Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Kiddushin 19: A Father Selling His Daughter

The Gemara wonders whether or not a master could designate his Hebrew maidservant to his minor son.  I am guessing that the rabbis find this distasteful and are not merely arguing.  However, there are previously discussed halachot, including a yevam who is nine years old and one day who has intercourse with his yevama.

One of the arguments against designating one's maidservant to a minor son is the issue of consent.  The Gemara notes that a maidservant must consent to her designated husband.  One rabbi argues that the maidservant's consent is not her acquiescence but her knowledge of the upcoming marriage arrangement before it occurs.  

The rabbis discuss some of the difficulties with their understandings.  Can a maidservant be used as collateral?  What are some of the complications that arise if a maidservant is given money that is not meant to be a betrothal but a peruta's worth of money is left over and used a betrothal?  What about conditional betrothals that are interrupted by other betrothals?  Which betrothal is valid?

Our daf ends with the Gemara discussing a father who sells his daughter as a maidservant.  What if the family who purchases her is flawed?  What are reasonable criteria for a divorce?  Does the husband agree that his family was flawed at the time of the betrothal?  

Again we watch the rabbis struggle to understand the sale and purchase of human beings.  The complexity managing the contradictory nature of the mandated slavery described in Torah text and the halachot that apply to human beings.

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