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The Mishnah on Kiddushin 2a lists 3 ways a woman can be mekudeshet (betrothed): via money, via the act of intercourse, via a shtar (document).

Now I understand 2 of the acquisition methods:

  • money- the method universally used today

  • intercourse- it's licentious, Chazal were against it (Yevamos 52a) so much so that one would get makkas mardus if they attempted to mekadesh this way (Rambam Hilchos Issurei Biah 21:14)

But why don't people ever get married via a shtar kiddushin?

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    I think most of the Halachic opinions treat the Kesubah as such a Shtar "supporting" the ring. Also one Kiddushin is enough and your question might ask "why the ring is preferable over the Shtar"? – Al Berko Mar 12 at 14:12
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    To add to DoubleAA’s point, it’s not just that one has a shtar written up - already complicated enough - but that, unlike by a ring, the document must be written with her knowledge and can lead to cases of doubtful Kiddushin otherwise (SA EH 32:1). Perhaps this is why it’s done with a ring - less complicated, and less chances of a doubtful Kiddushin (still possible, but less likely). – DonielF Mar 12 at 14:13
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    @AlBerko I might even agree with that rabbi in the case that you mentioned. However you're moving the goalposts with that case. Until now, we were speaking a standard Kesubah, which you claim is a Shtar "supporting" the ring. What does that even mean? You make a fantastic claim that this is "most of the Halachic opinions", without being able to cite even one. What is your credibility? – IsraelReader May 14 at 20:11
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The Rambam writes how the Minhag of Klal Yisrael is to use Kesef or Shaveh Kesef, not Shtar; although, shetar is also an option. Rav Hershel Schachter (Kiddushin 5777 - Pesichah) quotes Prof. Simcha Assaf (from a book he found in his father's library) who thinks this is one of the Rambam's attacks on the Karaites, emphasizing how we believe in Torah Shebaal Peh. Kesef is learned from Torah Shebaal Peh (Kichah Kichah), and Shaveh Kesef is another Derasha on top of that. See also Kiddushin 5777 #21 and Bava Kamma 5779 #16.

This is rooted in the Rambam's view of Kiddushei Kesef as the only one of the three that is Divrei Sofrim, meaning Torah Shebaal Peh.

משנה תורה הלכות אישות ג:כא

אע"פ שעיקר הדברים כן הוא נהגו כל ישראל לקדש בכסף או בשוה כסף, וכן אם רצה לקדש בשטר מקדש, אבל אין מקדשין בביאה לכתחלה ואם קידש בביאה מכין אותו מכת מרדות כדי שלא יהיו ישראל פרוצים נ בדבר זה אע"פ שקידושיו קידושין גמורין.

Other relevant Rambams include Hilchot Shabbat (2:1, 7:1), Milah (2:1), and Shechitah (12:10).

  • Mekach u’memchar exists elsewhere as well. To me the point seems to be that it’s as many derashos as possible (two by Shava Kesef vs. one by shtar); the Karaites would seemingly only hold of Kidushei Bi’ah, which is explicit in the passuk. – DonielF Mar 12 at 15:31
  • Money exists also in mekach umemkar – kouty Mar 12 at 15:34
  • Since you're quoting Rav Herschel Schachter, I heard him in a shiur say the Rambam in a yeshiva says himself what you quote from a historian. Don't know where – robev Mar 12 at 17:57
  • I think he quotes it from Prof. Simcha Assaf, but I need to clarify – MDjava Mar 12 at 18:05
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    ***In a teshuva, not yeshiva – robev Mar 12 at 18:15
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At the simplest level -- and I have heard MDjava's answer as well, to show we value the Oral Law -- kessef is more foolproof than a Shtar. A Gett, for instance, requires people with lots of training and specialization, and painstaking attention to detail about how names and locations are spelled. A Shtar Kiddushin would require something similar to a Gett.

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