A married woman is included in the category of sexual proscriptions, and kiddushin (the acquisition aspect of marriage) to her is void. In what case are we dealing? With a woman who is definitely married. However, is she is doubtfully married, or doubtfully divorced, then kiddushin is valid by doubt, and she needs a writ of divorce from both men. The same law applies to writs of divorce which are invalid by Rabbinic decree, that if another man came and gave her kiddushin, she needs a writ of divorce from both, from the first (original husband) by Rabbinic decree, and from the second by Biblical law.
A married woman who put out her hand and accepted betrothal money in front of her husband is married to the second one, for a woman who says in front of her husband: You divorced me, is believed, for there is a presumption that a woman would not be so brazen [as to lie] in front of her husband. Hagah: There are those who say that this is specifically with regard to the fact that betrothal avails and she is believed and she requires a get, but she is not believed to marry someone else (Ran, ch. 2 of Ketubot in the name of "there are those who say") or to receive her ketubah (Hagahot Maimoniyot, ch. 2 of Divorce Laws). But there are those who disagree and hold that she is believed for all matters (Rambam). And there are those who further say that in our time when brazenness and licentiousness are rampant, she is not believed except when the result is a stringency, for the presumption that she would not be brazen has been weakened (Bet Yosef in the name of Orah Hayyim). But if another betrothed her not in front of her husband, the betrothal is not valid until she brings proof that she was divorced from her husband before she accepted her betrothal. For any woman not in front of her husband will act brazenly. And the Rosh wrote that in any case when the husband is in the city when the other betrothed her, this is considered "in his presence." But there are those who disagree and hold that she must actually be in his presence (Maharik, root 72 and Ribash siman 127). And that which we say: A woman would not be so brazen as to say in front of her husband, "You divorced me" is only in a case where there is no one to support her, but if there is someone to support her, she will certainly be brazen. And if she is married to another when she is not in her husband's presence, even if she says to her husband when he arrives, "You divorced me," she is not believed for since she has already been married [to the second] one, she will certainly be brazen, so that she doesn't make herself into a prostitute. And there is one who says that even if she had not yet been married to another but had been betrothed to him while not in her husband's presence, and then her husband comes and she says to him, "You divorced me," she is not believed. And there are those who say that if there was some strife between them, or if she has asked for her ketubah, she is not believed to say: "You divorced me," even in his presence. There are those who say that if she is believed to remarry, she also collects her ketubah (Maharik, root 72 and Ribash, siman 127). And there are those who say that she is not believed at all vis a vis monetary matters.
A woman whose husband went overseas, and has been testified to be dead, even by one witness, even the witness being a slave or a maidservant or a woman or a relative, is free. and even a witness from the words of a witness, or a woman from the words of a woman, or a slave or a maidservant or a relative, are worthy of this testimony. and testimony invalids, if by Rabbis, are fit for this testimony. but testimony invalids by Torah, are invalid. and if [they are] innocently speaking, [they are] fit. and so a Cuthean or an Israelite converted to idolatry and for the whole torah, if he's innocently speaking, [he is] trustworthy. ???: no witness came in the above manners, only a rumour is going out in town, that [he's] dead, his wife is not wedded.
Everyone is trusted to testify for her on this matter, except for five women who presumed to hate each other, such that they may not testify as to the death of her husband, lest they intend to prohibit her upon him and he is still alive. And these are: her mother-in-law, even if she is not currently her mother-in-law just her levir's mother (Tur), the daughter of her mother-in-law, her rival wife, her husband's brother's wife and her husband's daughter. And so too she may not testify for them (Tur).
