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I learned a teaching about which order a man should pursue marriage first and a house / income second or the other order, but I have forgotten the source and the holding. If anyone knows the origin of the teaching on this subject -- it may be in Avodah Zarah or Mishlei -- would appreciate having a reminder.

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    It's not on-topic for Judaism.SE, but in Clay County, Indiana, USA, 102 years ago on marriage licenses was the question -- in the Male section -- "If no occupation, what means has the male contracting party to support a family?", thus implying that these people at least thought that a man should have income before getting married – RonJohn Nov 15 at 17:36
  • What if both are correct?) – Dan Weisberg Nov 20 at 20:09
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Sotah 44a:

תנו רבנן אשר בנה אשר נטע אשר ארש לימדה תורה דרך ארץ שיבנה אדם בית ויטע כרם ואח"כ ישא אשה ואף שלמה אמר בחכמתו (משלי כד, כז) הכן בחוץ מלאכתך ועתדה בשדה לך אחר ובנית ביתך הכן בחוץ מלאכתך זה בית ועתדה בשדה לך זה כרם אחר ובנית ביתך זו אשה

The Sages taught (Tosefta 7:20-21): The Torah states: “What man is there that has built” (Deuteronomy 20:5), and then “that has planted” (Deuteronomy 20:6), and finally “that has betrothed” (Deuteronomy 20:7). The Torah has taught a person the desired mode of behavior: A person should build a house, then plant a vineyard, and afterward marry a woman. And even King Solomon said in his wisdom: “Prepare your work outside, and make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house” (Proverbs 24:27). The Sages explained: “Prepare your work outside”; this is a house. “And make it fit for yourself in the field”; this is a vineyard. “And afterward you shall build your house”; this is a wife.

Rambam Hilchot De'ot 5:11:

דֶּרֶךְ בַּעֲלֵי דֵּעָה שֶׁיִּקְבַּע לוֹ אָדָם מְלָאכָה הַמְפַרְנֶסֶת אוֹתוֹ תְּחִלָּה. וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִקְנֶה בֵּית דִּירָה. וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִשָּׂא אִשָּׁה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כ ו) "מִי הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר נָטַע כֶּרֶם וְלֹא חִלְּלוֹ". (דברים כ ה) "מִי הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר בָּנָה בַיִת חָדָשׁ וְלֹא חֲנָכוֹ". (דברים כ ז) "מִי הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר אֵרַשׂ אִשָּׁה וְלֹא לְקָחָהּ". אֲבָל הַטִּפְּשִׁין מַתְחִילִין לִשָּׂא אִשָּׁה וְאַחַר כָּךְ אִם תִּמְצָא יָדוֹ יִקְנֶה בַּיִת וְאַחַר כָּךְ בְּסוֹף יָמָיו יְחַזֵּר לְבַקֵּשׁ אֻמָּנוּת אוֹ יִתְפַּרְנֵס מִן הַצְּדָקָה. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר בַּקְּלָלוֹת (דברים כח ל) "אִשָּׁה תְאָרֵשׂ" (דברים כח ל) "בַּיִת תִּבְנֶה" (דברים כח ל) "כֶּרֶם תִּטַּע". כְּלוֹמַר יִהְיוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ הֲפוּכִין כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תַּצְלִיחַ אֶת דְּרָכֶיךָ. וּבַבְּרָכָה הוּא אוֹמֵר (שמואל א יח יד) "וַיְהִי דָוִד לְכָל דְּרָכָו מַשְׂכִּיל וַה' עִמּוֹ":‏

The way of sensible people: A man should first select a permanent vocation out of which to derive a livelihood, then buy a home, and after that take unto himself a wife, as it is said: "And what man is there that built a new house and hath not dedicated it, And what man is there that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not used the fruit thereof, And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife and hath not taken her". (Deut. 20.5–7). But fools reverse it by taking a wife first, and after that, if he be able, purchase a home, and after that, in his declining years, he will turn about looking for a vocation, or be supported on charity. Even so is it reversed when pronouncing adversity: "Thou shalt betroth a wife, thou shalt build a house, thou shalt plant a vineyard" (Deut. 28.30), meaning, thy actions shall be reverse so that thou be unsuccessful in thy ways. But of a blessing it is said: "And David acted wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him" (First Samuel. 18.14).

  • Great answer Joel. It might be worth adding mention of עקרת הבית as in the 'ultimate purpose' of one acquiring a house, etc. is marriage and finding ones wife. – Yaacov Deane Nov 14 at 14:52
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The Mishna says you marry first, then work for a living:

At five years of age the study of Scripture; At ten the study of Mishnah; At thirteen subject to the commandments; At fifteen the study of Talmud; At eighteen the bridal canopy; At twenty for pursuit [of livelihood]; [Avot 5:21]

Bartenura clarifies:

"Twenty [is the age] for pursuit": of his sustenance. After he has studied Scripture, Mishnah and Talmud, and married a woman and produced children, he must seek out sustenance.

The Gemara is crystal-clear on the matter of early marriage, and does not tie it to ability to earn a living:

Until a man is 20, God sits and waits, saying: When will he marry a woman? If at 20 he has not married, He says: Let his bones swell [he is cursed]. Rav Ḥisda said: I am superior to my colleagues because I married at 16, and if I had married at 14, I would say to the Satan: An arrow in your eye [I am no longer afraid of the evil inclination]. [Kidd. 29b-30a]

One who marries off [his sons and daughters] when they reach puberty [ensures that his home will be free of quarrel and sin]. [Sanh. 76b]

  • This prompts an interesting question; according to this translation of לרדוף, how is the Gemara quoted in the other answer to be understood? – DonielF Nov 14 at 19:49
  • At that point here needs to "chase" a livelihood. I.e. until then he can have a part-time/apprentice job, after that he needs to apply himself. – Mordechai Nov 14 at 23:11
  • @DonielF -- Excellent question, as yet unanswered. What I find telling, though, is that even though the two opposite answers cite unimpeachable halachic sources, one got +14 and the other +5. This tells me that our users often react on the basis of how much they personally resonate to the answer. – Maurice Mizrahi Nov 19 at 21:15
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    @MauriceMizrahi Perhaps; or perhaps the user base prefers the other answer simply because it brings a halachic source in addition, whereas this leaves it as a Mishnah. Again, probably the best answer is one which can address all of these sources, rather than each one conflicting with the other. – DonielF Nov 19 at 21:20
  • @DonielF -- Not only Mishna. Gemara and a commentator also. – Maurice Mizrahi Nov 19 at 21:41

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