י״ג בניסן ה׳תשע״ו (April 21, 2016)

Kiddushin 41a-b: Betrothal by Agent

The second perek of Massekhet Kiddushin begins on today’s daf, and its focus is mainly on the legal relationship created by marriage. The first discussion deals with the act of marriage itself, and specifically with kiddushin that is accomplished by means of . This discussion does not only deal with marriage but is a wide ranging investigation into the power of shelihut, where it can be used and who can appoint – or be appointed – a sheliaḥ.

R Yosef in the Gemara is quick to note that although marriage can be accomplished by means of a messenger, that is not the ideal situation, and that “mitzva bo yoter mi-bi-sheluho – it is a greater mitzva for a person to perform the act themselves,” rather than have someone else perform the mitzva for him. This concept applies not only with regard to the mitzva of marriage, but to other areas of halakha, as well. The evidence brought by the Gemara to support this idea are stories of Talmudic sages who were involved in food preparation for Shabbat, which they chose to do rather than leave it to their servants.

Others point out that there is a specific problem with regard to having marriage performed through shelihut, since Rav is quoted by Rav Yehuda as ruling that a man should not marry a woman until they have met each other, lest he find something displeasing and they turn out to be incompatible. The rishonim point out that according to this approach, when the Mishna says, “Ha-ish mekadesh bo u’bi-sheluho – a man can marry through his own efforts or through those of an agent,” it does not mean to recommend that a messenger carry out the marriage, rather it is teaching that if such a marriage took place it has the full halakhic ramifications of marriage.

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