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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 61a

of a robust constitution. One who eats eggs will have children with big eyes. One who eats fish will have graceful children. One who eats parsley1  will have beautiful children. One who eats coriander will have stout2  children. One who eats ethrog3  will have fragrant children. The daughter of King Shapur, whose mother had eaten ethrog3  [while she was pregnant] with her, used to be presented before her father as his principal perfume.

R. Huna4  related: R. Huna b. Hinena tested us [with the following question:] If she5  says that she wishes to suckle her child and he6  says that she shall not suckle it her wish is to be granted,7  for she would be the sufferer.8  What, [however, is the law] where he says that she shall suckle the child and she says that she will not suckle it? Whenever this9  is not the practice in her family we, of course, comply with her wish; what, [however, is the law] where this is the practice in her family but not in his? Do we follow the practice of his family or that of hers? And we solved his problem from this: She10  rises with him11  but does not go down with him.12  What, said R. Huna, is the Scriptural proof?13  — For she is a man's wife,14  [she is to participate] in the rise of her husband but not in his descent. R. Eleazar said, [The proof is] from here: Because she15  was the mother of all living16  she was given [to her husband]17  to live but not to suffer pain.

IF SHE BROUGHT HIM ONE BONDWOMAN etc. Her other duties, however, she must obviously perform; [but why?] Let her say to him, 'I brought you a wife in my place'!18  — Because he might reply, 'That bondwoman works for me and for herself, who will work for you!'

[IF SHE BROUGHT] TWO BONDWOMEN, SHE NEED NOT EVEN COOK OR SUCKLE etc. Her other duties, however, she must obviously perform; [but why]? Let her say to him, 'I brought you another wife who will work for me and for her, while the first one [will work] for you and for herself!' — Because he might reply, 'Who will do the work for our guests19  and occasional visitors!'20

IF THREE, SHE NEED NEITHER MAKE READY HIS BED. Her other duties, however, she must perform; [but why]? Let her say to him, 'I brought you a third one21  to attend upon our guests and occasional visitors!' — Because he might reply, 'The more the number of the household the more the number of guests and occasional visitors'. If so,22  [the same plea could also be advanced] even [when the number of bondwomen was] four! — [In the case of] four bondwomen, since their number is considerable they assist one another.

R. Hana, or some say R. Samuel b. Nahmani, stated: [SHE BROUGHT] does not mean that she had actually brought; but: Wherever she is in a position to bring,23  even though she has not brought any. A Tanna taught: [A wife is entitled to the same privileges] whether she brought [a bondwoman] to him24  or whether she saved up for one out of her income.

IF FOUR, SHE MAY LOUNGE IN AN EASY CHAIR. R. Isaac b. Hanania25  stated in the name of R. Huna: Although it has been said, SHE MAY LOUNGE IN AN EASY CHAIR she should26  nevertheless fill27  for him his cup, make ready his bed and wash his face, hands and feet.28

R. Isaac b. Hanania29  further30  stated in the name of R. Huna: All kinds of work which a wife performs for her husband a menstruant also may perform for her husband, with the exception of filling31  his cup, making ready his bed and washing his face, hands and feet.32  As to 'the making ready of his bed' Raba explained that [the prohibition] applies only in his presence but [if it is done] in his absence it does not matter.33  With regard to 'the filling of his cup'. Samuel's wife made a change34  [by serving] him with her left hand. [The wife of] Abaye placed it35  on the edge36  of the wine cask. Raba's [wife placed it] at the head-side of his couch, and R. Papa's [wife put it] on his foot-stool.37

R. Isaac b. Hanania38  further39  stated: All [foodstuffs] may be held back from the waiter40  except meat and wine.41  Said R. Hisda: [This applies only to] fat meat and old wine. Raba said: Fat meat42  throughout the year but old wine only in the Tammuz43  season.44 

R. Anan b. Tahlifa related: I was once standing in the presence of Samuel when they brought him a dish of mushrooms, and, had he not given me [some of it], I would have been exposed to danger.45  I, related R. Ashi, was once standing before R. Kahana when they brought him slices46  of turnips in vinegar, and had he not given me some, I would have been exposed to danger.

R. Papa said: Even a fragrant date [if not tasted may expose one to danger].45  This is the rule: Any foodstuff that has a strong flavour or an acrid taste [will expose a man to danger45  if he is not allowed to taste of it].

Both Abbuha47  b. Ihi and Minjamin b. Ihi [shewed consideration for their waiter] the one giving [him a portion] of every kind of dish48  while the other gave [him a portion]49  of one kind only.50  With the former Elijah51  conversed, with the latter he did not.

