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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth
— Come and hear what1 R. Zera stated in the name of Samuel:2 'The find of a widow belongs to herself'. Now if you grant that what we learnt was, one who is maintained' [this ruling is] quite justified,3 but if you insist that what we learnt was 'is to be maintained'4 [why,5 it might be objected, should they not] have the same rights as a husband, and just as in the latter case6 a wife's find belongs to her husband, so it, the former case7 also the find of the woman8 should belong to the heirs?9 — I may still insist that what we have learnt10 was 'is to be maintained'; for the reason why11 the Rabbis have ordained that the find of a wife belonged to her husband is in order that he shall bear no grudge12 against her, but as regards these13 let them bear the grudge.14
R. Jose b. Hanina ruled: All manner of work which a wife must render to her husband15 a widow must render to the orphans, with the exception of serving one's drinks,16 making ready one's bed and washing one's face, hands or feet.17
R. Joshua b. Levi ruled: All manner of service that a slave must render to his master a student must render to his teacher, except that of taking off his18 shoe.19 Raba explained: This ruling20 applies only to a place where he21 is not known, but where he is known there can be no objection.22 R. Ashi said: Even where he21 is not known the ruling20 applies only where he does not put on tefillin23 but where he puts on tefillin, he may well perform such a service.22
R. Hiyya b. Abba stated in the name of R. Johanan. A man who deprives his student of [the privilege of] attending on him acts as if he had deprived him of [an act of] kindness, for it is said in Scripture, To him that deprives24 his friend25 of kindness.26 R. Nahman b. Isaac said: He also deprives27 him of the fear of heaven, for it is said in Scripture, And he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.28
R. Eleazar ruled: If a widow29 seized movables [to provide] for her maintenance, her act is30 valid.31 So it was also taught: If a widow seized movables [to provide] for her maintenance, her act is30 valid.31 And so R. Dimi, when he came,32 related: It once happened that the daughter-in-law of R. Shabbethai seized33 a saddle bag34 that was full of money,35 and the Sages had no power to take it out of her possession.
Rabina ruled: This36 applies only to maintenance but [movables seized] in payment of a kethubah may be taken away from her. Mar son of R. Ashi demurred: Wherein [is the case of seizure] for a kethubah different [from the other]? Is it because [the former may be distrained for] on landed property and not on movables, may not maintenance also, [it may be objected, be distrained] on landed property and not on movables? The fact, however, is that as in respect of maintenance seizure30 is valid,31 so it is also valid in respect of a kethubah.
Said R. Isaac b. Naphtali to Rabina: Thus, in agreement with your view, it has also been stated in the name of Raba. R. Johanan stated in the name of R. Jose b. Zimra: A widow who allowed two or three years to pass37 before38 she claimed maintenance loses her maintenance. Now [that it has been said that] she loses [her maintenance after] two years, was it necessary [to mention also] three? — This is no difficulty; the lesser number39 refers to a poor woman while the bigger one39 refers to a rich woman;40 or else: The former39 refers to a bold woman and the latter39 to a modest woman.41 Raba ruled: This42 applies only to a retrospective claim,43 but in respect of the future she is entitled [to maintenance].
Is the estate [of the deceased man] in the presumptive possession of the orphans1 and consequently it is the widow who must produce the proof, or is the estate rather in the presumptive possession of the widow2 and the proof must be produced by the orphans? Come and hear what Levi taught: [In a dispute on the maintenance of] a widow, the orphans must produce the proof3 so long as she is unmarried,4 but if she was married5 the proof must be produced by her.6
R. Shimi b. Ashi said: [This point7 is a matter in dispute between] the following8 Tannaim: She9 may sell [portions of her deceased husband's estate] but should specify in writing,10 'These I have sold for maintenance,' and 'These I have sold for the kethubah' [as the case may be]; so R. Judah. R. Jose, however, ruled: She11 may sell [such portions] and need not specify the purpose12 in writing, for in this manner she gains an advantage.13 They14 thus apparently15 differ on the following point: R. Judah, who ruled that it is necessary to specify16 the purpose,17 holds that the [deceased man's] estate is in the presumptive possession of the orphans and that it is the widow who must produce the proof,18 whilst R. Jose, who ruled that it was not necessary to specify the purpose, upholds the view that the estate is in the presumptive possession of the widow and that it is the orphans who must produce the proof.19 Whence [is this20 made so obvious]? It is quite possible that all14 agree that the [deceased man's] estate is in the presumptive possession of his widow and that the orphans must produce the proof,21 but R. Judah22 is merely tendering good advice [by following which the widow] would prevent people from calling23 her a glutton.24 For were you not to admit this,25 could not the question26 raised by R. Johanan27 be answered from the Mishnah:28 She may sell [her deceased husband's estate] for her maintenance out of court but should enter [in the deed of sale,] 'I have sold these for maintenance'?29 Consequently30 It must be concluded31 that no deduction may be made from the Mishnah28 because therein only good advice was tendered;32 and so also here33 [it may similarly be submitted that R. Judah] was only tendering good advice.32 Or else: All34 may agree that the estate [of the deceased] is in the presumptive possession of the orphans, but R. Jose's reason35 is exactly the same as [that given by] Abaye the Elder who stated: To what may the ruling36 of R. Jose be compared? To [the instructions of] a dying man who said, 'Give two hundred zuz37 to So-and-so, my creditor,38 who may take them, if he wishes, in settlement of his debt or, if he prefers, he may take then, as a gift',
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