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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
have brought on his death,1 What is the practical difference between these [two explanations]? — The case where one cut [another man's organs] in a house of marble2 and the latter made some convulsive movements,3 or also where he cut his organs out of doors and the latter made no convulsive movements.4
R. JUDAH … SAID: NOT ALL etc. The question was raised: Does R. Judah b. Baba differ [from the first Tanna] in relaxing the law5 or does he differ from him in imposing a greater restriction?6 — Come and hear: A man was once drowned at Karmi and after three days he was hauled up at Be Hedya, and R. Dimi of Nehardea allowed his wife to remarry. And again, it happened that a man was drowned in the Tigris7 and after five days he was hauled up to the Shebistana bridge8 and, on the evidence of the shoshbinim,9 Raba permitted his wife to marry again — Now, if you grant that he10 differs [from the first Tanna] in relaxing the law, they11 might well have acted in accordance with the ruling of R. Judah b. Baba. If you should contend, however, that he10 differed in imposing a greater restriction, in accordance with whose view [it may be asked] did they11 act? — Waters are different because they cause contraction.12 But, surely, you said that 'waters [are different since they] irritate the wound'! — That applies only where a wound exists, but where no wound exists waters cause contraction. This, furthermore, applies only where the witnesses saw the body as soon as it was brought up, but if it remains some time, it swells.13
MISHNAH. IF A MAN FELL INTO THE WATER, WHETHER IT HAD [A VISIBLE] END14 OR NOT, HIS WIFE IS FORBIDDEN [TO MARRY AGAIN].15 SAID R. MEIR: IT ONCE HAPPENED THAT A MAN FELL INTO A LARGE CISTERN AND ROSE TO THE SURFACE16 AFTER THREE DAYS.17 SAID R. JOSE: IT ONCE HAPPENED THAT A BLIND MAN DESCENDED INTO A CAVE.18 TO PERFORM RITUAL ABLUTION WHILE HIS GUIDE WENT DOWN AFTER HIM; AND AFTER WAITING LONG ENOUGH FOR THEIR SOULS TO DEPART, PERMISSION WAS GIVEN TO THEIR WIVES TO MARRY AGAIN.19 ANOTHER INCIDENT OCCURRED AT ASIA20 WHERE A MAN WAS LOWERED INTO THE SEA, AND ONLY HIS LEG WAS BROUGHT UP,21 AND THE SAGES RULED: [IF THE RECOVERED LEG CONTAINED THE PART] ABOVE THE KNEE [THE MAN'S WIFE] MAY MARRY AGAIN,22 [BUT IF IT CONTAINED ONLY THE PART] BELOW THE KNEE, SHE MAY NOT MARRY AGAIN.23
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: If a man fell into water, whether it had [a visible] end24 or not, his wife is forbidden [to marry again];25 so R. Meir. But the Sages ruled: [If he fell into] water that has [a visible] end,24 his wife is permitted [to marry again],26 but [if into water] that has no [visible] end27 his wife is forbidden [to marry again].28
What is to be understood by 'has [a visible] end'? — Abaye replied: [An area all the boundaries of which] a person standing [on the edge] is able to see in all directions.29
Once a man was drowned in the swamp of Samki, and R. Shila permitted his wife to marry again. Said Rab to Samuel: 'Come, let us place him under the ban'.30 'Let us first', [the other replied,] 'send to [ask] him [for an explanation]'. On their sending to him the enquiry: '[If a man has fallen into] water which has no [visible] end. is his wife forbidden or permitted [to marry again]'? he sent to them [in reply], 'His wife is forbidden' — 'And [they again enquired] is the swamp of Samki regarded as water that has [a visible] end or as water that has no [visible] end?' — 'It is', he sent them his reply, 'a water that has no [visible] end'. 'Why then did the Master [they asked] act in such a manner?'31 — 'I was really mistaken', [he replied]; 'I was of the opinion that as the water was gathered and stationary it was to be regarded as "water which has [a visible] end", but the law is in fact not so; for owing to the prevailing waves it might well be assumed that the waves carried [the body] away'.32 Samuel thereupon applied to Rab the Scriptural text, There shall no mischief befall the righteous,33 while Rab applied to Samuel the following text: But in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.34
It was taught: Rabbi related how it once happened that while two men were casting nets in the Jordan one of them entered a subterranean fish pond35 and when the sun had set he could not find the entrance of the cave. His companion, after waiting long enough for his soul to depart, returned and reported the accident to his household. On the following day when the sun rose [the first man] discovered the entrance of the cave, and on returning he found his household in deep mourning36 'How great', exclaimed Rabbi, 'are the words of the Sages who ruled [that if a man fell into] water which has [a visible] end his wife is permitted [to marry again, but if into water] which has no [visible] end, his wife is forbidden'.If so,37 then also in the case of water which has [a visible] end the possibility of having remained in a subterranean fish pond should be taken into consideration! — It is not usual for a subterranean fish pond to be found with water which has [a visible] end.38
R. Ashi said: The ruling of the Rabbis [that where a man has fallen into] water which has no [visible] end his wife is forbidden [to marry again]. applies only to an ordinary person but not to a learned man for, should he be rescued.39 the fact would become known.40 This, however, is not correct; for there is no difference between an ordinary man and a learned man. Ex post facto, the marriage41 is valid; ab initio, it is forbidden.
