June 10, 2022

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 I have studied. In this case, since I am still in the UK, and since Yom Tov ended late last night, this post covers Yevamot 89-92.
In terms of Yevamot 89b, much of the discussion addresses the topic of inheritance and speaks of what parents bequeath their children and what children inherit from their parents. Yet while the primary focus of that daf relates to physical possessions, a topic that I have often discuss are the life lessons and ethical teachings that parents should deliberately bequeath to their children – which is why I believe that just as a parent should write a financial will, they should also write an ethical will – because through doing so a parent is then able to clearly identify their values so they can guide their children in a manner that is best reflective of those values.
In fact, I would go further and say that in the ensuing dapim we find some examples of the life-lessons and ethical teachings that a parent should make sure that they teach their children. For example, on Yevamot 90b we are repeatedly taught a halachic principle that מיגדר מילתא שאני – literally ‘fencing the matter’ – which refers to the situations where measures should be enacted by our Sages to counter an increase in immoral behaviour. What this means is that there are times when decisions must be made based on a situation, and that there are moments when we need to adapt our policy and our behaviour when society doesn’t respect the basic moral boundaries that we should expect them to do so. Unfortunately this is an idea that is currently not being taught sufficiently to our youth.
Beyond this, in the following daf (Yevamot 91b) a further halachic statement is repeated – this time that איבעי ליה לאקרויי לגיטא – ‘she should have read the get (divorce bill) before remarrying’, which conveys the idea that we should not accept contracts or deals unless we’ve done our due diligence and read them with care. This too is a crucial lesson especially, although not limited to, when it comes to matters of marriage and divorce.
And finally, many of the instances recorded in the Mishna on Yevamot 92a relate to decision-making based on hearsay which, in certain instances as described in the Mishna, can subsequently become a source of much personal distress. And what this comes to teach us is that we should be very careful who we trust, and especially careful about whom we rely upon in terms of us making significant personal decisions.
Of course, there are so many more lessons that we should know for ourselves and that we should transmit to our children. Still, the concept of pivoting when society’s moral boundaries change, how we must understand the terms of contracts to which we sign our names, and how we should be cautious about those whom we trust, are all lessons that deserve being taught and repeated – not just for ourselves, but especially for those for whom we are their moral and ethical guides.
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