What is the status of a betrothal?
האומר לחברו צא וקדש לי אשה פלונית והלך וקדשה לעצמו, מקדשת. וכן האומר לאשה הרי את מקדשת לי לאחר שלשים יום ובא אחר וקדשה בתוך שלשים יום, מקדשת לשני. בת ישראל לכהן, תאכל בתרומה. מעכשיו ולאחר שלשים יום ובא אחר וקדשה בתוך שלשים יום, מקדשת ואינה מקדשת. בת ישראל לכהן או בת כהן לישראל, לא תאכל בתרומה.
If a man says to his companion, “Go [as my agent] and betroth me that woman as my wife,” but he [the companion] went and betrothed her for himself, she is betrothed [to the companion]. Similarly, if a man says to a woman, “You are betrothed to me thirty days from now,” and another man comes and betroths her within the thirty days, she is betrothed to the second man.
If an Israelite woman [is betrothed] to a kohen, she may eat tithes. If he [i.e., the kohen] said to her, “[You are betrothed to me] from now and after thirty days,” and another man comes and betroths her within the thirty days, then she is betrothed and not betrothed [i.e., her status is in doubt, and she needs a get from each of them]. In such a case, if she was an Israelite girl betrothed to a kohen, or a kohen girl betrothed to an Israelite, she may not eat tithes [out of doubt].
This tractate deals with many complications regarding marriage arrangements. In ancient Jewish society, the betrothal stage was separate from the marriage ceremony, yet betrothal itself effected a change in legal status between the man and woman. The use of agents, stipulations, and ambiguous declarations could all complicate matters. It was obviously essential to clarify the status of a relationship—was the couple betrothed or not? The issue of eating tithes is a convenient marker of the transition of a woman from her birth family to her husband’s family. In the last case, her doubtful status prevents her from eating tithes, whether she was from a kohen family marrying out or from an Israelite family marrying in.
If you were trying to teach this mishnah, how would you dramatize it and make it accessible?