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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 9a

Nor [are they liable] in respect of idolatry unless [they ruled] concerning a matter the punishment for which is kareth, if it was committed wilfully and a sin-offering if committed unwittingly;1  and we also learnt: [For the unwitting transgression of any] commandment in the Torah the penalty for which, if committed wilfully, is kareth and, if committed unwittingly a sin-offering, the private individual brings a sin-offering of a lamb or a she-goat; the ruler brings a goat; and the anointed High Priest and the Beth din bring a bullock. In the case of idolatry the individual and the ruler and the anointed High Priest bring a she-goat while the Beth din2  bring a bullock and a goat, the bullock for a burnt-offering and the goat for a sin-offering. Whence is this deduced? From the following. For our Rabbis taught: When the sin wherein they have sinned is known:3  Rabbi said, here4  we read 'aleha5  and further on6  we also read 'aleha;7  as further on6  the prohibition involves the penalty of kareth if the transgression was wilful and that of a sin-offering if it was unwitting, so here8  also, [the ruling must be concerning] a prohibition which involves the penalty of kareth if the transgression was wilful and that of a sin-offering if it was unwitting.9

Proof has thus been adduced for the case of the congregation; whence for that of the anointed High Priest? — It is written in relation to the High Priest, So as to bring guilt upon the people;10  this shews that the anointed High Priest is like the congregation. And for an individual and a ruler? — The inference is made by a comparison of Things11  with Things.12  'Nor [are they liable] in respect of idolatry unless [their ruling] concerned a matter the punishment for which is kareth if it was committed wilfully, and a sin-offering if committed unwittingly'. As regards the congregation in the matter of idolatry, deduction13  is made by comparison between From the eyes14  and From the eyes.15  [The law16  of] a private individual, a ruler and an anointed High Priest [is deduced] from, And if one soul17  which implies that there is no distinction between a private individual, a ruler and an anointed High Priest, while the waw18  connects them with the previous subject,19  and consequently the latter20  may be deduced from the former.21

Whence, however, do the Rabbis22  arrive at this inference?23  — They deduce it from the Biblical interpretation which R. Joshua b. Levi taught to his son: Ye shall have one law for him that doeth aught in error. But the soul that doeth aught with a high hand etc.,24  all the Torah is compared to the prohibition of idolatry;25  as in regard to idolatry [obligation is incurred only where] the offence involves the punishment of kareth26  when it was committed wilfully and a sin-offering27  when committed unwittingly, so also in the case of any other transgression [it must be such] as involves kareth when committed wilfully and a sin-offering when committed unwittingly.

Proof has thus been found for the case of a private individual, a ruler and an anointed High Priest28  both in regard to idolatry and the rest of the commandments; whence, however, [is it proved that the same law applies also to] the congregation in the case of idolatry? — Scripture said, And if one soul,29  and the former30  may be deduced from the latter.31  Whence, however, [is it deduced that the same law applies to] the congregation in the case of the other commandments? — Deduction is made by comparison between 'From the eyes' and 'From the eyes'.32

And what does Rabbi do with the text of One law?33  — He applies it to the following.34  Whereas we find that Scripture made distinction between individuals and a group,35  individuals being punished by stoning and their money, therefore, being spared, while a group are punished by the sword and their money is consequently destroyed, one might also assume that a distinction should be made in respect of their sacrifices; hence it was explicitly stated, Ye shall have one law.33

R. Hilkiah of Hagronia36  demurred: Is the reason37  because the All Merciful has written, Ye shall have one law,33  so that had it not so been written it might have been thought that a distinction should be made [in respect of their sacrifices]? What, however, could they bring! Should they bring a bullock? The congregation,38  surely, brings a bullock for the transgression of any one of all the other commandments!39  [Should they bring] a lamb? An individual, surely, brings a lamb if he transgressed any of the other commandments!40  A he-goat? A ruler brings one in the case of transgression of any of the other commandments!40  A bullock for a burnt-offering and a goat for a sin-offering? Such, surely, are brought by the congregation in the case of idolatry!40  Should they, then, bring a she-goat? This, surely, is also the sin-offering of a private individual!41  — [The text]42  was required, because it might have been suggested that whereas the congregation, in the case of an erroneous ruling, brings a bullock for a burnt-offering and a he-goat for a sin-offering, these43  should also bring the same sacrifices, but] in the reverse order;44  or [it might have been assumed to be] necessary45  but that there was no remedy;46  hence it was necessary to teach us.47

