July 12, 2022

Ketubot 3

A topic addressed both in yesterday (Ketubot 2b) and today’s daf (Ketubot 3a) is the status of a ‘get’ (Jewish divorce bill) which was given by a husband to his wife conditionally in a situation when the condition was met but only due to unforeseen circumstances.
For example, if a husband gave his wife a ‘get’ prior to travelling with its condition being that the ‘get’ only be activated if he not return home after three months, then what is the status of the ‘get’ if he is unexpectedly delayed?
The Gemara answers by distinguishing between likely unexpected delays (אונסא דשכיח) and unlikely unexpected delays (אונס), with its rule of thumb being that the failure of a husband to plan for likely unexpected delays is irresponsible. Consequently, in such a case, the ‘get’ remains valid. What this teaches us is that while it is nice to think that everything will go to plan, we should always recognize – and therefore provide buffers – for when things don’t always go to plan.
Significantly, later on in our daf (Ketubot 3b), numerous examples are given when a wedding day – which, as we know, new brides and grooms often hope to be ‘the perfect day’ – can be disrupted by unexpected events including a situation where a relative of the bride or groom dies on a wedding day. In fact, this speaks deeply to me because, though both events took place before I was born, both on my mothers’ and fathers’ side of the family, a grandparent died on the day of a grandchild’s wedding.
Of course, such events are somewhat rare. However, notwithstanding all that we know as a society, we still often expect things to go perfectly and, when they do not, we often end up feeling disappointed.
It has been said that, “being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Instead, it means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections”, and in general, even the most perfect birthday party, date, wedding day, and vacation has its imperfections. So what we learn from today’s daf is to expect the likely unexpected, so we are not disappointed when things inevitably don’t entirely go to plan.
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