Ketubot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Three
The first section of this mishnah is a continuation of Rabbi Shimons statement from yesterdays mishnah. Rabbi Shimon limited the ability of a woman to sell her husbands estate without permission from a court.
The remainder of the mishnah discusses other situations where a woman might have to sell her husbands property in order to collect her ketubah or to provide maintenance for herself.
1) [A widow who] sold her ketubah or part of it; or pledged her ketubah or part of it; or gave it away to someone else or part of it, may not sell [her husbands property] in order to receive the remainder of her ketubah except with [the permission of] a court.
2) But the Sages say: she may sell [the land pledged for her kethubah] even in four or five installments. And [meanwhile] she may sell [of her husbands estate to provide] for her maintenance without [the permission of] the court, and she writes, I sold [the land to provide] for my maintenance.
3) A divorced woman must not sell [her husbands property] except with [the permission of] the court.
Section one: Rabbi Shimon holds that if in some way a woman has used up part of her ketubah, either by selling or giving it or part of it away, or by using it as collateral for a loan, she may not sell her husbands property in order to collect the remainder without the permission of a court. This is because Rabbi Shimon holds that a woman who has already sold, given away or pledged even part of her ketubah, no longer receives maintenance from her husbands estate and anyone who does not receive maintenance from her husbands estate cannot sell except with the permission of a court.
Section two: The Sages hold that a woman can sell her husbands property even in stages and that this does not cause her to lose her right to collect maintenance. If after she has sold part of the estate to collect her ketubah, she wants to sell part of the estate to provide maintenance for herself, she should write in the document that she sold this to collect maintenance. Then the proceeds of such a sale will not count as part of her ketubah. Note that this gives her a great deal of leeway; she can sell most of the ketubah and still receive maintenance money.
Section three: Although according to the Sages a widow may always sell her husbands property in order to collect her ketubah, and she never needs the permission of a court, the divorcee always needs the permission of a court. The reason why a widow does not have to appear before the court is that we assume that the husband would not have wanted his widow to have to do so, for it is somewhat embarrassing to have to go to court to get money to pay for basic needs. However, a man who divorces his wife does not care if she is embarrassed to go to court. Therefore, if she wishes to collect her ketubah, she needs the courts permission.