Ketubot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Seven

 

Introduction

This mishnah continues to discuss cases where a woman is divorced and does not receive her ketubah.  The cases in our mishnah are when a woman did not disclose to her husband things that he should have known before marrying her.

We should note here that the mishnah will talk about physical defects found on both the woman and the man.  I think we should note here that these mishnayoth discuss the matters on a very legal plane.  That is to say the mishnayoth ask whether or not these defects can form the grounds for divorce.  These mishnayoth can be read as not  implying that such flaws make a person “worth less”, but merely as a recognizing that there are those in society who, unfortunately, do think so

 

Mishnah Seven

1)                     If a man betrothed a woman on condition that she was under no vows and she was found to be under vows, she is not betrothed.

a)                                 If he married her without making any conditions and she was found to be under vows, she leaves without her ketubah.

2)                     [If a woman was betrothed] on condition that she has no bodily defects, and she was found to have defects, she is not betrothed.

a)                                 If he married her without making any conditions and she was found to have defects, she leaves without her ketubah.

b)                                 All defects which disqualify priests also disqualify women.

 

Explanation

Section one:  It can be assumed that a husband does not want his wife to be subject to vows that will prevent her from engaging in certain activities, such as eating meat or drinking wine.  Such vows would certainly disrupt the normal functioning of a marriage.  If he betroths her on the specific condition that she is not subject to any vows, and after betrothal it is found out that she is subject to vows, she is not betrothed.  Since the betrothal was made under false pretenses it is invalid and she does not need a get to remarry, nor does she receive her ketubah.  However, if he did not make such a condition, and then later finds out that she is subject to vows, the marriage is valid. Nevertheless, since she should have told him that she had vows, he may divorce her without paying her the ketubah.  In other words, the marriage was not exactly made under a false assumption and therefore she needs a get in order to remarry, but she still was dishonest with him and therefore she loses the ketubah. 

Section two:  The same rule concerning a woman subject to vows is also true with regard to a woman who has physical defects.  If he specifically stipulated that she not have any physical defects (assumedly ones that he could not detect when she was clothed), and she does, the betrothal is invalid.  If he did not make a stipulation, the betrothal is valid but he may divorce her without paying the ketubah. 

With regard to physical defects, it is essential for us to know what physical defects are significant enough that they invalidate the betrothal or allow the husband to divorce her without paying the ketubah.  The answer is that any defect that disqualifies a priest from serving at the altar (see Lev 21:17), also disqualifies a woman.  These defects are listed in the seventh chapter of tractate Bekhorot. 

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