For the week ending 14 March 2015 / 23 Adar I 5775

Ketubot 37 - 43

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Two-Time Loser

  • Ketubot 43b

Katlanit is the term used to describe a woman who twice became widowed and marriage with whom is considered a danger to another husband and therefore forbidden.

This is hinted at in our mishna and elaborated upon elsewhere (Mesechta Yevamot 64b) Two reasons are given there for this danger with the accepted one being that a woman twice widowed is assumed to be fated ("mazal") to have her husbands die.

The question that arises is why the same rule does not apply to a two-time widower. Should we not assume that he is fated to lose his wives and that it should therefore be forbidden to him to marry a third time?

The answer given in the Responsa of Rabbi Asher (Rosh) is that it is not the mazal of the two-time widow that her husbands should die but rather that she should not have the financial support of a husband. This does not apply to the man who is not dependent on his wife for support.

According to this approach the question arises as to what the ruling will be in a case where the two-time widow is a woman of means who can support a third husband.

Rabbi Yechezkel Landau ("Noda B’Yehuda") ruled that she could indeed marry a third time. His opinion was, however, challenged by Rabbi Moshe Sofer ("Chatam Sofer") who ruled that such a marriage would be forbidden.

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