Blog Yomi – Yevamos #47

Becoming a Jew by design is apparently attractive to some people from the outside looking in, but does the גֵּר or עֶבֶד מְשׁוּחְרָר really know what he’s getting himself into? How each entity compares to the other, and what and when we apprise them of in terms of the observance of mitzvos is the discussion that our Daf picks up on at the bottom of דף מ״ז עמוּד ב.

אֶחָד גֵּר וְאֶחָד עֶבֶד מְשׁוּחְרָר. קָסָלְקָא דַּעְתָּךְ, לְקַבֵּל עָלָיו עוֹל מִצְוֹת. וּרְמִינְהוּ: בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים — בְּגֵר, אֲבָל בְּעֶבֶד מְשׁוּחְרָר — אֵין צָרִיךְ לְקַבֵּל

ArtScroll has some nice notes about the עֶבֶד כְּנַעַנִי or Canaanite slave, gleaned primarily from Rashi. The עֶבֶד כְּנַעַנִי differs from the גֵּר in that prior to obtaining his freedom he is already obligated to observe some of the mitzvos – the same ones that are incumbent upon women. (There are so many land mines to avoid stepping on when discussing parallels in the Gemara between women and slaves.)

Mi Yodeya

The Stack Exchange elaborates on the parallels as follows:

The general rule is, as cited in the Gemara (Chagiga 4a) that the obligations of a slave are equivalent to those of a women.

כל מִצְוָה שֶׁהָאִשָּׁה חַיֶּיבֶת בָּהּ עֶבֶד חַיָּיב בָּהּ כל מִצְוָה שֶׁאֵין הָאִשָּׁה חַיֶּיבֶת בֵּהּ אֵין הָעֶבֶד חַיָּיב בָּהּ דְּגָמַר ״לָהּ״ ״לָהּ״ מֵאִשָּׁה

It may seem like a bit of a stretch, but there is a גְזֵרָה שָׁוֶה between two פְּסוּקִים in the Torah, or a sense of equivalency, gleaned from use of the word לָהּ in connection to a slave (וְ֠אִ֠ישׁ כִּֽי־יִשְׁכַּ֨ב אֶת־אִשָּׁ֜ה שִׁכְבַת־זֶ֗רַע וְהִ֤וא שִׁפְחָה֙ נֶחֱרֶ֣פֶת לְאִ֔ישׁ וְהפְדֵּה֙ לֹ֣א נִפְדָּ֔תָה א֥וֹ חֻפְשָׁ֖הֿ לֹ֣א נִתַּן־לָ֑הּ) and in conjunction to the word לָהּ used in reference to a woman (כִּֽי־יִקַּ֥ח אִ֛ישׁ אִשָּׁ֖ה וּבְעָלָ֑הּ וְהָיָ֞ה אִם־לֹ֧א תִמְצָא־חֵ֣ן בְּעֵינָ֗יו כִּי־מָ֤צָא בָהּ֙ עֶרְוַ֣ת דָּבָ֔ר וְכָ֨תַב לָ֜הּ סֵ֤פֶר כְּרִיתֻת֙)

In essence, a slave would be exempt from any time bound mitzvos, but there are some exceptions to this rule:

  • The obligation to procreate (פרו ורבו). Although a woman is exempt from the obligation of פרו ורבו (according to most opinions; see Yevamos 65b), some Rishonim posit that a slave is obligated (see Tosfos Chagiga 2b based on Yerushalmi Moed Katan (1:1).
  • Circumcision (ברית מילה): Women are not obligated in circumcision. However, some opinions obligate a male slave in circumcision. (See R’ Akiva Eiger to YD 267, and Sha’ar Hamelech on Rambam Milah 1)
  • The Prohibition of Lo Sakifu (הקפת הראש וזקן): Women are not prohibited from using a razor in certain parts of the body that men are prohibited from. According to the Rambam (see R’ Akiva Eiger ad loc for discussion), a male slave is prohibited.
  • Reading of Megillas Esther (קריאת המגילה): Although women are obligated (אף הם היו באותו הנס), the Beis Yosef (OC 689) derives from the wording of Rambam (Megila 1:1, see Lechem Mishnah) that slaves are not obligated. The same is true of any time-bound mitzvah which women are obligated only because of אף הם היו באותן הנס, such as Chanukah or the Four Cups.

