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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth
R. Hisda stated in the name of Mar 'Ukba: The law is that whether [the dying man] said, 'Give' or 'give no more',3 his children are to he given all that they require. But have we not, however, an established principle that the halachah is in agreement with R. Meir who laid down that it is a religious obligation to carry out the instructions of a dying man? — This applies to other matters, but in this case [the father] is quite satisfied [that his children should be provided with all they need]; and in limiting their allowance,4 his object was5 to encourage them.6
We learned elsewhere: With regard to little children,7 their purchase is a valid purchase and their sale is a valid sale in the case of movable objects.8 Rafram explained: This has been taught in the case only where no guardian had been appointed,9 but where a guardian had been appointed neither their purchase nor their sale has any legal validity. Whence is this inferred? From the expression, THERE IS NO VALIDITY AT ALL IN THE ACT OF A MINOR. But might not the case where a trustee10 had been appointed be different?11 — If so,12 it should have been stated, 'IN THE CASE OF A MINOR, HOWEVER, a trustee must act in accordance with the conditions of his trust' what [then was the purpose of the expression,] THERE IS NO VALIDITY AT ALL IN THE ACT OF A MINOR? Hence it may be inferred [that the same law is applicable] in all cases.13
MISHNAH. IF A MAN FORBADE HIS WIFE BY VOW TO HAVE ANY BENEFIT FROM HIM HE MAY, [IF THE PROHIBITION IS TO LAST] NOT MORE14 THAN THIRTY DAYS, APPOINT A STEWARD,15 BUT IF FOR A LONGER PERIOD HE MUST DIVORCE HER16 AND GIVE HER THE KETHUBAH. R. JUDAH RULED: IF HE WAS AN ISRAELITE17 HE MAY KEEP HER [AS HIS WIFE IF THE PROHIBITION WAS FOR] ONE MONTH, BUT MUST DIVORCE HER AND GIVE HER THE KETHUBAH [IF IT WAS FOR] TWO MONTHS. IF HE WAS A PRIEST18 HE MAY KEEP HER [AS HIS WIFE, IF THE PROHIBITION WAS FOR] TWO MONTHS,19 BUT MUST DIVORCE HER AND GIVE HER THE KETHUBAH [IF IT WAS FOR] THREE.
IF A MAN FORBADE HIS WIFE BY VOW THAT SHE SHOULD NOT TASTE A CERTAIN FRUIT20 HE MUST DIVORCE HER AND GIVE HER THE KETHUBAH. R. JUDAH RULED: IF HE WAS AN ISRAELITE17 HE MAY KEEP HER [AS HIS WIFE, IF THE VOW WAS FOR] ONE DAY, [BUT IF FOR] TWO DAYS HE MUST DIVORCE HER AND GIVE HER THE KETHUBAH. IF, HOWEVER, HE WAS A PRIEST18 HE MAY KEEP HER [AS HIS WIFE, IF THE VOW WAS FOR] TWO DAYS [BUT IF FOR] THREE HE MUST DIVORCE HER AND GIVE HER THE KETHUBAH.
IF A MAN FORBADE HIS WIFE BY VOW THAT SHE SHOULD NOT MAKE USE OF A CERTAIN ADORNMENT21 HE MUST DIVORCE HER AND GIVE HER THE KETHUBAH. R. JOSE RULED: [THIS22 APPLIES] TO POOR WOMEN IF NO TIME LIMIT23 IS GIVEN, AND TO RICH WOMEN [IF THE TIME LIMIT23 IS] THIRTY DAYS.
GEMARA. Since, however, he24 is under an obligation to [maintain] her25 how can he forbid her by a vow [to have any benefit from him]? Has he then the power26 to cancel his obligation? Surely we have learned: [If a woman said to her husband] 'Konam, if I do aught for your mouth' he need not annul her vow;27 from which28 it is evident that, as she is under an obligation to him,29 she has no right to cancel her obligation,30 similarly here, since he is under an obligation to [maintain] her he should have no right to cancel his obligation!31 — [This,] however, [is the right explanation:] As he32 is entitled to say to her,33 'Deduct [the proceeds of] your handiwork for your maintenance'34
he [in making his vow] is regarded1 as having said to her, 'Deduct [the proceeds of] your handiwork for your maintenance'.
If, however, one is to adopt the ruling R. Huna gave in the name of Rab, for R. Huna stated in the name of Rab: A wife may say to her husband, 'I would neither be maintained by, nor work [for you]', why should there be no need to annul [her vow] when she said 'Konam, if I do aught for your mouth'? Let it rather be said that as she is entitled to say, 'I would neither be maintained by nor work [for you]' she [in making her vow] might be regarded1 as having said, 'I would neither be maintained by, nor work [for you]'?2 — [The fact,] however, [is that] the explanation is not that 'he is regarded'3 but that he actually said to her, 'Deduct your handiwork for your maintenance.' If so,4 what need has she of a steward?5 — [She needs one] where [the proceeds of her handiwork] do not suffice.6 If, [however, her handiwork] does not suffice,7 our original question arises again!8 R. Ashi replied: [This is a case] where [her handiwork] suffices for major requirements but does not suffice for minor requirements.
