THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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YEVAMOS 46-65 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi
publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.
1) AGADAH: THE STUDENTS OF REBBI AKIVA WHO SURVIVED
The Gemara tells us that all of the Talmidim of Rebbi Akiva died during one
period from Pesach to Shavuos, and the world became desolate ("Shamem") with
no Torah until Rebbi Akiva went and taught Torah to more Talmidim. The
Gemara lists these Talmidim as Rebbi Meir, Rebbi Yehudah, Rebbi Yosi, Rebbi
Shimon, and Rebbi Elazar ben Shamua, who sustained the world with their
2) BEING WITH ONE'S WIFE BEFORE DEPARTING ON A TRIP
The Gemara in Sanhedrin (14a), when describing the Mesirus Nefesh of Rebbi
Yehudah ben Bava, lists the same five Tana'im as those for whom Rebbi
Yehudah ben Bava risked his life in order to grant them Semichah, before he
was killed by the Romans. One Amora there adds Rebbi Nechemyah to the list.
The Midrash Rabah (Koheles 11:6, Bereishis Rabah 61:3) indeed lists Rebbi
Nechemyah along with the first four Talmidim of Rebbi Akiva (omitting Rebbi
Elazar ben Shamua) when recounting the story of our Gemara. (The Midrash
also adds two other Talmidim, who apparently were secondary to the first
RAV ISAAC CHAVER (in a manuscript quoted by Rav Moshe Shapiro, Shlit'a)
finds an allusion to these five Talmidim in a verse in Parshas Balak.
When Bilam wanted to curse the Jewish people, he took Balak to "Rosh
ha'Pe'or that overlooks the plains of the Yeshimon" (Bamidbar 23:28). Rashi
explains that Bilam brought Balak to that place because it was there that
the Jewish people were destined to receive their punishment for the sin they
committed at Pe'or (Bamidbar 25:3). Rav Isaac Chaver explains that the
"Yeshimon" also alludes to another time at which the Jewish people would
suffer -- the time of the deaths of the Talmidim of Rebbi Akiva, when the
only ones who would remain to maintain the Torah in the world would be the
five Talmidim whose names form the abbreviation, "Yeshimon" -- Rebbi
*Y*ehudah, Rebbi *Sh*imon, Rebbi *Y*osi, Rebbi *M*eir, and Rebbi
*N*echemyah. ("Yeshimon" is spelled with two Yud's and no Vav. The word
"Yeshimon" itself is related to the word, "Shamem," which the Gemara uses to
describe the desolate state of the world until these Talmidim learned Torah
from Rebbi Akiva.)
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that when a man departs on a trip, he must first
be with his wife ("Lifkod Es Ishto"). The Gemara adds that this obligation
applies even when she is "Samuch la'Vestah," when she is near the time that
she expects to become a Nidah. Anyone who fulfills this obligation is
assured with the verse, "...you will visit your home and you will not sin."
3) MARRYING ONE'S NIECE
We know that a man must separate from his wife when she is "Samuch
la'Vestah" (Nidah 63b). How, then, can he be obligated to be with his wife
before departing on a trip when she is "Samuch la'Vestah?"
(a) The RASHBA and RITVA explain that the Isur to be with one's wife when
she is "Samuch la'Vestah" is d'Rabanan, and the Chiyuv to be with her when
he departs on a trip is also d'Rabanan. Therefore, the Rabanan have the
right to override their own enactment where they see fit to do so. This
appears to be the opinion of RASHI here as well.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 184:10) cites our Gemara as the Halachah.
The REMA cites the first two opinions above ((a) and (b)) which say that it
is permitted to have relations with one's wife even when she is "Samuch
la'Vestah." He adds, however, that "ha'Machmir Tavo Alav Berachah" -- it is
better to be stringent and to refrain, and instead to just show signs of
affection, like Tosfos writes (d). The SHACH there (#27) adds that even
Chibuk v'Nishuk is permitted, like the Rashba writes (e). The Rema then
cites the opinion of the Nimukei Yosef (c) that if his wife is a Nidah but
will be immersing herself within twelve hours from the time that he wants to
depart, he should delay his trip in order to be with her after the Tevilah.
(b) The RITVA in Shevuos (18b) suggests that even if the Isur of being with
one's wife when she is "Samuch la'Vestah" is d'Oraisa, the Torah itself is
informing us here that a man is permitted to be with his wife if he is about
to depart on a trip, and that the Isur does not apply in such a situation.
That is why the verse concludes, "And you will not sin." The verse is
promising the person that since he is fulfilling his obligation to be with
his wife for the purpose of a Mitzvah, because he is departing on a trip,
his wife will not become a Nidah at that moment even though she is "Samuch
(c) The NIMUKEI YOSEF here and the RITVA (in the name of RAMAH) in Shevuos
explain that when our Gemara says that a man must be with his wife when he
departs on a trip even when she is "Samuch la'Vestah," it is not referring
to the same "Samuch la'Vestah" of the Gemara in Nidah. Our Gemara means
"close to the time that she is going to go *to the Mikvah*," and not close
to the time that she is going to see her menstrual flow. It refers to a
woman who is already a Nidah at the time that her husband plans to depart.
The Gemara is teaching that if she is close to the time of immersing in the
Mikvah when he plans to depart (within twelve hours), then he should wait
for her to become Tahor before he departs, and he should not leave until she
becomes Tahor so that he can be with her before his trip.
According to this explanation, the next words of the Gemara are easily
understood. The Gemara says that if he is going on a trip for a Devar
Mitzvah, he is not obligated to be with his wife, because "he might become
distracted [from doing the Mitzvah.]" According to the Nimukei Yosef's
explanation, this means that he should not delay his trip in order to wait
for his wife's Tevilah, because by delaying he might miss the opportunity to
do the Mitzvah.