As we proceed with the Daf, we transition to דף מ״ח עמוּד א considerations of יְפַת תּוֹאַר (the beautiful prisoner of war), and the processes involved:

דְּתַנְיָא: ״וּבָכְתָה אֶת אָבִיהָ וְאֶת אִמָּהּ וְגוֹ׳״. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים — שֶׁלֹּא קִבְּלָה עָלֶיהָ. אֲבָל קִבְּלָה עָלֶיהָ — מַטְבִּילָהּ, וּמוּתָּר בָּהּ מִיָּד

There is another uncomfortable discussion, which is the concept of forcing an עֶבֶד to undergo circumcision. Regarding this, Rashi has a long commentary during which he gives you the עִיקָר or essence as follows:

ועיקר עבד איש ה”ק עבד שהוא איש אע”פ שהוא גדול ובן דעת ומלתה אותו בעל כרחו ואי אתה מל בן [שהוא] איש גר הבא להתגייר אין לו כח למול בנו גדול בעל כרחו דגבי בנים כתיב המול לו כל זכר ולא כתיב בהו איש וגבי עבד כתיב איש למעוטי בן

This links with ArtScoll note #8 which states that if an idolator seeks to convert to Judaism and he wants his adult son to convert as well, he lacks the authority to circumcise (and therefore convert) the son without the son’s consent. Perhaps it’s less uncomfortable if we conceptualize that the forcible act here is טְבִילָה rather than מִילָה. But at this juncture I’m just trying to rationalize the discomfort involved with the thought that one could force an adult male slave to undergo circumcision, almost like one is branding cattle. Presumably there are commentaries that do a better job of understanding this than I am doing here.

Ultimately the Gemara decides that the equivalency between the גֵר and the עֶבֶד מְשׁוּחְרָר is not regarding informing them about the full complement of mitzvos in becoming a Jew (עוֹל מִצְווֹת), but is speaking with regard to both of them undergoing טְבִילָה as the final act before being declared a Jew.

Having cited it above, the Gemara returns to the case of אֵשֶׁת יְפַת תֹּאַר. We referenced the other day that among the most hideous tragedies of war is the routine raping of women by marauding soldiers. Sadly, even in current times, Russian soliders are using rape not just to satisfy base vile instincts, but as a weapon to terrorize Ukranian women.

Thankfully the discussion in the Torah treats the impulse of soldiers regarding sexual attraction to female prisoners of war with more sensitivity. The first several פְּסוּקִים begins as follows:

Marrying a Beautiful Captive Woman

כִּי תֵצֵא לַמִּלְחָמָה עַל אֹיְבֶיךָ וּנְתָנוֹ יְ־הוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּיָדֶךָ וְשָׁבִיתָ שִׁבְיוֹ

 וְרָאִיתָ בַּשִּׁבְיָה אֵשֶׁת יְפַת תֹּאַר וְחָשַׁקְתָּ בָהּ וְלָקַחְתָּ לְךָ לְאִשָּׁה

וַהֲבֵאתָהּ אֶל תּוֹךְ בֵּיתֶךָ וְגִלְּחָה אֶת רֹאשָׁהּ וְעָשְׂתָה אֶת צִפָּרְנֶיהָ

On the latter phrase, the Gemara continues:

תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: ״וְגִלְּחָה אֶת רֹאשָׁהּ וְעָשְׂתָה אֶת צִפּרְנֶיהָ״, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר: תָּקוֹץ, רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר: תְּגַדֵּיל

The Sages taught (the פָּסוּק states): “And she shall shave her head and do her nails” (Deuteronomy 21:12). The phrase “do her nails” is ambiguous. Rabbi Eliezer says: It means she cuts her nails. Rabbi Akiva says: It means she grows them.

