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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 90a

'And she may eat terumah by virtue of his rights'!1  — Only Rabbinical terumah.2

Come and hear: If a man ate3  levitically unclean terumah, he must pay compensation in clean unconsecrated produce.4  If he paid unconsecrated produce that was levitically unclean, his compensation, said Symmachus in the name of R. Meir, is valid5  if it was paid in error,6  and invalid if paid wilfully.7  The Sages. however, said: Whether in one case or in the other8  his compensation is valid, but he must again pay compensation in clean unconsecrated produce.9  And when, in considering this ruling, the objection was raised, 'Why should not his compensation be valid if he paid it wilfully? A blessing should come upon him! For he has eaten such of the priest's produce10  as is not fit for him in the days of his uncleanness11  and paid him compensation in something12  that is fit for him in the days of his uncleanness',13  Raba, others say, Kadi, replied: [Some words are] missing from the text, the correct reading being the following: 'If a man ate levitically unclean terumah he may pay compensation In any produce;14  if he ate levitically clean terumah, he must pay compensation in clean unconsecrated produce; if, however, he made compensation in unconsecrated produce that was levitically unclean, his compensation, said Symmachus in the name of R. Meir, is valid if it was made in error,15  and his compensation is invalid if it was made wilfully. But the Sages said: His compensation is valid whether he has acted in error or wilfully, but he must again pay compensation in clean unconsecrated produce'. Now here, surely. the compensation is Pentateuchally valid,16  for were a priest to betroth a wife17  with it her betrothal would be valid, and yet the Rabbis18  ruled that 'his compensation is invalid',19  and thus20  a married woman21  is permitted to [marry any one in] the world!22  — This was meant by the expression,23  'his compensation is invalid' which R. Meir used: That he must pay compensation again in clean unconsecrated produce.24  If so, then Symmachus25  holds the same view as the Rabbis! — R. Aha son of R. Ika replied: The difference between them is on the question whether one who has acted unwittingly is to be penalized as a preventive measure against one acting wilfully.26

Come and hear: If [sacrificial] blood became levitically unclean and was then sprinkled [upon the altar], it is accepted27  if [the sprinkling was performed] unwittingly, but it is not accepted [if it was performed] wilfully.28  Now, according to Pentateuchal law, it is here undoubtedly accepted, for it was taught. 'In respect of what [errors] does the High Priest's front-plate29  procure acceptance?30  In respect of the sacrificial blood, flesh or fat that became unclean whether [this was brought about] by one acting in error or wilfully, under compulsion or willingly, and whether [this occurred with the sacrifice] of an individual or with [that of the] congregation',31  and yet the Rabbis ruled that 'it is not accepted'32  so that an unconsecrated beast is brought33  into the Temple court!34  — R. Jose b. Hanina replied: The expression, 'it is not accepted' was used35  in respect of permitting the flesh to be eaten;36  the owner, however, obtains atonement through it.37

After all, however, the law of eating the flesh [of the sacrifice] would he uprooted, whereas it is written in the Scriptures. And they shall eat those things wherewith atonement was made38  which teaches that the priests eat [the sacrificial meat] and the owner obtains thereby atonement! — The other replied: With an abstention from the performance of an act39  it is different.40