We have already said that a witness who stated: "I heard that so-and-so died," even if he heard from a woman who heard from a (Canaanite) slave, this is still acceptable for testimony, and we allow a woman to remarry on his word. Note: Even if did not say from whom he had heard the information, and only said that he heard the information, it is still acceptable, and we do not worry that the original witness was an invalid witness. But if the witness or woman or witness said: "So-and-so died, and I saw him die," we ask him: "How did you see, and how do you know [he died]?" If he testifies clearly in the matter, he is believed. But if he testified that most people die [in such circumstances], we do not allow the woman to remarry, because we do accept testimony regarding death unless he certainly died, without any doubt. Note: If he heard professional weepers who mentioned his name among the dead and eulogized him, we allow the wife to remarry (so wrote Magid Mishna in the name of Tosefta). Therefore we caution women not to eulogize someone on the basis of accepted suppositions (i.e. circumstantial evidence) that a man died, and not to weep for him until we know [certainly] that he died. Similarly, his wife is forbidden to mourn him or to wear black clothes as long as there is no definitive evidence sufficient to allow her to remarry (logical derivation of the Rav, and so writes Rivash chaper 508). Similarly no court should give a writ of testimony to a woman as to what the witnesses testified in front of them, if that testimony is insufficient to allow her to remarry, unless the explicitly write why they did not permit her to remarry on the basis of that testimony, for we worry of potential pitfalls which may occur with inexpert courts (ibid. in Responsa Rivash).
During a time of a decree [against the Jewish people], women are permitted by the report of penitents [that their husbands died]. Rem"a: That they testify to what they saw during the time of [religious] persecution [(var. time of distress)], even though they were forcibly apostatized (Responsa of the Rosh, § 54). [Regarding] vacuous and dissolute apostates who returned in penitence, but not in complete penitence, their testimony is not to be relied upon unless they were [either] conversing innocently (Mahar"i in his writings, § 220) or it is clear that they testified without deceit or guile (ibid., § 224). And everything depends on the nature of the witness, and according to the apprehension of the judge.
One came and said "I killed him", she can remarry. [And since] a person may not place himself [into the category of] evil, we divide his speech [so that he is believed that the husband is dead but not that he killed him]. And this is the law also for the Kuthean when he speaks according to his innocence [saying], "I killed ploni" that they [the beit din] can marry off his wife (the haguna).
If one witness says to a woman by herself (lit. between them), "Your husband has died", she no longer needs his testimony. Rather, she can go to Beis Din and say, "My husband has died". But if the witness who she said in his name, "he [your husband] died", comes [later on] and says that he didn't say that he died, she is [no longer] believed. Rem"a: And Beis Din doesn't need to inquire after him, even if he is in the city, rather we rely on a witness in the name of [another] witness L'chatchilah
One witness says "he died", and [another] witness says "he was killed". Even if they contradict one another, since each one agrees that he [the decedent] is no longer alive, she [the deceased's wife] shall [re-] marry.
If they heard a voice saying "So-and-so died," and they went [to look] but did not find a man (i.e. they did not find a source for the voice), they may still permit his wife to remarry. If they heard this voice in the field or a cistern or a ruin, we do not permit remarriage on the basis of this voice because we are concerned that it came from a demon, as the voice derived from locales frequented by demons.
If they found written in a document, "So and so son of so and so has died", or "has been killed", his wife may [re]marry even if [the document] is not established [by witnesses]. And according to the Rambam they need to know that it was the handwriting of a Jew. Rem"a: And it is worthwhile to be stringent. And even if they know that it was the handwriting of a Jew, if there are those that say that he wrote [the document] because of a rumor that he died, for example that he drowned in water without an end (i.e. a large body of water) and similar [cases], they don't permit [remarriage] through the handwriting, because they suspect he wrote it [only] because of a rumor that was spread.
A man who lost the ability to speak, and they checked him in the manner used for checking [intellectual ability] for writs of divorce, and he was found to be of sound mind, and he wrote that so-and-so died, we rely on his writing and permit his [so-and-so's] wife to remarry.
