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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 42a

If [the halizah was performed] after the three months, she need not wait three months.1  Thus it may be inferred that the three months spoken of are [to be dated] from the time of the husband's death and not from the time of the levir's halizah.

Why [is the law here]2  different from that of a letter of divorce where Rab maintains [that the waiting period is to date] from the time of the delivery3  and Samuel maintains [that it is to date] from the time of writing?4  — Raba replied: A minori ad majus, if you permitted marriage5  where a prohibition under the penalty of kareth is involved,6  how much more so [should marriage be permitted5  where only] an ordinary prohibition7  [is involved]!8

SIMILARLY ALL OTHER WOMEN. The case of a sister-in-law9  one can well understand, as has just been explained,10  but why ALL OTHER WOMEN?11  — R. Nahman replied in the name of Samuel: Because Scripture said, To be a God unto thee and unto thy seed after thee,12  a distinction must be made between the seed of the first husband and the seed of the second.

Raba raised an objection: Hence must a male proselyte and a female proselyte13  wait three months.14  Now, what distinction is there to be made here? — Here also there is the distinction to be made between seed that was sown in holiness and seed that was not sown in holiness.

Raba said: This15  is a preventive measure against the possibility of his16  marrying his paternal sister,17  contracting levirate marriage with the wife of his maternal brother,18  setting his mother free to marry anybody19  and releasing his sister-in-law to all the world.20

R. Hanania raised an objection: In all these21  I read a provision against incest, but here22  it is a provision in favour of the child.23  Now, if this24  is tenable, all25  would be due to a provision against incest! — The meaning of 'a provision in favour of the child' is that the child might not infringe a prohibition of incest'.26

It is easy to understand why [a divorcee or widow] shall not marry after waiting a period of just two months because that would create a doubt as to whether the child is a nine-months one of the first27  or a seven-months one of the second.27  Let her wait, however, one month only and then marry, so that, should she give birth at seven months, the child would be a seven-months one of the last husband;28  and should she give birth at eight months the child would obviously be a nine-months one of the first!27  — Even if she gave birth at eight months it might still be assumed to be the child of the last husband since it may be that her conception was delayed one month.29

Let her, then, wait two months and a half and marry, so that, were she to give birth at seven months, the child would obviously be a seven-months one of the last,27  and were she to give birth at six months and a half, the child would naturally be a nine-months one of the first;30  for had he been the son of the last he would not be viable as a six-and-a-half-months child. — Even if she gave birth at six and a half months it is still possible to assume the child to be that of the last husband, for Mar Zutra stated: Even according to him who said that a woman who bears at nine months does not give birth before the full number of months had been completed,30  a woman who bears at seven months 'does give birth before the full number of months has been completed;30  for it is stated in Scripture, And it came to pass, after the cycles of days,'31  the minimum of 'cycles'32  is two, and the minimum of 'days' is two.33  Let her, then, wait a little34  and marry, and when the three months35  will have been fulfilled she might be examined!36  — R. Safra replied: Married women are not examined, in order that they may not become repulsive to their husbands. Then let her be examined by her walk!37  — Rami b. Mama replied: A woman conceals the fact38  in order that her child may inherit his share in her [second] husband's estate. Where, however, it has been ascertained that she39  was pregnant, let her be permitted to marry! Why then was it taught: A man shall not marry the pregnant, or nursing wife of another;40  and if he married, he must divorce her and never again remarry her! — This41  is a preventive measure against the possibility of turning the foetus into a sandal.42  If so, [this should apply in the case] of one's own wife also!43  — If according to him who said, 'With an absorbent',44  she uses45  an absorbent; and if according to him who said, 'Mercy will be shewn from heaven',46  mercy will be shewn from heaven. Here also47  [it could be argued]: If according to him who said, 'With an absorbent', she uses an absorbent; if according to him who said, 'Mercy will be shewn from heaven', mercy will be shewn from heaven! — [The prohibition]48  is due, rather, to [the danger of abdominal] pressure.49  If so, [this50  applies in the case] of one's own wife also!51  — A man has consideration for his own.52  Here also53  one would have consideration for the child!54  — [The reason is]55  rather because a pregnant woman is usually expected to breast-feed her child [and were she to marry during pregnancy] she

