Previous Folio / Yebamoth Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site

Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 115a

since, if she wished, she could have said that there was peace in the world;1  or, perhaps. since a war was established [by her] she speaks2  from conjecture.3  and the argument. 'What motive could she have for telling a lie'4  cannot come and impair an established principle? — Come and hear: [If a woman states]. 'They5  set our house on fire',6  or 'They filled the cave wherein we sheltered7  with smoke, and he8  died while I escaped'. she is not believed!9  There it is different since she can be told,10  'As a miracle happened to you. so may a miracle have happened to him8  also'.11

Come and hear: [If a woman states]. 'ldolaters fell upon us', or, 'robbers fell upon us,12  and he8  died while I escaped'. she is believed!13 — There14  [her statement is believed] in accordance with the view of R. Idi. For R. Idi stated: A woman [carries] her weapons about her.15

There was once a man whose bridal chamber caught fire at the close of his wedding feast, and his wife cried, 'Look at my husband, look at my husband!' When they came near they saw a charred body16  that was prostrate [on the ground] and the hand [of a man]17  lying [by it]. R. Hiyya b. Abin intended to give his decision [that the law in this case] is the same as [that where a woman stated]. 'They set our house on fire', or 'they filled the cave wherein we sheltered with smoke'. Raba, however, said: Are [the two cases at all] similar? There, she did not say. 'Look at my husband, look at my husband'!18  while19  here [those present actually saw] the charred body that was prostrate [on the ground] and the hand that was lying by it. And R. Hiyya b. Abin?20  — As to the charred body16  that was prostrate [on the ground]. it may be suggested that a stranger21  came to the rescue of [the burning man] and was himself burned,22  while the hand which was lying [nearby, might be that of the bridegroom who] having been caught by the fire was mutilated;23  and24  in order [to hide his] shame he may have left the place and fled into the wide world.

A question was raised: What is the law in respect of one witness25  In time of war?26  Is the reason why one witness is [elsewhere]27  believed because no one would tell a lie which is likely to be exposed28  and, consequently. here also [the witness] would not tell a lie;29  or is it possible that the reason why one witness [is believed]27  is because [the woman] herself makes careful enquiries and [only then] marries again. here. therefore.30  [he would not be believed since a woman]31  does not make sufficient enquiries before she marries again?

Rami b. Hama replied. Come and hear: R. Akiba stated: When I went down to Nehardea to intercalate the year. I met Nehemiah of Beth Deli who said to me, 'I heard that in the Land of Israel32  no one with the exception of R. Judah b. Baba permits a [married] woman to marry again on the evidence of one witness'. 'That is so', I told him' 'Tell them', he said to me. 'in my name: You know that this country is infested33  with raiders; I have this tradition from R. Gamaliel the Elder: That a [married] woman may be allowed to marry again on the evidence of one witness'.34  Now, what was meant by 'This country is infested with raiders'? Obviously that35  'although this country is in a state of confusion.36  I have this tradition: That a [married woman] may be allowed to marry again on the evidence of one witness'! Thus it is evident that one witness is believed.37  Said Raba: If so,38  why should 'this country39  be different?40  He should [have said]. 'Wherever raiders exist'!-Rather, said Raba, it is this that was meant: 'You know that this country is infested41  with raiders and it is impossible for me to leave my family and to come before the Rabbis; I have this tradition from R. Gamaliel: That a [married] woman may be allowed to marry again on the evidence of one witness

Come and hear: Two learned men42  once travelled with Abba Jose b. Simai on board a ship, which sank. And on the evidence of women, Rabbi43  allowed their wives to marry again. [Now, evidence of death by] water is, surely, like [that of death in] war, and women, even a hundred of them, are legally equal to one witness,44  and yet it was stated [that Rabbi] 'Allowed … to marry'!45  — And do you understand this?46  Those47  were waters without [a visible] end,48  and [when a man is drowned in] waters without [a visible] end his wife is forbidden [to marry again]!49  How, then, is this to be understood? [Obviously] that they50  stated, '[The drowned men] were cast up in our presence

