With regard to the marriage of a girl who is a minor, the Gemara presents Rav’s opinion that even after she becomes an adult, the marriage will not be finalized until the couple engages in marital relations. This statement is challenged with the presentation of the following story.
In the city of Neresh a man married a minor, and when she reached adulthood he arranged for the huppa to take place. Someone came and kidnapped her and although he married her, when she was finally returned to her original husband the Rabbinic authorities of the town – who were students of Rav – did not insist that the second man divorce her. Thus it appears that even though the first wedding was not consummated, they considered the first marriage to be binding and the second one to be meaningless. Rav Ashi explains that this is a rabbinic decree, and that the Sages have the power to undo the second marriage, given the inappropriate method used by the kidnapper in taking a wife.
Rashi says that there is a Rabbinic ruling that such a wedding will not be recognized by the Sages. The Ramban and others argue, pointing out other cases in the Talmud where we do not find that such a rule applied. One of the explanations that he gives is that in this case, since there was an existing Rabbinic marriage, the Sages strengthened the status of that relationship, which did not allow for the possibility of a second marriage taking place.
The city of Neresh stood on the banks of a river of the same name, to the south of Sura. The city was a major business and industrial center in Babylon, with a large agricultural base that included the farming of dates and production of alcoholic beverages. The community was built at the edge of the desert, and its people were considered to be uncultured, yet there was an ancient Jewish community there that included sages, like Rav Pappa, who made their homes there.