Yevamot 121aיבמות קכ״א א
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121aקכ״א א

קירב מיתתו מאי בינייהו

hastened his own death. For instance, if the maimed man convulsed intensely, injuring himself, the perpetrator is not culpable for the death and should not be exiled. The Gemara asks: What is the practical difference between these two considerations, that the wind or the victim himself hastened his death?

דשחטיה בביתא דשישא ופרכיס אי נמי דשחטיה בברא ולא פרכיס:

The Gemara explains: There is a practical difference between them in a case where one cut someone in a house of marble that was closed on every side, in which there was no wind, and the victim convulsed. Alternatively, there is a difference in a case where one cut the victim outside, where there is wind, and the victim did not convulse at all.

רבי יהודה אומר לא כל וכו': איבעיא להו רבי יהודה בן בבא לקולא פליג או לחומרא פליג

§ It was taught in the mishna that one may testify to someone’s death only when he saw the corpse within three days of the individual’s death. However, Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava says: Not every person, nor every place, nor every hour is identical. A dilemma was raised before the Sages: Did Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava disagree with the Rabbis with the intent to rule more leniently and hold that sometimes one may testify to the identity of one who died even if he did not see the body within three days of his death? Or, did he disagree with the intent to rule more stringently and hold that sometimes one may not testify even if he saw the body within three days of the individual’s death?

תא שמע דההוא גברא דטבע בכרמי ואסקוהו אבי הדיא לבתר תלתא יומין ואנסבה רב דימי מנהרדעא לדביתהו ותו ההוא גברא דאטבע בדגלת ואסקוהו אגישרא דשביסתנא ואנסבה רבא לדביתהו אפומא דשושביני לבתר חמשה יומי

Come and hear a solution: A certain man drowned in a place called Carmi, and they drew him out of the water near Bei Hedya after three days, and Rav Dimi from Neharde’a allowed his wife to marry. And furthermore, a certain man drowned in the Tigris River, and they drew him out of the river onto the Bridge of Shabistana, and Rava allowed his wife to marry based upon his friends’ testimony, although the body was seen only five days after death.

אי אמרת בשלמא לקולא פליג אינהו דעביד כרבי יהודה בן בבא אלא אי אמרת לחומרא פליג אינהו דעביד כמאן שאני מיא דצמתי

Granted, if you say Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava disagreed with the intent to rule more leniently, these Sages who acted here, allowing these women to marry, acted in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava. But if you say he disagreed with the intent to rule more stringently, in accordance with whose opinion did these Sages act? The Gemara answers: Water is different, since it contracts the body, preventing it from bloating and changing shape.

והאמרת מיא מרזו מכה ה"מ היכא דאיכא מכה אבל היכא דליכא מכה מיצמת צמית והני מילי דכי אסקיה חזייה בשעתיה אבל אישתהי מיתפח תפח:

The Gemara wonders about this: But didn’t you say (120b) that water aggravates a wound by causing additional swelling? The Gemara answers: This applies when there is a wound, but when there is no wound, the water contracts the body and thereby prevents the shape of the face from changing. The Gemara comments: And this applies only in a case where they drew him out of the water and viewed him at that time. But if the viewing was delayed for some time after the body was drawn from the water, it certainly will have become very bloated, making it impossible to positively identify.

מתני׳ נפל למים בין שיש להן סוף בין שאין להן סוף אשתו אסורה אמר רבי מאיר מעשה באחד שנפל לבור הגדול ועלה לאחר שלשה ימים

MISHNA: 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.

אמר רבי יוסי מעשה בסומא שירד לטבול במערה וירד מושכו אחריו ושהו כדי שתצא נפשם והשיאו את נשותיהם ושוב מעשה בעסיא באחד ששלשלוהו לים ולא עלתה בידם אלא רגלו אמרו חכמים מן הארכובה ולמעלה תנשא מן הארכובה ולמטה לא תנשא:

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.

גמ׳ תנו רבנן נפל למים בין שיש להם סוף בין שאין להם סוף אשתו אסורה דברי רבי מאיר וחכ"א מים שיש להם סוף אשתו מותרת ושאין להם סוף אשתו אסורה

GEMARA: The Sages taught: If a man fell into the water, whether the body of water has a visible end or does not have a visible end, his wife is prohibited from marrying; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say: If he fell into a body of water with a visible end, his wife is permitted to marry, but if he fell into a body of water with no end, his wife is prohibited from marrying.

