June 26, 2022

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 by orphan minors), from accepting deposits for safekeeping, and from acting as a guarantor [for a loan].’

Reflecting on this Beraita and why specifically these cases are listed, Rabbi Meir Kropman explains in his ‘Choshev Machshavot’ commentary on Massechet Yevamot that in each of these examples we would naturally think that the right thing to do is the opposite – meaning that we would think that Yibum is preferable to Chalitzah; that the need to speak the truth and not to lie means that conflict where people often see things so differently is a natural, though regrettable, part of life; and that the revocation of vows, which seems illogical given the significant intent we often invest in vows, are meaningless.

Similarly, in almost every case we would imagine that mi’un is something that should be encouraged, and that accepting deposits or acting as a guarantor is a good thing in terms of assisting those in need. But as Rabbi Kropman explains, situations arise when doing what appears to be the right thing can do significant harm and is, in fact, the wrong path to take.

Especially nowadays when we are so influenced by various ideas and agendas emerging from the modern world which repeatedly tell us what is ‘the right thing to do’, this Beraita is a welcome reminder that not everything is as it appears, and that there are times when what seems right is not.

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