[It was related of] two pious men, and others say of R. Mari and R. Phinehas the sons of R. Hisda, that one of them52  gave [a share to his waiter]53  first54  while the other gave him last.55  With the one who gave [the waiter his share] first, Elijah56  conversed; with the one, however, who gave his waiter last, Elijah did not converse.57 

Amemar, Mar Zutra and R. Ashi were once sitting at the gate of King Yezdegerd58  when the King's table-steward59  passed them by. R. Ashi, observing that Mar Zutra

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. [H] = [H], celery, parsley, or other green vegetables.
  2. Or 'fleshy', cf. [H], 'flesh'.
  3. [H], a fruit of the citrus family used (a) as one of the 'four kinds' constituting the ceremonial wreath on Tabernacles and also (b) as a preserve.
  4. Var. lec. 'Papa' (Asheri and MS.M.).
  5. The mother of a child.
  6. The father.
  7. Lit., '(we) listen to her'.
  8. Through the accumulation of the milk in her breast. Lit., 'the pain is hers'.
  9. The breast feeding of a child by its mother.
  10. A wife.
  11. Her husband.
  12. Supra 48a. A wife enjoys the advantages of her husband but not his disadvantages.
  13. For the statement cited.
  14. Gen. XX, 3 [H] of the rt. [H] 'to go up', 'rise'.
  15. Eve, symbolizing all married women.
  16. Gen. III, 20.
  17. Adam, mentioned earlier in the verse.
  18. [H], abs. [H], lit., 'gap'. As the bondwoman takes her place she should be exempt altogether from domestic duties,
  19. [H], guests that spend a month or a week.
  20. [H] ([H] 'flying'), visitors who pay only a short visit.
  21. Lit., 'another'.
  22. If an increase in the number of bondwomen causes a corresponding increase in that of guests and visitors.
  23. I.e., if she has the means.
  24. Her husband.
  25. MS.M., 'Hanina'.
  26. She is not compelled but is advised (v. Rashi s.v. [H] a.l.).
  27. [H], rt. [H] 'to mix', sc. wine with water or spices.
  28. Such personal services are calculated to nurse a husband's affections (Rash. l.c.).
  29. MS.M. 'Hanina'.
  30. Read (v. marg. note, a.l.) [H]. Cur. edd. omit the Waw,
  31. Cf. supra n. 3.
  32. In order to prevent undue intimacy between husband and wife during her period of Levitical uncleanness.
  33. Lit., 'we have nothing in it'.
  34. During her 'clean days', after menstruation and prior to ritual immersion, when marital relations are still forbidden.
  35. V. supra note 10.
  36. Lit., mouth'.
  37. Cf. Golds. Others: (v. Jast.) 'chair'.
  38. MS.M. 'Hanina'.
  39. V. supra note 6.
  40. Until he has finished serving the meal.
  41. Which excite his appetite and any delay in satisfying it causes him extreme pain.
  42. Must not be held back.
  43. [H], the fourth month of the Hebrew calendar corresponding to July-August.
  44. When the weather is extremely hot and spicy wine is tempting.
  45. Of faintness due to the extreme pangs of hunger excited by the flavour of the dish,
  46. [H] the 'upper portions'.
  47. Bomb. ed., 'Abuth'.
  48. As it was served.
  49. At the beginning of the meal, of the first dish.
  50. Keeping back the others until the conclusion of the meal.
  51. The immortal prophet, the maker of peace and herald of the Messianic era.
  52. Lit., 'master'.
  53. Of every dish he served.
  54. Before he tasted of it himself.
  55. After he himself and his guests had finished their meal.
  56. V. supra note 7.
  57. By failing to give the waiter a share as soon as the various dishes were served he caused him unnecessary pain of unsatisfied desire and hunger.
  58. Or Yezdjird, one of the Kings of Persia.
  59. [H] compound word: 'table' and 'maker'.
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Kethuboth 61b

turned pale in the face, took up with his finger [some food from the dish and] put it to his mouth. 'You have spoilt the King's meal' [the table-steward]1  cried. 'Why did you do such a thing?' he was asked [by the King's officers].1  'The man who prepared that dish',2  he3  replied, 'has rendered the King's food objectionable'. 'Why?' they asked him. 'I noticed', he replied, 'a piece of leprous swine4  flesh in it'. They examined [the dish] but did not find [such a thing]. Thereupon he took hold of his finger and put it on it,5  saying, 'Did you examine this part?' They examined it and found it [to be as R. Ashi had said]. 'Why did you rely upon a miracle?' the Rabbis asked him. 'I saw', he replied, 'the demon of leprosy hovering over him'.6

