Blog Yomi – Yevamos #38

We left off on דף ל״ח עמוּד ב with a four way מַחְלוֹקֶת between עוּלָּא and רַבָּה and אַבַּיֵי and רָבָא, with respect to why בֵּית שַׁמַּאי in the Mishnah agrees in the רֵישָׁא with בֵית הִלֵּל that the יָבָם or his heirs don’t have any claim to the property of the יְבָמָה while she is alive, but in the סֵיפָא counter this by saying that the יָבָם and his family do have claim to the property of the יְבָמָה after she dies.

To review the distinction between אַבַּיֵי and רָבָא:

אַבַּיֵי says that if the property falls to the יְבָמָה when she is a שׁוֹמֶרֶת יָבָם, as in the רֵישָׁא, then she retains sole right to the property. If it falls to her when she is a נְשׂוּאָה, which was the case in the סֵיפָא, then he does have rights to the property, but only as a סָפֵק, and therefore the property is divided (יַחְלוֹקוּ).

רָבָא disagreed, and said that if the relationship made it to נִישׂוּאִין, then he would have full property rights. He therefore introduces the מַאַמַר factor. Recall that מַאַמַר is a holding pattern, kind of like a down payment by the יָבָם, signaling his intent to move forward with יִבּוּם or חַלִיצָה. If מַאַמַר was not done by the יָבָם, as in the רֵישָׁא, then the יְבָמָה retains total rights to the property. If מַאַמַר was done, then according to בֵּית שַׁמַּאי who says it is a קִנְיַן גָמוּר, the שׁוֹמֶרֶת יָבָם has rights and therefore יַחְלוֹקוּ. According to בֵית הִלֵּל that מַאַמַר is not a קִנְיַן גָמוּר, the property remains בְּחֶזְקַת יְבָמָה.

We noted the opinion of עוּלָּא at the end of the Daf yesterday, but hadn’t covered the opinion of רַבָּה. Here is a summary chart of his opinion concerning נִכְסֵי מְלוֹג:

She is permitted to
sell the property.
She is not permitted to
sell the property.
If she did, the sale is
She is not permitted
to sell the property. If she did, it may be
seized from the buyers.
She is not permitted
to sell the property. 
If she did, it may be
seized from the buyers.
She is permitted to
sell the property.
She is permitted to
sell the property.
It is divided.It goes to her father.
It goes to the YavamIt goes to the Yavam

Comes along רַב פָּפָּא to throw his weight behind אַבַּיֵי. According to אַבַּיֵי, the fact that the יְבָמָה dies only influences the halacha with regard to transferring the חֶשׁבּוֹן from the פֵּירוֹת to the גוּף of the karkah. In other words if the יְבָמָה is alive, and she gets property, then the husband gets the פֵּירוֹת. If the husband dies and has heirs (such as the brother who is going to do יִבּוּם), do they retain rights to these פֵּירוֹת? Framing the question this way seems to obviate the need for the happenstance of what happens if the יְבָמָה dies. רַב פָּפָּא says that despite having that question as to why אַבַּיֵי needs to invoke the death of the יְבָמָה in his illustration, and despite having no answer to that question, our Mishnah still supports אַבַּיֵי’s interpretation. I’ll reproduce his interpretation here for your reference:

אַבַּיֵי says that if the property falls to the יְבָמָה when she is a שׁוֹמֶרֶת יָבָם, as in the רֵישָׁא, then she retains sole right to the property. If it falls to her when she is a נְשׂוּאָה, which was the case in the סֵיפָא, then he does have rights to the property, but only as a סָפֵק, and therefore the property is divided (יַחְלוֹקוּ).

And the Gemara concludes “וְתוּ לָא מִידֵּי”; in essence, ’nuff said.