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Though Pentateuchally she is forbidden to eat terumah! V. supra p. 609. n. 5.
  2. That which is given from fruits of the trees, which is Pentateuchally permitted to non-priests. since the law of terumah is Pentateuchally applicable to corn only.
  3. Unwittingly.
  4. The reason is explained in Pes. 32a.
  5. Assumes the name of terumah.
  6. I.e., if he was unaware that the produce he gave as compensation was levitically unclean.
  7. Since he knew it to be unclean and yet paid it as compensation he is penalized.
  8. Whether the compensation was made in error or wilfully.
  9. Git. 54a.
  10. Lit., 'from him something'.
  11. Levitically unclean terumah may not be eaten by a priest even when he is himself also unclean.
  12. Unconsecrated produce.
  13. Even though it is levitically unclean.
  14. Even unconsecrated produce which is unclean.
  15. V. supra p. 610, n. 10.
  16. Since unconsecrated foodstuffs, though levitically unclean, may be consecrated (cf. supra 89b).
  17. Giving it to her as the token of betrothal (cf. Kid. 2a).
  18. I.e., R. Meir.
  19. If it was made wilfully.
  20. By ruling that the compensation is invalid and, in consequence, is not the property of the priest.
  21. Pentateuchally she should assume this status.
  22. As the compensation is Rabbinically invalid (v. supra n. 11) the betrothal also would be Rabbinically invalid. V. supra p. 609, n. 5.
  23. Lit., 'what'.
  24. The first payment, however, is also valid.
  25. Who reported R. Meir.
  26. According to the Rabbis, an unwitting sin is made punishable in order to prevent thereby a wilful one; hence their ruling that whether the payment of the compensation mentioned was made unwittingly or wilfully a second payment of compensation must be made. According to R. Meir, however, the inadvertent sinner is not to suffer for the sake of the wilful one; hence his ruling that a second payment of compensation is due only in the case of a wilful action.
  27. I.e., the owner obtains atonement and the flesh of the sacrifice may be eaten. [H] of the same rt. [H] as that of [H] and it shall be accepted in Lev. I, 4, q.v.
  28. Pes. 16b.
  29. [H] v. Ex. XXVIII, 36ff.
  30. Cf. supra n. 2.
  31. Pes. 80b, Yoma 7a, Men. 25b, Zeb. 45a, Git. 54a.
  32. In case of wilful action.
  33. Lit., 'brought again', i.e., the second sacrifice which the Rabbis ordained to be brought in addition to the first whose blood became unclean, remains Pentateuchally an unconsecrated beast, since, according to Pentateuchal law, no second sacrifice is required.
  34. V. supra p. 609, n. 5.
  35. Lit., 'what … which he said'.
  36. Only in this respect 'is it not accepted'; and the priest may not eat of such flesh.
  37. And no second sacrifice is required.
  38. Ex. XXIX, 33.
  39. [H], 'sit and do not act', as is the case with the prohibition against eating the sacrificial meat mentioned.
  40. From the case of turning consecrated terumah into unconsecrated produce. The former (v. supra n. 1) involving no action may well be within the jurisdiction of the Rabbis, but not the latter which involves an act uprooting a Pentateuchal law.

Yebamoth 90b

He,1  [on hearing the last reply] said to him:2  It was my intention to raise objections against your view3  from [the Rabbinical laws which relate to] the uncircumcised,4  sprinkling,5  the knife [of circumcision],6  the linen cloak with zizith,7  the lambs of Pentecost,8  the shofar9  and the lulab;10  now, however, that you taught us that abstention from the performance of an act11  is not regarded as an abrogation [of the law, I have nothing to say since] all these are also cases of abstention.12

Come and hear: Unto him ye shall hearken,13  even if he tells you. 'Transgress any of all the commandments of the Torah' as in the case, for instance, of Elijah on Mount Carmel,14  obey him in every respect in accordance with the needs of the hour!15  — There it is different,16  for it is written, 'Unto him shall ye hearken'. Then let [Rabbinic law] be deduced from it! — The safeguarding17  of a cause is different.18

Come and hear: If he19  annulled [his letter of divorce]20  it is annulled: so Rabbi. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, however, said: He may neither annul it nor add a single condition to it,21  since, otherwise,22  of what avail is the authority23  of the Beth din.24  Now, though here, the letter of divorce may be annulled25  in accordance with Pentateuchal law, we allow a married woman,26  owing to the power27  of Beth din,24  to marry anyone in the world!28  — Anyone who betroths [a woman] does so in implicit compliance with the ordinances29  of the Rabbis,30  and the Rabbis have [in this case]31  cancelled the [original] betrothal.32

