Blog Yomi – Yevamos #48

Yesterday I posted a Part 2 to highlight how גֵירוּת is a process that transforms the נְשָׁמָה of the עֶבֶד from its latent state as a soul present at הַר סִינַי to a full-fledged Jew. It is a striking example of the re-balancing of a spiritual portfolio, deferring gratification in the present to invest in the next iteration of the נְשָׁמָה.

To bolster that thought, Rabbi Stern opened today’s Daf by citing something from one of his Daf muses, Rabbi Sruly Bornstein.

Daf Yomi with Rabbi Bornstein

Sruly referenced the Chidah (סֵפֶר פֶּתַח עֵינַיִם) in noting that at the time of מַתַּן תּוֹרָה, the Torah was offered to all the nations of the world, but they rejected it. As it says in the beginning of Gemara עבוֹדה זרה:

א”ר יוחנן מלמד שהחזירה הקב”ה על כל אומה ולשון ולא קבלוה עד שבא אצל ישראל וקבלוה

But surely there must have been some among the non-Jewish nations who wanted to adopt the Torah! Its rejection couldn’t have been unanimous within each nation. Those individuals among the גוֹיִים who judged the Torah to be efficacious were the נְשָׁמוֹת present at הַר סִינַי who became the reservoir of future converts.

In further support of the differential in נְשָׁמוֹת at הַר סִינַי, Rabbi Stern gave a sneak preview of the Gemara in Yevamos upcoming on דף ע״ח עמוּד ב:

אָמַר רַב חָנָא בַּר אַדָּא נְתִינִים דָּוִד גָּזַר עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיִּקְרָא הַמֶּלֶךְ לַגִּבְעוֹנִים וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם וְהַגִּבְעוֹנִים לֹא מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה וְגוֹ׳

Rav Chana bar Adda said: As for the גִּבְעוֹנִים, it was דָוִד הַמֶלֶך who decreed that they may not enter into the קְהַל, as it is stated in שׁמוּאל ב:

וַיִּקְרָ֥א הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ לַגִּבְעֹנִ֖ים וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וְהַגִּבְעֹנִ֞ים לֹ֣א מִבְּנֵ֧י יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל הֵ֗מָּה כִּ֚י אִם־מִיֶּ֣תֶר הָאֱמֹרִ֔י וּבְנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ נִשְׁבְּע֣וּ לָהֶ֔ם וַיְבַקֵּ֤שׁ שָׁאוּל֙ לְהַכֹּתָ֔ם בְּקַנֹּאת֥וֹ לִבְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וִיהוּדָֽה

Rabbi Stern explains that their thirst for revenge illustrated that the גִּבְעוֹנִים did not possess the נְשָׁמוֹת of גֵרִים in the in the first place, fundamentally lacking the traits of ביישנים רחמנים וגומלי חסדים. Putting a cherry on the top of that sugya brings us to the Mishnah at the top of today’s Daf on דף מ״ט עמוּד א, in which we re-visit the topic of מַמְזֵרוּת. You may recall that we addressed this in a a three-way מַחְלוֹקֶת on דף מ״ד עמוּד ב.

By way of brief review:

  1. Strict = רַבּי עַקִיבָא, encompassing a larger number of illicit relations, says a mamzer is the product of violating chayvei lavin. For example, the child of a כֹּהֵן and a גְרוּשָׁה.
  2. The חַכָמִים, and specifically Rav Shimon HaTimni, says not from chayvei lavin, but from chayvei kriysus, such as a child who is the product of a man having intercourse with his sister.
  3. Lenient = רַב יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, who says that only a child that is the product of a union that is chayvei misas beis din is considered to be a מַמְזֵר. As an example, the child of a union between a man and his mother or mother-in-law.