It was taught: R. Gamaliel related, 'I was once travelling on board a ship when I observed a shipwreck and was sorely grieved for [the apparent loss of] a scholar42 who had been travelling on board that ship. (And who was he? — R. Akiba.) When I subsequently landed, he43 came to me and sat down and discussed matters of halachah. "My son", I asked him, "who rescued you?" "The plank of a ship", he answered me, "came my way, and to every wave that approached me I bent my head" — 44 Hence the Sages said that if wicked persons attack a man let him bend his head to them.45 At that hour I exclaimed: How significant are the words of the Stages who ruled [that if a man fell into] water which has [a visible] end, [his wife] is permitted [to marry again; but if into] water which has no [visible] end, she is forbidden'.
It was taught: R. Akiba related, 'l was once travelling on board a ship when I observed a ship in distress,46 and was much grieved on account of a scholar who was on it. (And who was it? — R. Meir.) When I subsequently landed in the province of Cappadocia47 he came to me and sat down and discussed matters of halachah. "My son", I said to him, "who rescued you?" — "One wave" he answered me, "tossed me to another, and the other to yet another until [the sea] cast me48 on the dry land". At that hour I exclaimed: How significant are the words of the Sages who ruled [that if a man fell into] water which has [a visible] end, [his wife] is permitted [to marry again; but if into] water which has no [visible] end, she is forbidden'. Our Rabbis taught: If a man fell into a lion's den, no evidence49 may be legally tendered concerning him;50 but if into a pit full of serpents and scorpions, evidence49 may legally be tendered concerning him.50 R. Judah b. Bathyra ruled: Even [if he fell] into a pit full of serpents and scorpions, no evidence49 may legally be tendered concerning him,50 since the possibility must be taken into consideration
Our Rabbis taught: [If a man] fell into a burning furnace, evidence may be legally tendered concerning him, [and also if he fell] into a boiler that was full of [boiling]6 wine or oil, evidence may be legally tendered concerning him. In the name of R. Aha It was stated: [If the man fell into a hot boiler] of oil, evidence may legally be tendered concerning him, because it7 adds fuel to the fire;8 [but if into one] of wine, no evidence may legally be tendered concerning him, because it9 extinguishes [the fire].10 They,11 however, said to him: At first it9 extinguishes [the fire to a certain extent] but eventually it causes it to burn [with greater vehemence].12
SAID R. MEIR: IT ONCE HAPPENED THAT A MAN FELL INTO A LARGE CISTERN etc. It was taught: They said to R. Meir, 'Miracles cannot be mentioned [as proof]'.13 What [did they mean by] 'miracles'?14 If it be suggested because he neither eats nor drinks, surely [it may be pointed out], It is written in Scripture, And fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink [three days]!15 — Rather because he does not sleep. For R. Johanan stated: [A man who said]. 'I take an oath that I will not sleep for three days' is to be flogged16 and he may sleep at once.17 What then is R. Meir's reason?18 — R. Kahana replied: There were19 arches above arches.20 And the Rabbis?21 — They22 were of marble.23
And R. Meir? — It is hardly possible that the man did not hang24 on to [the arches] and doze a while.
Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that the daughter of Nehonia the well25 -digger26 fell into a large cistern, and people went and reported [the accident] to R. Hanina b. Dosa.27 During the first hour he said to them, 'All is well'.28 In the second hour he again said, 'All is well'.28 In the third he said to them, 'She is saved'.29 'My daughter', he asked her, 'who saved you?' — 'A ram30 came to my help31 with an aged man32 leading it'. 'Are you', the people asked him, 'a prophet?' — 'I am', he replied, 'neither prophet nor the Son of a prophet; but should the [beneficent] work in which the righteous is engaged33 be the cause of disaster34 to his seed!' R. Abba stated: His35 son nevertheless died of thirst; for it is said in Scripture, And round about Him it stormeth mightily,36 which teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, deals strictly with those round about Him even to a hair's37 breadth. R. Hanina said, [Proof38 may be adduced] from here: A God dreaded in the great council of the holy ones, and feared of all them that are round about Him.39
MISHNAH. EVEN [A MAN ONLY] HEARD WOMEN SAYING, 'SO-AND-SO IS DEAD', THIS SHOULD SUFFICE FOR HIM.40 R. JUDAH SAID: EVEN IF HE ONLY HEARD CHILDREN SAY, 'BEHOLD WE ARE GOING TO MOURN FOR A MAN NAMED SO-AND-SO AND TO BURY HIM' [IT IS SUFFICIENT].40 WHETHER [SUCH STATEMENT WAS MADE] WITH THE INTENTION [OF TENDERING EVIDENCE] OR WAS MADE WITH NO SUCH INTENTION [IT IS VALID]. R. JUDAH B. BABA SAID: WITH AN ISRAELITE [THE EVIDENCE IS VALID] EVEN IF THE MAN HAD THE INTENTION [OF ACTING AS WITNESS]. IN THE CASE OF AN IDOLATER, HOWEVER, THE EVIDENCE IS INVALID IF HIS INTENTION WAS [TO ACT AS WITNESS].
GEMARA. Is it not possible that they41 did not go?42 — Rab Judah replied in the name of Samuel: [Our Mishnah deals with a case] where they41 Say, 'Behold we are returning from the mourning for, and the burial of So-and-so'.Is it not possible that a mere ant43 had died and that the children gave it the man's name?44 — [It is a case] where they45 say, 'Such and such Rabbis were there' or 'such and such funeral orators were there'.
IN THE CASE OF AN IDOLATER, HOWEVER … IF HIS INTENTION WAS etc. Said Rab Judah in the name of Samuel: This46 was taught only in the case where it was his47 intention to enable [the woman] to be permitted,48 but if his intention was merely to give evidence his testimony is valid. How could this49 be ascertained? — R. Joseph replied: If he came to Beth din and stated. 'So-and-so is dead, allow his wife to marry again', such evidence is one where his intention was to enable [the woman] to be permitted,48 [but if he stated], 'He is dead', and nothing more, his intention was merely to give evidence.
So It was also stated:50 Resh Lakish said, This46 was taught only in the case where it was his intention to enable [the woman] to be permitted,48 but if his intention was merely to give evidence his testimony is valid.
Said R. Johanan to him:51 Did it not happen with Oshaia Berabbi,52 that he opposed53 eighty-five elders saying to them that, 'This46 was taught Only in the case where it was his intention to enable [the woman] to be permitted48 but if his intention was merely to give evidence his testimony is valid', but the Sages did not agree with him!54
But according to the ruling in our Mishnah, that55 IN THE CASE OF AN IDOLATER, HOWEVER, THE EVIDENCE IS INVALID IF HIS INTENTION WAS [TO ACT AS WITNESS],56 how is it possible [for the idolater's testimony ever to be accepted]?57 — Where he makes a statement at random;58 as was the case where one went about saying, 'Who of the family of Hiwai is here? Who is here of the family of Hiwai? Hiwai is dead!', and R. Joseph allowed his59 wife to marry again.
A man60 once went about saying, 'Alas for the valiant rider who was at Pumbeditha, for he is dead'; and R. Joseph, or it might be said, Raba, allowed his wife to marry again.
A man once went about saying, 'Who of the family of Hasa is here? Hasa is drowned!' [On hearing this] R. Nahman exclaimed, 'By God, the fish must have eaten Hasa up!' Relying on R. Nahman's exclamation, Hasa's wife went and married again, and no objection was raised against her action.61
Said R. Ashi: From this62 it may be inferred that the ruling of the Rabbis63 that [if a man had fallen into] water which had no [visible] end, his wife is forbidden [to marry again] applies only ab initio, but if someone had already married her, she is not to be taken away from him.
Others read: R. Nahman allowed his64 wife to marry again; for he said, 'Hasa was a great man, and had he come up [out of the water] his rescue would have become known'. The law, however, is not so. For there is no difference between a great man and one who is not great — [In either case] it is permitted65 ex post facto and forbidden66 ab initio.
A certain idolater 'once said to an Israelite, 'Cut some grass67 and throw it to my cattle on the Sabbath; if not, I will kill you as I have killed So-and-so, that son of an Israelite, to whom I said, "Cook for me a dish on the Sabbath", and whom, as he did not cook for me, I killed'. His wife68 heard this and came to Abaye.69 As he kept her waiting
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