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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
Raba said so1 in the evening, but on the following morning he retracted.2 The other exclaimed, "So you have permitted;3 would that you permitted also abdominal fat!"4 Now, what is the law here in respect of the pregnant, or nursing wife of another man who was married to a priest? Did the Rabbis make any provision for a priest5 or not?' — The other6 replied:7 What a comparison!8 [The distinction]9 is well justified there;10 since the Rabbis differ from R. Simeon b. Gamaliel in maintaining that the child is deemed to be sound even though he did not live long enough,11 we may, in the case of a priest's wife, where no other course is open,12 act in accordance with the view of the Rabbis.13 Here,14 however, in accordance with whose view could we act? If in accordance with that of R. Meir, he surely stated that he15 must put her out and never remarry her! And if in accordance with the view of the Rabbis, they, surely, stated [that she must be sent away] by means of a letter of divorce!16
It was stated: [The case of the man who] betrothed a woman17 within the three [months]18 and fled, is one concerning which R. Aha and Rafram are at variance. One holds that the man is to be placed under the ban,19 but the other holds that his flight is sufficient.20 Such an incident once happened, and Rafram ruled,21 'His flight is sufficient'.20
IF IT IS DOUBTFUL WHETHER IT IS A NINE-MONTHS CHILD etc. Said Raba to R. Nahman. Let the ruling be that one is to go by the majority of women, and the majority of women bear at nine months!22 — The other replied: Our women bear at seven months. 'Are your women', the first retorted, 'the majority of the world'! — 'What I mean', the other replied, 'is this: Most women bear at nine months and a minority at seven, and the embryo in the case of every woman who bears at nine is recognizable after a third of the period of her pregnancy;23 and in the case of this woman, since her embryo was not recognized after a third of the period of her pregnancy23 [her presumption to belong to] the majority is impaired'.
If in the case of every woman, however, who bears at nine the embryo is recognizable after a third of the period of her pregnancy. it is obvious that with this [woman], since her embryo had not been recognized after a third of the period of her pregnancy, it must be a seven-months child of the second24 husband! — But say rather: When a woman bears at nine months, her embryo in most cases is recognizable after a third of her pregnancy. and with this woman, since her embryo was not recognized after a third of the period of her pregnancy, [her presumption to belong to] the majority is impaired.
Our Rabbis taught: The first [child]25 is fit to be a High priest,26 and the second27 is deemed a bastard owing to his doubtful origin.28 R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: He is not of doubtful bastardy.29 What does he30 mean?31 — Abaye replied: It is this that he meant, 'The first child25 is fit to be a High priest26 while the second27 is one of doubtful bastardy29 and is consequently forbidden to marry a bastard.32 R. Eliezer b. Jacob33 said: He is not one of doubtful bastardy but an assured bastard, and is consequently permitted to marry a bastard'. Raba replied: It is this that was meant: 'The first34 is fit to be a High priest35 and the second,36 on account of his doubtful origin,37 is deemed to be an assured bastard and is consequently permitted to marry a bastard; but R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: He cannot be deemed an assured bastard on account of his doubtful origin;37 he is, however, regarded as one of doubtful bastardy and is consequently forbidden to marry a bastard.38 And they39 differ in [the interpretation of a ruling] of R. Eleazar. For we learned: 'R. Eleazar said, persons of confirmed illegitimacy may [intermarry] with others of confirmed illegitimacy, but those of confirmed illegitimacy may not intermarry with those of doubtful illegitimacy;40 nor those of doubtful, with those of confirmed illegitimacy; nor those of doubtful, with others of doubtful illegitimacy. And the following are of doubtful legitimacy: The shethuki,41 the asufi42 and the Samaritan.43 And [in connection with this] Rab Judah stated in the name of Rab, 'The halachah is in accordance with the ruling of R. Eleazar, but when I stated this in the presence of Samuel44 he said to me, "Hillel taught that the following ten different genealogical classes went up from Babylon:45 priests, Levites, Israelites, profaned priests,46 proselytes, emancipated slaves, bastards, nethinim,47 shetkuki41 and asufi,42 and all these may inter marry",48 and you state that the halachah is in accordance with the ruling of R. Eleazar'!49 Now Abaye upholds the opinion of Samuel who stated that the halachah is in agreement with the ruling of Hillel and consequently brings the ruling of R. Eliezer b. Jacob into harmony with the halachah so that there may be no contradiction between the one halachah and the other.50 Raba, on the other hand, upholds the opinion of Rab who stated that the halachah is in agreement with the ruling of R. Eleazar, and so he brings the ruling of R. Eliezer b. Jacob into harmony with the halachah in order that there may be no contradiction
between one halachah and the other.
