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D. Women - Nashim

"In the fourth book I will include the commandments regarding marital relations, such as marriage and divorce and levirate marriage and chalitzah. And I have called this book the Book of Women."

22. Marriage - Ishus

a) Marriage

If a man wishes to marry a woman he must first "acquire" her before witnesses, as it says "If a man takes (lit: buys) a wife"1; this acquisition is called "consecration" (kiddushin) or betrothal. A woman can be betrothed only with her consent. Once a woman has become betrothed she is regarded as a married woman even if the marriage has not yet been consummated. It is forbidden to have sexual relations with a woman without first betrothing her, as it says "No daughter of Israel shall be a prostitute".2 It is rabbinically forbidden for a man to have sexual relations with his betrothed wife until he takes her into his house and is private with her; this privacy is called "taking under the canopy" (chupah) and constitutes full marriage even if there has been no consummation.a

No man should live without a wife lest he be tempted to sin, and no woman should live without a husband lest she be suspected of sin. A husband and wife should love and honor one another and their life together should be proper and praiseworthy. One should strive to marry into a healthy and scholarly family.b

b) Marital Rights

Before marrying a woman one must draw up a marriage contract (kesubah) giving her at least the value of 200 pieces of silver (or 100 if she is not a virgin) each the weight of 96 grains of barley. The sages instituted this so that divorcing her should be no light matter; if she is divorced for cause (for example, if she is unfaithful) she does not collect it. It is forbidden to remain with a woman if she has no marriage contract.c

A husband is required to provide his wife with food and clothing (including shelter, furniture, utensils, and ornaments) and also to have normal marital relations with her [as it says "He shall not decrease her food, her garments, or her times"3]. The sages further instituted that he must provide medical services if she is sick, ransom her if she is captured, and give her a funeral if she dies; that she (and her daughters by him until they grow up) be supported from his estate as long as she does not collect her marriage contract or remarry; and that if she predeceases him her sons by him inherit the amount of her marriage contract above and beyond their normal share in his estate. In return, he (or his heirs who are supporting her) own anything that she makes or earns (unless she wants to support herself); he owns anything that she finds; he keeps all profits from her property; and he inherits her estate if she dies.d A man is also required to support his children until they grow up and to provide his daughters with marriage portions.e

c) Procreation

Every man is required to have children (at least one son and one daughter), as it says "Be fruitful and increase".4 A man should not marry a woman who cannot bear children unless he has already fulfilled this commandment; if his wife has not conceived after ten years or if she miscarries repeatedly he should take another wife.f

Sources:

1. Deut. 22:13 a. 1:1-4; 4:1; 10:1-2
2. Deut. 23:18 b. 15:16,19-20; Issurei Biah 21:26,30,32
3. Ex. 21:10 c. 10:7,8,10; 24:10
4. Gen. 1:28; 9:1 d. 12:1-4; 13:3-4; 18:6-8; 19:10
e. 12:14-15; 13:6; 20:1,3
f. 15:1,4,7,12



 

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