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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 25a

If shoes1  lie under the bed, since the thing is ugly,2   she must, said Rabbi, go.3  'Shoes'?4  One can surely see whose they are! — Say rather the marks5  of shoes.6

The law is in accordance with the view of Rab,7  and the law is in accordance with the view of Rabbi.8

This, then, represents a contradiction between one law and the other! — There is no contradiction. One9  refers to a rumour that had ceased;10  the other, to a rumour that had not ceased. Where the rumour has not ceased, though no witnesses are available, [the law is] according to Rabbi; where the rumour has ceased but witnesses are available [the law is] according to Rab.

For how long [must a rumour continue in order to be regarded] as uninterrupted? Abaye replied: Mother11  told me that a town rumour12  [must remain uncontradicted for] a day and a half. This has been said Only in the case where It was not interrupted in the meantime. If, however, it was interrupted in the meantime, well, it was interrupted.13  This, however, is only when the interruption was not due to intimidation, but if it was due to intimidation, well, it was due to intimidation.14  This,15  however, has been said only in the case where no enemies are about, but where enemies are about, well, it must have been the enemies who published the rumour.13

We learned elsewhere: If a man divorced his wife because of a bad name,16  he must not remarry her; if on account of a vow he must not remarry her.17  Rabbah son of R. Huna18  sent to Rabbah son of R. Nahman: Will our Master Instruct us as to whether he19  must part with her if he did remarry her? The other replied: We have learnt It: IF A MAN IS SUSPECTED OF INTERCOURSE WITH A MARRIED WOMAN WHO [IN CONSEQUENCE] WAS TAKEN AWAY FROM HER HUSBAND20  HE MUST LET HER GO EVEN THOUGH HE HAS MARRIED HER!21  He said to him: Are these two cases at all alike? There22  she was taken away;23  here he24  had let her go.25

And Rabbah son of R. Nahman?26  — In our Mishnah also we learned, 'He let her go'.27  But even now, are they at all alike? Here28  it is the husband;29  there30  it is the seducer!31  — The other replied: They are indeed alike.32  For here30  the Rabbis said, 'he33  must not marry her, and if he did marry he must let her go' and there27  also the Rabbis would Say, 'he34  must not remarry her and if he did remarry he must let her go'. This, however, is not [much of an argument]. There30  he lends colour to the rumour,35  while here it might well be assumed that he34  investigated the rumour and found it to be groundless.




GEMARA. The reason then40  is because he came FROM A COUNTRY BEYOND THE SEA, in which case we have to entirely upon him;41  but [had he come] from the Land of Israel, in which case we need not depend upon him,42  would he have been allowed to marry the divorcer's wife? But, surely, when the Statement is, 'HE DIED', in which case we do not depend entirely upon him since a Master said, 'a woman43  makes careful inquiry before she marries'44  and yet it was stated, HE MUST NOT MARRY HIS WIFE! — There,45  no document exists, but here46  a document47  does exist. For thus we have learned: Wherein lies the difference between [the admissibility of] a letter of divorce and [that of evidence of] death?48  In that the document47  supplies the proof.49

