Sunday, 22 March 2015

Ketubot 49: Providing for the Women

We are introduced to a new Mishna.  It reminds us that a father is not obligated to provide for his daughters, though it is a mitzvah to do so.   According to the halachot of inheritance, fathers are obligated to provide for their sons’ thought their mothers’ inheritance If she died.  The rabbis extrapolate from this comment and suggest that father must only provide for their sons.  Their daughters are provided for through the father’s’ estate after he dies.

The rabbis remind us that husbands are required to provide housing and full care for their children up until the age of six.  After that point, there is a disagreement as to whether or not and how much fathers are obliged to care for their children through their young adult years.  Wealthy fathers will be able to be coerced by the court to care for his family.

The daf ends with the rabbis focusing on a husband’s obligations to his wife.  It is clear that husbands are required to sustain their wives.

Today’s daf brings to life some of the incredible conflict between ancient and modern perspectives.   Thousands of years ago, women required a man in order to be assured of safety, security, and basic sustenance.  Now we take issue with that notion.  Today, women are considered to be independent beings who are just as much the ‘storymakers’ as they are the ‘babymakers’.

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