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Kiddushin 41a:

"דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב אסור לאדם שיקדש את האשה עד שיראנה
שמא יראה בה דבר מגונה ותתגנה עליו
ורחמנא אמר "ואהבת לרעך כמוך"

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: It is forbidden for a man to betroth a woman until he sees her, lest he see something repulsive in her after the betrothal, and she will become repugnant to him, which will cause him to hate her. And the Merciful One states in the Torah: “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself”

While studying this Gemmorah I'd like to clarify the following:

  1. Is it related to the Sugya of מקח טעות בקידושין to invalidate it or it is all about ethics?

  2. What does "seeing" refer to? If it's about beauty, Rambam (Issurey Biyah 22, 8) allows examining a woman's face but what about the rest of the body? If it's about Midos (Rambam Ishus 3,19) "עַד שֶׁיִּרְאֶנָּה וְתִהְיֶה כְּשֵׁרָה בְּעֵינָיו" - how do you check the Midos?

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    The gemarra explains that it's Assur and why. No indication of mekach taus. What do you mean seeing the rest of her body? Like how tall, etc.? Also where do you see the second Rambam mentioning middos? – robev Dec 13 '18 at 16:48
  • @robev The G. misses the details, and that's what's the Q about. 1. I asked if it is connected to MT I didn't say it is. 2. For example if she has a birthmark on her shoulder or hip, should I know about it? 3. Rambam says כשרה בעיניו - that means her behavior, i.g. מידות – Al Berko Dec 13 '18 at 17:38
  • Your third point is an assumption that that's what he means. I'm just pointing that out. – robev Dec 13 '18 at 17:40
  • @robev I tried to differentiate between woman's bodily beauty and her spiritual beauty which I called מידות. – Al Berko Dec 13 '18 at 17:42
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Your question 2 is predicated on a reading of the word כשר as referring to proper spiritual value, and therefore middot. I do not believe that that interpretation is correct.

Here is Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn (author of the sefer Daat Torah) correctly translating the Rambam under discussion.

Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 3:19): Similarly a man should not marry of a child nor should he marry a woman until he has seen her and she is acceptable in his eyes. That is because if he doesn’t see her first it might turn out that she doesn’t find favor in his eyes when he does see her.

Translating the word כשר as fitting, acceptable, pleasing is not Rabbi Eidensohn's invention. Here is an entry from Jastrow:

כְּשַׁר ch. same , to be right, pleasing, fit. Targ. I Sam. XVIII, 20. Targ. Jud. XIV, 3. Targ. Ez. XV, 4; a. fr.

Since this is within the range of meaning of the word, it makes a ton of sense to say that the Rambam is consistent with his own source, rather than translating it otherwise and positing that he disagrees with his source.

In terms of checking out the rest of her body (for moles), the answer is that there is a tension between values and prohibitions. No, he may not demand to see the woman's nude body, and there are negative repercussions for his doing so. There are also negative repercussions for despising the looks of his wife. These are competing values. What the gemara discusses is in the context of not sending an agent, because he should see her, so it is talking about normal looking at a person when you interact with them. But no one suggested that this concern should override modesty considerations. Otherwise, perhaps he should sleep with her before marriage, in case he might decide that he doesn't like her!

Your question 1, whether it has to do with mekach taut -- it does not seem so from the sources. The gemara references ve'ahavta lereiacha kamocha, that you should not despise her. So it is about ethics. Further, my own suggestion is that this is a special derasha, of va'ahavta lerei'acha prime. The standard one is loving your fellow person as yourself, which naturally encompasses your wife as well. But Chazal are darshening re'acha as "your beloved" -- see Shir Hashirim, 5:2 as an example, רַעְיָתִי.

  • THank you, first. 1. Regarding #2 you're saying Rambam is using כשרה בעיניו to refer to the physical beauty. interesting, does Rambam use כשר for יפה or נאה בעיניו? Why did he change to the positive language instead of the G's negative (תתגנה עליו)? – Al Berko Dec 13 '18 at 20:21
  • 2. So according to your answer does יראנה only apply to her face? Should he see her figure, height, weight etc? – Al Berko Dec 13 '18 at 20:23
  • 3. מקח טעות - should he only see her or examine for מומים? – Al Berko Dec 13 '18 at 20:29
  • 1) who knows? shorter, more positive, reworking it to make it clearer. 2) who knows? would have to see what others say? but yes, if the context is betrothing in person rather than via an agent, it makes sense that these are things (height, weight) that he would assess in person. – josh waxman Dec 13 '18 at 20:31
  • 3) according to Rambam, the fear is that he will stay married / betrothed and hate her, or that he will divorce her. that precludes mekach taut, in which the marriage was not valid in the first place. and the gemara had opportunity to say mekach taut but explicitly did not, instead giving a different reason and a Scriptural support. – josh waxman Dec 13 '18 at 20:32

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