For the week ending 11 October 2014 / 17 Tishri 5775

Yevamot 9 - 15

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • For which unintentional sins are sacrifices required as atonement
  • Which cases of problematic yibum are not discussed in the Mishna
  • Status of the yivamah who received chalitzah from one of the brothers in regard to relations with him or his brothers
  • Status of the tzarah of the yivamah in regard to relations with the brothers of the yavum after his making yibum
  • Status of the tzarah of a yivamah disqualified from yibum because of marital infidelity
  • How the concept of "don't pour out the water needed by others" affects the choice of which yivamah to give yibum or chalitzah
  • Status of the tzarah of other women ineligible for yibum
  • Which women are permitted to use contraception
  • Giving birth as evidence of a girl reaching adulthood
  • Status of the tzarah if marriage of the ineligible yivamah came to an end before the death of the brother
  • The great debate as to whether the brother of the deceased may marry the tzarah of the disqualified yivamah
  • The problem of two groups of Jews following different rulings
  • Whether Beit Shammai actually practiced their own lenient ruling regarding the tzarah of disqualified yivamah

Alone or Agent?

  • Yevamot 10b

When a man dies without children one of his surviving brothers has a mitzvah of yibum to perform by marrying the widow. Should he be reluctant to do so he has the option of performing the ritual of chalitzah, which frees the widow to marry outside the family.

How do we view his performance of chalitzah? Is it a personal act which removes from the widow the status of a brother's wife with whom forbidden relations are punishable by karet (extirpation), thus reducing the penalty for marrying her to only lashes, without affecting the continued relationship of his brothers to the yivamah with whom marriage will still be punishable by karet? Or do we view him as an agent for his brothers, and whatever he achieves with chalitzah in removing the widow's status as the dead brother's wife applies to his brothers as well?

The same question arises in regard to the tzarot — those other wives of the deceased with whom no chalitzah was done. Does the chalitzah affect only the widow, removing the penalty of karet for relations with the brother who gave her chalitzah, but leaves this penalty intact as far as the tzarot are concerned, both for him and his brothers? Or do we view the recipient of chalitzah as an agent for all of the wives of the deceased, and therefore reducing the penalty for all of the brothers having relations with them?

These two approaches represent the opinions of Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, with the former taking the more lenient position and the latter the stricter one.

What the Sages Say

"One should not pour out water which he has no need for if others have a need for it."

  • Rabbi Yosef - Yevamot 11b

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