That which we said that a witness [testifying] on behalf of [another] witness is valid regarding the testimony of a woman [regarding remarriage]. When is this true? [lit. what things are we talking about]. That he heard from a mentally-capable person that so-and-so died, for example, a slave or a maidservant. but if he heard from a mentally-incapable person or a minor, he may not testify and we don't rely on his words. [If] he heard from the little girls that said, "Now we are coming from the eulogy of so-and-so, these were the eulogizers there, as well as so-and-so the wise, and so-and-so went after the coffin, this is what they did with the coffin" this can be testified in their names according to the those [above] words and similar ones. And one can marry his wife [of the dead husband]. Rem"a: And specifically [if he heard it] immediately, for example, if they said, "Now we are coming from the eulogy of so-and-so". But if it wasn't immediately, their testimony doesn't help at all. And even if they (the children at the eulogy) later grew up, they are not able to testify what they saw in their youth.
We already said that a Kuthean that innocently (unprompted) talks, we can marry [off someone] based on his words. How so - if he spoke innocently and said, "Woe onto so-and-so who died, how nice was he and how much good he did for me," or he spoke and says, "When I was coming along the way and so-and-so who was walking with us fell and died, and we were bewildered for such a thing how he died suddenly," and other similar things that show his intention is not to bear witness, behold he is trusted. And a Jew who hears from a Kuthean who spoke innocently, can testify that he hear from him and his wife can marry based on his words. Note (Rama): And similarly if he said, "So-and-so died", innocently, even though he didn't say anything else, it's sufficient to be called "speaking innocently (Rivash Siman 377). And some are stringent (Beit Yosef in name of the Ran). [Shulchan Aruch:] In was case are we talking about? When there was no "excuse." But if there was an excuse in the speech of the Kuthean, perhaps he intended for something else, as if he said to someone, "Do for me this and that so that I won't kill you just like I killed so-and-so," this is not speaking innocently, since his intention is to instill fear on this [person]. Note (Rama): Similarly in a situation where there is concern for falsehood, that they taught him to say thus, we don't rely on him (R"I, Path 23). [Shulchan Arukh:] And similarly if he heard from the courts of the Kutheans that they said, "We killed so-and-so," they aren't trusted, since they strengthen themselves through falsehood, and so too any similar thing like these. Note (Rama): Some say that all non-Jewish courts are not trusted, even if they say he was killed in judgement not by them (Tur in name of the Rosh). And all of this is specifically in non-Jewish courts, but other Kutheans that speak innocently and say he was judged in the courts of Kutheans, are trusted (Ruling of the Mahar"i Siman 34).
A Kuthean who spoke innocently based on a Kuthean who spoke innocently, we marry [off someone] based on his words. Note (Rama): Even if he didn't explicitly testify that the first Kuthean spoke innocently, we go from a doubt to a leniency and say that he certainly spoke innocently (Maharik root 121). And some argue on this (Teshuvas HaRan)..
A kutti and a Jew goes out to another place, and the kutti says: a man that goes out with me dies, and I will marry his wife, even though the kutti knows that this is the man. There are those who say: bury him [kill him]. The Rama comments: specifically in this circumstance that does not remember the name of the deceased or does not recognize him. But if he does recognize him, he should not come near him, and stay away from his ritual impurity (according to the Rambam and similar it says in the Arizal's decisions siman 324, in the Beit Yosef, and also in the responsa of the Ran and the Rivash). This is the minhag . If so, if ten people will come out to this place, and it is forbidden carry him with collared [animals] or camels and exit with him in this manner, but you should put aside the kutti before his tuma and you should carry him like, fully dead, like one marries his wife.There are those who say: bury him.
If someone came and said to us: The court or some people said, "When you go to that place tell them that Isaac ben Michael died." The messenger arrived and told us and he does not know who this person is, since we know that such a person with that name exists, his wife may remarry, and we do not say that perhaps it was some other Isaac ben Michael who died. That is if we do not know that there are two people with this name, or that we know that there were two, but one is no longer alive. Rem"a: Some say that all of this is true only if the messenger names his city, but if he does not mention the city, even though we know that one person [with this name] is missing, it is not effective even if he mentions his name. Some are lenient. Some say that if he only mentions his name, we also require the city. But if he mentions his name and his father's name we do not require the city. In a situation where there are other circumstances or proofs that this is the person, we can be lenient and rely on the authorities that say that a name suffices without mentioning the city.
