Blog Yomi – Yevamos #18

To paraphrase Bette Davis, fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bit of a bumpy ride. And a long one, as Rabbi Stern navigates the turbulence known as זִיקָה in his lengthiest flight since I’ve been on the Daf Express (his video clocks in at an hour and twenty minutes!). We’ll begin with the Mishna on דף י״ח עמוּד ב:

שְׁנֵי אַחִים, וּמֵת אֶחָד מֵהֶן, וְיִבֵּם הַשֵּׁנִי אֶת אֵשֶׁת אָחִיו, וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹלַד לָהֶן אָח, וּמֵת, הָרִאשׁוֹנָה יוֹצְאָה מִשּׁוּם אֵשֶׁת אָחִיו שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בְּעוֹלָמוֹ, וְהַשְּׁנִיָּה — מִשּׁוּם צָרָתָהּ.

This case is similar to the previous Mishna with the exception that here a baby brother comes onto the scene after his older brother is מְיַבֵּם their brother’s widow as opposed to before the older brother is מְיַבֵּם their brother’s widow. But the outcome is the same. The new wrinkle is this:

עָשָׂה בָּהּ מַאֲמָר וּמֵת — הַשְּׁנִיָּה חוֹלֶצֶת וְלֹא מִתְיַיבֶּמֶת

Let’s say Shimon (the יָבָם) did not marry his brother’s widow outright, but instead gave her a sack of money known as כֶּסֶף קִידוּשִׁין or מַאֲמָר to signal his intent to marry her. Do we view that as equivalent to marriage or not? Let’s look at the case spelled out:

  1. There are two brothers, Reuven and Shimon.
  2. Reuven marries Chana, and Shimon marries Penina.
  3. Reuven dies without children.
  4. Shimon does מַאֲמָר with Chana, and then dies.
  5. Shimon’s mother gives birth to another brother Levi.
  6. Levi’s relationship to Chana is אשת אחיו.
  7. צָרַת עֶרְוָה still exists because מַאֲמָר is not tantamount to full marriage.
  8. Levi has to give חַלִיצָה to Chana, because she was an עֶרְוָה to him when he was born.

Up to this point we have been discussing the views of the חַכָמִים. We’re now going to introduce the views of Rav Shimon who disagrees:

רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר: מְיַיבֵּם לְאֵיזוֹ מֵהֶן שֶׁיִּרְצֶה, אוֹ חוֹלֵץ לְאֵיזוֹ מֵהֶן שֶׁיִּרְצֶה

Let’s take a look at the ArtScroll notes. According to רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, both Chana and Penina as his sisters-in-law are permitted to Levi in יִבּוּם. If he chooses not to take either of them, חַלִיצָה is required for them to be released. The performance of either יִבּוּם or חַלִיצָה on one will פַּטֵר the other. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן holds that that since Reuven’s widow (Chana) became Shimon’s wife before Levi was born, she never fell to Levi from Reuven. She is therefore permitted to him when she falls from Shimon and since she is not considered an עֶרְוָה to him, both she and Penina her צָרָה are eligible for either יִבּוּם or חַלִיצָה. This is consistent wth Rashi’s explanation of why רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן says that Levi has his choice:

מייבם לאיזו שירצה – ופטורה חברתה. ולאו אעשה בה מאמר קאי אלא ארישא דקתני הראשונה יוצאה כו’ דקאמר ר”ש דכיון דכשנולד כבר נתייבמה ולא היתה על זה בזיקת נישואי אחיו הראשון מעולם מותרת לו

The Gemara then delves into understanding R’ Shimon’s logic, and derives this explanation:

בִּשְׁלָמָא יִבֵּם וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹלַד, כִּי אַשְׁכְּחַהּ — בְּהֶתֵּירָא אַשְׁכְּחַהּ. אֶלָּא נוֹלַד וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִבֵּם — מַאי טַעְמָא? קָסָבַר: יֵשׁ זִיקָה, וְזִיקָה כִּכְנוּסָה דָּמְיָא

According to רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, this זִיקָה is so powerful, that we view Reuven’s widow as a full-fledged wife of Shimon. And again, Rashi’s comment is instructive: יש זיקה – כשנפלה לפני השני קודם לידתו של זה ונזקקה לו לשני אלימא ההיא זיקה לשוויא ככנוסה והוי ליה כייבם ולבסוף נולד: Even if Levi is born while Revuen’s widow awaits יִבּוּם from Shimon, since she is already bound to Shimon in זיקה it is as though Levi was born after Shimon took her in יִבּוּם!

