Sunday, May 06, 2007

Daf Yomi - Yevamos 2 - WHY IS YEVAMOS FIRST?

The Tosafos Yeshanim asks why Seder Nashim begins with Masechta Yevamos, which discusses the marriage laws of a widow whose husband died childless. It would be more appropriate to begin the Seder with Kidushin, which would be a more positive introduction to the laws of marriage.

Tosafos Yeshanim answers that the previous Seder (Moed) ended with Moed Katan, which deals largely with aveilus, and thus leads naturally to Yevamos (which deals with the brother who dies childless).

Alternatively, he answers that this Mishna teaches us all the women that one would be prohibited from marrying; afterwards, we can learn regarding the mitzvah of kidushin, marriage.

Also, the mitzvah of yibum was the first mitzvah pertaining to women mentioned in the Torah, as it is written regarding Tamar.

The Acharonim point out that the first answer of the Tosafos Yeshanim is the opinion of the Rambam (Yibum1:1) and the Chinuch (598), who consider Yibum to be a mitzvah only for the man (i.e. the brother). Consequently, the Rambam and the Chinuch would not agree with the last answer of the Tosfos Yeshanim.

However, the Pnei Yehoshua (Kesubos 40a) holds that other Rishonim consider the widow to be equally obligated in yibum. As such, they would agree with the last answer. Consistently, when the Rambam (Sefer HaMitzvos 217) asks why the Masechta is called Yevamos, when Chalitzah is also an option; he answers that it is because the Gemara (Yevamos 39b) states that yibum takes precedence over chalitzah. However, if, as the Tosafos Yeshanim’s second answer states, Seder Nashim begins with Yevamos because yibum is the first mitzvah to be mentioned for women, then it follows that the Masechta had to be called Yevamos rather than Chalitzah. But since the Rambam does not consider the woman’s involvement in yibum as her mitzvah, it was necessary for him to explain the Masechta’s name as stemming from yibum’s precedence. [ Pleasant Ridge Newsletter Vol. 16 # 33]

The Rambam asks the Tosfos Yeshanim’s question, as well and offers a different answer. He says that Kesuvos and Kidushin discuss the laws of marriage. Marriage is something that is left up to the willingness of the man and the women; Beis Din cannot force a man to marry a woman. Yibum is compelling; Beis Din informs the yavam that he must either perform a yibum or a chalitzah. It is appropriate to discuss the halachos that are compelling first.

Tosfos Yom Tov cites the Rambam in the fifteenth perek of Hilchos Ishus, who quotes the Gemora in Kidushin 29b, that one who reaches twenty years old and has not married is cursed by Hashem for he will be thinking about sin. It is implicit that there is no halacha that Beis Din can force someone to marry.


Dan said...

Tosfos yeshanim is saying that the mitzva is incumbent on the woman or just that it pertains to her?

Shver said...

Be fruitful and multiply was mentioned before, that "pertains" to a woman, but is not her mitzva, the T"Y must mean that she is chayav in the mitzva of yibum

Neil said...

Why would she be obligated in the mitzva, does it say so in the Torah? Kidushin, no - but yibum, yes?

Josh M. said...

Tosafos Yeshanim answers that the previous Seder (Moed) ended with Moed Katan, which deals largely with aveilus, and thus leads naturally to Yevamos (which deals with the brother who dies childless).

Do they hold that Chagigah precedes Moed Katan?

Avromi said...

Dan - You could learn either way - it is not clear.

Avromi said...

Shver - Good point!

Neil - most mefarshim say she isn't - we will talk about it later on in perek and the second perek.
Possibly the establishing a name for the deceased - she might be included in that.

Avromi said...

Josh - Tosfos in M"K 28b states like that in the name of the Ri Miorleans. I should have mentioned that in the piece. Thanks

Anonymous said...

My brother, Shlomo Hafner has re-published his Tziyurim L’Meseches Yevamos , an indispensable guide with 1200 diagrams. The first 20 pages are available to view at

Any feedback/comments appreciated.


Charlie Hafner

Daniel said...

I found a very helpful chart for yevamos.