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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 29a

But did not R. Simeon state that two sisters1  are neither to perform the halizah nor to be taken in levirate marriage!2  — This3  is a preventive measure against any other case where the prohibition is due to a commandment — 4 This is a satisfactory explanation in respect of herself;5  what, however, can be said in respect of her sister?6  -The provision was made in the case of her sister as a preventive measure against herself.7  But, surely. no such preventive measures were made in the case where one was forbidden as incest!8  — A case of incest is different because people are well acquainted with it9  and it10  is well known.11


GEMARA. What was THIS IS meant to exclude?23  — To exclude the statement24  of R. Joshua,25  [and to indicate] that we do not act In accordance with his view but either in accordance with that of R. Gamaliel or that of R. Eliezer.

R. Eleazar said: It must not be assumed that a ma'amar according to Beth Shammai constitutes a perfect kinyan,26  so that, if he27  wishes to dismiss her, a letter of divorce is sufficient; but rather that, according to Beth Shammai, a ma'amar constitutes a kinyan only so far as to keep out the rival.28  Said R. Abin: We also have learned the same thing: Beth Shammai said, 'They may retain them',29  which implies that they may only retain them30  but [that they may] not [marry them] at the outset.31

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Who are both subject to Ievirate marriage.
  2. Owing to the levirate bond which Pentateuchally binds both sisters to the levir. Why, then, should halizah be performed here where Pentateuchally both sisters are subject to the levirate marriage and each is, consequently, forbidden as the sister of a zekukah?
  3. The provision that halizah shall be performed.
  4. Were halizah to be discarded in this case, an erroneous conclusion might be formed that it is to be discarded in all cases where the prohibition is due to a commandment (as if it had been due to the Pentateuchal laws of incest). even if the question of the sister of a zekukah did not arise.
  5. The sister forbidden by a commandment.
  6. Why is she not exempt from the halizah as the sister of a zekukah?
  7. [H] or [H] 'ill-luck [H] 'her ill-luck'. Others render, 'company'. As the sister who is forbidden by a commandment is subject to halizah (as a preventive measure, for the reason previously stated) so must her sister (so that one case be not mistaken for the other) be also subject to the same measure.
  8. V. our Mishnah: HE IS FORBIDDEN TO MARRY HER BUT IS PERMITTED TO MARRY HER SISTER, and no preventive measure against the sister was enacted.
  9. And would know that one sister was forbidden because of incest.
  10. The cause why the second sister is taken in levirate marriage.
  11. Lit., 'it has a voice'. And no one would in consequence permit elsewhere the marriage of the sister of another zekukah who is not forbidden by the laws of incest.
  12. [H] 'empty'.
  13. The widow.
  14. V. Glos.
  15. The sister-in-law to whom he addressed the ma'amar though he had not actually married her. A ma'amar, according to Beth Shammai, constitutes legal marriage in this respect. V. infra.
  16. From levirate marriage and halizah.
  17. Since her sister is regarded as legally married she is no more the sister of the levir's zekukah but of his wife.
  18. Cf. supra n. 4.
  19. Since the ma'amar is partially regarded as marriage.
  20. A ma'amar, according to Beth Hillel, does not constitute a proper marriage, and she is now the sister of a zekukah. V. following note.
  21. v. previous note. As the ma'amar did not constitute a proper marriage with her sister she is the sister of a zekukah who may not contract levirate marriage but must perform halizah.
  22. V. infra 109a. The second widow who becomes subject to him through the levirate law is not only herself forbidden to marry him (cf. note 10) but deprives him also of the first widow, his virtual wife. (Cf. note 9)-
  23. THIS IS implying this but not other cases.
  24. Lit., 'that'.
  25. Infra 109a.
  26. V. Glos., i.e., perfect marriage.
  27. The levir.
  28. I.e., her rival who is her sister does not cause her to be forbidden to the levir as the 'sister of a zekukah'.
  29. Supra 26a, in the case where the levirs married the sisters-in-law before consulting the Beth din as to the permissibility of their action.
  30. If they had already married them.
  31. Because each one is the sister of a zekukah. Lit., 'they may retain, yes; for as at the start, not'.

Yebamoth 29b

Now, if it could be assumed that a ma'amar, according to Beth Shammai, constitutes a perfect kinyan, let the one levir address a ma'amar1  and constitute thereby a kinyan,2  and let the other also address a ma amar1  and thereby constitute a kinyan.3  What then! [Is it your inference that] it4  keeps the rival completely out?5  Let then one levir address a ma'amar1  and keep her out6  and let the other levir also address a ma'amar1  and keep her out!7  What, however, may be said in reply? That a permitted ma'amar8  does keep the rival out, while a forbidden ma'amar9  does not keep her out; so also here, even according to him who maintains that a ma'amar constitutes a perfect kinyan, only a permitted ma'amar10  constitutes a kinyan. but a forbidden one8  does not.

