Author: Johnny

Ketubot 67

Towards the end of today’s daf (Ketubot 67b) we are told a story that highlights the great lengths with which Mar Ukva and his wife would go to in order to give charity to the poor while endeavouring to maintain the dignity of the recipient.Then, we are told a further story demonstrating Mar Ukva’s commitment…

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Ketubot 66

Today’s daf (Ketubot 66b) relates two stories about Miriam who was the daughter of the incredibly rich Nakdimon ben Guryon and who lived in Jerusalem in the years prior to, and following, the destruction of the Second Beit HaMikdash.According to the account both found here and earlier on (see Ketubot 65a), it would appear that…

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Ketubot 65

Among the phrases of the Mishna (Ketubot 5:9) which are analysed in today’s daf (Ketubot 65b) includes ואוכלת עמו – literally meaning that a wife eats with her husband [on a Friday night].Admittedly, and as the Gemara proceeds to explain, this phrase may also convey a further meaning. Still, for the purpose of this piece…

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Ketubot 64

The Mishna (Ketubot 5:8) in today’s daf (Ketubot 64b) details what a husband must give his wife as part of fulfilling his biblical duty of כסות (providing clothing), and this includes ומנעל ממועד למועד – ‘[giving her] shoes from one festival to the other’.According to many of the commentaries, this means that a husband should…

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Ketubot 63

Sometimes a Talmudic story can be read in two radically different ways. Early on in today’s daf (Ketubot 63a) we are told a story involving a father and son, Rav Yosef and his father Rava, where Rava – who wanted his son to be fully immersed in Torah study for a 6-year stretch – disagreed…

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Ketubot 62

Earlier this week I started a conversation with someone and asked them how they were doing. Their response was just a groan – to which I remarked that Chazal teaches that we can learn much even just from a groan.In today’s daf (Ketubot 62a) we encounter two such teachings – where Rav states that אנחה…

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Ketubot 61

Today’s daf (Ketubot 61a) quotes a number of teachings from Rav Yitzchak bar Chananya, including one which states that if a waiter is serving you certain incredibly tasty foods whose aroma is so engaging that people can crave this food to the point of making themselves unwell simply by seeing and smelling it, then as…

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Ketubot 60

We live in a time where we fundamentally believe that each situation should be addressed and determined on its individual merits. However, Jewish law is lived both individually and collectively, which means that, in some instances, the unique circumstances of an individual can be overlooked for the sake of maintaining a consistent rule or decree…

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Ketubot 59

Among the various reasons for tension and strife in a marriage is ‘expectations’, and specifically, where the expectations of one is not fulfilled by the other. This is why one of the most important things for a couple to do is to be clear with each other about their respective expectations.Undoubtedly, one of the purposes…

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Ketubot 58

There is a debate in today’s daf (Ketubot 58b) about the principle of whether אדם מקדיש דבר שלא בא לעולם – ‘someone can consecrate something that has yet to come into existence’.In terms of our daf, this principle is invoked with reference to yet-to-be earnt earnings, while a beraita discussing the laws of conversion is…

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Ketubot 57

The Mishna (Ketubot 5:2) in today’s daf (Ketubot 57a) records the practice of a bride having a year of preparation between formally agreeing to marry her husband and beginning their married life together.Significantly, this lesson is derived by the Gemara (57b) from the story of Rivkah’s marriage to Yitzchak where her family requested that she…

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Ketubot 56

While speaking about a bride and groom’s wedding night, a beraita quoted in today’s daf (Ketubot 56a) uses the phrase חיבת לילה הראשון – ‘the affection of the first night’ – which seeks to describe the passion of a bride and groom as they physically discover each other for the first time on their wedding…

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Ketubot 55

Today’s daf (Ketubot 55b) raises an important question about the Talmudic principle of אומדנא, or what we may describe as ‘circumstantial evidence’. Specifically, if a situation arises when it seems as if we know the intention of someone in a given event, but we could be wrong and they may have had a different intention,…

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Ketubot 54

Knowing your prefixes is necessary – both when studying biblical Hebrew, and speaking modern Hebrew, and one of the most important differences that one should know is the difference between the prefix ל, ‘to/for’, and ב, ‘in’.To give some insight into why this is so important, Gemara Brachot 64a quotes a teaching of Rabbi Avin…

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Ketubot 53

Central to Massechet Ketubot are the personal and financial responsibilities that a husband accepts upon himself as delineated in the Ketubah for his wife, including his duty to arrange for her burial if she predeceases him. However, while the two halachic stages of marriage – known as Eirusin and Nissu’in – are nowadays performed together…

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Ketubot 52

The Mishna (Ketubot 4:12) in today’s daf (Ketubot 52b) relates how אנשי ירושלים, the men of Jerusalem, would include the following clause in their Ketubot: ‘you shall live in my house and be supported by my estate all the days of the duration of your widowhood in my house’ – and that the אנשי הגליל,…

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Ketubot 51

The opening words of the Mishna (Ketubot 4:7) in today’s daf (Ketubot 51a), which speak of a case of לא כתב לה כתובה – ‘where [a groom] does not write a Ketubah [for his bride]’, prompted me to consider the origins of the word ‘Ketubah’ along with broader questions such as who is the primary…

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Ketubot 50

In the instances when I have suggested a Torah interpretation and I have subsequently found the same interpretation in the writings of a great Torah teacher, I have felt a deep sense of gratefulness – leading me to say the words ברוך שכיונתי (‘Blessed [are you, God] who has guided me [in the right direction]’).…

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Ketubot 49

A major theme in today’s daf (Ketubot 49a-b) relates to a father’s duty to sustain his children both during his lifetime and after his death.Significantly, when the Mishna and Gemara use the word זן (sustain) in this discussion they are referring to material sustenance, and though the Gemara considers a range of possibilities concerning the…

