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The Babylonian Talmud in Selection, by Leo Auerbach, [1944], at

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p. 150 p. 151

Childless Widows

(Tractate Yebamoth)

IF BRETHREN dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without, unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife (Deuteronomy xxv, 5) .

And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the Elders, and say: My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.

Then the Elders of his city call him, and speak unto him; and if he stand to it, and say: I like not to take her. Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the Elders and (perform the Halizah) loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say: So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house (Deuteronomy xxv, 7-8-9). [These words from the Bible make clear the basis of this tractate.]

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A WOMAN whose husband went to a land beyond the sea, was advised that he had died. She remarried and subsequently her husband returned. She must leave one and the other, and must get a divorce from each one of them. She has no claim on either of them for her marriage settlement, her board, nor her clothes, and if she has taken anything from one and the other, she must return it to them. If a child was born to her by either of them, the child is a bastard. Neither of them will be defiled because of her, and neither one nor the other has any claim on whatever she finds, nor on her handiwork, nor can either of them set aside her vows. If she be the daughter of an Israelite, she is barred from marriage to a priest; if she be a daughter of a Levite, from eating of the tithe; and if a daughter of a priest, from eating of the Heave-offering. The heirs of neither of them may inherit her marriage settlement. If either of the husbands die, their brothers must perform the Halizah, but may not contract levirate marriage.

Rabbi Yosi says: Her dowry is a charge on her first husband's estate.

Rabbi Eleazar says: Her first husband has a right to whatever she may find, or to her handiwork, and may void her vows.

Rabbi Simon says: If the brother of her first husband cohabited with her, or performed the Halizah, her co-wife is exempt from levirate marriage, and a child begotten by her first husband is not a bastard. But if she were married again without the consent of court, she may return to her first husband. If she married

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again with the consent of the court, she must be divorced and she must make the sin offering. It is the authority of the court that makes her exempt from the sin offering. If the court permitted her to remarry but she went out and disgraced herself, she must bring a sin offering; because the court's permission was only to marry.



"AND must get a divorce from each one of them." It is quite obvious that she must get a divorce from the first husband. But why from the second, which is nothing else but a case of adultery?

Rabbi Huna answers: This is a precaution. It may be said that the first husband had divorced her, and the second had lawfully married her, and a married woman may leave her husband without a writ of divorce. If so, how is the latter clause to be explained, which says: If she was told: Thine spouse is dead, and she was betrothed, and her husband returned, she may return to him. One may say this time too that her first husband divorced her, and that the second married her, and that consequently a married woman may leave her husband without a writ of divorce. In reality she does not need a divorce. If so it may appear that the first husband had married his divorced wife after she was betrothed. This is in accordance with Rabbi Yosi ben Kipper who maintained that the remarrying of one's divorced wife after a marriage is forbidden, but after a betrothal is permissible.

"She has no claim on her marriage settlement." Why did the Rabbis provide a marriage settlement? The

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[paragraph continues] Rabbis provided a marriage settlement so that it wouldn't be easy for a man to divorce his wife. But in this case let it be easy for him to divorce his wife.



THE ceremony of the Halizah must be performed before three judges, even if they be laymen. If the widow performed it with a shoe, it is valid; if with a sock, it is not valid; if with a heeled sandal, it is valid; but if it had no heel, it is not valid; if from below the knee, it is valid; if from above the knee, it is not valid. If she performed the Halizah with a shoe that did not belong to the man, or with a sabot, or with a left shoe that was worn on the right foot, it is valid. With a shoe that was too big, but he could walk in it, or with one that was too small but covered most of his foot, it is valid.



SAID Raba, in the name of Rabbi Cabana, in the name of Rab: If the. prophet Elijah should appear and say that Halizah may be performed with a shoe, he would be followed, but if he would say Halizah must not be performed with a sandal, he would not be followed, because it has long since been established by the people that Halizah is being performed with a sandal.

"Above the knee." Rabbi Cahana objects (Deuteronomy xxviii, 57) And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet. Abaya answered: When a woman kneels to give birth she presses her heels against her thighs and thus gives birth. Come and hear: (2 Samuel xix, 24) And had neither dressed his feet nor trimmed his beard. This is a euphemistic phrase. Come

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and hear: (1 Samuel xxiv, 3) And Saul went in to cover his feet. This, too, is a euphemistic phrase. Come and hear: (Judges iii, 24) Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber. This is a euphemistic phrase: (Judges v, 27) At her feet, etc. This, too, is a euphemistic phrase.

Rabbi Yohanan said: Seven indulgencies in sexual intercourse had that wicked man, Sisera, the day he fled from Barak and Deborah. For it was said: (Judges v, 27) At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead. But surely Jael had pleasure from that sin.

Rabbi Yohanan answered in the name of Rabbi Simon ben Yohai: Every good deed committed by an evil person is evil unto the righteous. As it is said: (Genesis xxxi, 24) Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. Obviously, when it is spoken of evil; but why of good deeds? Because the good deeds of the wicked are evil to the righteous. By all means, because he may mention to him the name of his idol. But what evil could it cause here? He may inoculate her with sensual lust. As Rabbi Yohanan said: When the serpent copulated with Eve, he inoculated her with lust. For the Israelites who stood at Mount Sinai, lust terminated, but the lust of those who did not stand at Mount Sinai was not terminated.


Next: The Marriage Contract (Tractate Kethuboth)