Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Daf Yomi - Yevamos 20 - Highlights

The Mishna states: They stated a general rule concerning the yevamah: Whoever is prohibited to the yavam because of an ervah is exempt from chalitzah and yibum. If her prohibition is because of mitzvah or because of sanctity, she would require chalitzah but she is not taken for yibum.

Her sister who is her fellow yevamah would require chalitzah or yibum. (The case is as follows: Two brothers (Reuven and Shimon) married two sisters Rochel and Leah), and the two husbands died childless. The sisters fall for yibum to a third brother Levi, and one of the sisters is prohibited to Levi because she is an ervah (a former daughter-in-law). The ervah’s sister requires chalitzah or is married by yibum. Normally, if two sisters fall before the yavam for yibum, both are prohibited from marrying him as his yevamah, since each is the sister of a zekukah, and she has the status of his wife's sister. In this case, however, in which one of the women is prohibited to the yavam by a prohibition of ervah, and therefore there is no zikah between her and the yavam, he is permitted to marry her sister by yibum, because she is not the sister of a zekukah.)

The Mishna explains the term “mitzvah prohibition”: Secondary arayos, who are Rabbinically forbidden. A “sanctity prohibition” is a widow to the Kohen Gadol, a divorcee and a chalutzah to a common kohen, a mamzeres or a Nesinite woman to an Israelite, and the daughter of an Israelite to a Nesinite or to a mamzer. (20a)

The Gemora discusses if the Mishna is including The halacha of Rav Assi or not. Rav Assi rules: The co-wife of an aylonis (an adult woman who did not develop any signs of female puberty and is incapable of bearing children) is forbidden to be taken in yibum. It is written regarding yibum [Devarim 25:6]: It shall be the firstborn – if she can bear. This excludes an aylonis since she cannot bear children. (20a)

The Gemora asks: Why is a Rabbinical ervah referred to as a prohibition because of mitzvah.

The Gemora answers: It is because there is a Biblical mitzvah to heed the words of the Rabbis.

The Gemora states: The reason for the term “sanctity prohibition” is because it is written regarding the kohanim [Vayikra 21:6]: They shall be sanctified unto their God. (20a)

We learned in a braisa: Rabbi Yehudah switched the terminologies. A “mitzvah prohibition” is referring to a widow to the Kohen Gadol and a divorcee and a chalutzah to a common kohen. These are referred to as mitzvos prohibitions because it is written regarding the kohanim [Vayikra 27:34]: These are the mitzvos.

Rabbi Yehudah continues: A “sanctity prohibition” is referring to the secondary arayos. Abaye explains why they are so called: it is because one who upholds the instructions of the Sages is considered “sanctified.”

Rava offers another explanation: There is a concept that one should sanctify himself by refraining from doing things that actually are permitted. (20a)

The Mishna had stated: If a widow falls for yibum to a kohen gadol, she requires chalitzah, but may not be taken in yibum.

The Gemora asks: It is merely a negative prohibition against marrying a widow; why don’t we say that the positive commandment of yibum should override this prohibition and we should permit the kohen gadol to perform a yibum?

Rav Gidel answered in the name of Rav: There is a Scriptural verse that teaches us that although one cannot perform a yibum on a woman prohibited to the yavam on account of a negative commandment, a chalitzah is required. Another Scriptural verse teaches us that a woman who is subject to the penalty of kares is exempt from chalitzah and yibum.

The Gemora explains: When faced with a choice of how to expound the verses (which women should be subject to chalitzah and which should not be), it is reasonable that the women who are subject to the kares penalty are not obligated in chalitzah because these are women that kiddushin cannot be effected with them; women that are only subject to a negative prohibition, kiddushin can be effected with them; thus, they require a chalitzah. (20a – 20b)

Rava challenges Rav’s explanation and proves from a braisa that women who are prohibited to the yavam because of a negative commandment are Biblically subject to yibum (unlike Rav who said that there is a Scriptural verse excluding them).

Rava attempts to explain that a kohen gadol cannot perform a yibum with his brother’s widow because of a Rabbinic decree. The Rabbis decreed that if we allow the yevamah who only had erusin with the brother to be taken in yibum, this might lead to a different kohen gadol performing a yibum with a yevamah who had nisuin (the marriage was consummated). This would be Biblically forbidden because there is a positive commandment (besides the negative prohibition for a kohen gadol not to marry a widow) that a kohen gadol must marry a virgin. The positive commandment of yibum cannot override a negative prohibition and a positive commandment.

The Gemora proves that this explanation cannot be correct.

Rava offers another explanation: A kohen gadol cannot perform a yibum with his brother’s widow because only the first act of cohabitation is permitted (that is the mitzvah of yibum), but not the second act. We are concerned that the kohen gadol might cohabitate with her a second time, which would be forbidden. (20b)