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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
on what grounds do the Rabbis declare the man liable?1 If it be suggested: Because he2 is believed; surely [here it may be objected], even in the case of two witnesses, who in all other cases are trusted though the accused contradicts them, the Rabbis have exempted him!3 The reason4 must consequently be5 because the accused remained silent, and silence is regarded as admission!6
[The fact], however, [is that this7 is arrived at] by8 a logical inference, this case being analogous to that of a piece of fat9 concerning which there is doubt as to whether it was of the forbidden,10 or of the permitted kind; if a single witness came and declared, 'l am certain that it was permitted fat', he is trusted.11 Are [the two cases] similar? There12 the prohibition13 was not established; here14 the prohibition of a married woman is established,15 and no question of sexual relationship [may be decided on the evidence of] less than two witnesses! This16 is rather analogous17 to the case of a piece that was definitely forbidden fat;18 if a single witness came and declared, 'I am certain that it was permitted fat,' he is not believed.19 But are these cases, similar? In that case,20 should even a hundred witnesses come they would not be believed; in this case,16 however, since should two witnesses come they would be trusted, one witness also should be trusted! This16 is rather analogous to the cases of tebel,21 and consecrated and konam21 objects.22
Whose tebel21 is here to be understood? If his own,23 [he would naturally be trusted] since it is in his power to make it fit for use;24 if, however, it is that of another person, [the question may still be urged], what view is here adopted: If it is maintained that a man who sets apart priestly dues for his neighbours' produce out of his own does not require the owner s consent [it is quite obvious why the witness is here trusted] since it is in his power to make it fit for use;24 and if it is maintained that the owner's consent is required and that the witness declares, 'I know that he has made it fit for use', whence is this very law25 derived? As regards consecrated objects also, if it was a consecration of the value of an object [it is obvious why one witness is trusted] since it is in his power to redeem it;26 but if an object has been consecrated,27 [the objection may still be raised]: If it were his own23 [he would naturally be trusted] since it is within his right to ask for the disallowance of his vow;28 if, however, it belonged to another man, and the witness declared, 'I know that its owner has asked for the disallowance of his vow', whence is this very law29 derived? With reference to konam30 objects also, if it is maintained that the law of trespass31 is applicable to konam objects and that the sanctity of their value32 descends upon them [it is obvious why one witness is trusted] since it is within his power to redeem them;33 and if it is maintained that the law of trespass31 is not applicable to konam objects34 and that it is only a mere prohibition with which he is saddled35 [the question may be urged]: If any such object was his own [it is natural that he should be trusted] since it is within his power to ask for the disallowance of his vow;36 if, however, it belonged to another man, and the witness declared, 'I know that its owner has asked for the disallowance of his vow, whence is this very law37 derived?
R. Zera replied:38 Owing to the rigidity of the disabilities39 that were later40 imposed upon her the law was relaxed in her favour at the beginning.41 Let there be, however, neither rigid disabilities nor a relaxation of the law! — In order [to avoid] perpetual desertion42 the Rabbis have relaxed the law in her favour.43
MUST … LEAVE THE ONE AS WELL AS THE OTHER etc. Rab stated: This was taught only in respect [of a woman] who married on the evidence of a single witness, but if she married on the strength of the evidence of two witnesses, she need not leave.44 In the West45 they laughed at him. 'Her husband' [they remarked] comes, and there he stands, and you say: She need not leave!' — This46 [it may be replied] was required only in the case when the man47 was not known.48 If he49 is unknown, why is she to leave [her second husband] even where she only married on the evidence of a single witness? This is required only in the case where two witnesses came and stated, 'We were with him49 from the moment he left until now, but you it is who are unable to recognize him';50 as it is written, And Joseph knew his brethren but they knew him not,51 on which R. Hisda remarked: This teaches that he went forth without any marks52 of a beard and now he appeared with a full52 beard. But, after all, there are two53 against two
and he who cohabits with her1 is liable to bring an asham talui!2 R. Shesheth replied:3 When she was married, for instance, to one of her witnesses.4 But she herself is liable to an asham talui!5 — Where3 she states, 'I am certain',6 If so, what need was there to state [such an obvious ruling], when even R. Menahem son of R. Jose7 maintained his view only where the witnesses8 came first and the woman married afterwards, but not9 where she married first and the witnesses came afterwards! For it was taught: If two witnesses state that he10 was dead and two state that he was not dead, or if two state that the woman was divorced and two state that she was not divorced, the woman must not marry again, but if she married she need not leave;11 R. Menahem, son of R. Jose, however, ruled that she must leave.10 Said R. Menahem son of R. Jose, 'When do I rule that she must leave? Only when witnesses came first and she married afterwards, but where she married first and the witnesses came afterwards, she need not leave!'12 — Rab also spoke of the case where witnesses came first and the woman married afterwards, [his object being] to exclude the ruling of R. Menahem son of R. Jose.