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. From the date of the halizah.
  2. Halizah.
  3. Of the letter of divorce to the woman.
  4. Git. 18a. Why, then, should not here also a period of three months after halizah be required to pass before the widow is allowed to remarry?
  5. Three months after the death of the husband.
  6. The marriage with the levir, where the widow gives birth to a viable child, is an act of incest which is punishable by kareth.
  7. Marriage by the widow with a stranger during pregnancy.
  8. Hence, whenever the halizah was performed three months after the husband's death, the widow may forthwith be permitted to marry.
  9. The reason why she must not marry before three months from the date of her husband's death have passed
  10. Supra 41b.
  11. Why must they also wait three months?
  12. Gen. XVII, 7 emphasis on 'thy'.
  13. Husband and wife (Rashi). Cf. however, Tosaf. s.v. [H] a.l.
  14. After their conversion, before resuming connubial relations.
  15. That any widow or divorced woman shall not marry before three months have passed after her husband's death or divorce respectively.
  16. The son born from a widow or divorcee who married within the three months, and who is a nine-months child of her first husband but is assumed to be a seven-months child of the second.
  17. A daughter of the first husband from another wife, believing her to be a stranger.
  18. He, if his mother bore a son to her second husband, and that son died childless, would be contracting levirate marriage with his widow in the belief that he is the paternal brother while in fact he is his maternal brother whose wife is, therefore, forbidden to him under the penalty of kareth.
  19. Lit., 'to the market'. Should his mother's second husband die without having had any other children his mother would be deemed to be free from the levirate obligations on the assumption that he was the son of the second husband.
  20. Lit., 'to the market'. If his brother (the son of his mother's first husband from another wife) dies childless and is survived by no other known brother his widow would be released to marry any stranger on the assumption that he had no surviving brother, while in reality the widow is bound to him by the levirate bond.
  21. prohibitions to marry or to contract levirate marriage.
  22. The law of a three months' period of waiting before any widow or divorcee is permitted to marry.
  23. This is assumed to mean: In order that it be known whose child he is.
  24. Raba's explanation.
  25. Prohibitions to marry or to contract levirate marriage.
  26. In the other cases the man and the woman themselves might encroach on the prohibition of incest.
  27. Husband.
  28. Had he been an eight-months child of the first husband he would not have been viable.
  29. And the child is one of seven months.
  30. [H] (rt. [H] 'lop off') 'incomplete number of months'.
  31. I Sam. I, 20. E.V., When the time was come about.
  32. [H], pl. of [H]. The year is divided in four cycles (tekufoth), each consisting of three months. The pl. [H] represents no less than two, hence six months.
  33. The text, speaking of Hannah's conception and the birth of Samuel, implies that a viable child may be born after a pregnancy of six months and two days.
  34. A week or two.
  35. Dating from the time of her first husband's death or divorce.
  36. If she is found to be pregnant it will be obvious that the child's father was the first husband; if not, the father of the child born subsequently will be the second husband. After three months of conception the marks of pregnancy may be distinguished.
  37. A pregnant woman, walking on soft soil or loose earth, leaves a deeper impression than a non-pregnant woman (Responsa of the Geonim, Cf. Rashi a.l.).
  38. Lit., 'covers herself'. She makes every effort to conceal all signs of pregnancy which might lead to the discovery that the child's father was her first husband.
  39. A divorced woman or a widow.
  40. Though she had been divorced or widowed.
  41. The reason why no expectant mother may be married.
  42. [H] 'a flat fish', hence an abortion that has the shape of a flat fish, assumed to be caused by intercourse during pregnancy.
  43. During pregnancy. V. supra n. 7.
  44. That a woman during pregnancy may use an absorbent to prevent a second conception. V. supra 12b.
  45. Lit., 'with'.
  46. No artificial means of contraception may be used. The woman must have implicit confidence in divine protection.
  47. A divorced woman or a widow.
  48. To marry an expectant mother.
  49. Which may cause the death of the foetus.
  50. The reason why no expectant mother may be married.
  51. During pregnancy. V. supra note 7.
  52. And takes every possible precaution to-avert danger.
  53. With a divorced woman or a widow.
  54. A man would surely take care not to destroy any life.
  55. The reason why no expectant mother may be married.
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Yebamoth 42b

might conceive again, her milk would become turbid, and she might thereby1  cause the death of the child. If so, [this applies in the case] of the man's own child also! — His own child she would sustain with eggs and milk. Would she not sustain her own child also with eggs and with milk? — Her husband would not give her the means. Let her claim it2  from the heirs!3  — Abaye replied: A woman would shrink from going to court4  and would rather let her child die.

WHETHER THEY WERE VIRGINS OR NON-VIRGINS. Who are the VIRGINS and who are the BETROTHED?5  Who are NON-VIRGINS and who are MARRIED women?6  — Rab Judah replied, It is this that was meant: WHETHER VIRGINS OR NON-VIRGINS who became widows or were divorced7  either after betrothal or after marriage.8

R. Eleazar did not go one day9  to the Beth Hamidrash. On meeting R. Assi he asked him, 'What did the Rabbis discourse at the Beth Hamidrash'? The other replied 'Thus said R. Johanan: The halachah is in agreement with R. Jose'.10  — Does this, then, imply that only individual opinion11  is against him?12  — Yes; and so it was taught: A [married woman] who was always anxious13  to spend her time14  at her paternal home,15  or who had some angry quarrel at her husband's home,16  or whose husband was in prison17  or was old or infirm,16  or who was herself infirm,18  or had miscarried after the death of her husband, or was barren, old, a minor, incapable of conception or in any other way incapacitated from procreation, must19  wait three months.20  These are the words of R. Meir. R. Judah21  permits immediate betrothal and marriage.22

