How do partners divide profits – and losses – on their investments?
The Mishna on our deals with that question in the context of a similar question about wives with different size ketubot – e.g. one of them is owed 100 maneh, one 200 maneh and one 300 maneh. According to the Mishna, if the estate has only 100 maneh available for payment, all of the women share equally. If there are 200 maneh available, the two women with larger ketubot receive 75 maneh each, and the woman with the smallest ketuba receives 50 maneh. If there are 300 maneh available, the woman with the largest ketuba receives 150 maneh, the woman with the middle-sized ketuba receives 100 maneh, and the woman with the smallest ketuba receives 50.
The Mishna goes on to say that in partnerships, this same rule would apply.
Although the Gemara limits this rule to very specific cases, Rav Sa’adia Ga’on argues that there is a straightforward explanation for the Mishna’s division of the monies that are owed. He explains that the money in the estate that is available for payment up to the value of each ketuba must be divided equally between the women, while money that is available over and above each woman’s ketuba is divided up based on the percentage that each woman has owed to her.
- If there is only 100 maneh, which is the value of the smallest ketuba, all the women share equally.
- If there are 200 maneh, the woman with the smallest ketuba receives one-third of the first hundred plus one-sixth of the second hundred (=50 maneh), while the other two women share equally in the remainder.
- If there are 300 maneh – the size of the largest ketuba – then the women will all receive their shares according to the percentages that are coming to them; each receives half of what is owed to her.