הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁהָלַךְ בַּעְלָהּ וְצָרָתָהּ לִמְדִינַת הַיָּם, וּבָאוּ וְאָמְרוּ לָהּ מֵת בַּעְלֵךְ, לֹא תִנָּשֵׂא וְלֹא תִתְיַבֵּם, עַד שֶׁתֵּדַע שֶׁמָּא מְעֻבֶּרֶת הִיא צָרָתָהּ. הָיְתָה לָהּ חָמוֹת, אֵינָהּ חוֹשֶׁשֶׁת. יָצְתָה מְלֵאָה חוֹשֶׁשֶׁת. רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמֵר, אֵינָהּ חוֹשֶׁשֶׁת: In the case of a woman whose husband and rival wife traveled to a country overseas, and witnesses came and told her: Your husband died, she shall not marry any other man, in case she requires levirate marriage with her brother-in-law, i.e., yavam, in which case she is prohibited from marrying anyone else. And she also shall not enter into levirate marriage until she knows whether she, i.e., her rival wife, is pregnant. If her rival wife bears a child to her late husband, she does not have a levirate bond with her brother-in-law, and she is therefore prohibited from marrying him. If she had a mother-in-law overseas, but her late husband had no brothers, she need not be concerned that a brother to her husband may have been born. But if her mother-in-law departed from her town pregnant, this widow should be concerned that perhaps her late husband now has a brother, with whom she is obligated in levirate marriage. Rabbi Yehoshua says: Even in such a case she need not be concerned and may marry whomever she wishes.
שְׁתֵּי יְבָמוֹת, זוֹ אוֹמֶרֶת מֵת בַּעְלִי וְזוֹ אוֹמֶרֶת מֵת בַּעְלִי, זוֹ אֲסוּרָה מִפְּנֵי בַעְלָהּ שֶׁל זוֹ וְזוֹ אֲסוּרָה מִפְּנֵי בַעְלָהּ שֶׁל זוֹ. לָזוֹ עֵדִים וְלָזוֹ אֵין עֵדִים, אֶת שֶׁיֶּשׁ לָהּ עֵדִים, אֲסוּרָה. וְאֶת שֶׁאֵין לָהּ עֵדִים, מֻתֶּרֶת. לָזוֹ בָנִים וְלָזוֹ אֵין בָּנִים, אֶת שֶׁיֶּשׁ לָהּ בָּנִים, מֻתֶּרֶת. וְאֶת שֶׁאֵין לָהּ בָּנִים, אֲסוּרָה. נִתְיַבְּמוּ וּמֵתוּ הַיְבָמִין, אֲסוּרוֹת לְהִנָּשֵׂא. רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר אוֹמֵר, הוֹאִיל וְהֻתְּרוּ לַיְבָמִין, הֻתְּרוּ לְכָל אָדָם: If there are two sisters-in-law married to two childless brothers who testify about their marital status, and this one says: My husband died, and that one says: My husband died, although each one of them is deemed credible with regard to her own status as a widow, this one is prohibited from marrying due to the possibility that the husband of that other sister may be alive, obligating her in levirate marriage, and that one is prohibited from marrying due to the husband of this sister, according to the same rationale. Although each is accorded credibility as to her own husband’s death, the halakha is that sisters-in-law are among the five types of women not accorded credibility with regard to each other’s permissibility to marry because of possible conflicts of interest. If this one has witnesses to her husband’s death, and that one does not have witnesses, then the one who has witnesses is prohibited from marrying, as there are no witnesses to the death of her yavam to exempt her from levirate marriage; but the one who has no witnesses is permitted to marry based on her own testimony that her husband died combined with the witnesses’ testimony exempting her from levirate marriage. If this one has children and that one has no children, then the one with children is permitted to marry, as she herself is deemed credible with regard to her husband’s death, and her children exempt her from levirate marriage. But the one without children is prohibited from marrying, as the death of her yavam has not been corroborated independently of her sister-in-law’s testimony. If there were two additional yevamin with whom these two widows entered into levirate marriage, and then the yevamin died childless, the women are prohibited from marrying, since the concern about an additional living yavam still remains. Rabbi Elazar says: Since these women were permitted to marry the living brothers-in-law, as the testimony of each was deemed credible with regard to her own status, they are permitted, from then on, to marry any man because their statements, taken together, indicate that neither one is obligated to enter into levirate marriage.
