Simcha Feuerman
Psychology, Torah and the Daf Yomi

Spiritual Food and Marrying Up Kiddushin 47-49


Spiritual Food

This daf continues the halakhic discussion of betrothal using money forgiven from a loan. As we explained on Daf 46, a woman cannot be betrothed by allowing her to keep money she had previously borrowed. This is because the marriage bond needs to be effectuated via a transfer of a tangible object. The loan is not tangible, and even if the money was not spent and thus still tangible, the transfer of money to her domain occurred as a loan, and not an exchange for marriage.

An interesting application of this concept is that most poskim rule that one cannot fulfill the obligation of Mishloach Manos on Purim by forgiving a debt, even if we imagine that the debt was in tangible food items. Here too, though the person is getting something, the transfer of tangible food objects was prior to the act of Mishloach Manos. The mitzvah is to give a food gift to a friend, and here, though food was not given as a gift, there was merely the canceling of an obligation to return loaned food items. (For more about loans and Mishloach Manos, see ( ))

Interestingly, there is one instance of non-tangible material that may be considered Mishloach Manos, and this is in regard to Chiddushei Torah. This is not some derash, but actually something seriously considered by some poskim, as Torah is compared to food (see Kol Bo 52:10 and Shir Hashirim 4:11, and Nitey Gavriel, Hilchos Purim 28, where he lists a number of authorities who sought to fulfill Mishloach Manos in the additional dimension of Torah). Rav Zinner adds a clever melitzah and remez from the verse in Esther (3:13), “And send Sefarim”, hinting that Sefarim can be sent as Mishloach Manos. It is notable that Zohar (Vayikra 94 and 95) implies that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai fulfilled Seudah Shelishis via “consuming” divrei Torah (actually Ma’aseh Merkava) on Shabbos Erev Pesach, where the obligation for Seudas Shabbos and not eating a meal too close to the seder conflict with each other.

On a practical halakhic level, I seriously doubt that chidushei Torah can substitute for Mishloach Manos. However, the soul definitely needs to be fed.


How to Get Paid Faster

Our Gemara on amud Aleph and Beis discusses how we view the obligation to pay a worker’s wages, and how it would affect a betrothal that was done via an agreement for the groom to perform a task as the exchange of an object of value:

תַנְיָא: ״עֲשֵׂה לִי שִׁירִים נְזָמִים וְטַבָּעוֹת, וְאֶקַּדֵּשׁ אֲנִי לָךְ״, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעֲשָׂאָן – מְקוּדֶּשֶׁת, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי מֵאִיר, וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים: אֵינָהּ מְקוּדֶּשֶׁת עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ מָמוֹן לְיָדָהּ.

It is taught in a baraisa: If a woman gave gold to a goldsmith, instructing him: Make bracelets, earrings, and rings for me, and I will be betrothed to you as payment for your work, once he has made them she is betrothed; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say: She is not betrothed until money enters her possession.

בְּיֶשְׁנָהּ לִשְׂכִירוּת מִתְּחִלָּה וְעַד סוֹף קָמִיפַּלְגִי, מָר סָבַר אֵינָהּ לִשְׂכִירוּת אֶלָּא בַּסּוֹף. וּמָר סָבַר: יֶשְׁנָהּ לִשְׂכִירוּת מִתְּחִלָּה וְעַד סוֹף.

The question is whether or not the obligation to pay a wage is incurred continuously from the beginning of the period he was hired to its end. One Sage, Rabbi Meir, holds that the obligation to pay a wage is incurred only at the end of the labor when he returns the item to her. Since it is at this stage that he forgives the money due him and converts it to money for betrothal, it was never considered a loan. And one Sage, i.e., the Rabbis, holds: The obligation to pay a wage is incurred continuously from the beginning of the period he was hired to its end, at which point the debt is viewed as a loan that has accumulated throughout the period of hire.

