August 8, 2022

Ketubot 29

The primary focus of discussion in today’s daf (Ketubot 29) is the financial penalty for those who have committed the crime of seduction and rape.
However, it is essential to note, as explained by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (see, how ‘the Shitta Mekubbezet points out that aside from the kenas (fine) discussed in the Mishna, a woman who was attacked will also receive other damages, like boshet (payment for embarrassment). These additional payments are not mentioned in the Mishna, whose author is basing his teaching on the passages in the Torah, which only specify kenas for the young woman who was raped. Nevertheless, like anyone who suffered personal harm at the hands of another, the rules of nezek (damages) will be applied to the rape victim, as well.’
Beyond this, what is not explicit in today’s daf – but should certainly emerge from a thoughtful study of the Mishna and Gemara – is the moral outrage that God and that we should have towards acts of seduction and rape (see for example the episode of the rape of Dina in Bereishit Ch. 34).
Beyond this, what is not explicit in today’s daf are the social implications of seduction and rape on the victim – which is a crucial point that is explained by Rabbanit Michelle Farber in the first few minutes of her explanation of today’s daf (
And beyond all this, what is not addressed at all is the measure of personal, emotional and psychological damage that a victim of seduction and rape undergoes.
And why is all this important? Because if you just read the Mishna and Gemara, and don’t consider all the other points that I listed, then your study is fundamentally incomplete. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it fits within the category of what Rabbi Yehuda Amital called ‘a Karaite approach to Halacha’ which is ‘devoid of the exegesis of reality’ (Commitment and Complexity p. 49).
Ultimately, it is relatively easy to read a Mishna and Gemara. But to truly understand what it is actually saying, one needs to work harder and go beyond the lines of the page in order to acknowledge the human story and the painful reality of what is being discussed.
In this article:
Share on social media:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on telegram

More articles