Torah Sparks

United Synagogue (USCJ) is proud and delighted to bring you Torah Sparks, with insights and learning materials on the Parasha (Torah portion) of the week. Torah Sparks is produced by the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Each week there will be a Dvar Torah - a discussion on some aspect of the reading, by CY faculty, alumni and friends; a Vort - a short thought from Chasidic rebbes or other thinkers about some point in the text; and Table Talk - questions to stimulate discussion on the Parsha around the Shabbat table. Torah Sparks is available here on the Conservative Yeshiva's Shiurim Online Beit Midrash website, as well as by subscription to weekly graphical emails. Please select the Parasha you would like to see - it will display articles from each year. A printable PDF is linked at the end of each week's presentation.

Yevamoth

Introduction to Yevamot

Introduction to Yevamot   The laws of levirate marriage are contained in Deuteronomy 25:5-10.  According to these laws, if a husband dies without children, his brother should marry his widow and the first son that she bears shall be “accounted to the dead brother”.  This is in order for the dead brother’s genealogical line to […]

Yevamot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Yevamot, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction If a woman’s husband dies without children she is liable for yibbum to her husband’s brother.  However, if she is forbidden to her husband’s brother because of an incest prohibition, she is not liable for yibbum.  Our mishnah teaches which incest prohibitions exempt a woman from being liable […]

Yevamot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Yevamot, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of the previous and it explains many of the details.   Mishnah Two I)                      How do they exempt their rival wives? A)                                If his daughter or any other of these forbidden relatives was married to his brother who also had another wife, and […]

Yevamot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Yevamot, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction Mishnah three introduces a different list of women which is compared to the list in mishnah one.   Mishnah Three There are six relatives that are more restricted than these, in that they may be married only to strangers, marriage with their rivals is permitted:   his mother and […]

Yevamot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Yevamot, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction Mishnah four teaches us that the first three mishnayoth of the tractate were all according the opinion of Beth Hillel.  Whereas Beth Hillel ruled that a woman whose rival wife is forbidden to the yavam is exempt from yibbum (as is the forbidden wife), Beth Shammai ruled that […]

Yevamot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 1

Yevamot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah, and several mishnayoth which follow deal with the unfortunate situation where a woman thinks her husband has died, she gets remarried, has kids, and then her husband reappears.  The mishnah lists the consequences of her now having unwittingly committed adultery. The usual interpretation of this mishnah […]

Yevamot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 2

Yevamot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah continues to discuss the situation of a woman who was told that her husband was dead and she remarried, and then her husband returned.   Mishnah Two 1)                     If she married with the authorization of the court, she must leave, but is exempt from bringing a […]

Yevamot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 3

Yevamot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah discusses other scenarios where a woman was told that her husband died and it turns out that the information she received was not 100 per cent correct.    Mishnah Three 1)                     If a woman whose husband and son went to a country beyond the sea was […]

Yevamot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 4

Yevamot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah and the next discuss the ramifications of situations where a husband was told that his wife had died, and he married her sister.    Mishnah Four 1)                     If a man’s wife had gone to a country beyond the sea and he was told, “Your wife is […]

Yevamot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 5

Yevamot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with a quite complicated situation in which a man marries a series of sisters, thinking that each previous one was dead, and then finds out that they are all alive.  If we sort out all of the details, this braintwister shouldn’t be so bad.   […]

Yevamot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 6

Yevamot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah discusses the ramifications of a boy, nine years and one day old, performing an act of yibbum, divorce, halitzah or ma’amar.  The mishnah teaches that a boy of this age is capable of having sex which is a purely physical act.  However, he does not have […]

Yevamot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 7

Yevamot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah explains the status of an act of sexual intercourse done by a boy who has reached nine years and one day old, but is not yet of majority age.   Mishnah Seven If a boy of the age of nine years and one day had intercourse […]

Yevamot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 8

Yevamot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah continues to discuss the ramifications of an act of intercourse performed by a boy of the age of nine years and one day.   Mishnah Eight 1)                     If a boy of the age of nine years and one day had intercourse with his yevamah and afterwards […]

