As we have learned in the very first Mishna in Massekhet Kiddushin, one method of creating a marriage is for a man to transfer an object of value to a woman, saying to her, “Harei at mekudeshet li be-kesef zo ke-dat Moshe ve-Yisra’el – behold you are betrothed to me with this money according to the laws of Moses and the Jewish people.” For the marriage to take effect, the object that is transferred must have some minimal value – a peruta. Our Mishna discusses whether objects that appear to have value, but whose use is forbidden by Jewish law, can be used for kiddushin.
The Mishna lists several examples of issurei hana’a – objects from which someone cannot derive any benefit – which are considered valueless, and therefore cannot be used for kiddushin. Among them are:
- Orla – fruit that grows during the first three years after a tree is planted.
- Kil’ei ha-kerem – when grain is grown in a vineyard in a forbidden manner
- Shor ha-niskal – an ox that is waiting to be killed by the order of the beit din (e.g. an ox that killed a person)
- Basar be-halav – meat and milk that were cooked together.
The Mishna concludes that if, in violation of Jewish law, someone were to sell any of these objects, the proceeds could be used for kiddushin, since the prohibition does not transfer to the money that was received in exchange for it.
Rabbeinu Yehonatan writes that the rule presented in this Mishna is obvious, since it makes no sense that kiddushin can be completed with the exchange of an object that has no halakhic value. He suggests that the Mishna needed to teach this rule mainly for the last line, which permits the use of money that was received in exchange for one of these objects, and allows the marriage to take place.