Kiddushin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three

 

Introduction

This mishnah continues to teach that deception in matters of betrothal renders the betrothal invalid.

 

Mishnah Three

1)      “[Be betrothed to me] on condition that I am a priest,” and he is found to be a Levite, or “a Levite” and he is found to be a priest; “a natin,” and he is found to be a mamzer, or “a mamzer” and he is found to be a natin;

2)      “a townsman,” and he is found to be a villager, or “a villager” and he is found to be a townsman;

3)      “on condition that my house is near the bathhouse,” and it is found to be far, or “far” and it is found to be near;

4)      “on condition that I have a daughter or maidservant that braids hair” and he does not have, “or on condition that I do not have”, and he has;

5)      “on condition that I have no sons”, and he has, or “on condition that I have sons, and he does not have

6)      –in all these cases, even if she declares, “In my heart I would have agreed to be betrothed to him in any case,” she is not betrothed.

7)      Similarly if she deceives him.

 

Explanation

Sections 1-5:  As was the case in the previous mishnah, in all of these cases the man makes a false statement when betrothing the woman.  What is different in today’s mishnah is that in these cases it is not clear which is “better.”  For instance, yesterday it was clear that having a gold denar was better than a silver one.  However, here it is not clear whether the woman would rather be married to, for example a townsman, more than she would want to be married to a villager.  Even living near the bathhouse is not clearly an advantage, as the foot traffic there will be greater.  Since we cannot affirm which is necessarily better, in these cases Rabbi Shimon would agree that she is not betrothed.

Section one:  In the context of the mishnah, we have to understand that marrying a priest is not necessarily advantage.  Even though the priest receives terumah which would have been a substantial economic benefit, the woman may potentially prefer to be married to a Levite who receives tithes.    

Section four:  “Braids hair” might also be translated as “grown up.”  While this would change the meaning of the mishnah, in either case we have to interpret that it is not a clear advantage to either have or not have a daughter or maidservant that braids hair or is grown up.  Whether it is a benefit would depend if the woman prefers having some extra help over her privacy.   

Section five:  Having or not having sons may be connected to issues of inheritance or yibbum (levirate marriage).  She may want him to have sons (or children in general), so that if he dies she won’t have to undergo yibbum. She may not want him to have sons since those sons will share with her own sons in his inheritance.  Again, since we cannot affirm which is preferable, Rabbi Shimon would agree that she is not betrothed. 

Section six:  There is a general rule in laws of betrothal and other areas of halakhah—thoughts that a person keeps to himself or herself are not legally consequential.  Therefore, even if she thinks to herself that she would have agreed to be betrothed to him in any case, she is not betrothed.  Had she wanted to be betrothed in any case, she should have responded at the time of betrothal, “I agree to be betrothed to you whether you are a priest or a Levite” etc.

Section seven:  All of the above rules also apply if she deceives him.  For instance, if she says “I am a priest’s daughter” and she is a Levite’s daughter, she is not betrothed.   

 

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