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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 62a

from the impossible. [1] Let Beth Hillel, then, make the inference from Moses! — They can answer you: Moses did it with His consent. [2] For it was taught: Moses did three things on his own initiative and his opinion coincided with that of the Omnipresent. He separated himself from his wife, [3] broke the Tables of Testimony [4] and added one day. [5]

'He separated himself from his wife'; what exposition did he make? [6] — He said, 'If to the Israelites, with whom the Shechinah spoke only for a while and for whom a definite time was fixed, the Torah nevertheless said, Come not near a woman, [7] how much more so to me, who am liable to be spoken to at any moment and for whom no definite time has been fixed'. And his view coincided with that of the Omnipresent; for it is said, Go say to them: Return ye to your tents; but as for thee, stand thou here by Me. [8]

'He broke the Tables of Testimony'; what exposition did he make? [6] — He said, 'If of the Paschal lamb, which is only one of the six hundred and thirteen commandments, the Torah said, There shall no alien eat thereof, [9] how much more should this apply to the entire Torah when all Israel are apostates'. And his view coincided with that of the Omnipresent; for it is written, Which thou didst break [10] and Resh Lakish explained: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, 'I thank you for breaking them'. [11]

'He added one day' on his own initiative. What exposition did he make? [12] — 'As it is written, And sanctify them to-day and to-morrow [13] [It implies that] to-day shall be the same as to-morrow; as to-morrow includes the previous night [14] so to-day must include the previous night. As, however, to-day's previous night has already passed away, [15] it must be inferred that two days exclusive of to-day must be observed'. And his view coincided with that of the Omnipresent, for the Revelation did not take place [16] before the Sabbath. [17]

It was taught: R. Nathan stated: Beth Shammai ruled: Two males and two females; [18] and Beth Hillel ruled: A male and a female. [18] Said R. Huna: What is the reason which R. Nathan assigns for the opinion of Beth Shammai? Because it is written, And again she bore his brother Abel [19] [which [20] implies:] Abel and his sister; Cain and his sister. [21] And it is also written, For God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel; [22] for Cain slew him. [23] And the Rabbis? She was merely expressing her gratitude. [24]

Elsewhere it was taught: R. Nathan stated that Beth Shammai ruled: A male and a female; [25] and Beth Hillel ruled: Either a male or a female. [25]

Said Raba: What is the reason which R. Nathan assigns for the view of Beth Hillel? — Because it is said, He created it not a waste, He formed it to be inhabited, [26] and he [27] has obviously helped it to be inhabited.

It was stated: If a man had children while he was an idolater and then he became a proselyte, he has fulfilled, R. Johanan said, the duty of propagation of the race; and Resh Lakish said: He has not fulfilled the duty of propagation of the race. 'R. Johanan said: He has fulfilled the duty of propagation', since he had children. 'And Resh Lakish said: He has not fulfilled the duty of propagation' because one who became a proselyte is like a child newly born.

And they [28] follow their views. [29] For it was stated: If a man had children while he was an idolater and then he became a proselyte, he has, R. Johanan said, no firstborn in respect of inheritance, [30] since he already had [31] the first-fruits of his strength. [32] Resh Lakish, however, said: He has a firstborn son in respect of inheritance, for a man who became a proselyte is like a child newly born.

And [both statements [33] were] necessary. For if the first only had been stated [it might have been assumed that] only in that statement did R. Johanan maintain his view, since formerly he [34] was also subject to the obligation of propagation, [35] but in respect of inheritance, since [the proselyte's former children] are not entitled to heirship, it might have been presumed that he agrees with Resh Lakish. And were only the second stated [it might have been assumed that] only in that did Resh Lakish maintain his view but that in the former he agrees with R. Johanan. [Hence both were] necessary.

R. Johanan raised an objection against Resh Lakish. At that time Berodach-baladan the son of Baladan, King of Babylon etc.! [36] — The other replied: While they are idolaters they have legally recognized ancestry, but when they become proselytes they have no longer any legally recognized ancestry.