Another reading: The reason then13 is because she married first and the witnesses came afterwards,14 but where witnesses came first and the woman married afterwards, she must leave. In accordance with whose [view is this ruling]? — In accordance with that of R. Menahem son of R. Jose.
Raba raised an objection: Whence is it deduced that if [a priest] refused15 he is to be compelled?16 It was expressly stated, And thou shalt sanctify him,17 even against his will. Now, how is this18 to be understood?19 If it be suggested [that it is a case] where she was not married to one of her witnesses20 and she does not plead 'I am certain',21 is there any need to state that he is to be compelled?22 Consequently it must refer to a case23 where she was married to one of her witnesses24 and she pleads, 'I am certain'; I and yet it was stated that he was to be compelled;25 from which it clearly follows that she is to be taken away from him!26 — A priestly prohibition is different.27 If you prefer I might say,28 'What is the meaning of "he is to be compelled"? He is to be compelled by means of witnesses'.29 And if you prefer I might say:28 [It is a case] where witnesses came first and she married afterwards, and this represents the view of R. Menahem son of R. Jose.30 R. Ashi replied. What is meant by the expression, 'She need not leave' which Rab used? She is not to depart from her first state of permissibility.31 But surely Rab has said this once! For we learned, IF SHE MARRIED WITHOUT AN AUTHORIZATION SHE MAY RETURN TO HIM, and Rab Huna stated in the name of Rab: This is the established law!32 — One was stated as an inference from, the other.33
What [are the circumstances] spoken of? If it be suggested that there are two witnesses,36 of what avail is her denial?37 [It must then deal with the case] of one witness, and the reason38 is because she contradicts him;39 had she, however, remained silent, she would have been obliged to leave. But, surely, 'Ulla stated that 'wherever the Torah allows credence to one witness40 he is regarded as two witnesses, and the evidence of one man41 against that of two men has no validity!'42 — Here it is a case of evidence by ineligible witnesses,43 and [Samuel's statement is] in accordance with the view of R. Nehemiah. For it was taught: R. Nehemiah stated, 'Wherever the Torah allows credence to one witness40 the majority of opinions is to be followed,44 and [the evidence of] two women against that of one man is given the same validity as that of two men against one man'.45
And if you prefer I might reply: Wherever one eligible witness came first,46 even a hundred women47 are regarded as one witness;48 here, however, we are dealing with a case where a woman witness came in the first instance;49 and the statement of R. Nehemiah is to be explained thus: R. Nehemiah stated, 'Wherever the Torah allows credence to one witness, the majority of opinions is to be followed, and [the evidence of] two women against that of one woman is given the same validity as that of two men against one man, but that of two women against that of one man is regarded only as that of a half and a half.50
SHE ALSO REQUIRES A LETTER OF DIVORCE FROM ONE AS WELL AS FROM THE OTHER. It is quite intelligible that she should require a divorce from the first husband; but why also from the second [when their union was a] mere act of adultery?51 — R. Huna replied: This52 is a preventive measure against the possibility of assuming that the first had divorced her and the second had [lawfully] married her, and that consequently53 a married woman54 may leave her husband without a letter of divorce. If so,55 in the latter clause also, where it was stated, 'If she was told "your husband is dead", and she was betrothed, and afterwards her husband came, she is permitted to return to him',56 might it not be assumed there also that the first husband had divorced her and the other had [lawfully] betrothed her and that consequently a betrothed woman may be released without a letter of divorce! — As a matter of fact she does require a letter of divorce.57 If so,58 [it might there also be assumed that] the first had again married his divorced wife after she had been betrothed!59 — [This statement is in] accordance with R. Jose b. Kiper who stated [that remarrying one's divorced wife] after a marriage60 is forbidden but after a betrothal60 is permitted.61 Since, however, it was stated in the final clause, 'Although
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