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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
Is this an illustration of a letter of divorce after a letter of divorce?1 Rab Judah replied it is this that was meant: [The illustration of] A LETTER OF DIVORCE AFTER ANOTHER LETTER OF DIVORCE and OF A MA'AMAR AFTER AN OTHER MA'AMAR is as stated;2 but3 HOW IS THE RELEASE [FROM THE LEVIRATE BOND EFFECTED] where there is one levir and one sister-in-law? — IF A LEVIR ADDRESSED A MA'AMAR TO HIS SISTER-IN-LAW AND SUBSEQUENTLY GAVE HER A LETTER OF DIVORCE, IT IS NECESSARY FOR HER TO PERFORM THE HALIZAH WITH HIM.4
IF HE ADDRESSED TO HER A MA'AMAR AND THEN COHABITED WITH HER, BEHOLD THIS IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PRESCRIBED PRECEPT. Might it be suggested that this provides support for R. Huna? For R. Huna stated: The precept of marriage with a sister-in-law is properly performed when the levir first betroths, and then cohabits with her.5 — One might read,6 THIS IS also IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PRESCRIBED PRECEPT. Is not this obvious? — It might have been presumed that since a Master stated, 'If the levir addressed a ma'amar to his sister-in-law, the levirate bond disappears, and he comes under the bond of betrothal and marriage',7 he8 is not performing the commandment,9 hence we were taught [that he does].
[To turn to] the main text. 'R. Huna said: The precept of marriage with a sister-in-law is properly performed when the levir first betroths and then cohabits with her. If he cohabited with her, and then addressed to her a ma'amar a kinyan is nevertheless constituted.' 'If he cohabited with her and then addressed to her a ma'amar is so obvious,10 since he had acquired her by the cohabitation!11 — Read, rather, 'If he cohabited with her without previously addressing to her a ma'amar a kinyan is nevertheless constituted'. But was it not taught that the penalty of flogging12 is inflicted upon him?13 — Chastisement14 was meant, which is a Rabbinical penalty.15 For Rab ordered the chastisement16 of any person who betrothed by cohabitation,17 who betrothed in the open street,18 or who betrothed without previous negotiation;19 who annulled a letter of divorce,20 or who made a declaration against a letter of divorce;21 who was insolent22 towards the representative of the Rabbis,23 or who allowed a Rabbinical ban upon him to remain for thirty days and did not come to the Beth din to request the removal of that ban; and of a son-in-law who lives in his father-in-law's house. [You say,] only if he lives,24 but not if he only passes by? Surely, a man once passed by the door of his father-in-law's house, and R. Shesheth ordered his chastisement! — That man was suspected of immoral relations with his mother-in-law. The Nehardeans stated: Rab ordered the chastisement of none of these25 except him who betrothed by cohabitation without preliminary negotiation. Others say: Even with preliminary negotiation; because [such a practice is sheer] licentiousness.
Our Rabbis taught: How is betrothal effected with a ma'amar? — If he gave her26 some money or anything of value.27 And how is it effected by a deed? — 'How is it effected by a deed'? Surely as has been stated:28 If he wrote for her on a piece of paper or on a sherd, although it was not worth even a perutah,29 'Behold thou art be trothed unto me'!30 Abaye replied, It is this that was meant: How is the deed of the kethubah31 in a levirate marriage [to be drawn up]? He writes for her. 'I, So-and-so, son of So-and-so, undertake to feed and maintain in a suitable manner my sister-in-law So-and-so, provided that her kethubah remains a charge upon the estate of her first husband'.32 If, however, she is unable to obtain it from her first husband, provision was made by the Rabbis [that she is to receive it] from the second,33 in order that it may not be easy for him to divorce her.34
Abaye enquired of Rabbah: What is the law if he gave her35 a letter of divorce and said, 'Behold thou art divorced from me, but thou art not permitted to any other man'?36 The divorce of a sister-in-law being Rabbinically valid, [shall I say that] only a divorce which is valid in the case of a married woman is valid in the case of a sister-in-law, but a divorce which is invalid in the case of a married woman is also invalid in the case of a sister-in-law,37 or [had provision to be made here38 against] the possibility of mistaking it for an unqualified divorce?39 — The other replied: Provision has to be made against the possibility of mistaking it for an unqualified divorce.34 Rabbah b. Hanan demurred: Now then,40 had he given her a mere scrap of paper would he also have disqualified her?41 The other replied: There [the scrap of paper] does not cause the woman to be unfit for a priest;42 here, however, [the qualified divorce] does cause the woman to become unfit for a priest,43 for it was taught, Neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband,44 even if she was only divorced from her husband45 they may not take her,46 and that is what was meant by the 'scent of the divorce' that causes a woman's unfitness for a priest.47
