Ketubot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Five

 

Introduction

The first section of this mishnah deals with a woman who inherits slaves to old to work or trees that are too old to produce fruit.

The second part of the mishnah deals with the expenditures that the husband puts out in taking care of his wife’s property.

 

Mishnah Five

1)                     If she inherited old slaves or female slaves, they are to be sold, and land purchased with the proceeds, and the husband can enjoy the usufruct.

a)                                 Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel says:  she need not sell them, because they are the glory of her father’s house.

2)                     If she inherited old olive-trees or vines they must be sold, and land purchased with the proceeds, and the husband can enjoy the usufruct.

a)                                 Rabbi Judah says: she need not sell them, because they are the glory of her paternal house.

3)                     He who spent money in connection with his wife’s property, whether he spent much and consumed little, [or spent] little and consumed much, what he has spent he has spent, and what he has consumed he has consumed.

a)                                 If he spent but did not consume he may take an oath as to how much he has spent and receive compensation.

 

Explanation

Section one:  If a woman inherited old slaves who can no longer perform real work, the husband might want to sell them so that he will receive greater usufruct.  According to the first opinion in the mishnah, he has a right to sell these slaves and to use the proceeds to buy land.  In such a manner her property will also be preserved for the slaves would have soon died in any case.  However, one doubts whether the sale would be very profitable in any case.

Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel rules that the woman can demand that the slaves be kept, since they are a sign of her family’s ancestral wealth.  Although they cannot now perform a significant amount of work, their connection to the family and to the family’s honor gives the woman the right to retain them.

Section two:  This section teaches the same rule with regard to old vines and olive trees.  Again the husband would want to sell them to increase his usufruct.

Section three:  If a husband has expenditures in managing his wife’s property, he cannot recoup those expenditures from the wife’s property (meaning the principle).  However, this is only if he also consumes the usufruct.  If he does not, he may receive compensation by taking an oath as to how much he spent.  The Talmud teaches that he cannot recoup more than the gain in the value of the property.  In other words, if he dug a irrigation system that cost 100 zuz, and thereby raised the value of the field by 75 zuz, he only receives 75 zuz.  If he raised the value by 125 zuz, he receives 100, the amount of his expenditures.

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