Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah One

 

Introduction

The first six mishnayoth of chapter seven discuss vows that a husband might take to prohibit his wife from doing something.  If the husband takes such a vow and thereby deprives the woman of a right that she has, he must divorce her and pay her her ketubah.  However, he does not necessarily have to divorce her immediately.  Rather we give him a cooling off period, in the hopes that he will change his mind, and find someone to release him from his vow (we will learn about how vows are released in tractate Nedarim).

 

Mishnah One

1)                     If a man forbade his wife by vow to have any benefit from him, for thirty days, he may appoint a provider, but if for a longer period he must divorce her and give her the ketubah.

2)                     Rabbi Judah ruled: if he was an Israelite he may keep her [as his wife, if the vow was] for one month, but must divorce her and give her the ketubah [if it was for] two months.

a)                                 If he was a priest he may keep her [as his wife, if the vow was] for two months, but must divorce her and give her the ketubah [if it was for] three.

 

Explanation

Section one:  If a man takes a vow thereby forbidding anything he owns to his wife, he has broken one of the guarantees of the ketubah, namely that he must provide her with food and clothing.  Therefore he must divorce her.  The first opinion in the mishnah gives him thirty days to “cool off”.  After that time he must divorce her and give her her ketubah.  Furthermore, even during these thirty days he is not allowed to abrogate his duties to her.  Rather he must appoint someone to provide for her during this time period.   According to the Talmud, this “provider” is not a direct agent of the husband, for that would be as if he himself was providing for her, and he cannot due to his vow.  Therefore, the Talmud explains that the husband states, “Anyone who provides for my wife will not lose out”.  When someone else provides for her, the husband may pay him back and this is not consider an abrogation of the vow.

Section two:  According to Rabbi Judah, the husband is given a slightly longer period in which to “cool off” and have his vow released.  If he is an Israelite and he takes a vow that she should not benefit from his property for one month, he may provide for her with a “provider”.  However, if he takes a vow for two months, he must divorce her and give her her ketubah.  If he is a priest, if his vow is for two months he may provide for her with a provider, but if for three months he must divorce her.  The reason that Rabbi Judah gives more time to a priest is that a priest cannot remarry his own divorcee.  A regular Israelite can remarry his divorcee provided that she has not remarried someone else first. 

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