(d) Other Rishonim explain that the "Pekidah" of being with one's wife does
not refer to marital relations at all, but rather it refers to other signs
of affection. TOSFOS (DH Chayav) in the name of RABEINU TAM explains that
the Gemara means that if he is at a distance from his wife at the time that
he wants to leave, he must first go home and talk to his wife affectionately
and formally take leave of her before he goes.
The Gemara, though, says that this should be done even "Samuch la'Vestah,"
even when it is close to the time that she expects to become a Nidah. If all
he is doing is taking leave of her as Rabeinu Tam asserts, then why may he
not do so even when she is an actual Nidah?
The RITVA here explains, according to those who explain the Gemara this way,
that since he is going on a trip she has a stronger desire for him and
speaking to her affectionately before he leaves might lead to an Aveirah if
she is a Nidah at the time.
TOSFOS explains that our Girsa, "even if his wife is Samuch la'Vestah," is
incorrect and that the correct Girsa in the Gemara is "even if his wife is a
Nidah." Indeed he should take leave of her in this manner even if she is a
(e) The RASHBA (Toras ha'Bayis 7:2) explains that when our Gemara says that
one should "visit" his wife before departing on a trip, it is referring to
"Divrei Hergel," showing strong signs of affection (such as Chibuk
v'Nishuk), which are normally prohibited when his wife is "Samuch
la'Vestah." Since such strong signs of affection are prohibited mid'Rabanan,
the Rabanan permitted them when he is going on a trip. (Of course, if his
wife is an actual Nidah, then such signs of affection are also prohibited.)
QUESTION: The Gemara says that a person who marries "Bas Achoso" (the
daughter of one's sister) is assured of the promise in the verse, "Then you
will call, and Hashem will answer; you will cry out, and He will say, 'Here
I am'" (Yeshayah 58:9).
Why does the Gemara say this specifically with regard to marrying one's
*sister's* daughter, and not one's *brother's* daughter ("Bas Achiv")? Both
are his nieces and are related to him just the same!
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 2:14) says that it is commendable to
marry one's sister's daughter, *and the same applies* to marrying one's
brother's daughter. Why, then, does the Gemara specify "Bas Achoso?" TOSFOS,
quoting the RASHBAM, explains that it is simply more common to marry the
daughter of one's sister, because his sister is the one who entreats him to
marry her daughter more than his brother does. Since it is more common for
such a request to occur, the Gemara says that if he concedes to that
request, he will be blessed.
HALACHAH: The REMA (EH 2:6 and 15:25) cites both opinions regarding whether
the Mitzvah is to marry specifically "Bas Achoso" or also to marry "Bas
The CHIDA (Birkei Yosef EH 2:5) quotes a similar explanation from a Rishon
named RABEINU TUDRUS (who wrote a commentary on Yevamos). He says that the
Gemara is referring to marrying the daughter of a sister to help that sister
when she has no money, presumably because she is a widow. One's brother,
though, if he is living, earns money himself and does not need to have his
daughter marry her uncle.
(b) RASHI, however, suggests that it is indeed preferable to marry the
daughter of one's sister, because it is natural for a man to love his sister
more than he loves his brother, and thus the marriage with her daughter will
be more successful.
TOSFOS mentions a similar idea in the name of RABEINU TAM who points out
that most children resemble the mother's brother (Bava Basra 110a).
Therefore, one's sister's daughter is likely to be more similar to her
uncle, and the marriage will fare better.
(c) TOSFOS later (99a, DH Safek) in the name of the RIVAN says that not only
is it better to marry the daughter of one's sister, but there is something
*improper* about marrying the daughter of one's brother. By marrying the
daughter of one's brother, one runs the risk of annulling the Mitzvah of
Yibum, because if he dies childless, then his brother's daughter falls to
her father for Yibum, and he cannot do Yibum with her!
However, RABEINU YEHUDAH HA'CHASID in his will (#22) writes that a person
should *not* marry the daughter of his brother or sister! The NODA B'YEHUDAH
(EH 2:79) and many others wonder how Rabeinu Yehudah ha'Chasid could say
such a thing which contradicts our Gemara and all of the Poskim, all of whom
imply that it is a positive, commendable act to marry one's niece! How can
he advise not to do so?
RAV REUVEN MARGOLIOS (in Hagahos to Sefer Chasidim) quotes EVEN HA'ROSHAH
(#31) who explains that the Sefer Chasidim is consistent with his reasoning
elsewhere (in #488), where he writes that if a person who is a "Chasid," a
righteous person, marries the daughter of his sister, then it is a
commendable act. But if he is a Rasha and he is marrying her only because he
is physically attracted to her, then it is not a good thing to do (for he is
taking advantage of his position as her uncle in order to marry her).
The Even ha'Roshah explains further that we know that there is a
significantly higher incidence of genetic defects when close relatives marry
each other and bear children. Therefore, if one marries his sister's
daughter with pure intentions, l'Shem Shamayim, Hashem will help him and his
offspring will be healthy. But if he does it with impure intentions, then
his fate will be left to the natural course and he will face a higher risk
of genetic defects in his offspring. Nowadays, says the Even ha'Roshah,
there is a greater chance that people will not have pure intentions, and
thus the Sefer Chasidim advised against marrying one's niece.
This might be what the Gemara means by applying the verse, "Then you will
call, and Hashem will answer" to one who marries his niece. If one marries
his niece, it will indeed be necessary for him to "call out to Hashem" and
pray that He protect them from having a child with defects. If he married
her l'Shem Shamayim, "Hashem will answer" his prayer.