For the week ending 13 December 2014 / 21 Kislev 5775

Yevamot 72 - 78

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Why there was no circumcision in the Wilderness
  • Status of an uncircumcised Jew, one whose circumcision becomes covered, and one whose gender is uncertain
  • Is there ever a possibility of circumcision at night
  • Contrasts between laws of terumah, bikkurim, and ma’aser
  • One whose genitals are damaged in regard to eating terumah and marriage
  • The "marriage" of King Shlomo with an Egyptian princess
  • The difference between Ammonite or Moabite converts and those of Egytpian or Edomite descent
  • King Saul's investigation of David's lineage
  • The issue of whether the convert Ruth was permitted in marriage
  • The eligibility of a convert's daughter to marry a kohen
  • Status of the child whose parents are both limited in their marriage eligibility
  • The lasting limitation on the marriage eligibility of the mamzer
  • King David and the mysterious cause of the famine

When Patrilineal Descent Works

  • Yevamot 78b

It is axiomatic that a child born from a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother is not considered a Jew because Jewish law does not recognize patrilineal descent as a qualification of Jewishness. But when it comes to other nations patrilineal descent is the determinant of the child's status.

Rabbi Yochanan applies this rule to the case of a Canaanite woman who bears a child from relations with a man who is not a member of the seven nations whom Jews were commanded to destroy. That child is not considered a Canaanite like his mother, and may therefore be purchased as a slave since his status is that of his father.

This ruling is used by our commentaries to explain a passage in the Torah chapter which speaks of a Jewish blasphemer. He is described as the "son of a Jewish woman and an Egyptian man who went among the Children of Israel". (Vayikra 24:10) Rashi explains this as meaning that he converted to Judaism. Tosefot asks why it was necessary for him to convert if his mother was Jewish. His answer is that since the relationship between Egyptian and Jew took place before Jews received the Torah, the rule of patrilineal descent applied to Jews like all nations, and the blasphemer was considered an Egyptian who had to undergo conversion to become a Jew.

What the Sages Say

"The fact that the slaying of the Egyptian first-born took place at midnight indicates that this is a particularly favorable time for Jews."

  • Beraita in Yevamot 72b

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