By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Kesubos 36 – People Don’t Throw Away Money for Nothing
As we learned in earlier dapim, a woman who was captured by Goyim cannot marry a Kohein unless one of two things is true. Either we only know she was captured from her own admission, and she herself is insisting that she is tehorah, or there is some third party (even an eved) who can testify that she was not violated by the Goyim who captured her.
Regarding that second option, we see in today’s Daf a certain limitation. That is, if the person testifying for her is a Kohein, he cannot marry her himself. The reason is straightforward enough. We are concerned that if he wants to marry her, he may not be telling the truth, and is merely trying to justify his desire to marry her.
However, and this is a big however, if this Kohein provided the ransom money for her redemption out of his own pocket, than we can rely on his testimony that she is tehorah, and he can in fact marry her. Why? “A person does not throw away his money for nothing.” In other words, explains Rashi, it is clear from the situation that the whole reason he donated the money for her ransom in the first place is that he wants to marry her, and he would not have been willing to do so unless he was certain that he can in fact legitimately marry her.
This idea, that people don’t throw around money for nothing, has a lot of practical ramifications in life. In my neighborhood, there is a talmid chacham who provides many people with advice. He has quite a reputation for being able to address even the thorniest and most delicate of problems. As far as he is concerned, he would have been happy to provide his services free of charge as a chesed to Klal Yisrael. But the Rabbanim would hear nothing of it. They insisted that he charge at least a nominal fee. Still, this talmid chacham is not willing to personally benefit from such money, so the “fee” is to make a donation of the set amount to his Kollel (and that set amount is nowhere near what therapists usually charge).
In any event, upon inquiring why it is that the Rabbanim insisted he charge some fee, I was told that otherwise people would not be inclined to take his counsel seriously. And that’s not the first time I ever heard such a thing.
I once met a doctor who was already quite wealthy. In the course of our conversation, this doctor mentioned that he charges far less than the going rate because he primarily does what he does just to help people and not for the money. I then proffered the obvious question. “So, why don’t you just offer your services free of charge?” The answer was the same as above. “Because if I would do that no one would take what I say seriously.”
If something is totally free of charge, human nature is to relate to it as “easy come, easy go”. When you have to pay for something, though, it forces you to accept the fact that this is important. It’s significant. You’ve invested yourself in it, and you therefore take it seriously.
And this also works the other way around too. “Put your money where your mouth is” may not be the most refined way to talk, but the fact is that it represents a very important truth. The Rambam, synthesizing the words of Chazal, puts down the golden rule of Shalom Bayis (as far as men are concerned): “The Chachamim have commanded that a man must be honoring his wife more than himself, and love her as himself, and if he has money he increases her betterment according to his level of wealth, and he must never impose upon her excess awe, and his manner of speaking with her is always pleasant, and he is not moody or temperamental.”
Now, I wrote a fifty page kuntras with that one statement of the Rambam serving as the basis thereof. Suffice it to say that each one of those phrases carries in it a tremendous amount of lessons and instruction. Even before the Rambam got to the part about money, he already said a world of depth in terms of the great lengths of the respect, honor, and love that the Torah demands a husband provide to his wife. What the part about money shows us, then, is that if your respect for your wife doesn’t affect how you open your wallet to her, then, to use another not-so-very-refined adage, “talk is cheap”.
This is true about everything; not only marriage. A lot of people are happy to huff and puff about this cause, that issue, and the other, but when push comes to shove and it’s time to get to the bottom line, all of a sudden it can get real lonely out there. If you are only prepared to give lip service to a given cause (and, oh how much of that service people are prepared to give!), if you are only willing to give your two cents but you are not prepared to follow through with your dollars, well, then, that cause – whatever it may be – can’t really be all that important to you after all, can it?
Just like people tend to take things seriously if they have had to pay for it, so too does putting one’s money towards a certain cause, ideal, or value demonstrate that this really is something that holds true importance for you.
True, it is never easy to part with money, as we saw from the Gra on Megillas Esther that money is a part of oneself to a certain extent (see Daf Inspired on Kesubos 30), but what we ought to realize and really absorb into the depths of our consciousness, is that money is there to serve us. Not for us to serve it. It is there to help us achieve that which we are here to achieve. What we value and care about should be more valuable to us than our money. And even more than that, it is the deployment of our material assets towards the furthering of those values and goals that affords us the most powerful demonstration of the true significance that those values hold for us. Because if you’re putting your money into it, it is not for nothing; it must be for a reason. A very important reason.
Rabbi Yehoshua Berman serves as the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Reshet HaDaf in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. In addition to having authored Reflections on the Parsha, Rabbi Berman regularly delivers shiurim on Halacha and Hashkafa, writes comprehensive chazara questions (in Hebrew) for the advanced Daf Yomi learner, and weekly words of inspiration from the Parsha. Rabbi Berman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.