The Talmud rejects the above notion, positing that like designation, deducting from the sale money must be possible for the sale to be invalid. “Designation” refers to the idea that the owner would marry the girl off to his son. If this is not possible, for instance the son is prohibited to her, then the sale is not valid.
I should reemphasize—by rabbinic times such institutions such as selling daughters into slavery did not exist. They are there in the Torah, and therefore rabbis interpret them, but they did not practice them in their real lives.
As stated above, Beth Shammai derives the laws of betrothal from the laws of the female slave. This is the conclusion of Resh Lakish’s statement.
Although a perutah cannot be used, why does the amount have to go all the way up to a dinar. Why not some amount in-between? The answer is that once a perutah was excluded, they went to the next highest coin.
This is the conclusion of the sugya about why Bet Shammai demands a dinar. Less than a dinar is simply too cheap. It’s treating Jewish women as if they were “hefker,” ownerless property that no one cares about.
While this is a more pleasant saying than comparing betrothal to slave acquisition, we should acknowledge that a dinar is still a very low amount of money.
Today’s sugya begins to discuss Bet Hillel’s opinion, that kiddushin can be performed with a perutah
R. Yosef thought that the perutah that Bet Hillel said was any small coin, no matter how small. But Abaye reminds him that the mishnah actually gives a minimum amount—according to the mishnah, the perutah must weigh an eighth of an Italian issar.
We might have thought that the absolute value of the issar is an antiquated number. According to this line of thought, a perutah is whatever people call it in their time the smallest coin. It would be of indeterminate size. Countering this, Abaye cites a dispute between several amoraim as to the weight of a perutah. Some say it is an eighth of an Italian issar, others say it is a sixth. But all hold that it must have some determined weight.
R. Yosef cites a source in response to Abaye. According to this source, there are more than 2000 perutot in a sela. Now a sela is 4 dinars, and each dinar is 24 issarim. So a dinar equals 192 perutot, and a sela is 768 and two selas is 1536 perutot.
Thus a perutah cannot weigh 1/6 or 1/8 of an issar.
An old man corrects the baraita so that there are close to two thousand perutot in two selas, not more. While 1536 is not exactly close to 2000, it has gone past 1500 so we can call it close to 2000. Thus R. Yosef is refuted and a perutah does have an official amount. Below we will explain the dispute over whether it is 1/6 or 1/8 of an issar.
Today’s section continues to deal with how much a perutah is worth.
Abaye tries to locate the dispute between R. Dimi and Ravin, two amoraim, in an earlier dispute between the first opinion in a baraita and the R. Shimon b. Gamaliel. The first opinion, as one can easily see, holds that a perutah is 1/8 of an Italian issar.
R. Shimon b. Gamliel mentions some different coins. The only ones he mentions in common with the first opinion are the perutah and the ma’ah. So the math is a bit trickier. I will put it in terms that might make this easier to see.
Perutah=1/2 shamin=1/4 hanetz=1/8 hadris=1/24 ma’ah=1/12 pundion=1/6 issar.
R. Dimi replies that they both agree with regard to the value of the perutah vis a vis the dinar—it is always 1/192. They were actually not arguing at all about the value of the perutah, only referring to different evaluations with regard to the copper issar. When the copper issar was worth more, there would be 24 to the zuz (dinar). In such a case, the perutah referred to need be worth only 1/8 of an issar. But if the issar has been devalued such that it stood at 32 to a dinar, then the perutah must be worth 1/6 of an issar. But the value of a perutah vis a vis the dinar stays the same—1/192.
According to Shmuel, if a man betroths a woman with an object that we know to be worth less than a perutah she is still betrothed. For we are concerned that maybe the item is worth a perutah elsewhere. Essentially what Shmuel is saying is that objects do not have absolute worth. A date might be worth very little in a place where dates are abundant (a kor, a large measure of volume, of dates sells for a dinar). But take one date it to a place where they are not abundant, and its value will go way up.
Shmuel’s ruling seems to contradict the mishnah which says that the object must be worth a perutah.
If the object is worth a perutah in the place where she is betrothed, then she is certainly betrothed. If it is not, then she is doubtfully betrothed.
This story essentially says the same ruling as above. If the item is worth a perutah, she is certainly betrothed. If it is not, she is doubtfully betrothed. The ramifications of this are that she would need a get in order to marry someone else.
Today’s sugya continues with another story of a man who betroths a woman with an object that might not be worth a perutah.
This is essentially the same story we read in yesterday’s section. But stay tuned—there’s a twist coming.
R. Hisda says that for the betrothal to be valid, the object must be worth a perutah in the place where she is betrothed.
The mother of the man who betrothed argues that the stone was worth a perutah when he betrothed her, and thus the woman should not be allowed to betrothed to another man.
But R. Hisda refuses to be concerned about this and here we can see what R. Hisda is really trying to do. Evidently, this woman has tried to become betrothed to another man, assuming that the first marriage was not executed properly because the item was not of value. If R. Hisda starts to be concerned that the item might have been worth a perutah, then the second marriage will turn out to be illegitimate. So R. Hisda tells his mother that she cannot just make an assumption that would invalidate the second marriage, the one the woman seems to want to maintain, is invalid.