A Roman once said to a woman, 'Will you marry me?' — 'No,' she replied. Thereupon7  he brought some pomegranates, split them open and ate them in her presence. She kept on swallowing all the saliva8  that irritated her, but he did not give her [any of the fruit] until [her body] became swollen.9  Ultimately he said to her, 'If I cure you, will you marry me?' — 'Yes', she replied. Again7  he brought some pomegranates, split them and ate them in her presence. 'Spit out at once, and again and again',10  he said to her, all saliva that irritated you'. [She did so] until [the matter] issued forth from her body in the shape of a green palm-branch; and she recovered.

AND WORKING IN WOOL. Only IN WOOL but not in flax. Whose [view then is represented in] our Mishnah? — It is that of R. Judah. For it was taught: [Her husband] may not compel her to wait11  upon his father or upon his son, or to put straw before his beast;12  but he may compel her to put straw before his herd.13  R. Judah said: Nor may he compel her to work in flax because flax causes one's mouth to be sore14  and makes one's lips stiff.15  This refers, however, only to Roman flax.

R. ELIEZER SAID: EVEN IF SHE BROUGHT HIM A HUNDRED BONDWOMEN. R. Malkio stated in the name of R. Adda b. Ahabah: The halachah is in agreement with R. Eliezer. Said R. Hanina the son of R. Ika: [The rulings concerning] a spit,16  bondwomen17  and follicles18  [were laid down by] R. Malkio; [but those concerning] a forelock,19  wood-ash20  and cheese21  [were laid down by] R. Malkia. R. Papa, however, said: [If the statement is made on] a Mishnah or a Baraitha [the author is] R. Malkia [but if on] a reported statement22  [the author is] R. Malkio. And your mnemonic23  is, 'The Mishnah24  is queen'.25  What is the practical difference between them?26  — [The statement on] Bondwomen.27  R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAID etc. Is not this the same view as that of the first Tanna?28  — The practical difference between them [is the case of a woman] who plays with little cubs29  or [is addicted to] checkers.30




GEMARA. What is the reason of Beth Shammai?39  — They derive their ruling from [the law relating to] a woman who bears a female child.40  And Beth Hillel? — They derive their ruling from [the law relating to] one who bears a male child.41  Why should not Beth Hillel also derive their ruling from [the law relating to] a woman who bears a female child?42  — If they had derived their ruling from [the law relating to] a woman who bears a child they should indeed have ruled thus, but [the fact is that] Beth Hillel derive their ruling from [the law of] the menstruant.43  On what principle do they44  differ? — One45  is of the opinion that the usual46  [is to be inferred] from the usual,47  and the other48  is of the opinion that what a husband has caused49  should be derived from that which he has caused.50

Rab stated: They44  differ only in the case of one who specified [the period of abstention] but where he did not specify the period it is the opinion of both that he must divorce her forthwith and give her the kethubah. Samuel, however, stated: Even where the period had not been specified the husband may delay [his divorce],51  since it might be possible for him to discover some reason52  for [the remission of] his vow.53  But surely, they54  once disputed this question; for have we not learned: If a man forbade his wife by vow to have any benefit from him he may, for thirty days, appoint a steward,55  but if for a longer period he must divorce her and give her the kethubah. And [in connection with this] Rab stated: This ruling applies only where he specified [the period] but where he did not specify it he must divorce her forthwith and give her the kethubah, while Samuel stated: Even where the period had not been specified the husband may also postpone [his divorce],51  since it might be possible for him, to discover some grounds52  for [the annulment of his vow]?56  — [Both disputes are] required. For if [their views] had been stated in the former57  only it might have been assumed that only in that case did Rab maintain his view, since [the appointment] of a steward is not possible but that in the second case58  where [the appointment] of a steward is possible he agrees with Samuel. And If the second case58  only had been stated it might have been assumed that only in that case did Samuel maintain his view59  but that in the former case60  he agrees with Rab. [Hence both statements were] necessary.

STUDENTS MAY GO AWAY TO STUDY etc. For how long [may they go away] with the permission [of their wives]? — For as long as they desire.

