Ketubot 53 - 59
That Extra Obligation
Even though a man marrying a virgin must obligate himself in the ketuba to pay his wife 200 zuz in the case of divorce or death (and 100 for one who married a widow) he may obligate himself with "tosefet ketuba" in any amount he wishes.
This ruling of the mishna is challenged by the gemara as being so obvious as to be superfluous, since a person may certainly assume any obligations that he wishes to. The gemara's answer to this challenge is that if not for this ruling, we might have assumed that it is illegal for a man to commit himself to a sum higher than the standard because it might cause embarrassment for those who cannot afford to take on such an obligation.
Rabbeinu Nissim (Ran) infers from this that when one does commit himself to an additional sum he need not separate it in the text of the ketuba from the standard amount but may write that he is committing himself to the composite amount as "the dowry of her virginity." If this additional amount had to be written as a separate phrase, he argues, there would be no reason to even consider the possibility of embarrassment since every ketuba states the standard amount for her "dowry."
Tosefot Yom Tov on the mishna lends support to this view by citing an earlier mishna (12a) which states that the rabbinical courts of the kohanim used to insist on a ketuba of 400 zuz for the brides of kohanim families, and the Sages offered no objection to their practice. What was special about their practice, he notes, was that the entire amount was recorded in the ketuba as the virginal dowry and not separated into two clauses of standard and additional.
Rema in Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer (66:7) cites this ruling of Ran but also cites a differing view of the Mordechai that the two amounts must be mentioned separately. Rema concludes that the prevailing custom follows the second opinion. The reasoning of this opinion is that if the earlier mishna already mentioned the right to add more money to the ketuba, it seems redundant for our mishna to repeat this right. The conclusion must therefore be that kohanim (and the noble families, as the gemara adds) wrote the entire amount in one clause as the virginal dowry, because this was the standard custom in those circles, while everyone else must separate the additional from the standard.
- Ketubot 54b
When a Month Doesn't Count
A virgin who has already been betrothed through kiddushin (first stage of marriage) must be given twelve months to prepare for her wedding from the time that her groom has asked her to join him in nissuin (second stage of marriage).
This was the arrangement in Talmudic times when kiddushin and nissuin did not take place so close together as today. This time period applied to a na'arah -- a young woman from age 12 to 12 -- and for the first twelve months following her reaching the stage of bagrut at 12 . Since the purpose of this waiting period is to give her time to prepare her personal needs, the assumption is that once she reaches the stage of bagrut, even though she is not yet betrothed, she has already begun preparing herself for marriage.
Does the extra month in a leap year count as one of these 12 months?
Although there is no mention of this in our gemara, the Rashash suggests that we look at the Torah source cited by our Sages as a guideline for determining the length of the waiting period. Rabbi Chisda refers us to the negotiations between Avraham's servant Eliezer and the family of Rivka whom he was anxious to bring back as a bride for Yitzchak. "Let the girl stay with us for days or ten months," suggested Rivka's brother and mother (Bereishet 24:55). It is illogical to first ask for only days and then propose a delay of months; so the term days, concludes Rabbi Chisda, must be understood as a year -- a hint that it takes that long for a young girl to prepare for marriage. As proof that the term days can mean a year, he cites the passage (Vayikra 25:29) which sets the time limit for redemption of a house sold in a walled city as days, while it is clear from the context that the seller has a full year to buy back his home.
Regarding that law of redemption, the mishna (Mesechta Erachin 31a) states clearly that in a leap year the owner's option expires only after 13 months. Since we compare the waiting period for the bride to the law of house redemption, we should assume that in a leap year she will be given 13 months.
If this conclusion is correct, that when our Sages dictated 12 month period their intention was for 13 months in a leap year, this would provide support for the view of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 13:11. The Rema there states that the "24 month" period from the birth of the child which a divorced or widowed nursing woman must wait before remarrying is a full two years and does not include the extra month in a leap year. It also constitutes a challenge to the opinion of the author of the Shulchan Aruch himself that it does include that month.
The Beit Shmuel (ibid:22), however, points out that the 12-month period of mourning for a parent does include the extra month of a leap year and that the ruling of Rema was limited to a decree based on the danger to the life of the child dependent on his mother's milk.
- Ketubot 57b