Blog Yomi – Yevamos #35

We pick things up 10 lines from the bottom on דף ל״ה עמוּד ב:

מֵיתִיבִי: הַכּוֹנֵס אֶת יְבִמְתּוֹ וְנִמְצֵאת מְעוּבֶּרֶת — הֲרֵי זוֹ לֹא תִּנָּשֵׂא צָרָתָהּ, שֶׁמָּא יְהֵא וְלָד בֶּן קַיָּימָא. אַדְּרַבָּה, כִּי הָוֵי הַוָּלָד בֶּן קַיָּימָא, מִיפַּטְרָה צָרָתָהּ! אֶלָּא אֵימָא: שֶׁמָּא לֹא יְהֵא הַוָּלָד בֶּן קַיָּימָא

As NICUs (Neonatal Intensive Care Units) become more sophisticated, at-risk newborns have a better chance of survival. During the time of the Gemara, outcomes were less certain. This presents a potentially dicey situation with regard to the status of the צָרָה if the יָבָם was found to be pregnant at the time of יִבּוּם.

A premature baby in an incubator

וְאִי סָלְקָא דַּעְתָּךְ בִּיאַת מְעוּבֶּרֶת שְׁמָהּ בִּיאָה, אַמַּאי לֹא תִּנָּשֵׂא צָרָתָהּ? תִּיפְּטַר בְּבִיאָה שֶׁל חֲבֶירְתָּהּ

On the surface, this seems to boil down the a difference of opinion between Rav Yochanan and Reish Lakish as to whether בִּיאָה with a pregnant woman is considered unqualified בִּיאָה. The difference of opinion might stem from disagreement as to whether or not intercourse during pregnancy puts the fetus any more at risk for miscarriage. While we now know this is generally not the case, that wasn’t as clear at the tine of the Gemara. As the discussion continues onto דף ל״ו עמוּד א, there is give and take as to whether Rav Yochanan was referring to יִבּוּם with a יָבָם who was found to be pregnant, or to חַלִיצָה with a יָבָם who was found to be pregnant.

The Gemara entertains the possibility that there may be a difference between יִבּוּם and חַלִיצָה because only the child being viable breaks the זִיקָה. Only then would the צָרָה be פָּטוּר. Saying that the בִּיאָה is a good בִּיאָה isn’t adequate alone to break the זִיקָה. Once it is established that the child is viable, then the צָרָה would be allowed to re-marry. Rabbi Stern reviews the contrasting opinions of Reb Yochanan and Reish Lakish, and Rava’s interpretation of Reb Yochanan’s opinion. It is a classic stretch of Gemara involving who said what, and when he said it.

Then Reb Elazar says, “Is it possible that we פַּסְקָן like Reish Lakish? That בִּיאַת מְעוּבֶּרֶת is not considered בִּיאָה (and that the חַלִיצָה of a מְעוּבֶּרֶת is not a good חַלִיצָה)? That would be radical, though in fact it turns out to be the case. Why? Because it is only one of three places in the entire shas where we side with the opinion of Reish Lakish and counter to the opinion of Reb Yochanan. Reb Elazar therefore offers proof from a Mishnah that appears to support Reish Lakish:

אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: אֶפְשָׁר אִיתָא לְהָא דְּרֵישׁ לָקִישׁ וְלָא תְּנַן לָהּ בְּמַתְנִיתִין? נְפַק, דַּק וְאַשְׁכַּח, דִּתְנַן: הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁהָלַךְ בַּעְלָהּ וְצָרָתָהּ לִמְדִינַת הַיָּם, וּבָאוּ וְאָמְרוּ לָהּ ״מֵת בַּעְלִיךְ״ — הֲרֵי זוֹ לֹא תִּנָּשֵׂא וְלֹא תִּתְיַיבֵּם עַד שֶׁתֵּדַע שֶׁמָּא מְעוּבֶּרֶת הִיא צָרָתָהּ

A man who is childless is married to two women. He goes overseas with one of them, and word comes back to the one who remained at home that he died. She can neither re-marry nor have the brother-in-law perform יִבּוּם until it is ascertained that her צָרָה who is still overseas was not impregnated by her husband before he died.

