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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 34a

And who is this Tanna1  that admits the force2  of a 'comprehensive prohibition', a 'prohibition of a wider range' and 'simultaneous prohibitions'?3  -Rab Judah replied in the name of Rab: It is R. Meir; for we learnt:4  A man may sometimes consume one piece of food5  and incur thereby the penalty of four sin-offerings and one guilt.offering. [If. e.g., a man levitically] unclean ate suet6  that remained over from holy sacrifices,7  on the Day of Atonement8  R. Meir said: If this happened on9  the Sabbath and [the consumer] carried out [the suet] in his mouth, liability is incurred [for this act10  also].11  They said to him: This10  is an offence of a different character.12

Whose view, however, IS R. Meir13  following? If he follows R. Joshua.14  surely the latter had said that he who made a mistake in respect of a commandment15  is exonerated!16  — Rather he follows the view of R. Eliezer.17  If you prefer I might say: He may. in fact, follow the view of R. Joshua, for R. Joshua's statement, that he who made a mistake in respect of a commandment is exonerated, may only be applicable to the case of the children,18  where one is pressed for time.19  but not in such a case as this,20  where time is not pressing.21

What about terumah,22  where one is not pressed for time, and he23  nevertheless exonerates! For we learnt: In the case of a priest who was In the habit of eating terumah and it then transpired that he was the son of a divorced woman or of a haluzah,22  R. Eliezer imposes payment of the principal and of a fifth,24  and R. Joshua exonerates!25  — Surely, in relation to this it was stated that R. Bibi b. Abaye said: We are here speaking of terumah26  on the Eve of Passover when time is pressing.27  If you prefer I might say: [Our Mishnah speaks] of simultaneous prohibitions, and may represent even the View of R. Simeon.28

All these,29  it may well be conceded, may occur [simultaneously] where [the brothers] appointed an agent30  and [the sisters also] appointed an agent31  and one agent met the other;32  but how could such [simultaneity] occur with menstruation?33  - R. Amram in the name of Rab replied: When the women's menstrual discharge continued from [the men's] thirteenth, until after their thirteenth [birthday], when these become subject to legal punishments; and from their own twelfth, until after their twelfth [birthday], when they themselves become subject to punishments.34

THEY MUST BE KEPT APART. Surely, no woman conceives from the first contact!35  R. Nahman replied in the name of Rabbah b. Abuha: Where contact was repeated. Why, then, did R. Hiyya state, 'Behold sixteen offerings are here involved',36  when, in fact,37  there should be thirty-two?38  And according to your line of reasoning, following the opinion of R. Eliezer who deems they are guilty for every sexual effort, are there not more?39  But [your own answer would be] that he only takes into consideration the first effort. Well, here also, only the first contact is taken into consideration.

