This section contains a few stories about people who either betroth a woman or buy land that someone else was seeking to betroth/ buy.
Rabin is ironically called “pious” even though his actions don’t seem all that pious. He is supposed to betroth a woman for his son, but then decides he’s going to betroth her for himself. The Talmud asks how Rabin could do such a thing. His excuse is that the men giving the woman away in betrothal (the brother, the father?) did not want to give her to the son, they wanted the father. And he was afraid that if he went back to his son and told him about what was happening, the girl would meanwhile be given to another.
Sounds like a good story to me.
This is the same exact story except the agent is sent to buy land, not betroth a woman.
This story again discusses one who ends up buying something that someone else wanted. When my grandmother of blessed memory would play Monopoly with me, she would not buy a third property if I already had two. She was a very kind woman, and an amazing grandmother. But she always lost Monopoly.
Today’s sugya deals with the next clause in the mishnah.
According to the mishnah, if the first man says to her “be betrothed to me after thirty days” and another comes and betroths her in the meanwhile, she is betrothed to the second. But what if no one else comes and betroths her during these thirty days?
Rav and Shmuel both say she is betrothed even though the money has been used up. This is slightly surprising because at the time the kiddushin go into effect, she is not getting any money. She received it already.
Had the money been given to her as a deposit or a loan she would not be betrothed. But that is not the case. The money he gave her is not a deposit. It’s her money and when she uses it she is not using the original owner’s money. It’s also not a loan because a loan would be given for her to use and therefore there would be no money around at the time of betrothal. Here, the money was for betrothal.
This is the beginning of a classic dispute between R. Yohanan and Resh Lakish. Can the woman change her mind within this thirty day period? After all, she is not betrothed until after thirty days. R. Yohanan says that she can change her mind—her subsequent words can nullify her earlier words. Resh Lakish says that they cannot.
The case here is one who sends an agent to separate terumah but then annuls the agency. If he does so before the agent separates the terumah, the separation is not valid. But here is a case of speech annulling speech. This seems to support R. Yohanan.
Here Resh Lakish retreats from his position a bit. Speech can annul speech. But the case of kiddushin was more than just speech. The woman received money. Since she accepted it for the sake of kiddushin, she cannot retract because this is like an action.
If a man sends an agent to deliver a get, a divorce document, to his wife, he can cancel the agency by telling the agent not to deliver the get. But this seems to be a case of a speech cancelling an action (giving the get to the agent). Therefore, it is a difficulty against Resh Lakish.
Resh Lakish resolves the difficulty by pointing out that until the get reaches the woman’s hand, this is a case of speech nullifying speech. The giving of the get to the agent is really not relevant. And Resh Lakish agrees that speech can nullify another act that consisted purely of speech.
Today’s sugya continues the discussion of speech annulling speech. Here Resh Lakish begins to counterattack.
The mishnah quoted here is about purity laws. A vessel becomes susceptible to impurity when one thinks that one has finished it. For instance, if I’m making a dish and I intend to glaze it, it is not susceptible to impurity until I do so. But if I think to use it unglazed, it is susceptible to impurity before it is glazed. In order for it to become not susceptible to impurity, one would have to do something to it, like break it.
The mishnah then summarizes the power of acts and intention. An act is powerful enough to annul an intention or another act, but intention is not powerful enough to annul either speech or action.
This is a difficulty against R. Yohanan who holds that speech should be able to cancel other speech.