Said Rabina to R. Ashi: This33  is a quite satisfactory explanation where betrothal was effected by means of money;34  what, however. can be said [in a case where betrothal was effected] by cohabitation! — The Rabbis35  have assigned36  to such a cohabitation the character of mere prostitution.37

Come and hear: R. Eleazar b. Jacob stated, 'I heard that even without any Pentateuchal [authority for their rulings]. Beth din may administer flogging and [death] penalties; not, however, for the purpose of transgressing the words of the Torah but in order to make a fence for the Torah. And it once happened that a man rode on horseback on the Sabbath in the days of the Greeks,38  and he was brought before Beth din and was stoned; not because he deserved this penalty, but because the exigencies of the hour demanded it. And another incident occurred with a man who had intercourse with39  his wife under a fig tree, and he was brought before Beth din and flogged; not because he deserved such a penalty, but because the exigencies of the hour demanded it!40  To safeguard a cause is different.41

NEITHER OF THEM MAY DEFILE HIMSELF FOR HER. Whence is this derived? — From what is written in Scripture. Except for his kin that is near unto him,42  and a Master stated that 'his kin' means his wife;43  while it was also written, The husband shall not defile himself, among his people, to prof- ane himself;44  [implying that] there is a husband, then, who may, and there is a husband who may not defile himself; how, then [are these contradictory laws to be reconciled]? He may defile himself for his lawful wife but he may not defile himself for his unlawful wife.45

NEITHER OF THEM HAS A CLAIM UPON ANYTHING SHE MAY FIND etc. [because] what is the reason why the Rabbis ruled that a wife's finds belong to her husband? In order that he may bear no hatred against her; but, here, let him bear against her ever so much hatred!46

OR MAKE WITH HER HANDS, [because] for what reason did the Rabbis rule that the work of her hands belonged to her husband? Because she receives from him her maintenance;47  but here, since she receives no maintenance, her handiwork does not belong to him.

OR TO THE RIGHT OF INVALIDATING HER VOWS, [since] what is the reason why the All Merciful said that a husband may annul [his wife's vows]? In order that she may not become repulsive; here, however, let her become ever so repulsive!48


Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. R. Hisda.
  2. Rabbah who maintained (supra 89b) that the Rabbis have no power to abrogate a pentateuchal law.
  3. V. supra note 4.
  4. Proselyte, whose circumcision is performed on the Passover Eve and who, by Rabbinic law, is forbidden to participate in the Paschal lamb, though Pentateuchally it is his duty to celebrate the Passover as an Israelite. Cf. Pes. 92a.
  5. On an unclean person, on the Sabbath day, is Rabbinically forbidden (cf. Pes. 66a) though Pentateuchally permitted. Should the Sabbath on which such sprinkling is due happen to be a Passover Eve, the person affected would, owing to the Rabbinical prohibition, remain unclean on that day and would, in consequence, be deprived of participation in the Paschal lamb, which is a Pentateuchal precept.
  6. The carrying of which on the Sabbath is Rabbinically forbidden even along roofs, an act which is Pentateuchally permitted (cf. Shab, 130b). By observing this Rabbinical law it is sometimes necessary to postpone circumcision which is a Pentateuchal commandment.
  7. V. Glos. Pentateuchally it is permitted to insert woollen fringes (v. Num. XV, 38) in a linen garment, despite the prohibition in Deut. XXII, 11 against wearing wool and linen together. Owing, however, to a Rabbinic prohibition, fringes of wool in a linen garment are forbidden, and this prohibition sometimes results in the abrogation of the Pentateuchal commandment of zizith. Cf. Men. 40a.
  8. V. Num. XXVIII, 26ff. If Pentecost fell on a Sabbath day, and these lambs were not offered for the purpose for which they were designated, the sacrificial blood may not, in accordance with a Rabbinical prohibition, be sprinkled upon the altar, though such sprinkling is Pentateuchally permitted. Thus, the Pentateuchal law of the sprinkling of the sacrificial blood, and other laws which are dependent on its performance, are suspended by a Rabbinical ordinance. Cf. Bezah 20b.
  9. The ram's horn used on the New Year festival (cf. Lev. XXIII. 24). If New Year's Day falls on a Sabbath, the Pentateuchal law of Shofar is abrogated by the Rabbis for fear it might be carried from one Sabbatical domain into another. Cf. R.H. 32a.
  10. The branches of palmtrees (Lev. XXIII, 40) which are taken during the Feast of Tabernacles. This Pentateuchal law is abrogated on the Sabbath day, for the same reason as in the case of the Shofar. (Cf. p. 613, n. 11).
  11. Cf. supra p. 613. n. 1.
  12. V. last note.
  13. Deut. XVIII, 15, referring to a true prophet.
  14. Where he offered a sacrifice on an improvised altar (v. I Kings XVIII, 31ff) despite the prohibition against offering sacrifices outside the Temple.
  15. Which shews that the word of a prophet, as also that of the Rabbis, may abrogate a Pentateuchal law.
  16. From the teaching of the Rabbis.
  17. Lit., 'making a wall round'.
  18. From an ordinary measure. Elijah, by his act, saved Israel from idolatry and brought them back to the worship of Cod.
  19. A husband who sent a letter of divorce to his wife by the hand of an agent. Cf. Git. 32a.
  20. In the presence of any Beth din, even though the woman was unaware of the fact.
  21. Cf. supra n. 10.
  22. Lit., 'if so were such annulment to he permitted.
  23. Lit., 'power'.
  24. I.e., R. Gamaliel the Elder, who ordained that such an annulment must not be made, since the woman in her ignorance of it might marry again and thus unconsciously give birth to illegitimate children. V. Git. 33a.
  25. So long as it did not reach the woman's hand.
  26. Since the letter of divorce was duly annulled the woman obviously still retains the status of a married woman.
  27. Lit., 'what power', quotation from R. Simeon's exclamation.
  28. Which shews that a Pentateuchal law of marriage is abrogated by a Rabbinic measure!
  29. Lit., 'opinion', 'view'.
  30. The formula being. 'According to the law of Moses and of Israel' (cf. P.B. p. 298), i.e., the Pentateuchal and Rabbinic law.
  31. Where the divorce was annulled.
  32. Transforming retrospectively the money of the betrothal (cf. Kid. 2a) given to the woman at her first marriage into an ordinary gift. Since the hefker of money comes within the power of a legal tribunal the Beth din is thus fully empowered to cancel the original betrothal, and the divorcee assumes, in consequence, the status of an unmarried woman who is permitted to marry any stranger.
  33. The explanation of the retrospective cancellation of the original marriage. V. supra note 3.
  34. A woman may be betrothed by means of money, deed or cohabitation. V. Kid. 2a.
  35. In compliance with whose laws and ordinances all betrothals are implicitly effected.
  36. Lit., 'made'.
  37. From the moment a divorce is annulled in such a manner, the cohabitation, it was ordained, must assume retrospectively the character of mere prostitution, and since her original betrothal is thus invalidated the woman resumes the status of the unmarried and is free to marry whomsoever she desires.
  38. While the Greeks were the rulers of the country.
  39. Lit., 'ejaculate in'.
  40. Cf. Sanh. 46a; which shows that the Rabbis may carry out decisions contrary to Pentateuchal law.
  41. Cf. supra p. 614, nn. 7 and 8. The incidents referred to occurred in times of religious laxity when rigid measures were necessary, v Sanh., Sonc. ed., p. 303. n. 8.
  42. Lev. XXI, 2.
  43. Consequently it is permitted for a priest to defile himself for his wife.
  44. Ibid. 4. which, contrary to the interpretation of v. 2, shews that a husband may not defile himself for his wife, [H], 'a husband'. (E.V. chief man).
  45. Who is the subject of our Mishnah, v. supra 22b.
  46. The more he will hate her the sooner will he sever the unlawful union.
  47. Lit., 'eats foods'.
  48. Cf. supra n. 5.