סקר
איך אתה לומד דף יומי?






 

Steinsaltz

Because if she wanted to lie she would have said: There was peace in the world, and the court would have accepted her testimony. Or perhaps it can be argued: Since she has maintained that there was a war and this claim of hers has already been accepted, with regard to her report concerning her husband, she will say what she imagines to be the case, and the argument of: Why would I lie, does not come and undermine the established presumption that there was a war.

The Gemara cites a baraita in an attempt to resolve this dilemma. Come and hear: It was taught that if a woman comes and says: They set our house on fire and the house became filled with smoke, or: They set our cave on fire to smoke us out, and she adds: My husband died and I was saved, she is not deemed credible. In this case, she herself related the entire story, and even so her version of events is not accepted. The Gemara answers that this is no proof. There, in the case of the fire, it is different, as one says to her: Just as a miracle occurred for you and you were saved, likewise a miracle might have occurred for your husband and he too survived.

Come and hear a proof from another baraita. If a woman comes and says: A group of gentiles attacked us, or: A group of bandits attacked us, and she adds: My husband died and I was saved, she is deemed credible. This indicates that her testimony is accepted due to the argument of: Why should she lie? The Gemara rejects this proof. There, in that baraita, her testimony is accepted because it stands to reason that she is speaking the truth, in accordance with the opinion of Rav Idi. As Rav Idi said: With regard to a woman, her weapons are upon her. In other words, a woman is generally not killed by thieves, because the very fact of her being a woman protects her. They would most likely rape her and not kill her. Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that she is speaking the truth.

§ The Gemara relates: There was a certain man who got married. At the end of his wedding a fire broke out in the bridal chamber, where the bride and groom were standing, during the ceremony. His wife screamed and said to them: Look at my husband, look at my husband! They went and saw an unrecognizable burnt man fallen down, and a palm of a hand lying there.

Rav Ḥiyya bar Avin thought to say: This is the same as the case of: They set our house on fire and the house became filled with smoke, or: They set our cave on fire to smoke us out, i.e., we cannot rely on her claim that her husband died. Rava said: Is this case comparable to those? There she did not say: Look at my husband, look at my husband. And furthermore, there is another difference: Here, there is a burnt man who has fallen down and a palm that is lying there. In other words, her statement is substantiated by facts.

And why didn’t Rav Ḥiyya bar Avin accept her testimony? In his opinion, a burnt man who has fallen down is not conclusive proof, as one might still say: Perhaps another person came to the rescue and the fire burned him. And as for the palm lying there, perhaps the fire burned him and caused a deformity through which he lost his hand, and due to his embarrassment he went and ran away to somewhere else in the world, but he is still alive. Consequently, Rav Ḥiyya bar Avin did not want to rely upon the testimony of the wife.

§ A dilemma was raised before them: In the case of one witness who testifies to the death of someone during a war, what is the halakha? The Gemara explains the sides of the dilemma: The reason that one witness is deemed credible when he provides testimony concerning the death of a husband is because the husband being alive is a matter that is likely to be revealed, and one would not lie in a case of this kind. Here, too, one witness would not lie. Or perhaps the reason that one witness is trusted is because his account is supported by the fact that she herself is exacting in her investigation before she marries again. And here, since sometimes she hates him, and war is a situation that requires especially careful investigation and it is tempting for her to rely on the witness, she is not exacting in her investigation before she marries again, and therefore the testimony of one witness is not accepted.

Rami bar Ḥama said: Come and hear a resolution to this dilemma. Rabbi Akiva said: When I descended to Neharde’a in Babylonia to intercalate the year, I found there the Sage Neḥemya of Beit D’li, and he said to me: I heard that the Sages do not allow a woman to marry in Eretz Yisrael based on the testimony of one witness, apart from Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava, as the other Sages are reluctant to rely on his opinion. And I said [namti] to him: This is so. He said to me: Say to them in my name: Do you know that this country is riddled with troops? This is the tradition that I received from Rabban Gamliel the Elder, that the Sages do allow a woman to marry based on one witness.

The Gemara analyzes this baraita in relation to the issue at hand. What is the significance of his comment that this country is riddled with troops? Isn’t he saying: Even though this country is riddled with troops, this is the tradition that I received, that the Sages do allow a woman to marry based on one witness, notwithstanding the war. Apparently, one witness is deemed credible in the case of a missing husband during a time of war.

Rava said: If this is how you interpret the matter, in what way is this country different from any other? In other words, why did Neḥemya of Beit D’li mention a particular place? He should have said: Any place where there are troops. Rather, Rava said: This is what he said: You know that this country is riddled with troops, and I cannot leave the members of my household and come before the Sages, due to the danger. Therefore, I cannot testify in person that this is the tradition that I received from Rabban Gamliel the Elder, that the Sages allow a woman to marry based on one witness. According to this interpretation, his statement has no bearing on the matter at hand.

The Gemara continues. Come and hear a baraita that relates an incident involving two Torah scholars who were coming with Abba Yosei ben Simai by boat, and that boat sank. And Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi allowed their wives to marry based on the testimony given by women that these men were dead. But consider: Water, i.e., the sea, is like war with respect to this halakha, as there is room in both cases for conjecture and error. And women, even one hundred of them, are considered as one witness with regard to their testimony about a husband’s death. And yet the baraita taught: He allowed them to marry, which indicates that one may rely on one witness even during a war.

The Gemara rejects this proof. And how can you understand it that way? Apparently, the women testified only that the boat sank, and this is a case of an endless body of water, as the boat sank at sea in a spot from which it is impossible to see the shore. And the halakha is that if a man was on a boat that sank in an endless body of water his wife is prohibited to marry, as there is no proof that he actually drowned and didn’t emerge from the water on a different shore. Rather, one must say: What are the circumstances? That those women said: Those drowned men were brought up before us

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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