Towards the end of yesterday’s daf (Ketubot 97b) we read the view of Rabbi Shimon who teaches that if a woman sold or pledged just part of the value of her ketubah then she forfeits her right to support. In contrast, the Sages rule that even if a woman sold or pledged just part of the value of her ketubah, she retains her right to sustenance.
With this in mind, today’s daf (Ketubot 98a) records a story of a certain woman ‘who seized a silver goblet [from her late husband’s estate] as partial payment for her ketubah and who subsequently approached the heirs to claim her sustenance support’. However, these heirs adopted the view of Rabbi Shimon and they therefore claimed that because she had previously seized a silver goblet, the woman had thereby forfeited her right to support. She disagreed, and both parties therefore went to Rava for a conclusive ruling on the matter. In his reply, Rava firmly instructed the heirs: זילו הבו לה מזונות – “Go and give her support”, לית דחש להא דרבי שמעון – “no one shows concern for this opinion of Rabbi Shimon”.
Significantly, this isn’t the only time when Rava uses this phrase. In fact, we are informed in Kiddushin 52b of an incident when a man attempts to rely on the opinion of Rabbi Shimon to betroth a woman by giving her stolen money to which, once again, Rava replies, לית דחש להא דרבי שמעון – “no one shows concern for this opinion of Rabbi Shimon”.
To be clear, Rabbi Shimon was a great scholar. However, this does not mean that his opinion was authoritative in all cases. Consequently, while there were individuals who tried to adopt his view in certain situations, Rava was emphatic that especially in situations where no other scholars shared the view of Rabbi Shimon, and especially when doing so came at the personal cost of someone – and especially someone in a vulnerable position, then there was no legitimacy for doing so.
In almost every area of Jewish practice there are opinions that are more extreme, and in every generation there are those who choose to adopt such opinions for various reasons. This is why every generation needs someone like Rava to be a voice of reason and to make it clear that some opinions remain legitimate in terms of rabbinic discourse but remain outside of the consensus in terms of Jewish living.