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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
for three festivals,1 R. Adda b. Ahabah said to her, 'Apply2 to R. Joseph, whose knife is sharp'.3 When she came to him he decided4 [her case by deduction] from the following Baraitha:5 If an idolater who was selling fruit in the market declared, 'These fruits are of 'orlah,6 of a newly broken field,7 or of a plantation in its fourth year',8 his statement is disregarded,9 for his intention was merely to raise the value10 of his fruit.11
Abba Judah of Zaidan12 related: It once happened that an Israelite and an idolater went on a journey together and when the idolater returned he said, 'Alas for the Jew who was with me on the journey, for he died on the way and I buried him', and [the Israelite's] wife [on this evidence] was allowed to marry again. And, again it happened that a group13 of men were going to Antiochia14 and an idolater came and stated, 'Alas for that group13 of men, for they died and I buried them', and [on this evidence] their wives were permitted to marry again. Moreover, it happened that sixty men were going to the camp15 of Bether,16 and an idolater came and stated, 'Alas for sixty men who were on the way to Bether, for they died and I buried them', and [on the basis of this statement] their wives were permitted to marry again.
MISHNAH. EVIDENCE17 MAY BE TENDERED [EVEN IF THE CORPSE WAS SEEN BY THE WITNESSES] IN CANDLE LIGHT OR IN MOONLIGHT; AND A WOMAN MAY BE GIVEN PERMISSION TO MARRY AGAIN ON THE EVIDENCE OF A MERE VOICE.18 IT ONCE HAPPENED THAT A MAN WAS STANDING ON THE TOP OF A HILL AND CRIED, SO-AND-SO SON OF SO-AND-SO OF SUCH-AND-SUCH A PLACE IS DEAD', BUT WHEN THEY WENT [TO THE TOP OF THE HILL] THEY FOUND NO ONE THERE. HIS WIFE, HOWEVER, WAS PERMITTED TO REMARRY.19 AGAIN, IT HAPPENED AT ZALMON20 THAT A MAN DECLARED, 'I AM SO-AND-SO SON OF SO-AND-SO; A SERPENT HAS BITTEN ME, AND I AM DYING'; AND THOUGH WHEN THEY WENT [TO EXAMINE THE CORPSE] THEY DID NOT RECOGNIZE HIM, THEY NEVERTHELESS PERMITTED HIS WIFE TO REMARRY.
GEMARA. Rabbah b. Samuel stated: A Tanna taught that Beth Shammai ruled that a woman may not be permitted to marry again on the evidence of a mere voice19 and Beth Hillel ruled that she may be permitted to marry again on the evidence of a mere voice.21 What does he22 teach us?23 This,24 surely, is the ruling in our Mishnah!25 — It is this that he teaches us: Should an anonymous statement be found that a woman [in such circumstances] is not permitted to marry again, that [statement would represent the view of] Beth Shammai.
BUT WHEN THEY WENT … THEY FOUND NO ONE. Is it not possible that it was a demon [that cried]?26 — Rab Judah replied in the name of Rab: [This is a case] where they27 saw in him the likeness of a man! But they28 also are in the likeness of men! — They27 saw his shadow. But these28 also have a shadow! They29 saw a shadow of his shadow. Is it not possible that these28 also cast a shadow of a shadow? — R. Hanina replied: The demon Jonathan29 told me that they28 have a shadow but not a shadow of a shadow. Is it not possible that it was a rival [that cried]?30 — A Tanna at the school of R. Ishmael taught that at a time of danger31 [a letter of divorce] may be written and delivered [to the woman]32 even if [the husband who gave the instructions]33 is unknown [to the witnesses].34
MISHNAH. R. AKIBA STATED: WHEN I WENT DOWN TO NEHARDEA TO INTERCALATE35 THE YEAR, I MET NEHEMIAH OF BETH DELI36 WHO SAID TO ME, 'I HEARD THAT IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL NO ONE, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF R.37 JUDAH B. BABA, PERMITS A [MARRIED] WOMAN TO MARRY AGAIN ON THE EVIDENCE OF ONE WITNESS'. 'THAT IS SO', I TOLD HIM. TELL THEM', HE SAID TO ME, 'IN MY NAME: (YOU KNOW THAT THIS COUNTRY38 IS IN CONFUSION BY REASON OF RAIDERS);39 I HAVE THIS40 TRADITION FROM R. GAMALIEL THE ELDER: THAT A [MARRIED] WOMAN MAY BE ALLOWED TO MARRY AGAIN ON THE EVIDENCE OF ONE WITNESS'.41 AND WHEN I CAME AND RECOUNTED THE CONVERSATION IN THE PRESENCE OF R. GAMALIEL42 HE REJOICED AT MY INFORMATION AND EXCLAIMED, 'WE HAVE FOUND A COLLEAGUE43 FOR R. JUDAH B. BABA!' AS A RESULT OF THIS TALK44 R. GAMALIEL RECOLLECTED THAT SOME MEN WERE ONCE KILLED AT TEL ARZA,45 AND THAT R. GAMALIEL [THE ELDER] HAD ALLOWED THEIR WIVES TO MARRY AGAIN ON THE EVIDENCE OF ONE WITNESS.46 AND THE LAW WAS ESTABLISHED THAT [A WOMAN] SHALL BE ALLOWED TO MARRY AGAIN [ON THE EVIDENCE OF ONE] WITNESS [WHO STATES THAT HE HAS HEARD THE REPORT] FROM47 ANOTHER WITNESS, FROM47 A SLAVE, FROM47 A WOMAN OR FROM47 A BONDWOMAN. R. ELIEZER AND R. JOSHUA RULED: A WOMAN MAY NOT BE ALLOWED TO MARRY AGAIN ON THE EVIDENCE OF ONE WITNESS.48 R. AKIBA RULED: [A WOMAN IS NOT ALLOWED TO MARRY AGAIN] ON THE EVIDENCE OF49 A WOMAN, ON THAT OF50 A SLAVE, ON THAT50 OF A BONDWOMAN OR ON THAT OF RELATIVES.