Our Mishnah begins: אֵיזֶהוּ מַמְזֵר — כּל שְׁאֵר בָּשָׂר שֶׁהוּא בְּ״לֹא יָבֹא״, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא. שִׁמְעוֹן הַתִּימְנִי אוֹמֵר: כֹּל שֶׁחַיָּיבִים עָלָיו כָּרֵת בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם, וַהֲלָכָה כִּדְבָרָיו. וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמֵר: כֹּל שֶׁחַיָּיבִין עָלָיו מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין

Rashi comments on this: כל שאר בשר שהוא בלא יבא – כל קורבה שהיא בלאו ואפי’ אין בה כרת כגון אנוסת אביו וכרבי יהודה דהויא בלאו דלא יגלה כנף אביו ומחמת קורבה כגון נושא חלוצתו דהוי בלא יבנה והוי לאו דקורבה בלא כרת

(As an aside, it’s probably just a coincidence that the Hungarian or Polish word “kurvah” has a derogatory meaning.)

You might find in interesting to take a look at the ArtScroll note indicating that our Mishnah presents a different version of R’ Akiva’s opinion than found in the Mishnah on דף מ״ד עמוּד א. The previous Mishnah states that according to R’Akiva the children of one who remarries his divorcee after she marries someone else (which is forbidden by an ordinary לֹא תַעַשֵׂה) are mamzerim, although the parents are not forbidden to each other on account of any familial relationship. Yet in our Mishnah R’ Akiva specifies that only בִּיאָה with a relative prohibited as a לַאו is considered a mamzer.

See the source image

Our Mishnah finishes with what seems like a digression, the listing of the circumstances under which it is permissible to marry one’s sister-in-law.: אִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁמֵּתָה — מוּתָּר בַּאֲחוֹתָהּ. גֵּרְשָׁהּ וּמֵתָה — מוּתָּר בַּאֲחוֹתָהּ. נִשֵּׂאת לְאַחֵר וּמֵתָה — מוּתָּר בַּאֲחוֹתָהּ. יְבִמְתּוֹ שֶׁמֵּתָה — מוּתָּר בַּאֲחוֹתָהּ. חָלַץ לָהּ וּמֵתָה — מוּתָּר בַּאֲחוֹתָהּ. נִשֵּׂאת לְאַחֵר וּמֵתָה — מוּתָּר בַּאֲחוֹתָהּ. The common theme here is that the death of one’s wife removes the prohibition of marrying her sister. In other words, the פָּסוּק stipulates that she is forbidden “בְּחַיֶיהָ”, in your wife’s lifetime.

Beyond this being a digression, it seems like there is considerable redundancy. Instead of saying “מוּתָּר בַּאֲחוֹתָהּ” after each circumstance, the Mishnah could have listed them all and said saved “מוּתָּר בַּאֲחוֹתָהּ” for the end:

אִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁמֵּתָה אוֹ גֵּרְשָׁהּ וּמֵתָה אוֹ נִשֵּׂאת לְאַחֵר וּמֵתָה אוֹ יְבִמְתּוֹ שֶׁמֵּתָה אוֹ חָלַץ לָהּ וּמֵתָה אוֹ נִשֵּׂאת לְאַחֵר וּמֵתָה — מוּתָּר בַּאֲחוֹתָהּ

I’ll leave that as an open-ended question as the Mishnah ends, and we turn our attention to the Gemara which begins:

מַאי טַעְמָא דְּרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא? דִּכְתִיב: ״לֹא יִקַּח אִישׁ אֶת אֵשֶׁת אָבִיו וְלֹא יְגַלֶּה כְּנַף אָבִיו״. כָּנָף שֶׁרָאָה אָבִיו — לֹא יְגַלֶּה

The source for that is the first pasuk in chapter 23 of דְבָרִים. The beginning of the פָּסוּק is about as black and white as one can get. The prohibition against marrying one’s mother or step-mother carries the most severe penalty for its violation: סְקִילָה. As Rashi says there: אֵין לוֹ בָּהּ לִקּוּחִין וְאֵין קִדּוּשִׁין תּוֹפְסִין בָּהּ. Marriage to one’s mother has no legal standing. But the second part of the פָּסוּק is rather ambiguous. What does “וְלֹא יְגַלֶּה כְּנַף אָבִיו” mean? Rabbi Stern notes that defining this helps to characterize the nature of מַמְזֵירוּת.

