Talmud Tips

For the week ending 14 May 2016 / 6 Iyyar 5776

Kiddushin 65 - 71

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Rabba bar Rav Ada said in the name of Rav, “Anyone who marries a woman for the sake of money will have children who will be ‘inappropriate’.”

This teaching is based on a verse in the Book of the prophet Hoshea, and is cited as halacha in Shulchan Aruch Even Ha’Ezer 2:1. There the Rema writes that one who marries a woman who is forbidden to him will have inappropriate children. This is learned from the statement in our gemara regarding marrying a woman for the sake of money (Rashi, Rivash). In other words, he is marrying a woman forbidden to him in order to gain financially. This, says the gemara,will lead to problematic offspring. The Rema also states that it is permitted to marry for money if the woman is not forbidden to him.

However, the Rema addresses a case in which the man was promised money by the woman’s family, and afterwards they reneged on their promise. There the Rema writes that the man should not delay completing the marriage until he receives what was promised (and perhaps he will never receive it), and he should not fight with her parents over the money. If he refuses to marry until they eventually give him the money, he will not be successful financially, the marriage will not be “good”, and he is considered as “one who is marrying a woman for the sake of money”.

The commentaries point out that these two statements of the Rema appear to contradict one another. At first he says that marrying for money is okay as long as the woman is not forbidden to him. Afterwards, however, he writes that marrying for money is disastrous. The Vilna Gaon (Bi’ur HaGra) and the Chelkat Mechokek each give a different answer to this question. Although I fear to do so due to my great respect, honor, and love for these Torah giants, please permit me to humbly offer another possible explanation to explain the Rema, based on an idea I heard from my dear wife. While it is okay to seek a wife who also will benefit her husband financially, and it is permitted to accept money from her or her family, this is true only if the money is given willingly. In the first case, the Rema speaks about money given willingly. However, in the second case, the parents did not really want to give the money, despite their promise, and therefore, even if they eventually give it, it is not given willingly, and is, in the words of the Rema, “not money of yosher” (correctness). There is an element of coercion and impropriety on the part of the man in fighting for and taking any money that is not given to him willingly. Therefore, the Rema calls a man who does this “one who is marrying for the sake of money”, and will suffer the negative consequences of his actions.

  • Kiddushin 70a

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