The Talmud rejects Rava’s proof. We do not need to read “if she married” as a second stage, but rather we can read it as connected to what immediately follows—“if she married a priest.”
Today’s daf continues to discuss whether betrothal through intercourse creates betrothal or full marriage. The source cited is a critical argument between two sages over whether a woman betrothed to a Kohen can eat terumah. This is a source I analyze in depth in a forthcoming book (Reconstructing the Talmud: Volume 2). I believe that the issue at hand is how strong Jewish, rabbinic-style betrothal is. If betrothal is “strong” then a woman betrothed to a priest may eat terumah, which is strictly reserved for members of the kohen’s family. A weaker form of betrothal might prohibit this and not allow her to eat terumah until she enters her home. For comparison’s sake, in our society betrothal is relatively weak. A couple who gets engage does not need a divorce to split up. They are not, as far as I know, considered a unit in the eyes of the law.
Evidently Yohanan b. Bag Bag wrote a letter from somewhere in Israel to R. Judah b. Batera who was residing in Netzivin (currently in Syria) complaining that the latter was allowing girls betrothed to priests to eat terumah. If we can read into this, we can see that R. Judah seems to espouse a strong form of betrothal, whereas Yohanan b. Bag Bag, an obscure sage, vehemently disagrees with such a notion. While rabbinic literature is full of disputes, it is quite rare for one sage to write a letter to another sage at such a great distance, with what clearly can be read as an attack.
R. Judah b. Batera argues that if a Caananite slave woman can eat terumah after being purchased by a Kohen, even though if the priest has intercourse with her it would not allow her to eat terumah, all the more so an Israelite girl betrothed to a priest through money should also be allowed to eat terumah. After all, intercourse with her would also allow her to eat terumah. The simple meaning of this is that it refers to intercourse as part of marriage. However, the Talmud will try to read this as proof that betrothal through intercourse is sufficient to cause marriage.
The Talmud clarifies that in order for Ben Batera’s argument to make sense both the intercourse and the giving of the money must have been the only act performed, not accompanied by huppah. After all, after entering the huppah all agree that she eats terumah.
The Talmud argues that according to Ben Batera intercourse as a means of betrothal creates a bond of marriage. That is why it is obvious to him that a woman eats terumah after intercourse with a Kohen. But if he held that intercourse only creates betrothal, then how could he be so sure that after betrothal through intercourse she eats terumah, but not after betrothal through money.
The argument based on this baraita will continue with tomorrow’s section....
We continue to discuss the baraita about whether a woman betrothed to a priest can eat terumah.
R. Nahman b. Yitzchak tweaks Ben Batera’s argument such that when he refers to intercourse, he refers to intercourse that follows huppah (in other words marriage) whereas when he refers to betrothal through money, he refers to kiddushin and not huppah. This allows him to hold that intercourse creates a bond of betrothal and not marriage. [Note that this is probably the simple reading of the source—when Ben Batera referred to intercourse, he was referring to the intercourse that typically follows huppah].
This is an explanation of the end of the baraita. If Ben Batera holds that a woman can eat terumah even before she enters the huppah, so then why don’t the sages allow her to do so? This was explained by Ulla earlier in Kiddushin—lest she come to feed terumah to her non-priestly family.
Now the Talmud explains why Ben Bag Bag would reject Ben Batera’s argument. A Canaanite slave acquired through money eats terumah as soon as she is acquired because there are no steps left to fully acquiring her. But a woman betrothed with money does not eat terumah because there is still a stage left to her full acquisition—she must enter his domain. Therefore, the kal vehomer argument does not hold.
The sugya continues to discuss the dispute between Ben Bag Bag, who believed that a woman betrothed to a priest should not eat terumah and Ben Batera who held that she can. In today’s sugya, Ravina transforms the argument from one over whether the Torah prohibits the betrothed girl from eating terumah to whether the rabbis prohibit it.
According to Ravina, all sages agree that from the Torah, an Israelite woman betrothed to a Kohen may eat terumah immediately. She need not wait for huppah. The issue is whether the rabbis prohibited it. Ben Bag Bag accuses Ben Batera of not being concerned about a “simpon” which is a way of annulling a sale or contract. If the husband can annul the betrothal then it would turn out that she was never betrothed to the Kohen. If she eats terumah before huppah and then the betrothal is annulled it, retroactively it would turn out that she ate terumah as an Israelite.
This is Ravina’s rewrite of Ben Batera’s argument. When a kohen acquires a Canaanite slave, the slave eats terumah immediately and we are not concerned that the sale will be annulled. So why shouldn’t the same be true about a girl betrothed to a Kohen? Ben Batera then admits that the sages do not allow a betrothed girl to eat terumah because of Ulla’s concern that she will feed terumah to her relatives.