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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 43a

If Rabbi1  has not taught it,2  whence would R. Hiyya3  know it! The first said to him: Surely we learned: A hackle for flax, whose teeth were broken off and two remained, is [susceptible to levitical] uncleanness,4  but [if only] one [tooth remained,5  it is levitically] clean.6  All the teeth, however, if they were removed one by one are individually [susceptible to levitical] uncleanness.7  A wool [comb] whose alternate teeth8  are broken off is levitically clean.9  If three consecutive10  teeth, however, remained, it is susceptible to levitical uncleanness. If one of these was a side tooth,11  [the comb] is levitically clean.12  If two [teeth] were removed and someone used them as pincers, they are susceptible to levitical uncleanness. One [tooth also] that was adopted for [snuffing] the light,13  or as a spool,14  is susceptible to levitical uncleanness.15  And we have it as a traditional ruling that the halachah is not in agreement with this Mishnah!16  — The other replied, 'With the exception of this;17  for both R. Johanan and Resh Lakish stated: This is not [an authoritative] Mishnah'.

What is the reason? — R. Huna b. Manoah replied in the name of R. Idi son of R. Ika: Because the first clause is in contradiction to the second one. For at first it was stated that 'a wool comb whose alternate teeth are missing is levitically clean' from which it follows that if two consecutive teeth did remain it would be susceptible to uncleanness, while immediately afterwards it was stated, 'If three consecutive teeth, however, remained it is susceptible to levitical uncleanness' from which it follows that only three but not two! — What difficulty is this? It is possible that one18  refers to the internal,19  and the other20  the external teeth!21

The contradiction, however, arises from the following:22  It was taught first, 'all the teeth, however, if they were removed one by one are individually susceptible to levitical uncleanness' [implying], even though each tooth was not adapted [for the purpose]. Now read the final clause: 'One tooth that was adapted for snuffing the light, or as a spool, is susceptible to levitical uncleanness', [implying,] only when he adapted it but not when he did not adapt it! — Abaye replied: What is the difficulty? It is possible that the one [refers to a tooth] with a handle23  and the other [to a tooth] without a handle! R. Papa replied: What is the difficulty? It is possible that the one refers to small,24  and the other to thick teeth.25  [The reason]26  is rather because accurate scholars add this conclusion: 'These are the words of R. Simeon'.27

R. Hiyya b. Abin sent the following message: Betrothal may take place within the three months, and the practice [of the Sages]28  is also in accordance with this ruling. And R. Eleazar, too, taught us the same law in the name of R. Hanina the Great: The greater part of the first month, the greater part of the third one, and the full middle month.29

Amemar permitted betrothal on the ninetieth day.30  Said R. Ashi to Amemar: But, surely, both Rab and Samuel stated that the widow must wait three months exclusive of the day on which her husband died and exclusive of the day of her betrothal! — This ruling was stated in connection with a nursing mother; for both Rab and Samuel stated: She must wait twenty-four exclusive of the day on which the child was born and exclusive of the day of her betrothal.31  Did not, however, a man once arrange a betrothal feast on the ninetieth days32  and Raba spoilt his feast!33  — That was a wedding feast.

The law is that [a nursing mother] must wait twenty-four months, exclusive of the day on which the child was born and exclusive of the day on which she is to be betrothed. Similarly. One [who is not a nursing mother] must wait three months, exclusive of the day on which her husband died and exclusive of the day on which she is to be betrothed.

EXCEPTING THE WIDOW etc. R. Hisda said: [Cannot the law34  be deduced by inference] from major to minor?35  If when washing of clothes is forbidden,36  betrothal is permitted, how much more should betrothal be permitted when the washing of clothes is permitted!37  What is it?38  — We learned: During the week in which the Ninth of Ab occurs it is forbidden to cut the hair and to wash clothes. On the Thursday, however, this is permitted in honour of the Sabbath.39  And [in connection with this Mishnah] it was taught: Before this time40  the public must restrict their activities in commerce, building and plantings but it is permissible to betroth though not to marry, nor may any betrothal feast be held!41  — That was taught in respect of the period before that time.42  Said Raba, Even in respect of the 'period before that time'43  [the law might be arrived at by inference from] major to minor: If where it is forbidden to trade it is permitted to betroth, how much more should betrothal be permitted where trade also is permitted! — Do not read, R. JOSE SAID: ALL [MARRIED] WOMEN44  MAY BE BETROTHED but read, 'ALL MARRIED WOMEN44  may be married'.45

