The Talmud continues to ask why the word “way” is used and not the word “thing.”
A “koy” is some sort of animal (we do not know what type) that is somewhat similar to a wild beast and somewhat similar to a domesticated animal, each of which have different rules (for instance with regard to eating certain parts or with regard to covering the blood). Why does the Mishnah use the word “ways” and not “things”?
This is another mishnah that uses the word “ways” instead of “things.” But the Talmud has sort of run out of particular answers for each of them and now will search for a broader explanation.
The Talmud now offers a different resolution for why “ways” and not “things” is used. If two issues are different, the word “ways” is used. But if they are the same then “things” is used. This is proven by R. Eliezer who uses the word “things” when saying that the etrog is the same as trees for all matters.
This section is substantially different from what we learned before. Here the Talmud is interested in why the mishnah has to use the word “three.” Why not just say, “a woman is acquired through money, a document and intercourse.” This is a frequent trope of the anonymous voice in the Talmud. The author of these sections tries to derive extra meaning from unnecessary words in the Mishnah just as earlier rabbis tried to derive meaning from words they perceived to be extra in the Torah.
The number in the first clause, concerning how a woman is acquired comes to exclude the huppah. A woman who enters the huppah but has not been acquired through money, documents or intercourse, is not married to her husband.
I should note that “huppah” in the Talmud is not what huppah is today. It is not entirely clear what this word means, but it seems closer to an actual room that the husband brings the woman into. Perhaps this originally was the room in which they would live. Today our “huppot” are symbolic.
R. Huna says that betrothal can be done through huppah. We will return to this statement later so I am not going to dig deeper now. If so, then what does the number in the mishnah exclude?
The Talmud answers that it excludes betrothal through “a symbolic exchange.” Today we do this with a handkerchief or some other small object. The idea is that one person has an object and he symbolically transfers it to the other person and in exchange the person who symbolically receiving the hanky transfers something to the other person. This is also called “kinyan.” It is a convenient way to exchange either abstract goods or goods that are not present at the time of exchange.
We might have thought that since some of the laws of betrothal are derived from the verses in which Abraham buys a field from Ephron, and a field can be acquired through a symbolic exchange, so too betrothal can be enacted through a symbolic exchange. The mishnah, by using the word “three” teaches that it cannot.
Symbolic exchange can be done with anything, even something not worth a perutah. But betrothal, as we learn in the Mishnah, can only be done with at least the value of a perutah. That is why betrothal cannot be done through symbolic exchange.