י׳ באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״ו (March 20, 2016)

Kiddushin 9a-b: A Document of Betrothal Written for Her Sake

As we learned in the first Mishna (2a), a wife is “acquired” by her husband by means of one of three methods – kesef, shetar or bi’ah. The Gemara on our daf examines the rules and regulations surrounding marriage done by use of a shetar. Unlike kesef, which must have some minimal value, the importance of the shetar lies in the words that appear on the document. Thus, the focus of discussion is on what the document must say.

Reish Lakish presents one dilemma – must the document be written with a particular man and woman in mind, or can the scribe produce generic shetarot that can be used by anyone? The discussion in the Gemara revolves around the question of comparison. Should a shetar kiddushin be seen as parallel to kesef kiddushin, and just as money can be used for marriage without any special requirements, so a document can simply say, “With this document I wed thee,” or should it be seen as being similar to a geṭ which must be written with a specific husband and wife in mind? The Gemara states that Reish Lakish eventually answered his own question by noting the passage in Devarim (24:2) that juxtaposes marriage and divorce. From this he concludes that the shetar must be written lishmah – with the specific man and woman in mind.

Even with this conclusion, the rishonim discuss whether the names of the couple getting married must be written into the shetar. The Ramban compares the shetar kiddushin to the get, arguing that we must follow the rules of giṭṭin. Since he concludes that a get requires the names of the two parties, a shetar kiddushin will, as well. The Ritva points out that there is no mention of any such requirement in our Gemara, and the Me’iri quotes the Talmud Yerushalmi that offers a standard form for a shetar kiddushin that does not appear to require the names of the husband and wife.

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