אָמַר רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר: נֶאֶמְרָה עֲשִׂיָּה בָּרֹאשׁ, וְנֶאֶמְרָה עֲשִׂיָּה בַּצִּפרְנַיִם. מָה לְהַלָּן הַעֲבָרָה — אַף כָּאן הַעֲבָרָה. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר: נֶאֶמְרָ[ה] עֲשִׂיָּה בָּרֹאשׁ, וְנֶאֶמְרָ[ה] עֲשִׂיָּה בַּצִּפרְנַיִם. מָה לְהַלָּן נִיוּוּל — אַף כָּאן נִיוּוּל

Each tanna explains the basis of his opinion: Rabbi Eliezer said: An act of removal is required with regard to shaving the head, therefore an act of removal is similarly required with regard to the nails. Rabbi Akiva says that the act of shaving the head is intended to make the woman less attractive. Therefore her nails should be left to grow long to the extent that it makes her less attractive.

The next פָּסוּק regarding אֵשֶׁת יְפַת תֹּאַר is the following:

וְהֵסִירָה אֶת שִׂמְלַת שִׁבְיָהּ מֵעָלֶיהָ וְיָשְׁבָה בְּבֵיתֶךָ וּבָכְתָה אֶת אָבִיהָ וְאֶת אִמָּהּ יֶרַח יָמִים וְאַחַר כֵּן תָּבוֹא אֵלֶיהָ וּבְעַלְתָּהּ וְהָיְתָה לְךָ לְאִשָּׁה

Regarding the phrase וּבָכְתָה אֶת אָבִיהָ וְאֶת אִמָּהּ, the Gemara relates:

רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר: ״אָבִיהָ״ — אָבִיהָ מַמָּשׁ, ״אִמָּהּ״ — אִמָּהּ מַמָּשׁ. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר: ״אָבִיהָ וְאִמָּהּ״ — זוֹ עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה

R’ Eliezer says “father” is to be taken literally, whereas R’ Akiva says “mother and father” refer to idolatry. Either way, there is sensitivity here to the fact that the woman is going to undergo a period of separation anxiety from her former surroundings.

After the פָּסוּק says she cries for her mother and father, it indicates that the amount of time is יֶרַח יָמִים. But exactly how long that crying period is remains a matter of dispute between 30, 60, 90, or even 120 days:

״יֶרַח יָמִים״ — יֶרַח שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר אוֹמֵר, תִּשְׁעִים יוֹם: ״יֶרַח״ — שְׁלֹשִׁים, ״יָמִים״ — שְׁלֹשִׁים, ״וְאַחַר כֵּן״ — שְׁלֹשִׁים

מַתְקֵיף לַהּ רָבִינָא: אֵימָא: ״יֶרַח״ — שְׁלֹשִׁים, ״יָמִים״ — שְׁלֹשִׁים, ״וְאַחַר כֵּן״ — כִּי הָנֵי? קַשְׁיָא

How is it that informed people can derive such different calculations from the same words? At the risk of making light of a serious topic, it isn’t that difficult to understand, as Lou Costello patiently explains.

Well we made it to just beyond the halfway point of Rabbi Stern’s video at this juncture. He raised a very interesting concept toward the end which is significant enough that I’m going to highlight it separately in Part 2.

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 #47

  1. doctuhdon says:

    “the dominant halachic view is that a slave may not be forcibly circumcised.Clearly, it would be counterproductive to coerce someone who does not wish to practice Judaism into doing so.”

    רא”ש (יבמות שם): “אבל מתוך דברי
    רב אלפס ז”ל משמע שטבילת עבדות לרבנן צריך שתהיה מדעתו ובקבלה”. טור (יו”ד רסז) בשם רי”ף (יבמות טז, ב): “ולרב אלפס אין עליו תורת עבד כל זמן שאינו מתגייר מרצונו”. וברמב”ם עבדים (ח, יב): “הקונה עבד מן העכו”ם סתם ולא רצה למול… חוזר ומוכרו לעכו”ם או לחוצה לארץ”. ובשו”ע יו”ד (רסז, ה): “אם מל את עבדו והטבילו בעל כרחו לשם עבדות, לא עשה כלום”. וראה
    ביאור חדש מספיק (לרמב”ם שם):

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