QUESTION: Rav and Shmuel disagree about whether Beis Din may provide material support for the wife of a man who traveled abroad by appropriating the possessions of his estate. Shmuel rules that Beis Din may not appropriate his possessions. The Gemara suggests two possible reasons for Shmuel's ruling. The first reason is that Beis Din must suspect that her husband left a bundle of money ("Tzerori") for her in the event that he does not return as planned. The second reason is that Beis Din must suspect that he told her before he departed, "Your earnings should be in place of your support [from me]." Instead of the husband keeping her earnings in return for providing her support, he told her that she should keep her earnings and thus he does not have to provide her with support.
The Gemara continues and says that if word arrived that her husband died while abroad, even Shmuel agrees that Beis Din provides support for her from his estate. This make sense according to the Gemara's second reason for Shmuel's ruling; after her husband dies, a woman receives support from his estate even if he had declared during his lifetime that "your earnings should be in place of your support [from me]." However, according to the Gemara's first reason for Shmuel's ruling (that Beis Din must suspect that the husband left a bundle of money for her), why is Beis Din not concerned for "Tzerori"? The fact that he died while abroad does not mitigate the concern that he left her a bundle of money before he departed.
(a) RASHI writes that if her husband died, the woman eventually will collect her Kesuvah. At that time, she will make an oath that she is not withholding anything that belongs to her husband (including "Tzerori").
However, as TOSFOS asks, the Gemara later clearly says that Shmuel does not let the woman collect Mezonos even with an oath. Why, then, does the oath that she makes for her Kesuvah enable her to collect Mezonos from her husband's estate?
Moreover, why is it assumed that she eventually will collect her Kesuvah and make an oath, such that she may take Mezonos now? Perhaps she will die before she collects her Kesuvah, and no oath will ever be made, in which case her consumption of the Mezonos from his estate will turn out to have been unlawful. (PNEI YEHOSHUA)
(b) The PNEI YEHOSHUA asserts that Rashi's intention is to explain the Gemara as the RAMBAN explains it. The Ramban quotes the Gemara earlier (96b) which discusses the case of a dispute between the widow and the orphans about whether or not the widow already collected the Mezonos. Although logic should dictate that the orphans should win the case due to the principle of "ha'Motzi me'Chaveiro Alav ha'Re'ayah," in that case the widow wins the case because at the moment her husband died, all of his possessions enter her possession due to the Tenai Beis Din that entitles her to receive Mezonos. This obligation to provide her with Mezonos is so strong that it makes her the "Machzik," the one who is in possession of the property in dispute.
The same approach may be applied to the Gemara here. Since her husband's property is now in her possession, the concern for "Tzerori" cannot prevent her from collecting her Mezonos from that property. The concern for "Tzerori" prevents her from collecting her Mezonos only when her husband is still alive, in which case the property is still in his possession (and if she wants to collect Mezonos she must prove that he did not leave "Tzerori" with her, because "ha'Motzi me'Chaveiro Alav ha'Re'ayah").
(c) TOSFOS answers that the concern for "Tzerori" applies only when there is a strong reason to suspect that he left money for her. If a man went abroad and did not overtly leave her with Mezonos or send her anything from abroad, it is assumed that he left "Tzerori" for her. However, if he died while abroad, there is no reason to suspect that he left "Tzerori." Perhaps he planned to send her money but he died before he was able to carry out his plan. Beis Din does not suspect that the husband left "Tzerori" when there are no grounds for such a concern. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)


QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which states that a woman is not believed to say that she was divorced in order to collect her Kesuvah. Nevertheless, she may collect Mezonos, because even if she is not divorced she is entitled to Mezonos. However, she may not collect Mezonos when the value of the Mezonos exceeds the value of her Kesuvah, since her testimony of her divorce is an admission that she is not entitled to more than the value of her Kesuvah (since a divorcee does not collect Mezonos). Although she is not believed when she says that she is divorced, her own admission is accepted like one hundred witnesses against her with regard to the value of the Mezonos which she may collect.