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Ketubot 48

Twice in today’s daf (Ketubot 48a) reference is made to what Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (in his commentary to Shemot 21:10) refers to as the ‘great principle’ of marriage – namely: עולה עמו ואינה יורדת עמו – ‘[A married woman] rises to her husband’s station in life, but she does descend from hers.’ What this…

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Ketubot 47

Today’s daf (Ketubot 47b) cites Shemot 21:10 which emphasises how a husband is obligated to provide his wife with שְׁאֵרָהּ כְּסוּתָהּ וְעֹנָתָהּ – ‘her food, her clothing, and her conjugal rights’. Significantly, beyond these biblical duties, the Ketubah also includes seven further rabbinical obligations known as ‘tena’ei ketubah’ (the conditions of the ketubah) which are:…

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Ketubot 46

When we think of the word רע – which is often translated as ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ – we generally presume that we are talking about the actions and attitudes of another. For example, today’s daf (Ketubot 46a) quotes Rabbi Natan who asserts that the biblical prooftext teaching us about the punishment given to a defamer…

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Ketubot 45

Today’s daf (Ketubot 45b) discusses the punishment due to an adulteress and a defamer and it notes how זו מעשיה גרמו לה – ‘in terms of this one (i.e. the adulteress), her actions caused her [to be punished]’ while וזה עקימת שפתיו גרמו לו – ‘in terms of this one (i.e. the defamer), his curving…

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Ketubot 44

While discussing the punishment given to a Jewish woman who committed adultery having formally married her husband (kiddushin) but not yet having moved in with him (nissuin), the Mishna (Ketubot 4:3) in today’s daf (Ketubot 44a) addresses whether all the specific details of this punishment are equally applied to a Jewish woman who had previously…

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Ketubot 43

Today’s daf (Ketubot 43a) touches on an important topic which talks to me very personally. Specifically, what will happen to my wife and daughters if I were to suddenly die?This question emerges from the Gemara’s discussion whether a husband has the same financial concerns for his widow as he may have for his daughters. According…

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Ketubot 42

Having just started the fourth chapter of Massechet Ketubot titled נערה שנתפתתה meaning ‘a girl who was seduced’, and given the contrast in the Torah between the punishment of the seducer (see Shemot 22:15-16) and that of the rapist (see Devarim 22:28-29), and given the statement in today’s daf (Ketubot 42a) that the girl who…

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Ketubot 41

The Mishna (3:9) in today’s daf (Ketubot 41a) informs us that while those responsible for causing personal harm or for damaging the property of another must pay for the damages (נזק) that they have caused, if they confess to causing such harm or damage then they do not pay any additional fines (קנס) that would…

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Ketubot 40

  The Mishna (Ketubot 3:6) in today’s daf (Ketubot 40a) invokes the opinion of Rabbi Elazar about the fines that should be given to an orphan, with the subsequent Gemara then noting how Rabbi Elazar ruled in accordance with his teacher Rabbi Akiva. The Gemara then informs us that Rabbi Zeira said in the name…

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Ketubot 39

A beraita is cited in today’s daf (Ketubot 39a) which lists a number of at-risk situations (eg. a pregnant or nursing woman) where, according to Rabbi Meir, a woman is permitting/encouraged to use contraception. In contrast, the Sages rule that in such cases contraception should not be used and, instead, heaven will have mercy on…

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Ketubot 38

Sometimes, notwithstanding the subject of a daf being one topic, certain words or phrases leap out because they speak to us on a very different level – oftentimes about an altogether different topic. And the reason for me mentioning this – especially today – is because much of today’s daf (Ketubot 38a) focusses on the…

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Ketubot 37

Today’s daf (Ketubot 37b) dedicates much of its time to discuss various punishments that were meted out by the Sanhedrin. Yet embedded within our daf are two curious phrases which I would like to explore beyond their literal meaning. The first phrase, מיתה אריכתא – ‘a long death’, is used when discussing the possibility of…

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Ketubot 36

Whispers, gossip, and rumours. Nobody wants to be spoken about behind their back and especially if what is being said maligns their character. Today’s daf (Ketubot 36b) quotes a ruling of Rava that if rumours abound about an unmarried Jewish woman that she has been promiscuous – which would disqualify her from marrying a Kohen…

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Ketubot 35

There is one biblical word that has been the focus of attention in recent dapim (Ketubot 30a, 33a, 34b, 35a): אָסוֹן – literally translated as a ‘disaster’ or ‘calamity’, but understood by our Sages to mean ‘fatal injury’. And the reason why these dapim have focused on this word is because their main subject has…

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Ketubot 34

Today’s daf (Ketubot 34a) cites a beraita – quoted in at least six other places in the Talmud (eg. Shabbat 38a) – which raises the question of whether food cooked on Shabbat in a halakhically prohibited manner may be eaten. As I explained in my commentary on Shabbat 38a (see https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/shabbat-38/), according to Rabbi Meir, if…

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Ketubot 31-33

We were previously taught in Ketubot 31b about the punishment of lashes, while much of Ketubot 32b focuses its attention on the punishment of ‘eidim zomemim’ – conspiring witnesses – which the Torah (see Devarim 19:19) demands that they be given the same, or as close to the same, punishment that they maliciously intended that…

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Tisha B’Av

What daf am I to study today?Since today is Tisha B’Av, the study of today’s daf yomi (Ketubot 32) must be deferred until after the fast. Given this, perhaps the daf yomi that I should study on Tisha B’Av should be those sections of the Gemara – such as Gittin 56 – which discuss the…