Rami b. Hama said: It has been definitely48 stated that if a man said to a scribe, 'Write a letter of divorce for my betrothed so that when I have married her I may divorce her' the letter of divorce is valid,49 because it was in his power50 to divorce her;51
if1 for any other woman, the letter of divorce has no validity,2 because it was not in his power to divorce her.3 Rami b. Hama inquired, however, what is the law if4 for one's sister-in-law?5 Is she, because she is bound to him,6 regarded as his betrothed7 or perhaps, since he addressed no ma'amar to her, she is not so regarded. This is undecided.8
R. Hanania inquired: What is the law if he9 wrote a letter of divorce in respect of his levirate bond but not in respect of his ma'amar, or in respect of his ma'amar and not in respect of his levirate bond?10 Is the ma'amar imposed upon the levirate bond,11 so that the levir's action12 is like that of divorcing half a woman,13 and when a man divorces half a woman his action, surely, has no validity at all; or do they remain independent of one another?14 — Might not this enquiry be solved by reference to Raba's ruling? For Raba ruled: If he15 gave her a letter of divorce in respect of his ma'amar, her rival16 is permitted!17 — This was obvious to Raba; to R. Hanania, however, it was a matter of doubt. What, then, is the decision? — This remains undecided.18
IF THE LEVIR SUBMITTED TO HALIZAH AND THEN ADDRESSED TO HER A MA'AMAR. Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: This19 is the view of R. Akiba who holds that betrothal with those whose intercourse involves the penalties of a negative precept is of no validity; the Sages, however, maintain that there is some validity in acts after halizah. But how can you ascribe it20 to R. Akiba? In the first section, surely, it was stated, IF THE LEVIR GAVE HER A LETTER OF DIVORCE AND THEN ADDRESSED TO HER A MA'AMAR, IT IS NECESSARY FOR HER TO OBTAIN [A SECOND] LETTER OF DIVORCE AND TO PERFORM THE HALIZAH, while if [this Mishnah represented the view of] R. Akiba would a ma'amar to her be valid after a letter of divorce had already been given to her? Surely it was taught: R. Akiba said, 'Whence is it deduced that if a man gives a letter of divorce to his sister-in-law she is thereby forbidden to him for ever? Because it was stated Her former husband, who sent her away, may not [take her again to be his wife],21 [i.e., immediately] after sending her away'!22 R. Ashi replied: A divorce given by levirs is only Rabbinically valid,23 and the Scriptural text is a mere prop.24
Likewise it was also taught: Rabbi said, this statement25 was made only in accordance with the view of R. Akiba who treated a haluzah as a forbidden relative;26 the Sages, however, maintain that there is some validity in acts after halizah; and I say, 'When [is betrothal after halizah valid]? Only when he betrothed her as in ordinary matrimony,27 but if he betrothed her for levirate union,28 there is no validity in any such act after the halizah.29
It was taught elsewhere: If a man submitted to halizah from his sister-in-law and then betrothed her, Rabbi said, 'If he betrothed her as in ordinary matrimony it is necessary for her to obtain from him a letter of divorce, but if as for a levirate union there is no need for her to obtain from him a letter of divorce'. The Sages, however, said: 'Whether he betrothed her as in ordinary matrimony or as for the levirate union it is necessary for her to obtain from him a letter of divorce'.
Said R. Joseph: What is Rabbi's reason?30 — It was given the same legal force as that of the action of a person digging in the estate of a proselyte31 believing it to be his own,32 which constitutes no kinyan.33 Said Abaye to him:34 Are the two cases alike? There35 he36 had no intention at all of acquiring possession,37 but here38 his intention, surely, was to acquire possession!39 This, indeed, could only be compared to the case of a person who digs in the estate of one proselyte and believes it to be that of another, where he does acquire possession!40 No, explained Abaye, here we are dealing with a case where the levir said to her, 'Be thou betrothed to me by the ma'amar of the levirate union'. Rabbi is of the opinion that the ma'amar can only be imposed upon the levirate bond,41 but here42 the halizah had already previously removed the levirate bond.43 The Rabbis, however, are of the opinion that the one is independent of the other.44 If, then, the levir had said to her at first,45 'Be thou betrothed unto me by this ma'amar of the levirate union', would not his kinyan have been valid?46 Consequently it is now also valid.
Raba said: Had he said to her,47 'By the ma'amar of the levirate union', there would be no disagreement [among the authorities] that it is valid; but here48 we are dealing with a case where the levir said, 'Be thou betrothed unto me by the bond of the levirate'. Rabbi is of the opinion
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