Perhaps all tannaim agree that the original creditor can forgive the debt even after he has transferred it. The question is—is the woman concerned that the husband will do so. If she is not worried that he will do so, then she has agreed to betrothal by accepting the document. This would accord with R. Meir. The tanna kamma would hold that she is not confident that he will not do so, and therefore, she has not willingly transferred herself by accepting this form of kiddushin.
Note that the act of accepting betrothal has shifted some here. The question is not—did the woman receive something of absolute value. The question is, does she feel that she has received something of value such that her acceptance of it shows that she is accepting kiddushin. We have shifted from an issue of value, to an issue of, “what was the woman thinking.” This is a shift that I believe we can find in other passages in the Talmud.
This week’s daf continues to discuss betrothal through a loan. Earlier we learned that the tannaim disagree whether one can betroth with a loan contracted verbally. Today’s sugya opens by explaining both positions.
Rav allows one to transfer debt verbally when all three parties are present—the creditor, the debtor and the person to whom the debt is being transferred. So if the debtor is present, the husband could transfer the debt to the woman he is betrothing. R. Meir would hold that this is true of loans, but the tanna kamma would hold that it is true only of deposits, not of loans.
The Talmud again suggests that Rav’s statement, that one may not betroth with a loan, is part of a tannaitic dispute. In this baraita, the tannaim argue over whether one may betroth with a debt document. If this debt document was a document stating that others owed money to him, then R. Meir cannot say that he cannot use this for betrothal, because earlier he said that one can use a debt document for betrothal. Rather, it must mean a document stating that she owes him money. Rav would then hold like R. Meir but unlike the other tannaim.
R. Nahman b. Yitzchak says that the topic of this baraita is not betrothal by loan but rather the validity of a document without witnesses signed on to it. To interpret this way, R. Nahman refers to a dispute concerning divorce documents. R. Meir says that signees are essential and thus a document without them is invalid. R. Elazar says that the essential act is transfer of the document to the woman, and that signees are necessary only as a backup. Since this document is valid, it may be used for kiddushin. The other rabbis are not sure as to whom the halakhah follows and therefore demand that the paper be worth a perutah. In such case, she is betrothed through the paper and not the debt.
The Talmud now suggests another way of interpreting the dispute in the baraita over whether a woman can be betrothed with a document.
The next suggestion is that the document here is a document of betrothal, but one that was not written with her in mind. All agree that a divorce document must be written for the woman who is being divorced. The question is whether the same is true for a document of betrothal. After asking this question, Resh Lakish affirms that a deed of betrothal must be written with her in mind. R. Meir would agree with him and R. Elazar would not.
Perhaps all tannaim agree that a betrothal document must be written for her sake, but they disagree, as do amoraim, whether it can be written without her knowledge. R. Meir would say that it cannot, but R. Elazar would say that it can.
Yet again, the Talmud attempts to tie Rav’s statement, that one cannot betroth with a loan, into a tannaitic dispute. I think by this point we can sense where this is going. It seems to be more of an exploration of many different possibilities for how betrothal can be done, than a belief that Rav’s opinion is connected to a tannaitic dispute.
The topic of the tannaitic dispute is a woman who commissions a man to betroth her by making some jewelry for her. Instead of paying him, she will be betrothed to him by him not charging her for making the jewelry. According to R. Meir this works and she is betrothed as soon as the jewelry is finished. The sages say he must give her money, which the Talmud here interprets to be other money, and not the jewelry itself. Therefore, this would be a dispute over one who betroths with a loan. R. Meir says that this is possible—she owes him money and he forgives the debt. The other sages say that this does not work.
The Talmud further clarifies another assumption we must make. When A hires B to do a job, the debt accrues as the work is done and is not incurred only at the end, upon completion of work. As the man works to make the jewelry, the woman gradually owes him money. She owes him a debt, and then he forgives the debt at the point of betrothal. R. Meir says that this works, whereas the other sages say that it does not.
The Talmud now rejects the idea that this debate is over betrothal with a loan. The issue here is whether we consider wages to incur incrementally while the work is performed or only at the end. The sages would say that they incur incrementally, from beginning to end. At the end of his work, she owes him money and he forgives the debt. This is not a valid form of kiddushin. R. Meir would say that the debt is incurred only at the end, when he actually performs the betrothal. There is no loan here, only him converting the money she now owes him into betrothal. Since there was never a loan, this is not betrothal by loan.