For the week ending 22 November 2014 / 29 Heshvan 5775

Yevamot 51 - 57

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The roles of ma'amar (kiddushin) and get (divorce) in the yibum process
  • The position of Rabbi Akiva that there is no validity to a marriage with a prohibited partner which is punishable only by lashes
  • The improprieties which the Sage Rav punished with lashes
  • The propriety of a ma'amar before yibum
  • When chalitzah is not enough and whether conditions made in a chalitzah agreement are valid
  • Unintentional relations with the yivamah which are considered valid yibum
  • The degree of contact which is considered cohabitation in regard to yibum and forbidden relations
  • Forbidden aunts and the difference between them
  • Wife of sister or brother who are related to him only through a common mother
  • The child-loss dimension of the karet punishment for relations with forbidden partners
  • In which cases the widow of a kohen is entitled to eat terumah after yibum
  • The violated woman who remains married but loses the ability to ever marry a kohen
  • The violated woman whose marriage ends and the penalty for continuing it
  • Forbidden marriages which disqualify the daughter of a kohen from ever eating terumah
  • Two questions which received only one answer
  • The status of converts in regard to marrying a kohen
  • Does chupah alone disqualify a forbidden woman from eating terumah

The Sage Who Made a Comeback

  • Yevamot 57a

When Rabbi Yochanan posed a question to his teacher Rabbi Oshea he received no reply. But when Reish Lakish (Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish) asked the same Sage a different question he received an answer. Puzzled by the silence which greeted the question of the former, Rabbi Yehuda the Nassi asked Rabbi Oshea: "Is Rabbi Yochanan not enough of a great man to also deserve a reply?"

To which Rabbi Oshea responded that the reason for his silence was that there was no answer to Rabbi Yochanan's question.

This account of Reish Lakish studying Torah with Rabbi Oshea, the teacher of Rabbi Yochanan, is cited by Tosefot as support for the position of the Tosefist Rabbeinu Tam (Bava Metzia 84a) that Reish Lakish had been a Torah scholar before his famous encounter with Rabbi Yochanan. He had abandoned his Torah way of life, however, and became a bandit leader. By promising him his extraordinarily attractive sister in marriage, Rabbi Yochanan succeeded in persuading him to return to his Torah studies, first as a disciple and then as a colleague who often disputed his halachic opinions.

The incident related in our gemara took place in the first phase of Reish Lakish's colorful life when he studied Torah in the presence of Rabbi Yochanan's teacher. It was years later that the encounter with Rabbi Yochanan took place that set the stage for the second, glorious phase as one of the outstanding Talmudic Sages.

What the Sages Say

"What is considered 'dozing off' as opposed to sleep in affecting the act of yibum and other matters? It is a state in which one is neither fully asleep nor fully awake and responds to being called. When asked where he placed something he is unable to recall, but if asked whether he placed it in a particular place he is capable of answering yes or no."

  • Rabbi Ashi - Yevamot 54a

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