TalmuDigest

For the week ending 15 September 2007 / 3 Tishri 5768

Ketubot 16 - 22

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

  • Conflicting claims re ketubah obligation
  • Proofs of marriage as a virgin
  • Singing and dancing at a wedding
  • Honor shown to a bride, a king and a deceased
  • Conflicting claims re ownership of a field or payment of a debt
  • Witnesses who discredit the value of their signatures on financial document
  • When martyrdom is required
  • Conflict between two pairs of witnesses
  • Mounds of earth suspected of being graves
  • Certification by witnesses of their signatures
  • When a witness can also serve as a judge
  • When one is believed in his redeeming claim because he could have withheld his initial damaging one
  • When a woman is believed to say that she received a divorce

Honoring the King

Two processions of diametrically opposed natures meet and one must give way to the other. The funeral procession is obligated to seek an alternate route so that the company leading the bride to her chupah can pass.

If either of these two should have such an encounter with the procession of the king it must defer to him. This is perhaps based on the wording of the Torah command regarding giving honor to the king: "Set, you shall set upon yourself a king." (Devarim 17:15) The double phrase is seen by our Sages as an indication that the honor of the king is so paramount that even if he waives the honor due to him we are still obligated. This can readily be understood in regard to the public which must continue to honor the king even if he declines. But what about the king himself — does he have the privilege of acting in accordance with his declining the honor due him?

Our gemara relates that King Agrippas once allowed a bridal procession to take precedence over his own and was praised for this by the Sages. The question is raised as to why he as praised if the rule is that a king's honor cannot be waived. The answer given is that this encounter took place at a crossroads where it was not at all obvious that the king was deferring to the bride but that he was headed for the alternate road.

What emerges from this discussion is that even if the king wishes to defer to the bride where it is obvious that he is declining the honor due to him he cannot do so. But isn't his own honor within his jurisdiction to decline?

The solution to this problem is based on an understanding of the honor that the Torah accorded to the king. "Earthly kingship reflects the Heavenly one" say our Sages. When a subject honors his king he is reminded of the recognition due to the King of kings. It is therefore incumbent on the earthly king himself to maintain the dignity of his royal office and to avoid any action that will detract from it.

What the Sages Say

"If Reuven owes money to Shimon and Shimon owes money to Levi, then Levi can demand payment from Reuven."

  • Rabbi Natan - Ketubot 19a

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