Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kiddushin with a Slavewoman

Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak (Daf Yomi: Gittin 40b) explains the braisa to be dealing with the following case: The master told her, “Become free with this deed (of betrothal) and be betrothed to me with this.” [In this case, she was obviously not freed from beforehand.] Rabbi Meir holds that this expression (be betrothed) includes emancipation (for she cannot become betrothed to him unless he frees her first), and the Chachamim maintain that it does not include emancipation.

Tosfos in Yevamos (47b) asks: How can the kiddushin be effective if the slave did not immerse herself in a mikvah beforehand? The halachah is that after a slave becomes free, he is immersed in a mikvah to become a complete Jew. If so, this woman is still a slave, and kiddushin is not effective with a slave!?

Tosfos answers that we are dealing with a case where she immersed herself prior to the kiddushin.

The Nimukei Yosef states that the requirement for this immersion is only Rabbinical, and therefore, the kiddushin will be Biblically effective even if she did not immerse beforehand.

Reb Chaim Brisker asks that both of these answers will not resolve the issue according to the Rambam. He proves that the Rambam holds that this immersion is a Biblical requirement. This is because the Rambam maintains that this immersion is a completion of her conversion process. If so, asks Reb Chaim, it is obviously a Biblical requirement and it also cannot be done before she becomes free, for it is part of her conversion process and that can only be accomplished after she becomes free! How would the Rambam understand our Gemora? How can the kiddushin be effective with a slavewoman?

He answers as follows: A freed slave requires immersion in order to accept upon himself those halachos that he was lacking while he was still a slave, for at that time, he was not a complete Jew. This, however, has no bearing on the fact that kiddushin is not effective with a slave or a slavewoman. That, the Gemora in Kiddushin (68a) explains is because a slave does not have any lineage (yuchasin). A slave, in this respect, is inferior to an idolater, for an idolater does have lineage. As soon as the slave is freed and he is no longer a slave, he does have lineage, even though his conversion was not completed, for even an idolater has lineage. It is for this reason that kiddushin can be effective in this case even though she did not immerse in the mikvah yet. For in order for the kiddushin to be effective, it is not necessary for her to have a completed conversion; as long as she is not a slave is sufficient, and since at the moment she becomes free, she is no longer a slave, kiddushin may take effect.