אֵין מְעִידִין אֶלָּא עַל פַּרְצוּף פָּנִים עִם הַחֹטֶם, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ סִימָנִין בְּגוּפוֹ וּבְכֵלָיו. אֵין מְעִידִין אֶלָּא עַד שֶׁתֵּצֵא נַפְשׁוֹ, וַאֲפִלּוּ רָאוּהוּ מְגֻיָּד, וְצָלוּב, וְהַחַיָּה אוֹכֶלֶת בּוֹ. אֵין מְעִידִין אֶלָּא עַד שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בֶּן בָּבָא אוֹמֵר, לֹא כָל הָאָדָם וְלֹא כָל הַמָּקוֹם וְלֹא כָל הַשָּׁעוֹת שָׁוִין: One may testify that a man died only if he can testify about seeing the countenance [partzuf ] of the face with the nose, as this allows one to identify the individual with certainty. Although there are distinguishing marks [simanim] on his body and his personal belongings, which appear to indicate his identity, one may not rely on these as identification. Furthermore, one may not testify that a person died until his soul actually departs. And even if one saw him cut open and severely wounded, or crucified, or with a wild animal eating parts of him, he may not testify that he died. Additionally, one may testify to someone’s death only when the body was witnessed up to three days following death and not after that, since the appearance may change due to decomposition. Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava says: One cannot establish general guidelines for this matter because not every person, nor every place, nor every hour is identical. Decomposition is not uniform. It occurs at different rates in different situations.
נָפַל לְמַיִם, בֵּין שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶן סוֹף, בֵּין שֶׁאֵין לָהֶן סוֹף, אִשְׁתּוֹ אֲסוּרָה. אָמַר רַבִּי מֵאִיר, מַעֲשֶׂה בְאֶחָד שֶׁנָּפַל לְבוֹר הַגָּדוֹל, וְעָלָה לְאַחַר שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי, מַעֲשֶׂה בְסוּמָא שֶׁיָּרַד לִטְבֹּל בִּמְעָרָה, וְיָרַד מוֹשְׁכוֹ אַחֲרָיו, וְשָׁהוּ כְדֵי שֶׁתֵּצֵא נַפְשָׁם, וְהִשִּׂיאוּ נְשׁוֹתֵיהֶם. וְשׁוּב מַעֲשֶׂה בְעַסְיָא בְּאֶחָד שֶׁשִּׁלְשְׁלוּהוּ לַיָּם, וְלֹא עָלָה בְיָדָם אֶלָּא רַגְלוֹ, אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים, מִן הָאַרְכֻּבָּה וּלְמַעְלָה, תִּנָּשֵׂא. מִן הָאַרְכֻּבָּה וּלְמַטָּה, לֹא תִנָּשֵׂא: If a man fell into the water and did not come out, whether the body of water has a visible end or does not have a visible end, his wife is prohibited from remarrying. There is no absolute proof that the man died, as it is possible that he emerged from the water some distance away. Rabbi Meir said: An incident occurred involving a certain person who fell into the Great Cistern and emerged only after three days. This is evidence that sometimes one may survive a fall into water, even when everyone assumes he is dead. Rabbi Yosei said: An incident occurred involving a blind man who descended to immerse for ritual purity in a cave, and his guide descended after him, and they disappeared there, and they remained there long enough for their souls to have departed, and the Sages permitted their wives to marry because they had disappeared into the water and not emerged. And there was another incident in Asya in which they lowered a certain man into the sea on a rope, and when they pulled the rope back to land only his leg came up in their hands, and they were not certain whether he was alive or dead. The Sages said: If his leg was cut from the knee and above, his wife may marry, as he did not survive such a wound; if his leg was cut only from the knee and below, she may not marry.
אֲפִלּוּ שָׁמַע מִן הַנָּשִׁים אוֹמְרוֹת, מֵת אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי, דַּיּוֹ. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, אֲפִלּוּ שָׁמַע מִן הַתִּינוֹקוֹת אוֹמְרִים, הֲרֵי אָנוּ הוֹלְכִין לִסְפֹּד וְלִקְבֹר אֶת אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי, בֵּין שֶׁהוּא מִתְכַּוֵּן וּבֵין שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִתְכַּוֵּן. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בֶן בָּבָא אוֹמֵר, בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל עַד שֶׁיְּהֵא מִתְכַּוֵּן. וּבְגוֹי, אִם הָיָה מִתְכַּוֵּן, אֵין עֵדוּתוֹ עֵדוּת: Even if one heard from the women, who were saying: So-and-so died, this is sufficient in order to testify to his death. Rabbi Yehuda says: Even if one heard from the children, who were saying: We are going to eulogize and bury so-and-so, that is also sufficient. Furthermore, one may rely upon someone mentioning that a man died, regardless of whether the speaker intends to testify and thereby allow the man’s wife to remarry or whether he does not intend to offer formal testimony. Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava says: With regard to a Jew who offers this information, it may be relied upon even if he intends for his statement to be considered formal testimony. However, with regard to a gentile, if he intended to testify, his testimony is not considered valid testimony. His statement is relied upon only when he does not intend to state it as formal testimony.
