Blog Yomi – Yevamos #7

“Aloha” is the ubiquitous greeting in Hawaii and “Aleha” (עָלֶיהָ) seems to have become the ubiquitous greeting in the Daf these days. The opening review on any given day for what seems like it has been endless days, though it’s only been five, is the refrain of “Why do you need עָלֶיהָ?” . This refers to the פָּסוּק in אַחַרֵי מוֹת regarding עַרָיוֹת which reads: וְאִשָּׁ֥ה אֶל־אֲחֹתָ֖הּ לֹ֣א תִקָּ֑ח לִצְרֹ֗ר לְגַלּ֧וֹת עֶרְוָתָ֛הּ עָלֶ֖יהָ בְּחַיֶּֽיהָ.

In other words, the פָּסוּק could have stated: וְאִשָּׁ֥ה אֶל־אֲחֹתָ֖הּ לֹ֣א תִקָּ֑ח לִצְרֹ֗ר לְגַלּ֧וֹת עֶרְוָתָ֛הּ בְּחַיֶּֽיהָ, and the meaning would seem to be essentially the same: Do not take a woman’s sister as a wife which will create a rivalry when you uncover her nakedness during her lifetime. Why would you think that it is permissible to perform יִבּוּם on one’s sister-in-law, since she should be prohibited to the yavem as an עֶרְוָה.

We’ve had several candidate mechanisms proposed which the Gemara has rejected in turn. We tried using the mechanism of עֲשֵׂה דוֹחֶה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה and failed. Yesterday we entertained another form of inductive reasoning called a “מָה מָצִינוּ”. As the Gemara stated: מָה אֵשֶׁת אָח מִיַּיבְּמָה — אַף אֲחוֹת אִשָּׁה תִּתְיַיבֵּם. Just like we find that in a regular case of יִבּוּם you can marry your brother’s wife, so too can you make יִבּוּם with your wife’s sister. Therefore you need עָלֶיהָ to tell you no, יִבּוּם is not permitted with your wife’s sister.

Ah, but the מָה מָצִינוּ only works if the comparison case is truly comparable. Is it?

מִי דָּמֵי? הָתָם חַד אִיסּוּרָא — הָכָא תְּרֵי אִיסּוּרֵי! מַהוּ דְּתֵימָא: הוֹאִיל וְאִישְׁתְּרִי — אִישְׁתְּרִי

In the first case of your brother’s wife, there is only one אִיסוּר, but in the second case there are two אִיסוּרִים, both a brother’s wife and a wife’s sister. And we said, not a problem – once we grant a waiver on one, we can grant a waiver on the other. Where do we have evidence that such waivers are permissible? From the case of a מְצוֹרָע, as the Gemara stated:

וּמְנָא תֵּימְרָא דְּאָמְרִינַן הוֹאִיל וְאִישְׁתְּרִי אִישְׁתְּרִי — דְּתַנְיָא: מְצוֹרָע שֶׁחָל שְׁמִינִי שֶׁלּוֹ בָּעֶרֶב הַפֶּסַח, וְרָאָה קֶרִי בּוֹ בַּיּוֹם, וְטָבַל, אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים: אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין טְבוּל יוֹם אַחֵר נִכְנָס, זֶה — נִכְנָס

And once again, since I would have thought that הוֹאִיל וְאִישְׁתְּרִי אִישְׁתְּרִי is a valid mechanism for being able to perform יִבּוּם on your wife’s sister, we need עָלֶיהָ to tell you no, יִבּוּם is not permitted with your wife’s sister. That is where we left off yesterday, and Rabbi Stern picks up at the 2:30 mark of today’s video by previewing today’s Daf, which begins at the very bottom of דף ז עמוּד ב.

מִי דָּמֵי לִדְעוּלָּא – the Daf begins by questioning if the case of the leper (מְצוֹרָע) sullied by seminal emission (קֶרִי) is truly comparable to our case of יִבּוּם with one’s sister-in-law. What was the case with the מְצוֹרָע? He was clearly a מְצוֹרָע, spent his seven days in isolation, and then when ready do bring his קָרְבָּן had the potential disqualification of קֶרִי. Nevertheless we allow him to bring the קָרְבָּן, applying the principle of הוֹאִיל וְאִישְׁתְּרִי אִישְׁתְּרִי.