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. The Redactor of the Mishnah and teacher of R. Hiyya.
  2. As an anonymous ruling which is to represent the established halachah.
  3. Rabbi's disciple, who compiled Baraithas and the reputed author of the Tosefta.
  4. Since the hackle can still be used even though only two teeth remained. [H] 'vessels' (v. Lev. XI, 32ff) by which all kinds of implements and instruments are understood, are susceptible to levitical uncleanness so long only as they are useable. Broken 'vessels' which cannot be put to any further use are always levitically clean.
  5. The hackle thus becoming unusable.
  6. V. supra p. 277. n. 11 last clause.
  7. Since each single broken tooth can be used for some purpose. V. infra.
  8. Lit., 'one from between', i.e., one tooth between every three.
  9. Its teeth are far apart. and the absence of every alternate tooth renders the instrument useless.
  10. Lit., 'in one place'.
  11. Which serves as a protection for the other teeth but is in itself useless for combing purposes.
  12. V. supra p. 277. n. 11.
  13. V. Jast.; or 'for picking a candlestick', v. Rashi a.l.
  14. Lit., 'for stretching'. V. Jast.
  15. Kelim XIII, 8.
  16. Though it is anonymous.
  17. Only here has the anonymous Mishnah been disregarded.
  18. The first clause which implies that if only two teeth remained the comb is still susceptible to uncleanness.
  19. With two teeth of which the comb may still be used.
  20. The final clause, implying that if only two teeth remained the comb is no more susceptible to uncleanness.
  21. Two of which are useless. A wool comb had two sets of teeth, external and internal. The former were used for the main work, and no less than three were required. The latter served only the purpose of holding up the wool, and two of these were quite sufficient for that purpose. It should be noted that the 'side tooth' mentioned in the Baraitha does not refer to these but to the first or last tooth of the row (v. supra p. 278, n. 7).
  22. Lit., 'but from here'.
  23. When a part of the wooden base of the comb was broken off together with the tooth. In this case no adaptation is necessary.
  24. Small teeth require a handle without which they cannot be used.
  25. Which can be used without any adaptation.
  26. Why the halachah is not in agreement with that Mishnah.
  27. The Mishnah thus is not at all anonymous.
  28. Which he witnessed (v. Rashi a.l.).
  29. Constitute the required period of three months. Three full months are not necessary.
  30. After divorce or husband's death.
  31. Keth. 60b.
  32. After divorce or husband's death.
  33. By forbidding the betrothal on that day.
  34. On a widow's betrothal within the period of the thirty days of mourning.
  35. In a way contrary to the ruling of R. Jose.
  36. During the week in which the fast of the Ninth of Ab occurs.
  37. A mourner may wash his clothes before the period of the thirty days of mourning has passed- the prohibition extending to the first week of mourning only.
  38. I.e., where does the law concerning washing and betrothal occur.
  39. Ta'an. 26b.
  40. This is now assumed to mean, before the Ninth of Ab and during the week in which the fast occurs.
  41. Which shews that betrothal is permitted even when washing of clothes is forbidden. How, then, could R. Jose forbid betrothal where even washing was permitted? (V. supra note 7).
  42. Lit., 'before of before', prior to the week in which the fast occurs, when washing also is permitted. During the week itself, however, betrothal as well as washing is forbidden.
  43. V. supra p. 280, n. 12.
  44. Whose husbands died.
  45. R. Jose's disagreement with R. Judah has no bearing on the question of marriage during mourning on which R. Judah and R. Jose are in agreement, the former also admitting that no marriage may be celebrated during the mourning period. R. Jose's disagreement relates to the general question of the remarriage of a married woman within three months after her husband died (or divorced her). While R. Judah permits a married woman within three months betrothal only, but not marriage, R. Jose permits marriage also.
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Yebamoth 43b

Does not R. Jose, then, hold the view that it is necessary to make a distinction?1  — If you wish I might say2  that he does not. And if you prefer I might say that he does, in fact, hold [this view],3  but read, 'R. Jose said: All betrothed women who were divorced may be married'.4  If so, it5  is the same view as that of R. Judah!6  — The point at issue between them is the question of the betrothal7  of a married woman. R. Judah maintains that a married woman may be betrothed,7  while R. Jose maintains that a married woman may not be betrothed.7  But is R. Jose of the opinion that a married woman is forbidden betrothal?7  Surely it was taught, 'R. Jose said: All women8  may be betrothed,7  excepting the widow, owing to her mourning. And how long does her mourning continue? Thirty days. And all these must not marry before three months have passed'! — What an objection is this!9  If it be argued: Because it was stated, 'R. Jose said: All women may be betrothed', is this [it may be retorted] of greater force than our Mishnah? As that was interpreted to mean that 'betrothed women who were divorced may be married' so here also [it might be interpreted to mean], 'All betrothed women who were divorced may be married'! — [The objection,] however, [arises from] the final clause where it was stated, 'And all these must not marry before three months have passed', [implying that] only marriage is forbidden to them but they may well be betrothed!10  — Raba replied: Explain and reconstruct it11  as follows:12  R. Jose said: Betrothed women who were divorced may be married, excepting the widow owing to her mourning. And how long does her mourning continue? Thirty days. And married women may not be betrothed before three months have passed.13  But is any mourning to be observed by an erusin14  widow? Surely R. Hiyya b. Ammi taught: In the case of a betrothed wife,15  the husband is neither subject to the laws of onan16  nor may he defile himself17  for her;18  and she, [in his case,] is likewise not subject to the laws of onan16  nor may she defile herself for him;19  if she dies he does not inherit from her, though if he dies she collects her kethubah!20  — The fact, however, is that this21  is a question in dispute between22  Tannaim. For it was taught: From the first day of the month23  until the fast,24  the public must restrict their activities in trade, building and planting, and no betrothals or marriages may take place.25  During the week in which the Ninth of Ab occurs it is forbidden to cut the hair, to wash clothes;26  and others say that this is forbidden during the entire month.27  R. Ashi demurred: Whence is it proved that betrothal means actual betrothal! Is it not possible that it is only forbidden to give28  a betrothal feast but that betrothal itself is permitted?29  — If so, does 'no marriage may take place' also mean that the giving of a wedding feast is forbidden but marriage itself is permitted! — How now! In the case of a marriage without a feast there is still sufficient rejoicing;30  in the case of betrothal, however, is there any rejoicing when no feast is held?31  The fact is, said R. Ashi, that recent mourning32  is different from ancient mourning,33  and public mourning33  is different from private mourning.34 