Yevamot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 9

Yevamot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Nine   Introduction The final mishnah of chapter ten contains another dispute between the sages and Rabbi Shimon over the status of an act of intercourse performed by a nine year old boy.  As we have learned before, according to the sages, such an act partially acquires the yevamah as his […]

Yevamot, Chapter 11, Mishnah 1

Yevamot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah One   Introduction A man may not marry the relatives of his wife (her mother, her daughter, her sister and some others) and he may not marry his father’s wife or his brother’s wife.  Our mishnah discusses whether a man may marry the relatives of a woman with whom he, his […]

Yevamot, Chapter 11, Mishnah 2

Yevamot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah refers to a convert’s participation in halitzah and yibbum.   Mishnah Two 1)                     The sons of a female convert who converted with her do not perform halitzah or yibbum, even if the one was not conceived in holiness but was born in holiness, and the other […]

Yevamot, Chapter 11, Mishnah 3

Yevamot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah and the following two mishnayoth deal with a favorite rabbinic topic, especially in seder Nashim:  people getting mixed up and not knowing who they are.  We will see similar discussions in tractates Gittin and Kiddushin.  In the case in our mishnah, five boys from five women […]

Yevamot, Chapter 11, Mishnah 4

Yevamot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with the complex situation where a mother’s son gets mixed up with her daughter-in-law’s son.  Afterwards each woman has another son, such that it is unclear who is whose brother and who is whose father’s brother.  I will try to use names to make the […]

Yevamot, Chapter 11, Mishnah 5

Yevamot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with a case where a priest’s wife’s child is mixed up with her slave’s child [this would have made a good TV movie].  Each kid doesn’t know whether he is the son of a priest or the son of a slave.   Mishnah Five 1)                     […]

Yevamot, Chapter 11, Mishnah 6

Yevamot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Six   Introduction As we learned in chapter four, mishnah ten, a woman must wait three months between marriages in order to determine whether a subsequently born child is from the first or second husband.  Our mishnah deals with a case where the woman did not wait and then bore a […]

Yevamot, Chapter 11, Mishnah 7

Yevamot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah, which dealt with a situation in which it was unclear whether a woman’s former husband or current husband is the father of her child.   Mishnah Seven 1)                     If one of [the two husbands] was an Israelite and the other […]

Yevamot, Chapter 12, Mishnah 1

Yevamot, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah One   Introduction The twelfth chapter of Yevamot discusses how halitzah is performed.  The first mishnah discusses the necessity of the presence of judges and what type of footwear she must remove from the yavam in order for the halitzah to be valid.    Mishnah One 1)                     The commandment of halitzah […]

Yevamot, Chapter 12, Mishnah 2

Yevamot, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah relates laws concerning the shoe with which halitzah must be performed.   Mishnah Two 1)                     If the woman performed the halitzah with a sandal that did not belong to him, or with a wooden sandal, or with the one of the left foot [which he was […]

Yevamot, Chapter 12, Mishnah 3

Yevamot, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Three   Introduction There are three acts in the halitzah ceremony:  1)  the woman’s removal of the yavam’s shoe; 2) her spitting in front of him; 3) her recitation of the verses in Deuteronomy.  Mishnah six below will deal with the recitations stated during the process of halitzah.  Our mishnah deals […]

Yevamot, Chapter 12, Mishnah 4

Yevamot, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Four   Introduction Halitzah requires what is called “da’at” or awareness/intent.  That is both the woman and the man must fully understand that the halitzah permits her to marry others and causes her to become prohibited to the yavam.  According to the rabbis, minors and deaf-mutes do not legally have da’at […]

Yevamot, Chapter 12, Mishnah 5

Yevamot, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah is concerned with an act of halitzah that was not done in the presence of three judges, as was required in mishnah one.  Note the structure of this chapter:  the first mishnah dealt with judges and now the mishnah returns to this subject.  As we shall […]

Yevamot, Chapter 12, Mishnah 6

Yevamot, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Six   Introduction The final mishnah of our chapter outlines the procedure of halitzah.   Mishnah Six [This is the procedure in the performance of] the commandment of halitzah: 1)                     He and his deceased brother’s wife come to the court, and they offer him appropriate advice, for it is said, “Then […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 1

