Adapted from deracheha.org
What is marriage for?
Ideally, marriage establishes a strong emotional and sexual bond, and creates a framework for procreation. Matrimony also can establish paternity, which might relate to why Torah permits a man to have multiple wives but prohibits relations between a married woman, eishet ish, and any other man. (In practice, a man is only permitted to have one wife.)
What is kiddushin, and what is it for?
Kiddushin is halachic betrothal, the first stage of Jewish marriage, which forms a strong legal bond between the couple. As of kiddushin, a woman is considered an eishet ish as long as they both live or until her husband gives her a get, a halachic bill of divorce.
Kiddushin can be understood as the first stage of a mitzva to marry. Though a man’s central marital responsibilities only take effect as of the second stage, nissuin, he commits to undertaking them at kiddushin. As of kiddushin, he is also prohibited from relations with any of the betrothed woman’s family members covered by the laws of prohibited sexual relationships.
What is sacred (kadosh) about kiddushin?
Prohibitions often help to distinguish the sacred from the mundane. Kiddushin can be seen as an act of sanctification, in which the woman forms an exclusive relationship with her husband and is, in a sense, sanctified.
How does this take effect?
Through a formal halachic procedure, in the presence of witnesses, sometimes called a kinyan. Kinyan generally refers either to an acquisition or to a symbolic transfer between parties that effects a halachic change in status.
The kinyan of kiddushin is achieved through the transfer of an item of at least a minimum monetary value from the man to the woman’s benefit (e.g., a ring). The stipulated minimum value of the object does not reflect the woman’s value.
What are some approaches to what kinyan means here?
1. Kinyan issur (kinyan of a prohibition): A kinyan of the woman becoming prohibited sexually to other men as an eishet ish.
2. Conjugal Rights: A kinyan of the exclusive halachic rights to have sexual relations with the woman when she consents. (The couple is permitted to have relations in practice only as of nissuin.)
What are the man’s and woman’s roles in kiddushin?
1. The man effects the monetary transfer because the Torah refers to kiddushin as “when a man takes a woman.
2. The woman must consent in order for the kiddushin to take effect. (We plan to discuss the wedding ceremony in a future piece.)
Click here to learn more about Kiddushin, how it works, and how to understand it while maintaining our modern views of marriage. Read the full article to see the sources and further analysis at https://www.deracheha.org/kiddushin/