R. Ashi taught it11  in the following manner: R. Eleazar said: It must not be assumed that a ma'amar, according to Beth Shammai, keeps the rival12  completely out, and that she does not require even halizah; but rather it13  keeps her out14  and still leaves [a partial bond].15  Said R. Abin: We also have learned the same thing: Beth Shammai said, 'they may retain them',16  which implies that they may only retain them16  but [that they may] not [marry them] at the outset.17  Now, if it could have been assumed that a ma amar, according to Beth Shammai, keeps a rival out completely. let the one levir address a ma'amar,18  and thus keep her out.19  and let the other also address a ma'amar18  and so keep her out.20  But. surely. it was taught. BETH SHAMMAI SAY: HIS WIFE [REMAINS] WITH HIM WHILE THE OTHER IS EXEMPT AS HIS WIFE'S SISTER!21  — The fact is, a yebamah who is eligible for all22  is also eligible for a part;23  a yebamah who is not eligible for all24  is not eligible for a part.25

Rabbah inquired: Does a ma'amar, according to Beth Shammai, constitute marriage or betrothal? — Said Abaye to him: On what practical issue [does this question bear]? Shall I say on [the issue] of inheriting from her,26  defiling himself to her27  or annulling her vows?28  Surely, [it could be answered that] seeing that in the case of29  ordinary betrothal30  R. Hiyya taught, that where the wife has only been betrothed31  [the husband] is neither subject to the laws of onan32  nor may he defile himself for her.27  and she in his case is likewise not subject to the laws of onan33  nor may she defile herself for him,34  and that if she dies he does not inherit from her though if he dies she collects her kethubah;35  is there any need [to speak of the case where] a ma'amar had been addressed!36  Rather. [the question is] in respect of introduction into the bridal canopy: Does it37  constitute a marriage and, therefore. no introduction into the bridal canopy is required.38  Or does it perhaps constitute betrothal and, consequently, introduction into the bridal canopy is required? The other replied: If where he did not address to her any ma'amar it is written [in Scripture]. Her husband's brother shall go in unto her,39  even against her will, is there any need [to speak of the case where] he has addressed to her a ma'amar!40  The former retorted: Yes;41  since I maintain that whenever a levir has addressed a ma'amar to his sister-in-law, the levirate bond disappears and she comes under the bond of betrothal. What [then is the decision]? — Come and hear: In the case of a widow awaiting the decision of the levir.42  whether there be one levir or two levirs, R. Eliezer said, he43  may annul [her vows]. R. Joshua said: [Only where she is waiting] for one and not for two.44  R. Akiba said: Neither when she [is waiting] for one nor for two.45  Now we pondered thereon: One can well understand R. Akiba, since he may hold that no levirate bond exists even in the case of one;46  according to R. Joshua, the levirate bond may exist where there is one levir but not where there are two levirs.47  According to R. Eliezer, however, granted that a levirate bond exists, one can understand why, in the case of one, he may annul, but why also in the case of two?48  And R. Ammi49  replied: Here it is a case where he addressed to her a ma'amar, and the statement represents the opinion of Beth Shammai who maintain that a ma'amar constitutes a perfect kinyan.50  Now, if it be granted that it51  constitutes a marriage, it is quite intelligible why he may annul her vows. If. however, it be assumed that it constitutes only a betrothal, how could he annul her vows? Surely we learned: The vows of a betrothed girl may be annulled by her father in conjunction with her husband!52  -Said R. Nahman b. Isaac: What is meant by annulment? Jointly.53

According to R. Eleazar, however, who holds that a ma'amar, In the opinion of Beth Shammai, constitutes a kinyan only so far as to keep out the rival, how54  could the annulment be effected even jointly?55  — R. Eleazar can answer you: When I said that it51  constitutes a kinyan so far only as to keep out the rival, [I meant to indicate] that a letter of divorce was not sufficient56  but that halizah also was required;57  did I say anything. however, as regards the annulment of vows! And if you prefer I might say. R. Eleazar can answer you: Is it satisfactorily explained according to R. Nahman b. Isaac?58  Surely it was not stated 'they may annul' but 'he may annul'!59  Consequently this must be a case where he60  appeared before a court61  and62  a specified sum for alimony was decreed for her out of his estate; and [this is to be understood] In accordance with the statement R. Phinehas made in the name of Raba. For R. Phinehas stated in the name of Raba: Any woman that utters a vow does so on condition that her husband will approve of it.63

