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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
hate her brother-in-law?1 — R. Shesheth answered them: You have learned it, IF A WOMAN.. WAS TOLD, YOUR HUSBAND DIED AND YOUR SON DIED AFTERWARDS', AND SHE MARRIED AGAIN, AND LATER SHE WAS TOLD, 'IT WAS OTHERWISE', SHE MUST DEPART; AND ANY CHILD BORN BEFORE OR AFTER IS A BASTARD.2 Now, how is this to be understood? If it be suggested [that there were] two witnesses against two,3 what reason do you see [it may be asked] for relying on the latter? Rely rather on the former! Furthermore, [how could the child be described as a] BASTARD, [when he is only] an uncertain bastard! And should you reply that he4 was not exact in his expression. Surely [it may be pointed out] since in the final clause he4 stated, ANY CHILD BORN BEFORE [THE DEATH OF HER FIRST HUSBAND] IS A BASTARD, BUT ONE BORN AFTER IT IS NO BASTARD,2 it may be inferred that he was exact in his expressions! Consequently5 [it must be concluded that the first report was that of] one witness, and that the reason [why he is not believed is] because two witnesses came and contradicted his evidence, but had this not been the case6 he would have been believed!7 [No]. In fact [it may be retorted, there may have been] two witnesses against two, and [this is the explanation]:8 As As R. Aha b. Manyumi stated, 'Where the witnesses have proved an alibi',9 so here also [It is a case where the second pair of] witnesses have proved an alibi.10
Said R. Mordecai to R. Ashi, — others Say. R. Aha said to R. Ashi: Come and hear: A woman is not believed if she says. 'My brother-in-law is dead, and so I may marry again', or, 'My sister is dead, and so I may enter11 her house'.12 Only she is not believed but one witness is believed!13 According to your argument, however, [it may be retorted] read the final clause: A man is not believed when he says.'My brother is dead, and so I may contract the levirate marriage with his wife', or, 'My own wife is dead, and so I may marry her sister' — 10 Is it only he who is not believed, but one witness is believed? In the case of a woman14 one can well understand that in order to prevent her perpetual desertion the Rabbis have relaxed the law in her favour.15 What, however, can be said in the case of a man! [This statement]16 then [it must be explained] was required in accordance with the view of R. Akiba.17 It might have been assumed that, since R. Akiba stated that the offspring of a union between those who are subject to the penalty of negative commandments is a bastard, she18 may be presumed to be desirous of avoiding injury19 and to institute, therefore, careful enquiries.20 hence we were taught21 [that she is not to be believed].22
Raba said:23 That one witness is believed in the case of a sister-in-law24 [may be inferred] a minori ad majus: If you have permitted [a woman to marry again]25 in face of a prohibition involving kareth26 how much more so in face of a mere prohibitory law.27 Said one of the Rabbis to Raba: Her own case proves [the contrary]: In face of a prohibition involving kareth24 you have permitted her [to marry again]28 while in face of a mere prohibitory law27 you have not permitted her!29 The fact, however, is this:30 Why is she not believed?29 Because, as she may sometimes hate the levir, she might marry a stranger without first instituting careful enquiries;31 so also in the case of one witness, since she may sometimes hate the levir, she might marry [a stranger] without first instituting the necessary enquiries.31
THIS DID R. ELEAZAR B. MATHIA DERIVE BY MEANS OF THE FOLLOWING EXPOSITION etc. Said Rab Judah in the name of Rab:32 R. Eleazar could have produced33 a pearl and produced but a potsherd. What is meant by 'pearl'? — That which was taught: Neither [shall they take] a woman put away from her husband.34 even if she was divorced from her husband alone35 she36 is disqualified from marrying a priest.37 And it is this [that was meant by] the 'scent of the divorce'38 which disqualifies a woman from marrying a priest.