Said Levi to Rabbi: What ground is there for stating48  FIFTEEN? Sixteen should have been stated! — The other replied: It seems to me that this man has no brains in his head. 'Do you mean', he continued, 'a man's mother who had been outraged by his father?49  The case of a man's mother who has been outraged by his father is a matter in dispute between R. Judah and the Rabbis,50  and the author of our Mishnah does not deal with any controversial matter'. But does he not? Surely, the prohibition due to a Rabbinical ordinance and the prohibition due to the levir's sanctity,51  concerning which R. Akiba and the Rabbis are in dispute,52  are mentioned! — We mean, in our chapter. But, surely it was taught,53  'Beth Shammai permit rivals to the other brothers and Beth Hillel prohibit them'!54  — The view of Beth Shammai where it is in contradiction to that of Beth Hillel is of no consequence.55

Is there not the case of the wife of a man's brother who was not his contemporary.56

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Hor. 8a.
  2. So in Hor. 9a. Cur. ed. 'congregation'.
  3. Lev. IV, 14.
  4. Concerning an erroneous ruling of the Beth din.
  5. [H], Lev. loc. cit. ('wherein').
  6. Concerning marrying two sisters.
  7. Ibid. XVIII, 18, E.V., 'Beside the other'.
  8. Concerning an erroneous ruling of the Beth din.
  9. Thus it has been shewn that Rabbi requires the text Beside the other for another deduction.
  10. Lev. IV, 3.
  11. Heb. [H] 'commandments'.
  12. Lev. IV, 22 and IV, 13.
  13. That the transgression must be one which involves kareth if done wilfully, and a sin-offering if done unwittingly.
  14. Num. XV, 24, dealing with idolatry.
  15. Lev. IV, 13, referring to an erroneous ruling.
  16. V. note 12.
  17. Num. XV, 27.
  18. 'And', in we'im [H], and if).
  19. The congregation.
  20. Individual, ruler and High Priest.
  21. The congregation, concerning whom deduction has previously been made from the law relating to an erroneous ruling.
  22. Who, unlike Rabbi, require the expression 'aleha (beside her) for deduction in connection with the laws of incest and rival wives, supra 3b.
  23. That obligation is incurred only where the prohibition involves kareth where it was transgressed wilfully and a sin-offering when transgressed unwittingly.
  24. Num. XV, 29, 30.
  25. The text, according to Rabbinical exposition, refers to idolatry and in relation to it the expression Law (Torah) is used.
  26. E.g., offering of a sacrifice.
  27. V. Num. XV, 30. Where wilful transgression involves kareth, unwitting transgression is atoned for by a sin-offering.
  28. By deduction from soul (nefesh, Num. XV, 27) which includes all ranks of individuals.
  29. Num. XV, 27, referring, as has just been pointed out, to individuals of all ranks.
  30. Congregation.
  31. Individuals.
  32. V. supra p. 40, n. 13 and p. 40, n. 14.
  33. Num. XV, 29.
  34. Lit., 'requires it for as it was taught'.
  35. Lit., 'many', i.e., the inhabitants of a city condemned for idolatry (Deut. XIII, 13ff).
  36. A suburb of Nehardea.
  37. Why the sin-offerings of a group and of individuals are the same in the case of idolatry (v. previous note).
  38. I.e., a majority of all the tribes of Israel.
  39. What distinction, then, would there be between the sin-offerings of a 'condemned city' and those of the 'congregation'? (V. previous note). If a distinction is to be made between the sacrifices of a 'condemned city' and those of individuals, how much more should such a distinction be made between the former and those of the 'congregation'!
  40. Cf. n. 7, supra.
  41. Now, since no distinction in the sacrifice could possibly be made, what need was there for the text of Num. XV, 29?
  42. V. previous note.
  43. The men of a 'condemned city'.
  44. A bullock for a sin-offering and a he-goat for a burnt-offering.
  45. For the men of a 'condemned city' to bring a special sin-offering.
  46. If the sin was committed unwittingly since an offering peculiar to themselves is an impossibility.
  47. That the sacrifices are the same (cf. supra p. 42, n. 5) as deduced from Num. XV, 27. For further notes v. Hor., Sonc. ed. pp. 53ff.
  48. In our Mishnah, supra 2a.
  49. I.e., that the Mishnah should have included as a sixteenth forbidden relative, a man's mother who was not the lawful wife of his father, and who, having been subsequently married by his paternal brother who died childless, is now subject to the levirate marriage or halizah of her own son, the brother of her second husband.
  50. Whether she may be married to his paternal brother, supra 4a.
  51. [H] ruxht a prohibition not included in the Biblical laws of incest, but ordained by the Rabbis. [H], a prohibition due to sanctity in the case, e.g., of a widow whose levir is a High Priest. (For this and an alternative explanation v. infra 20a).
  52. Infra loc. cit.
  53. In our very chapter, infra 13a.
  54. Which shews that even laws which are in dispute are recorded in the chapter.
  55. Lit., 'is not a teaching'; the view of Beth Hillel is accepted as law, and can consequently be included in our chapter.
  56. Lit., 'in his world', i.e., who was born after the death of his childless brother.
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Yebamoth 9b

