י״ז בניסן ה׳תשע״ו (April 25, 2016)

Kiddushin 45a-b: Betrothal of an Underage Girl

According to biblical law, the father has the right to accept kiddushin on behalf of his daughter while she is underage (a ) and she will be married according to the halakha. Once she is a  she makes her own decisions regarding marriage. What if a ketana accepts a marriage proposal? Must we be concerned that the father agrees and that the girl is married, or, perhaps the actions of a ketana have no halakhic significance?

This question is a matter of dispute in the Gemara, and a number of cases are presented by the Gemara in an attempt to clarify the matter, as well as similar cases.

The Gemara tells of a man who approached a young girl in the marketplace and asked her to marry him, offering her a bundle of vegetables. Ravina argues that in this case all would agree that the marriage does not take effect, since it was done derekh bizayon – in a degrading, inappropriate manner. The Gemara concludes that both aspects of the attempted marriage – both offering a bundle of vegetables and doing so in the marketplace – would be considered inappropriate and either of them would preclude any possibility of suggesting that the father might agree to the marriage.

Another story that appears in the Gemara is that of two men who were sitting, and one offered the other a cup of wine, saying that with this cup of wine the other man’s daughter should marry his son. In this case the Gemara rejects the possibility of a marriage because even if we suggest that the father might agree to his daughter’s choice in marriage, we do not make the same suggestion with regard to a son accepting his father’s choice.

The Maharshal explains that the father simply has no power over his son with regard to issues of marriage, so his actions in this case have no meaning. Therefore even if we suggest that the father’s later agreement would approve his daughter’s marriage retroactively, there is no possibility that we would apply that reasoning in the case of his son.

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