For the week ending 25 October 2014 / 1 Heshvan 5775

Yevamot 23 - 29

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Status of children born from forbidden mates and intermarriage
  • Yibum in the case of confusion regarding which of two sisters the deceased had betrothed with kiddushin
  • Whether a kiddushin which is prevented by law from being consummated with nissuin has any legal status
  • Which brother should perform yibum and what does he gain by doing so
  • If someone suspected of relations with a woman forbidden to him may marry her when her status changes
  • Converts to Judaism out of ulterior motives
  • Circumstantial evidence regarding adultery
  • Men disqualified from marrying a woman whose freedom from her husband was the result of their testimony or ruling
  • What is the yibum situation of two of four brothers who married two sisters and died
  • The same situation when one of those sisters is forbidden as a marriage partner to one of the yibum candidates
  • The scenario when it is three brothers with two of them married to two sisters

Hate Versus Passion

  • Yevamot 25a

A man or woman who brings a get (divorce) document from outside of Eretz Yisrael must testify that the get was written and signed in his or her presence so that the court in Eretz Yisrael may be assured that it was properly written. Later on in our mesechta (117a) we learn that even those women whose testimony regarding the death of a man is not acceptable to allow his wife to marry another are believed to testify that the get was properly written.

The explanation given for disqualifying a mother-in-law and a few other women as witnesses of the man's death is the suspicion that they may be lying in order to trap the woman they hate because of various reasons into entering a marriage which will end in divorce when her truly living husband returns. This suspicion is not relevant to testimony regarding divorce because the woman witness is the bearer of a document that supports her testimony.

A problem arises in regard to this explanation from what the mishna states when it declares that a man who brings a get from abroad to Eretz Yisrael and testifies to its validity is prohibited from subsequently marrying the woman who has been divorced based on his testimony. The explanation given is that there is a suspicion that he is lying in order to marry this woman. Why do we believe those above-mentioned female haters because they have the support of the document they bear and deny this same credibility to the man backed by the same support?

The answer given by the Nimukei Yosef is based on a distinction between hatred and passion. The woman who testifies about the validity of a get is motivated only by hatred, which she puts aside out of fear that the husband may come and expose her lie. This consideration combines with the document presented to validate her testimony. The man testifying that the get is valid may be motivated by passion for the woman involved and will therefore act irrationally to achieve his goal without consideration for the possibility of being exposed.

What the Sages Say

"Why did our Sages say that converts to Judaism were not accepted in the glory days of Kings David and Shlomo nor will they be accepted in the days of the Mashiach? The Prophet Yishayahu (54:15) declares in the Name of G-d: 'Those who become converts when I appear to not be with you (in these days of trouble - Rashi) shall merit to be with you in the World-to-Come.' "

  • Rabbi Elazar - Yevamot 24b

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