Yevamot, Chapter Fifteen, Mishnah Five



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 her ketubah, while the one who said, “he is not dead”, may neither marry again nor does she receive her ketubah.

2)                     If one wife said, “he is dead” and the other stated “he was killed”: 

a)                                 Rabbi Meir says: since they contradict one another they may not marry again.

b)                                 Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Shimon say: since both admit that he is not alive, both may marry again.

3)                     If one witness says, “he is dead”, and another witness says “he is not dead’,

a)                                 Or if one woman says “he is dead”, and another woman says, “he is not dead’, she may not marry again.



Section one:  This section and the following section deal with situations in which a man is married to more than one wife.  If one wife says that he is dead and the other says he is not, the wife that says he is dead is treated like a widow, and the wife who says that he is not, is treated like she is still married to him.  The reason why the first wife is allowed to remarry and collects her ketubah is that her rival wife is not allowed to testify about her, as we learned in the previous mishnah.  The wife who says that he is alive, cannot obviously be allowed to remarry or collect her ketubah because she believes that he is alive. 

Section two:  In this case, both wives agree that the husband is dead, but they disagree over whether he merely died or was killed.  Rabbi Meir holds that since they contradict each other, neither may remarry.  The Talmud teaches that Rabbi Meir also disagrees with the previous clause, where the wives also contradicted each other.  While the previous opinion held that the wife who says that he is dead may remarry, Rabbi Meir holds that she may not.  Rabbi Meir’s words are taught on this case, because here there is even a greater innovation:  even though both agree that he is dead, since they disagree over the details they may not remarry.  Rabbis Judah and Shimon hold that since they both agree that he is no longer alive, they may remarry.

Section three:   If two witnesses disagree over whether or not he is dead, she may not remarry. However, as we learned in the previous mishnah, if she remarried before the second witness said that he was alive, she need not leave the second marriage.