Ketubot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Two



The format of this mishnah is identical to yesterday’s mishnah.  The subject is whether or not a person who provided out of his own pocket for a woman whose husband went overseas without leaving her with maintenance can demand his money back from the husband.


Mishnah Two

1)                     If a man went to a country beyond the sea and someone came forward and financially supported his wife, Hanan says: he lost his money.  

2)                     The sons of the high priests differed from him and said: let him take an oath as to how much he spent and recover it.

3)                     Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas agreed with their ruling.

a)                                           Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai said: Hanan has spoken well [the man] put his money on the horn of a deer.



Section one:  According to Hanan, the person who financially supported the wife cannot recover his money, since there was no promise from the husband that he would repay him, nor was there any indication from the woman that she was receiving his help as a loan.  He helped her out of the goodness of his own heart, but this does not give him the right to recover his expenses.

Section two:  The sons of the high priests rule that the man can take an oath when the husband returns and recover what he spent.  This is probably because the husband neglected the basic responsibility for providing for his wife.  He should not, therefore, benefit from the other man’s generosity.  Furthermore, we might assume that the man did not provide for her as a gift but rather assumed that he would recover his money.

Section three:  Again, Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas agrees with the sons of the high priests.  Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai uses some colorful language to express his agreement with Hanan.  The provider has “put his money on the horn of a deer”.  Just as a deer will run away and be hard to catch, so too the provider has made his money hard to recover.