Ketubot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two



This mishnah discusses the waiting period between betrothal and marriage. 


Mishnah Two

1)                     A virgin is given twelve months from the [time her intended] husband claimed her, [in which] to prepare herself for marriage.  

a)                                 Just as [such a period] is given to the woman, so is it given to the man to prepare himself.  

b)                                 A widow is given thirty days.

2)                     If the time has come and they were not married they are entitled to receive maintenance from the man’s estate and [if he is a priest] they may eat terumah.

3)                     Rabbi Tarfon says: They give her [all of her food] in terumah.  

a)                                 Rabbi Akiva says: One half unconsecrated food and one half terumah.



Section one:  Betrothal may occur at an early age, but that doesn’t mean that marriage will necessarily occur any time close to the betrothal.  There are two steps described by our mishnah that occur before the marriage.  The first is that the husband tells the woman whom he betrothed that he wishes to marry her or the woman tells the man to whom she is betrothed that she wishes to get married. From that point on, if this is a first marriage, there can be up to a twelve month period in which the couple prepare for the wedding and the marriage.  This would include time to prepare for the wedding, and more importantly, time to prepare the new house and the things that will go into it.  She will use this time to prepare her jewelry and clothes for the wedding.  A widow is only given thirty days.  Since she has already been married she is more prepared for a second marriage.  Also, the second marriage was not as big of a celebration. 

Section two:  If the time to get married has come and passed, and the husband has not yet married his betrothed wife, he must begin to pay for her maintenance, meaning food, clothing and shelter.  Since he is feeding her, if he is a priest he may begin to give her terumah. 

Section three:  There is now a debate between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon over how much of a woman’s food a priestly husband may supply in terumah.  It is to the husband’s advantage to give her terumah since terumah is cheaper than regular, unconsecrated food since only priests may eat terumah (smaller market = lower price).  The woman will have a problem with terumah for when she menstruates and is impure she cannot eat it. 

According to Rabbi Tarfon, the husband can give all of his wife’s food in terumah.  If she needs to have unconsecrated food when she is impure, she can sell her terumah and buy other food.  Rabbi Akiva demands that he give her half of her food in unconsecrated food so that when she is impure she need not go to the trouble of selling the terumah.