Ketubot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Eleven

 

Introduction

The final mishnah of Ketubot deals with the important and moving problem of a couple, one of whom wants to make aliyah to Israel and one of whom does not.  The second subject with which this mishnah deals are cases in which a man married his wife in one place and divorced her in another.  The question is, with which coinage must he pay her ketubah.

 

Mishnah Eleven

1)                     Everyone may compel [their spouse]  to go up to the land of Israel, but none may compel [their spouse] to leave.

a)                                           Everyone may compel [their spouse]  to go up to Jerusalem, but none may compel [their spouse]  to leave. The same is true for both men and women and [slaves].  

2)                     If a man married a woman in the land of Israel and divorced her in the land of Israel, he must pay her [her ketubah] in the currency of the land of Israel.

a)                                           If he married a woman in the land of Israel and divorced her in Cappadocia he must pay her [her ketubah] in the currency of the land of Israel.  

b)                                          If he married a woman in Cappadocia and divorced her in the land of Israel, he must a gain pay [her ketubah] in the currency of the land of Israel.  

c)                                           Rabbi Shimon ben Gamaliel says that he must pay her [her ketubah] in the Cappadocian currency.

 

Explanation

Section one:  If one of the members of the household, either the husband or the wife, wishes to move from outside of the land to the land of Israel, s/he may compel the other to join.  As I stated before, “compelling” does not imply physical compulsion.  Rather what it implies is that if the other party does not agree to go, there is a financial penalty.  If the wife wants to go and the husband does not, the wife may receive her ketubah; if the husband wants to go and the wife does not, the husband may divorce his wife without paying her the ketubah.  The opposite is true with regard to staying in the land of Israel.  Anyone can financially compel the other to stay.

The same is true with regard to moving from outside of Jerusalem to Jerusalem.  Either party may force the other party to move up to Jerusalem, but neither may force the other to leave Jerusalem for other parts of Israel.

Some versions of the mishnah read that even a slave has this right.  However, even according to these versions, a slave only has the right to prevent a move, but does not have the right to force his master to move to Israel or to Jerusalem.

One may legitimately wonder whether these mishnayoth were issues of practice.  It seems to me more likely that this is the way that the rabbis express their values.  Rather than just stating that it aliyah is a mitzvah, or that it is at least an important value to move to Israel and to stay there, the rabbis express their values in concrete halakhah.  Values are important not just as values; they must also be manifested by our actions.  I realize that I am probably touching a nerve here.  Most people reading this do not live in Israel and yet probably feel that they do value the state of Israel.  The perennially asked question is “How can one be a Zionist and not live in Israel?”  I don’t have a particularly good answer for this tension, only that it is a choice that a person might make and with which s/he will have to live.  At least we should recognize that we do have a choice as to where we live.

Section two:  If a man marries and divorces in the land of Israel, he of course has to pay the ketubah using the coinage of the land of Israel.  The question arises if one of the actions occurs outside of the land.  If he marries her in the land of Israel, and divorces her in Cappadocia (the name of a land in Asia Minor), he must still pay the ketubah using the coinage of the land of Israel.  This is because the debt was incurred in the land of Israel.  If he marries her in Cappadocia and divorces her in Israel, there is a debate between Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel and the anonymous opinion.  According to the anonymous opinion, he must pay the ketubah using Israeli coinage; according to Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel he uses Cappadocian coinage.  The Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds debate the explanation of this mishnah.  According to the Babylonian Talmud, Cappadocian coins are worth more.  Therefore, the one who holds that in this case he pays with Cappadocian coins (Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel) holds that the ketubah is of toraitic origin and therefore must be paid with the higher coinage, which is also where the debt was incurred.  The one who holds that he pays with Israeli coins (the anyonymous opinion) holds that the ketubah is of rabbinic origin, and therefore he may pay with the lesser coins.  The Palestinian Talmud explains that Israeli coins are worth more; therefore Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel holds that the ketubah is only of rabbinic origin and the other opinion holds that it is toraitic.

All of the Sages agree that if he marries and divorces in Cappadocia, he pays the ketubah with Cappadocian coinage. 

 

Congratulations!  We have finished Ketubot. 

It is a tradition at this point to thank God for helping us to finish learning the tractate and to commit ourselves to going back and relearning it, so that we may not forget it and so that its lessons will stay with us for all of our lives. 

Tractate Ketubot is an especially important tractate since many of the principles in it are found in many other places in the Mishnah.  In fact, since the seventeenth century it has been called “Shas Katan/Talmud Katan”, the “Little Talmud” for it contains many of the most important talmudic principles.  Your having learned it is therefore even more impressive.  May you have the strength and time to keep on learning Mishnah!  Tomorrow we begin Nedarim. 

 

image_print