Updated: Jul 18
The concept of estimating the dowry can be seen as representing the desire to elevate and sanctify material possessions, transforming them into spiritual assets. * On today's Rambam
In the Laws Pertaining to Women, Rambam states (20:3): “When a father dies and leaves [at least one son and] a daughter [she is provided with a dowry from his estate]. We estimate what the father would have desired to give the daughter as a dowry, and she is given [that sum].
How is it possible to arrive at such an estimate? [We survey the habits of] his friends and acquaintances, his business affairs and his standard of living. If he married off a daughter during his lifetime, we base our estimate [on what she was given]. If the court is unable to determine what he would have desired [to give his daughter], she is given a tenth of his estate as a dowry."
THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DOWRY
From a mystical perspective, this law can be understood as highlighting the spiritual significance and symbolic nature of the dowry. In Jewish mysticism, every physical act or aspect is seen as having spiritual and symbolic dimensions. Chassidic teachings often emphasize uncovering the spiritual lessons embedded within legal rulings.
The concept of estimating the dowry can be seen as representing the desire to elevate and sanctify material possessions, transforming them into spiritual assets. Just as the court estimates the father's intentions, so too can we understand that the father, as the spiritual source, desires to bestow spiritual blessings upon his daughter through the dowry.
In Chassidic thought, the father is associated with the Divine source, and the daughter symbolizes the soul. The dowry represents the spiritual endowment or blessing given to the soul as it embarks on its journey in the physical world. The estimation process reflects the mystical understanding that the soul's needs and potential can be assessed based on spiritual factors and inner essence of individual.
THE TENTH OF FATHER'S ESTATE AS SPIRITUAL TITHE
Furthermore, tenth of father's estate allocated as dowry can be seen as representative of concept of ma'aser (tithing) in Jewish tradition. Tithing involves setting aside a portion of one's earnings for charitable or spiritual purposes. In this case, tenth allotted for dowry can be understood as a spiritual tithe, emphasizing importance of dedicating a portion of one's material possessions to spiritual growth and divine service.