י״ג באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״ו (March 23, 2016)

Kiddushin 12a-b: Betrothal in the Marketplace

As we have learned, according to Jewish law there are three methods for creating kiddushinkesef, shetar or bi’ah. The Gemara on our daf describes a man who handed a woman a hadas – a myrtle branch – in the marketplace and asked her to marry him. Based on Shmuel’s ruling – that even something of little value may create a marriage, since it might be worth a perutah in another place – and based on Rav’s ruling – we will give the man lashes – Rav Yosef ruled that we must treat the case of the hadas like a marriage.

In explanation of this idea, the Gemara brings the ruling of Rav who would punish people who agreed to have kiddushin by means of a sexual encounter, even though this is one of the three methods of which the Mishna approves. Similarly, Rav punished people who agreed to kiddushin in the marketplace or without a properly arranged shidduḳ.

The reason behind all of Rav’s punishments is that, notwithstanding the letter of the law which permits a sexual act to solidify a marriage agreement, such behavior shows a lack of respect for privacy and modesty, which are the very foundations of marriage. Furthermore, agreeing to marry when standing in the marketplace or without proper preparations indicates that this is seen as happenstance and is reminiscent of a “one-night stand” rather than a true marriage.

The idea of shidduḳ that appears in the Gemara is originally an Aramaic word whose meaning appears to be “to calm” or “to quiet.” In its borrowed form, it has come to mean to appease or to placate; to persuade. In our context, it indicates an agreement between the man and woman or between their families prior to marriage.

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