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Ketubot 30

Today’s daf (Ketubot 30a) quotes a verse from Mishlei 22:5 which states: צִנִּים פַּחִים בְּדֶרֶךְ עִקֵּשׁ שׁוֹמֵר נַפְשׁוֹ יִרְחַק מֵהֶם – ‘there are thorns and snares upon the crooked path; he who protects himself keep far from them’. Understood in this literal fashion (see Malbim and others on this verse) we are being guided to…

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Ketubot 29

The primary focus of discussion in today’s daf (Ketubot 29) is the financial penalty for those who have committed the crime of seduction and rape.However, it is essential to note, as explained by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (see https://steinsaltz.org/daf/ketubot29/), how ‘the Shitta Mekubbezet points out that aside from the kenas (fine) discussed in the Mishna, a…

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Ketubot 28

The Mishna (Ketubot 2:10) in today’s daf (Ketubot 28a) lists the realms of testimony where an adult is relied upon when speaking about things that they saw when they were a child while, at the same time, acknowledging that there are some things which demand further testimony than just what one adult remembers from what…

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Ketubot 27

Today’s daf (Ketubot 27b) recounts how the brother of Mari bar Isak, who had spent his early years with Mari but who was then taken by his father and raised in Beit Choza’ah (a district on the caravan road along the Tigris) while Mari remained in Babylon, reunited with Mari following the death of his…

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Ketubot 26

In the first few lines of today’s daf (Ketubot 26a), reference is made to a fascinating halachic principle called מסיח לפי תומו (mesiach lefi tumo) which describes a moment when someone shares halachically significant information during a casual conversation without being aware of the halachic significance of what they have shared.Central to this principle of…

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Ketubot 25

Today’s daf (Ketubot 25a) references the mitzvah of חלה (challah) – which is the portion of dough given to Kohanim as a ‘terumah’ (donation) to support them provide their spiritual leadership for the Jewish people (see Bemidbar 15:17-21).However, what is significant – as noted in our Gemara on the basis of the phrase בְּבֹאֲכֶם אֶל…

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Ketubot 24

Given that today’s daf (Ketubot 24a-b) discusses the reliability of someone who claims they are a Kohen in terms of whether they can receive priestly honours (eg. eat Terumah) and whether they can perform priestly duties (eg. recite the Birkat Kohanim), I decided to spend some of Shabbat reviewing this topic and other related issues…

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Ketubot 23

Do you know what is going on in the life of your close neighbour?There are some people who presume that they do because they talk with their neighbours on a regular basis.Then there are others who – though they aren’t aware of every day-to-day event in their neighbours’ life – presume that they’d be told…

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Ketubot 22

‘We cannot control what others say or do, but we should strive to do what we can so that others don’t have easy reasons to say less than complimentary things about us.’This, in short, is what our Sages in today’s daf (Ketubot 22b) derive from Mishlei 4:24 which states: הָסֵר מִמְּךָ עִקְּשׁוּת פֶּה וּלְזוּת שְׂפָתַיִם…

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Ketubot 21

Today’s daf (Ketubot 21b) relates how Rabbi Abba taught that a witness can become a judge. In response, Rav Safra challenged this ruling based on Mishna Rosh Hashanah 3:1. Rabbi Abba then replied to Rav Safra’s challenge saying אַף לְדִידִי קַשְׁיָא לִי, meaning “I also had this difficulty”. However, Rabbi Abba then informed Rav Safra…

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Ketubot 20

Amidst its wide-ranging discussion about evidence, testimony and memory, today’s daf (Ketubot 20a) draws a fascinating distinction between the concept of הזמה (hazama) and הכחשה (hakhasha). But to explain the difference between the two, we need to define what each of these are.If a pair of witnesses testify in a Beit Din that someone committed…

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Ketubot 19

Embedded in its discussion concerning the dangers of holding onto already paid-up notes of indebtedness, today’s daf (Ketubot 19b) quotes a teaching of Rabbi Ami that it is permitted to be in possession of a ספר (which is understood to directly refer to a Sefer Torah or any volume of Tanach, and which the later…

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Ketubot 18

Within today’s daf (Ketubot 18b), reference is made to the principle of אין אדם משים עצמו רשע – ‘a person may not make themselves into an evildoer’ which teaches that self-incrimination and confessing is inadmissible.On first glance, this rule simply appears to be a procedural principle that is a ‘scriptural decree’ derived from Devarim 17:6…

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Ketubot 17

Basing himself on today’s daf (Ketubot 17a), the Rambam (Hilchot Avel 14:8) rules that: ‘in a situation where someone is confronted with the opportunity to help bury the dead or participate in a bridal procession, they should put aside the opportunity to join the procession and involve themselves with the dead. At the same time,…

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Ketubot 16

In general, I am averse to making generalizations about any groups of people, and I am particularly averse to making generalizations when comparing the temperaments of men and women. At the same time, this does not negate the fact that some generalizations do contain kernels of truth.In this case, I’d like to share a creative…

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Ketubot 15

Given that today’s daf (Ketubot 15a-b) includes a substantive discussion about fundamental principles of halachic doubt – such that Moshe Halbertal (in his book ‘The Birth of Doubt: Confronting Uncertainty in Early Rabbinic Literature’ p. 34) rightly identifies this discussion as being ‘one of the most central developments of the doctrine of uncertainty in the…

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Ketubot 14

Early on in today’s daf (Ketubot 14a), reference is made to the position of Rabban Gamliel who – as I explained in my commentary to yesterday’s daf (https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/ketubot-13) – rules that if a pregnant unmarried woman says that the man with whom she has had sexual relations does not render her ineligible to marry a…

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Ketubot 13

A curious phrase is used in a Mishna (Ketubot 1:6) found in today’s daf (Ketubot 13a) – which is also invoked in the three subsequent Mishnayot (Ketubot 1:7-9) but is not used anywhere else in the Gemara.To give some context, the Mishna discusses a situation where an unmarried Jewish woman is suspected of having sexual…

