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Kesuvos, 86

KESUVOS 86 - Sponsored anonymously in honor of Brian and Bailey Sigman, on the occasion of the birth of their baby girl.


QUESTION: The Gemara (85b-86a) relates an incident about a relative of Rav Nachman who sold the rights to collect her Kesuvah in the event that her husband dies or divorces her. She was later divorced, but she died before her husband gave her the Kesuvah. The Gemara says that the buyers came to the daughter of the woman to claim the Kesuvah money that her mother sold to them. Rav Nachman suggested to the daughter a way to legally extract herself from the obligation to give the Kesuvah money to the buyers and to keep it for herself. He told her to forgive the debt that her father owes her (i.e. the Kesuvah). Even though her mother already sold the rights to collect that debt, a person is able to forgive and annul a debt that was already sold (see Insights to 85b).

The Gemara continues that even though she forgives the debt of the Kesuvah, she will still receive the money that she would have received from the Kesuvah, since anyway she inherits her father's estate. The buyers of the Kesuvah will not be entitled to receive anything.

Why does the Gemara say that the buyers came to the *daughter* to collect the Kesuvah? Obviously, the Kesuvah was not yet in the hands of the daughter -- because it was still a debt that the father owed to her which she had the ability to forgive and annul, as Rav Nachman suggested to her that she do. Why, then, did the buyer not go directly to her *father* and demand from him the money of the Kesuvah?


(a) RASHI (85b, DH Asu) explains that the daughter had already approached her father to ask him for the Kesuvah. Therefore, the buyers, upon seeing her approach her father to collect the Kesuvah, went to her to inform her that the Kesuvah is not hers to collect. They were not actually trying to collect anything from her.

(b) The ROSH and RITVA say that not only did the girl's mother die, but the girl's father also died after divorcing his wife. Hence, as heir to her father's property, the buyers had to approach *her* to claim the Kesuvah. This also explains why Rav Nachman was so sure that if she forgives the debt of the Kesuvah, she would still get the money as a Yerushah, and he was not concerned that the father would use it up or that she would die before her father; since the father was already dead, she would immediately inherit his estate.

Why does Rashi not accept this simple explanation? The answer is that the Gemara in Bava Kama (109a) explains that a person cannot forgive a debt that he owes to himself. If he owes it to himself, it is considered as though it has been collected already and there is nothing to forgive! Therefore, if the girl's father had already died, she cannot forgive the debt of the Kesuvah that he owes her, because since she inherited his estate, she owes herself the money of the Kesuvah and there is no debt to speak of that she could forgive! It is as if she has already collected it, and thus the buyers are entitled to receive it.

The Rosh and Ritva, on the other hand, maintain that our Sugya teaches that a person *is* able to forgive a debt owed to himself and it is not considered to be already collected. They learn that this Sugya disagrees with the Sugya in Bava Kama regarding whether or not one may forgive a debt that he owes to himself. (See the RASHBA in Bava Kama there, who explains that even if our Sugya is discussing a situation where the father already died, it does not contradict the Sugya in Bava Kama, since the Gemara in Bava Kama that says one cannot forgive a debt owed to himself is discussing a specific, limited situation.)

The RAMBAN (81b) points out that Rashi's opinion that one cannot forgive a debt owed to himself answers a question that Tosfos poses (81b, DH Lo). The Gemara there says that if a man owes money to his brother, and his brother dies with no children, making the brother who borrowed money into a Yavam who must do Yibum with his lender's wife, the Yavam cannot say that "since I inherit my brother's property through Yibum, I now owe myself money, and the money belongs to me [and is not Meshubad to the Kesuvah of the Yevamah]." Rather, the money must remain designated for the collection of the Kesuvah of the Yevamah.

Tosfos asks why the Yavam cannot simply forgive the debt. Since the living brother owes his deceased brother money, and the living brother inherits the property of -- and the debts owed to -- his deceased brother, he should be able to act on behalf of his brother and annul the debt (since the heir of a debt can forgive the debt)!

According to Rashi, this question does not begin. Once a person owes money to himself, it is considered as though he paid it already, and it is too late to forgive the debt. The money therefore already became Meshubad towards the payment ofn the Yevamah's Kesuvah.


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