Pogemet Ketubatah

Shevuot (7:7) | Yisrael Bankier | 12 years ago

Just as a “pogemet ketubatah” cannot be paid prior to making a shevuah [so too] if a single witness testifies that the ketubah was paid, [the wife] cannot be paid without making a shevuah...

Shevuot (7:7)

The Mishnah in Ketubot (9:7) elaborates:

…[What] is [the case of] pogemet ketubatah? If her ketubah was worth one-thousand zuz and [the husband] said “you have [already] received your ketubah” and she responds “I have only received one-hundred”, she collects the rest after she makes a shevuah...

This Masechet discusses many different shevuot. The Gemara (Ketubot 87b) therefore seeks to gain an understanding of this shevuah by categorising it. Rami bar Chama explains that this is a biblical shevuah of mo’de be’miktzat. We have learnt, a person who partially admits to a claim made against him is obligated to make a shevuah to exempt himself from what he claims he has paid. Here the husband claims he paid her everything and she has partially admitted.

Rava raises two problems with this suggestion based on rules that we have learnt in our masechet:

  1. In all biblical shevuot, the person making the shevuah, exempts

    himself from payment. Here, the woman is making a shevuah in order to collect money.

  2. In general, a women collects the money of her ketubah from land.

    However we know that one does not make a shevuah on shi’abud karka’ot.

Rava therefore understands that this is a shevuah d’rabbanan35 based on the principle that the payer is usually more scrupulous regarding payment details than the payee. The Chachamim allowed the woman to collect, but enforced her to make a shevuah first so that she is extra careful in confirming exactly how much she has already received.36 From our perspective, this opinion makes sense as the sixth perek of Shevuot deals with biblical shevuot (dayanim) while the seventh perek, in which pogemet ketubatah features, deals with the rabbinic shevuot-mishnah.37

There are two ways to understand Rava’s conclusion that the shevuah of pogemet ketubatah is d’rabbanan. Either Rami bar Chama’s suggestion was completely rejected and this is a brand new shevuah. Alternatively, this shevuah is a d’rabbanan version of mo’de be’miktzat.

The Ritva understands that this shevuah was instituted to set the husband’s mind at ease, implying that it is an entirely new institution. This would explain why Rava did not just state that pogemet ketubatah is rabbinic, but instead also provided a rationale. The Ritva brings further support as this is the same reason brought in the Gemara for the requirement of her shevuah when a single witness testifies that she has already received her ketubah; explaining why the two shevuot are grouped together in the Mishnah.

Alternatively the Talmid Ha’Rashba spends time explaining how pogemet ketubatah structurally matches the case of mo’de be’miktzat. The implication is that pogemet ketubatah is a rabbinic version of mo’de be’miktzat. Support can be found for this from the continuation of the Gemara in Ketubot. There it asks whether a pochetet ketubatah is also required to make a shevuah. The case is where the husband claims he has paid the entire ketubah and the wife denies receiving any payment, yet admits that the agreed value of the ketubah is less than what is stated. The Gemara answers that the woman can collect without making a shevuah as she did not admit to receiving anything. This strongly suggest that pogemet ketubatah is a rabbinic version of mo’de be’miktzat. The Ritva however explains that it is clear that she is exempt as the rationale provided by Rava also does not apply. The only doubt the Gemara had was since it appears similar to mo’de be’miktzat, perhaps the Chachamim would have included it to simplify matters (“lo ploog”).


35 If it is so clear to us, how could Rami bar Chama have assumed otherwise? The Ritva asks this question and answers that even Rami bar Chama agrees that pogemet ketubatah is a rabbinic shevuah instituted “ke’ein d’oraita”. Since this is unclear, Rava is not arguing, but rather explaining Rami bar Chama’s position to avoid a misunderstanding. See the Ran and Hafla’ah for different explanations that maintain the understanding that Rami bar Chama holds that pogemet ketubatah is d’oraita.

36 Even though ordinarily a husband can make his wife make a shevuah even if she completely denies having received any payment, the Gemara (Shevuot 41a) explains that here, she must make a shevuah even without the husband demanding that she makes a shevuah.

37 This is not necessarily a strong proof as in our Mishnah, pogemet ketubatah is used as a point of comparison introducing other shevuot-mishnah relating to a ketubah. It could be understood that the Mishnah is explaining that these other shevuot were instituted because of pogemet ketubatah which is d’oraita.

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