The Talmud solves the problem by saying that the younger group of daughters consists of only two. There is no middle daughter, for had there been one, we would have had no doubt about her being called “eldest.” And this is evident by the fact that a middle daughter is not mentioned in the mishnah.
The problem is that if there is a middle daughter in the first group, the older daughters, she too is part of the doubtful group, for she is older than the second group of daughters. But the mishnah does not teach her? So maybe the fact that a daughter does not appear in the mishnah does not matter, and there might be a middle daughter in the second group.
The Talmud rejects the difficulty. In the first half of the statement, the youngest daughter of the first group is mentioned. Any girl older than her is part of the doubt, for all of these girls are older than those in the second set. However, when it comes to the second group, the mishnah mentions only the oldest. Had there been a doubt about any daughter younger than her, then the mishnah should have mentioned her.
R. Huna points out that Pesah is not a case of two entities and yet R. Meir and R. Yose still dispute over the meaning of the father’s statement.
Rava responds that these are two separate disputes. This is not a general dispute (as we thought above) over whether a person enters himself into doubt. Rather it is a dispute over the particular meanings of words—does “until pene Pesah” mean until Pesah arrives or until Pesah is over. The dispute over the meaning of eldest/youngest is a separate dispute.
This mishnah deals with cases where a man says that he betrothed a certain woman and she contradicts him or where she claims that he betrothed her and he denies it.
The general principle upon which this mishnah stands is that a person can make a statement which impacts himself/herself but does not impact others. Stated otherwise, a person is believed with regard to personal consequences but not with regard to consequences to others. To have consequences one needs witnesses.
The man claims he has betrothed the woman, and therefore he is believed with regard to himself. The consequence is that all of the woman’s relatives (daughter, mother, sister etc.—for a full list see Yevamot 4:7) are prohibited to him, because according to him, he is betrothed to their relative. However, the woman denies that this man betrothed her. Hence she is not prohibited to his relatives.
This is the opposite case. Since she claims to be betrothed to him, she is prohibited from marrying his relatives. Since he denies being betrothed to her, he is permitted to her relatives.
The mishnah adds a wrinkle to the previous cases. Here the husband claims that he betrothed a woman and she responds that he didn’t betroth her but rather he betrothed her daughter (again, one can imagine a Hollywood scenario lurking behind this mishnah!). As above, he is prohibited to her relatives because he claims that he betrothed her. The mother (the senior woman) is not prohibited to his relatives, because she claims that she is not betrothed to that man. The man is not prohibited to the daughter’s relatives because he denies having betrothed her. The daughter is also permitted to his relatives, since she didn’t claim that she was betrothed to him, but rather the mother did. A mother does not have the legal ability to give her daughter in betrothal and hence, unlike a father who does have such a legal ability, she is not believed to say that she has done so.
This section provides the opposite scenario to that which we saw above. The man claims that he betrothed the woman’s daughter, and is therefore forbidden to the daughter’s relatives. However, the daughter is still permitted to his relatives, since neither she nor her mother claimed that she was betrothed to him.
The mother’s relatives are permitted to him, because he doesn’t claim to have betrothed her. However, she is forbidden to his relatives because she claims to have been betrothed to him.
The Talmud begins to explain the mishnah.
Why did the mishnah need to teach the same rule with regard to him and with regard to her?
The answer is that if the mishnah had taught it only with regard to the man, we might have thought that the man does not care about happening to say that he is betrothed to a woman when he is not. He can always betroth another one. So we would not believe him and therefore she is permitted to marry his relatives. But the consequences for a woman to say “I was betrothed to a certain man” are greater, for now she cannot marry anyone. Therefore, we might have believed her and said that he is prohibited to her relatives. We would assume based on her word that they indeed are betrothed. Therefore, we need to say that she too is not believed vis a vis other people.
Why does the mishnah need another example of the same principle? Why does it need to teach us that if the mother says the daughter was betrothed to this man, the mother is not believed vis a vis the daughter?
The answer is that the rabbis did give the mother the power to betroth the daughter when the father is no longer alive. So we might have thought that the mother is believed and creates a prohibition for her daughter. Therefore, the mishnah teaches that she is not.
This section of the mishnah is indeed repetitive—we did not need another example. But it is taught anyways, just for a sense of completion.
The mishnah describes cases where the man claims he married a woman or she claims he married her but the other party denies it. The amoraim discuss whether the court forces the man to divorce the woman in such cases.
It does not make any sense to say that their dispute refers to the case where the husband said “I betrothed this woman” and she denies it. She is free to marry his relatives—his words have no impact on her. So why force or even ask him to divorce her?
And if it refers to the case where she said, “You betrothed me” and he denied it, it makes sense to ask him to divorce her. This would allow her to marry someone else. But how can we force him to divorce her when this will cause him to be prohibited from marrying her relatives. After all, he denies that he ever betrothed her!
The Talmud now explains that there was no dispute. Rather, these halakhot go in tandem. First of all, the court asks him to divorce her, but they cannot compel him. But if he divorces her of his own accord, without being asked, then we can assume that he did betroth her and therefore the court forces him to pay the ketubah.
This statement, at least how it is read after it is emended, supports the Talmud’s earlier explanation of the relationship between the statements of Rav and Shmuel.
Today’s sugya contains a dispute over whether two witnesses are needed for betrothal.
According to R. Judah, without two witnesses, the kiddushin are totally invalid.
R. Yehudah was uncertain whether or not they are betrothed if both agree.
R. Nahman rules that two witnesses are necessary for kiddushin to be valid. But this seems to contradict our mishnah. If there were witnesses in the case in our mishnah, then his relatives should not be permitted to her—indeed, they are married. But if there are no witnesses, why would anyone think that her relatives are prohibited to him. According to the Talmud no one holds that kiddushin can be valid without any witnesses.
Rather, Rava posits that the case refers to one witness. This is a difficulty against R. Nahman who posited that with one witness no one thinks that the kiddushin have any validity.
R. Nahman says the mishnah refers to a case where the husband claims he performed the betrothal in front of witnesses but that those witnesses are gone overseas and cannot be examined. Since he is claiming that he performed the kiddushin in a valid manner he is prohibited from marrying her relatives.
The issue at hand in this mishnah is whether we think the husband betrothed his ex-wife when he stayed with her at an inn (the betrothal might have been done through sex). But again, were there witnesses? If there were, then why would Bet Shammai not require him to give her a get? And if there were no witnesses, why would Bet Hillel say she does require a get. Without witnesses, kiddushin are invalid.
Therefore, Rava again assumes there was one witness. And since Bet Hillel requires a get, this is a difficulty against R. Nahman.
According to the baraita, Bet Hillel would agree that if they were divorced after betrothal but before marriage, then we would not assume that he had relations with her and thereby betrothed her, because he was not previously intimate with her.
The Talmud now assumes that in this mishnah there were witnesses, but only witnesses that they were secluded, not that they had intercourse, which would constitute betrothal. Bet Shammai says that this is not sufficient to create an assumption of sex and betrothal and therefore she does not require a divorce. Bet Hillel says it is sufficient.
However, they both agree that if the couple had not previously had intercourse because they were never married, then she does not require a get. In such a circumstance, we cannot assume that they had sex at the inn.