מְעִידִין לְאוֹר הַנֵּר וּלְאוֹר הַלְּבָנָה, וּמַשִּׂיאִין עַל פִּי בַת קוֹל. מַעֲשֶׂה בְאֶחָד שֶׁעָמַד עַל רֹאשׁ הָהָר וְאָמַר, אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי בֶן פְּלוֹנִי מִמָּקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי מֵת, הָלְכוּ וְלֹא מָצְאוּ שָׁם אָדָם, וְהִשִּׂיאוּ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ. וְשׁוּב מַעֲשֶׂה בְצַלְמוֹן בְּאֶחָד שֶׁאָמַר, אֲנִי אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי בֶּן אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי, נְשָׁכַנִי נָחָשׁ, וַהֲרֵי אֲנִי מֵת, וְהָלְכוּ וְלֹא הִכִּירוּהוּ, וְהִשִּׂיאוּ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ: Witnesses may testify that an individual died even if they saw his corpse only by candlelight or by moonlight. And the court may allow a woman to marry based on the statement of a disembodied voice proclaiming that her husband died. There was an incident with regard to a certain individual who stood at the top of a mountain and said: So-and-so, son of so-and-so, from such and such a place died. They went and found no person there, but even so they relied upon the statement and allowed the wife of the individual declared dead to marry. And there was another incident in Tzalmon, a city in the Galilee, where a particular man said: I am so-and-so, son of so-and-so. A snake bit me and I am dying. And they went and found his corpse but could not recognize him, yet they went ahead and allowed his wife to marry based on what he said in his dying moments.
אָמַר רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, כְּשֶׁיָּרַדְתִּי לִנְהַרְדְּעָא לְעַבֵּר הַשָּׁנָה, מָצָאתִי נְחֶמְיָה אִישׁ בֵּית דְּלִי, אָמַר לִי, שָׁמַעְתִּי שֶׁאֵין מַשִּׂיאִין אֶת הָאִשָּׁה בְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל פִּי עֵד אֶחָד, אֶלָּא רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בֶן בָּבָא. וְנוּמֵתִי לוֹ, כֵּן הַדְּבָרִים. אָמַר לִי, אֱמֹר לָהֶם מִשְּׁמִי, אַתֶּם יוֹדְעִים שֶׁהַמְּדִינָה מְשֻׁבֶּשֶׁת בִּגְיָסוֹת, מְקֻבְּלָנִי מֵרַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל הַזָּקֵן, שֶׁמַּשִּׂיאִין אֶת הָאִשָּׁה עַל פִּי עֵד אֶחָד. וּכְשֶׁבָּאתִי וְהִרְצֵיתִי הַדְּבָרִים לִפְנֵי רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, שָׂמַח לִדְבָרַי, וְאָמַר, מָצָאנוּ חָבֵר לְרַבִּי יְהוּדָה בֶן בָּבָא. מִתּוֹךְ הַדְּבָרִים נִזְכַּר רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, שֶׁנֶּהֶרְגוּ הֲרוּגִים בְּתֵל אַרְזָא, וְהִשִּׂיא רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל הַזָּקֵן נְשׁוֹתֵיהֶם עַל פִּי עֵד אֶחָד, וְהֻחְזְקוּ לִהְיוֹת מַשִּׂיאִין עַל פִּי עֵד אֶחָד. וְהֻחְזְקוּ לִהְיוֹת מַשִּׂיאִין עֵד מִפִּי עֵד, מִפִּי עֶבֶד, מִפִּי אִשָּׁה, מִפִּי שִׁפְחָה. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמְרִים, אֵין מַשִּׂיאִין אֶת הָאִשָּׁה עַל פִּי עֵד אֶחָד. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר, לֹא עַל פִּי אִשָּׁה, וְלֹא עַל פִּי עֶבֶד וְלֹא עַל פִּי שִׁפְחָה, וְלֹא עַל פִּי קְרוֹבִים. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, מַעֲשֶׂה בִבְנֵי לֵוִי שֶׁהָלְכוּ לְצֹעַר עִיר הַתְּמָרִים, וְחָלָה אַחַד מֵהֶם בַּדֶּרֶךְ, וֶהֱבִיאוּהוּ בְפֻנְדָּק, וּבַחֲזָרָתָם אָמְרוּ לַפֻּנְדָּקִית אַיֵּה חֲבֵרֵנוּ, אָמְרָה לָהֶם מֵת וּקְבַרְתִּיו, וְהִשִּׂיאוּ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, וְלֹא תְהֵא כֹהֶנֶת כַּפֻּנְדָּקִית. אָמַר לָהֶם, לִכְשֶׁתְּהֵא פֻּנְדָּקִית נֶאֱמֶנֶת. הַפֻּנְדָּקִית הוֹצִיאָה לָהֶם מַקְלוֹ וְתַרְמִילוֹ וְסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה שֶׁהָיָה בְיָדוֹ: They said to Rabbi Akiva: Do we not rely upon a woman’s testimony? After all, an incident occurred involving Levites who traveled to Tzoar, the city of date palms. And one of them became ill, and they brought him to an inn [pundak] to rest, while they continued on their travels. Upon their return to the inn they said to the innkeeper, who was a woman: Where is our friend? She told them: He died, and I buried him. And based on her testimony they allowed his wife to remarry. And shouldn’t a priestess, or any Jewish woman who testifies that a man died, be deemed as credible as an innkeeper? Rabbi Akiva said to them: When a woman will be as convincing as the innkeeper, then she shall also be deemed credible. The innkeeper brought them his staff, and his bag, and the Torah scroll that was in his possession, thereby providing supporting evidence to reinforce her claim.