If someone objected about a woman, saying that she is bound to a yavam (that is, she must perform a levirate marriage with the brother of her deceased husband), and afterward he himself testifies in front of a court that he heard that this man died long ago, we rely on him since his earlier words were not said in a court.
We do not examine witnesses for women [to allow them to remarry] with formal inquiries and investigations, and even if they were contradicted on cross-checking, they are still valid. Note: It is forbidden to inquire and investigate excessively (Responsa Rambam) except when there is reason to suspect trickery, then inquiry and investigation are required (Mahariv chapter 150).
When looking at his body to recognize it and testify about him, we check and look at it even at night with the light of a candle or the moonlight.
If they saw someone at a distance, and he identified himself as Ploni son of Ploni, or Ploni from location Ploni, and he was bitten by a snake and he was dead, and they walked closer, and found that his shape had changed and they did not recognize him, we can still permit his wife to remarry.
If they found him murdered or dead, if his forehead, nose, and facial features are extant, and they recognized him as ploni (e.g. John Doe), they testify about him. If one of these identifying features was missing, even if they have extremely reliable signs in his clothing, these do not count because we are concerned about loans. Even if they had signs in his body, even a mole, they may not testify about him. But if they identified extremely reliable signs on his body, they may testify to his death. Note: For example he had an extra limb or missing limb or variation in one of his limbs. But short or tall or pale or ruddy do not qualify as a reliable sign (Responsa Rosh, rule 51). Even 100 unreliable signs [together] do not count, and even when combined with other circumstantial evidence they are not acceptable (Piskei Mahari, chapters 161 and 224). A large lump on his nose or his nose was extremely curved or similar findings are considered reliable sign, while a slightly curved nose is not reliable (ibid. chapter 134). And we rule similarly regarding a mark on his body or one of his limbs. But large teeth, even if very large are not a reliable sign (Piskei Maharai chapter 161). Any identification sign which is acceptable from an Israelite witness is similarly acceptable from a Kuthite (non-Jew) who is conversing innocently (Responsa Moharam in Hilchot Nashim, and Maharam Padua chapters 2 and 36).
Rabbenu Tam wrote that the rule excluding testimony [of a husband's death] unless his forehead, nose and his facial features are extant, applies only when the remains are limited to the head, but if the entire body is present, even without the facial features, forehead, and nose, they can identify him by an overall recognition ("tviut ayin"). However, later authorities disagreed with him.
They [the witnesses] can't testify about him unless they found him within three days after he was murdered or died, but after three [days] they cannot testify about him, because his face has changed. What [case] are we talking about? When he [died] on dry land. But if he drowned in water, and the water threw him on dry land, even after a few days, if they recognize him they can testify about him, because he doesn't change in water except after a lot of time. And the one who sees him immediately when [his corpse] emerges, and also there is no wound on him, if he waits after he was thrown by the water, they cannot testify about him, even within three [days] (Beis Yosef in the name of the Ramban and the Rashba). And so too, if he had a wound, they cannot testify about him, because the water worsen the wound is water-logged and he changes. Rem"a: [If] it is doubtful whether he waited [more than the time period] or not, we rule stringently, and even if she got [re]married, she must get divorced (Riva"sh siman 380). And all this is for testifying about him through the naked eye, but through known signs, even if he waited, we permit his wife [to remarry].
If they found him murdered, and recognize him by overall impression, but do not know when he was killed, some say that they surmise he was killed within the last three days, and may testify regarding his death, and others forbid. Nevertheless, if there had been a rumor that so-and-so was dead or murdered, and after 3 days he was found dead and they recognized him, his wife is permitted [to remarry] according to all authorities.
