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Deuteronomy 20:5–7 (with the Judaica Press translation), describing the lead-up to a battle:

And the officers shall speak to the people, saying, What man is there who has built a new house and has not [yet] inaugurated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the war, and another man inaugurate it.

The soldier may die without finishing the job, and someone else will do so, inaugurating the house that's already built.

And what man is there who has planted a vineyard, and has not [yet] redeemed it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the war, and another man redeem it.

The soldier may die without finishing the job, and someone else will do so, redeeming the vineyard that's already planted.

And what man is there who has betrothed a woman and has not [yet] taken her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the war, and another man take her.

The soldier may die without finishing the job, and someone else will do so, taking the woman that's already betrothed. Wait, no.

Why does that last verse say "another man take her" as if that's all the other man needs to do? He has to betroth her also; why does the verse elide that part?

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    This is not so difficult. The Gemara Kiddushin derives the very parameters of betrothal, (Kiddushin) from the term kicha "taking". Evidently they held that not only does this term not preclude betrothal, it refers to it! – mevaqesh Aug 23 '15 at 15:05
  • @mevaqesh That's a difficult way to read l'kachah in this pasuk, because it's contrasted with eras. – msh210 Aug 23 '15 at 18:24
  • Perhaps consider editing that into the question. As it changes it from a question about the implication of "lakach" to one of internal contextual implication. – mevaqesh Aug 23 '15 at 19:49
  • @mevaqesh My question doesn't have the word yikachena that it should need clarification of that word. I think it's fine as is. – msh210 Aug 23 '15 at 20:22
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I suggest as follows: In most such cases, the soldier will die childless and with a brother, so his betrothed will be subject to yibum (which is true even from a betrothal, e.g. Rambam, Yibum 1:1) and indeed only "taking" and no betrothal will be necessary (ibid.).

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Someone in my synagogue suggested as follows: The Torah is here speaking to the soldier's psychology. His fear is that he will die with unfinished business and that another fellow will finish the business, getting what he should have gotten. Granted, the other fellow will need to betroth first; but that's irrelevant to the soldier, who doesn't care about something another fellow gets unless it's what he should have gotten himself, and that's only the "taking", not the betrothal.

  • Afterwards, I saw that the Gur Arye explains Rashi as saying something very like this. – msh210 Aug 30 '15 at 3:29
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First off, this depends on which approach to Torah commentary one adopts. It seems that much of these sorts of questions are clustered in the last few centuries and onward. It seems that earlier commentaries didn't make so much of different synonyms used, and the like.

If, however, one assumes the question to be valid, one could answer based on Abarbanel's commentary thereon. He writes:

ואיש אחר יקחנה שתתקיי' המצוה ע"י זולתו ולא על ידו

That is, his fear is not merely over the loss of love, but over the loss of the mitzvah. Accordingly, the focus on the final stage of marriage is natural, since betrothal may not be a mitzvah in and of itself (as per the opinion of the Rosh in Kesubbos (1:12) see this analysis of the Rishonim's views by R. Aharon Lichtenstein z"l). even if the first stage (betrothal) constitutes a mitzva, the latter results in the ongoing mitzva of having children. Thus, if it is mitzvos for which he yearns, the nissuin (final stage of marriage) is more significant.

  • +1 I had to read this again before deciding I liked it, but I do:) – user6591 Aug 23 '15 at 23:38

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