October 26, 2022

Ketubot 112

The final daf of Massechet Ketubot (daf 112b) discusses two topics that are very dear to my heart: Torah study and the Land of Israel. And as I complete my study of Massechet Ketubot – which is the 15th Massechet since the beginning of the current cycle of Daf Yomi, and as I write this commentary on this daf – which therefore means that I’ve now written a commentary on over 1000 of the 2711 pages of the Talmud Bavli, I am overcome with gratitude – not only for the Torah teachings that I have learnt and shared which have enriched my life, but also for the Land of Israel and my ability to live therein. This is quite simply because it would have been impossible for me to have learnt or for me to have written these Torah thoughts on Massechet Ketubot or on the other Massechtot were I to have lived anywhere else, as the air of the Land of Israel has enriched my understanding of Torah and is therefore reflected in every line of Torah I have written. I am, to paraphrase Rav’s teaching as quoted by Rav Chiya bar Ashi which forms the final line of Massechet Ketubot, like a tree who, due to it being rooted in the land of Israel, subsequently bears fruit. In fact, it is for this reason that, like Rabbi Abba, I am oftentimes moved to kiss the ground or stones of the Land of Israel to express my love for the land which, as Rabbi Zeira remarks when speaking of the importance of seizing the opportunity to live here, ‘neither Moshe nor Aharon merited entering’. Moreover, like Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Assi, my Torah study in the Land of Israel has been enriched both by the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the shade such that wherever and whenever I have studied Torah here, I have been at peace.

Still, we should ask why Massechet Ketubot, which began with the laws of betrothal, concludes with teachings relating to Torah study and the Land of Israel, and I believe that the answer to this relates to what I previously explained in my commentary to Ketubot 38a (see https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/ketubot-38) regarding the linguistic connection between the biblical word אֹרָשָׂה – meaning ‘betrothed’, and the word מוֹרָשָׁה – meaning ‘inheritance’, which is used in the Torah when discussing the Land of Israel (see Shemot 6:8) and the Torah (see Devarim 33:4).

As we know, the Ketubah is a formal document detailing the marital responsibilities and marital rights of a wife and husband, with a strong emphasis on the financial responsibilities of a husband towards his wife both during a marriage and at its conclusion. And though marriages should be rooted in the emotional bond between husband and wife, this bond is not the primary concern of Massechet Ketubot.

However, right at its conclusion, our Gemara appears to seek to communicate the kind of love that should be the foundation of a marriage, and since love can be expressed differently by different couples, the Gemara chooses to do so by referencing the love we have for Torah and for the Land of Israel.

Like the Torah study and the Land of Israel, a marriage should involve affection. Like Torah study in the Land of Israel, relationships can have moments of heat and coolness. And, like Rav’s teaching which is quoted as the conclusion of our Massechet, just as a tree which, due to it being rooted in the land of Israel, subsequently bears fruit, so too, marriages foster growth and can bear fruit in many different ways.

In conclusion, while Massechet Ketubot seems to end on a topic that is distant from its core theme, I believe that it ends with a message of love because, notwithstanding all the details taught in our Massechet, a successful marriage should be rooted not just in the words of a ketubah, but in the love of the two people whose names are found therein.

הדרן עלך מסכת כתובות

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