Said Abaye: Whence do I infer that R. Eliezer b. Jacob treats any doubtful case as a certainty? — [From] what was taught: R. Eliezer b. Jacob said, 'Behold, when a man has intercourse with many women and does not know with which particular woman1 he had intercourse, and, similarly, when a woman with whom many men had intercourse does not know to which particular man her conception is due, the consequences are that a father will be marrying his daughter and a brother his sister, and the whole world will be filled with bastards,2 and concerning this it was said, And the land became full of lewdness'.3 And Raba?4 — He can answer you: It is this that was meant, 'What might be the result'?5
More than that6 was said by R. Eliezer b. Jacob: A man shall not marry a wife in one country and then proceed to marry one in another country, since [their children]7 might marry one another and the result might be that a brother would marry his sister.8
But, surely, this could not be [the accepted ruling], for Rab, whenever he happened to visit Dardeshir,9 used to announce, 'Who would be mine10 for the day'! So also R, Nahman, whenever he happened to visit Shekunzib,11 used to announce, 'Who would be mines for the day'!12 — The Rabbis came under a special category since they are well known.13
But did not Raba say: A woman who had an offer of marriage and accepted must allow a period of seven ritually clean days to pass!14 — The Rabbis sent their representatives and these presented the announcements to the women.15 And if you prefer I might say: The Rabbis only had them16 in their private rooms;17 for the Master said, 'He who has bread in his basket cannot be compared to him who has no bread in his basket'.18
A Tanna taught: R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: A man must not marry a woman if it is his intention to divorce her, for it is written, Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.19
If the 'doubtful son'20 and the levir came to claim a share21 in the estate of the deceased,22 the 'doubtful son' pleading, 'I am the son of the deceased and the estate is mine', while the levir pleads, 'You are my son and you have no claim whatsoever upon the estate', it is a case of money of doubtful ownership,23 and money the ownership of which is doubtful must be divided.24
Where the 'doubtful son'20 and the sons of the levir came to claim their share21 in the estate of the deceased, the 'doubtful son' pleading, 'I25 am the son of the deceased and the estate is mine while the sons of the levir plead, 'You are our brother and you have only a share equal to ours', it was the intention of the Rabbis to submit to R. Mesharsheya that this was a case [identical with that] of a Mishnah wherein we learned, 'He26 does not inherit from them27 but they inherit from him',28 since here the case is just the reverse:29 There they tell him, 'produce proof and take [your share]'30 while here he tells them, 'produce proof and take your share'.31 R. Mesharsheya, however, said to them, 'Are [the two cases] equal? There, their claim is a certainty32 while his is doubtful,33 while here both are doubtful!34 If, however, a case is to be compared to a Mishnah it is to the following: That of a 'doubtful son'35 and the sons of the levir who came to claim36 shares in the estate of the levir himself, where they can say to him: produce proof that you are our brother and take your share'.37
If a 'doubtful son'35 and the sons of the levir came to claim36 their shares in the estate of the levir after the levir had received his share in the estate of the deceased, the sons of the levir pleading, 'produce proof that you are our brother and you will receive [your share]', the 'doubtful son' can tell them, 'Whatever you wish: If I am your brother, give me a share among you;38 and if I am the son of the deceased, return to me the half which your father received when he shared the estate with me'.
May it be suggested that they41 differ on the same principle as that which underlies the dispute between Admon and the Rabbis? For we learned: If a man went to a country beyond the sea and [in his absence] the path to his field was lost,42 he shall, Admon said, use the shortest cut;43 but the Sages said: He must purchase a path even though it will cost him a hundred maneh or else fly in the air.44 And in discussing this [Mishnah it was pointed out] against the Rabbis that Admon was perfectly right; and Rab Judah replied in the name of Rab that here it is a case where [the fields of] four persons surrounded it on its four sides.45 But [it was asked] what is Admon's reason? And Raba replied: Where four persons46 derive their rights of possession from four persons47 or where four persons derive it from one45 all agree that these48 can refuse49 him; the dispute only concerns one person who derived his rights from four. Admon is of the opinion that he50 can tell him, 'At all events51 my path is in your fields',52 while the Rabbis hold that the other can answer him, 'If you will keep quiet, well and good;53 and if not, I will return the deeds to their original owners whom you will have no chance to call to law'.54 May it, then, be suggested that R. Abba55 holds the view of the Rabbis56 and R. Jeremiah57 that of Admon?58 R. Abba can tell you: I may even hold the view of Admon; he made his ruling there59 only because he60 can say to him,61 'Whatever you wish to plead,
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