Today’s sugya brings in another source in the Torah for the halakhah that a woman can be betrothed through money. Note again that there is a certain amount of wordplay in these proofs.
Throughout,this passage “acquired” is frequently used in the sense as “acquired as a wife” i.e. betrothed, or perhaps occasionally, married.
This tanna proves that betrothal can be performed through money by the verb in Deuteronomy 24—“takes.” This verb implies the transfer of money, as we see the same verb used in Genesis 23.
The Talmud now discusses whether we could derive betrothal with money from a logical argument. If we can, then we do not need to learn this from a verse.
The first argument is to prove the case from the Hebrew maidservant. A master may acquire a Hebrew maidservant with money by buying her from her father. But intercourse is not a means of acquisition. Therefore, since intercourse is a means of betrothal (acquisition) of a wife, all the more so money should be as well.
The case of the yevamah (the woman awaiting levirate marriage) proves that just because one can be acquired through intercourse does not mean that she can be acquired through money. A woman awaiting levirate marriage is married to her brother-in-law when she has intercourse with him. He does not give her money.
The Talmud now rejects the difficulty raised through the case of the yevamah. A yevamah may not be acquired through money because she also cannot be acquired through a document. But a wife, who can be acquired through a document, should, so it is argued also be able to be acquired through money.
The Talmud now cites the proof from Deuteronomy again.
The problem is that according to the flow of the logic we should not need a verse—we have a logical argument drawn from the Hebrew maidservant from which we can deduce that a woman can be acquired as a wife through money.
R. Ashi says that the deduction from the Hebrew maidservant is refutable. A Hebrew maidservant goes out of slavery with money—she buys her freedom. Therefore, she can be acquired with money. In essence, she is property. But a wife cannot buy her way out of marriage—giving money to the husband is not a means through which divorce is enacted. Therefore, we might think that just as she does not leave the marriage through money, so too she does not enter the marriage through money. Therefore, we need a verse to teach that she is acquired through money.
The Talmud now asks why we need two verses to teach that kiddushin can be performed through money. Shouldn’t one have been enough?
We need the verse from Exodus, “and she goes out for nothing” because that verse served as a source for the notion that her father receives the money, at least when she is betrothed as a minor or a na’arah.
The verse from Deuteronomy teaches that for betrothal to occur, the man must give the woman money, not the other way around.
I do realize that this is one of the points that the Talmud emphasizes the patriarchal nature of the system. There is no denying that the system of marriage in the time of the Talmud was not egalitarian. However, it is still interesting to note that the Talmud does not seem to think it is inherently wrong for the woman to acquire the man, that men are not “acquirable” or any such broader message. We could read this section as saying that betrothal by the man is simply following the literal reading of the verse. I don’t know if this offers much solace for those bothered by the patriarchy, but I still think it is interesting to think about.
Today’s sugya brings a prooftext for the halakhah that betrothal can be performed through intercourse. The sugya is very similar to yesterday’s, so I would advise looking there for reference.
I should note that this is a strange halakhah. According to its literal application, a man would have intercourse with a woman, she would now be betrothed to him and they would not be allowed to again have intercourse until marriage proper, which could be a long time away. There does not seem to be any evidence that betrothal was actually ever performed through in this manner and it is indeed counterintuitive. In my opinion, it is a remnant of an earlier understanding of these “three means by which a woman is acquired” according to which all three are customary—betrothal through money, a marriage document and then physical consummation. But rabbinic tradition reads the mishnah differently—each means alone serves to enact betrothal.
The same verse that proves that a woman can be acquired through money is also invoked to prove that she can be acquired through intercourse.
But again, we could prove that a woman is acquired through intercourse by analogy with the yevamah (the woman awaiting levirate marriage). She is not acquired through money and yet she is acquired through intercourse (levirate marriage is effected by intercourse with the yavam). Thus a wife who is acquired through money should also be acquired through intercourse.
Again, the Hebrew maidservant serves as a difficulty for she can be acquired through money but not through intercourse. The same could be true of a wife.
The Talmud refutes the difficulty. A Hebrew maidservant cannot be acquired through intercourse because she is being acquired as a servant, not as a wife. But a wife could be acquired through intercourse because she is being acquired as a wife.
The Talmud then requotes the verse to prove that she can be acquired through intercourse. But again, we have a difficulty—why do I need a verse to prove something that I can deduce from logic?
As he did in yesterday’s sugya, R. Ashi explains why the logical argument is not sufficient. The argument that a wife can be betrothed through intercourse had been made by analogy with a yevamah who can also be acquired through intercourse. But the yevamah is already connected to her yavam, the brother-in-law, by virtue of her marriage to her (now dead) husband. She does not really need “betrothal”—all she needs is “marriage.” But a regular woman getting married is not at all connected to her husband. Therefore, we might have thought that intercourse would not be an effective means to betroth her. Thus we do need a Scriptural verse to prove it.