ג׳ באייר ה׳תשע״ו (May 11, 2016)

Kiddushin 61a-b: A Double Condition

We have been discussing situations where an offer of marriage includes a condition (see daf 60). The Mishna on our daf brings the opinion of Rabbi Me’ir, who requires a set of rules according to which the condition must be made in order for it to be effective. Turning to a conditional agreement that appears in the Torah, Rabbi Me’ir argues that any condition that is made that does not follow the rules of the agreement between the tribes of Re’uven and Gad with Moshe, has no effect on the agreement. Thus, a condition must be stated so that it is:

  • a tenai kaful – a “double condition” that spells out what happens if the condition is fulfilled and what happens if it is not fulfilled;
  • hen kodem le-lav – the first statement must explain what happens if the condition is fulfilled, only afterwards should there be a statement that explains what happens if the condition is not fulfilled;
  • tenai kodem le-ma’aseh – the condition must be stated before its effect is stated.

Rabbi Hanina ben Gamliel disagrees with Rabbi Me’ir arguing that only in the specific case of the tribes of Re’uven and Gad was there a need to go into clear detail; in most cases there is no need to do so.

The case of the tribes of Re’uven and Gad appears in Sefer Bamidbar (chapter 32). These two tribes approach Moshe and suggest to him that they remain on the eastern bank of the Jordan River rather than crossing into the Land of Israel proper. After some discussion, Moshe agrees to their request, conditional on their joining the rest of the tribes in conquering the land. Moshe clearly states that they will receive their request if they fulfill the condition, but that if they do not fulfill the condition they will receive their inheritance on the western side of the Jordan together with everyone else. Rabbi Hanina ben Gamliel’s argument is that Moshe had to clarify that failing to fulfill the condition would not make them lose their inheritance; they would receive their inheritance on one side of the Jordan or the other. This would not be necessary in other situations, however.

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