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Ketubot 12

Today’s daf (Ketubot 12b) references the halachic principle of ברי ושמא ברי עדיף – which literally means ‘certain and possible, certain is preferred’ and which is invoked when two people make a statement where one claims that they are certain (ברי) about what happened, while the other is less than sure and says that it…

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Ketubot 11

Today is the (postponed) fast of the 17th of Tammuz which commemorates five tragic events that occurred on this date (as recorded in Mishna Ta’anit 4:6):1) The first set of luchot (tablets) were smashed by Moshe upon seeing the Egel Hazahav (the Golden Calf), 2) The offering of the Korban Tamid (the twice daily sacrifice)…

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Ketubot 10

Today’s daf (Ketubot 10b) tells a story where a halachic question is asked by a husband to Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi (Rebbi), and during the exchange between Rebbi and the couple it becomes clear that they are suffering from malnutrition due to a local famine.In terms of this particular case, Rebbi’s response includes feeding the couple.…

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Ketubot 9

Today’s daf (Ketubot 9b) references the ‘war get’ which married soldiers of the army of King David were required to give to their wives before going out to war. As you may recall, I recently made brief reference to the ‘war get’ in my commentary to Yevamot 121 (see https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/yevamot-121/), and I have discussed it…

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Ketubot 8

It is a well-known fact that wherever Jews live, they are meant to face Jerusalem in prayer (see Brachot 30a). As Rabbi Shubert Spero explains in his essay on ‘Turning to Jerusalem in Prayer’, “turning towards Jerusalem and the land of Israel from the “four corners of the earth” kept the Jew mindful of where…

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Ketubot 7

If you’ve been to what we often refer to as a ‘traditional Jewish wedding’, you will know that the ceremony begins with the ‘Birkat Eirusin’ – whose text is presented and discussed in today’s daf (Ketubot 7b); that it is immediately followed by the giving of a ring when the groom makes a declaration to…

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Ketubot 6

On three occasions, today’s daf (Ketubot 6a-b) draws a halachic comparison – twice when discussing the physiological consequences of a woman having sex for the first time, and once when discussing the psychological distraction of a groom who is soon to have sex for the first time.In terms of the first two cases, the reader…

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Ketubot 5

As part of its technical discussion about the possibility of someone getting so distracted in their preparations for a meal that they may come to transgress the Shabbat laws, today’s daf (Ketubot 5a) draws a distinction between preparations for an Erev Yom Kippur meal where there is no concern for Shabbat transgression, and preparations for…

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Ketubot 4

Today’s daf (Ketubot 4b) draws a distinction between the kinds of personal gestures that a woman may do for her husband (e. mix a cup of wine for him, make his bed etc.) while she is a mourner versus doing those same acts while he is a mourner.Explaining this Gemara, Rabbi Ephraim Oved writes in…

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Ketubot 3

A topic addressed both in yesterday (Ketubot 2b) and today’s daf (Ketubot 3a) is the status of a ‘get’ (Jewish divorce bill) which was given by a husband to his wife conditionally in a situation when the condition was met but only due to unforeseen circumstances.For example, if a husband gave his wife a ‘get’…

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Ketubot 2

Today we begin our study of Massechet Ketubot (1:1) which informs us in its opening Mishna that the marriage of a בתולה (virgin) traditionally occurred on a Wednesday. As the Gemara proceeds to explain (Ketubot 2a), this was established to provide a quick resolution to any טענת בתולים (claim made by the groom following the…

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Yevamot 122

Mazal Tov! Today, those studying Daf Yomi complete their study of Massechet Yevamot which has spanned 4 months! and which has challenged even the most experience of learners. For all those who were able to keep up during this tough stretch – great work! For today’s thought for our final daf (Yevamot 122b) – thereby…

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Yevamot 121

If you have ever walked around the national cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, you may have noticed the memorial by David Brotzkos in commemoration of the 69 sailors whose lives ended on January 25th 1968. It was on this date when the Israeli Dakar submarine, under the command of Ya’akov Ra’anan went missing.Dakar was…

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Yevamot 120

Amid a discussion seeking to resolve an apparent contradiction between a Mishna in Massechet Yevamot (16:3) and a Mishna in Massechet Ohalot (1:6) concerning the danger of a serious wound inflicted by a knife or sword, our daf (Yevamot 120b) explains that the case being described in Ohalot presumes that the knife or sword is…

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Yevamot 119

I previously explained in my commentary to Yevamot 99a (see https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/yevamot-99/ how the seemingly improbable case described in that Mishna (Yevamot 11:4) where two children became mixed up actually referred to a situation when families were forced to hide in caves for long periods while conflicts were reigning in their area ‘during which time babies…

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Yevamot 118

Today’s daf (Yevamot 118a), while discussing the laws of testimony about the death of a husband by co-wives where one co-wife testifies that he died and the other testified that he didn’t, considers a line of reasoning that: ‘it might enter your mind to say that this man did in fact die, and concerning what…

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Yevamot 117

Today’s daf (Yevamot 117a) contains a stunning insight about our relationship with Torah – as derived from a verse in Mishlei 27:19.The verse states כַּמַּיִם הַפָּנִים לַפָּנִים כֵּן לֵב הָאָדָם לָאָדָם – ‘As water reflects the face, so too does the heart of one person to another’ – which is explained by Rashi, according to…

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Yevamot 116

A story is told in today’s daf (Yevamot 116b) which is the basis for an important Talmudic rule:‘It occurred at the end of the wheat harvest when ten people went to harvest wheat. A snake bit one of them and he died, and his wife then came and told the Beit Din that her husband…

