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Yevamos, 42

YEVAMOS 42 & 43 - sponsored by Hagaon Rav Yosef Pearlman of London, a living demonstration of love for and adoration of the Torah.


QUESTION: The Mishnah lists all the types of women who have to wait three months after the death (or divorce) of their husbands to remarry or to do Yibum. The Gemara asks why the Mishnah lists "Besulos and Be'ulos" as well as "Arusos and Nesu'os," when they are one and the same. RASHI explains that the Gemara is asking that the only way a woman can be a Besulah when she falls to Yibum (or when her first husband dies or divorces her) is when she was only an Arusah to her husband, and not a Nesu'ah.

The Gemara answers that the Mishnah is only referring to two cases, Besulos and Be'ulos. It means to say that both Besulos and Be'ulos *i.e.* women who became widows from either Erusin or Nesu'in, must wait three months.

There are several problems with the Gemara's question and answer.

(a) Why does the Gemara assume, in its question, that if the woman is a Besulah she must have only had Erusin with her previous husband? It is also possible for a woman to be a Besulah from Nesu'in (in a case where the husband did not live with her after the Chupah)! Why, then, does the Gemara assume that a woman can only be a Besulah if she fell to Yibum *from Erusin*? (ARUCH LA'NER)

(b) Also, the Gemara's answer that the terms "Arusos and Nesu'os" in the Mishnah are *explaining* the earlier terms, "Besulos and Be'ulos," is not clear. Why did the Mishnah have to explain "Besulos and Be'ulos?" By saying "Besulos," it must be referring to a woman who was only an Arusah, as the Gemara asked in its question, so why does the Mishnah have to explain it if it is something so obvious?

(a) The Gemara understood that even if "Besulos" refers to a Nesu'ah who, after the Chupah, did not live with her husband, the wording of the Mishnah is still problematic, because then there would be no point in the Mishnah mentioning "Besulos" and "Be'ulos" at all. It should have just said "Arusos and Nesu'os have to wait three months," and all of the women would have been included.

The Gemara answers its question by saying that the terms "Arusos and Nesu'os" are explaining the terms "Besulos and Be'ulos." The Mishnah wants to explain that the term "Besulos" means that she was only an Arusah from her first husband. If she became a Nesu'ah (through Chupah) but did not yet have relations, then she is *not* called a Besulah. Rather, she is in the category of a Be'ulah, even though she never had relations.

What is the point of emphasizing this? What difference does it make, if all women must wait three months in any case? The answer is that it makes a difference according to Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Yehudah, who say that an Arusah (i.e. a Besulah) does *not* need to wait three months. They will agree that if she became a Nesu'ah (through Chupah) and did not have relations, she is considered a Be'ulah and must wait three months. (M. Kornfeld)

(b) The MAHARSHA says that RASHI in Eruvin (47a, DH Achas Besulos) explains the answer of our Gemara in a different way. According to the way the Maharsha understands Rashi there, the Gemara is answering as follows: The Mishnah is saying that they must wait three months after their second husband died, whether they were Besulos or Be'ulos when they married their first husband (who died or divorced them). The Mishnah goes on and says that they must wait three months whether their *second* husband died (or divorced them) after Erusin, or after Nisu'in.

This explanation has the advantage that it fits more smoothly with the words of our Gemara (because according to the first way of explaining the Gemara, the Gemara should have said that the second part of the Mishnah "is explaining" the first part -- "Perushei Ka Mefaresh"). However, according to this explanation, what does her status from her *first* husband have to do with whether or not she must wait three months after the passing of her *second* husband? If she was an Arusah from the second marriage (with the man who died now), then what difference does it make if she was a Be'ulah from the first marriage? That is inconsequential to her status now (i.e. she is certainly not pregnant from her first husband!). (NEHOR SHRAGA)

The answer might be as follows. Had the Mishnah just mentioned Arusos who were *Be'ulos* from the previous marriage, we would have thought that only they have to wait three months, as a Gezeirah, because people know that they had Nisu'in with one husband and might confuse the second husband with the first. The Mishnah teaches that even if a woman was a Besulah from both *marriages*, even from the first, she still has to wait three months.

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