היכי דמי מים שיש להם סוף אמר אביי כל שעומד ורואה מארבע רוחותיו

The Gemara asks: What are the circumstances defining a body of water with a visible end? Abaye said: Any body of water where one stands in one place and can see the shore in all four directions is considered water with a visible end, since anyone emerging from the water would be seen. However, if the body of water is so large that it is impossible to see its shore on all sides, the individual may have emerged at a place where he could not be seen by others standing at the place where he fell in.

ההוא גברא דטבע באגמא דסמקי אנסבה רב שילא לדביתהו אמר ליה רב לשמואל תא נשמתיה אמר ליה נשלח ליה ברישא

There was a certain man who drowned in the lake in a place called Samkei. Rav Sheila allowed his wife to marry based on the testimony of witnesses who saw that he entered the water and did not emerge. Rav said to Shmuel: Come, let us excommunicate him for having issued this ruling. Shmuel said to him: Let us first send him a message and clarify whether he had a sufficient reason to issue this ruling.

שלחו ליה מים שאין להם סוף אשתו אסורה או מותרת שלח להו אשתו אסורה ואגמא דסמקי מים שיש להם סוף או מים שאין להם סוף שלח להו מים שאין להם סוף הוא ומר מאי טעמא עבד הכי

They sent him the following question: When a man disappears in an endless body of water, is his wife a forbidden or a permitted woman, i.e., may she remarry? He sent back to them: His wife is forbidden. They asked him further: Is the lake of Samkei a body of water with a visible end or an endless body of water? He sent a response to them: It is an endless body of water, since one cannot see the water’s edge on every side. They then asked him: If so, what is the reason that the Master, i.e., Rav Sheila, acted this way, allowing the wife to remarry?

מיטעא טעינא אנא סברי כיון דקוו וקיימי כמים שיש להם סוף דמי ולא היא כיון דאיכא גלי אימור גלי אשפלו

He answered them: I erred in my reasoning. I thought: Since the waters are gathered and stagnant and not flowing like a river, they are considered as a body of water with a visible end. But that is not so. Since there are waves in this body of water, say that the waves carried him away from our sight, allowing him to emerge without being seen.

קרי שמואל עליה דרב (משלי יב, כא) לא יאונה לצדיק כל און קרי רב עליה דשמואל (משלי יא, יד) ותשועה ברוב יועץ

In light of this response, Shmuel recited this verse about Rav: “No mischief shall befall the righteous” (Proverbs 12:21). Since the righteous Rav waited and did not excommunicate Rav Sheila, he was prevented from causing him injustice. Rav Sheila had been mistaken and had not intentionally violated the decree of the Sages prohibiting a woman from remarrying on the basis of her husband having disappeared into an endless body of water. Rav recited this verse about Shmuel: “But salvation lies in much counsel” (Proverbs 11:14), since it was Shmuel’s advice that caused Rav to wait.

תניא אמר רבי מעשה בשני בני אדם מכמרין מכמורין בירדן ונכנס אחד מהם למחילה של דגים ושקעה חמה ולא ראה פתחה של מחילה ושהה חברו כדי שתצא נפשו ובא והודיע בתוך ביתו למחר זרחה חמה והכיר פתחה של מחילה ובא ומצא הספד גדול בתוך ביתו אמר רבי כמה גדולים דברי חכמים שאמרו מים שיש להם סוף אשתו מותרת שאין להם סוף אשתו אסורה

It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: An incident occurred involving two people who were fishing with nets on the Jordan River, and one of them entered a cave containing a pond of fish next to the shore. Meanwhile, the sun set and the one who had entered the cave could not see the cave’s opening and did not exit, so his friend thought he had drowned. His friend waited long enough for his soul to have departed and came and notified the man’s household that he had drowned. The following day the sun rose, and the man in the cave recognized the opening of the cave and exited through it. And he came and found profuse eulogizing in his house. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said about this: How great are the words of the Sages, who said: If a man fell into a body of water with a visible end, his wife is permitted to marry, but in a case of water with no end, his wife is prohibited from marrying.

אי הכי מים שיש להם סוף נמי ליחוש למחילה של דגים במים שיש להם סוף מחילה של דגים לא שכיחא

The Gemara asks: If so, even in the case of a body of water with a visible end, let us also be concerned about a cave containing a pond of fish. Even if the individual did not emerge for a long period of time, it is possible that he entered a cave and is still alive. The Gemara answers: A cave containing a pond of fish is not common in a body of water with a visible end.