With Rabbi Stern’s heads-up at the 14:00 minute mark of the video, all passengers should be in their seats with seat buckles in place because the turbulence is coming. It’s all well and good to claim that זִיקָה is a powerful concept, but how do we know that זִיקָה כִּכְנוּסָה דָּמְיָא? You didn’t really expect that the Tanna Kama would accept R’ Shimon’s opinion at face value, did you? And sure enough, Rav Yosef raised an objection: מַתְקֵיף לַהּ רַב יוֹסֵף: הַשְׁתָּא זִיקָה וּמַאֲמָר מְסַפְּקָא לֵיהּ לְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אִי כִּכְנוּסָה דָּמְיָא אִי לָאו כִּכְנוּסָה דָּמְיָא, זִיקָה לְחוֹדַהּ מִיבַּעְיָא

And here, the Gemara says, is the case in question:

מַאי הִיא — דִּתְנַן: שְׁלֹשָׁה אַחִין נְשׂוּאִין שָׁלֹשׁ נָשִׁים נכְרִיּוֹת, וּמֵת אֶחָד מֵהֶם, וְעָשָׂה בָּהּ שֵׁנִי מַאֲמָר, וּמֵת — הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ חוֹלְצוֹת וְלֹא מִתְיַיבְּמוֹת

Back to the drawing board; page 86 in our picture book to be specific:

  1. Three brothers, Reuven, Shimon, and Levi are married to three women unrelated to each other (נכְרִיּוֹת).
  2. Reuven is married to Chana; Shimon is married to Penina; and Levi is married to Ruth.
  3. Reuven dies, and Shimon gives מַאַמָר to Chana.
  4. Shimon then dies.
  5. Falling in front of Levi are two women, Reuven’s widow (Chana) and Shimon’s widow (Penina).
  6. Chana isn’t eligible for יִבּוּם, only חַלִיצָה, because we don’t know if מַאַמָר was sufficiently strong for Chana to have been considered married to Shimon. Therefore we do חַלִיצָה to Penina as well.
  7. However according to רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, who holds that מַאַמָר creates a full-fledged יְבָמָה, then Levi can make יִבּוּם to one widow and give חַלִיצָה to the other.

The Gemara then digs further into the logic, probing R’ Shimon’s certainty as we turn to דף י״ט עמוּד א. Alot of ink is spilled here until we arrive at the mechanism in play. רַב אוֹשַׁעְיָא said a huge חִידוּשׁ: Even in a case where, in sequence, Reuven dies, Levi is born, and then Shimon did יִבּוּם, Levi would still be permitted to marry Reuven’s widow after Shimon dies. Why? Because זִיקָה כִּכְנוּסָה. But what can we deduce from רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן himself? What principle does he operate by?

וּמִי שָׁנֵי לֵיהּ לְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן? וְהָתַנְיָא, כְּלָל אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן: כל שֶׁהַלֵּידָה קוֹדֶמֶת לַנִּשּׂוּאִין — לֹא חוֹלֶצֶת וְלֹא מִתְיַיבֶּמֶת, נִשּׂוּאִין (קודם) [קוֹדְמִין] לַלֵּידָה — אוֹ חוֹלֶצֶת אוֹ מִתְיַיבֶּמֶת

Does רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן differentiate between the case of one yavam and the case of two yevamin in the matter of אחות אשתו שלא היה בעולמו? But it is taught in a baraisa with regard to this scenario that רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן stated this principle: Whenever the birth of the third brother precedes the יִבּוּם made by the second brother, if this second brother dies and the yevama falls before the third brother, there is no יִבּוּם or חַלִיצָה. In such circumstances she is אחות אשתו שלא היה בעולמו. But if the יִבּוּם made by the second brother preceded his birth, the the third brother is required to perform יִבּוּם or חַלִיצָה.

The Gemara then asks if this principle varies depending on whether there is one יָבָם or two? For the latter case of two יְבָמִים, let’s take a look at our picture book, page 115:

  1. There are three brothers, Reuven, Shimon, and Levi.
  2. Reuven marries a woman and dies.
  3. Reuven’s wife falls in front of Shimon and Levi.
  4. A new brother, Yehuda is then born into the family.
  5. The relationship that Yehuda has to Reuven’s widow is אשת אחיו שלא היה בעולמו
  6. Shimon marries Reuven’s widow, and Shimon subsequently dies.
  7. Levi then dies, so that this widow unlucky in marriage now falls in front of Yehuda.
  8. The widow is אָסוּר to Yehuda because Reuven died before Yehuda was born.

So רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן holds to his general principle when there are two יְבָמִים involved, as in the case above. But when there is only one יִבּוּם, as in the case of our Mishnah, רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן would agree that זִיקָה כִּכְנוּסָה. And this point, as it turns out, will be the most important point of the day even though there is much more to the video before Rabbi Stern doubles back to underscore that bottom line. Even though רַב פָּפָּא disagrees. Because why should this be easy?

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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