Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Five



Mishnah five continues to discuss husbands who attempt to prevent their wives from doing certain things.


Mishnah Five

1)                     If a man forbade his wife by vow from visiting a house of mourning or a house of feasting, he must divorce her and give her the ketubah, because he has closed [peoples doors] against her.

2)                     If he claims [that his vow] was due to some other cause he is permitted [to forbid her]. If he said to her: “[There shall be no prohibition] provided you tell so-and-so what you have told me” or “what I have told you” or “that you will fill and pour out in the garbage”, he must divorce her and give her the ketubah.



Section one:  A husband cannot prohibit his wife from paying a condolence call to a house of mourning or from celebrating at a wedding.  The mishnah reasons that he cannot do so for by preventing her from participating in others’ sorrows or joy, they will in return not visit her when she is mourning or celebrating one of her children’s weddings.  However, if he claims that his vow had a “cause”, which in the mishnah usually is a euphemism for sexual licentiousness, he may prohibit her from going.  In other words, if he fears that there will be illicit goings-on at the house of mourning, or more likely at the house of feasting, he may prohibit her from going there.

Section two:  A husband cannot use a vow to force his wife to engage in behavior that will embarrass her.  He cannot force her to tell others secret things that he has told her or that she has told him.  The last phrase of this mishnah “fill and pour out in the garbage” is interpreted in two ways in the Talmud.  One interpretation is that it literally means that she should fill up jugs with water and then pour the water out into the garbage, an act that others will (rightfully) interpret as crazy.  Alternatively, it may be a euphemism for “spilling seed” (the man’s interrupting his intercourse with her).  A husband cannot force his wife to allow him to engage in such an act.  If he does so, she may demand a divorce and receive her ketubah.