concerning which R. Simeon and the Rabbis are in dispute,1  and which is nevertheless mentioned? — R. Simeon does not dispute the case where the birth2  was first, and the levirate marriage3  later.4  Did not R. Oshaia, however, say1  that R. Simeon disputed the first case also?5  — Surely. R. Oshaia's view was refuted.

Did not, however, Rab Judah state in the name of Rab, and R. Hiyya also taught: In the case of all these6  it may happen that she who is forbidden to one brother may be permitted to the other1  while she who is forbidden to the other brother may be permitted to the one, and that her sister who is her sister-in-law may be subject either to halizah or to the levirate marriage.7  And Rab Judah interpreted [it8  as referring to those]9  from one's MOTHER-IN-LAW onwards but not to the first six categories. What is the reason? Because in the case of a daughter this10  is possible only [with one born] from a woman who had been outraged but not [with one born] from a legal marriage,11  [and the author of our Mishnah] deals only with cases of legal matrimony and not with those of outraged women.12  And Abaye interpreted it8  [as referring] also to a daughter from a woman who had been out raged, because, since [the application of Rab's statement] is quite possible in her case, it matters not whether she was born from a woman who was legally married or from one that had been outraged; but not to the wife of a brother who was not his contemporary. What is the reason? Because [the application of Rab's statement in this case] is possible only according to the view of R. Simeon and not according to that of the Rabbis, [the author of our Mishnah] does not deal with any matter which is in dispute. And R. Safra interprets it13  as referring also to the wife of a brother who was not his contemporary, and [in his opinion] it13  is possible in the case of six brothers in accordance with the view of R. Simeon.14

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Infra 18b.
  2. Of a third brother. (V. infra n. 4).
  3. Between the second brother and the widow of the first brother who died without issue (V. following note).
  4. In such a case, R. Simeon agrees that the third brother must not marry the widow, because at the time when he was born the widow was forbidden to him as 'the wife of his brother who was not his contemporary'. R. Simeon's disagreement with the Rabbis is limited to the case where the first brother, A, died childless and his widow was married to the second brother, B, prior to the birth of the third brother, C. If subsequently B died also childless, R. Simeon, contrary to the opinion of the Rabbis, allows the levirate marriage between the widow and C, because when C was born the widow was already the wife of B, and C's levirate marriage now is not due to A whose widow was a married woman when he was born, but to B whose contemporary he is.
  5. I.e., where C (v. note 4) was born before the levirate marriage between A's widow and B took place.
  6. The fifteen forbidden categories enumerated in our Mishnah, supra 2af.
  7. For full explanation of this statement V. infra 26a and 28b.
  8. Rab's statement.
  9. Forbidden categories.
  10. The full application of Rab's statement.
  11. Who would be forbidden to all the brothers.
  12. And since the case of a daughter could not be included, the other five cases also, bearing on a daughter, were excluded.
  13. Rab's statement.
  14. V. infra 28b for explanation.
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