Some say in the name of Rabbenu Tam that the rule limiting testimony of death to the first three days after death applies when the face has been battered, but if the face is not battered, it is acceptable to testify of his death even after more days by virtue of clearly recognizing his body and shape, even if he had fallen into water. But this is not clear in the eyes of later authorities. Note: Some are lenient, that anyone who was present when he drowned in water even though the body was intact may not testify regarding his death; but someone who did not see his drowning, but identified him (i.e. his corpse) by clear visual recognition, and the body was whole, may testify to his death (Tur and Terumat haDeshen chapter 205 in the name of Asheri).
They may not testify that a man died unless they saw him definitively die without doubt. If they saw him fall into a den of lions or leopards or other such [animals], they may not testify to his death, for they may not have been hungry and may not have eaten him. But if he fell into a hole of snakes or scorpions, the witnesses may testify, because the tight quarters will cause them [the snakes or scorpions] to attack when he steps on them.
If he fell into a furnace or into a boiling vat full for wine or oil or water, or was slaughtered fully or mostly through the two signs (trachea and esophagus), even if he arose and escaped, they may testify to his death, because he will definitely die subsequently. In similar situations where it is impossible that he will live but will die in the immediate future, they may testify to his death.
If they saw him crucified and the bird eating from his flesh, even if they also stabbed him or shot him with arrows, they may not testify to his death. But if they saw the bird eating from a place where the life force leaves when it is removed, such as the brain or the heart or the intestines, he may testify to his death.
If they saw him fall into the sea, even if he sank in the Great Sea, they may not testify about him that he died, for maybe he ascended from another place. And if he fell into gathered waters, like a pit or a cave, that he stands and sees all around him, and waited until his soul [would have] left, and he did not ascend, he may testify that he died and will allow his wife to marry. So too if they bound his legs and lowered him to the sea and the only thing they pulled up was his knee and up, we allow his wife to marry after twelve months, for a treifa (a person that cannot survive in his current physical state) does not survive twelve months. However, if he fell into the sea and they threw a net and pulled out a single leg from the knee up, or the like, we will not allow his wife to remarry, for I say: "that was the leg of someone else" However, if there was a very distinct sign on the leg, we rely on it, saying that it is the leg of the man who fell. Rem"a: And there are those that say that even a distinct sign on his clothes works here, since they saw him sink in these clothes (Maharam Padawa section 36)
[If] one witness said, "I saw that he was dead in war" or "in a collapse" or "that he sank in the great sea and died" or, similar to these things, the majority of which [lead] to death: if he said "I buried him", he is believed and she [may] marry on his word; and if he did not say "I buried him", she [may] not marry but if she did marry she [need] not leave [the marriage].
Similarly, a woman for whom a single witness testified that her husband drowned in waters without end, and he did not come up [to the surface], his memory was lost and his name forgotten, she may not remarry on the basis of this testimony as explained. Note: Even if a court permitted her to remarry, but she has not yet remarried, she may not remarry (Rivash chapter 379). If she remarried on the basis of this testimony, she does not require divorce. Note: Only is she remarried on the ruling of a wise man or by mistake, that she thought she was permitted to remarry. But if she purposely transgressed and remarried, she must undergo divorce (Responsa Moharam, brought in Hagahot Mordechai end of tractate Yevamot). This refers specifically to one regarding whom they testified that he literally drowned (i.e. they saw him drown) in waters without end. But if they testified that he was on a boat breaking up in the sea or something similar, or even if the testified that he drowned but they did not testify that he stayed underwater for a time that would cause death, then she must divorce. Even if they testified simply that he drowned, we must be concerned that they used the terminology of drowning for similar processes [without necessarily meaning death by drowning], for it is the way of the world to call this drowning; and she must undergo divorce unless he specifically testified that he [the husband] definitely drowned and remained underwater for the time that his life force would depart (Beit Yosef in the name of Responsa Ramban chapter 128). Even if it was a Kuthite (non-Jew) conversing innocently who said, "So-and-so drowned," and she married on this basis, she does not need to undergo divorce. However, if a wise man ruled to permit her to remarry a priori in a case of drowning in waters without end, we ostracize him.
