Today’s section continues with another of the sayings of R. Assi.
If a woman gives birth she must she must bring a sin-offering. If she dies, her heirs must bring it on her behalf. According to Rav Judah this is so only if she already set the sacrifice aside. If she did not, her heirs do not need to bring it.
From here we can see that the mere fact that she is obligated to bring the offering is not enough to make her heirs obligated. Debt obligation, thus, is not from the Torah such that it should pass from one generation to the other.
R. Assi holds that even if she did not already set aside the sacrifice before she died, the heirs must bring it.
The same dispute between Shmuel and R. Yohanan exists elsewhere. The case here is where one’s father (or someone else from whom one inherits) incurs a debt without a written contract. According to Rav and Shmuel, the heirs cannot collect. They hold, therefore, that debt is not “from the Torah” such that it can be bequeathed to an inheritor. In contrast, Resh Lakish and R. Yohanan hold that the heirs can collect the debt. Thus debt must be from the Torah.
The question the Talmud asks is why we need two cases to illustrate the same principle. Once we know the principle that debt is or is not from the Torah shouldn’t we be able to figure out the particulars?
If we had only known the case of the debt incurred without a written contract, I might have thought that in that case only Shmuel holds that the heirs cannot collect, because such a debt is not mandated by the Torah. But in the case of the woman and the sacrifice that she owes, I might say that Shmuel would hold that her heirs must bring the sacrifice because such a debt is mandated by the Torah. Therefore, we need to learn that they do not. Debt is never bequeathed.
This is basically the opposite of above. Had only the case of the sacrifice been taught, I might have thought that in a case of a debt not written in the Torah, R. Yohanan would agree that the debt is not bequeathed to the inheritors. Therefore we need both cases.
R. Papa mediates between Shmuel and R. Yohanan. On the one hand, if an heir inherits a debt incurred by a verbal contract, he must pay it off. Debt obligation is from the Torah. On the other hand, if a purchaser buys land from someone not knowing that the seller had some debt because the debt was incurred by a verbal contract, he need not pay off the debt. Since the debt was oral, he would have no way of doing due diligence and therefore he need not pay back the creditor.
Today’s section searches for a proof text for how we know that a widow is allowed to marry anyone she wants. Note, the Talmud knows that widows are allowed to remarry. It is obvious, and the Torah really didn’t need to state this. However, the rabbis are still curious as to how we know this.
The idea that a woman is released from marriage by divorce is written in the Torah. The idea that she is released by death is logical.
The problem with the logic is that a woman is not totally free to marry whomever she wants just because her husband dies. When they get married, she becomes prohibited to certain of his relatives. She still cannot marry his relatives (his father, brother, and son).
The Talmud now does locate a source. A woman whose husband dies without children is not free to marry anyone until she either undergoes yibbum (levirate marriage) or halitzah (release therefrom). By implication, if he died with kids, she is free to marry whomever she wants.
The Torah only states that if she has no children she is forbidden to any other man and permitted to the husband. A possible implication is that if she has children, she is prohibited to marry anyone. Note that while this is an unlikely way of reading the Torah, it is a possible one and therefore we do not have a textual source for a woman going free at the death of her husband.
The Torah prohibits a widow from being married to a high priest. By implication she is permitted to marry a regular priest, and indeed anyone else.
Again, the Talmud pushes back. Perhaps there is a negative commandment not to marry a high priest, but there is a positive commandment that would prohibit her to marry anyone else. Thus there would be a positive commandment saying she must stay unmarried.
How can we have a positive commandment that would make her be prohibited by a positive commandment to marry anyone else? If her husband’s death is effective, she should be allowed to marry anyone else. If it is not effective, there should remain a stricter prohibition of marrying anyone else.
The Talmud argues that there is precedent for a change of status lessening a prohibition such that a married woman would be penalized by death for adultery whereas a widow would be penalized for transgressing a positive commandment.
The precedent for such a phenomenon would be animals dedicated to the Temple that are unfit to sacrifice due to some sort of blemish. Before they are redeemed, one may not use them and if one does one has transgressed the sin of “trespass” and must bring a sacrifice. After the animals are redeemed they may be used but one still may not shear them or work them.
When going to war, a man who recently married is exempt lest he die in battle and another man marry his new wife. Clearly a widow can remarry.
Perhaps she is only permitted to marry the brother-in-law and not any man she wants? Still, there is no proof that a widow can remarry whomever she wants.
R. Ashi finally puts forth an acceptable argument as to how we know that a widow may remarry. 1) When the Torah says she may marry another man, it does not mean the yavam. The yavam is not called “another man.” 2) The Torah compares divorce with death. Both free a woman to marry almost any man she wants (there are some restrictions, such as a widow cannot marry the high priest).
Today’s section begins to deal with how a yevamah is acquired by the yavam. Quick review: If a man dies without offspring his wife must either marry his brother (yibbum) or be released from this obligation through halitzah. The yavam is the brother and the yevamah is the widow.
A yevamah is acquired, meaning she becomes the wife of the yavam, through intercourse. The rabbis do not believe that money or a document can acquire a yevamah, as they do for betrothal with a regular woman. Part of the reason for this is that money or a document is done for betrothal and the yevamah is already tied to her brother-in-law by virtue of her marriage to her now deceased husband. All she needs to really do is complete a tie that was already forged.