Again, the Talmud clarifies two levels of qualifications. “Taneina” implies a low level of familiarity with oral Torah. “Tanna” implies a much higher level.
Modern talmudic historians interpret “kallah” here as referring to a gathering of sages that took place for two months out of the year in Babylonia. During this gathering they would learn one tractate. Thus this tractate was the freshest one on people’s minds. But knowing something even from that particular tractate would qualify one to be a “talmid.”
In all of these cases, we take the most minimal possible meaning of the word. We should note that this does not necessarily mean that one who, for instance, is able to answer one matter of wisdom is truly considered wise. Rather, the issue is that with betrothal, we need to err on the side of caution. If we consider her betrothed and she is not, the consequences are minimal. But if we consider her not betrothed and she is, and then she marries someone else, her kids are mamzerim.
The aggadic discussion that follows seems to be here due to its reference to some of the same attributes as we learned about yesterday. Other than, your guess is as good as mine as to what it’s doing here. It has nothing to do with kiddushin.
In one of my favorite personifications, we learn that arrogance descended to Babylonia, and from there made its way to Elam. [I can just picture a green little demon making its way across the desert]. The intent was to build a house, but the house was not built there in Babylonia, rather it was built in Elam, a neighboring region.
Arrogance accompanies poverty, but not poverty of material. Rather, it accompanies spiritual poverty, the lack of Torah. Elam which has material wealth lacks Torah and thus it, not Babylonia where Torah is abundant, is characterized by arrogance.
The aggadah of the ten kavs continues. Trigger warning—you might not like all of these so much.
And to think, I always thought the ten kav of lice descended to the Israeli school system.
Today’s section begins a mishnah very similar to the previous one. In all of these cases the man makes a false statement when betrothing the woman. What is different in this mishnah is that in these cases it is not clear which is “better.” For instance, in the previous mishnah 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, we can assume that in these cases Rabbi Shimon would agree that she is not betrothed.
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.
As we learned previously, the word I have translated as “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.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s sugya deals with the issue of “matters in one’s heart,” which refers to cases where a person has a particular intent but does not state that intent out loud. Is there legal significance to such cases?
The man sold his land only because he wished to move to Israel, but did not say so. For some unknown reason, this did not work out (does tend to happen). Nevertheless, since he did not state that this is why he was selling the land, he cannot retract, for matters that remain in one’s heart have no legal significance.
A mishnah teaches that if a person is obligated to bring a sacrifice but does not want to bring it, the court can physically force him to bring it. Nevertheless, he must also do so with his own free will. The court therefore forces him to say “I am willing” even though we know he is not. This seems to follow the rule the matters of the heart have no legal significance.