Ketubot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Twelve

 

Introduction

This mishnah discusses the right of the wife to remain in her husband’s home after his death and to be maintained by his estate.  The woman does not have this right once she has actually collected her ketubah money.  As we shall see in our mishnah, there were different customs as to whether or not the heirs could force her to take her ketubah and leave their father’s household.

 

Mishnah Twelve

1)                     If he did not write for her, “You shall live in my house and be maintained from my estate throughout the duration of your widowhood”, he is nevertheless liable, because [this clause] is a condition laid down by the court.

2)                     Thus did the men of Jerusalem write.

The men of Galilee wrote as did the men of Jerusalem.

The men of Judea used to write: “Until the heirs wish to pay you your ketubah”. Therefore if the heirs wish to, they may pay her her ketubah and dismiss her.

 

Explanation

Section one:  When a husband dies, his wife may remain in his house and continue to receive maintenance money from his estate.  This right is guaranteed, whether or not it is written in the ketubah.  The woman only loses this right when she claims her ketubah. 

Section two:  The men of Jerusalem and Galilee wrote as was described in section one.  However, the men of Judea “Until the heirs wish to pay you your ketubah” instead of “throughout the duration of your widowhood”.  This means that the heirs may also take the initiative. If they wish to pay her her ketubah and cease the maintenance payments, they may.  [She, of course, can also take the initiative and request her ketubah].  In contrast, according to the version written in section one, if the heirs wish to pay her the ketubah and stop maintenance payments, and she doesn’t agree, they may not do so.  Only she can make that decision.   

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