Thursday, November 22, 2007

Two Leniencies and Two Stringencies

The Gemora (Kesuvos 82a) had stated that we do not find a Tanna ruling stringently on two matters in respect to a kesuvah. Rashi explains that since a kesuvah is a Rabbinic enactment in the first place, we cannot rule with extreme stringencies. Therefore, we cannot rule that moveable objects are pledged for the kesuvah (in accordance with Rabbi Meir) and that the kesuvah may be collected from the debtor of the deceased husband (in accordance with Rabbi Nosson).

The Rif writes that this particular halachic ruling is not applicable nowadays. In the times of the Gemora, the society was an agricultural one and therefore, only real estate was pledged for the kesuvah. However, now that we maintain that all of the husband’s possessions are pledged for her kesuvah, this is not regarded as a stringency and therefore we can rule that the kesuvah may be collected from the debtor of the deceased husband.

Rabbi Braun in Sheorim Mitzuyanim B’halacha points out that the inverse is true as well. In a situation where we rule leniently, we do not rule according to two leniencies. Shulchan Aruch (Y”D, 199:7) writes that although there are times that we allow a woman to immerse herself in a ritual bath during the daytime, we will inform her then that she must clean herself immediately prior to immersion, and we do not rely on the leniency which normally allows a woman to prepare herself a significant time before immersion.