The Linzer Model

Rabbi Dov Linzer, Rosh Yeshiva at the left-leaning Orthodox Chovevei Torah, wrote this article on increasing women’s roles under the chuppah.

The practice in Sephardic communities and in Jerusalem is for the groom to assume his ketubah obligations under the chuppah, immediately following the kiddushin. This obligation is assumed through an act of kinyan, classically performed by the groom taking an object (often a handkerchief or a pen) from the officiating rabbi in the presence of witnesses. However, since the groom is obligating himself to the bride, it is actually more appropriate that the bride, and not the rabbi, give him the object. This object can be a ring…. Such a ceremony makes it explicit that the bride is not doing an act of kiddushin, but rather initiating the groom’s acceptance of the ketubah obligations. It allows for the bride’s giving of the ring… to play a central halakhic role.

This practice, if not detailed explicitly as such, has philosophical roots in the Hatam Sofer, who very much envisions the taking on of the ketubah as a parallel to kiddushin. He writes,

In the case of betrothal, there is no buyer or seller, but rather halifin [exchange]. The groom ‘sells’ himself, giving over his person to his betrothed by assuming specified obligations, namely, sustenance, clothing and cohabitation. In return, [the bride] ‘sells’ herself, giving over her person by assuming the obligation of cohabitation by Torah law, and handing over her handiwork by rabbinic law. This is halifin. (Hiddushei ha-Hatam Sofer to Bava Batra 47b.)

Note the Hatam Sofer’s use of language, shifting the emphasis from acquisition to sale, emphasizing the fact that both parties are “selling” something, and de-emphasizing the fact that the groom is, in both places, doing the “buying.”

While Linzer’s model is not bad, there remains still a discrepancy between the kinyan of the male and the kinyan of the female—he acquires the responsibility for food, clothing and sheltering her, and he also acquires her monogamy.

There are ways that this idea can be extended to make the exchange more equal on both sides, as will be discussed in other posts.

in brief:

ADVANTAGES: This kiddushin is halakhically sound, gives the woman more agency under the chuppah, and there is a feeling of equal trade going on, the woman gives the man a ring that is halakhically significant.

DISADVANTAGES: It’s not technically equal; the groom still buys the bride, and though he also acquires his ketubah responsibilities (as he does in every traditional Jewish wedding), she acquires nothing from him, technically, and his sexuality is not regulated in any way.

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