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. And as no one could have contradicted her, she would have been believed in saying that her husband was dead and she would have obtained her object; hence she is believed even when she reported that there was a war.
  2. Alfasi: 'Since it was established that (in time of war) she speaks … the argument etc.'.
  3. When her husband was involved in a war.
  4. Cf. supra n. 3.
  5. Brigands. in a time of war.
  6. Lit., 'they caused a house to smoke upon us'.
  7. Lit., upon us'.
  8. Her husband.
  9. This proves that her statement that her husband is dead is not accepted although it was through her that it became known that there ever was a state of war.
  10. As she has not actually seen his death.
  11. It is for this reason, and not because she is suspected of lying. that her evidence is not regarded as sufficient proof for establishing the death of her husband. In the case of a war, however, it may well be assumed that she had actually seen the death of her husband, since, had she desired to deceive, she need not have disclosed the fact that there ever was a war.
  12. Circumstances similar to those of a war.
  13. Which proves that a wife is believed when she states that her husband died in circumstances akin to war if these become known solely through her own evidence.
  14. Since the incident did not happen in war time but only in analogous circumstances.
  15. 'A.Z 25b; i.e., her sex is her protection against murder. When, therefore, her husband is attacked, unless there was actually a state of war, she does not flee to save her own life, but remains on the spot to the very end. Her evidence that her husband is dead may consequently be accepted as that of an eye witness. This, therefore, provides no proof that a wife is also believed if an actual state of war existed when her husband's death presumably occurred.
  16. Lit., 'man'.
  17. Who apparently attempted to rescue the bridegroom.
  18. Hence it is possible that her husband did not die at all.
  19. Cf. MS.M. Cur. edd. read 'and furthermore'.
  20. How could he possibly compare the two cases?
  21. Lit., 'another man'.
  22. Lit., 'and the fire consumed him'.
  23. Lit., 'a blemish was born or produced on him'. He lost his hand.
  24. In explanation of his disappearance.
  25. Whose evidence is relied upon in allowing a married woman to marry again if he testified that her husband was dead.
  26. Is his evidence accepted?
  27. Cf. supra note 10.
  28. Lit., concerning a thing which is likely to be revealed, he does not lie'.
  29. And he is believed.
  30. Cur. edd. insert in square brackets. 'since she sometimes hates him'. Cf. readings cited by Wilna Gaon, Glosses.
  31. Speaking in time of war from mere conjecture (cf. Rashal's emendation).
  32. Palestine.
  33. Lit., 'entangled'. confused'.
  34. V. infra 122a.
  35. Lit., 'not?'
  36. In a condition similar to a state of war.
  37. Even in a time of war.
  38. If one witness is believed even when any part of the world is in actual state of war.
  39. The expression used by R. Nehemiah.
  40. From other countries.
  41. Lit., 'entangled'. confused'.
  42. V. Glos. s.v. Talmid Hakam.
  43. R. Judah the Prince.
  44. Cf supra 88b.
  45. From which it follows that one witness is believed (cf. supra p. 811, n. 10) even in a time of war.
  46. Rabbi's ruling in the case of the wives of the drowned scholars.
  47. I.e., the sea.
  48. I.e., all the limits cannot he seen from any one point on the shore. Cf. infra 121a.
  49. Even if fully qualified men had witnessed the accident, because it is possible that the man may have swum to, or the waters have cast him upon another part of the shore where he was rescued. As all the shore line cannot be seen from the point where he fell into the waters (v. supra n. 5) his rescue may have been effected, though none of the men of the locality have observed it
  50. The women who gave evidence.

Yebamoth 115b

and we saw then, immediately [afterwards]',1  and they also mention [his identification] marks. so that we do not rely upon them2  but on the marks.3

A man once deposited some sesame with another, [and when in due course] he asked him, 'Return to me my sesame, the other replied. 'You have already taken it'. 'But, surely'. [the depositor remonstrated, 'the quantity] was such and such and it is [in fact still] lying [intact] in your jar'.4  'Yours', the other replied. 'you have taken back and this is different'. R. Hisda at first intended to give his decision [that the law in this case is] the same as that of the two learned men,5  where we do not assume that those have gone elsewhere and these are others.6  Raba, however, said to him: Are [the two cases] alike? There, the identification marks were given; but here, what identification marks can sesame have! And in regard to [the depositor's] statement [that their quantity] was such and such, it might be said that the similarity of quantities is a mere coincidence.

Said Mar Kashisha b. R. Hisda to R. Ashi: Do we ever [in such circumstances]7  take into consideration the possibility that [the contents of a vessel] may have been removed?8  Surely we learned: If a man found a vessel on which was inscribed a Kof it is korban;9  if a Mem, it is ma'aser;10  if a Daleth it is demu'a;11  if a Teth, it is Tebel;12  and if a Taw, It is terumah;13  for in the period of danger14  they used to write a Taw for terumah!15  — Said Rabina to R. Ashi: Do we not [in such circumstances]16  heed the possibility that [the contents of a vessel] may have been removed? Read, then, the final clause: R. Jose said, Even if a man found a jar on which 'terumah' was inscribed [the contents] are nevertheless regarded as unconsecrated, for it is assumed17  that though it was in the previous year full of terumah it has subsequently been emptied!18  But the fact is, all agree that the possibility of [the contents] having been removed must be taken into consideration. Here, however, they differ only on the following principle: One Master is of the opinion that had the owner removed [the contents from the jar] he would undoubtedly have wiped [the mark] off, while the other [maintains that] it might be assumed that he may have forgotten [to remove the mark] or he may also intentionally have left it as a safeguard.19

