Normally in the event of a divorce the husband must pay the wife her ketubah. The mishna teaches: these are divorced without making this payment: a wife who transgresses the law of Moses or Jewish practice. What are transgressions against the law of Moses? Feeding him untithed food, having relations during the time of month when this is forbidden, not setting aside the dough offering, and making vows and not fulfilling them. What are transgressions against Jewish practice? Going out with uncovered hair, revealing parts of herself that ought to remain covered in the street (the talmud's phrase is "spinning in the street"), or conversing (jesting) with other men (flirting, maybe?). Abba Saul adds: one who curses her husband's parents in his presence. (72a-b)
The mishna teaches: a wife's find -- that is, the benefit from a lost item that she finds (that can't be returned to its owner) -- and the proceeds from her handiwork belong to her husband. Her inheritance belongs to her but he has use of it during her lifetime. But any compensation for an indignity or blemish done to her belongs to her. The g'mara brings an opinion that Rabbi Akiva disagrees on the first part, saying that according to him her find belongs to her, but others disagree with that disagreement. (65b-66a)
SE started with Stack Overflow, for expert programmers, and then added sites for other technical subjects -- programming, system administration, database administration, and the like. Over the years the scope has broadened to include all sorts of topics -- religions, languages, math, cooking, writing, and many more (over 130 of them at the moment). One of these sites is Biblical Hermeneutics (BH).
When BH first showed up I asked why this topic wasn't already covered by the site for Christianity, and I was assured that, in contrast to the religion sites (Mi Yodeya and Christianity, at the time), BH didn't have a doctrinal basis -- the goal was something more akin to the religious-studies department at a secular university. In other words, this was a site for bible geeks, not zealots. I'm a bible (well, torah) geek, so I jumped in.
It didn't work, despite the best efforts of some excellent users -- shining examples of how people should behave there, some of whom I count as friends. Over the three and a half years that it has existed BH has moved from respectful discourse to quite a bit of Christian evangelism and presumption. When nearly every question about the Hebrew bible is answered with the claim that it's talking about Jesus, no matter how inappropriate, it can get pretty frustrating.
BH is a Christian site. Its users refuse to bracket their bias, to write descriptively rather than prescriptively, and to rein in the preaching and truth claims. Opinions masquerade as answers, supported by those who share the opinions and don't stop to ask if an answer actually supported its claims. When that happens you don't have an academic site; you have a church bible-study group. Most people there seem to be fine with that; it's not likely to change.
The site actively recruited Jews. Originally they welcomed us, but the evangelists and those who support them have driven nearly all of us out now by creating a hostile environment. (Last I checked, there was one known Jew there.) It kind of feels like we've been invited to a medieval disputation, except that we, unlike our ancestors, can actually opt out.
In explaining why I no longer felt comfortable there, I wrote:
I don't have a problem with Christians. I have a problem with Christian axioms -- or any other religion's axioms -- being treated as givens on a site that claims to welcome all. I thought we could keep that in check, but now I wonder. [...]That was in 2013. Not only did those words fall on deaf ears, but things got worse. I (belatedly) sought rabbinic advice, and it became clear that BH.SE is no place for Jews. I left the site, made (and later updated) this post on Mi Yodeya's discussion (meta) site, and ultimately deleted an account with over 10k reputation.
I came to teach and learn in a classroom. But people brought in an altar, crucifix, and communion wafers, and the caretakers gave them directions.
Other Jews from Mi Yodeya were smart enough to not get very involved there in the first place. But for the sake of other Jews who might come across that site (and this post) I leave this warning: participating there comes with hazards. Please consult your rabbi first.
I'll stay in touch with friends from there in other ways. I wish them the best of luck in trying to bring the site back on track, Herculean task though that may be. I hope it doesn't hurt them. But I'm done.
(I was not planning to make a public post in this journal about this, but some discussions with other SE folks after the deletion of my account persuaded me that I should make one post here.)
The question arose this morning of whether he is required to support the bondwomen, or if that is somehow her responsibility. I don't yet know the answer to that.
(I don't know what the "up to" depends on or if there's a minimum.)
Finally (for now), the Ladycorn joined me at choir practice, where our director, desperate to get us to pay more attention to our hypothetical audience, began conducting with her -- and I was laughing too hard to think about taking a picture. Oh well; some things will just have to be left to memory and imagination.
We learned previously of a case where a fine isn't owed on top of a death penalty (the latter punishment suffices), but that doesn't seem to apply here -- execution precludes a fine but flogging doesn't, at least in some cases. I don't know these laws very well, sorry.
R. Yose says he does not pay a fine, but R. Akiva says that not only does he pay a fine but it belongs to her, not to her father. Why is her divorced status important? Because if she were betrothed and not divorced there would be no fine for a different reason -- that's a death-penalty offense for him (adultery starts from betrothal not marriage), and a man who is liable for death by the court does not also pay fines. (38a) This last point is based on Exodus 21:22-23. (36b)
It appears that the purpose of a fine is punishment, not compensation, and the rule is that there is one punishment per transgression. In other cases (like theft, and I think property damage) there are compensatory payments, like paying back the value plus some extra, but this appears to be different. I don't understand this yet.