Yismach Moshe (Pinchas) uses this idea that wages are only owed at the end to explain a Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 21.). The Midrash says that Hashem affirms that Pinchas is entitled to take his reward. What is the Midrash driving at? Everyone is entitled to take their reward, so what was special about Pinchas? Yismach Moshe explains that really Hashem should give us a reward for mitzvos immediately in this world. After all, it is a Biblical obligation to pay one’s workers on time (Vayikra 19:13). But we cannot complete our work in this world until the end, because as it states in Avos (2:4), “Do not trust yourself (in morality) until the day you die.” Since, we hold that wages are only obligated upon completion, God does not owe us payment in this world.

However, Pinchas was different. Since he strove to merit the people by encouraging them to perform mitzvos, and of course to immediately correct the disgrace of engaging with the Moabite women, he was assured of righteousness all the days of his life. As it states in Avos (5:18):

כָּל הַמְזַכֶּה אֶת הָרַבִּים, אֵין חֵטְא בָּא עַל יָדוֹ. 

Whoever causes the multitudes to be righteous, sin will not occur on his account; 

Therefore, since Pinchas was assured that he would not sin, his work was completed and he deserved his wages immediately.

Yismach Moshe does not spell this out, but if we are to follow his line of reasoning, we too can cash in on Pinchas’ deal. If we help the community perform mitzvos, we will then be assured of continued righteousness. If so, like Pinchas, we should be entitled to obtain our reward in this world as well.


Is “Marrying Up” Good For You?

Our Gemara on Daf 48 begins a discussion about a scenario where a woman was betrothed with a specific sum of money or another positive condition, and it turns out that she was given more money, an object of greater value, or a superior condition was met:

מַתְנִיָּא: “הִתְקַדְּשִׁי לִי בְּכוֹס זֶה שֶׁל יַיִן” וְנִמְצָא שֶׁל דְּבַשׁ, “שֶׁל דְּבַשׁ” וְנִמְצָא שֶׁל יַיִן, “בְּדִינָר זֶה שֶׁל כֶּסֶף” וְנִמְצָא שֶׁל זָהָב, “שֶׁל זָהָב” וְנִמְצָא שֶׁל כֶּסֶף, “עַל מְנָת שֶׁאֲנִי עָשִׁיר” וְנִמְצָא עָנִי, “עָנִי” וְנִמְצָא עָשִׁיר – אֵינָהּ מְקוּדֶשֶׁת. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר: אִם הִטְעָהּ לְשֶׁבַח, מְקוּדֶשֶׁת.

MISHNA: If a man said to a woman: Be betrothed to me with this cup of wine, and it was found to be a cup of honey; or if he said: With this cup of honey, and it was found to be a cup of wine; or if he said: With this dinar made of silver, and it was found to be made of gold; or if he said: With this dinar made of gold, and it was found to be made of silver; or if he said: On the condition that I am wealthy, and he was found to be poor; or if he said: On the condition that I am poor, and he was found to be wealthy, she is not betrothed in any of these cases. Rabbi Shimon says: If he misled her to her advantage by giving her something better than what he stated, or if his status was greater than he claimed, she is betrothed.

On our daf, 49a, Ullah adds a condition:

אָמַר עוּלָא: מַחֲלוֹקֶת בְּשֶׁבַח מָמוֹן, אֲבָל בְּשֶׁבַח יוּחֲסִין, דִּבְרֵי הַכֹּל – אֵינָהּ מְקוּדֶשֶׁת. מַאי טַעְמָא – “מְסָאנָא דְרַב מִכַּרְעַאי לָא בָּעֵינָא”. תַּנְיָא נָמֵי הָכִּי: מוֹדֶה רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, אִם הִטְעָהּ לִשְׁבַח יוּחֲסִין אֵינָהּ מְקוּדֶשֶׁת.

Ulla says: The dispute in the mishna between the first tanna and Rabbi Shimon is only where he misled her with enhanced monetary value, i.e., he gave her something worth more than the item he had stipulated. But where he misled her with enhanced lineage, so that she was under the impression that his genealogy was less impressive than it, in fact, is, everyone agrees that she is not betrothed. What is the reason for this? A woman says: I do not desire a shoe that is larger than my foot. She does not wish to marry a man whose social standing is far greater than her own. This is also taught in a baraisa (Tosefta 2:6): Rabbi Shimon concedes that if he misled her with enhanced lineage, she is not betrothed.

