Is “you are for yourself” a valid divorce formula? On the one hand, it could mean that she can keep her handiwork, which she generally has to give to her husband. Thus this would not be a divorce formula. Alternatively, it might actually be a valid divorce formula.
Ravina derives that this is a valid divorce formula—if it works to free a slave, whose body belongs to the master, then all the more so it works for a wife whose body does not belong to her husband.
Today’s sugya continues to discuss valid formulas for manumitting a slave.
If the master says “I have no dealing with you” to his slave does he mean that he wants to free his slave completely, or that he simply does not want to benefit from the slave’s work?
R. Nahman brings proof from a statement of R. Sheshet that “I have no dealing with you” is full emancipation. R. Sheshet interpreted a word in a statement by Rabban Shimon b. Gamaliel to mean that if an owner sells a slave to a non-Jew, and writes a document that says “If you run away from your new owner, I do not have any dealings with you” then the owner need not write out any other deed of manumission. Thus “I do not have any dealings with you is itself a deed of manumission.
Abaye discusses here betrothing through a loan. What this means is forgiving her from repaying a loan he previously gave her.
After this the Talmud continues to discuss variations of giving the woman money.
For the woman to be betrothed the man must currently give her something. He cannot simply forgive her from repaying a debt that she already owes him.
But technically he can betroth her with “the benefit of a loan” a term which will be explained shortly. However, this is prohibited because it constitutes an evasion of interest.
If “benefit of a loan” means forgiving her the interest he had already charged her, then this was A) prohibited to do in the first place; B) essentially the same thing as betrothing by forgiving a loan.
Therefore, “benefit of a loan” is interpreted to mean that he extended the terms of repayment. This is a tangible “new” benefit and therefore it is effective as a means of betrothal. But it is also considered interest—she is repaying him by agreeing to be betrothed and by paying back the debt. The betrothal is the interest. Therefore such an act is prohibited.
Rava says that in general if one says “here is some money on condition that you return it to me” the act does not count as an act of giving. It does not work to acquire a purchase, betroth a woman or redeem a first-born. However, it does work in the act of giving terumah to a priest. [Terumah is part of one’s produce that must be given to a priest]. However, it is prohibited to do so because doing so makes it look as if the priest is “assisting on the threshing floor.” The rabbis did not want priests to have to work to get their terumah. So too here we can imagine a scenario where a priest would agree to give back a high percentage of the terumah in return for the terumah being given to him and not to a different priest.
Rava seems to be inconsistent in his thinking.
Rava clearly holds that if someone gives someone something on condition that they return it, the object is theirs while they hold it even though they must return it. We can see this from the case of the etrog. Each person needs to own his own etrog, but what to do if etrogim are hard to find, as is often the case. Basically one passes it around, each time giving it as a gift on condition that it be given back. This is enough for us to consider the person as owning his own etrog.
Rav Ashi says that gifts on condition that they be returned always count except for the case of betrothal. The problem is that this seems to be a case of symbolic exchange, a mechanism that allows for property to be exchanged in cases in which property is not present. But such a mechanism is not valid for betrothal.
Here we see a very late amora tell R. Ashi that they teach R. Ashi’s statement in the name of Rava. Here we can see a process that probably lies behind a lot of cases of amoraic transmission of oral material. An amora makes a statement, others raise difficulties on the statement, and then the statement is emended but still taught in the name of the original amora.
In today’s section Rava asks some very theoretical questions exploring how betrothal might possibly work. I want to emphasize that these are theoretical explanations. It is very unlikely that these are practical questions.
Rava says that a woman can be betrothed without deriving any actual benefit. She can say, “give the money to someone else” and once the husband gives the money to that other person, she is betrothed. This is derived from the laws concerning a loan guarantor. A guarantor obligates to repay the loan even though he does not derive any benefit. So too this works for a woman.