There is an authority who says that if he fell into waters without end, the wife may collect her ketuba monies even though she is forbidden to remarry.
A city surrounded by a troop of soldiers, or a boat foundering at sea, or a man taken out for judgement are all considered to have a status of being alive. Therefore testimony regarding these situations is not accepted to permit a wife to remarry. Even [regarding] a man in a city conquered by troops, or in a boat that sank, or a man taken out to be killed, testimony may not be given, for they still have a status of possibly alive, and we place upon them both the strictures of being dead and the strictures of being alive.
If a single witness came and testified that her husband died, and they permitted her to remarry on his word, and then another witness came and contradicted the first witness, saying, "He did not die," she is not removed from her permission, and she may still remarry, for a single witness with respect to a woman's [remarriage] testimony is believed just like two witnesses in other testimonies; the subsequent testimony of the single [contradicting] witness is negligible in the face of two witnesses. Note: Nevertheless, because of the risk of slander she should not remarry (Tur). However, if the second witness came before the court permitted her to remarry, she is not permitted to remarry, and if she did remarry, she must divorce, because it is doubtful. If she married the witness who testified that her [previous] husband had died, and she says, "It is clear to me that he died," she need not divorce. But some authorities say that [even in this latter case] she must divorce. If two witnesses came forward and said, "He did not die," even if she already remarried, all authorities agree that she must divorce. Note: This applies when she is silent, but if she says, "He died," it is considered as two witnesses (i.e. the wife and her supporting witness, c.f. Bet Shmuel) against two witnesses as long as all the witnesses are women. But the husband who married is not considered as reliable for himself [against the two subsequent witnesses] (Nimukei Yosef, chapter haIsha Kamma). What are the circumstances of this ruling? When the single witness upon whose word she remarried can be considered as two witnesses against the two witnesses who later came and contradicted, as in the case where she remarried on the word of an adult male who was contradicted by two adult males saying, "He did not die;" or she remarried on the word of an adult female or her own assertion, and two subsequent female witnesses or two Rabbinically invalid male witnesses came and said, "He did not die." But if a kosher (valid adult male) witness said, "He died," and numerous women said, "He did not die," or invalid male witnesses said, "He did not die," this is viewed as half against half. Note: This applies when the witnesses arrived together before the court permitted her to remarry on the testimony of the first witness. But if the court had permitted her to remarry on the testimony of the kosher witness, and then the invalid witnesses arrived, she is not removed from her permission to remarry (Tur). If she married one of her witnesses, and she says, "It is clear to me that he died," she does not need to divorce. Note: Kuthites who are conversing innocently have the same status as invalid witnesses (Mordechai chapter haIsha Bathra), but a Kuthite who is not conversing innocently (e.g. he knowingly claims to the court that the husband died) is not reliable whether to forbid or permit remarriage.
If a woman say: He died, or she [the wife] says: My husband died, and then a valid witness comes and says: He didn't die, she may not get married and if she did get married she must be divorced. But there are those who say that if a different woman or the wife say: He died, and then the court allowed her to be married based on her words and then a valid witness came and said: He didn't die, she doesn't lose permission to remarry. But if two women come at the outset and they allow her to be married based on their testimony, and then one witness comes, all agree that she does not lose her permission to remarry (Bet Yosef in the name of "there are those who say").
A woman who is married based on the testimony of one witness, she may not be remarried except with the permission of a court. And if she remarries without the permission of the court, there are those who say she need not be divorced even if one witness comes and says: He didn't die. And the court must comprise three valid judges, those not related to each other or to the witnesses.
If a woman says: He didn't die, and two [other women] say: He did die, she may not be married. And similarly if ten women say: He didn't die, and eleven women say: He died, she may not be remarried, for we don't say two are like 100 except with valid witnesses, but with invalid witnesses we follow a majority, whether to rule strictly or leniently.
If two testify that they each of them heard from one witness that so-and-so died, and one witness testifies that he heard from one witness that he was alive, she is permitted [to remarry].