[SIMILARLY, IF HE STATES], 'HE DIED', 'I KILLED HIM', OR 'WE KILLED HIM', HE MUST NOT MARRY HIS WIFE. Only he, then, must not marry his wife, she, however, may be married to another man? But, surely, R. Joseph said: [If a man stated], 'So-and-so committed pederasty with me against my will', he and any other witness may be combined50  to procure his execution; [if, however, he said], 'with my consent',51  he is a wicked man concerning whom the Torah said, Put not thy hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness!52  And were you to reply that matrimonial evidence53  is different because the Rabbis have relaxed the law in its case,54  surely, [it may be pointed out], R. Manasseh stated:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. So MSS. Cur. edd. add. 'overturned'.
  2. The shoes indicating the presence of an unknown stranger on the bed.
  3. Even if there were no witnesses that misconduct took place.
  4. So MSS. Cur. edd. add. 'overturned'.
  5. Lit., 'place of', i.e., the shoes have left marks on the floor.
  6. Cur. edd. contain the following addition. 'Overturned under the bed, said Rabbi, since the thing is ugly she shall go'. All this with the exception of the first word is enclosed in parentheses. Cf. Rashal.
  7. That no rumour or suspicion is to be relied upon in forbidding a wife to her husband. Only the evidence of witnesses may be acted upon.
  8. Cf. supra p. 150, n. 7.
  9. The law according to Rab.
  10. I.e., when a contradictory rumour obtained currency.
  11. His foster-mother. V. Kid. 31b.
  12. [H], 'suspicion' or 'gossip'.
  13. And it cannot any more be regarded as 'an uninterrupted rumour'.
  14. The force of the rumour is not thereby impaired.
  15. That an uninterrupted rumour is relied upon.
  16. Suspected immorality.
  17. V. Git., Sonc. ed. pp. 200ff, q.v. notes.
  18. So Emden. Cur. edd: Omit 'R'.
  19. Who divorced his wife 'because of a bad name'.
  20. [So MS.M. in conformity with the text of our Mishnah. Cur. edd.: and he had let her go.]
  21. So also in the case under discussion, though he married her, he must part from her.
  22. In our Mishnah.
  23. By the Beth din acting on the evidence of witnesses.
  24. Her husband at his own discretion.
  25. And the prohibition to remarry her is only Rabbinical. Hence it is possible that once he has remarried her he need not part from her.
  26. How can he draw a comparison between two dissimilar cases?
  27. Though there were no witnesses. Consequently, the woman is forbidden to her paramour Rabbinically only on the ground of suspicion (cf. supra p. 148. n. 10) and yet it was stated that he must part with her, which proves that even where the prohibition to marry is Rabbinical only (cf. supra note 9) the woman must be parted from the man.
  28. Rabbah b. R. Huna's enquiry.
  29. Whose remarriage of his former wife is obviously not suggestive of any immorality.
  30. Our Mishnah.
  31. Whose marriage with the woman undoubtedly lends colour to the rumoured suspicion. In such circumstances it is quite reasonable to order their separation. How can this, however, be used as an example for the case in the enquiry? (Cf. supra n. 13).
  32. Since the prohibition in both cases is only Rabbinical.
  33. Her paramour.
  34. The woman's former husband.
  35. Lit., 'he enforces the rumour'. Cf. supra n. 15.
  36. [H], lit., 'country of the sea', a term applied to all countries of the world exclusive of Palestine and Babylonia.
  37. Since the validity of the divorce 15 entirely dependent on his word (v. infra n. 6) he may be suspected of giving false evidence with a view to marrying the woman himself. As, however, a woman 15 permitted to marry even if only a single witness had testified to the death of he husband, she is allowed to marry any other man.
  38. Having admitted murder he cannot any longer be regarded as a reliable witness.
  39. This is explained infra.
  40. Why the man who brings the letter of divorce may not marry the divorcer's wife.
  41. The divorce not being valid unless the carrier of the letter of divorce can testify that it was written and signed in his presence. (V. Git. 20).
  42. Reliance being placed on the qualified scribes of Palestine, there is no need for the carrier of a letter of divorce to declare that he witnessed the writing and the signing of it.
  43. Ab death of whose husband is attested by one witness Only.
  44. And for this reason is allowed to remarry. Infra 53 b, 115a. 116b.
  45. In the case of evidence of death.
  46. Divorce.
  47. The letter of divorce.
  48. I.e., why are certain relatives accepted as legally qualified. carriers of a letter of divorce but not as witnesses to the death of a husband?
  49. V. Git. 23b, infra 117a.
  50. The two together forming a pair of witnesses, the minimum required for bringing about a man's condemnation by a court of law.
  51. Was the crime committed.
  52. Ex. XXIII, which shews that a man who admitted a criminal offence may not act as a witness at all!
  53. In allowing a woman to marry on the evidence of the death of her husband.
  54. In other cases two witnesses are required and in this case one is sufficient.

Yebamoth 25b

'One who is Rabbinically regarded as a robber1  is eligible to be a witness in matrimonial matters;2  one, however, who is Biblically regarded as a robber is ineligible to act as witness in matrimonial matters;3  would it then be necessary to assume that R. Manasseh holds the same opinion as R. Judah?4  - R. Manasseh can answer you: My statement may be reconciled even with the view of the Rabbis, but the reason of the Rabbis5  here is the same as that of Raba. For Raba said, 'A man is his own relative and consequently6  no man may declare himself wicked'.

Must it then be assumed that R. Joseph7  is of the same opinion as R. Judah?8  — R. Joseph can answer you: 'My Statement may be in agreement even with the view of the Rabbis, but matrimonial evidence9  is different, since the Rabbis relaxed the law in its case;10  and it is R. Manasseh who adopted the view of R. Judah'.

'I KILLED HIM' etc., 'WE KILLED HIM' … MAY MARRY etc. What is the practical difference between 'I killed him' and 'we killed him'?11  — Rab Judah said: [Our Mishnah speaks of the case] where he said, 'I was present together with his murderers' — 12 Has it not, however, been taught: They said to R. Judah, 'It once happened that a robber when led out to his execution in the Cappadocian Pass13  said to those present,14  "Go and tell the wife of Simeon b. Kohen that I killed her husband when I entered Lud" [others Say: When he entered Lud], and his wife was permitted to marry again'!15  He answered them: Is there any proof from there? [It was a case] where he said, 'I was present together with his murderers'.12  But it was stated, 'a robber'! — He was apprehended on account of robbery.16  But it was stated, 'led out to his execution'! — [He was sentenced by] a heathen court of law who executed without due investigation.17


GEMARA. This implies that if he had disallowed her vow, be would have been permitted to marry her!22  What then are the circumstances?23  If [he acted] alone, could one disallow a vow? Surely24  R. Hiyya b. Abin said in the name of R. Amram that it was taught: The disallowance of vows is to be carried out by three! If, however, three were Present, would they be suspected? Surely we learned, IF, HOWEVER, A WOMAN MADE A DECLARATION OF REFUSAL OR PERFORMED HALIZAH IN HIS PRESENCE, HE MAY MARRY HER, SINCE HE [WAS BUT ONE OF THE] BETH DIN!-The fact is that [he acted] alone, and25  as R.

