For the week ending 29 November 2014 / 7 Kislev 5775

Yevamot 58 - 64

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The oath taken by the woman suspected of adultery while still an arussah
  • How the daughter of a kohen who is a yivamah can lose her right to eat terumah
  • The Kohen Gadol's limitations re marriage partners
  • What disqualifies a woman in matters of age or virginity from marrying a Kohen Gadol
  • The rulings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai regarding the eligibility of an infant convert to marry a kohen and the spiritual contamination of non-Jewish graves
  • How Yehoshua ben Gamla became Kohen Gadol
  • The Kohen Gadol's situation in yibum
  • The varying opinions on what constitutes the zonah prohibited as a wife for any kohen
  • The difference between a kohen and others in regard to remaining married to a wife who has been violated
  • The mitzvah of producing children and the importance of being married
  • Three initiatives of Moshe which received Divine approval
  • Whether children born to a man before conversion are considered fulfillment of the mitzvah
  • The role played by grandchildren
  • Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 disciples and the lessons to be learned from their deaths and from his reaction
  • Insights on the importance of marriage with a good wife
  • The childless couples in history and in halacha
  • Dangerous patterns in regard to marriage and circumcision

The Lessons from Mourning

  • Yevamot 62b

There is a period of mourning between the Festivals of Pesach and Shavuot when Jews refrain from weddings and haircuts. The source for this is what we learn in our gemara that during this period the 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva perished, leaving the world desolate.

Two important lessons are to be learned from relating to this tragic period in Jewish history.

One is the explanation given by our Sages for the tragedy and the other is the reaction of Rabbi Akiva.

They died prematurely because, as great as they were, they failed to show to one another the respect they deserved. Although such severe retribution is an expression of the rule that "G-d demands near perfection from the very righteous", there is a message here to everyone on every level of the importance of relating to others in respectful fashion.

Although bereaved by this virtual holocaust, Rabbi Akiva did not give up. He sought out five promising Torah scholars in the south of Eretz Yisrael — Rabbis Meir, Yehuda, Yossi, Shimon and Elazar ben Shamua — and through them rebuilt the Torah world in that period.

This was perhaps echoed in our own times that the destruction of the Torah centers in Europe, which wrought a spiritual holocaust in addition to the physical one, was followed by the blossoming of Torah institutions in Israel and throughout the world.

What the Sages Say

"Come and see how good is the good wife. The passage in Mishlei (18:21) states that 'One who finds a wife has found good'. If this is a literal reference to the woman we see how good she is that she is thus praised; and even if it is an allegorical reference to the Torah we see how good she is that the Torah is compared to her."

  • The Sage Rava - Yevamot 63b

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