More theoretical questions about half-kiddushin from Rava
Essentially the question is, is this like saying “all of you with a whole perutah” and he is just counting halves or did he make two separate invalid kiddushin statements.
In the first case he said “half a perutah.” Since half a perutah does not work, we might assume that he was just counting half perutot. But what if he says a full perutah—perhaps he is making distinct betrothal statements, in which case this does not work. Or perhaps as long as all of this occurs on the same day, it still works.
Here, Rava (or the Talmud in his place) pushes the envelope and asks if this could work even if he divides the kiddushin into a two-day affair.
Finally, the Talmud proposes a way of saying this that would most seem to be a valid statement—“your two halves for one perutah.” This is clearly all at one time, so it would seem to work. Or is it again an invalid attempt to marry a woman one half at a time.
But this too does not have a clear answer. None of these questions do. They all remain unanswered. But it was certainly fun thinking this all out!
More theoretical questions. I want to emphasize again—these questions are not representative of the way people actually acted. They are theoretical musings as to how we can understand language, what assumptions we can make about what people may mean when they say certain things. Men are not buying cows and betrothing in one short pithy statement.
If one person does the betrothing and one person does the accepting (on behalf of their children) can they get away with a “two for the price of one” deal? No answer to this one either.
Here he tries to finagle a cow out of the deal too. Can we imagine that he is betrothing with the perutah and just acquiring the cow by drawing it to him (he’ll pay back later)? Again, no answer.
Land can be acquired by “hazakah” which means possession. Other than that, this is essentially the same question as asked by R. Papa above.
Today’s sugya contains a story and a dispute among rabbis concerning the issue of betrothing with items of indeterminate worth.
The issue is whether the woman must know exactly how much the silk is worth. Assumedly there is no question that it is worth at least a perutah, which is a very small amount.
The Talmud narrows down the scope of Rabbah and R. Joseph’s disagreement. If she explicitly agrees to be betrothed for whatever it is worth, then she is betrothed. She has a right to agree to this arrangement.
If he lies to her, obviously she is not betrothed. That would be a false acquisition
The issue is if he tells her what it is worth and his assessment turns out to be correct. According to Rabbah, the woman does not need to know beforehand that his assessment is verified. As long as what he says turns out to be true, she is betrothed.
But to R. Joseph, at the moment of betrothal she is uncertain. She is agreeing to something whose value she can’t know. Therefore, her agreement to be betrothed is not really a full agreement. The silk would need to be evaluated beforehand. Here we can see an important concept in the rules of kiddushin—the woman needs to have acquiesced to the proposal and we need to be sure that she knew what she was agreeing to.
According to this version, R. Joseph would rule strictly also in the case of a husband who says, “Be betrothed to me for whatever it is worth.” Just as a woman will know how much the money is worth, so too the woman has to know how much the goods are worth.