Ketubot 59 - Things that a wife must do for her husband

Here is a list of wife's obligations: grind grain into flour, bake the bread, do laundry, cook, nurse her child and work with wool. However, the more maidservants she brings into marriage, the less she has to work, and with four maidservants she just sits in an easy chair.

Rabbi Eliezer says that she always needs to work, at least with wool, for idleness leads to unchastity, while Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says that idleness brings to insanity.

Rabbi Chiya disagrees and says that a wife is only for beauty, and she should not do any work that diminishes her beauty. He also taught in another place that a wife is only for adornments, and she should accept them from her husband, while it is his duty to give them to her.

Rabbi Chiya fulfilled his maxim in life: his wife gave him hard time, and he would nevertheless buy any nice thing he could find, and bring it wrapped up as a present. His theory was that it is enough for a wife to save the husband from sin by appearing beautiful and thus preventing him from looking at other women.

Art: Kitchen Still Life of Vegetables and Preparations for Baking a cake by E. K. Lautter