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Yevamot 115

Today’s daf (Yevamot 115a) states a principle that people don’t lie about facts that are likely to become known in the future. And why? Because people are afraid of being exposed as a liar. Admittedly, there are many people nowadays for whom this principle, and this fear, does apply. However, the notion of having a…

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Yevamot 114

The Mishna (Yevamot 15:1) in today’s daf (Yevamot 114b) discusses the circumstances where a woman testifying to the death of her husband while they were both overseas is sufficient evidence for a Beit Din to render her a widow: ‘If there was peace between him and her (i.e., the couple were not fighting at the…

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Yevamot 113

Today’s daf (Yevamot 113a) informs us how ‘there was once a certain deaf-mute who was living in Rav Malkiyo’s neighbourhood. Rav Malkiyo married him to a woman, and he wrote four-hundred dinars for her from the property [of the deaf-mute as her Ketubah (marriage contract)]. [Responding to this event], Rava said: “Who is as wise…

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Yevamot 112

Today’s daf (Yevamot 112a) quotes a Mishna from Massechet Nedarim (11:12) that uses a very powerful phrase. Specifically, in the context of discussing cases where women could seek Jewish divorces even against their husbands will, the Mishna describes a case where a woman states to her husband שָׁמַיִם בֵּינִי לְבֵינָךְ – ‘that heaven is between…

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Yevamot 111

Oftentimes, instead of writing a commentary to the Mishna and Gemara, I simply just try and listen to the emotions that emerge from what has already been said in the Mishna and Gemara – and this is what I’d like to do in terms of the Mishna (Yevamot 13:12) found in today’s daf (Yevamot 111b).We…

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Yevamot 110

Today’s daf (Yevamot 110b) touches on a topic that I have addressed every year in my ‘Jewish Moral Dilemmas course’, firstly because it is important, secondly because it is painful, thirdly because it is often not addressed until such a situation arises, and lastly because my understanding of the topic was powerfully impacted by a…

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Yevamot 109

In today’s daf (Yevamot 109a), Bar Kapara teaches a Beraita which states how: ‘A person should always cleave to three things and distance themselves from three things: They should cleave to Chalitzah, to making peace [between people in conflict], and to the revocation of vows, and they should distance themselves from mi’un (refusal of marriage…

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Yevamot 108

Three dapim ago (Yevamot 105b) we read the dramtic story which Jeffrey L. Rubenstein calls, ‘The Shaming of Abdan’ (see https://bit.ly/3NgJZkV for his article on the topic). Significantly, this story concluded by informing us that due to Abdan’s impudence, he contracted tzora’at, his two sons drowned, and his two daughters-in-law made declarations of refusal (mi’un)…

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Yevamot 107

Early on in today’s daf (Yevamot 107a), in seeking to provide a rationale for Beit Shammai’s position who asserts – in contrast to Beit Hillel – that once an orphan minor has married then ‘mi’un’ (refusal of that marriage) is not possible, the Gemara invokes the phrase לפי שאין תנאי בנשואין – ‘because nissuiun (marriage)…

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Yevamot 106

The final lines of today’s daf (Yevamot 106b) elaborate upon Devarim 25:10 which informs us, concerning the Yavam who refuses to fulfil the mitzvah of Yibum and instead chooses Halitzah, that וְנִקְרָא שְׁמוֹ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל בֵּית חֲלוּץ הַנָּעַל – ‘and his name shall be called in Israel, “The house of the one whose shoe was removed…

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Yevamot 105

Today I would like to elaborate on my commentary to Rosh Hashanah 18a (see https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/rosh-hashanah-18/) and address the teaching found both there and in today’s daf (Yevamot 105a) about the role of Torah study and acts of kindness (chessed) in bringing atonement to the world. Moreover, I would like to discuss how – in the…

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Yevamot 103-4

A review of Yevamot 103-104 informs us that the Halitzah ceremony must involve the removal of a shoe from the right foot, while if – for whatever reason – the right foot is wearing a left shoe, the ceremony is valid ex post facto.The question, of course, is why do these specific details matter? To…

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Yevamot 102

Six months ago in my commentary to Megillah 16a (see https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/megillah-16/) I spoke about the importance of us being prepared to cut our losses and walk away from bad situations. In fact, I even quoted Annie Duke who has written an entire book on the subject (‘Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away’).…

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Yevamot 101

A few weeks ago the Jewish world mourned the death of Rabbi Nota Greenblatt (1925-2022) who, aside from being the Rav and Av Beis Din of the Vaad HaKehillot of Memphis and the founder of the Margolin Hebrew Academy, was a tremendous Torah scholar and a Rabbi’s Rabbi who often travelled to smaller Jewish communities…

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Yevamot 100

We are taught in today’s daf (Yevamot 100a) how Rava changed his Beit Din prioritisation policy in response to hearing a Beraita discussing the laws of Ma’aser Ani. Specifically, Rava explains that until this point, ‘when both a man and woman would come before me for litigation [each being a plaintiff in their own respective…

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Yevamot 99

Sometimes all it takes is a few words to help make sense of what seems to be an unnecessarily confusing case. The Mishna (Yevamot 11:4) in today’s daf (Yevamot 99a) tells us about a case of ‘a woman whose son became mixed up with the son of her daughter-in-law, and these mixed-up sons then matured…

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Yevamot 98

I would like to share what I believe to be an original reading of a cryptic story in today’s daf (Yevamot 98a).We are told a Beraita that Ben Yasiyan said: ‘When I travelled overseas I encountered a convert who married his maternal brother’s wife. I said to him: “My son, who permitted this to you?”…