MISHNAH. IF A MAN'S WIFE HAD GONE TO A COUNTRY BEYOND THE SEA AND HE WAS TOLD,39 YOUR WIFE IS DEAD', AND, AFTER HE MARRIED HER SISTER, HIS WIFE CAME BACK, [THE LATTER] IS PERMITTED TO RETURN
IF HE WAS TOLD, HOWEVER, THAT HIS WIFE WAS DEAD, AND HE MARRIED HER SISTER, AND THEN HE WAS TOLD THAT SHE WAS THEN3 ALIVE BUT HAD SINCE DIED, ANY CHILD BORN BEFORE4 [HIS FIRST WIFE'S DEATH] IS A BASTARD, BUT ANYONE BORN AFTER THAT5 IS NO BASTARD.
R. JOSE STATED:6 WHOSOEVER DISQUALIFIES FOR OTHERS DISQUALIFIES FOR HIMSELF AND WHOSOEVER DOES NOT DISQUALIFY FOR OTHERS DOES NOT DISQUALIFY FOR HIMSELF.
GEMARA. Even though his wife and his brother-in-law7 went to a country beyond the sea,8 so that such marriage9 had the effect of causing the prohibition of the wife of his brother-in-law to his brother-in-law, it is nevertheless the wife of his brother-in-law that is forbidden,10 while his own wife is permitted.11 and we do not say that, since the wife of his brother-in-law is forbidden to his brother-in-law, his Own wife also should be forbidden to him.12
Are we to assume that our Mishnah does not represent the view of R. Akiba? For if [it be in agreement with] R. Akiba [his wife]13 would be the sister of his divorcee!14 For it was taught: None of the women In incestuous marriages forbidden in the Torah require a letter of divorce,15 except a married woman16 who remarried in accordance with the decision of the Beth din.17 R. Akiba, however, adds18 also a brother's wife19 and a wife's sister.20 Now, since R. Akiba ruled that she21 requires a letter of divorce, [his first wife] becomes ipso facto forbidden to him because she is the sister of his divorcee!22
Was not, however, the following statement made in connection with this23 ruling: R. Giddal said in the name of R. Hiyya b. Joseph in the name of Rab, 'How is one to understand this "brother's wife"?24 Where a man's brother, for instance, betrothed a woman and went to a country beyond the sea, and he,25 on hearing that his brother was dead, married his wife;26 since people might say27 that the first28 had attached a certain condition to the betrothal29 and that the latter25 had lawfully married her.30 And how is one to understand a "wife's sister"?24 Where a man, for instance, betrothed a woman and she went to a country beyond the sea, and he, on hearing that she died, married her sister;26 since people might say31 that he had attached a certain condition to the betrothal32 of the first33 and that he, therefore, legally married the other'.34 In respect of marriage,35 however, can it be said that one had attached a condition to marriage!36
Said R. Ashi to R. Kahana: If [our Mishnah represents the view of] R. Akiba, one's mother-in-law37 should also be mentioned,38 since R. Akiba was heard to state: [The marriage of] a man's mother-in.law after the death [of his wife] is not punishable by burning!39 For it was taught: They shall be burnt with fire. both he and they,40 he and one of them;41 so R. Ishmael. R. Akiba said: He and both of them.42 This presents no difficulty according to Abaye who explained that the difference between them43 lies in the interpretation of the text,40 R. Ishmael maintaining that the text mentioned only one44 while R. Akiba maintains that the text spoke of two.45 According to Raba, however, who explained that the difference between them43 is [the case of marriage of] a man's mother-in-law after the death [of his wife].46 his mother-in-law should also have been mentioned!47 — The other replied: Granted that Scripture has excluded her48 from the penalty of burning. has Scripture. however, excluded her from the prohibition?49
Let her,50 however, be forbidden [to her husband] through his cohabitation with her sister, her case being similar to that of a woman whose husband went to a country beyond the sea!51 — [The two cases are] not alike: His wife who, [if she had acted] presumptuously,52 is forbidden to him by Pentateuchal law, has been forbidden to him, when [she acted] unwittingly, by a preventive measure of the Rabbis;
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