(Permission is granted to print and redistribute this material
as long as this header and the footer at the end are included.)


brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld

Ask A Question about the Daf

Previous daf

Yevamos, 92

YEVAMOS 86-95 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.


QUESTION: The Gemara cites a Machlokes Amora'im regarding the nature of the Heter that allows a married woman, an Eshes Ish, to marry another man based on the testimony of a single witness that her first husband is dead. Ze'iri says that the Heter is not considered a Heter instituted by Beis Din on her behalf. Rather, it is the Torah's Heter which the Beis Din is merely applying, because Beis Din thought that the husband actually was dead. If the husband returns, then it turns out that they were mistaken.

Rav Nachman argues and says that Beis Din does institute its own Heter for her; the Rabanan are the ones who grant permission to the woman to remarry, and even if the husband returns, it does not make the ruling an error. Rather, if the husband returns, then their permission for her to remarry is revoked.

Rava attempts to prove that Ze'iri is correct and that when the husband returns, Beis Din is considered to have made a mistake. Rava says that in a case where Beis Din issued a ruling about a certain questionable food item and permitted it, and then they readdressed the question and prohibited the food because they saw a reason to do so, and then they permitted it again -- no one would listen to that Beis Din to eat the questionable item. Here, though, the same thing is happening, and yet the Beis Din's words are accepted: Beis Din permits the woman to remarry based on the testimony of a single witness, and when two witnesses come and testify that the husband is alive, the Beis Din prohibits her to remarry, and when another single witness comes and says that her husband is dead, the Beis Din again permits her to remarry! Why does Beis Din revert to its initial Heter? If Beis Din instituted the Heter that she may remarry based on the testimony of one witness, then why do they allow her to remarry the second time? It must be that there is no enactment of Beis Din involved, but rather that they just made a mistake in applying the Torah's Heter.

What is Rava's proof for Ze'iri? In the case where a second single witness comes after a set of two witnesses, it should become a case of "Trei u'Trei" -- two against two -- in which case the woman is not permitted to get married to anyone other than one of the two witnesses who say that her husband is dead (as we learned on 88b). But this has nothing to do with whether the Heter is a specific enactment of the Rabanan, or whether the Rabanan permitted her to remarry based on a mistake! In either case, the laws of "Trei u'Trei" should apply here!


(a) RASHI (DH Ki Hadar, as explained at length by the Rishonim), says that the second single witness did *not* corroborate and uphold the testimony of the first single witness, and thus it is not a case of "Trei u'Trei." Rather, the second single witness said an entirely new testimony. He said that *now* the husband is dead, even though he was not dead at the time that the first witness testified that he was. The second witness is giving a new reason to permit her to remarry.

Accordingly, Rava's proof seems to be as follows: If we permit her to get married as a specific Heter instituted by Beis Din, then really there is no strong proof that her husband is dead, but nevertheless the Rabanan permit her to remarry (Mishum Iguna), since we do not know where the husband is and a single witness says that he is dead. If the Heter is a specific enactment of the Rabanan, then when two witnesses testify that the husband is still alive, thereby requiring the woman to leave her second husband and to suffer all of the penalties of the Mishnah (87b), then she certainly will not want to get married again based on the testimony of another single witness with the same weak Heter of the Beis Din. Hence, there is no point in issuing the Heter for her a second time. (This is the meaning of "Lo Mashgechinan Lehu" -- the woman will not listen to the Heter of Beis Din since she has suffered from the Heter once before.)

In contrast, if the reason we permit her to remarry is not because of a provision of Beis Din but because Beis Din feels that there is sufficient *proof* that her husband died, then even though it turns out that the first time Beis Din was mistaken and the single witness turned out to be a liar and the woman did not check out the facts before she remarried, nevertheless when another single witness comes we have no reason to assume that *he* is a liar or that the woman will not check out the facts this time. (Just because they were mistaken in one case, Beis Din does not lose their credence for all future matters.) Therefore, Beis Din may permit her to remarry the second time a single witness testifies.

(In Insights to 88a, we discussed why a single witness is trusted here to permit a woman to remarry. Tosfos says that it is an enactment of the Rabanan and is not based on a law in the Torah. Other Rishonim maintain that the Torah permits the Rabanan to rely on circumstantial evidence in such a case. The Gemara here seems to be debating this very point. Ze'iri says that it is not a Heter of the Rabanan, but that the Rabanan are relying on a Halachah in the Torah. In contrast, Rav Nachman says that it is a Heter of the Rabanan -- that even though there is not sufficient proof to permit her to remarry mid'Oraisa, the Rabanan nevertheless allowed her to remarry.)

(b) The RASHBA cites RAV MOSHE BAR YOSEF who explains that Rava's proof is as follows: If the Beis Din would be permitting her to remarry based on their own Heter, then once they have contradictory evidence about the permissibility of a food or about a woman's marital status, they should rely on the Chazakah that the food, or the woman, is Asur. That is, since until now the food was Asur to eat and the woman Asur to remarry, they remain Asur. Nevertheless, after the second single witness comes and supports the testimony of the first single witness, we consider it "Trei u'Trei" and we permit her to marry one of the witnesses.

Why may she marry if there is a Chezkas Isur? It must be that when Beis Din permits her to get married based on the testimony of one witness, it is not a Heter, but rather the testimony of one witness is a proof that the husband is dead. If two witnesses come later and testify to the contrary, then we declare the testimony -- and the ruling based on that testimony -- of the first witness to have been a mistake.

The logic of Rav Moshe bar Yosef may be understood as follows. If it is a Heter of the *Rabanan* that is permitting her to remarry, then what the Rabanan enacted was that the first witness who comes is given the trustworthiness of two witnesses to permit the woman to remarry. If so, why do we not believe that witness when two witnesses come and contradict him? Is it because in a case of "Trei u'Trei," we do *not* allow her to marry one of the witnesses? But when a second single witness comes, we *do* allow her to marry one of her witnesses, and if so apparently by "Trei u'Trei" there is no basis to allow her to marry one of the witnesses. (This is what the Gemara's means by bringing an example from forbidden foods. If the Rabanan prohibit a certain food which they once permitted, how can they suddenly decide to embrace their original ruling, and permit the food, when *no further proof* has come to that effect!)

It must be that the first witness was never given the trustworthiness of two witnesses. Rather, the *Rabanan permitted her* to remarry based on only the testimony, and trustworthiness, of a single witness, considering it to be sufficient proof. Consequently, when two witnesses come, they override his testimony, and when another single witness comes and corroborates his testimony, he joins with the first witness to increase his degree of trustworthiness, so that their testimony together now counters the other set of two witnesses.

In short, if it were a Heter enacted by Beis Din that allows her to remarry, then the Rabanan made a new way of looking at things: we view one witness like two witnesses. If the Rabanan are merely applying the Torah's Heter and not making their own enactment, then the Torah is permitting us to accept the testimony of a single witness, even though we might end up having made a mistake. (M. Kornfeld)


Next daf


For further information on
subscriptions, archives and sponsorships,
contact Kollel Iyun Hadaf,