Said Raba to R. Nahman:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. In our Mishnah.
  2. Lit., 'to whom there is'.
  3. Wherever they can all be applied to the same person. If, e.g., A the brother of B betrothed C the sister of D, C is forbidden to B as 'his brother's wife' and as 'a married woman', both prohibitions having come into force simultaneously. If B subsequently betrothed D, her sister C becomes forbidden to him, by the comprehensive prohibition of 'his wife's sister', (comprehending all the sisters of D inclusive of C). When C becomes a menstruant she is forbidden to B as a menstruant also, this last being a prohibition of a wider range extending as it does the prohibition of the woman to A also.
  4. Cur. edd., 'it was taught'.
  5. Lit., 'there is one eating'.
  6. Forbidden fat.
  7. Nothar, v. Glos.
  8. The four sin-offerings are due for the eating of (a) holy food while the man is levitically unclean, (b) forbidden fat, (c) nothar and (d) food on the Day of Atonement; while the guilt-offering (asham me'iloth) is incurred for the benefit the consumer (even though he were a priest) had from holy things which were to be burnt on the altar.
  9. Lit., 'it was'.
  10. Carrying on the Sabbath.
  11. Thus it is shewn that R. Meir recognizes the validity of the three kinds of prohibition: When the animal was consecrated, the prohibition of having any benefit from any part of it has been added to that of eating its suet (wider range). and when a piece of the suet became nothar (since it is thereby forbidden to be offered up on the altar, which is an added restriction) the prohibition of nothar has also been imposed in respect of its consumption by the priests (again wider range). When the priest becomes unclean and is consequently forbidden to consume any holy meat he is also forbidden to consume the nothar (comprehensive), and with the advent of the Day of Atonement the prohibition of the consumption of food generally on that day falls also on the nothar (again comprehensive). Finally, at the moment Sabbath sets in two more prohibitions are imposed (simultaneous) that of carrying on the Sabbath and that of eating on the Day of Atonement (Rashi) or those of carrying on the Sabbath and on the Day of Atonement (Tosaf., s.v. [H]).
  12. Lit., 'it is not from the (same) designation'. Shab. 102a, Shebu. 24b, Ker. 13b.
  13. Who, as has been shown, is represented by the Tanna of our Mishnah who admits the imposition of one prohibition upon another even where the performance of a commandment (e.g.. marriage) was intended.
  14. Who is at variance on a similar question with R. Eliezer (Shab. 1370). Both R. Joshua and R. Eliezer were R. Meir's teachers.
  15. I.e., if his intention was to fulfil a precept and, through an error, his act resulted in a transgression. Cf. the case in our Mishnah and v. supra n. 1.
  16. While our Mishnah declares the men guilty!
  17. V. supra. n. 2.
  18. One of whom had to be circumcised on the Sabbath and by mistake another child was circumcised who was born a day later. Only circumcision which takes place on the eighth day of birth is permitted on the Sabbath. Any other is forbidden like all manual labour.
  19. One is anxious to perform the commandment at its proper time, and one's anxiety that the day shall not pass without its performance may easily result in an error.
  20. Marriage, spoken of in our Mishnah.
  21. One may contract marriage during any time of his life.
  22. V. Glos.
  23. R. Joshua.
  24. The disqualified priest, having consumed terumah which was forbidden to him, must pay compensation as any layman, as prescribed in Lev. V, 16.
  25. Ter. VIII, 1; Pes. 72b, Mak. 11b.
  26. Containing 'leaven' or any other hamez.
  27. After a certain hour on that day all hamez, would have to be burnt.
  28. Who agrees with R. Meir that simultaneous prohibitions do rank as equal in force, and both may be imposed.
  29. Prohibitions, enumerated in our Mishnah.
  30. To betroth the women on their behalf.
  31. To accept on their behalf the tokens of betrothal.
  32. So that all prohibitions took effect at the very same moment.
  33. Which would naturally occur either before, and thus prevent the other three prohibitions from coming into force; or after, and thus be prevented itself from coming Into force.
  34. A male becomes legally liable to punishments on the termination of his thirteenth, and a female on that of her twelfth year of age. If the respective agents of the two parties who were of the same age to a day. met sometime prior to the conclusion of the last day of the year (twelfth of the females and thirteenth of the males), and arranged for the betrothals to take effect on the following day when both parties become 'of age' (as otherwise the betrothals would not be valid) the betrothals and the prohibitions simultaneously come into force.
  35. What, then, is the need for the precaution?
  36. Supra 33b.
  37. Since our Mishnah represents the view of R. Eliezer (or Eleazar).
  38. Sixteen for each contact. V. infra 92a, Ker. 15a.
  39. Sin-offerings involved.

Yebamoth 34b

Surely Tamar1  conceived from a first contact! The other answered him: Tamar exercised friction with her finger;2  for R. Isaac said: All women of the house of Rabbi who exercise friction3  are designated Tamar. And why are they designated Tamar? — Because Tamar exercised friction with her finger. But were there not Er and Onan?4  — Er and Onan indulged in unnatural intercourse.