בִּשְׁלָמָא יַבּוֹמֵי לָא — שֶׁמָּא יְהֵא וָלָד בֶּן קַיָּימָא, וְיִפְגַּע בְּאִיסּוּר אֵשֶׁת אָח דְּאוֹרָיְיתָא, אֶלָּא: לֹא תַּחְלוֹץ, אַמַּאי? בִּשְׁלָמָא תַּחְלוֹץ בְּתוֹךְ תִּשְׁעָה וְתִנָּשֵׂא בְּתוֹךְ תִּשְׁעָה — לָא, הַיְינוּ סָפֵק

As Rashi notes, this is a classic case of “מִמָה נָפְשָׁך”:

אמאי – אי חליצת מעוברת שמה חליצה תחלוץ ממה נפשך דבין צרתה מעוברת ובין אינה מעוברת הרי חליצה פוטרתה

At this point the “Shlug-fest” continues, with arguments back and forth about the strength of the proofs being brought in support of Reish Lakish. Perhaps if Reish Lakish weren’t such a controversial figure the Gemara wouldn’t have been so reluctant to side with him. We addressed this in a blog on Moed Katan at the end of January, and for your reference here is what I wrote:

“There are many similar pairings in the Gemara, one of which involves רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ and רַב יוֹחָנָן. In a new book released posthumously, Filled With Fire and Light, Wiesel devotes a beautiful chapter to their relationship. It begins: “Ta shema, come closer and listen. Listen to tales and legends about ancient teachers and their immortal teachings. Listen to their words filled with fire and light, words they have received and transmitted across centuries of exile and longing. Only if you listen well will you understand them – and yourself.”

As described by Wiesel, the life of רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ was an adventure story. Many legends tell of his extraordinary strength. Was he an acrobat? A stuntman? A circus performer? A gladiator? He was all of these and more. In some stories about him he appears to have been an outlaw – a thief, a highwayman. Wiesel offers various hypotheses to account for his life’s experiences before רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ underwent the metamorphosis into the תּלמוּד חכם through his encounters with רַב יוֹחָנָן. With that brief background, consider what comes next in our Daf:

רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ הֲוָה מְנַטַּר פַּרְדֵּיסָא. אֲתָא הָהוּא גַּבְרָא וְקָאָכֵיל תְּאֵינֵי, רְמָא בֵּיהּ קָלָא וְלָא אַשְׁגַּח בֵּיהּ. אֲמַר: לֶיהֱוֵי הָהוּא גַּבְרָא בְּשַׁמְתָּא. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: אַדְּרַבָּה, לֶיהֱוֵי הָהוּא גַּבְרָא בְּשַׁמְתָּא, אִם מָמוֹן נִתְחַיַּיבְתִּי לְךָ, נִידּוּי מִי נִתְחַיַּיבְתִּי לָךְ? Reish Lakish was guarding an orchard for payment when a certain man came and ate some figs that were growing there. Reish Lakish raised his voice and yelled at him, but this man paid no attention to him and kept eating. Reish Lakish said: Let that man be in a state of excommunication. The man eating the figs said to him: On the contrary, let that man, i.e., Reish Lakish, be in a state of excommunication, for even if I have become liable to you for payment, as I have eaten of the figs without permission, have I become liable to you for excommunication? With that statement, the man left.

אֲתָא לְבֵי מִדְרְשָׁא, אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: שֶׁלּוֹ — נִידּוּי, שֶׁלְּךָ — אֵינוֹ נִידּוּי. Reish Lakish went to the study hall to inquire about the הַלָכָה with regard to this man. The other Sages said to him: His decree of ostracism is valid, but your decree of ostracism is not. In other words, that man was correct and Reish Lakish should not have ostracized him in response to his actions.

וּמַאי תַּקַּנְתֵּיהּ? זִיל לְגַבֵּיהּ דְּלִישְׁרֵי לָךְ. לָא יָדַעְנָא לֵיהּ. אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: זִיל לְגַבֵּי נְשִׂיאָה דְּלִישְׁרֵי לָךְ, דְּתַנְיָא: נִידּוּהוּ וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ מִי נִידָּהוּ, יֵלֵךְ אֵצֶל נָשִׂיא וְיַתִּיר לוֹ נִדּוּיוֹ. Reish Lakish then asked: If so, what is the remedy for this decree of ostracism? The Sages answered him: Go to him so that he may release you from it. Reish Lakish replied: I do not know him. They said to him: Go then to the Nasi, so that he may release you from the ban, as it is taught in a בּרייתא: If one was ostracized, but he does not know who ostracized him, he should go to the Nasi, and the Nasi may release him from his decree of ostracism.

At the 34:45 mark of his video on today’s Daf, Eli Stefansky wonders aloud why רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ had to go to others to ask them what he should do? After all, he was already renowned in matters of הַלָכָה! Shouldn’t he have known how to handle this? The answer may reside in what is contained about רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ Elie Wiesel’s chapter. The problem was that רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ was a bit of a hot-head and tended to be impulsive. One time he declared that the head of a particular בּית דין was incompetent, qualified only to whipped for certain sins. The head sent Roman legionnaires to arrest רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ who had to flee to a secret hiding place. רַב יוֹחָנָן had to intercede on his behalf, and through this we learn that רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ had the tendency to be blunt to a fault. Wiesel infers that this stretch of Gemara comes to teach us how much we need others to help us see how we are perceived, even if that can be painful at times. It is through accepting this feedback, and becoming better versions of ourselves, that we continue to grow and thrive.”

