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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
spit nor recite,1 her halizah is valid. If she spat but did not draw off the shoe nor recite,2 her halizah is invalid3 if she recited2 but did not spit nor draw off the shoe, there is here no reason whatsoever for apprehension.4 Now, whose [view is here represented]? If it be suggested [it is that of] R. Eliezer, [how could it be stated that] 'if she drew off [the levir's shoe] but did not spit nor recite, her halizah is valid' when, surely, R. Eliezer said: SO SHALL BE DONE, ANYTHING WHICH IS A DEED IS A SINE QUA NON? It is consequently obvious [that it is the view of] R. Akiba; and yet it was stated that 'if she spat but did not draw off the shoe nor recite, her halizah is invalid'. To whom, [however, does the invalidity cause her to be forbidden]?5 If it be suggested, 'To strangers';6 is not this [it may be retorted] self-evident? Is it a halizah [like this that would enable the sister-inlaw] to become free to marry a stranger!7 It must therefore, be admitted8 [that the validity refers to her state of prohibition] to the brothers.9 Thus you have our contention proved.
According to R. Akiba, wherein lies the legal difference between the act of spitting and that of reciting?10 — Recital11 that must take place both at the commencement12 [of the halizah ceremony] and at its conclusion13 cannot be mistaken;14 spitting, however, which does not take place at the beginning but only at the end, might be mistaken [for a proper halizah],15 and thus16 a proper halizah also would be permitted to marry the brothers.17
Others say that the following ruling was sent to him:18 A sister-in-law who spat19 may afterwards perform halizah and need not spit a second time.20 So, in fact, it once happened that a sister-in-law21 who came before R. Ammi, while R. Abba b. Memel was sitting in his presence, spat prior to her drawing off the shoe. 'Arrange the halizah for her', said R. Ammi to him,22 'and dismiss her case'.23 'But surely'. said R. Abba to him, 'spitting is a requirement!' — 'She has spat indeed!' 'But let her spit [again]; what could be the objection?' — 'The issue might [morally and religiously] be disastrous; for should you rule that she is to spit again, people might assume that her first spitting was ineffective24 and thus25 a proper haluzah also would be permitted to marry the brothers!'26 'But is it not necessary. [that the various parts of the halizah] should follow in the prescribed order?' — 'The order of the performances is not essential'. He22 thought [at the time] that the other27 was merely shaking him off. When, however, he went out he carefully considered the point and discovered that it was taught: Whether drawing off the shoe preceded the spitting or whether spitting preceded the drawing off, the action performed is valid.28
Levi once went out [to visit] the country towns,29 when he was asked: 'May a woman whose hand was amputated perform halizah?30 What is the legal position where a sister-in-law spat blood? [It is stated in Scripture]: Howbeit I will declare unto thee that which is inscribed in the Writing of Truth;31 does this32 then imply that there exists a [divine] Writing that is not of truth?' He was unable to answer.33 When he came and asked these questions at the academy. they answered him: Is it written, 'And she shall draw off with her hand'?34 Is it written, 'And spit spittle'?34 [As to the question] 'Howbeit I will declare unto thee that which is inscribed in the Writing of Truth,31 does this then imply that there exists a [divine] Writing that is not of truth'? There is really no difficulty. For the former35 refers to a [divine] decree that was accompanied by an oath while the latter36 refers to one that was not accompanied by an oath. [This is] in accordance with a statement of R. Samuel b. Ammi. For R. Samuel b. Ammi stated in the name of R. Jonathan: Whence is it deduced that a decree which is accompanied by an oath is never annulled?37 — From the Scriptural text, Therefore I have sworn unto the House of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be expiated with sacrifice nor offering for ever.38 Rabbah said: It will not be expiated 'with sacrifice nor offering', but it will be expiated with the words of the Torah.
Abaye said: It will not be expiated 'with sacrifice nor offering' but it will be expiated with the practice of lovingkindness.
Rabbah and Abaye were both descendants of the house of Eli. Rabbah who engaged in the study of the Torah lived forty years. Abaye, however, who engaged in the study of the Torah and the practice of lovingkindness, lived sixty years.
Our Rabbis taught: There was a certain family in Jerusalem whose members used to die when they were about the age of eighteen. When they came and acquainted R. Johanan b. Zakkai [with the fact,] he said to them: 'perchance you are descendants of the family of Eli concerning whom it is written in Scripture. And all the increase of thy house shall die young men;39 go and engage in the study of the Torah, and you will live'. They went and engaged in the study of the Torah and lived [longer lives]. They were consequently called 'The family of Johanan', after him.
R. Samuel b. Unia stated in the name of Rab: Whence is it deduced that a [divine] dispensation against a congregation is not sealed? — [You say] 'Is not sealed'! Surely it is written, For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me!40 — But [this is the question]: Whence is it deduced that even if it has been sealed it is torn up? — From the Scriptural text, What … as the Lord our God is whensoever we call upon him.41 But, surely, it is written, Seek ye the Lord while He may be found!42 — This is no contradiction. The latter applies to an individual, the former to a congregation. And43 when may an individual [find him]? R. Nahman replied in the name of Rabbah b. Abbuha: In44 the ten days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement.45
[The following ruling] was sent to Samuel's father: A sister-inlaw who spat blood shall perform halizah,46 because it is impossible that blood should not contain some diluted particles of spittle.
