The man can give the woman a maneh and tell her she is betrothed to someone else, not the person who is giving the money. [Of course, both parties have to agree]. In other words, a man can acquire a woman without giving anything. This is like a Canaanite slave (a non-Jewish slave) who can be freed without giving any money (someone else pays for his freedom). The slave “acquires” his freedom without paying any money. So too a man can betroth without paying any money.
Rava now combines the two above possibilities to prove that a woman can tell a man to give money to another person and she will become betrothed to a different man. Note how weird this is: Leah says to Reuven, give a perutah to Shimon and I will be betrothed to Levi. Leah gets nothing, Levi loses nothing and yet, through the comparison with the guarantor and the Canaanite slave, Leah is betrothed to Levi. From the guarantor we learn that a person can give a guarantee without acquiring anything. And from the slave we learn that a person can acquire without giving anything. Thus a woman can be betrothed without receiving anything and a man can betroth without giving anything.
You should note what an incredible jurist Rava must have been. From two totally different cases, the guarantor and the slave, he derives two highly abstract principles, and then applies them to the case of betrothal.
Today’s section continues with Rava’s discussions of pushing the limits of betrothal law.
R. Papa rules that the woman may give the money to the man and say that she will become betrothed to him. Note that some commentators say that the man must also say back “Behold you are betrothed to me.” But this is not necessarily the meaning of the text.
It might be argued that this is a glimpse of a more egalitarian version of betrothal. The woman gives the money and makes the declaration. I am not sure if this is what motivates these amoraim, but it certainly might be possible.
According to a mishnah we will learn later in the tractate, one can acquire money along with a transaction of real estate. So if I buy a piece of land, I can acquire things with it, without a special act. But the opposite is not true—I cannot acquire land by acquiring movables. The case brought above, to R. Ashi, is a case of the woman transferring money to the man, and through this money, transferring herself, and she counts as real estate. Thus it would be a breach of mishnaic halakhah.
Hazakah is the rule of possession. We will learn about this more later in the masechet.
Mar Zutra points out that the woman was not saying “you will acquire me [in betrothal] along with this money.” This would indeed not work. The mechanism of betrothal is that she is deriving benefit. If he is an important man, she might derive benefit from the very fact that he receives a present from him. Thus this is a quid pro quo—she receives benefit and she gives herself in betrothal. Note that Mar Zutra is willing to abstract the notion of “benefit” in order to allow this form of betrothal to work.
This refers back to what Rava taught in yesterday’s section. All of the strange ways that Rava said betrothal can work, can also work for selling a field.
The Talmud now asks why we need to know that these roundabout means of acquisition work for both betrothal and sales.
If we had said that they work for betrothal, it might have been because the Talmud assumes that women would prefer to be married to unmarried. Thus we might have said that a woman allows herself to be betrothed even though she receives no benefit. But when it comes to selling a field, I would have said that this is not true. The seller must receive benefit for the sale to be valid. Therefore, Rava says that the same is true with regard to selling.
Resh Lakish’s statement appears several times in the Talmud and has, on occasion, been used to assume that a woman would prefer a bad marriage over no marriage. However, this is not necessarily the original meaning. It might just mean that she prefers to be married in general, but not if the marriage is bad.
A person can just give away his property—I can waive my rights to my property. Therefore, it seems obvious that a person could transfer his property without receiving any benefit. But kiddushin does require a transfer of money, otherwise it cannot happen. Therefore, Rava had to tell us that a woman can actually, in a roundabout way, be betrothed without receiving any money.
More theoretical musings by Rava on kiddushin.
Rava introduces this paradoxical statement, whereby a formula of “be betrothed to half of me” is effective, but “half you be betrothed to me” is not. The rest of the sugya will explore why one works but the other does not.
Abaye points out that if we are reading “halves” into the verse then neither formula should work. The Torah refers to whole men and women.
Rava responds that while half a man cannot marry a woman, a man can marry two women. Saying, “you are married to half of me” is akin to the man pointing out that he might want to marry another woman. Since this is possible (although not the most romantic way to pop the question) it is effective as a betrothal formula. But a woman cannot be married to two men, so he cannot say to her “half you be betrothed to me.”
Mar Zutra points out that when it comes to dedicating an animal, if one dedicates a limb, at least a limb that the life depends on (such as the head), the whole animal is considered dedicated. So too this should work with a woman—if he says “half of you is betrothed to me” the kiddushin should spread to the whole woman and she would be fully betrothed to him.
The difference between the two is that with the animal, it is property. If the man wants he can dedicate his entire animal and no one can stop him. But with the woman, we need her consent to be betrothed and she consented only to be half-betrothed. So we cannot compare the case of betrothal to dedicating an animal.
The better comparison is when someone else owns half the animal. In such a case, one partner cannot dedicate the animal because it is not all his. So too a man cannot betroth half a woman.
The Talmud talks out some of the halakhic rules relevant to the case of the animal. If he then goes back and purchases the second half of the animal, and dedicates the second half, then it is all dedicated. However, since it was not fit for sacrifice when half dedicated, it cannot actually be sacrificed. If someone tries to substitute another animal for it, that animal becomes holy, and the original animal remains holy. In other words, this is a fully dedicated animal that cannot be sacrificed.
The Talmud learns three halakhot relevant to sacrifices and things dedicated to the Temple. The concept discussed here is called “defferal” or “dichui.” Once something has become invalid as a sacrifice, it can never return to becoming valid. This applies to live animals—so we learn from the half-dedicated animal. 2) It can be “deferred” even from the outset, as soon as it is fit. Others say (elsewhere) that in order for a sacrifice to be permanently deferred, it must first be fit for a sacrifice. This animal which was only half-dedicated, never was fit to be offered. 3) Deferral applies even if only the value of the animal was dedicated, like this one half of whose value was dedicated.