How is one to understand these 'minor requirements'? If the woman is in the habit of having them, they are, surely, a part of her regular requirements,9 and if she is not used to them10 what need has she for a steward?11 — [The law concerning a steward] is required only where she was used [to them] in her father's house but consented to dispense with them when with her husband.12 In such a case she can say to him, 'Hitherto, before you forbade me by a vow [to have any benefit from you], I was willing to put up with your [mode of living], but now that you have forbidden me [to enjoy any benefit from you] I am not able to put up [any longer] with your [mode of living]'. And wherein lies the difference [between a vow for more, and one for] NOT MORE THAN THIRTY DAYS? — [Within a period of] NOT MORE THAN THIRTY DAYS people would not become aware of it, and the matter would be no degradation to her; but after a longer period13 people would hear of it, and the matter would be degrading to her.
If you prefer I might reply: [His vow14 is valid] only if he vowed while she was merely betrothed to him.15 But has a betrothed woman, however, any claim to maintenance?16 — [Yes], if the time [for the celebration of the marriage] arrived and she was17 not married. For we have learned: If the respective periods expired18 and they were not married,19 they20 are entitled to maintenance21 out of the man's estate, and [if he is a priest] may also eat terumah.22 Wherein then lies the difference [between a vow for more, and one for] NOT MORE THAN THIRTY DAYS? — [During a period of] NOT MORE THAN THIRTY DAYS an agent23 performs his mission; for a longer period no agent performs his mission.
And if you prefer I might reply: [The husband's vow24 is valid] when he made it while she was betrothed to him and she was [afterwards] married.
But if she was married [afterwards] she must obviously have understood her position and accepted it!25 — [It is a case] where she pleaded, 'I thought I shall be able to bear it but now I cannot bear it'.
But granted that such a plea26 is properly admissible27 in respect of bodily defects;28 is it admissible, however, in respect of maintenance?29 — Clearly, then, we can only explain as we explained at first.
HE MAY, [IF THE PROHIBITION IS TO LAST] NOT MORE THAN THIRTY DAYS, APPOINT A STEWARD. Does not the steward, however, act on his30 behalf?31 — R. Huna replied: [Our Mishnah refers] to one who declared, 'Whoever will maintain [my wife] will not suffer any loss'.32 But, even if be spoke in such a manner, is not the steward acting on his behalf? Have we not learned: If a man who was thrown into a pit cried that whosoever should hear his voice should write a letter of divorce for his wife, [the hearers]33 may lawfully34 write, and deliver [it to his wife]?35 — How now! there36 the man said, 'should write';37 but did the man here38 say, 'should maintain'? All he said was, 'whoever will maintain'.39
But surely R. Ammi said: In [the case of] a fire [breaking] out on the Sabbath]40 permission was given to make the announcement 'Whosoever shall extinguish it will suffer no loss'.41 Now what does [the expression] 'In a fire'42 exclude? Does it not exclude a case of this kind?43 — No; [it was meant] to exclude other acts that are forbidden on the Sabbath.44
Rabbah raised an objection: If a man is forbidden by a vow to have any benefit from another man, and he has nothing to eat [the other] may go to a shopkeeper with whom he is familiar and say to him, 'So-and-so is forbidden by a vow to have any benefit from me, and I do not know what to do for him'. [The shopkeeper] may then give to the one and recover the cost from the other.45 Only such [a suggestion]46 is permitted but not that of 'whoever will maintain [my wife] will not suffer any loss'?47 — [The formula,] 'There is no question' is here implied:48 There is no question [that a man may announce,] 'whoever will maintain [my wife] will not suffer any loss', since he is speaking to no one in particular;49 but even in this case where, since he is familiar with him50 and goes and speaks to him directly, [it might have been thought that his mere suggestion is] the same as if he had expressly told him,50 'You go and give him',51 hence we were taught [that this also is permitted].
[To revert to] the main text.52 If a man is forbidden by a vow to have any benefit from another man, and he has nothing to eat, [the other] may go to a shopkeeper with whom he is familiar and say to him, 'So-and-so is forbidden by a vow to have any benefit from me, and I do not know what to do for him'. [The shopkeeper] may then give to the one and recover the cost from the other.53 If his54 house is to be built, his wall to be put up or his field to be harvested [the other] may go to labourers with whom he is familiar and say to them, 'So-and-so is forbidden by a vow to have any benefit from me, and I do not know what to do for him'. They may then work for him and recover55 their wages from the other. If they were going on the same journey and the one had with him nothing to eat, [the other]56 may give [some food] to a third57 person as a gift and the first may take it [from that person] and eat it.58 If no third person57 is available, he56 may put the food upon a stone or a wall, and say, 'Behold this is free59 for all who desire [to take it]', and the other60 may take it and eat it.61 R. Jose, however, forbids this.62 Raba said: What is R. Jose's reason? — [It is forbidden as] a preventive measure against
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