כ״ג בשבט ה׳תשע״ה (February 12, 2015)

Ketubot 10a-b: The Power of Dates

The Mishna teaches that the ketuba of an  guarantees the sum of a maneh (100 dinars), while that of a betula (virgin) is 200 dinar. In searching for the etymology of the term almana, R Hana of Baghdad suggests that it stems from the maneh that a widow receives.

In typical Gemara fashion, this statement segues into other statements made by this sage, R Hana of Baghdad. In one of them, he teaches of the virtues of eating dates: dates warm a person, satiate him, act as a laxative and strengthen, but they do not make him delicate. This discussion includes other opinions on this subject, as well. Rav teaches that if one has eaten dates, he should not give legal decisions. The Gemara explains that this is because dates are similar to wine, which can be intoxicating. Another position is presented by Abaye, who quotes his mother as teaching him that dates are problematic before a meal, but they are good to eat after a meal.

Dates are very high in calories – about 270 calories per 100 grams of dried dates, most of which are sugars that are easily digested. This gives dates both the qualities of satiation and warming. The high fiber content of dates is what gives them the quality of a laxative. The advice to avoid eating dates before the meal stems from the fact that they give a sense of being full, thus limiting one’s appetite. For the same reason they are ideal at the end of a meal.

Eating a large amount of highly concentrated sugar-heavy foods raises the sugar level in the blood, which can lead to dizziness and drowsiness – similar to the effects of alcohol consumption. This is probably the source for the ruling that someone who eats dates should not offer legal decisions.

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