י״ט בניסן ה׳תשע״ה (April 8, 2015)

Ketubot 65a-b: Wine as a Basic Need

The Mishna (64b) discusses a case where the husband is not living at home and has instructed a third party to make sure that his wife’s needs are taken care of, as required by the ketuba. In such a case the Mishna lists basic requirements (such as food, furnishings, clothing and the like) that must be supplied.

The Gemara notes that among the food and drinks that are listed, wine does not appear. This would seem to support the teaching of Rabbi Eliezer that women are not given wine as part of their regular support, the passage in Hoshe’a (2:7) notwithstanding (the word shikkuyai in that is interpreted to mean “jewelry” rather than “drink”). In a parallel discussion of this topic in the Talmud Yerushalmi a different passage from Hoshe’a is brought (4:11), which indicates that wine is seen as the source of licentiousness. This explains why it is seen as particularly inappropriate for inclusion in the diet of a married woman who is living alone.

Nevertheless, the Gemara points to individual cases where women who ordinarily drank wine were given a set amount as part of their allotment of basic needs. Nakdimon ben Guryon’s daughter-in-law, for example, was given two se’ah of wine for cooking purposes every week. The Gemara records that she blessed by saying “in their time, your daughters should be granted this, as well.” (While our Gemara appears to accept this as an attempt to bless the Sages for their sensitivity, and notes that they did not respond amen because she was a widow and they did not wish this on their daughters, the Talmud Yerushalmi tells the same story but interprets her “blessing” as one of sarcasm because she viewed the amount that she was given as less than her needs. According to the Yerushalmi they answered amen, because for an average person it was a huge allotment.)

The conclusion of both our Gemara and the Yerushalmi appears to be that wealthy women were given an allotment of wine for both drinking and cooking, if that was their common practice.

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