An objection was raised: During all the twenty-four months5  one may thresh within and winnow without;6  these are the words of R. Eliezer. The others said to him: Such actions are only like the practice of Er and Onan!7  -Like the practice of Er and Onan, and yet not [exactly] like the practice of Er and Onan: 'Like the practice of Er and Onan', for it is written in Scripture, And it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilt it on the ground;8  and 'not [exactly] like the practice of Er and Onan', for whereas there it was an unnatural act, here it is done in the natural way.

[The source for] Onan's [guilt] may well be traced, for it is written in Scripture, That he spilt it on the ground;8  whence however, [that of] Er? — R. Nahman b. Isaac replied: It is written, And He slew him also,9  he also died of the same death.10

[The reason for] Onan's [action] may well be understood, because he knew That the seed would not be his;8  but why did Er act in such a manner? — In order that she might not conceive and thus lose some of her beauty.

Our Rabbis taught [The woman also] with whom [a man shall lie],11  excludes a bride;12  so R. Judah. But the Sages say: This excludes unnatural intercourse.

Said Hon son of R. Nahman to R. Nahman: Does this imply that R. Judah is of the opinion that the Torah had consideration for the bride's make-up?13  — The other replied: Because no woman conceives from her first contact — 14 On what principle do they differ? — The Rabbis are of opinion that 'carnally'11  excludes the first stage of contact, and 'with whom'11  excludes unnatural intercourse; but R. Judah is of the opinion that the exclusion of unnatural intercourse and the first stage of contact may be derived from 'carnally'.11  while 'with whom'11  excludes a bride.

When Rabin came15  he stated in the name of R. Johanan: A woman who waited ten years after [separation from] her husband, and then remarried, would bear children no more. Said R. Nahman: This was stated only in respect of one who had no Intention of remarrying: if, however, one's intention was to marry again she may conceive.

Raba said to R. Hisda's daughter:16  The Rabbis are talking about you. She answered him: I had my mind on you.

A woman once appeared before R. Joseph, and said to him: Master, I remained unmarried after [the death of] my husband for ten years and now I gave birth to a child — He said to her: My daughter, do not discredit the words of the Sages. She thereupon confessed, 'l had intercourse with a heathen'.17

Samuel said: All these women,18  with the exception of a proselyte and an emancipated slave who were minors, must wait three months.19  An Israelitish minor, however, must wait three months. But how [was she separated]?20  If by a declaration of refusal,21  surely. Samuel said that she22  need not wait!23  And if by a letter of divorce, surely Samuel has already stated this once! For Samuel said: If she' formally refused him21  she need not wait three months; if he gave her a letter of divorce she must wait three months!24  -[It25  was] rather in respect of unlawful intercourse,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. V. Gen. XXXVIII, 15, 18, 24ff.
  2. Having thus destroyed her virginity she was capable of conception from a first contact.
  3. To destroy their virginity.
  4. Who were married to Tamar prior to the incident with Judah (v. Gen. XXXVIII, 6ff) and her virginity would presumably have been destroyed then.
  5. After the birth of a child, i.e., during the period in which the mother is expected to breast-feed her child.
  6. Euphemism. This would prevent possible conception which might deprive the young child of the breast feeding of his mother.
  7. Which implies that there was natural contact. Cf. supra note 5.
  8. Gen. XXXVIII, 9.
  9. Ibid. 10.
  10. For the same offence.
  11. Lev. XV, 18.
  12. She does not become unclean by the first contact and does not require. therefore, any ritual bathing.
  13. Which would be spoiled by the water were she required to perform ritual ablution.
  14. Scripture speaking only of intercourse which may result in conception. V. Lev. ibid.
  15. From Palestine to Babylon.
  16. Whom he married after a period of ten years had passed since the death of her husband, Rami b. Hama.
  17. During the ten years.
  18. Enumerated infra 41a, 42b.
  19. Before they marry again.
  20. From her former husband.
  21. Mi'un, v. Glos.
  22. A minor.
  23. Three months.
  24. Keth. 100b; why, then, should he repeat it here?
  25. Samuel's statement.