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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 65a

regard her menstrual periods as regular1  unless the recurrence had been regular three times. Nor is she released from the restrictions of an established regular period unless it has varied three2  times.3

'And the ox [whose owner has been] forewarned'? — As we learned: An ox is not deemed a mu'ad unless [its owner] has been forewarned three times.4

Our Rabbis taught: A woman who had been married to one husband and had no children and to a second husband and again had no children, may marry a third man only if he has children. If she married one who has had no children she must be divorced without receiving her kethubah.

The question was raised: Where she married a third husband and bore no children, may her first two husbands reclaim [the respective amounts of her kethubah]?5  Can they plead, 'It has now been proved that you were the cause',6  or can she retort, 'It is only now that I have deteriorated'? — It stands to reason that she may plead, 'It is only now that I have deteriorated'.

The question was raised: If she married a fourth husband and gave birth to children, may she claim her kethubah from her third husband? — We advise her: 'Your silence is better than your speech'; for7  he8  could tell her, 'I would not have divorced you in such circumstances'.9  R. Papa demurred: Even if she keeps silence, should we remain silent? The divorce, surely,10  is annulled,11  and her children are bastards! In truth,12  the fact is,13  that it is assumed that she has now been restored to health.14

If the husband15  pleads, 'The fault is hers'16  and the wife pleads, 'The fault is his',17  R. Ammi ruled: In private matrimonial affairs18  the wife is believed. And what is the reason? — She is in a position to know whether emission is forceful,19  but he is not in a position to know it.

If the husband states that he intends taking another wife to test his potency.20  R. Ammi ruled: 'He must in this case also divorce [his present wife] and pay her the amount of her kethubah; for I maintain that whosoever takes in addition to his present wife another one must divorce the former and pay her the amount of her kethubah.'

Raba said: A man may marry wives in addition to his first wife; provided only that he possesses the means to maintain them.

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. To be deemed levitically clean until that period actually arrives. A woman of irregular periods is regarded as unclean for twenty-four hours prior to the monthly date on which her previous discharge occurred (v. Nid. 2a). Should a woman, the regularity of whose periods had been established omit to examine her body when menstruation is due, and subsequently find a discharge, we assume her retrospectively to have become unclean at the beginning of her period, while a woman whose periods are irregular cannot, of course, be subject to such restriction.
  2. If the change of date occurred no more than twice the restrictions remain in force (v. supra n. 8 last clause).
  3. Nid. 63b.
  4. B.K. 23b.
  5. Which each of them paid her when their respective divorces had taken place.
  6. Of the absence of any issue.
  7. Should she persist in her claim.
  8. Her third husband.
  9. That she was not really barren. By advancing such a plea the husband might retrospectively annul the divorce altogether.
  10. If the third husband's plea is tenable.
  11. Since it was given under a misapprehension.
  12. The third husband's plea is really untenable. Once he has determined to divorce her, at a time when her sterility was a matter of doubt, he cannot again retract.
  13. The reason why she cannot claim her kethubah.
  14. But was incapable of conception at the time of her divorce; and this is the reason why she has no claim for her kethubah upon the third man.
  15. Refusing to pay his wife's kethubah.
  16. That their union had produced no issue. Lit., from her'.
  17. Lit., 'from him' (cf. supra n. 12).
  18. Lit., 'things which are between him and her'.
  19. Lit., 'shoots like an arrow', which is an essential in fertilization. V. Hag. 15a.
  20. To beget children.

Yebamoth 65b

If the husband pleads1  that his wife had miscarried within the ten years.2  and she states, 'I had no miscarriage', '3  R. Ammi ruled: She is believed in this case also; for if she had really miscarried she would not herself have sought to acquire the reputation of a barren woman.

A woman who miscarried, and then miscarried a second, and a third time, is confirmed as one subject to abortions.4

If he5  said, 'She miscarried two'6  and she said, 'three'?7  — R. Isaac b. Eleazar stated: Such a case was dealt with at the college, and it was ruled that she was to be believed; for if she had not miscarried8  she would not herself have sought to acquire the reputation of producing only miscarriages.


GEMARA. Whence is this11  deduced? R. Ile'a replied in the name of R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon: Scripture stated, And replenish the earth, and subdue it;12  it is the nature of a man to subdue but it is not the nature of a woman to subdue. On the contrary! And subdue it13  implies two!14  R. Nahman b. Isaac replied: It is written, And thou subdue it.15

R. Joseph said: Deduction16  is made from the following. I am God Almighty, be thou fruitful and multiply,17  and it is not stated, 'Be ye fruitful and multiply'.18

R. Ile'a further stated in the name of R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon: As one is commanded to say that which will be obeyed,19  so is one commanded not to say that which will not be obeyed.20  R. Abba stated: It20  is a duty; for it is said in Scripture, Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; reprove a wise man and he will love thee.21

R. Ile'a further stated in the name of R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon: One may modify a statement in the interests of peace; for it is said in Scripture, Thy father did command etc. so shall ye say unto Joseph: Forgive, I pray thee now, etc.22  R. Nathan said: It23  is a commandment; for it is stated in Scripture, And Samuel said: 'How can I go? If Saul hear it, he will kill me', etc.24

At the School of R. Ishmael it was taught: Great is the cause of peace. Seeing that for its sake even the Holy One, blessed be He, modified a statement; for at first it is written, My lord being old,25  while afterwards it is written, And I am old.26

R. JOHANAN B. BEROKA, HOWEVER, SAID. It was stated: R. Johanan and R. Joshua b. Levi [are at variance]. One stated that the halachah is in agreement with R. Johanan b. Beroka, and the other stated that the halachah is not in agreement with R. Johanan b. Beroka. It may be proved that it was R. Johanan who stated that the halachah is not [in agreement etc.]. For R. Abbahu was once sitting [at the college] and reported in the name of R. Johanan that the halachah [was in agreement etc.], and R. Ammi and R. Assi turned away their faces.27  Others say: R. Hiyya b. Abba made the report,28  and R. Ammi and R. Assi turned away their faces. Said R. Papa: According to him who maintains that R. Abbahu made the statement28  it is easy to understand that it was out of respect for the royal house that they29  said nothing to him.30  According to him, however, who maintains that R. Hiyya b. Abba made the statement,28  they29  should have told him that R. Johanan did not say so!