We had a מַחְלוֹקֶת earlier in the Mesechtah, betweeen Rav Yehuda and the Chacahmim on how to learn פְּשַׁט in that פָּסוּק. Rav Yehuda says that revelation (“יְגַלֶּה”) refers to אַנוּסַת אָבִיו, meaning that if your father rapes a woman, you cannot be with her. Violating that prohibition would be a לַאו, but does not trigger מִיתָה. The third פָּסוּק in that passage reads: לֹא־יָבֹ֥א מַמְזֵ֖ר בִּקְהַ֣ל יְהֹוָ֑ה גַּ֚ם דּ֣וֹר עֲשִׂירִ֔י לֹא־יָ֥בֹא ל֖וֹ בִּקְהַ֥ל יְהֹוָֽה.

There is something to be learned from the juxtaposition of לֹא יְגַלֶּה כְּנַף אָבִיו to לֹא־יָבֹ֥א מַמְזֵ֖ר בִּקְהַ֣ל יְהֹוָ֑ה, and that is what constitutes a mamzer? The product of any union that is a violation of a לַאו. That is the שִׁיטָה of R’ Akiva, with whom Rav Yehuda agrees. However, there is another interpretation of לֹא יְגַלֶּה כְּנַף אָבִיו, which is that it’s speaking about the שׁוֹמֶרֶת יָבָם of your father. That is your father’s brother’s wife (who is your aunt), the violation of which triggers כָּרֵת. That reflects the view of Rav Shimon HaTimni, who says that it is the product of any union that is a violation of כָּרֵת that defines who is a mamzer.

This is consistent with what Rashi writes in דְבָרִים:

ולא יגלה כנף אביו. שׁוֹמֶרֶת יָבָם שֶׁל אָבִיו הָרְאוּיָה לְאָבִיו, וַהֲרֵי כְּבָר הֻזְהַר עָלֶיהָ מִשּׁוּם עֶרְוַת אֲחִי אָבִיךָ (ויקרא י”ח) אֶלָּא לַעֲבֹר עַל זוֹ בִּשְׁנֵי לָאוִין, וְלִסְמֹךְ לָהּ לֹא יָבֹא מַמְזֵר, לְלַמֵּד שֶׁאֵין מַמְזֵר אֶלָּא מֵחַיָּבֵי כָּרֵתוֹת, וְקַל וָחֹמֶר מֵחַיָּבֵי מִיתוֹת בֵּית דִּין, שֶׁאֵין בָּעֲרָיוֹת מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ כָּרֵת (יבמות מ”ט)

You may have noticed, in the juxtaposition of the first פָּסוּק we cited (לֹא יְגַלֶּה כְּנַף אָבִיו) and the third (לֹא־יָבֹ֥א מַמְזֵ֖ר), that we skipped over the one in the middle, which reads: לֹֽא־יָבֹ֧א פְצֽוּעַ־דַּכָּ֛א*(ברוב ספרי אשכנז דַּכָּ֛ה) וּכְר֥וּת שפְכָ֖ה בִּקְהַ֥ל יְהֹוָֽה – which means that no man who has testicular or penile malformations can be admitted into the קְהַל of Hashem. Why do we ignore that פָּסוּק, and juxtapose the first with the third? תּוֹסָפוֹת explains that because of the sexual dysfunction, there is no possibility that a פְצוּעָ דַכָּא could father a mamzer, and the פָּסוּק is therefore irrelevant in this context:

וא”ת והא מפסיק קרא דלא יבא פצוע דכא בינתים וי”ל דכיון דלאו בני בנים נינהו ולא שייך מינייהו ממזר לא חשיב הפסק

We’re barely half way through today’s Daf, but with the supplemental material I gave you yesterday, and a busy day in the office today, I’ll bring this to a close and leave you to finish the video.

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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