Ketubot, Chapter Nine, Mishnah Five

 

Introduction

In mishnah one we learned that a husband can renounce his right to use his wife’s property.  After learning in mishnah four that a husband has a right to make his wife swear that she did not misuse his property, our mishnah teaches that a husband may renounce this right as well.  We can easily imagine a scenario in which a woman says that she will not agree to be a storekeeper for her husband if he is so distrusting of her that he will make her take an oath. Therefore, perhaps as a precondition to her doing certain work for him, she makes him renounce this right.

As in mishnah one, the rabbis minimally interpret each of these sayings.  In each case the court would assume that the husband renounced the minimal amount of rights that can be interpreted as being referred to in his statement.  For him to fully renounce his or his inheritors’ ability to make her swear an oath, he must be very explicit in his statement.

 

Mishnah Five

1)                     If he (the husband) wrote to her (his wife), “I have no claim upon you for either a vow   or an oath”, he cannot make her swear an oath.

a)                                 However, he may make her heirs and upon those who have done business with her swear an oath. 

2)                     [If he wrote,] “I have no claim upon you for either a vow or an oath nor upon your heirs nor upon those who have done business with you”, he may not impose an oath either upon her or upon her heirs or upon those who have done business with you.

a)                                 However his heirs may impose an oath upon her or upon her heirs or upon those who have done business with her.

3)                     [If he wrote] “Neither I nor my heirs nor those who have done business with me shall have any claim upon you or upon your heirs or upon those who have done business with you for either a vow or an oath”, neither he nor his heirs nor those who have done business with him may impose an oath either upon her or upon her heirs or upon those who have done business with her.

 

Explanation

Section one:  If he states that he will not make her take an oath, he may still make her inheritors or others who may have bought her ketubah or to whom she may have sold her ketubah take an oath or a vow.  The case of her inheritors or those who bought her ketubah can occur if he divorced his wife and then she died and these people wish to collect her ketubah.  The husband may make them swear that the woman did not give them any part of her ketubah that she had already collected, nor did she mention that she had already collected her ketubah, nor did they find among her papers documentation that she had received her ketubah.  If they can swear that all of this is true, then they may collect the woman’s ketubah.

Section two:  If the husband states that he will not make her swear, nor her inheritors nor those who had business with her, then he can’t make any of them swear.  However, his inheritors can make them swear.  In other words, if the husband dies, his inheritors can make the wife swear that she had not received her ketubah before she collects from them.  If the husband divorces his wife and then she dies and then the husband dies, his inheritors can make the wife’s inheritors or those who might have bought her ketubah swear the same oath we saw above.

Section three:  If the husband writes that even his inheritors or others who have had business with him will not be able to make his wife, her inheritors or those who have had business with her swear an oath, then none of the latter need take an oath.  

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