Let’s create the same scenario with יִבּוּם. A person’s brother gets married, and he is forbidden from having relations with his brother’s wife due to the עֶרְוָה of אֵשֶׁת אַח. After their marriage, you marry your brother’s wife’s sister. She is now forbidden to you for an additional reason, the עֶרְוָה of אַחוֹת אִישָׁה. In that scenario the brother dies, and הוֹאִיל וְאִישְׁתְּרִי, the אִיסוּר of אֵשֶׁת אַח came first. After that, you married you brother’s wife’s sister which is the second אִישְׁתְּרִ, analagous to the הוֹאִיל וְאִישְׁתְּרִי אִישְׁתְּרִי of מְצוֹרָע followed by קֶרִי.

What about the following scenario: You marry your wife first, and then your brother marries your wife’s sister. In that case you were אַסוּר on your brother’s wife through אַחוֹת אִישָׁה first, before she became אֵשֶׁת אַח. That is the inverse of הוֹאִיל וְאִישְׁתְּרִי אִישְׁתְּרִי. This is what leads the Gemara to state:

וַאֲפִילּוּ נָשָׂא מֵת נָמֵי, תִּינַח הֵיכָא דְּנָשָׂא מֵת, וּמֵת, וְאַחַר כָּךְ נָשָׂא חַי — דְּחַזְיָא לֵיהּ דְּבֵינֵי בֵּינֵי. אֶלָּא נָשָׂא מֵת, וְלֹא מֵת, וְאַחַר כָּךְ נָשָׂא חַי — לָא אִיחַזְיָא לֵיהּ כְּלָל

Which Sefaria describes as follows: Even in a case where the deceased brother had married first, it works out well only when the deceased brother had married the woman and then died, and only afterward the surviving brother married that brother’s wife’s sister. The reason is that in this case, the sister of the wife of the deceased brother was fit for him in between, i.e., during the period from when the deceased brother died until he married that brother’s wife’s sister. Therefore, it can be claimed that the second prohibition should not apply. However, if the deceased brother married first, and did not die yet, and afterward, during the deceased brother’s lifetime, the living brother married the deceased brother’s sister, she was not fit for him at all, as there was no period of time during which she was permitted to him.

At this juncture the Gemara says: כִּי אִיצְטְרִיךְ ״עָלֶיהָ״ — הֵיכָא דְּנָשָׂא מֵת, וּמֵת, וְאַחַר כָּךְ נָשָׂא חַי. It appears that I need the “עָלֶיהָ” just for the last scenario mentioned above (the deceased brother married first, and afterward the surviving brother married the deceased brother’s wife’s sister) to tell me that even though it meets the criteria for הוֹאִיל וְאִישְׁתְּרִי אִישְׁתְּרִי, I can’t perform יִבּוּם on my wife’s sister.

Well, as if it weren’t challenging enough to find one answer to “why we need עָלֶיהָ”, or perhaps precisely because it was so difficult to find that answer and it is a very finite answer, the Gemara now provides a second potential answer:

וְאִי בָּעֵית אֵימָא: אָתְיָא בְּהֶיקֵּישָׁא מִדְּרַבִּי יוֹנָה. דְּאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹנָה, וְאִיתֵּימָא רַב הוּנָא בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַב יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, אָמַר קְרָא: ״כִּי כּל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה מִכֹּל הַתּוֹעֵבוֹת הָאֵלֶּה וְנִכְרְתוּ״, הוּקְשׁוּ כּל הָעֲרָיוֹת כּוּלָּן לְאֵשֶׁת אָח: מָה אֵשֶׁת אָח — שַׁרְיָא, אַף כּל עֲרָיוֹת — נָמֵי שַׁרְיָין, כְּתַב רַחֲמָנָא ״עָלֶיהָ״