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Yevamot 97

Following the discussion initiated on Yevamot 96b about the importance of attributing Torah insights to their original composers, today’s daf (Yevamot 97a) quotes a stunning teaching of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai that כל תלמיד חכם שאומרים דבר שמועה מפיו בעולם הזה שפתותיו דובבות בקבר – ‘any Torah scholar in whose name a Torah insight is…

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Yevamot 96

The Mishna (Yevamot 10:5) in today’s daf (Yevamot 96a) begins by telling us about a man who, having been informed that his wife has died, then goes on to marry a series of women – in each case only once he has been informed that his previous wife has died – all of whom being…

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Yevamot 95

Yevamot 95a-b examines the human cost of forbidden sexual relationships, and specifically, how a marriage is halachically impacted when the husband or wife engages in a forbidden relationship.Significantly, I use the phrase ‘halachically impacted’, because the primary focus of our Gemara is whether a couple may remain together, or whether they must divorce, in a…

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Yevamot 94

In response to the interpretation given by Rabbi Elazar ben Matya in Mishna Yevamot (10:3, 92a) to Vayikra 21:7, our daf (Yevamot 94a) records the critical words of Rav – as quoted by Rav Yehuda – that while Rabbi Elazar could have למדרש ביה מרגניתא ודרש בה חספא – ‘expounded a [beautiful and rare] pearl…

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Yevamot 93

Much of the focus of today’s daf (Yevamot 93a) concerns the question of אדם מקנה דבר שלא בא לעולם, i.e. whether ‘someone can acquire something that has yet to come into being’.In terms of the essence of this question, it considers whether acquisition must only apply to the tangible or also to the possible; to…

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Yevamot 89-92

While I generally endeavour to write an individual post on every page of daf yomi, in very rare instances – such as after a two- or three-day yom tov – I make the decision to write a post that covers a number of dapim while nevertheless making reference to ideas found on every page that…

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Yevamot 88

There is a lovely phrase used repeatedly in today’s daf (Yevamot 88b) that I feel is a wonderful message for us all as we approach Shavuot which, among other things, celebrates the giving of the Torah. In its discussion about the reliance and reliability of one witness in certain instances, the Gemara uses the expression:…

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Yevamot 87

The Mishna (Yevamot 10:1) in today’s daf (Yevamot 87b) describes one of those terrible ‘what-if’ cases, where a woman whose husband went overseas and who was informed that her husband had died. On the basis of that evidence, the woman then married another man, afterwhich her (first) husband returned. The question addressed by the Mishna…

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Yevamot 86

Today’s daf (Yevamot 86b) quotes a verse (Ezra 8:15) describing an event which ostensibly only took place because of a principle explained elsewhere (Eruvin 65a) which is a problem that I, and I think so many others, face on a very regular basis.To explain what I mean, our Gemara makes reference to the fact that…

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Yevamot 85

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Yevamot 9:3, 84a) that marriages forbidden by Torah law (eg. a Kohen Gadol to a widow) are often treated less severely than those ‘secondary arayot’ forbidden by rabbinic law, with the Beraita quoted in today’s daf (Yevamot 85a) providing further details in terms of what this means in…

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Yevamot 84

Among the various cases recorded in the Mishna (Yevamot 9:2) in today’s daf (Yevamot 84a) are cases of women ‘who are permitted to marry their Yavam but who were forbidden to be married to their husband’. Specifically, this refers to instances where the Torah forbids certain men from marrying certain women (eg. a Kohen Gadol…

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Yevamot 83

In today’s daf (Yevamot 83a), reference is made to Mishna Shevi’it 2:6 which discusses the permitted timeline for planting and grafting prior to a Shemitta year – with the halachic requirement being that the seed must already be established in the ground, or the graft sufficiently fused to a tree, before the start of the…

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Yevamot 82

One of my favourite films is Cast Away which tells the story of Chuck Noland, a systems analyst for Fedex who, after a plane crash killing the rest of the crew on his cargo plane, washes up on an uninhabited island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. However, while Castaway is a survival movie, it is…

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Yevamot 81

Today’s daf (Yevamot 81b) makes reference to a fascinating halachic principle of כל דבר שבמניין אינו בטל – literally ‘any item that is counted is not nullified’.What this means is that when a prohibited item or substance becomes mixed with a permitted item or substance, though in the situation where the majority of a mixture…

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Yevamot 80

Much of today’s daf (Yevamot 80a-b) addresses the physical סימנים (signs) indicating how a woman or a man have reached puberty, during which the Gemara also speaks of the סריס (the sexually underdeveloped man, i.e. one who has not undergone puberty, and of the איילונית (the sexually underdeveloped woman, i.e. a woman who has not…

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Yevamot 79

For some people, Yevamot 78-79 (i.e. yesterday and today’s daf) are simply more of the same technical halachic debates relating to children, marriage, Jewish status and the mitzvah of yibum. However, for Rav Hayyim David Halevy (see Asseh Lecha Rav 7:70-71), who is one of my spiritual, moral and halachic role models, these pages contain…

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Yevamot 78

There is a remarkable halacha discussed in today’s daf (Yevamot 78a) that if a pregnant woman immerses in a mikveh for the sake of conversion, then the child that she is carrying need not also, separately, immerse for the sake of conversion.Significantly, our Gemara discusses the various possible ways in which this spiritual transformation occurs…

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Yevamot 77

One of the most frequently quoted verses in Orthodox girls’ schools and Seminaries are the words of Tehillim 45:14: כָּל כְּבוּדָּה בַת מֶלֶךְ פְּנִימָה מִמִּשְׁבְּצוֹת זָהָב לְבוּשָׁהּ which, though explained in many different ways, is generally translated to mean something like: ‘all the honour of the princess is within; she wears clothes embroidered with gold’.Significantly,…