Rab [37] said: All agree that a slave has no legally recognized relatives, since it is written, Abide ye here with [38] the ass, [39] people who are like the ass. [40]

An objection was raised: Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants! [41] — R. Aba b. Jacob replied: Like a young bullock. [42] If so, [the same reply could be given] there also! [43] — There it is different, since Scripture mentioned his [44] own name as well as his father's [45] name, while here [46] [the son's names] were not specified. If you prefer I might say: They [47] were elsewhere ascribed to their father and their father's father; as it is written, And King Asa sent them to Ben-hadad, the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, the King of Aram, that dwelt at Damascus, saying. [48]

It was stated: If a man had children and they died, he has fulfilled, said R. Huna, the duty of propagation. R. Johanan said: He has not fulfilled it. 'R. Huna said: He fulfilled' because [he follows the tradition] of R. Assi. For R. Assi [49] stated: The Son of David [50] will not come before all the souls in Guf [51] will have been disposed of, since it is said, For the spirit that unwrappeth itself is from Me etc. [52] And 'R. Johanan said: He has not fulfilled the duty of propagation' because we require [the fulfilment of the text] He formed it to be inhabited, [53] which is not the case here. [54]

An objection was raised:

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. It would have been impossible for the human race to propagate had not one of each sex been created. For the preservation of the race, however, it is not necessary for every man to have children of both sexes.
  2. God approved of Moses' action. No inference for other people may be drawn from an exceptional case.
  3. Though no daughter had been born from their union.
  4. When, on descending from the mountain, he found the people worshipping the golden calf (v. Ex. XXXII, 19).
  5. To the prescribed period of sanctification that preceded the revelation on Sinai (v. Ex. XIX, 10 and 15).
  6. In support of his action.
  7. Ex. XIX, 15.
  8. Deut. V, 27f.
  9. Ex. XII, 43.
  10. Ibid. XXXIV, 1, [H].
  11. [H], lit., 'may thy strength be firm'. [H] and [H] are regarded as coming from the same rt. [H].
  12. In support of his action.
  13. Ex. XIX, 10.
  14. The day always beginning after the sunset of the previous day.
  15. At the time Moses received his instructions.
  16. Lit., 'the Shechinah did not dwell'.
  17. The sanctification began on Wednesday. They observed all Thursday and Friday; and the Shechinah descended on the Sabbath which was the third of the two complete days (V. Shab. 86a), thus, as Moses expected, disregarding the first day which was incomplete.
  18. Are the minimum required to fulfil the duty of the propagation of the race. V. Tosef. Yeb. VIII.
  19. Gen. IV, 2.
  20. [H], (the sign of the defined accusative) which could be omitted (as in many other instances), appearing both before brother and before Abel.
  21. Two males and two females.
  22. Obviously to make up the minimum.
  23. Gen. IV, 25.
  24. The duty of propagation, however, would have been fulfilled without the additional birth.
  25. V. supra note 8.
  26. Isa. XLV, 18. It is the duty of man to assist in making the world inhabited.
  27. The man who has even only one son or one daughter.
  28. R. Johanan and Resh Lakish.
  29. Expressed elsewhere.
  30. The first son born after his conversion is not entitled to the double portion of the firstborn.
  31. Before his conversion.
  32. V. Deut. XXI, 17.
  33. That relating to the duty of propa- gation and that in respect of the firstborn.
  34. Lit., 'they', sc. idolaters.
  35. It being one of the seven Noahide commandments. V. Gen. IX, 7.
  36. II Kings, XX, 12; which shews that an offspring of an idolater is also described as a son!
  37. Others, 'R. Abba', v. Alfasi and [H].
  38. [H], the same consonants as [H] 'a people'.
  39. Gen. XXII, 5.
  40. With reference to Abraham's slaves v. Gen. ibid. The slave, like the ass, is considered the chattel of the master.
  41. II Sam. IX, 10. Ziba was a slave (v. ibid. 9) and yet he is described as having sons.
  42. [H], lit., 'a bullock the son of a herd'. The expression of son in the case of the slave Ziba had no greater significance than the expression of 'son' in the case of cattle.
  43. In the description of Berodach in II Kings XX, 12.
  44. Cf. supra p. 414, n. 9.
  45. Which may indeed be taken as proof that idolaters' children are legal descendants and may be described as 'sons'.
  46. Ziba's descendants.
  47. Idolaters.
  48. I Kings XV, 18. Cf. supra n. 9.
  49. Others, 'Jose'. V. 'A.Z. 5a, Nid. 13b.
  50. The Messiah.
  51. Lit., 'body', the region inhabited by the souls of the unborn.
  52. Isa. LVII, 16. This being the reason for the duty of propagation, the duty is fulfilled as soon as a child is born, i.e., as soon as his soul has left the region of Guf irrespective of whether he survives or not.
  53. Isa. XLV, 18.
  54. The children being dead.

