Rabbi Akiva was a shepherd of Ben Kalba Savua. His daughter, upon observing how modest and noble the shepherd was, said to him, “Were I to be betrothed to you, would you go away to study Torah?” “Yes,” he replied. She was then secretly betrothed to him and sent him away. When her father heard what she had done, he chased her from his house and forbade her by a vow to have any benefit from his estate. Rabbi Akiva spent twelve years studying Torah. When he returned home, he brought with him twelve thousand disciples. While in his home town, he heard an old man saying to his (Rabbi Akiva’s) wife, “How long will you be living as a widow?” She said to him: “If he would listen to me, he would sit and learn for another twelve years.” Rabbi Akiva (overhearing this statement) said: “I now have permission.” He therefore returned immediately to learn for another twelve years in the Beis Medrash.
When he returned (after the second period of twelve years), he returned together with twenty four thousand of his students. His wife heard that he was returning, and came out to greet him. Her neighbors told her: “Borrow some clothing and cover yourself well.” She replied: “A righteous man knows the soul of his animal.”
When she reached him, she fell on her face and kissed his legs. Rabbi Akiva’s aide began to push her away. Rabbi Akiva said: “Leave her, as both mine and yours (merit of Torah study) is because of her.”
Her father heard that a great man was coming to town. He said: “I will go come before him, perhaps he will negate my vow.” He came before Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva said to him: “Did you make this vow with the intention that it should apply even if he becomes a great man?” He replied: “Even if he would learn one chapter or one law (I did not intend it).” Rabbi Akiva told him: “I am he (your son-in-law about whom you made the vow).” He fell to the ground, kissed his legs, and gave him one half of his assets.
The daughter of Rabbi Akiva made the same arrangement with Ben Azai (that he should go learn for many years). This is like people say: “the sheep goes after another sheep, like the actions of a mother are the actions of a daughter.”
Rav Yosef the son of Rava was sent by his father to learn in the study house of (an elder) Rav Yosef for six years (after his marriage). After three years passed and it was the eve of Yom Kippur, he thought to return to visit his wife. His father, Rava, heard about his visit and took a weapon and went out to meet him. Rava confronted him: “You remembered your prostitute?” Some say he said: “You remembered your dove?” They were both involved in this confrontation, and neither remembered to eat the seudah ha’mafsekes (the meal customarily eaten on the eve of Yom Kippur). (62b – 63a)
A woman who rebels against her husband has her kesuvah lessened by seven dinar per week. Rabbi Yehuda says seven tarfikin. How long can he lessen the value of her kesuvah? He can subtract the entire value of her kesuvah. Rabbi Yosi says that he can even subtract more, to the point where if she inherits assets from a relative he can collect them (based on this fine). Similarly, someone who rebels against his wife must add three dinar a week to her kesuvah. Rabbi Yehuda says three tarfikin. (63a)
Rebelling From What?
What is she rebelling from? Rav Huna says from having marital relations. Rabbi Yosi the son of Rabbi Chanina says from doing work.
Our Mishna continued: “And so too someone who rebels against his wife.” The Gemora asks: this is understandable according to the opinion that rebelling refers to having marital relations (as both are obligated to do so). However, according to the opinion that this refers to rebelling from work, is a husband obligated to do work for his wife?
The Gemora answers: Yes, it is deemed rebellion for his to say he will not give her food nor support her.
The Gemora asks: Didn’t Rav say that someone who tells his wife he will not give her food nor support her must divorce his wife and pay her kesuvah? The Gemora answers: Isn’t there time in the interim that we try to impress on him to change his mind? [The Mishna therefore states that during that time he must pay a fine.]
The Gemora asks a question from the following Beraisa: Both a woman who is betrothed and married, even if she is a nidah, even if she is sick, and even if she is waiting to do “yibum” – “levirate marriage (can be considered as rebelling).” The Gemora asks that the statement regarding a sick woman is understandable if we say that rebelling refers to refusing to have marital relations. However, if it refers to doing work, a sick person is not able to do work!
The Gemora answers: It must be that everyone agrees that refraining from having marital relations is considered rebelling. Their argument is merely regarding work. One opinion holds that refraining from work is not considered to be in this category, and one opinion says that it is. (63a – 63b)
We will now discuss the previous statement (of our Mishna). A woman who rebels against her husband has her kesuvah lessened by seven dinar per week. Rabbi Yehuda says seven tarfikin. Our sages analyzed this issue and decided that she should be publicly declared to be rebelling against her husband for four weeks. Beis Din sends her a message (during this time) that she should know that if she continues in this manner she will lose her entire kesuvah even if it is of a value of one hundred manah. Both a woman who is betrothed and married, even if she is a nidah, even if she is sick, and even if she is waiting to do yibum (can be considered as rebelling). Rav Chiya bar Yosef asked Shmuel: Is a nidah fit to have marital relations? He answered him: it is incomparable someone who has bread in his basket to someone who does not have bread in his basket. [This means that even if someone cannot currently eat bread, he is happy knowing that he will soon be able to do so. Accordingly, for a woman to say that she will not have marital relations with her husband when she is permitted to do so is rebelling, even if she is currently forbidden.]
Rami bar Chama states: This public declaration only takes place in the synagogues and study houses. Rava says: This is evident from the fact that the sages publicly declared this four sabbaths in a row. This shows it is only done in the synagogues and study houses (where people congregate on shabbos).
Rami bar Chama says: She is sent the above message from Beis Din twice, once before the public declaration and once afterwards.
Rav Nachman the son of Rav Chisda stated: The law follows this declaration of the sages. Rava said: This is improper! Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak said to Rava: What is improper about it? I said it in front of him, and I said it in the name of a great man. Who? Rabbi Yosi the son of Rabbi Chanina.
The Gemora asks: Who did Rava hold like? He held like his statement in the name of Rav Sheshes that we try to pressure her to change her mind, and the interim fine her for noncompliance. Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav Sheshes that we do not rely on trying to change her mind.
What is the description of a rebellious woman? Ameimar says it is where she says that she is attracted to him but wants to pain him. However, if she says she cannot have marital relations because he is disgusting to her to the point that she doesn’t even care if she loses her kesuvah, we do not force her (and he can divorce her without giving her a kesuvah) . Mar Zutra says: We force her (using the laws of noncompliance stated above).
There was an incident like this where Mar Zutra indeed forced the woman to comply, and in the couple ended up having as a child the great Rabbi Chanina from Sura. The Gemora states that this is not proof that he was correct, as Heavenly help decided that it should be so (based on the particular situation).
The daughter-in-law of Rav Zvid rebelled (and said she was disgusted by her husband). Her husband had in his possession one coat that she brought into the marriage. Ameimar, Mar Zutra, and Rav Ashi sat together, and Rav Gamda was sitting near them. They stated: “If she rebelled, she loses the clothes she brought into the marriage.” Rav Gamda interjected: “Is the reason you are saying this because Rav Zvid is an important man and you are flattering him? Didn’t Rav Kahana say that Rava asked about this law and was unsure?” (63b)
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