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Yevamot 76

Today’s daf (Yevamot 76b) informs us that while the mistreatment of Bnei Yisrael by the male Amonites and Moabites led to the policy of forbidding male converts to Judaism from Amon and Moab, female Amonites and Moabites are permitted to convert to Judaism. Undoubtedly, the most famous female Moabite who did ‘enter the congregation’ was…

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Yevamot 75

Much of today’s daf (Yevamot 75b) deals with the laws of a פצוע דכא – someone with wounded or crushed testicles whom the Torah (see Devarim 23:2) restricts from marrying into the ‘the assembly of God’.Unfortunately, just like the many people who choose to quickly skip through dapim addressing such topics, there are men who…

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Yevamot 74

Today’s daf (Yevamot 74a) focusses on the restrictions of various individuals such as an אונן (someone whose close relative has died but is yet to be buried), an ערל (someone who is uncircumcised), and a טבול יום (someone who has entered into a state of impurity lasting a day) from consuming various sacred foods such…

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Yevamot 73

For reasons which I’ve yet to fully understand, many Jews don’t consider the terrifying statistics of assimilation as being something that is their concern, and when asked why, their general response is two-fold: a) what can I do about it especially as I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable/religious/capable, and, b) that is why we have outreach organizations…

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Yevamot 72

There is a remark in today’s daf (Yevamot 72b) which serves as a powerful reminder about the need for time, thought, reflection and depth when studying, processing and understanding Torah – which is most certainly a necessary message in our generation which seems to celebrate instant, knee-jerk, and often shallow opinions. Specifically, we are taught…

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Yevamot 71

I previously noted in my commentary to yesterday’s daf that those who are ערלים (uncircumcised) are not permitted by Torah law to consume certain sacred foods such as the Korban Pesach. As the Torah (Shemot 12:48) states: וְכָל עָרֵל לֹא יֹאכַל בּוֹ – ‘and whoever is uncircumcised may not eat of it’.At the same time,…

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Yevamot 70

Today we begin Chapter 8 of Massechet Yevamot titled הערל which is often translated as ‘an uncircumcised person’, and it is here where we are taught that those who are ערלים are not permitted to consume terumah. However, the word ערל, although certainly used in the Torah to refer to someone who is physically uncircumcised,…

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Yevamot 68 & 69

If I had to pick a theme that emerges from our study of Yevamot 68 & 69, it would be ‘transitions’, and in particular, how reaching a certain physical age is indicative of having reached a certain transitional stage, and similarly, how particular life transitions, such as marriage, are reflective of starting a new stage…

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Yevamot 67

Throughout today’s daf (Yevamot 67a), reference is made to the laws of inheritance, and specifically, to the laws of inheritance for daughters.Interestingly, elsewhere in the Gemara we find that an association is made between the laws of yibum and the laws of inherence for daughters. Specifically, we are taught in Bava Batra 119b that when…

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Yevamot 66

Today’s daf (Yevamot 66b) quotes from Mishna Terumot 11:9 to teach us that a cow rented by a Israel from a Kohen may still eat terumah food, while conversely, a cow rented by a Kohen from a Israel may not. Given this, the question we must consider is why is this the case, and what…

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Yevamot 65

In today’s daf (Yevamot 65b), Rabbi Abba quotes from Mishlei 9:8 which states, אַל תּוֹכַח לֵץ פֶּן יִשְׂנָאֶךָּ הוֹכַח לְחָכָם וְיֶאֱהָבֶךָּ – ‘do not rebuke a scoffer lest he hate you; rebuke a wise person and he will love you’, to teach that it is an obligation not to rebuke someone who will not listen…

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Yevamot 64

The Mishna (Yevamot 6:6) in today’s daf (Yevamot 64a) states that if a couple are married for ten years and are unable to have children, they should divorce in order to give each other a chance to become parents.Significantly, the Rambam (Ishut 15:7) formulates this halacha with even stronger language than the Mishna, stating that:…

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Yevamot 63

Many of us – myself included – worry. Still, among the various teachings from the Book of Ben Sira that are cited in today’s daf (Yevamot 63b) is one that directly challenges the worrier: אל תצר צרת מחר – ‘do not be agitated by the worries of tomorrow’, כי לא תדע ילד יום – ‘for…

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Yevamot 62

Today’s daf (Yevamot 62a) tells the story of the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students, and while I have previously attempted to understand aspects of this story, there have been some parts that have nevertheless eluded me. Then, this year, I purchased a copy of Rabbi Ephraim Oved’s ‘Torat HaAggadah’ where he sheds light on parts…

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Yevamot 61

Of those who read my daily daf insights, they differ significantly in terms of age, background, and location. Yet beyond this, they also differ in family situation. Some are single, some are married, some are divorced and some are widows. And in terms of children, some don’t have children. Some do. Some have sadly lost…

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Yevamot 60

Early on in today’s daf (Yevamot 60a) an attempt is made to understand the reasoning of one of Rabbi Eliezar ben Yaakov’s rulings especially since, as we are told in the Gemara, his rulings are considered קב ונקי – literally ‘small measured and clean’ and meaning that though he rendered fewer rulings than most of…

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Yevamot 59

Much of today’s daf (Yevamot 59a) focusses on the laws of marriage for a Kohen Gadol about whom the Torah instructs: וְהוּא אִשָּׁה בִבְתוּלֶיהָ יִקָּח – ‘He may marry a woman only in her virginity’ (Vayikra 21:13), and which is then reiterated in the following verse that, אַלְמָנָה וּגְרוּשָׁה וַחֲלָלָה זֹנָה אֶת אֵלֶּה לֹא יִקָּח…

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Yevamot 58

Today’s daf (Yevamot 58b) discusses the complex halachot concerning a woman who is a בת כהן (the daughter of a Kohen) – meaning that before her marriage she ate Terumah (the tithes given to the Kohanim) in her parents’ home, who then married a Kohen (which meant that after her marriage she ate Terumah in…