The complete פָּסוּק, as written almost as an addendum after all the עַרָיוֹת are listed in אַחַרֵי מוֹת, is:

כִּ֚י כּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר יַעֲשֶׂ֔ה מִכֹּ֥ל הַתּוֹעֵבֹ֖ת הָאֵ֑לֶּה וְנִכְרְת֛וּ הַנְּפָשׁ֥וֹת הָעֹשֹׂ֖ת מִקֶּ֥רֶב עַמָּֽם – that anyone violating any of the fifteeen אִיסוּרִים previously listed, will have their souls cut off from the midst of their nation. The Daf is entertaining the notion that the answer to why we need ״עָלֶיהָ״ is due to a הֶיקֵּישׁ of רַבִּי יוֹנָה. I would have though that just like אֵשֶׁת אַח is permitted, all the other עַרָיוֹת mentioned in that batch fo preceding פּסוּקִים is permitted. Comes along the ״עָלֶיהָ״ to tell you no. And if you enjoy rapid fire presentation, here is Rabbi Stern’s muse, Sruly Bornstein, zipping through the subject.

Rava now turns everything on its head. The Gemara states:

רָבָא אָמַר: עֶרְוָה לָא צְרִיכָא קְרָא, דְּאֵין עֲשֵׂה דּוֹחֶה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ כָּרֵת. כִּי אִיצְטְרִיךְ קְרָא לְמֵיסַר צָרָה

Up until this point we’ve been operating on the premise that the עָלֶיהָ״” was needed to tell you why you couldn’t make יִבּוּם with your sister-in-law, who is your עֶרְוָה. Come along Rava and says no! We never had a “hava amina” that the עָלֶיהָ was going on the עֶרְוָה. Rather, it is going on the צָרָה to tell you that the צָרָה is אַסוּר. And cutting to the chase, it turns out that Rava’s approach is the one that winds up winning in the final analysis. But not, of course, before some more twists and turns.

One of these twists and turns comes at the end of the session, a few lines from the bottom of דף ח עמוּד ב. It is not something that Rabbi Stern addressed, but that caught my eye. Let’s look at the Gemara’s language at the end of today’s Daf regarding יִבּוּם:

דְּאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בַּר חֲנִינָא: ״וּלְקָחָהּ״ — מְלַמֵּד שֶׁמְּגָרְשָׁה בְּגֵט וּמַחְזִירָהּ. ״וְיִבְּמָהּ״ — עַל כרְחָהּ

Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: “And have intercourse with her” means marriage, i.e., she is fully his wife from that moment onward. This teaches that he divorces her with a “get” after יִבּוּם, and she can no longer be released by חַלִיצָה, and he may subsequently re-marry her if he so wishes. And the verse “and consummate the levirate marriage with her,” this means against her will. Although betrothal in general does not take effect without the woman’s consent, יִבּוּם can be effected against her will.

ArtScroll has a very important note here, citing the Malbim who explains that throughout the Torah, the act of intimacy is consistently referred to with the words וַיָבֹא אֵלֶיהָ, and he came to her. One example given is when לָבָן took his daughter לֵאָה and gave her to יַעַקֹב as a wife: וַיְהִ֣י בָעֶ֔רֶב וַיִּקַּח֙ אֶת־לֵאָ֣ה בִתּ֔וֹ וַיָּבֵ֥א אֹתָ֖הּ אֵלָ֑יו וַיָּבֹ֖א אֵלֶֽיהָ

The only exception to consent being required, says the Malbim, is the case of יִבּוּם, where the Torah states: יְבָמָה יָבֹא עָלֶיהָ, literally her yavam shall come upon her. The variation in wording reflects the fact that whereas intimacy is normally consensual, in the case of יִבּוּם the woman’s consent is not needed. As Sefaria quotes from Steinsaltz: וההלכה שיכול ליבמה על כרחה — מ”יבמה יבא עליה” נפקא [יוצאת, נלמדת לו], שמשמעו: בכל דרך ובכל אופן

Stay tuned. There may be further questions to clarify this.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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