1)

CAN A WIFE EXEMPT HERSELF FROM HOUSEHOLD CHORES? [wife:Melachah]

(a)

Gemara

1.

58b (Gemara - Rav Huna): A wife can tell her husband 'do not feed me, and I will not work for you.'

2.

63a (Mishnah): If a woman rebels against her husband, we reduce her Kesuvah by seven Dinarim every week. If a man rebels against his wife, we add three Dinarim to her Kesuvah every week.

3.

(Gemara) Question: What is her rebellion?

4.

Answer #1 (Rav Huna): She refuses to have Bi'ah.

5.

Answer #2 (R. Yosi bar Chanina): (It is even when) she refuses to work.

6.

Question (Mishnah): Similarly, if a man rebels against his wife...

i.

According to R. Yosi bar Chanina, is he obligated to work for her?!

7.

Answer: He refuses to feed her.

8.

Question (Beraisa): The law of rebellion applies... even if she is Nidah or sick.

i.

If she rebels from Bi'ah, why do we decrease her Kesuvah? A Nidah may not have Bi'ah in any case!

9.

Answer: Without her rebellion, her husband was (content) like one who has Pas b'Salo (bread in his basket; later, she will be permitted). Now, he is (troubled) like one whose basket is empty.

10.

63b - Question: What is the case of a rebel (in which we deliberate)?

11.

Answer (Ameimar): She desires (to stay married to) him, just she wants to pain him.

12.

64a (Mishnah): If she was nursing, her workload is reduced and her rations are increased.

13.

Question (R. Chiya bar Yosef): Why is a wife who rebels punished more than a husband who rebels?

14.

Answer #1 (Shmuel): We find that men hire women for harlotry (and not vice-versa, for men desire Bi'ah more).

15.

Answer #2 (Shmuel): No one sees a woman's desire. A man's desire is perceptible (an erection, which is disgraceful).

(b)

Rishonim

1.

Rif and Rosh (23b and 5:14): The Halachah follows Rav Huna, who say that a wife can tell her husband 'do not feed me, and I will not work for you.'

i.

Ran (DH deka'Savar): A woman cannot exempt herself from other Melachos, i.e. grinding, baking and cooking.

2.

Rif and Rosh (26b): The Halachah follows Rav Huna, who says that rebellion is refusing to have Bi'ah. We learn from Ameimar, who says that we deliberate when she desires him, just she wants to pain him.

3.

Question (Ra'avad, in Sefer ha'Zechus): Perhaps all agree that rebellion applies to other Melachos. Rav Huna says that it does not apply to spinning, for she can say that she will feed herself. It is unreasonable that he feeds her, but he must grind and cook for himself. What will he do if he cannot afford a wet-nurse?

4.

Answer (Sefer ha'Zechus): If they argue only about spinning, R. Yosi b'Ribi Chanina should have said 'Ma'aseh Yadayim'. 'Melachah' includes all Melachos. Surely, Rav Huna mentioned rebellion from Bi'ah because it negates the essence of marriage and pains a man. Surely, he excludes everything monetary. Shmuel gave two reasons why a wife who rebels is punished more than a husband who rebels (men hire women for harlotry, and no one sees a woman's desire). Both of these apply to Bi'ah, but not to Melachah! Regarding Melachah, his rebellion (not feeding her) is harsher than hers! In the Yerushalmi, R. Yosi b'Ribi Chanina says that rebellion applies to all seven Melachos that a woman does. According to Rav Huna, if she is fed and does not do her Melachos, we evaluate the cost of a servant to do them, and Beis Din compensates him by reducing her Nichsei Melug or Nichsei Tzon Barzel, or by selling them, just like a woman who wounded her husband or someone else. He reduces her food according to the Melachos she neglects. R. Yosi b'Ribi Chanina holds that we fine her from her Kesuvah every week, and if she persists four weeks she loses her entire Kesuvah.

5.

Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 21:10): If a woman refuses to do any obligatory Melachah, we force her, even with a stick.

i.

Beis Yosef (EH 80 DH u'Mah she'Chosav Yir'eh): In Halachah 12:4, the Rambam says that we heed a wife who says 'do not feed me, and I will not work for you'. Here, he discusses one who wants to be fed without working. Alternatively, even when she says 'do not feed me, and I will not work for you', this helps only for spinning. She must do all other Melachos even if she is not fed. The Magid Mishneh, Rashba and Ran say so. The Rambam holds like them, unlike Tosfos and the Rosh. This is why the Rambam says 'any obligatory Melachah'.

6.

Rosh (5:31) Suggestion: R. Yosi b'Ribi Chanina agrees that she can say 'do not feed me, and I will not work for you', but this exempts only from spinning. She must do other tasks, and he argues about whether or not she is a rebel for refusing to do them!

7.

Rejection (Rosh): A Mishnah teaches that if she was nursing, her workload is reduced. The same applies if she grinds, bakes or does other Melachos. (Therefore, one who is not fed is exempt from all Melachos.) The Mishnah discusses nursing, for it discusses one who is not with his wife.

(c)

Poskim

1.

Shulchan Aruch (EH 80:15): If a wife refuses to do a mandatory Melachah, we force her.

i.

Gra (25): We cannot say that we do not force at all. We force a woman to nurse. Even if she brings in 100 slaves, we force her to do some Melachos (for idleness ruins people).

2.

Rema: He does not feed her until she does it. Beis Din excommunicates her or sells her Kesuvah to hire a slave. Some say that Beis Din forces her with sticks.

i.

Chelkas Mechokek (26): Beis Din does not excommunicate her if he does not feed her, for then she may say that she will not work for him. Rather, they excommunicate her if he does not want to withhold food, e.g. she is nursing or for another reason.

3.

Rema (ibid.): This is if she says 'I will not work, and I will be fed.' She may say 'I will not work, and I will not be fed.' Some say that even in this case she must do household chores, and we force her even if she is not fed.

i.

Chelkas Mechokek (27): Tosfos (and the Rosh) hold that when she does not request food, she is exempt from all Melachos, except for the three of affection (mixing his drink...). Why didn't the Rema (explicitly) bring their opinion? She can say 'I am sure that the Halachah follows Tosfos!'

ii.

Beis Shmuel (21): Whenever there is an argument about the Halachah, she is exempt! All agree that she is not a rebel for refusing to do the three of affection. It seems that we do not even force her, for Rashi and the Tur say that it is merely good counsel for her to do them.

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