Living By Truth

Ketubot (1:6) | Yisrael Bankier | 4 years ago

Masechet Ketubot opens by explaining that the money obligated in the ketubah, that must be paid in the advent of the husband's death or divorce, varies with the state of the bride at the time of kidushin (betrothal). We learn that if she was a betulah the value is two hundred dinar, otherwise it is one-hundred. The Mishnayot that follow, deal with cases where her state is contested. The sixth the Mishnah records the case where she admits that she was not a betulah at the time of nisuin (marriage). However, she claims that she was indeed a betulah at the time of kidushin, yet she was raped in the intervening time. The husband however claims that she was not a betulah at time of kidushin and he was misled, and is therefore not required to pay anything. According to Rabban Gamliel and R' Eliezer she is believed while R' Yehoshua disagrees.

The Gemara (12b) explains that Rabban Gamliel maintains that she is believed since her claim is a definite claim (bari) while the husband's is not (shema). Framing the case in this way alone would not be enough, since she is attempting to extract funds from the husband. Consequently, Rabban Gamliel combines this consideration with the fact, that since she was born as betulah it is her established chazaka – assumed status. These two considerations combined is enough for her to be believed. Alternatively, the Gemara explains that we combine the fact that this case is bari vs shema with the fact that she had a better claim – a migo. By claiming she was raped, she invalidates herself from marrying a kohen. A better claim would have been that during the intervening period she had a physical injury that caused her to longer appear as a betulah. In short, Rabban Gamliel understands that bari vs shema combined with this migo strengthens her case. R' Yehoshua however maintains that since she is attempting to extract funds, even the combined considerations are insufficient.

One should note however that when R' Yehoshua argues with Rabban Gamliel and R' Eliezer the Mishnah is quite verbose: "We do not live by her word (lit. mouth)! Rather, she is assumed to be a be'ulah even prior to betrothal and she tricked him until she can bring a proof that support her claim." The Shita Mekubetzet also notes that Rabban Gamliel states "she is believed" rather than the more definite "chayav" (obligated) that we would expect. Why?

The Shita Mekubtzet explains that had the Mishnah stated chayav we would have thought that the husband was obligated to pay due to the weakness of the husband's position. In other words, we would have incorrectly thought that bari is stronger than shema, even when extracting funds. Consequently, the use of "she is believed" is an admission that we need to combine it with the chazaka or migo such that she is "believed". Against that R' Yehoshua counters, "we do not live by her word" to assert that bari is not stronger. He continues "she is assumed to be a be'ulah" to dismiss the claim of a chazaka. R' Yehoshua then closes that she is not believed, "until she can bring a proof that supports her claim" dismissing that the migo in extracting funds presented by Rabban Gamliel.

Granted the above thus far, how do we understand the expression: "We do not live by her word"? The Tifferet Yisrael cites the opinion in Gemara Sanhedrin (96) that there is city name kushta (truth) whose residents live very long lives since they never lie. The Tifferet Yisrael suggest that R' Yehoshua is contending, that in this case such speech does not extend life as she is assumed to be lying until she bring proof.

The Tosfot R' Akiva Eiger cites the Talmidei R' Yonah (cited in the Shita Mekubetzet) who explains that we find in Pirkei Evot that emet – truth – is one of the pillars of the world. Consequently, R' Yehoshua is arguing that we literally do not live by her word. In other words, since her claim is not assumed to be truth, it does not sustain the world; it does not sustain us. It is interesting to reflect on the difference between the explanation of Tifferet Yisrael and the Talmidei R' Yonah. According everyone, truth is life-giving. We find however according to the Talmidei R' Yonah, R' Yehoshua is stressing that "we" do not live by her word. The life-giving force of truth impacts not just the individual, but the entire world.

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