Two witnesses say: He died, and two witnesses say: He did not die, she may not be married and if she is married she must be divorced, for the matter is doubtful. And if she married one of her witnesses, and she says: I am certain that he has died, she need not be divorced. We don't force a wife to leave her husband if a rumor goes out that her first husband is alive (Rabbenu Yeruham).
A wife is trusted to say that her husband died and she may be remarried or undergo levirate marriage based on her testimony, and she receives the main part of her ketubah. If she goes through levirate marriage, the levir takes the inheritance based on her words. And even if the woman lacks s0und senses, she is trusted (Responsa Or Zarua, 50:23). As long as she knows the nature of marriage and widowhood (ibid in the name of Ramah). When is this so? When she comes to the court and says: My husband died, permit me to remarry, but she doesn't mention her ketubah. In that case they permit her immediately and they adjure her and then give her the ketubah. But if she comes and says: My husband died, give me my ketubah, they don't even permit her to marry, for she came asking for her ketubah. And she is presumed to be a woman whose husband has not died, and she didn't want to remarry, just get her ketubah while he is still alive. And there are those who say that even if she has a witness that he has died, it doesn't help in such a circumstance (Nimmukei Yosef in the name of the Ritba).
If a woman came to us and said, "My husband died. Permit me to remarry and give me my Ketubah," we allow her to remarry and we give her the Ketubah, because the primary focus of her statement concerned marital issues. But if she came and said, "Give me my Ketubah and permit me to remarry," we permit her [to remarry] butwe do not give her the Ketubah, and if she siezes it we do not extract it from her hands. Some authorities say that in either case she is not permitted to remarry, since she mentioned her Ketubah.
A man who has two wives, and one of them came and said, "My husband died," she may remarry on her own assertion. But her co-wife is forbidden to remarry, for a co-wife is not an acceptable witness with respect to her friend. Even if the one wife remarried already, we do not say that had the husband not truly died she would not have caused herself to become forbidden to her original husband (by marrying another man), because we are concerned that because of her hatred for her c0-wife she wants to cause her to become forbidden to the original husband as well.
This woman says "my husband died" and her co-wife objects and says "he did not die," this woman may remarry. Just as she is not able to testify to permit her, so too she is not able to testify to forbid her [from remarrying].
If one woman says [her husband] dies and her co-wife says that he was murdered, since both say that he is not alive, both may remarry.
When does this rule apply that a woman is believed to say "my husband died?" When there is peace between him and her and peace in the world. But, if there is strife between him and her, such as she said, "He divorced me in front of so-and-so and such-and-such [witnesses]," and those witnesses came and contradict [her statement], --in italics: or if her husband converted and left her an aguna (that is, bound to her absent husband) (the commentary of Alfasi)-- and afterwards she and her husband went to a different state, and she came and said, "my husband died" she is not believed --in italics: Even if she said, "I buried him" (Beit Yosef in the name of the Magid Mishna chapter 13 in the Laws of Divorce)-- even though there is peace in the world. And even if one witness came and testified that her husband died, she may not marry, because maybe she hired him. And if she married, she does not [need] to remarry, for she has a witness. And likewise with there was war in the world, and she came and said: "my husband died in the war" she is not believed, even though there is peace between him and her, she relies on the fact that the majority die, and she said he died, like if the first ones and the last ones were killed, and her husband was in the middle, she says, "since these and these were killed, he was killed with them." Therefore, she is not believed, even if she says, "I buried him." And there are those that say that if she said: "I buried him," then she is believed. And if she says, "He died on his bed," she is believed according to everyone. hegeh: And the same rule applies if she said that he died or was killed far from the war, she is believed, for it is only applicable to say that she surmised [that he died], if she says he died or was killed in actual battle, but if not in battle, even if he went close to the battlefront to purchase booty, she is believed (in the Mordechai in the second chapter [called] "The Woman" in the name of Raavya)
If there is no known war in the world, and a woman came and said, "There was a war in such and such a place and [my husband] died in the war," she should not remarry (as a matter of first resort). If she does remarry we do not insist that she divorce. Rem"a: Some say that even if she did remarry, she must divorce.