At the beginning of the book of Esther we're told of the rather-excessive party that King Achashverosh threw for his court. We're told that the wine was abundant and drunk from gold vessels. What does abundant mean? That each man was given wine older than himself. The drinking was according to the law -- what does that mean? According to torah -- there was more food than drink. None did compel -- what does that mean? That each man was given wine from his own country. It's good to be the king (or at least a rich king), and perhaps even better to be one of his friends. Cheers! :-)
On the seventh day when the king's heart grew merry with wine -- wait, what? Was he not merry with wine before then? He's been drinking for seven days, after all! The seventh day was Shabbat; on Shabbat Israel begins with discourse about torah and proceeds to give thanks, but the idolatrous nations of the world begin with frivolity and proceed with lewdness. This is how it came to be that they were discussing which nation's women are the most beautiful -- one would say the Medians, and another would say the Persians, and another the Chaldeans, and it was getting right rowdy. The king said that Vashti was the hottest babe and said "would you like to see her?" and they said "yes, but she has to be naked!", and so he summoned her but she refused. And because of that we get the rest of the book of Esther. (Megillah 12a-b)
I took some liberties in the retelling -- it's Purim, after all. Happy Purim! Be sure to check out this small collection of Purim-related Q&A, serious and silly.
(Today's daf is Ketubot 31.)
The last several pages have been talking about testimony and who is believed under what circumstances. Today's daf presents two cases. First, if two women were taken captive and later each one says "I am (ritually) pure", they are not believed. However, if one says of the other "she is pure", she is believed in the absence of other witnesses. But if one says "I am impure" she is believed. Claims about one's own purity are rejected; claims about one's impurity are accepted; claims of another's purity are accepted; and claims of another's impurity are rejected. In other words, you can say something beneficial about another or limiting about yourself and be believed, but not the reverse.
Lest we think this is just about women, the next mishna concerns two men who claim to be kohanim (priests) but have no other witnesses. Again, a man saying "I am a kohein" is not believed, but one saying that another is a kohein is believed. The g'mara then enters into a discussion about different levels of priesthood -- maybe we believe one's claim for the purposes of some functions but not for others. That is beyond the scope of this daf bit. (23b)
We learned from the first mishna of this tractate, which I wrote about last week, that a man who finds that his wife wasn't actually a virgin after all (but said she was) can go to the court the next morning. This is because of the difference in the financial obligation for these two cases.
The first mishna of this tractate teaches: a maiden is married on the fourth day of the week and a widow on the fifth, because the courts of justice sit twice a week in the towns, on the second and fifth days, so a man who finds that his bride is not a maiden after all can go early on the morning of the fifth day to court (to seek an adjustment of the ketubah). In the g'mara R. Shmuel b. Yitzchak says: this timing was true only from the time of Ezra; before that the courts sat every day so a woman could be married on any day. And further, he says, if there are courts today that sit like they did before Ezra, then for the same reason weddings may occur on other days. (2a mishna, 3a g'mara)
Lest you wonder why the first day isn't given as another option for maidens (because the courts sit on the second day), the g'mara says that he should be preparing for three days before the wedding and the implication is we don't want that to include Shabbat. So, fourth day fine, first day (Sunday) not so fine. Today, however, Sunday is a common day for weddings. I don't know the schedule of my local beit din (court).
Now what happens if there are witnesses (besides the wife) and they disagree? If one witness said he is dead and on that basis she was allowed to remarry, and then another witness comes and says he is alive, she is not required to divorce. But if one said he is dead and two say he is alive, then even though she remarried legally, she must divorce. And if two said he is dead and one said he is alive, she needn't divorce and may remarry if she hasn't yet. (117a-b)
(In case you're wondering what peace in the land has to do with anything: the g'mara points out that in time of war people may come to incorrect conclusions if people don't return.)
I recently had a conversation with one of the users who stood by during [personal attacks directed at me], in which he said approximately: "Well what did you expect? That's how guys work -- if a woman pushes back against a guy all the other guys are going to rally to his side".
It's true that I was one of the only identifiable women -- perhaps the only identifiable woman (don't remember now) -- on the site at the time. In the 21st century and in an online community not prone to attract teenagers (the average age was probably over 30), it never occurred to me that this could be an issue. Some of the ad-hominem attacks I received take on whole new meanings in light of this.
The g'mara is discussing learning torah and observing it. R. Papa says: torah says "that you may learn them (mitzvot) and observe them", so he who is engaged in observance is also regarded as engaged in study (he had to learn them), but he who is not engaged in observance is not regarded as engaged in study. (Yes there is a logical fallacy there. No it is not addressed here.)
Another teaching: Who rivets himself to the word of the halacha brings evil upon himself -- this refers to a judge who, when a lawsuit is brought before him and he knows the halacha of a related (but not identical) case, even though he has a teacher, does not go to that teacher to inquire but simply judges the case based on the other halacha. Such a judge brings evil upon himself according to R. Shmuel b. Nachmani in the name of R. Yonatan, who said a judge should always regard himself as if he had a sword lying between his thighs and Gehenna was open beneath him. (109b)
The logical fallacy in that first one could be resolved thus: if one has truly studied torah, he will come to an inevitable conclusion and come to follow it. I don't know if that was considered obvious enough to R. Papa that it need not be stated.