Hisda said in the name of R. Johanan, 'By a fully qualified individual',26  so here also it is a case of one fully qualified individual.26

IF A WOMAN MADE A DECLARATION OF REFUSAL, OR PERFORMED HALIZAH etc. The reason, then,27  is because [he was one of a] Beth din,28  but had he been one of a group of two only. would he not [have been permitted]? Wherein, then, does this case differ from the following concerning which it was taught:29  If witnesses signed on [a document relating to] a purchased field or on a letter of divorce, the Rabbis do not apprehend such collusion!30  — It is this very thing that he taught us,31  viz., that the opinion of him who said that a declaration of refusal may be made in the presence of two is to be rejected and that one is to infer32  that a declaration of refusal must be made in the presence of three.33

The question was raised: If he34  married her35  must he part from her? R. Kahana said: Though he married, he must part from her. R. Ashi said: Once he has married, he need not part from her.

R. Zuti at the School of R. Papa recited [a teaching] in accordance with the opinion of him who said that if he34  married her35  he need not part from her. Said the Rabbis to R. Ashi: Is this36  a tradition or a matter of opinion? He answered them: It is a Mishnah: If a man is suspected of intercourse with a slave who was subsequently emancipated, or with a heathen who subsequently became a proselyte, lo, he must not marry her; if, however, he did marry her the marriage need not be dissolved. Which proves

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. A gambler, for instance, who is not Biblically forbidden to act as a witness. V. R.H. 220.
  2. V. note 4.
  3. Which proves that even in matrimonial matters a murderer (a man Biblically regarded as wicked) is not eligible as a witness.
  4. Who in our Mishnah rejected the evidence of the man who admitted murder. The halachah being according to the Rabbis who are the majority, would R. Manasseh ignore the majority in favour of a minority?
  5. For admitting the evidence of a man who announced himself as a murderer.
  6. As no relative is admitted as witness.
  7. Who does not admit the evidence of the man who declared himself a murderer, (supra 25a).
  8. V.p. 154, n. 9.
  9. V. p. 154, n. 4.
  10. V. supra p. 154, n. 5. Hence they also admitted the evidence of one who declared himself to be a murderer.
  11. In either case he admitted murder.
  12. But did not himself participate in the crime.
  13. Or 'ford'.
  14. Lit., 'to them'.
  15. Tosef. Yeb. IV; which proves that the evidence of a murderer is accepted.
  16. V. n. 10. He was Only present during the robbery.
  17. The condemned man, however, was not a murderer.
  18. Which the woman made. If she vowed, for instance, to derive no benefit from her husband, and he did not annul her vow; and on consulting the Sage and finding no ground for the remission of her vow (v. Ned. 22b), her vow was not disallowed and her husband was consequently forbidden to her.
  19. To avoid the suspicion that his motive in forbidding the woman was to marry her himself.
  20. V. Glos. s.v. mi'un.
  21. Declarations of refusal and the performance of halizah, unlike the disallowance or confirmation of vows, must always take place in the presence of a court of three; and a court of three would not be suspected.
  22. If her husband subsequently divorced her or died.
  23. Lit., 'in what are we engaged'.
  24. Cur. edd. add in parentheses. 'Rab said'.
  25. As to the difficulty of the implication that one individual should be in a position to disallow vows.
  26. A mumhe (v. Glos.) who, like a lay court of three, is empowered to disallow vows by himself. Ned. 78b, B.B. 120b, 121a.
  27. Why the Sage may marry the woman in question.
  28. Which consists of no less than three members.
  29. Cur. edd., we learned'.
  30. Lit., 'this thing'. They do not, as a precaution against collusion, forbid the witnesses the subsequent purchase of the field from the buyer. or the marriage with the woman n whose divorce they assisted. This obviously shews that even a group of two is not to be suspected!
  31. By mentioning Beth din which implies three members.
  32. From the mention of Beth din in our Mishnah.
  33. And not, as has been assumed, that only three are not to be suspected. Two also are above suspicion.
  34. The Sage referred to in our Mishnah (Rashb. and Asheri). The Sage or the man who delivered a letter of divorce mentioned in the previous Mishnah (Rashi and Maimonides). V. Wilna Gaon, Glosses, a.l.
  35. The woman who was forbidden to her husband or the one divorced (v. previous note).
  36. The statement R. Ashi made.