Now, what is the decision?31  — Come and hear what R. Aha b. Hanina stated in the name of R. Abbahu in the name of R. Assi: Such a case32  once came before R. Johanan at the Synagogue of Caesarea, and he decided that the' husband must divorce her and also pay her the amount of her kethubah. Now, if it be suggested that a woman is not subject to the commandment,33  how could she have any claim to a kethubah? — It is possible that this was a case where she submitted a special plea; as was the case with a certain woman who once came to R. Ammi and asked him to order the payment of her34  kethubah. When he replied, 'Go away, the commandment35  does not apply to you',36  she exclaimed, 'What shall become of a woman like myself37  in her old age!'38  'In such a case', the Master said, 'we certainly compel [the husband]'.39

A woman once came [with a similar plea]40  before R. Nahman. When he told her, 'The commandment35  does not apply to you', she replied, 'Does not a woman like myself37  require a staff in her hand and a hoe for digging her grave'!41  'In such a case', the Master said, 'we certainly compel [the husband]',39

Judah and Hezekiah were twins. The features of the one were developed at the end of nine months, and those of the other were developed at the beginning of the seventh month.42  Judith,43  the wife of R. Hiyya, having suffered in consequence agonizing pains of childbirth, changed her clothes [on recovery] and appeared44  before R. Hiyya. 'Is a woman', she asked, 'commanded to propagate the race'? — 'No', he replied. And relying on this decision,45  she drank a sterilizing potion. When her action finally became known, he exclaimed, 'Would that you bore unto me only one more issue of the womb!'46  For a Master stated: Judah and Hezekiah were twin brothers and Pazi and Tawi

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. When, having lived with his wife for ten years without begetting any issue, he is ordered to divorce her and to pay her the amount of her kethubah. V. supra.
  2. And, consequently, he claims the right to continue to live with her until a period of ten years has passed from the date of the miscarriage (v. our Mishnah).
  3. I.e., she was always sterile.
  4. And, consequently, she must be divorced; but is entitled to her kethubah.
  5. Refusing to pay her kethubah.
  6. And, consequently, her proneness to miscarry is not established.
  7. I.e., that she miscarried three times and has thus established a reputation for miscarriage.
  8. Three times, as she pleaded.
  9. Adam and Eve, i.e., man and woman.
  10. Gen. I, 28.
  11. That only the man, and not the woman, is subject to the duty of propagation.
  12. Gen. I, 28.
  13. [H] ibid.
  14. Since [H] is the plural of the sec. person imperative.
  15. The written form is [H] which, without the M.T. vowels, may also be read [H] the imper. sing. with pron. suffix.
  16. V. supra note 1.
  17. Gen. XXXV, 11 [H] (sing.).
  18. [H] the sec. masc. pl.
  19. Cf. Lev. XIX, 17, Thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour. [H], the repetition of the vb. implies 'rebuke only where rebuke will be effective'. (V. Rashi).
  20. No rebuke should be addressed to one who is sure to ignore it.
  21. Prov. IX, 8.
  22. Gen. L, 16f. It is nowhere found that Jacob commanded it; but the brothers attributed the request to him for the sake of preserving the peace between themselves and Joseph.
  23. Modification of a statement in the interests of peace.
  24. I Sam. XVI, 2. In response to this, Samuel was advised by God to say that he came to sacrifice to the Lord (ibid.) though his mission, in fact, was the anointing of David (v. ibid. 1 and 13).
  25. Gen. XVIII, 12, a slight on Abraham,
  26. Ibid. 13. Thus God, when speaking to Abraham, modified Sarah's expression concerning him, which he might have resented, to one in which the slight of 'crabbed old age' was directed towards Sarah herself; v. B.M. Sonc. ed. p. 502, n. 4.
  27. Because they knew that R. Johanan said the reverse. Out of respect, however, for the Master they refrained from a direct contradiction.
  28. In the name of R. Johanan.
  29. R. Ammi and R. Assi.
  30. R. Abbahu. He was one of the most prominent men of his time and persona grata with the government. Cf. Hag. 14a, Keth. 17a, Sanh. 14a.
  31. Lit., 'what was (the decision) about it'. V. following note.
  32. Where a woman desired to be divorced on the ground that she had borne no issue from her husband.
  33. Of the propagation of the race.
  34. Lit., 'give me'.
  35. Of the propagation of the race.
  36. Hence divorce in her case was unnecessary and consequently she can lay no claim to her kethubah.
  37. Lit., 'this'.
  38. If there will be no children to provide for her.
  39. To give a divorce and to pay also the kethubah.
  40. V. supra p. 438. n. 8.
  41. I.e., children who would maintain her during her lifetime and provide for her burial when she died.
  42. The former was born three months before the latter. Cf. Nid. 27a.
  43. Their mother.
  44. In her disguise.
  45. Lit., 'she went'.
  46. One other pair of twin sons at least.