GEMARA. Is R. Akiba then51 of the opinion that on the evidence of50 a woman,52 [a wife is] not [permitted to marry again]? Surely, It was taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar stated in the name of R. Akiba, '[That] a woman is eligible53 to bring her own letter of divorce54 is inferred a minori ad majus: If those women concerning whom the Rabbis ruled that they55 are not believed when they state, "Her husband56 is dead"57 are nevertheless eligible53 to bring58 her a letter of divorce,59 how much more reasonable is it that this woman, who is believed when she states that her own husband is dead, should be eligible53 to bring her own letter of divorce.' [Thus it follows that only] those women of whom the Rabbis have spoken57 are not believed60 but any other61 woman is believed!62 — This is no difficulty. One ruling63 was made64 before the law,65 had been established; the other,64 after the law65 had been established.
MISHNAH. THEY66 SAID TO HIM:67 'IT ONCE HAPPENED THAT A NUMBER OF LEVITES WENT TO ZOAR,68 THE CITY OF PALMS, AND ONE OF THEM WHO FELL. ILL WAS TAKEN BY THEM INTO AN INN. WHEN THEY RETURNED THEY ASKED THE INNKEEPER69 WHERE IS OUR FRIEND?" AND SHE REPLIED, HE IS DEAD AND I BURIED HIM". [AND IT WAS ON THIS EVIDENCE THAT] HIS WIFE WAS PERMITTED TO MARRY AGAIN. SHOULD NOT THEN A PRIEST'S WIFE70 [BE BELIEVED AT LEAST AS MUCH] AS THE INNKEEPER!'71 HE ANSWERED THEM, WHEN SHE WILL BE [GIVING SUCH EVIDENCE] AS THE INNKEEPER SHE WILL BE BELIEVED. THE INNKEEPER [AS A MATTER OF FACT] HAD BROUGHT OUT TO THEM HIS72 STAFF, HIS BAG73 AND THE SCROLL OF THE LAW WHICH HE HAD WITH HIM.74
GEMARA. What was the inferiority of the innkeeper?1 R. Kahana replied: She was an innkeeper who was an idolatress and she said at random,2 'This is his staff, and this is his bag and this is the grave wherein I buried him'. So it was also recited by Abba the son of R. Manyumi b. Hiyya: She was an innkeeper who was an idolatress and she said at random,2 'This is his staff, and this is his bag and this is the grave wherein I buried him'. But, surely, they had asked her, 'Where is our friend?'3 — When she saw them she began to cry, and when they asked her, 'Where is our friend?' she replied, 'He died and I buried him',4
Our Rabbis taught: It once occurred that a man came to give evidence on behalf of a woman5 before R. Tarfon. 'My son', [the Master] said to him, 'what6 do you know concerning the evidence for this woman?' — 'I and he', the other replied, 'were going on the same road and when a raiding gang pursued us he grasped7 the branch of an olive tree, pulled it down, and made the gang turn back. "Lion", I said to him, "I thank you".8 "Whence did you know [he asked] that my name was Lion? So in fact I am called in my home town: Johanan son of R. Jonathan, the Lion of Kefar Shihaya",9 and after some time he fell ill and died'. And [on this evidence] R. Tarfon permitted his10 wife to marry again.
Does not R. Tarfon, however, hold that inquiry and examination11 are necessary? Surely it was taught: It once happened that a man came before R. Tarfon to give evidence on behalf of a woman.5 My son', he said to him, 'What6 do you know concerning this evidence?' 'I and he', the other replied, 'were going on the same road, and when a raiding gang pursued us he grasped the branch of a fig tree, pulled it down, and drove12 the gang back. "I thank you,13 Lion", I said to him, and he replied, "You have correctly guessed my name, for so I am called in my home town: Johanan son of Jonathan, the Lion of Kefar Shihaya", and after some time he died'. The Master said to him: Did you not tell me thus, 'Johanan son of Jonathan of Kefar Shihaya the Lion'?14 — 'No', the other replied, 'but it is this that I told you: Johanan son of Jonathan, the Lion of Kefar Shihaya'. Having examined him closely15 two or three times and the man's replies invariably agreeing, R. Tarfon permitted his16 wife to marry again!17 — This [is a point in dispute between] Tannaim. For it was taught: Witnesses on matrimonial matters18 are not to be subjected19 to enquiry and examination.20 These are the words of R. Akiba;21 R. Tarfon, however, ruled: They are to be subjected.22 And they23 differ [in respect of a ruling] of R. Hanina. For R. Hanina stated: Pentateuchally both monetary, and capital cases must be conducted with enquiry and examination,20 for it is said, Ye shall have one manner of law,24 what then is the reason why they have ordained that monetary cases do not require enquiry and examination?20 In order that you should not lock the door in the face of borrowers — 25 And it is on this principle that26 they23 differ: One Master is of the opinion that since the woman has27 a kethubah to receive28 [such cases29 are] on a par with those of monetary matters,30 while the other Master is of the opinion that since we are thereby permitting a married woman to marry a stranger31 [such cases32 are] on a par with capital cases.33
R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Hanna: Scholars34 increase peace in the world, for it is said in the Scriptures, And all thy children shall be to taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.35