Blog Yomi – Yevamos #12

After many days, we’ll be finishing the Gemara’s discussion of our first Mishnah. By way of brief review, we’ve been talking about the status of the צָרָה, or the rival wife of a widow whose husband died childless and has a living brother with a common father. If the widow is an עֶרְוָה to her brother-in-law, then the צָרָה is פַּטֵר. What happens if the rival wife who is an עֶרְוָה is out of the picture? There are several ways that this can occur:

  1. מִיאוּן – refusal (the case of a קְטַנָה who can refuse to be married to the יַבֵם)
  2. גֵירוּשִׁין – divorce
  3. מִיתָה – death

In those instances, the צָרָה would be מוּתָּר. Regarding גֵירוּשִׁין we had the case where Shimon married his niece Chana who was born out of wedlock to his brother Reuven. Shimon has another wife Penina (polygamy was permitted in those days) who is a צָרָה to his niece. Shimon dies, so falling in front of his brother Revuen is his daughter who is an עֶרְוָה, and the צָרָה. Because of the עֶרְוָה to his daughter there is no יִבּוּם or חַלִיצָה, and the צָרָה goes free.

The Daf today entertains a dispute about what happens in the event that Shimon divorces Chana. Does it matter regarding her status if Penina came on the scene as a second wife before the divorce to Chana, or if she had married Shimon after the divorce? With that background, we begin on דף י”ג עמוּד א.

כֵּיצַד פּוֹטְרוֹת צָרוֹתֵיהֶן וְכוּ׳. מְנָהָנֵי מִילֵּי? אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה, דְּאָמַר קְרָא: ״לִצְרוֹר״ — הַתּוֹרָה רִיבְּתָה צָרוֹת הַרְבֵּה

Simply put, the צָרָה is אָסוּר because of the פָּסוּק which states:

וְאִשָּׁ֥ה אֶל־אֲחֹתָ֖הּ לֹ֣א תִקָּ֑ח לִצְרֹ֗ר לְגַלּ֧וֹת עֶרְוָתָ֛הּ עָלֶ֖יהָ בְּחַיֶּֽיהָ

This is the classic case of three brothers, Reuven, Shimon and Levi. Reuven has a daugther Chana who is married to Shimon (her uncle). Shimon has a second wife Penina who is a צָרָה to Reuven’s daughter. Shimon dies. Reuven can’t marry Penina because she’s his daughter’s co-wife. But she is permitted to Reuven’s brother Levi, who marries Penina. Then Levi dies. Penina is still אָסוּר to Reuven and in fact will remain so forever because she is צָרַת בִּתּוֹ. Rav Ashi says the צָרָה is אָסוּר because she is אֵשֶׁת אַח

רַב אָשֵׁי אָמַר, סְבָרָא הִיא: צָרָה מַאי טַעְמָא אֲסִירָא — דְּבִמְקוֹם עֶרְוָה קָיְימָא, צָרַת צָרָה נָמֵי — בִּמְקוֹם עֶרְוָה קַיְימָא

The Gemara continues: כֵּיצַד אִם מֵתוּ הֵן כּוּ׳. וַאֲפִילּוּ כָּנַס וּלְבַסּוֹף גֵּירַשׁ. To better visualize this, we return to our picture book, ציורים למסכת יבמות, page 87, and the case of שְׁלֹשָׁה אַחִים (three brothers), Reuven, Shimon and Levi:

  1. Reuven and Shimon are married to two sisters, Machla and Noa respectively (coincidentally two of the בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד).
  2. Levi is married to a woman unrelated to Machla and Noa, who is therefore called a נָכְרִית.
  3. Reuven divorces Machla and gives her a גֶט.
  4. Levi dies so his wife, the נָכְרִית falls to Reuven and Shimon.
  5. Reuven makes יִבּוּם to the נָכְרִית.
  6. Reuven dies, so the נָכְרִית now falls to Shimon.
  7. Machla is אַסוּר to Shimon as אַחוֹת אִישָׁה, but at no time was the נָכְרִית a צָרָה to Machla.

So there was never a time with Machla and the נָכְרִית were co-wives by being simultaneously married to Reuven. The Gemara will now discuss what happens if the Reuven divorced Machla after he married the נָכְרִית, so that they were simultaneous co-wives to the same husband:

וּרְמִינְהוּ: שְׁלֹשָׁה אַחִים, שְׁנַיִם מֵהֶן נְשׂוּאִים שְׁתֵּי אֲחָיוֹת, וְאֶחָד נָשׂוּי נכְרִית, גֵּירַשׁ אֶחָד מִבַּעֲלֵי אֲחָיוֹת אִשְׁתּוֹ, וּמֵת הַנָּשׂוּי נכְרִית וּכְנָסָהּ הַמְגָרֵשׁ, וָמֵת, זוֹ הִיא שֶׁאָמְרוּ: שֶׁאִם מֵתוּ אוֹ נִתְגָּרְשׁוּ — צָרוֹתֵיהֶן מוּתָּרוֹת

טַעְמָא דְּגֵירַשׁ וְאַחַר כָּךְ כָּנַס, אֲבָל כָּנַס וְאַחַר כָּךְ גֵּירַשׁ — לָא

And the Gemara answers that according to Rav Yirmiyah indeed, there is a difference in opinion between the Tanna of the Mishnah and the Tanna our בְּרַייתָא. Our Mishna follows the rule that the relationship at the time of death determines the status of the principals involved. The בְּרַייתָא holds that the relationships at the time of the first נִישׂוּאִין that is the key determinant. Rava however disagrees and says it is the opinion of the same Tannah, and there’s no real contradiction “because I say so”. (That’s a bit tongue in cheek, but is the essence of it.)