One witness came and said, "I saw a man die in war or a building collapse." If he says, "I buried him," [his wife] may remarry on his testimony. If he did not say, "I buried him," she should not remarry, but if she did, she need not divorce. Rem"a: But if two [witnesses came], even if they did not say, "we buried him," they are trusted. Some authorities say that even in a case of one witness, even if he says, "he died" or "he was killed, and I saw him after and recognized him by his general appearance and I saw he was dead," he is trusted, because that is like saying "I buried him." A non-Jew who speaks casually and says that [the man] died in war must also say, "I buried him." Some authorities are lenient in this case.
A woman who said, "My husband died under a building collapse" is not trusted. Similarly, if there was an outbreak of snakes and scorpions and she said, "he was bit by a snake, or a scorpion, and he died," she is not trusted. Perhaps she based her assumption on the majority of cases wherein such bites are fatal. Rem"a: Therefore, the case is judged like a war, and she must say, "He died in his bed" or "I buried him".
If a woman said, "We were smoked out of our house, or our cave. [My husband] died and I was saved," she is not trusted. Just as a miracle happened for her, [it may have] also happened for him.
If it was a year of famine and a woman said, "My husband died," she is not trusted. Rem"a: Even if she said, "He died in his bed." [If she said,] "He died and I buried him," she is trusted." Rem"a: If she said, "He died of thirst," it is like she said, "he died of starvation."
If she said: Kutheans fell upon us, or bandits, and he was killed and I was saved, then she is believed, for it is not their manner to kill women, so that we should say just as she was saved, so too he was saved.
If there was plague in the world and she said: "my husband died" she is believed. Rama : and there are those that say that she is not believed (Tur and Rabbeinu Yerucham)
A woman whose husband went to a different country and they came and told her, your husband died and she remarried and then her husband returned, it does not matter if she married by the word of one witness or two, even if she never had relations with the second man, she must leave both of them and she needs a Get from both, but she does not get Ketubah money from either of them, even if the first one takes her back. Nor does she receive the benefits from her Melog property even though they are not obligated in redeeming it, but only what the second ate before the first one returned, but what he ate after the first one returned he must return to her. Hew is not obligated to give that which was depreciated from her Tzon Barzel property, if they become completely depreciated, but what monetary value they have she receives. And if she received from either of them Ketubah money or money for sustenance she must return it, but only if she took from the second after the first one came back, but if she took it from him before the first one came back she does not have to return it. Neither of them must become impure for her if they were priests and neither of them acquire her findings, her handiwork and they cannot nullify her vows. She becomes invalid from marrying priests and eating Terumah or Ma'aser if she was the daughter of a Levite. But her first husband does inherit her if she died. If both men die, the bother of this man and that man perform Chalitzah but not Yibum. A child from the second man is a Mamzer from the Torah if she gave birth before the first man divorced her, but if she gave birth after the first man divorced her, or if her died, the child from the second one is only a Mamzer according to the Rabbis. And if the first man slept with her before the second one divorced her, the child he has from her is a Mamzer According to the Rabbis.
If they told her, your husband died and she remarried, and then they told her, he was alive at the time and then he died, any child she had before he died is a Mamzer according to the Torah, and a child she has after is not a Mamzer. Some say he is a Mamzer according to the Rabbis.
If she did not marry a second man but was merely engaged and then her husband returns, she does not need a Get from the second man and she can return to her husband. She would be permitted to the second man in the event her husband dies or divorces her [Rema: A woman who was engaged and mistakenly thought she was not engaged and married another man, she must leave both men and all laws stated above apply to her. But if they forced her to get married or if the courts ruled in error and she married on their word, it is as if she was raped and she is still permitted to her first husband (The Rashbah's commentary brought by the Beit Yosef)].