We continue: כְּנָסָהּ הֲרֵי הִיא כּוּ׳. לְמַאי הִלְכְתָא? אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בַּר חֲנִינָא: לוֹמַר שֶׁמְּגָרְשָׁה בְּגֵט וּמַחְזִירָהּ

If the יָבָם (the brother) performed יִבּוּם with the יְבָמָה, then her legal status is that of his wife in every sense. The Gemara asks: With regard to what halacha is this said? רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בַּר חֲנִינָא said: Once they have consummated the marriage through יִבּוּם, the only way to legally dissolve the marriage is if he divorces her with a גֶט. Rashi notes that חַלִיצָה is of no avail, and after divorcing her, he is permitted to take her back to be his wife, since the prohibition against אַחוֹת אִשְׁתּוֹ no longer applies to her. In a nutshell, יִבּוּם breaks the זִיקָה to the first husband and it’s business as usual after that.

The Gemara adds: וְאֵימָא הָכִי נָמֵי? אָמַר קְרָא: ״וּלְקָחָהּ לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה״, כֵּיוָן שֶׁלְּקָחָהּ — הֲרֵי הִיא כְּאִשְׁתּוֹ לְכל דָּבָר. This provided an opportunity for Rabbi Stern to point out what a phenomenal mitzvah יִבּוּם is. It is so powerful that it can over-ride the fundamental prohibition against עַרָיוֹת with one’s sister-in-law. Again, the prohibition stated as: עֶרְוַ֥ת אֵֽשֶׁת־אָחִ֖יךָ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה עֶרְוַ֥ת אָחִ֖יךָ הִֽוא, and the over-riding mitzvah to do יִבּוּם derived from:

כִּֽי־יֵשְׁב֨וּ אַחִ֜ים יַחְדָּ֗ו וּמֵ֨ת אַחַ֤ד מֵהֶם֙ וּבֵ֣ן אֵֽין־ל֔וֹ לֹֽא־תִהְיֶ֧ה אֵֽשֶׁת־הַמֵּ֛ת הַח֖וּצָה לְאִ֣ישׁ זָ֑ר יְבָמָהּ֙ יָבֹ֣א עָלֶ֔יהָ וּלְקָחָ֥הּ ל֛וֹ לְאִשָּׁ֖ה וְיִבְּמָֽהּ

The power of יִבּוּם was so widely recognized that it made its way into the folklore of world history in the year 1525. At the time, King Henry VIII of England had one daughter with Catherine. He wanted a son, and now wished to marry Ann Boleyn, but what was he to do with Catherine, his existing wife?  Divorce was frowned upon for a Catholic King.  Henry wanted to argue that his marriage to Catherine should be dissolved since it was biblically forbidden for a man to marry his sister-in-law. However, Catherine’s first husband Arthur, King Henry’s brother, had died childless. His marriage to Catherine was tantamount to יִבּוּם. Was there a Judeo-Christian vibe here? The King sought inspiration from Talmudic discourse, and ordered a complete set of the Babylonian Talmud that was obtained from Venice, and it purportedly became part of the Westminster Abbey Library. It sold at an auction through Sotheby’s in 2015 for $9,322,000.

The Early 16th Century Bromberg Edition of תַּלְמוּד בַּבְלִי from Venice

There is something I’d like to address briefly regarding יִבּוּם, and it is the concept mentioned in Rashi regarding the all-encompassing nature of “taking her to be his”:

ולקחה לו – ויבמה מצי למכתב למה לי דכתיב לאשה ש”מ הרי היא כאשתו. ויבמה אי לכדרבי בפ”ק (לעיל יבמות דף ח.) לאסור צרות ועריות אי לכדרבנן ויבמה בעל כרחה

At first blush it seems troubling that a brother-in-law could perform יִבּוּם with his widowed sister-in-law בעל כרחה, or against her will. To assuage concern about what on the surface might seem like rape, the Gemara later on in Yevamos (דף נ״ב עמוּד א) will note that מִדְרַבָּנָן we don’t allow the brother-in-law to perform יִבּוּם until he has first done מַאַמַר. Think back to our Gemara in Yevamos on דף י״ט עמוּד ב which noted that according to the חֲכָמִים, the act of מַאַמַר has to be accepted willingly by the woman:

אֶלָּא: ״עָמַד״ — מִדַּעְתָּהּ, וְ״לֹא הִסְפִּיק״ — מִדַּעְתָּהּ, אֶלָּא בְּעַל כּרְחָהּ, וּדְלָא כְּרַבִּי. דְּתַנְיָא: הָעוֹשֶׂה מַאֲמָר בִּיבִמְתּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתָּהּ, רַבִּי אוֹמֵר: קָנָה, וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים: לֹא קָנָה