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah One   Introduction Chapter thirteen discusses the marriage of a minor, her right to refuse and thereby annul the marriage when she reaches majority age and the implications that this has on the laws of yibbum.  According to the rabbinic understanding of the Torah, a father can marry off his daughter […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 10

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Ten   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah.   Mishnah Ten 1)                     [If one was] of sound senses and the other deaf, and the yavam had intercourse with the woman of sound senses and then he also had intercourse with the deaf woman, or a brother of his […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 11

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Eleven   Introduction This mishnah continues the subject discussed in the previous two mishnayoth.   Mishnah Eleven 1)                     [If one was] of age and the other a minor, and the yavam had intercourse with the one who was of age, and then he had intercourse with the minor, or a brother […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 12

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Twelve   Introduction The first half of this mishnah discusses the case of a minor yavam (up until now the mishnah has concentrated mostly on the minor yevamah).  The second half of the mishnah discusses the situation of a woman who claims that her yavam has not had yibbum with her […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 13

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Thirteen   Introduction This mishnah discusses a woman who made a vow not to receive any benefit from her yavam (her brother-in-law).  Since sexual intercourse is a benefit, for it is pleasurable, she cannot have yibbum.  The question is, is the yavam forced by the courtto perform halitzah for her, or […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 2

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah provides three statements as to which type of minor girl can be married off by her brother or mother and before reaching majority age make a declaration of refusal.   Mishnah Two Which minor must make the declaration of refusal?   1)                     Any whose mother or brothers […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 3

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of the previous mishnah.                                           Mishnah Three Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob says:  In the case of any hindrance that was due to the husband, she is considered to be his wife; But in the case of any hindrance that was not […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 4

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with various consequences of her refusing the marriage, especially on her subsequent marriages.  Note that the mishnah does not talk about situations that are likely to arise.  Rather by suggesting concrete cases, the mishnah teaches more abstract legal principles.    Mishnah Four 1)                     If a […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 5

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with the remarriage of a girl who has made a declaration of refusal.   Mishnah Five              If a minor made a declaration of refusal against a man, and then she was married to another man who divorced her, and afterwards to another man […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 6

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah discusses whether or not a woman who has been divorced and remarried by the same man can have yibbum, should her husband die without children.   Mishnah Six 1)                     If a man divorced his wife and remarried her, she is permitted to marry the yavam;  a)                                 […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 7

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah discusses situations where a woman becomes liable for yibbum or halitzah to her sister’s husband.  Generally in such a case the woman is completely exempt.  However, these cases are slightly different because at least on of the marriages is only of rabbinic status.    Mishnah Seven […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 8

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Usually when two women are married to a man and he dies without children, when one of the brothers performs yibbum or halitzah with one of the widows, the other is automatically exempt.  Yibbum or halitzah are not performed for each wife.  Our mishnah discusses situations in which […]

Yevamot, Chapter 13, Mishnah 9

Yevamot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Nine   Introduction This mishnah deals with a case where a man has intercourse with both of his brother’s widows, or he has intercourse with one and his brother has intercourse with the other.   Mishnah Nine 1)                     If a man who was married to two orphans who were minors died, […]

Yevamot, Chapter 14, Mishnah 1

Yevamot, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah One   Introduction This chapter is concerned with divorce or yibbum involving a deaf man and/or woman.  As we have mentioned previously, according to the rabbis deaf-mutes lack “da’at”, which I translate as “awareness” and hence they cannot truly contract marriage.  The marriage which they do contract is considered “derabbanan”, that […]

Yevamot, Chapter 14, Mishnah 2

Yevamot, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah contains a debate about which type of deaf woman may be divorced.   Mishnah Two Rabbi Nehunia ben Gudgada testified concerning a deaf-mute whose father had given her in marriage, that she could be sent away with a bill of divorcement;   They said to him: the […]

Yevamot, Chapter 14, Mishnah 3

Yevamot, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah, and the rest of the chapter, deals with various combinations of marriages between deaf people and people of sound senses, and the possibility of yibbum, halitzah and divorce.    Mishnah Three 1)                     If two deaf brothers were married to two deaf sisters, or to two sisters […]