אמר רב אשי הא דאמרו רבנן מים שאין להם סוף אשתו אסורה הני מילי באיניש דעלמא אבל צורבא מרבנן לא אי דסליק קלא אית ליה ולא היא לא שנא איניש דעלמא ולא שנא צורבא מרבנן דיעבד אין לכתחלה לא

Rav Ashi said: That which the Sages said, that if a man fell into an endless body of water, his wife is prohibited from remarrying, applies only to an ordinary person who is not well known and could slip away secretly and live in anonymity, hiding the fact that he survived. But it does not apply to a Torah scholar, because if he would emerge from the water, publicity would be generated and the news of his survival would spread. The Gemara rejects this: That is not so. It is no different for an ordinary man and it is no different for a Torah scholar. After the fact, i.e., if she remarried, yes, she may remain with her new husband, but she may not remarry ab initio.

תניא אר"ג פעם אחת הייתי מהלך בספינה וראיתי ספינה אחת שנשברה והייתי מצטער על תלמיד חכם שבה ומנו רבי עקיבא וכשעליתי ביבשה בא וישב ודן לפני בהלכה אמרתי לו בני מי העלך אמר לי דף של ספינה נזדמן לי וכל גל וגל שבא עלי נענעתי לו ראשי

§ It is taught in a baraita: Rabban Gamliel said: Once I was traveling on a boat, and from a distance I saw a boat that shattered and sank. And I was grieved over the apparent death of the Torah scholar who was on board. And who was it? Rabbi Akiva. But when I disembarked onto dry land, he came, and sat, and deliberated before me about halakha. I said to him: My son, who brought you up from the water? He said to me: A plank from the boat came to me, and I bent my head before each and every wave that came toward me. The waves did not wash me off of the board, and I reached the shore.

מכאן אמרו חכמים אם יבואו רשעים על אדם ינענע לו ראשו אמרתי באותה שעה כמה גדולים דברי חכמים שאמרו מים שיש להם סוף מותרת מים שאין להם סוף אסורה

From here the Sages stated: If wicked people come upon a person, he should bend his head before them. That is, he should temporarily restrain himself and not fight them, and he will therefore be saved. After this parenthetical statement, the Gemara returns to Rabban Gamliel’s story. I said at that moment: How great are the words of the Sages, who said: If a man fell into a body of water with a visible end, his wife is permitted to remarry. But in a case of an endless body of water, his wife is prohibited from remarrying.

תניא א"ר עקיבא פעם אחת הייתי מהלך בספינה וראיתי ספינה אחת שמטרפת בים והייתי מצטער על תלמיד חכם שבה ומנו רבי מאיר כשעליתי למדינת קפוטקיא בא וישב ודן לפני בהלכה אמרתי לו בני מי העלך אמר לי גל טרדני לחברו וחברו לחברו עד שהקיאני ליבשה אמרתי באותה שעה כמה גדולים דברי חכמים שאמרו מים שיש להם סוף אשתו מותרת מים שאין להם סוף אשתו אסורה

It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Akiva said: Once I was traveling on a boat, and I saw a certain boat sinking at sea, and I was grieved over the apparent death of the Torah scholar who was on board. And who was it? Rabbi Meir. But when I disembarked at the province of Cappadocia, he came, and sat, and deliberated before me about halakha. I said to him: My son, who brought you up from the water? He said to me: One wave carried me to another, and that other wave to another, until I reached the shore, and a wave cast me up onto dry land. I said at that moment: How great are the words of the Sages, who said: If a man fell into a body of water with a visible end, his wife is permitted to remarry. But in a case of an endless body of water, his wife is prohibited from remarrying.

תנו רבנן נפל לגוב אריות אין מעידין עליו לחפורה מלאה נחשים ועקרבים מעידין עליו רבי יהודה בן בתירא אומר אף לחפורה מלאה נחשים ועקרבים אין מעידין עליו חיישינן

§ The Sages taught: If an individual fell into a lion’s den, one may not testify about him that he died, since the lions might not have killed him. If he fell into a pit filled with snakes and scorpions, one may testify about his death, since it is certain that they killed him. Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira says: Even if he fell into a pit filled with snakes and scorpions, one may not testify about him that he died, because we are concerned