At the 21:50 mark of the video, Rabbi Stern embarks with us on the next Mishnah, a long time in coming since the prior one. He draws the following contrast for us. In the previous Mishnah, we had 15 women who were an עֶרְוָה to one individual, Reuven, but were to Shimon were permitted. and that created the situation of an עֶרְוָה falling in front of a brother. In our forthcoming Mishnah, these 15 women are “equal opportunity אִיסוּרִים”: if they’re אַסוּר to Reuven, they are also אַסוּר to Shimon, and to Levi across the board. So if there’s a co-wife, Penina, she is not an עֶרְוָה and would therefore be מוּתָּר to the יַבֵם. As our new Mishna states: שֵׁשׁ עֲרָיוֹת חֲמוּרוֹת מֵאֵלּוּ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנְּשׂוּאוֹת לַאֲחֵרִים — צָרוֹתֵיהֶן מוּתָּרוֹת. So what are those six cases that are considered חָמוּר?

#1: Page 89 in our picture book: נְּשׂוּאוֹת לַאֲחֵרִים – his mother (אִמוֹ)

  1. Yaakov marries Chana and they have a son Reuven
  2. Yaakov dies.
  3. Chana marries Elkanah who has another wife Peninah
  4. Elkanah dies.
  5. Peninah, who is the צָרָה of Chana, marries Reuven (צרת אמוֹ של ראוּבן מוּתרת לינשׂא לוֹ)

#2: Page 90, נְּשׂוּאוֹת לַאֲחֵרִים – his father’s wife (אֵשֶׁת אָבִיו)

  1. Yaakov marries Leah and they have a son Reuven
  2. Yaakov marries a second wife chana.
  3. Yaakov dies.
  4. Chana marries Elkanah, who has another wife Peninah.
  5. Elkanah dies.
  6. Chana is equally אַסוּר to all of the brothers, so you can’t have a יִבּוּם situation here.
  7. Therefore Peninah can marry Reuven, since she is the צָרָה of אֵשֶׁת אָבִיו שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן

#3: Page 92, נְּשׂוּאוֹת לַאֲחֵרִים – his aunt (father’s sister – אַחוֹת אָבִיו)

  1. Yaakov and Chana are brother and sister.
  2. Yaakov marries Leah and they have a son Reuven
  3. Chana marries Elkanah, who has another wife Peninah
  4. Elkanah dies.
  5. Peninah would be able to marry Reuven because she is the צָרָה of אַחוֹת אָבִיו שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן

#4: Page 94, נְּשׂוּאוֹת לַאֲחֵרִים – his paternal sister (אַחוֹתוֹ מֵאָבִיו)

  1. Yaakov has two wives, Leah and Ruth.
  2. Yaakov and Ruth have a daughter Chana.
  3. Yaakov and Leah have a son Reuven.
  4. Chana marries Elkanah, who has another wife Peninah.
  5. Elkanah dies.
  6. Peninah would be able to marry Reuven since she is the צָרָה of אַחוֹתוֹ מֵאָבִיו שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן

#5: Page 96, נְּשׂוּאוֹת לַאֲחֵרִים – his aunt (wife of his father’s brother – אֵשֶׁת אַחִי אָבִיו)

  1. Yaakov and Admon are brothers.
  2. Yaakov marries Leah and they have a son Reuven.
  3. Admon marries Chanah.
  4. Admon dies.
  5. Chana marries Elkanah. who has another wife Peninah.
  6. Peinina would be able to marry Reuven, again because there is no עֶרְוָה involved.

#6: Page 98, נְּשׂוּאוֹת לַאֲחֵרִים – his sister-in-law (the wife of your brother from a common father) אֵשֶׁת אָחִיו מֵאָבִיו)

  1. Yaakov marries Ruth and they have a son Reuven.
  2. Yaakov is also married to Rachel and they have a son Yosef.
  3. Yosef marries Chanah and they have a son.
  4. Yosef dies.
  5. Peninah is the צָרָה of Chanah, .and would be able to marry since Chanah isn’t able to marry any of them, since she has a child.
  6. Chanah can’t marry any of the brothers since she has a child, and is אֵשֶׁת אָחִיו to all the brothers and there is no יִבּוּם.

That is the basis for the statement in the Mishnah: אִמּוֹ, וְאֵשֶׁת אָבִיו, וַאֲחוֹת אָבִיו, אֲחוֹתוֹ מֵאָבִיו, וְאֵשֶׁת אֲחִי אָבִיו, וְאֵשֶׁת אָחִיו מֵאָבִיו.

That is followed by a statement that is going to pose all kinds of conundrums in halacha, particularly with whether or not the צָרָה can marry a כֹּהֵן, and whether the child of that union is considered a mamzer:

בֵּית שַׁמַּאי מַתִּירִין הַצָּרוֹת לָאַחִים, וּמַמְזֵרוּת אוֹסְרִים

As Rabbi Stern notes, you can’t get a bigger מַחְלוֹקֶת than that! Consider the dichotomy. What is a mitzvah of יִבּוּם according to בֵּית שַׁמַּאי would result in מַמְזֵרוּת according to בֵּית הִלֵל.

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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2 Responses to Blog Yomi – Yevamos #12

  1. doctuhdon says:

    Thanks for clarifying many different and confusing aspects of yibum relationships.

  2. My pleasure, and the feedback that I have contributed clarity is welcome because on some days I am not quite so sure myself. 😉

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