Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Seven

 

Introduction

This mishnah contains three more debates between Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva, all somewhat similar to the one we learned yesterday.

 

Mishnah Seven

1)                     If she stated, “my husband died first and my father-in-law died after him”, she may marry again and she also receives her ketubah, but her mother-in-law is forbidden [to remarry].

a)                                 If [her mother-in-law] was the daughter of an Israelite [who was married] to a priest, she is permitted to eat terumah, the words of Rabbi Tarfon.

b)                                 Rabbi Akiva says: this is not a way that would lead her away from transgression, unless [it be enacted that] she shall be forbidden both to marry and to eat terumah.

2)                     If a man betrothed one of five women and he does not know which of them he has betrothed, and each states, “he has betrothed me”, he gives a letter of divorce to every one of them,  and he leaves one ketubah [sum] for them and withdraws, the words of Rabbi Tarfon.

a)                                 Rabbi Akiva says: this is not a way that would lead him away from transgression, unless he gives to each of them both a get and a ketubah.

3)                     If a man robbed one of five persons and does not know which of them he has robbed, and each one states, “he has robbed me”, he leaves the [amount of] the robbery among them and withdraws, the words of Rabbi Tarfon.

a)                                 Rabbi Akiva says: this is not a way that would lead them away from transgression, unless one pays [the full amount of the robbery] to every one [of the persons involved].

 

Explanation

Section one:  This section contains more or less the same debate that we learned in yesterday’s mishnah.  The only innovation is that in this case, when the woman states that her father-in-law is dead, she has already stated that her own husband is dead, and therefore she is no longer her mother-in-law’s daughter-in-law.  Therefore, we might have thought that in this case she is believed, and the mother-in-law may remarry.  In order to prevent one from making this assumption, the debate between Rabbis Tarfon and Akiva is repeated here.

Section two:  In this case, each woman claims to be married to one man, but the man admits to marrying only one of them.  According to Rabbi Tarfon we treat each woman as if she might be married to him and he must give a get to each.  However, since he will only admit to marrying one woman, he must pay only one ketubah sum.  The sum is left in court, until it is clarified who he married.

Rabbi Akiva argues that the solution to this problem needs to punish the man for having put these women into this predicament.  In order to penalize him for his actions, he must pay a ketubah payment to each and every one.

Section three:  In this case, a man stole from one of five other people, but does not remember from whom he stole.  Each person claims that he stole from him.  Again, Rabbi Tarfon rules that the thief pays the sum he stole and gives it to the court until it can be clarified from whom he stole.  Rabbi Akiva again wishes to punish the thief, and therefore obligates him to pay the amount stolen to each of the five.

Note that in both cases Rabbi Akiva is not concerned that he is rewarding the four out of the five women or people from whom something has been stolen who are definitely lying.  Perhaps this is because it is unclear (at least to us) which is lying, whereas it is clear that this person has stolen money, or betrothed a woman without bothering to remember whom he betrothed.

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