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Yebamoth 62b

Grandchildren are like children! [1] — This was taught only in respect of supplementing. [2]

An objection was raised: Grandchildren are like children. If one of them died or was found to be a saris [3] the father has not fulfilled the duty of propagation. [4] Is not this a refutation against R. Huna? [5] — It is indeed a refutation.

'Grandchildren are like children'. Abaye intended to say: A grandson for a son and a granddaughter for a daughter, and certainly a grandson for a daughter; but not a granddaughter for a son. [6] But Raba said to him: We only require [the fulfilment of the text] He formed it to be inhabited, [7] which is the case here.

All, at any rate, agree [8] that two children of one [9] are not sufficient. But [are they] not? The Rabbis surely said to R. Shesheth, [10] 'Marry a wife and beget children', and he answered them, 'My daughters' children are mine'! — There he was merely putting them off, because R. Shesheth became impotent owing to the long discourses of R. Huna. [11]

Said Rabbah to Raba b. Mari: Whence the statement made by the Rabbis that grandchildren are like children? If it be suggested that it is deduced from the Scriptural text, The daughters are my daughters and the children are my children, [12] would then [it may be objected] the same [meaning be given to the text] And the flocks are my flocks? [12] But [the meaning there is obviously] 'which you have acquired from me', so here also [the meaning may be], 'which you have acquired from me'! The deduction is rather made from the following: [13] And afterwards Hezron went to the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead; … and she bore him Segub, [14] and it is also written, Out of Machir came down lawgivers, [15] and furthermore it is written, Judah is my lawgiver. [16]

Our Mishnah [17] cannot represent the opinion of R. Joshua. For it was taught: R. Joshua said, If a man married in his youth, he should marry again in his old age; if he had children in his youth, he should also have children in his old age; for it said, In the morning [18] sow thy seed and in the evening [19] withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they shall both be alike good. [20] R. Akiba said: If a man studied Torah in his youth, he should also study it in his old age; if he had disciples in his youth, he should also have disciples in his old age. For it is said, In the morning sow thy seed etc. [20]

It was said that R. Akiba had twelve thousand pairs of disciples, from Gabbatha [21] to Antipatris; [22] and all of them died at the same time because they did not treat each other with respect. The world remained desolate [23] until R. Akiba came to our Masters in the South and taught the Torah to them. These were R. Meir, R. Judah, R. Jose, R. Simeon and R. Eleazar b. Shammua; and it was they who revived the Torah at that time. A Tanna taught: All of them [24] died between Passover and Pentecost. R. Hama b. Abba or, it might be said, R. Hiyya b. Abin said: All of them died a cruel death. What was it? — R. Nahman replied: Croup. [25]

R. Mattena stated: The halachah is in agreement with R. Joshua. [26]

R. Tanhum stated in the name of R. Hanilai: Any man who has no wife lives without joy, without blessing, and without goodness. 'Without joy'. for it is written. And thou shalt rejoice, thou and thy house. [27] 'Without blessing', for it is written, To cause a blessing to rest on thy house. [28] 'Without goodness', for it is written, It is not good that the man should be alone. [29]

In the West [30] it was stated: [31] Without Torah and without a [protecting] wall. 'Without Torah', for it is written. Is it that I have no help [32] in me, and that sound wisdom [33] is driven quite from me. [34] 'Without a [protecting] wall', for it is written, A woman shall encompass a man. [35]

Raba b. 'Ulla said: [31] Without peace, for it is written, And thou shalt know that thy tent [36] is in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation and shalt miss nothing. [37]

R. Joshua b. Levi said: Whosoever knows his wife to be a God-fearing woman and does not duly visit her is called a sinner; for it is said, And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace [38] etc. [39]