Yevamot, Chapter 14, Mishnah 4

Yevamot, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah is similar to yesterday’s mishnah, the only difference being that in this case, one marriage is of deoraita status, whereas yesterday both were derabbanan.   Mishnah Four 1)                     If two brothers, one of whom was deaf and the other of sound senses, were married to two […]

Yevamot, Chapter 14, Mishnah 5

Yevamot, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)                     If two brothers of sound senses were married to two sisters one of whom was deaf and the other of sound senses, and the brother of sound senses, the husband of the deaf sister, died, what should the brother of sound senses, the husband of the […]

Yevamot, Chapter 14, Mishnah 6

Yevamot, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)                     If two brothers, one of whom was deaf and the other of sound senses, were married to two sisters, one of whom was deaf and the other of sound senses, and the deaf brother, the husband of the deaf sister, died, what should the brother who […]

Yevamot, Chapter 14, Mishnah 7

Yevamot, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)                     If two brothers, one of whom was deaf and the other of sound senses, were married to two strangers who were of sound senses, and the deaf brother, the husband of the woman who was of sound senses, died, what should the brother of sound senses, […]

Yevamot, Chapter 14, Mishnah 8

Yevamot, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)                     If two brothers of sound senses were married to two strangers, one of whom was of sound senses and the other deaf, and the brother of sound senses, the husband of the deaf woman died, what should the brother of sound senses, the husband of the […]

Yevamot, Chapter 14, Mishnah 9

Yevamot, Chapter Fourteen, Mishnah Nine   Introduction This is the final mishnah of the chapter and it concludes the rather long series of mishnayot which we have seen throughout the entire chapter.   Mishnah Nine 1)                     If two brothers, one of whom was deaf and the other of sound senses, were married to two strangers, […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 1

Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah One   Introduction Chapters fifteen and sixteen deal with the acceptability of testimony concerning a woman’s husband’s death in a case where the death occurred abroad.  The consequence of accepting such testimony is that she is allowed to remarry; in cases where the husband had no children she would be allowed […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 10

Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Ten   Introduction This mishnah continues to discuss women who return from being abroad and come back and testify that their husbands and in this case brothers-in-law have died.    Mishnah Ten 1)                     [If a woman states] “a brother-in-law was given to me [while I was] in a country beyond the […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 2

Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah.  It contains a debate between Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai over when a woman is believed to say that her husband died.    Mishnah Two 1)                     Bet Hillel says: we heard [such a tradition] only in respect of a woman […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 3

Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Three   Introduction In the previous mishnah Bet Hillel agreed with Bet Shammai that a woman who states that her husband died is to be believed, at least in most cases.  In our mishnah, Bet Hillel states that her testimony allows her to remarry but not to receive her ketubah payment, […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 4

Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah contains two mishnayoth, each dealing with a different topic.  The first mishnah lists a few women who are not believed to testify that a woman’s husband has died. The second mishnah discusses cases of contradictory testimony regarding the husband’s death.   Mishnah Four 1)                     All are believed […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 5

Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah continues to discuss contradictory testimony with regard to the husband’s death.   Mishnah Five 1)                     If one wife said “he is dead’ and the other wife said, “he is not dead” , the one who said, “he is dead” may marry again and she also receives […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 6

Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah discusses a case where a man was married to more than one wife, and one wife claimed that he had died and the other wife was not able to know whether this was true.    Mishnah Six 1)                     If a woman and her husband went to […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 7

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, […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 8

Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Our mishnah deals with a situation where a woman goes abroad with a husband and a son and then returns claiming that both have died.  The question is:  is she liable for yibbum.   Mishnah Eight 1)                     A woman who went with her husband to a country beyond […]

Yevamot, Chapter 15, Mishnah 9

Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Nine   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with a woman who returns from overseas and states that both her husband and son have died.  The difference between this case and that found in the previous mishnah is that here her son was born abroad.    Mishnah Nine 1)                     [If a […]

Yevamot, Chapter 16, Mishnah 1

Yevamot, Chapter Sixteen, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with a woman whose husband died abroad and she is not sure whether or not she is obligated to have yibbum with his brother.   Mishnah One 1)                     A woman whose husband and rival wife went to a country beyond the sea, and to whom […]

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