If the Beraisa refers to a case in which the husband might still be alive, it makes sense that she receives only Mezonos and she is not believed to say that she was divorced. If it is known that her husband died, she should receive her Kesuvah whether or not she is believed to say that she was divorced. Shmuel says that the Beraisa refers to a case in which word arrived that her husband died. Accordingly, she should be given the entire amount of her Kesuvah. However, the Beraisa allows her only to receive an occasional stipend of Mezonos. Why, according to Shmuel, is she not entitled to receive her Kesuvah?
(a) RASHI (DH Ihi) writes that although she indeed may collect her Kesuvah in such a case, she chooses not to collect it but to collect only Mezonos, because she is afraid that the rumor about her husband's death will be proven false.
(The MAHARSHA points out that Rashi must understand that "they heard that he died" means hearsay, and not that two witnesses testified that he died as Tosfos explains.)
(b) TOSFOS also explains that if she wants, she may collect her entire Kesuvah at once. This, however, is not the intent of the Beraisa. The intent of the Beraisa is to teach that she may not collect Mezonos indefinitely. One might have thought that if witnesses testify that her husband died before the date on which she claims that she was divorced, her claim should be disregarded and she should receive Mezonos indefinitely (like a widow, and not like a divorcee). The Beraisa teaches that her admission is accepted such that she may not collect Mezonos indefinitely, but only up to the value of her Kesuvah.
(c) The RITVA explains that the woman indeed is not eligible to receive her Kesuvah, for the following reason. The witnesses say that her husband died on a certain date and thus she deserves her Kesuvah. She claims that she was divorced on a later date. Accordingly, her statement that "I was divorced" is akin to saying, "I was not widowed [at the time the witnesses say] and I do not deserve the Kesuvah." This is similar to the principle that when one says, "I did not borrow [money from you]," it is as though he says, "I did not pay back" (and if there are witnesses that he borrowed money, he must pay), because one who did not borrow obviously did not pay back (see Bava Basra 6a). Since she opposes the witnesses, her word is accepted against theirs with regard to matters that obligate her monetarily. Her word is not believed against the witnesses' with regard to the divorce, and thus she does not receive her Kesuvah.
REBBI AKIVA EIGER (in DERUSH V'CHIDUSH) questions the logic of the Ritva. He asserts that even though the woman's testimony contradicts that of the witnesses, she still should receive her Kesuvah because both sets of testimony agree that she is entitled to the Kesuvah. If the witnesses are telling the truth, she should receive her Kesuvah because her husband died, and if they are not telling the truth, then she should receive her Kesuvah because he divorced her.
(In the case of one who says, "I did not borrow [money from you]," which is equated with saying, "I did not pay back," the witnesses testify about two things: he borrowed money, and he paid back the money. He now claims that he did not borrow money, which means that he did not pay back. Accordingly, he is obligated to pay due to the testimony of the witnesses (who say that he borrowed). Even though the witnesses also say that he paid back, his "Hoda'as Ba'al Din" that he did not pay back is like a hundred witnesses and overrides the witnesses' testimony that he paid back, and thus he remains obligated to pay. However, if the witnesses testify only that "he paid back" (and not that "he borrowed money"), and he contradicts them and says "I never borrowed," perhaps he is not obligated, because both his testimony and the witnesses' testimony are absolving him from payment. There is no separate testimony from the witnesses that he borrowed (although it may be inferred from their testimony that he paid back). Following this understanding, in the case of the woman who testifies that she is divorced, the witnesses testify about only one thing: her husband died (and not that she was not divorced, although that fact may be inferred). That testimony, if it is true, will grant her the Kesuvah. In this case, there is no testimony against her; rather, according to the testimony of the woman alone she is entitled to the Kesuvah, and according to the testimony of the witnesses alone she is entitled to the Kesuvah.) (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)