The woman has a common-sense concern that even though it is technically a plus to have a husband of higher social status, the tensions that might ensue from different expectations and standards could lead to strife. While in modern times, society is less class-based and aristocratic, we should not kid ourselves that there still is a hierarchy of class based on education and finances. What does the research show about class and social differences and its effects on marital compatibility?

Wenhao Zhang discusses the ways in which education affects marriage, one form of measuring status and relative wealth (“How Do Different Education Levels of Couples Affect Marriage?”, Advances in Economics, Business, and Management Research, volume 211):

  1. Zhang found a positive correlation between divorce and separation and disparate educational levels. 
  2. It seems to be much more strongly tilted when the wife has a higher education level than the husband, instead of vice versa.

Zhang speculates what is the reason for these effects:

  • People with different education levels do different kinds of work with different incomes. Highly educated people have a greater opportunity to obtain a high-income job but a high-income work needs a longer working time. According to Peter Kuhn and Fernando Lozano’s research, the frequency of long working hours grew by 14.4 percentage points in the highest quintile of wage earners between 1979 and 2002. So, the highly educated person has less time to accompany their family compared with the lower-educated one.
  • Moreover, high education limits your career options since just a few positions will make sense for you. So, sometimes working in a place far away from home is an unavoidable consequence.
  • People with different education levels have different mentalities. Higher-educated people have fewer negative emotions that they are less dissatisfied, worried, aggressive. Moreover, Education promotes individuals’ ability to control their environment as well as an optimistic outlook on the future. So, highly educated people may be unable to understand and empathize with lower-educated people’s negative attitudes and emotions towards life or difficulties. Such differences may trigger contradictions between couples; hence couples may eventually decide to live separately or even divorce.
  • Additionally, Cummins mentioned that education could foster self-esteem, so the lower educated partner with lower self-confidence may feel insecure about their partner’s support and love, which makes them feel vulnerable in their relationship. Moreover, though they sacrifice as much as high self-esteem partners, low self-esteem people are more likely to regret the sacrifice they have made. ‘These doubts can influence mood, stress, and life satisfaction. Therefore, if the partners with higher self-esteem are unable to confront and understand their partner’s inner thoughts and real feelings.
  • When the mother has a higher education level, there is a greater probability of living separately or divorce. In certain traditional families, the husband is accepted as the decision-maker and has greater control power in the marriage by the marriage norms. Thus, when the wife is well-educated and earns more money than the husband, the traditional status in a family for a man as the decision-maker with stronger control power is negatively affected. So, such a marriage begins with a potential problem as in some traditional religious communities females seek husbands with abundant material wealth and males prefer their wives to be submissive, obedient, and home-oriented. Therefore, a man with traditional views suffers from a family condition like this. Hence, on the bright side, the man may decide to work harder to narrow the income gap. On the bad side, without any communication or compromise, the man may directly blame and force their wives to spend more time on family and support husbands’ careers more.

In Jewish religious families, educational status may not only be evaluated by secular degrees, but rather by Torah study and proficiency, as well as each family of origin’s level of religious observances and extra customs of piety. While not the same, we might also deduce that differences in Torah education, devotion, and observance also could lead to incompatibilities. And perhaps for the same unfortunate reasons discussed above in reference to education and income, it could be worse if the higher status is on the woman’s side. (Devotion to, and knowledge of Torah, will differ in expression between Jewish religious men and women because of different expectations and roles. However, there is an understanding of each gender’s way to express it through their role, and they differ from family to family and religious status. It is not uncommon for a wife to complain, “But my father always did…“, implying her disappointment that her husband is not up to that standard.)

As in ancient times, status, education, and role still play a role in marriage compatibility, which is important to keep in mind when making matches.

About the Author
Rabbi, Psychotherapist with 30 years experience specializing in high conflict couples and families.
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