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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Between a child of the first, and one of the second husband. (V. supra 42a). If he does, how could he permit marriage within the three months?
  2. V. BaH a.l. Wanting in cur. edd.
  3. He admits the necessity for a distinction between the children of the two husbands.
  4. Forthwith. In such cases the question of pregnancy does not arise. Hence, immediate marriage is permitted except in the case of mourning (v. our Mishnah final clause).
  5. R. Jose's view.
  7. Forthwith.
  8. Even married women.
  9. The point of the objection is explained infra.
  10. How, then, could R. Jose say here that betrothal is forbidden.
  11. The second Baraitha cited.
  12. Lit., 'and say thus'.
  13. R. Jose in the Baraitha, in thus forbidding betrothal, advances the same opinion as R. Jose in our Mishnah in accordance with the interpretation supra.
  14. V. Glos.
  15. Before her marriage has taken place.
  16. A mourner for certain relatives prior to their burial (v. Glos.) who is subject to a number of restrictions.
  17. If he is a priest who is forbidden to come in contact with dead bodies except those of very near relatives among whom a wife is included. Aliter: 'nor need he defile himself'; v. supra 29b.
  18. A 'betrothed wife' not being regarded as being as near of kin as a married wife.
  19. During a festival when Israelites and women (and not only priests) are forbidden to attend on a dead body (unless they are engaged in its burial) if they are not near relatives (cf. R.H. 16b). Others render, 'nor need she … him'. (V. Rashi a.l. and Tosaf. supra 29b s.v.).
  20. V. Glos. in a case where the document was given to her at the betrothal. Supra 29b, B.M. 18a, Keth. 53a. The reference in the Mishnah hence cannot be to an erusin widow but to the prohibition of the betrothal of a widow within thirty days, which brings us back to the original question of R. Hisda.
  21. Whether betrothal is forbidden or permitted before the Fast of Ab.
  22. Lit., 'but it'.
  23. Of Ab.
  24. On the ninth of the month.
  25. Ta'an. 26b.
  26. Cut. edd. insert in parentheses, 'and it is forbidden to betroth'.
  27. Ta'an. 29b. The Tanna of this Baraitha thus forbids betrothal before the Ninth of Ab though the Tanna of the Baraitha previously cited (supra 43a) permits it. The objection against R. Jose raised by R. Hisda from the first Baraitha is, therefore, untenable, since R. Jose may disagree with that Tanna and follow the view of the one in the second Baraitha, who forbids betrothal. R. Jose's statement in our Mishnah may consequently be read and interpreted as originally assumed, viz., that ALL (MARRIED) WOMEN MAY BE BETROTHED, the point at issue between him and R. Judah being the question of mourning during which in the opinion of the first betrothal is, and in the opinion of the latter is not forbidden.
  28. Lit., 'to make'.
  29. Cf. infra note 10.
  30. Hence it is quite conceivable that marriage, even though no wedding feast is held, should be forbidden.
  31. It is quite possible, therefore, that the 'betrothal' forbidden is only one celebrated with the holding of a festive meal, while betrothal alone is permitted. The second Baraitha would thus be in agreement with the first. How, then, could R. Jose, contrary to the rulings of the two Baraithas maintain that betrothal during mourning is forbidden?
  32. After a personal bereavement.
  33. That before the Fast of Ab in commemoration of historical events.
  34. Personal and recent grief is more poignant, and is subject to more stringent regulations than those of public mourning which is less rigid. Hence there need be no contradiction between R. Jose's ruling concerning the prohibition of betrothal during the widow's personal mourning and the permission of betrothal in the Baraithas which speak of public mourning. Consequently the assumption that the two Baraithas are in disagreement and that R. Jose follows the latter is no longer necessary. Both Baraithas, in fact, may permit betrothal before the Fast of Ab, and R. Jose also may share the same view.
  35. Surviving brother; v. Gemara.
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