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Yevamot 57

While various cases are presented in today’s daf (Yevamot 57a) relating to Kohanim, I would like to focus on just two, and by examining these two cases, I hope to share a valuable perspective that I think is often overlooked. However, in order to do so a little background is necessary in order to explain…

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Yevamot 56

Three years ago I attended a conference where Rabbi Dr. Rafi Feuerstein spoke about a topic close to his heart; a topic so close that he’d just edited a book on the subject.*Titled, ‘Breaking the Glass Wall: Intimacy and Marriage for People with Disabilities’ (Hebrew), this book addresses the legal, halachic, social & practical questions…

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Yevamot 55

The Torah’s model of yibum, which our Massechet has discussed at length, involves a woman marrying her deceased husband’s brother in the case where she and her late husband did not have a child. In doing so, a family connection is maintained, along with the possibly of a child being born that can continue the…

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Yevamot 54

Amid the various complex and – at times – startling cases discussed in today’s daf (Yevamot 54a), Rav Ashi teaches us about the difference between dozing and sleeping:‘Dozing is when someone is asleep but not completely asleep, and awake but not completely awake (נים ולא נים תיר ולא תיר). For example, if someone asks a…

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Yevamot 53

If you’ve been following my commentary on Massechet Yevamot (and especially my remarks on Yevamot 3 – https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/yevamot-3/, Yevamot 8 – https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/yevamot-8/ and Yevamot 39, https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/yevamot-39/) then you understand that while the Mishna and Gemara often speak about the legal consequences of cohabitation (in terms of them transforming the automatic partial marital bond between a…

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Yevamot 52

Today is Yom HaZikaron LaShoah VeLaGevurah, and though – as every day – my task is to study today’s daf (Yevamot 52) and to find or conceive an insight that resonates with me and – I hope – with others, the mood of the day affects my learning in terms of the words that I…

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Yevamot 51

Early on in our study of Massechet Yevamot (see for example my commentary to Yevamot 8b) we explained that though the Torah only demands cohabitation in order to transform the partial ‘marriage’ (that is automatically established between a woman whose husband died without children and her brother-in-law upon the death of her husband) into a…

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Yevamot 50

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Yevamot 4:13, 49a) that ‘if a man’s wife died, he is permitted to marry her sister’, and similarly, ‘if his yevama died, he is permitted to marry her sister’.Interestingly, Rav Yosef points out in today’s daf (Yevamot 50a) that this teaching appears to be little more than a…

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Yevamot 49

In most houses and apartments, the glass used in toilet and bathroom windows differ from those in the rest of the house. In the rest of the house, the glass is transparent – thereby enabling us to clearly see through the window and view whatever is on the other side of the window with clarity.…

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Yevamot 48

The final teaching in today’s daf (Yevamot 48b) states that once a non-Jew has decided to convert to Judaism, they should not delay their initiation of that process. In fact, we are then taught by Rabbi Abahu, or some say by Rabbi Chanina, that we learn this idea from Ruth 2:12 when Boaz says to…

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Yevamot 46&47

One of the most profound perspectives in the teachings of Rav Soloveitchik is his examination, in ‘Kol Dodi Dofek’, of the dual covenantal conversion rituals of milah (circumcision – or to be more precise, the prohibition of being uncircumcised) and tevilah (immersion); how the former expresses a commitment to the covenant of fate (goral) while…

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Yevamot 45

The final teaching in today’s daf (Yevamot 45b) was said by Rav Chama bar Gurya, quoting Rav, stating that: ‘If one buys a slave from an idolater, and before immersing the slave for the sake of converting them to the partial Jewish status of עבד כנעני (Canaanite slave) the slave chooses to immerse themself for…

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Yevamot 44

Throughout my posts on Massechet Yevamot I have emphasised how the mitzvah of Yibum is fraught with moral and ethical challenges, how the choice to perform yibum should be לשם שמים (i.e. with good intentions), and how the decision to transform the automatic relationship established upon the death of a man between the female yevama…

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Yevamot 43

Towards the end of today’s daf (Yevamot 43b) we find a Beraita listing what may or may not be done in the nine days between Rosh Chodesh Av and Tisha B’Av, and while it states that neither Eirusin nor Nissu’in may be performed during this period, the Gemara then clarifies and explains that though Nissu’in…

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Yevamot 42

A Beraita is cited in today’s daf (Yevamot 42b) which makes reference to a ruling מפי חכמים בכרם ביבנה – ‘from the mouths of the Sages in Kerem (lit. ‘the vineyard) B’Yavne (lit. ‘in Yavne’)’, and given that studied in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavne – whose founding was inspired by the great academy of Yavne established…

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Yevamot 41

Embedded in the Mishna (Yevamot 4:10) in today’s daf (Yevamot 41a) is a fascinating remark reflecting – at least according to some commentaries – a keen interest that married couples not be hesitant, awkward or embarrassed about matters of sexual intimacy. But to explain, a little background is necessary.The Torah speaks of two stages of…

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Yevamot 40

As we are in the midst of the festival of freedom, and having just had our Pesach Seder, it seems apt to reflect on the gift of freedom while – at the same time – considering a lesson from the Mishna (Yevamot 4:7) and the subsequent Gemara found in today’s daf (Yevamot 40a).If a man…

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Yevamot 39

In my commentary to Yevamot 3a (see https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/yevamot-3/), I referenced Yevamot 39b, because it is here where Abba Shaul teaches that the only instance where Yibbum is not considered to be a transgression of a forbidden relationship is where Yibbum is performed לשם שמים (for the sake of heaven) – which is why Abba Shaul…

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