On the opening daf of Ketuvot, (todays daf yomi) the Mishna announces that virgins marry on Wednesday and widows remarry on Thursday.

Why? The Mishna explains: if a man, after sleeping with his new wife, finds that she is not a virgin, he is supposed jump out of bed the next morning and run to the local beit din - open only Mondays and Thursdays (and between 9:00 and 11:00 like some offices I know here in Jerusalem). Perhaps he wants his money back- this was not the pure innocent virgin he bargained for. Maybe he wants an immediate divorce from his surprisingly experienced mate. Rashi warns that if he doesn’t wake up Thursday morning, directly after his discovery and rush to the court in the heat of his anger, he might decide he actually likes her and doesn’t care that she wasn’t a virgin (maybe he even enjoyed it). Hence the Wednesday wedding.

But the Gemarah gives an opposing explanation for why “the women” convinced the Rabbis to require a Wednesday or Thursday wedding. A virgin woman is married on a Wednesday so that her husband will have enough time to prepare the stately feast for the wedding day itself – no excuse to skimp. The widow remarries on a Thursday so her new lover won’t be tempted to go back to work, rather he will take Friday off and luxuriate at home, as a newlywed should, for a long weekend.

The Gemrah’s explanations of wedding preparations and honeymoon weekends (quoted as the voice of women!) speak to me more than the Mishna. Weddings should be sensuous beautiful moments that celebrate the love and companionship that can follow. The Mishna’s darker reasoning of preserving the ability to run to the beit din, reveals doubt at the lasting quality of marriage, especially pessimistic about the reliability of women to be true, and begins imagining divorce even before the ceremony begins- so much for marriage counseling.

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