Blog Yomi – Yevamos #21

We begin our Daf today on the bottom of דף כ״א עמוּד ב with a discussion about the Great Aunt Line.

677x160 Ant Clipart Black And White Ant Black And White Clip Art Images - Ant Line Drawing

Of course, I’m just being silly. But after getting up at 5AM to fly back to NJ from FL, you’ll forgive me. We’re actually referring to our picture book, צִיוּרִים לְמַסֶכֶת יְבָמוֹת, pages 132 and 133, where we’re tracking the שְׁנִיּוֹת לָעַרָיוֹת, or secondary prohibitions with whom one is not allowed to have sexual relations. And we’ve come to the line relating to אֵשֶׁת אֲחִי אֲבִי הָאָב, וַאֲחוֹת אֲבִי הָאָב (the wife of one’s father’s father’s brother and the sister of one’s father’s father), which is “the great aunt line” on the maternal and paternal side. Evidently not all of the secondary עַרָיוֹת were listed, and this perturbs the Gemara.

It sure would help if we had an authoritative list, and that is where we continue with today’s Daf.

אַמֵּימָר אַכְשַׁר בְּאֵשֶׁת אֲחִי אֲבִי אָבִיו וּבַאֲחוֹת אֲבִי אָבִיו. אָמַר לֵיהּ רַב הִלֵּל לְרַב אָשֵׁי: לְדִידִי חַזְיָא לִי שְׁנִיּוֹת מָר בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַבְנָא, וּכְתִיבָן שִׁיתַּסְרֵי לְאִיסּוּרָא. מַאי לָאו: תַּמְנֵי דְּמַתְנִיתָא, וְשֵׁית דְּבֵי רַבִּי חִיָּיא, וְהָנָךְ תַּרְתֵּי — הָא שִׁיתַּסְרֵי

The Gemara states that Ameimar permitted the wife of one’s father’s father’s brother and the sister of one’s father’s father. Rav Hillel said to Rav Ashi, challenging Ameimar’s statement: I myself saw a list of secondary forbidden relationships written by Mar, son of Ravana, and it was written there that sixteen women were forbidden. What, is it not that these sixteen must be the eight cases listed in the baraisa, and six from the school of Rabbi Chiya, and these two cases of the wife of one’s father’s father’s brother and one’s father’s father’s sister, and this totals sixteen?

Because we’re still in the throes of March Madness, we can think of the Sweet 16 as:

A. The Elite 8 – the eight cases from the baraisa:

  1. אם אמו (via אמו)
  2. אם אביו (via אם אמו)
  3. אשת אבי אביו (via אשת אביו)
  4. אשת אבי אמו (via אשת אבי אביו)
  5. אשת אחי האב מן האם (via אשת אחי האב מן האב)
  6. אשת אחי האב מן האב (via אשת אחי האב מן האם)
  7. כלת בנו (via כלתו)
  8. כלת בתו (via כלת בנו)

B. The six cases of Rabbi Chiya which we’ll see in a moment.

C. The two cases from the Great Aunt Line

However, it turns out the Bracketology is in some dispute here, and Ameimar never signed off on the list that Rav Hillel saw. So Ameimar sticks to his guns that the Aunt Line is included in עַרָיוֹת, but not the Great Aunt Line.

Now let’s take a look at “B” above, the six cases of R’ Chiya. They’re on page 137 of our picture book:

  1. בת בן בנו (via בת בנו)
  2. בת בן בתו (via בת בתו)
  3. בת בן בנה של אשתו (via בת בנה)
  4. בת בן בתה של אשתו (via בת בתה)
  5. אם אם חמיו (via אם חמיו)
  6. אם אם חמותו (via אם חמותו)

The Gemara will point out that the שְׁנִיּוֹת לָעַרָיוֹת on the left-hand side leading to #13 and #14, which are the 5th and 6th cases of R’ Chiya, are 4th generation שְׁנִיּוֹת. You can follow the branching line from the נידון in black to the left to first his wife (אשתו); second to his mother-in-law (חמותו) who is an עֶרְוָה (note the Torah under her hat); third to mother of his mother-in-law (אם חמותו); and fourth to mother of the mother of his mother-in-law (אם אם חמותו). Going down the generations, however, we only have three levels. The Gemara will address that we tally four up and but only three down to maintain symmetry, which again becomes easier to see when look at the picture book.


Rabbi Stern’s video will become easier to follow at this point, from the 22 minute mark forward, so I’ll Zoom ahead more toward the end of today’s Daf on דף כ״ב עמוד ב, following the next Mishnah:

מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בֵּן מִכּל מָקוֹם פּוֹטֵר וְכוּ׳. ״מִכּל מָקוֹם״ לְאֵתוֹיֵי מַאי? אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה: לְאֵיתוֹיֵי מַמְזֵר. מַאי טַעְמָא — דְּאָמַר קְרָא: ״וּבֵן אֵין לוֹ״ — עַיֵּין עָלָיו

The Mishna states: With regard to anyone who has a son of any kind, that son exempts his father’s wife from any יִבּוּם. The Gemara asks: What is added by the phrase: Of any kind? Rav Yehuda said: It adds a child who is a mamzer. What is the reason that a mamzer exempts a woman from יִבּוּם? As the verse states with regard to יִבּוּם: “And he has no [ain lo] child” (Deuteronomy 25:5). The phrase ain lo can be understood as ayyen alav, meaning investigate him. That is to say, investigate whether he is indeed childless, because any child, even a mamzer, stops the process and exempts the widow from יִבּוּם. And if applicable, the mamzer would have to perform חַלִיצָה in order for the widow to marry someone else.

It was almost worth waiting to get to this point, because of Dr. Jeremy Brown’s fascinating Talmudology post yesterday regarding the mamzer. Here is a pertinent excerpt:


A mamzer is a child born of a certain union that is forbidden in the Torah. Examples would be a child born from an adulterous relationship (where the woman is married to another person) or an incestuous one. A mamzer is not a child born out of wedlock, and who was once known as a bastard. The Torah prohibits a mamzer from entering into marriage with an ordinary Jew:

דברים כג, ג

לֹא־יָבֹ֥א מַמְזֵ֖ר בִּקְהַ֣ל יְהֹוָ֑ה גַּ֚ם דּ֣וֹר עֲשִׂירִ֔י לֹא־יָ֥בֹא ל֖וֹ בִּקְהַ֥ל יְהֹוָֽה׃

The mamzer shall be admitted into the congregation of God; no descendant of such, even in the tenth generation, shall be admitted into the congregation of God

According to Rabbi Abahu in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Kiddushin 3:12) the word mamzer comes from the Hebrew מום זר – mum zar – “a strange defect.” It is on the basis of this etymology that many have tried to find defects in the anatomy or the personality of a mamzer. Today on Talmudology we will examine rabbinic attitudes towards the mamzer.

… and that should whet your appetite to read more here.

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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1 Response to Blog Yomi – Yevamos #21

  1. doctuhdon says:

    The Elite 8 – lol 😂

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