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. To one of the sisters-in-law; since such an action is not forbidden.
  2. v. Glos. i.e., perfect marriage.
  3. The prohibition 'as sister of a zekukah' would consequently be removed and both levirs could properly marry the respective sisters-in-law.
  4. The ma'amar.
  5. V. supra p. 181, n. 17.
  6. v. p. 181, n. 17.
  7. V. supra p. 181, n. 17, and supra n. 6. Why, then, was levirate marriage with the two sisters forbidden!
  8. One addressed to a sister-in-law in a case where levirate marriage with her was permissible at the time.
  9. When two sisters were subject to the levirate marriage before the ma'amar had been addressed.
  10. V. note 11.
  11. The previous statement of R. Eleazar and R. Abin etc.
  12. The sister-in-law who, like her sister (the other sister-in-law), is subject to the levirate bond.
  13. The ma'amar.
  14. So that she cannot cause the prohibition of the other to whom the ma'amar had been addressed.
  15. Which necessitates her performing the halizah if she wishes to marry a stranger before he levir had properly married her sister.
  16. V. supra p, 182, n. 1.
  17. V. supra p. 182, n. 3.
  18. v. supra p. 182, n. 4.
  19. Cf. supra p. 181, n. 17.
  20. Consequently it must be concluded that a ma'amar still leaves a partial bond, and that before the other sister had performed the halizah the first is forbidden as the sister of one's zekukah.
  21. Which shews that no halizah at all is required!
  22. For both levirate marriage and halizah, as in the case of our Mishnah where the ma'amar was addressed to one sister before the death of the husband of the other had subjected that other also to the same levir.
  23. To the ma'amar which, in such circumstances. completely keeps out the other when she also, through her husband's subsequent death, comes under the obligation.
  24. As in the Mishnah, supra 26a, where both widows were equally subject to the levirs at the time the ma'amar had been addressed, and none was eligible for both the levirate marriage and the halizah.
  25. I.e., for the ma'amar which, in such a case, does not keep out the sister.
  26. As a husband who is the heir of his wife.
  27. If he is a priest who may defile himself by attending on the dead bodies of certain relatives of whom a wife is one.
  28. A husband may annul the vows of his wife. v. Num. XXX. 7ff
  29. Lit.. 'now'.
  30. Lit., 'a betrothed in the world', i.e., ordinary betrothal which is pentateuchally valid.
  31. But not yet married.
  32. A mourner prior to the burial of certain relatives is called onan (v. Glos.) and is subject to a number of restrictions. If his betrothed died he may, unlike one whose married wife died, partake of holy things.
  33. She also is allowed to partake of holy things.
  34. During a festival when not only priests but also Israelites and women are forbidden to attend on the corpses of those who are not their near relatives. (V. R.H. 16b). Others render. 'nor need she defile etc'. Cf. Tosaf. a.l., s.v. [H].
  35. v. Glos., in a case where such a document was given to her at the betrothal, prior to the marriage (v. Keth. 89b).
  36. A ma'amar is only a Rabbinical enactment. If Pentateuchal betrothal has not the force of a marriage in respect of the laws mentioned, how much less the Rabbinical ma'amar!
  37. The ma'amar.
  38. She being regarded as his wife even if connubial intercourse took place against her will, and should he wish to part with her, a Get will suffice without additional halizah.
  39. Deut. XXV, 5-
  40. Where there is, in addition to his claim as Ievir, the force of the ma'amar.
  41. So BaH. a.l.
  42. [H] V. Glos. s.v. shomereth yabam.
  43. Any one of the levirs.
  44. In the latter case neither of the levirs is entitled to annul her vows.
  45. Ned. 74a.
  46. Hence a levir is never entitled to the privilege of a husband in respect of the annulment of vows.
  47. Since it is not known to which of them she is really subject, the bond between them and the widow is necessarily a weak one.
  48. Only both together. but not one only, should be allowed to annul her vows.
  49. Cur. edd. enclose in parentheses 'b. Ahabah'.
  50. Ned. loc. cit.
  51. The ma'amar.
  52. But not by her husband alone. And, since the levir alone may here annul, a ma'amar must have the force of marriage.
  53. The levir and her father, as in the case of a betrothal. Hence no proof may be adduced from here as to whether a ma'amar has the force of a marriage or of a betrothal.
  54. Not having the force even of a betrothal.
  55. Cf. supra note 8.
  56. In the case of a yebamah to whom a ma'amar had been addressed.
  57. If he did not wish to marry her.
  58. Who holds that the father and husband jointly annul the vows of the widow to whom a ma'amar has been addressed.
  59. The reading is [H] (sing.). not [H] (plur.). How, then, could he state that two jointly annul her vows!
  60. The levir. So BaH a.l. Cur. edd., 'she'.
  61. Either before he addressed the ma'amar (according to R. Nahman b. Isaac) or after the ma'amar (according to R. Ammi).
  62. As he refused either to marry, or to submit to her halizah.
  63. Since she is maintained out of his estate he is regarded by her as husband and her vows are subject to his will. Hence he may also annul them. With the whole passage cf. Ned. 74a. Sonc. ed. pp. 233ff, q.v. notes.