R. Hiyya b. Abba said: R. Johanan retracted.23  Said R. Joseph: If he retracted, he did so on account of what has been taught at the Vineyard.24  For it was taught: R. Ishmael son of R. Johanan b. Beroka said: I heard from the mouth of the Sages in the Vineyard of Jabneh that all women must wait three months.25

Said R. Jeremiah to R. Zerika: When you visit R. Abbahu point out to him the following contradiction: Could R. Johanan have said, 'The halachah is in agreement with R. Jose' seeing that he stated elsewhere 'the halachah is in agreement with the anonymous Mishnah',26  and we learned, ALL OTHER WOMEN SHALL BE NEITHER MARRIED NOR BETROTHED BEFORE THREE MONTHS HAVE PASSED, WHETHER THEY WERE VIRGINS OR NON-VIRGINS!27  The other replied, 'The one who pointed out to you this contradiction did not care much for [the quality of] flour.28  This is an anonymous Mishnah that was followed by a dispute,29  where the halachah does not agree with the anonymous Mishnah; for R. Papa or, some say, R. Johanan stated: When a disputed ruling is followed by an anonymous one,30  the halachah is in agreement with the anonymous ruling; when, however, an anonymous ruling is followed by a dispute,31  the halachah is not in agreement with the anonymous ruling.

R. Abbahu once walked leaning upon the shoulder of his attendant,32  R. Nahum, whilst gathering from him information as to traditional rulings.33  He inquired of him: What [is the halachah] where a dispute is followed by an anonymous statement? The other replied: The halachah is in agreement with the anonymous statement, 'What [is the halachah', the first enquired, 'when] an anonymous statement is followed by a dispute'? The other replied: The halachah is not in agreement with the anonymous statement. 'What if the anonymous statement occurs in a Mishnah and the dispute in a Baraitha'? The other replied: The halachah is in agreement with the anonymous statement. 'What if the dispute is in the Mishnah and the anonymous statement in the Baraitha'? The other replied:

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Since she would either feed him with contaminated milk or deprive him altogether of her breast milk.
  2. The extra cost of the maintenance.
  3. Of her first husband.
  4. To litigate with the heirs.
  5. Both are identical. No virgin can possibly be subject to the levirate obligations unless she has been previously betrothed!
  6. Cf. supra n. 9, mutatis mutandis.
  7. This is the meaning of WHETHER DIVORCEES OR WIDOWS.
  8. This has been expressed by WHETHER MARRIED OR BETROTHED. The last four terms are interpretations of the first two.
  9. Lit., 'enter'.
  10. That women who were married may be betrothed forthwith, and those who were betrothed may even be married forthwith, with the exception of the betrothed in Judaea (as R. Judah, with whom R. Jose is in agreement, has stated in our Mishnah) and with the exception of married women that became widows who must allow the period of thirty days of mourning to pass before remarriage or betrothal (v. our Mishnah).
  11. That of the first Tanna in our Mishnah, SIMILARLY ALL OTHER WOMEN etc.
  12. Otherwise the halachah should be in agreement with the view of the majority.
  13. Pas. particip. of [H] 'to pursue', 'be anxious'.
  14. Lit., 'to go'.
  15. And was there when her husband died.
  16. At the time of his death.
  17. Tosef. J. and Babli in Keth. 60b add, 'or if her husband had gone to a country beyond the sea'. Cf. Wilna Gaon, Glosses, a.l.
  18. When her husband's death occurred.
  19. Though in all these cases it is obvious that the woman is not pregnant.
  20. Before remarriage or betrothal, as a precaution against such marriage or betrothal on the part of a normal woman who might be pregnant.
  21. So in Tosef. In 'Er. 47a, Keth. (v. n. 12) and She'iltoth, however, the reading is R. Jose.
  22. Tosef. VI, 6; 'Er. 47a, Keth. 60b. Thus it has been shewn that the opinion of the first Tanna who disagrees with R. Jose (or R. Judah) is that of R. Meir alone, and is, therefore, only that of an individual.
  23. And ruled that the halachah is not in agreement with R. Jose.
  24. [H], designation of the academy at Jabneh or Jamnia where the students' seats on the ground were arranged in tows like vines in a vineyard.
  25. After their divorce or the death of their husbands, before they may remarry or accept betrothal (v. supra note 10). Tosef. VI.
  26. Shab. 46a.
  27. And this Mishnah is anonymous!
  28. 'What kind of flour he grinds'. He was careless in his arguments.
  29. The anonymous statement of the first Tanna in our Mishnah is immediately followed by the dispute of R. Judah and of R. Jose.
  30. Either in the same Tractate or in the same Order.
  31. As in our Mishnah.
  32. [H] Many of the Rabbis had a [H], sham'a, who was both attendant and disciple of the Master and himself a scholar.
  33. Or halachoth.
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