An objection was raised: It might have been assumed that blood that issues from his47 mouth or membrum virile is unclean,48 hence it was explicitly stated, His issue is unclean,49 but the blood which issues from his mouth or from his membrum virile is not unclean, but clean!50 — This is no contradiction: The former51 is a case52 where she sucks in;53 the latter,54 where [the blood] flows gently.
IF A DEAF LEVIR SUBMITTED TO HALIZAH etc.
[A SISTER-IN-LAW] WHO PERFORMED HALIZAH WHILE SHE WAS A MINOR etc. Rab Judah stated in the name of Rab: This5 is the view of R. Meir who stated, 'In the Pentateuchal section [of halizah] the expression man6 is used,7 and the woman is to be compared to the man'.8 The Sages, however, maintain that in the Pentateuchal section 'man' was written;7 [and as to] a woman, whether she is of age or a minor [her halizah is valid].
Who [is the Tanna here described as the] Sages? — It is R. Jose. For R. Hiyya and R. Simeon b. Rabbi once sat together, when one of them began as follows:9 A man who offers up his prayers must direct his eyes towards [the Temple]10 below,11 for it is said, And Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually.12 And the other said: The eyes of him who offers up prayers shall be directed13 towards [the heavens] above, for it is said Let us lift up our heart with our hand.14 In the meanwhile they were joined by R. Ishmael son of R. Jose. 'On what subject are you engaged?' he asked them. 'On the subject of prayer', they replied. 'My father', he said to them, 'ruled thus: A man who offers up his prayers must direct his eyes to the [Sanctuary] below and his heart towards [the heavens] above so that these two Scriptural texts may be complied with.' While this was going on, Rabbi entered the academy.15 They, being nimble, got into their places quickly. R. Ishmael son of R. Jose, however, owing to his corpulence16 could only move to his place with slow steps. 'Who is this man, cried Abdan17 out to him, 'who strides over the heads18 of the holy people!' The other replied. 'I am Ishmael son of R. Jose who have come to learn Torah from Rabbi'.19 'Are you, forsooth, fit', the first said to him, 'to learn Torah from Rabbi?' — 'Was Moses fit', the other retorted, 'to learn Torah from the lips of the Omnipotent!' 'Are you Moses indeed!' the first exclaimed. — 'Is then your Master a god!' the other retorted. R. Jose remarked: Rabbi got what he merited when the one20 said to the other21 'Your Master' and not 'my Master'.22 While this was proceeding a sister-in-law came before Rabbi.23 'Go out', said Rabbi to Abdan, 'and have her examined'.24 After the latter went out, R. Ishmael said to him:25 Thus said my father, 'In the Pentateuchal section man26 is written;27 [but as to] a woman, whether she is of age or a minor [her halizah is valid]'. 'Come back', he15 cried after him,21 'you need not [arrange for any examination]; the grand old man28 has already given his decision [on the subject]'.
Abdan now came back picking his steps,29 when R. Ishmael son of R. Jose exclaimed, 'He of whom the holy people is in need may well stride over the heads of the holy people; but how dare he of whom the holy people has no need stride over the heads of the holy people!' 'Remain in your place', said Rabbi to Abdan.
It was taught: At that instant Abdan became leprous, his two sons were drowned and his two daughters-in-law made declarations of refusal.30 'Blessed be the All Merciful', said R. Nahman b. Isaac, 'who has put Abdan to shame in this world'.31
'We may learn from the words of this eminent scholar',32 said R. Ammi, 'that [a sister-in-law who is] a minor may perform halizah while she is still in her childhood'.33 Raba said: [She must wait with halizah] until she has reached the age of [valid] vows.34 The law however, is [that she must not perform halizah] until she has produced two [pubic] hairs.
IF [A SISTER-IN-LAW] PERFORMED HALIZAH IN THE PRESENCE OF TWO etc. R. Joseph b. Manyumi stated in the name of R. Nahman: The halachah is not in agreement with this pair.35 But, surely. R. Nahman had once stated this; for R. Joseph b. Manyumi stated in the name of R. Nahman: The halachah is that36 halizah [must be performed] in the presence of three [judges]!37 — [Both are] required: For if the first only had been stated, it might have been assumed [that three judges are required] ab initio only. but that ex post facto even two [judges are enough] hence we were taught that 'the halachah is not in agreement with this pair'.38 And if we had been taught that 'the halachah is not in agreement with this pair' but in accordance with the ruling of the first Tanna, it might have been assumed [that this applies only] ex post facto,39 but that ab initio five [judges] are required,40 [hence the former statement was also] required.41
IT ONCE HAPPENED THAT A MAN SUBMITTED TO HALIZAH42 etc. PRIVATELY BETWEEN HIMSELF AND HERSELF! How, then, can we know it? — Rab Judah replied in the name of Samuel: When witnesses observed it from without.
The question was raised:43 Did it happen that the HALIZAH was performed privately BETWEEN HIMSELF AND HERSELF outside, AND THE CASE WAS BROUGHT BEFORE R. AKIBA IN PRISON,44 or perhaps it happened that the HALIZAH was performed BETWEEN HIMSELF AND HERSELF in prison? — Rab Judah replied in the name of Rab: The incident occurred in prison and the case also came up for decision in prison.45
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