Wednesday, March 30, 2016

More on acquiring women in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: By Talmudic law, Jewish Men Purchase Brides as They Would a Slave or a Piece of Real Estate. Sure, the woman consents, but the ‘specter of ownership’ hangs over the relationship. Plus: If you’re buying a woman, what is she actually worth in hard currency?
This is not to say that marriage is a kind of slavery. Crucially, a woman cannot be betrothed without her consent. (Legally, at any rate; in practice, there are many ways of pressuring a woman, or for that matter a man, to get married whether they want to or not.) But since a man does purchase his wife with money, the specter of ownership necessarily hangs over the relationship. That is surely one reason why the Gemara is so concerned to define exactly what “acquiring” means in this context. If a man acquires a wife with money, is the money actually her price? Or is it more of a symbolic offering, meant to publicly establish the woman’s value?
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.