Resh Galutha Isaac,20  a son of R. Bebai's sister, once went from Cordova to Spain21  and died there. A message was sent from there [in the following terms]. 'Resh Galutha Isaac, a son of R. Bebai's sister, went from Cordova to Spain and died there. [The question thus arose] whether [the possibility that there might have been] two [men of the name of] Isaac is to be taken into consideration22  or not? — Abaye said: It is to be taken into consideration:22  but Raba said: It is not to be taken into consideration.23

Said Abaye: How24  do I arrive at my assertion? — Because in25  a letter of divorce that was once found in Nehardea it was written, 'Near the town of Kolonia,26  I, David son of Nehilais,27  a Nehardean, released and divorced my wife So-and-so', and when Samuel's father sent it to R. Judah Nesiah28  the latter replied: 'Let all Nehardea be searched'.29  Raba, however, said: If that were so30  he31  should [have ordered] the whole world to be searched!32  The truth is that it was only out of respect for Samuel's father33  that he sent that message.

Raba said: How34  do I arrive at my assertion? Because in two notes of indebtedness that were once produced in court at Mahuza [the names of the parties] were written as Habi son of Nanai and Nanai son of Habi. and Rabbah35  b. Abbuha ordered the collection of the debts on these bills. But, surely, there are many [men bearing the names of] Habi son of Nanai and Nanai son of Habi at Mahuza!36  And Abaye?37

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. After their emerging from the water (cf. Tosaf. s.v. [H], a.l.).
  2. On their evidence of the men's death.
  3. (If which the judges were well aware independently of the woman's evidence.
  4. Which should prove that the sesame had not been returned to its owner.
  5. Whose wives Rabbi permitted to marry on the assumption that the discovered bodies were theirs.
  6. Who have the same identification marks. Similarly with the sesame in the jar, since it is of the same quantity as that of the deposited sesame it should be assumed to belong to the depositor and should, therefore, be returned to him.
  7. When an identification mark exists, such as a letter on a cask or, as in the case of the sesame, the identity of quantities.
  8. And replaced by similar contents.
  9. Lit., 'sacrifice', i.e., consecrated.
  10. Tithe.
  11. A 'mixture' of terumah and unconsecrated produce. Others read, [H] demai, produce concerning which it is uncertain whether it had been tithed.
  12. V. Glos. Produce of. which it is certain that the priestly and Levitical dues have not been given for it.
  13. V. Glos.
  14. During the Hadrianic persecutions that followed the Bar Kokeba revolt when the practice of Jewish laws was forbidden (cf supra p. 754. n. 9).
  15. M.Sh IV, 11. This proves that a mark is regarded as sufficient proof that the original contents were not removed and replaced by others!
  16. v. supra note 1.
  17. Since most of the world's produce is unconsecrated.
  18. And replaced by unconsecrated produce Much more so when a single letter only appears on the jar! V. M.Sh., loc. cit.
  19. [H[ (cf. Pers. panah) 'protection'. People who might perhaps have no scruples about clandestinely consuming other peoples produce would nevertheless be afraid of meddling with sacred commodities.
  20. [Term denotes elsewhere 'Exilarch'; here it is a proper name. V. Obermeyer, p. 183, n.l.].
  21. [H]. So Golds. against Rappaport in [H] p. 156ff. Cordova at that time, as during the Moorish reign and other periods of spanish history, may have formed an independent state. [Obermeyer p. 183 identifies the former with Kurdafad near Ktesifon on the left bank of tigris, and the latter with Apamea, a frontier town of Babylon on on the right bank of the Tigris].
  22. Even when it was not definitely known that there were two such persons in the same place.
  23. Unless it was known that two such persons lived there. (Cf. infra 116a).
  24. Lit., 'whence'.
  25. Cf. BaH.
  26. [Me'iri: By side of the town Nehardea, which had been declared a free (Roman) colony and exempt from taxation, cf. A.Z., Sonc. ed. p. 50, n. 5.].
  27. So Rosh and [H]. Cur. edd., 'Androlinai'.
  28. To decide whether the document may be given to the woman who claimed it as a valid one. [The reference must be to R. Judah I the prince, since the father of Samuel was no longer alive during the patriarchate of of R. Judah II (v. Obermeyer, p. 261, n. 4)].
  29. To ascertain whether there is no other person of the same name in that town. This obviously proves the soundness of Abaye's ruling.
  30. As Abaye ruled.
  31. R. Judah Nesi'ah.
  32. Any Nehardean of that name might have left Nehardea for another town after giving the letter of divorce in question.
  33. That he might not be chagrined by hearing that his enquiry was really futile and that there was in fact nothing for him to do but to accept the document as valid.
  34. Lit., 'whence'.
  35. So BaH.Cur. edd., 'Raba'.
  36. And yet it was not doubted that the persons who held the notes were the men named, which proves that even the definite existence of other men of the same name in the same place need not be taken into consideration. This being the rule in monetary matters, it may be inferred that in religious matters, the uncertain existence at least of men of the same name need not be taken into consideration.
  37. How' can he maintain his ruling in view' of the decision of Rabbah b. Abbuha.