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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth
spread beneath his feet and the poor followed behind him and rolled them up!1 — If you wish I might reply: He did it for his own glorification — 2 And if you prefer I might reply: He did not act as he should have done,3 as people say, 'In accordance with the camel is the burden'.4
It was taught: R. Eleazar the son of R. Zadok said, 'May I [not] behold the consolation [of Zion] if I have not seen her5 picking barley grains among the horses' hoofs at Acco. [On seeing her plight] I applied to her this Scriptural text: If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock and feed thy kids;6 read not thy kids7 but thy 'bodies'.8
An objection was raised: '[Broken pieces of] gold are like vessels'.11 Does not this imply12 'like silver vessels' which wear out?13 — No, 'like gold vessels' which do not wear out. If so, [the expression] should have been 'like vessels [made] thereof'! And, furthermore, it was taught: [A bar of] gold is like vessels; gold denarii are like ready money.14 R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Where the usage is not to change them15 they are valued and are [to be entered in the kethubah] at the rate of their actual value.16 Now, to what is R. Simeon b. Gamaliel referring? If it be suggested [that he refers] to the final clause,17 the inference [it may be pointed out would be] that the first Tanna maintains his opinion18 even when the usage is not to change them, but, surely, [it may be objected] they can not be used as currency!19 It must consequently be assumed20 [that he21 referred] to the first clause and that it is this that was meant: [A bar of] gold is like vessels; and what [is meant by] vessels? silver vessels;22 and R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: It is like gold denarii where the usage is not to change them!23 — No;24 he21 may still refer to the final clause but [it is a case where] with difficulty they can be used as currency; and the principles on which they differ is this: One Master25 holds the view that since they can be used as currency we allow her the increase26 and the other Master21 is of the opinion that since they can be used as currency only with difficulty, she is not to have the increase.27
If you prefer I might reply: All the statement28 is that of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, but a clause therein is missing, and the proper reading is as follows: [A bar of] gold is like vessels,29 gold denarii are like ready money. This is the case only where it is the usage to change them,30 but where it is the usage not to change them31 they are to be valued and entered in the kethubah at the rate of their actual value; so R. Simeon b. Gamaliel for R. Simeon b. Gamaliel holds the view that where it is the usage not to change them they are to be valued and [entered in the kethubah] at the rate of their actual value. But [the difficulty] nevertheless [remains that the expression] should have been, 'like vessels [made] thereof'! — This is indeed a difficulty. And if you prefer I might reply: We are here28 dealing with a case of broken pieces of gold.32 R. Ashi said: [We deal here28 with] gold leaf.33 R. Jannai stated: The spices of Antioch34 are35 like ready money.36 R. Samuel b. Nahmani stated in the name of R. Johanan:37 A woman38 is entitled to seize Arabian camels in settlement of her kethubah.39
Raba stated: At first I said: A woman38 is entitled to seize money bags45 of Mahuza46 for her kethubah.42 What was [my] reason? Because [women] relied upon them.42 When I observed, however, that they47 took them and went out with them into the market48 and as soon as a plot of land came their way they purchased it with this money I formed the opinion that they rely49 only upon land.50
MISHNAH. IF A MAN GAVE HIS DAUGHTER IN MARRIAGE WITHOUT SPECIFYING ANY CONDITIONS, HE MUST GIVE HER NOT LESS THAN FIFTY ZUZ. IF THE [BRIDEGROOM] AGREED TO TAKE HER IN NAKED HE51 MAY NOT SAY, 'WHEN I HAVE TAKEN HER INTO MY HOUSE I SHALL CLOTHE HER WITH CLOTHES OF MY OWN', BUT HE MUST PROVIDE HER WITH CLOTHING WHILE SHE IS STILL IN HER FATHER'S HOUSE. SIMILARLY IF AN ORPHAN IS GIVEN IN MARRIAGE52 SHE MUST BE GIVEN NOT LESS THAN FIFTY ZUZ. IF [CHARITY] FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE53 SHE IS TO BE FITTED OUT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DIGNITY OF HER POSITION.
GEMARA. Abaye stated: By FIFTY ZUZ small coins54 [were meant]. Whence is this statement inferred? — From the statement in the final clause: IF [CHARITY] FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE SHE IS FITTED OUT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DIGNITY OF HER POSITION [concerning which], when it was asked, 'What was meant by FUNDS'.55 Rehaba explained: Charity funds.56 Now if we should imagine that by FIFTY ZUZ the actual57 [coins were meant], how much [it may be asked] ought we to give her even IF CHARITY FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE! Consequently it must be inferred that by FIFTY ZUZ small coins [were meant].
Our Rabbis taught: If an orphan boy and an orphan girl applied for maintenance,58 the girl orphan is to be maintained first and the boy orphan afterwards,59 because it is not unusual for a man to go begging60 but it is unusual for a woman to do so.61 If an orphan boy and an orphan girl
Our Rabbis taught: If an orphan applied for assistance to marry,3 a house must be rented for him, a bed must be prepared for him and [he must also be supplied with] all [household] objects [required for] his use, and then he is given a wife in marriage, for it is said in Scriptures, Sufficient for his need in that which he wanteth:4 'sufficient for his need', refers to the house; 'in that which wanteth', refers to a bed and a table; 'he'5 refers to a wife, for so it is said in Scripture, I will make him5 a help meet unto him.6
Our Rabbis taught: 'Sufficient for his need' [implies] you are commanded to maintain him, but you are not commanded to make him rich; 'in that which he wanteth' [includes] even a horse to ride upon and a slave to run before him. It was related about Hillel the Elder that he bought7 for a certain poor man who was of a good family a horse to ride upon and a slave to run before him. On one occasion he could not find a slave to run before him, so he himself ran before him for three miles.
Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that the people of Upper Galilee bought for a poor member of a good family of Sepphoris8 a pound of meat every day.9 'A pound of meat'! What is the greatness in this? — R. Huna replied: [It was] a pound of fowl's meat.10 And if you prefer I might say: [They purchased] ordinary meat for a pound11 [of money].12 R. Ashi replied: The place was13 a small village14 and everyday a beast had to be spoiled for his sake.15
A certain man once applied to16 R. Nehemiah [for maintenance]. 'What do your meals consist of', [the Rabbi] asked him. 'Of fat meat and old wine', the other replied — 'Will you consent [the Rabbi asked him] to live17 with me on lentils?' [The other consented,] lived with him on lentils and died. 'Alas', [the Rabbi] said, 'for this man whom Nehemiah has killed.' On the contrary, he should [have said] 'Alas for Nehemiah who killed this man'! — [The fact], however, [is that the man himself was to blame, for] he should not have cultivated his luxurious habits to such an extent.
A man once applied to18 Raba [for maintenance]. 'What do your meals consist of?' he asked him. 'Of fat chicken and old wine', the other replied. 'Did you not consider', [the Rabbi] asked him, 'the burden of the community?' 'Do I', the other replied, 'eat of theirs? I eat [the food] of the All-Merciful; for we learned: The eyes of all wait for Thee, and Thou givest them their food in due season,19 this, since it is not said, 'in their season' but 'in his20 season', teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, provides for every individual his food In accordance with his own habits'.21 Meanwhile there arrived Raba's sister, who had not seen him for thirteen years, and brought him a fat chicken and old wine. 'What a remarkable incident!'22 [Raba]23 exclaimed; [and then] he said to him, 'I apologize24 to you, come and eat'.
Our Rabbis taught: If a man has no means and does not wish to be maintained [out of the poor funds] he should be granted [the sum he requires] as a loan and then it can be presented to him as a gift; so R. Meir. The Sages, however, said: It is given to him as a gift and then it is granted to him as a loan. ('As a gift'? He, surely, refuses to25 take [gifts]! Raba replied: It is offered to him in the first instance26 as a gift.)
If he has the means but does not want to maintain himself, [at his own expense],27 he is given [what he needs] as a gift, and then he is made to repay it. (If 'he is made to repay it' he would, surely, not take again! — R. Papa replied: [Repayment is claimed] after his death.) R. Simeon said: If he has the means and does not want to maintain himself [at his own expense], no one need feel any concern about him. If he has no means and does not wish to be maintained [out of the poor funds] he is told, 'Bring a pledge and you will receive [a loan]' in order to raise thereby his [drooping] spirit.28
Our Rabbis taught: To lend29 refers to a man who has no means and is unwilling to receive his maintenance [from the poor funds] to whom [the allowance] must be given as a loan and then presented to him as a gift. Thou shalt lend him30 refers to a man who has the means and does not wish to maintain himself [at his own expense] to whom [the allowance] is given as a gift and repayment is claimed from his [estate] after his death, so R. Judah. The Sages, however, said: If he has the means and does not wish to maintain himself [at his own expense] no one need feel any concern about him. To what, however, is the text Thou shalt lend him31 to be applied? The Torah employs ordinary phraseology.32
Mar 'Ukba had a poor man in his neighbourhood into whose door-socket he used to throw four zuz every day. Once33 [the poor man] thought: 'I will go and see who does me this kindness'. On that day [it happened] that Mar 'Ukba was late at34 the house of study and his wife35 was coming home with him. As soon as [the poor man] saw them moving the door he went out after them, but they fled from him and ran into a furnace from which the fire had just been swept. Mar 'Ukba's feet were burning and his wife said to him: Raise your feet and put them on mine. As he was upset,36 she said to him, 'I am usually at home37 and my benefactions are direct'.38 And what [was the reason for] all that?39 — Because Mar Zutra b. Tobiah said in the name of Rab (others state: R. Huna40 b. Bizna said in the name of R. Simeon the Pious; and others again state: R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai): Better had a man thrown himself into a fiery furnace than publicly put his neighbour to shame. Whence do we derive this? From [the action of] Tamar; for it is written in Scripture, When she was brought forth,41 [she sent to her father-in-law].42
Mar 'Ukba had a poor man in his neighbourhood to whom he regularly sent four hundred zuz on the Eve of every Day of Atonement. On one occasion43 he sent them through his son who came back and said to him, 'He does not need [your help]'. 'What have you seen?' [his father] asked. 'I saw [the son replied] that they were spraying old wine before him'.44 'Is he so delicate?' [the father] said, and, doubling the amount, he sent it back to him.
When he45 was about to die46 he requested, 'Bring me my charity accounts'. Finding that seven thousand of Sijan47 [gold] denarii were entered therein he exclaimed, 'The provisions are scanty and the road is long', and he forthwith48 distributed half of his wealth. But how could he do such a thing?49 Has not R. Elai stated: It was ordained at Usha that if a man wishes to spend liberally he should not spend more than a filth?50 — This applies only during a man's lifetime, since he might thereby be impoverished51 but after death52 this does not matter.
R. Hanina had a poor man to whom he regularly sent four zuz on the Eve of every Sabbath. One day he sent that sum through his wile who came back and told him [that the man was in] no need of it. 'What [R. Hanina asked her] did you see?' [She replied:] I heard that he was asked, 'On what will you dine;
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