Thursday, July 19, 2007

YIBUM WITH RUS - Yevamos 77 - Daf Yomi

The Gemora relates the episode with Shaul, Doeg and Avner. Doeg the Edomite said to Shaul: “Instead of enquiring whether he is fit to be king or not, enquire rather whether he is permitted to enter the congregation or not.” What is the reason that he shouldn’t be permitted to enter into the congregation? It is because he descends from Rus, the Moabite. Avner said to him: “We learned in a braisa: An Ammonite is prohibited, but not a female Ammonite; A Moabite is prohibited, but not a female Moabite.”

The Maharsha asks: How could Doeg have thought that Boaz, the Head of the Sanhedrin, the Judge of all of Israel for many years would conduct himself improperly and publicly marry a woman who was forbidden to him? Furthermore, why did Ploni Almoni say to Boaz: “I cannot marry Rus because I am concerned that my children will be tainted”? He should have said that he can’t marry her because he is forbidden to marry an Ammonite woman (according to him)?

The Maharsha answers: The Gemora above (20b) explained the reason why a brother may not perform a yibum with his brother’s wife in a case when she is forbidden to him by a negative prohibition. The Gemora asks: Shouldn’t the positive commandment of yibum override the prohibition? The Gemora answers: He may not perform a yibum in this case because only the first act of cohabitation is permitted (that is the mitzvah of yibum), but not the second act. We are concerned that he might cohabitate with her a second time, which would be forbidden.

The Maharsha says that perhaps this Rabbinic ordinance was not yet in effect in the times of Boaz, and it was permitted to perform a yibum on a women who was forbidden to the brother by a negative prohibition.

The Ramban in Breishis (38:8) states: In the times of our Patriarchs, they would perform the mitzvah of yibum even with other relatives; not only a brother’s wife.

Ploni Almoni (Rus’ closest relative) could have performed a mitzvah of yibum with Rus even though she was a Moabite women, because the positive commandment of yibum would override the prohibition against marrying a Moabite woman. He refused to marry her because the children that would descend from this union would be tainted; they would not be allowed to marry into the congregation because the children would be Moabite’s, just like their mother. He was concerned even about his own children that he fathered beforehand. People might not understand the distinction, and they would claim that all his children are forbidden to marry into the congregation.

Boaz, on the other hand, did not have these concerns. The Gemora in Bava Basra (91a) records that all of his children died already.

This is what Doeg thought. He knew that Boaz would not publicly violate the Torah by marrying Rus illegally. This is why Doeg claimed that Dovid is prohibited from marrying into the congregation. Dovid descends from Rus, and she is a Moabite that has the prohibition of not marrying into the congregation. Boaz was justified to perform yibum with her, but the children will still remain disqualified from entering the congregation.

There are many questions on this explanation. The Kli Chemdah and Yashreish Yaakov ask: The entire premise of the Maharsha is flawed. The Ramban’s explanation of yibum is only prior to the Giving of the Torah. After the Torah was given, yibum can only be performed on a brother’s wife; not with any other relatives.

The Alshich asks: How could there have been a mitzvah of yibum with Rus altogether? Her marriage with Machlon had no validity; she was an idolater.

Furthermore, Tosfos rules that only the initial part of cohabitation would be Biblically permitted with a woman who is forbidden by a negative precept. One is prohibited from completing cohabitation. How was Boaz able to complete cohabitation with Rus, and father a child with her?

The Yashreish Yaakov concludes by saying that the words of the Maharsha were only to be taken as a drush.

6 comments:

Seth said...

Wow! Wild stuff! Was Machlon megayer Rus, or not?

Avromi said...

The Gra discusses that. Seems he did not want to because he thought then it would be assur to marry her.

Rav Chaim said...

The quote gemara states:

He may not perform a yibum in this case because only the first act of cohabitation is permitted (that is the mitzvah of yibum), but not the second act. We are concerned that he might cohabitate with her a second time, which would be forbidden.

I'd like to ask two general questions on this posting and this quote in particular.

It seems resoundingly clear from commentary that this was not yibum, but rather redemption with yibum overtones, such as the kinyan chalipin with a shoe with chalitza overtones, but not chalitza!

Thus I am not sure that the positive mitzvah of yibum would apply.

Secondly, and surely not applicable to Boaz in hind sight, isn't a couple required to have both a boy and a girl to ensure that they have satisfied his mitzvah to procreate? or by another opinion to ensure that he is a grandfather of both a boy and a girl?

Is the positive mitzvah of yibum really complete with just one cohabitation if it were to result with zero boys and zero or one girls?

Avromi said...

In regards to your first question, you are correct. According to the commentaries, they were not performimg Yibum. However, there are those that do explain that it was a form of yibum, and like we concluded; some say regarding the Maharsha that it's only drush.

Concerning your second question, the Gemora earlier stated clearly that the mitzvah of yibum is purely cohabitation; even if they don't have children, they have fulfilled the mitzvah of yibum.

Rav Chaim said...

The post writes:

Dayan Weiss asks: How could there have been a mitzvah of yibum with Rus altogether? Her marriage with Machlon had no validity; he was an idolater.

Does Dayan Weiss really mean to refer to Machlon by "he", and not Rus by "she"?

If so, on what basis is he refering to him as an idolater?

Avromi said...

You are correct! I changed it to "she." While I was at it, I realized that I attributed the question to the wrong author. Dayan Weiss asks other questions. Thank you.