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. V. Rashi.
  2. Lit., 'thus'.
  3. R. Ashi.
  4. [H], lit., 'another thing', sc. 'something unnameable', e.g., swine, leprosy, idolatry and sodomy.
  5. One of the pieces of meat.
  6. Mar Zutra (v. Rashi).
  7. Lit., 'he went',
  8. That welled up in her mouth as a result of the acrid flavour of the fruit.
  9. Lit., 'it became (transparent) like glass' (v. Rashi).
  10. Lit., 'spit (and) eject' (bis).
  11. Lit., 'to stand', v. Rashi.
  12. Such as a horse or an ass or (according to another interpretation) 'male beasts' (v. Rashi and cf. BaH a.l.).
  13. Cattle or (according to the second interpretation in n. 9) 'female beasts'.
  14. Or 'swollen', v. next note.
  15. Because the spinner must frequently moisten the thread, with his saliva (v. Jast.). Aliter: 'the flax causes an offensive smell in the mouth and distends the lips' (cf. Rashi and Golds.).
  16. That has been used for the roasting of meat on a festival, may at the time be put aside (v. Bezah 28b).
  17. Whom a woman brought to her husband at her marriage (v. our Mishnah).
  18. That these, even without the pubic hairs, are sufficient indication of pubes (v. Nid. 52a).
  19. Belorith [H] (cf. Sanh, Sonc. ed. p. 114, n. 5). An Israelite trimming the hairs of a heathen must withdraw his hand at a distance of three finger's breadth on every side of the forelock (A.Z. 29a).
  20. [H], is forbidden to be spread on a wound because it gives the appearance of an incised imprint (v. Mak. 21).
  21. Forbidden, if made by a heathen, because it is smeared over with lard.
  22. [H], an opinion or dictum of Rabbis, not recorded in a Mishnah or Baraitha, reported by their disciples or colleagues.
  23. An aid to the recollection as to which statements were made by R. Malkia and R. Malkio respectively.
  24. [H], a general term for Mishnah and Baraitha in contradiction to [H] (v. supra note 7).
  25. I.e., more authoritative than a reported statement. Malkia [H] whose name closely resembles (queen) [H] (and not Malkio) is to be associated with the Mishnah and the Baraitha that are designated queen.
  26. R. Hanina and R. Papa.
  27. Which is recorded in our Mishnah. According to R. Papa the comment on it must be that of R. Malkia (cf. supra note 10) while according to R. Hanina it is included among the statements attributed to R. Malkio, v. A.Z. 29a, and Mak. 21a.
  28. R. Eliezer. What difference is there for all practical purposes whether the reason for the ruling Is unchastity or idiocy?
  29. V. Jast. Or 'wooden cubs', counters in a game (cf. Levy).
  30. [H] or [H] nardeshir, the name of a game played on a board; 'chess' (Rashi). [So named after its inventor Ardeshir Babekan, v. Krauss T.A. III, p. 113]. A woman who spends her time in this manner may be exposed to the temptation of unchastity but is in no danger of falling into idiocy.
  32. After this period it is the duty of the husband either to have his vow disallowed or to release his wife by divorce.
  33. From their homes,
  34. Ex. XXI, 10.
  35. [H] ([rt. [H]], Piel, 'to walk about'), men who have no need to pursue an occupation to earn their living and are able 'to walk about' idly.
  36. Who carry produce from the villages to town and whose occupation requires their absence from their home town during the whole of the week.
  37. Who travel longer distances from their homes.
  38. Whose sea voyages take them away for many months at a time.
  39. Who allow TWO WEEKS.
  40. Intercourse with whom is forbidden for two weeks (v. Lev. XII, 5),
  41. In whose case the prohibition is restricted to one week (ibid. 2).
  42. The fact that the longer period of two weeks has Pentateuchal sanction should entitle a husband to vow abstention for a similar length of time.
  43. The period of whose uncleanness is only seven days (v. Lev. XV, 19).
  44. Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel.
  45. Lit., 'Master', sc. Beth Hillel.
  46. Such as a quarrel between husband and wife resulting in a vow of abstention.
  47. Menstruation which is a monthly occurrence. Births are not of such regular occurrence.
  48. Beth Shammai.
  49. Abstention on account of his vow.
  50. Birth. Menstruation is not the result of a husband's action.
  51. For two weeks according to Beth Shammai or one week according to Beth Hillel.
  52. [H], lit., 'a door'; some ground on which to justify his plea that had he known it he would never have made that vow; v. Ned, 21.
  53. A competent authority, if satisfied with the reason, may under such conditions disallow a vow.
  54. Rab and Samuel.
  55. To supply his wife's needs.
  56. Cf. supra n. 11. Why then should Rab and Samuel unnecessarily repeat the same arguments?
  57. The vow against marital duty.
  58. A vow forbidding other benefits.
  59. Since the appointment of a steward is feasible.
  60. The vow against marital duty.
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