(Storyboard source: Talya Miller)

We noted above that this would be only one of three places in which we would be siding with Reish Lakish in preference over Reb Yochanan. Our case involving יִבּוּם and חַלִיצָה with יֽבָמָה מֽעוּבֶּרֶת, and two other cases involving inheritance and real estate disputes. As our Daf turns the page to דף ל״ו עמוּד ב, considerable space is devoted to the those other two cases that have nothing to do Yevamos, and everything to do with the surprise support for Reish Lakish over Reb Yochanan.

At the 26:15 mark of his video, Rabbi Stern expends considerable real estate in sharing a Malbim that his son, Yitzy brought to his attention on מְגִילַת רוּת. Here is the complete pasuk (פּרק ג פּסוּק ד):

וִיהִ֣י בְשכְב֗וֹ וְיָדַ֙עַתְּ֙ אֶת־הַמָּקוֹם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִשְׁכַּב־שָׁ֔ם וּבָ֛את וְגִלִּ֥ית מַרְגְּלֹתָ֖יו (ושכבתי) [וְשָׁכָ֑בְתְּ] וְהוּא֙ יַגִּ֣יד לָ֔ךְ אֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּעֲשִֽׂין

The Malbim writes:

ויהי בשכבו, ר”ל ובועז בודאי לא ישכב בשדה רק ישכב בגורן שהוא מוקף מחיצות, ואחר שאת תהי מסתתרת בגורן בודאי תדע את המקום אשר ישכב שם בגרן, ובאת וגלית מרגלותיו ושכבת, פי’ כי הם בושו מלתבוע את בועז בפה שישא אותה ויעצה אותה שתתבע זאת ממנו ע”י סימנים כמאן דמחזי במחוג, שכבר בארנו במק”א מטעם המקובלים בענין היבום וחליצת הנעל, שהגוף הוא נעל של הנפש שא”א לנשמה הרוחנית לעמוד בעולם הגופים מבלי גוף כמו שא”א להענוג והרך לעמוד במקום רפש וטיט בלא נעל שלא יטנפו רגליו, ועל סוד זה אמר ה’ של נעלך מעל רגלך, והאיש המת בלא בנים ואין לנפשו מרגוע והיא עודנה מקשקשת באשתו אשר לא עשה עמה פרי וימחה שמו מישראל, כשיבם אותה אחיו ויתן זרע לאחיו הוא כאלו נפש המת באה שנית לעולם כי הנולד הוא עצמו האח המת ויקרא על שמו והוא יקום תחתיו לנחלה וכמ”ש יולד בן לנעמי, כי עובד בן בועז היה בעצמו מחלון בן נעמי, ואז יש לנפש המת נעל, ר”ל גוף שבו תעמוד שנית בעולם הגופים, אולם אם לא יחפוץ ליבמה, תשאר נפש המת בלא נעל ולא תוכל לעמוד שנית בעולם הגופים לכן ירמזו זה במה שתשלוף נעלו מעל רגלו ויקרא שמו בישראל בית חלוץ הנעל, כי כן חלץ נעל של אחיו המת ר”ל שנשמתו היא חלוץ הנעל, ר”ל מחוסרת גוף וגויה, וזה רמזה לבועז במה שגלתה מרגלותיו ותשכב, ר”ל רמזה לו אחר שאתה הגואל ליבם, א”כ או תגלה רגליך להיות בלא נעל ותקרא בית חלוץ הנעל, או שאשכב בצדך להקים לקרובך שם בישראל ואז תכסה רגלך בנעל, והוא יגיד לך את אשר תעשין דהיינו או שיצוה אותך לתבוע גואל הקרוב יותר או שהוא ידבר עם הגואל

I bolded the key passage above, which Rabbi Stern emphasized. This gives new perspective to the essence of יִבּוּם and חַלִיצָה. It is not merely a matter of גִלְגוּל נְשָׁמָה, of the brother-in-law perpetuating the name of his deceased brother, or some element of his presence in the world. It is tantamount to the נֶפֶשׁ of the deceased brother coming into the world for a second time. Or, in the case of חַלִיצָה, the shoe grounding the soul. This contextualizes what רוּת was doing when she uncovered his feet and lied down next to בּוֹעָז, that either חַלִיצָה or יִבּוּם had to be performed in order give the נֶפֶשׁ of the deceased its proper spiritual accord.

(Is there any greater satisfaction than a father being able to share wisdom channeled through his son?)

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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3 Responses to Blog Yomi – Yevamos #35

  1. doctuhdon says:

    yibum itself is only with a living brother who is not married to a woman who would forbid such a marriage (such as a sister). Since both sons of Naomi had died, then neither Rus nor Orpah would have been subject to yibum. Was the Boaz-Rus union truly yibum ?

  2. doctuhdon says:

    Thanks

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