] of a steward is possible he agrees with Samuel. And If the second case58 only had been stated it might have been assumed that only in that case did Samuel maintain his view59 but that in the former case60 he agrees with Rab. [Hence both statements were] necessary.
STUDENTS MAY GO AWAY TO STUDY etc. For how long [may they go away] with the permission [of their wives]? — For as long as they desire.
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