This is borne out by the Rambam in Hilchos Yibum (2:1), qualifying the statement regarding בעל כרחה:

מדברי סופרים שלא יבא היבם על יבמתו עד שיקדש אותה בפני שני עדים בפרוטה או בש”פ וזהו הנקרא מאמר. ואין המאמר קונה ביבמה קנין גמור כמו הביאה והעושה מאמר ביבמתו שלא מדעתה לא עשה כלום שאין האשה מתקדשת אלא ברצונה

Let’s widen our lens to the next discussion in the Gemara regarding the nature of the כְּתוּבָה. For the purposes of collecting what is owed, the כְּתוּבָה is a monetary contract. The husband essentially has a lien on his property because he is obligated monetarily to his wife as stipulated in the שְׁטַר קִידוּשִׁין. That is the meaning behind the following statement: וּבִלְבַד שֶׁתְּהֵא כְּתוּבָּתָהּ כּוּ׳. מַאי טַעְמָא — אִשָּׁה הִקְנוּ לוֹ מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם. The Gemara has a beautiful thought here that marriage should provide some sense of financial security to the wife. Therefore, if her first husband was poor and didn’t have any property, but the יָבָם does have property, then we require him to issue a כְּתוּבָה so that a) she is provided with security and b) he can’t take divorcing her lightly since it’s going to cost him:

וְאִי לֵית לַהּ מִן הָרִאשׁוֹן — תַּקִּינוּ לַהּ מִשֵּׁנִי, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא קַלָּה בְּעֵינָיו לְהוֹצִיאָהּ

We’ve now arrived at the Mishnah, two lines from where it gets wide on דף ל״ט עמוּד א:

מִצְוָה בְּגָדוֹל לְיַיבֵּם. לֹא רָצָה — מְהַלְּכִין עַל כּל הָאַחִין. לֹא רָצוּ — חוֹזְרִין אֵצֶל גָּדוֹל וְאוֹמְרִים לוֹ, עָלֶיךָ מִצְוָה: אוֹ חֲלוֹץ, אוֹ יַיבֵּם

תָּלָה בְּקָטָן עַד שֶׁיַּגְדִּיל, אוֹ בַּגָּדוֹל עַד שֶׁיָּבֹא מִמְּדִינַת הַיָּם, אוֹ חֵרֵשׁ אוֹ שׁוֹטֶה — אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ, אֶלָּא אוֹמְרִים לוֹ: עָלֶיךָ מִצְוָה, אוֹ חֲלוֹץ אוֹ יַיבֵּם

We look toward the eldest of the deceased’s brothers to do either יִבּוּם or חַלִיצָה. The obligation to do יִבּוּם is obviously a mitzvah. But what about חַלִיצָה? Is it a mitzvah, or is it more like a מַתִּיר or loophole to short-circuit the זִיקָה allowing the יְבָמָה to marry outside the family. That question sets the stage for discussion that follows in the Gemara.

אִיתְּמַר: בִּיאַת קָטָן, וַחֲלִיצַת גָּדוֹל — פְּלִיגִי בַּהּ רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי, חַד אָמַר: בִּיאַת קָטָן עֲדִיפָא, וְחַד אָמַר: חֲלִיצַת גָּדוֹל עֲדִיפָא

Which is preferable, יִבּוּם performed by a younger brother or חַלִיצָה performed with the eldest brother? (As Rashi explains, this is יִבּוּם performed by a younger brother but not actually a minor – והאי קטן לאו קטן ממש הוא דקטן לאו בר חליצה וייבום הוא). The answer is reflected in a מַחְלוֹקֶת between רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן and רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי, rooted in whether you view חַלִיצָה as a mitzvah or not. If it is, then we green light the eldest brother for חַלִיצָה. If it isn’t, then we go with the younger brother for יִבּוּם.

We’ve covered alot of ground in today’s Daf already, and there’s only 10 minutes left to the video, so enjoy the rest of the ride with Rabbi Stern.

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 #38

  1. doctuhdon says:

    Greatly appreciate the Henry VIII sidebar

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