R. Joshua b. Levi further stated: It is a man's duty to pay a visit to his wife when he starts on a journey; for it is said, And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace etc. [37] Is this [40] deduced from here? Surely it is deduced from the following: [41] And thy desire shall be to thy husband [42] teaches that a woman yearns for her husband when he sets out on a journey! — R. Joseph replied: This [43] was required only in the case where her menstruation period was near. [44] And how near? Rabbah [45] replied: Twelve hours. [46] And this [47] applies only [when the journey is] for a secular purpose, but when for a religious purpose [it does not apply, since then] people are in a state of anxiety. [48]

Our Rabbis taught: Concerning a man who loves his wife as himself, who honours her more than himself, who guides his sons and daughters in the right path and arranges for them to be married near the period of their puberty, Scripture says, And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace. [49] Concerning him who loves his neighbours, who befriends his relatives, marries his sister's [50] daughter,

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Infra 70a. It is now assumed that whenever one's own child died the grandchild may take his place in exempting his grandfather from the duty of propagation. From this it follows that only living children or grandchildren exempt a man from the duty of further propagation. How then could R. Huna maintain that dead children also exempt one from this duty?
  2. If a man had only one son he is exempt from the duty of propagation if his son had a daughter. If, however, he once had a male and a female who subsequently died he is in any case exempt.
  3. V. Glos.
  4. Tosef. Yeb. VIII.
  5. Cf. supra note 1, final clause.
  6. I.e., a granddaughter cannot take the place of a son to exempt one from the duty of further propagation.
  7. Isa. XLV, 18.
  8. Lit., 'all the world', i.e., Abaye and Raba.
  9. Son or daughter.
  10. Others, 'Abba b. Zabda'. V. She'iltoth. Sec. ha-Berakah.
  11. The discourses being long, R. Shesheth, in his desire not to interrupt them, suppressed his needs and thus impaired his generative organs. V. Bek. 44b.
  12. Gen. XXXI, 43.
  13. Lit., 'from here'.
  14. I Chron. II, 21.
  15. Judges V, 14.
  16. Ps. LX, 9. As this text implies that the lawgivers were descendants of Judah, Machir (Judges V, 14), a descendant of Manasseh, could not have been the paternal, but only the maternal ancestor of the lawgivers that descended from him. The lawgivers were thus the offspring of the union mentioned in I Chron. II, 21, between Hezron, a descendant of Judah, and a daughter of Machir. This then proves that the sons of one's daughter are also regarded as one's own sons.
  17. Which permits abstention from further propagation after the birth of the prescribed number of children.
  18. I.e., 'the morning of life', youth.
  19. I.e., 'old age'. V. supra n. 5.
  20. Eccl. XI, 6.
  21. Gibbethon, in the territory of Dan.
  22. N.N.W. of Jerusalem.
  23. Through lack of learning.
  24. The disciples of R. Akiba.
  25. [H] (rt. [H], 'stop', 'choke').
  26. Supra, that the duty of propagation never ceases.
  27. Deut. XIV, 26. House, [H] refers to one's wife. Cf. Yoma 2a.
  28. Ezek. XLIV, 30. Cf. supra n. 3.
  29. Gen. II, 18.
  30. Palestine.
  31. Concerning the unmarried man.
  32. I.e., 'a wife'. Cf. A help meet for him, Gen. II, 18.
  33. [H], the Torah.
  34. Job VI, 13.
  35. Jer. XXXI, 22. Cf. R.V.
  36. I.e., wife. Cf. M.K. and supra note 3.
  37. Job V, 24.
  38. I.e., 'that thy wife is in peace with God' sc. 'chaste', or. reading [H] as [H], 'perfect'.
  39. Ibid., then thou shalt visit etc.
  40. The duty of visiting prior to setting out on a journey.
  41. Lit., 'from there'.
  42. Gen. III, 16.
  43. The statement as to the duty of visiting.
  44. At the time he sets out on his journey. When no journey is contemplated one must keep away from his wife when the menstruation period is near. V. Shebu. 18b.
  45. Cur. edd., 'Raba'.
  46. [H] lit., 'period'. i.e., a whole day or a whole night. If the menstruation occurs during the day, he must keep away throughout that day, and if during the night, he must keep away during all that night.
  47. The duty of visiting prior to setting out on a journey.
  48. Or, 'they might be preoccupied' and thus delay the journey and neglect the performance of the religious act.
  49. Job V, 24.
  50. This is a meritorious act, because the affection a man has for his sister will be extended to her daughter, his wife.
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