DAF DISCUSSIONS - YEVAMOS 118

Chaim Baruch Kaufman asks:

Dear Kollel,

Thank you for all of your work to bring these studies to all those who can benefit from it. I am very appreciative for all that Ive gotten from you and that there is no obligation of payment, for those struggling in that way.

Due to my appreciation I am writing this criticism reluctantly. I think that it's clear that the author of your Point-by-Point section has poor English skills, and although I've been tempted to write often, I remind myself of my appreciation and feel that I shouldn't mention errors. But in today's daf (Yevamos 118b) the author chose to interpret the very last statement, by a tanna, as saying:

(Beraisa): All women married to such men have Bi'as Zenus and attribute the child to their husbands.

Is it absolutely necessary to interpret the statement this way? Are there rishonim or achronim that say this is absolutely the exact meaning? As we've seen often in this very masechta, when a tanna makes an absolute statement, like saying in such a case he/she must do this and that, which the gemara asks how that can be when they are contradictory processes, the answer is almost always that it means "OR" and not "AND". Wouldn't it have been more proper to say, for instance, that all women married to imperfect men can be more easily tempted to have have znus and then use their husbands as a cover? Or that all women married to imperfect men and have znus, will find it easy to use their husbands as cover?

Is the author saying that there is a tanna is teaching us that Divrei Elokim Chaim say that all women married to imperfect men have affairs? Without a doubt, the words chosen by the author say exactly this. That there is a tanna teaching that HKBH's Torah teaches us that all women, across the board (exceptions to the rule not withstanding), married to imperfect men will absolutely cheat on them?

If so, should we not be chosheish for this teaching, and at the very very least, warn all imperfect chasanim that they should not trust their wives completely and, maybe, track her or check after her for as long as they are married? Shouldn't every chasan class (except for those who are not afflicted by one of these imperfections) have earnest warnings and if possible suggest not to get married.

(Even if you'll say that we can't suggest that a person not keep a mitzvah, (ie. not marrying and doing pru urvu) but in such a situation the marriage, and thus the children, are in question are in themselves a safek. When she will eventually be m'zaneh, he is required to divorce her and he is therefore living in sin, and therefore not mitzvah.

Is this the necessary interpretation? If so, please tell me the source so that I can humbly apologize.

I often come off speaking sharply when I write by email. I tried to do so, but I do sincerely apologize if this question is written improperly.

With appreciation,

Chaim Baruch Kaufman

The Kollel replies:

Thank you for your warm words, Reb Chaim Baruch!

Regarding your point about the Beraisa's statement - I don't think that the statement can be interpreted to mean "all women married to imperfect men who have znus, will find it easy to use their husbands as cover." That statement would be true of all adulteresses, not just those married to imperfect men.

Of course, Chazal do not mean that 100% (or nearly so) of the time such marriages sour. It was intentionally stated in an exaggerated manner in order to bring attention to something that would ordinarily be overlooked. (We are told in Chulin 90b that Tana'im - and even the Torah itself - resort to exaggeration.)

Regarding warning certain Chasanim to be more protective of their spouses - I find it difficult to accept your suggestion in practice. The more suspicion we bring into a marriage, the less loyalty is developed. Rather, the words of the Tana were meant to inform rabbis who might have to deal with the sad results of such a marriage and should be aware of the likely possibilities.

With regard to Chasan teachers - if they feel that a Shiduch fits into the categories of this Gemara they would do well to take the opposite stance. Emphasizing to the Chasan how important loyalty is in marriage would be a more positive way for them to influence the outcomes of such marriages.

Best regards,

Mordecai Kornfeld

Kollel Iyun Hadaf