ז׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ה (January 27, 2015)

Yevamot 115a-b: Two Dead Men With One Name

The fifteenth perek returns us to the discussion of the tenth perek and the question of what level of testimony is necessary to allow us to permit a woman to marry when her husband has disappeared. As we have seen, found a number of ways to be lenient in such cases, both because of their desire to ease the suffering of the widow and because they rely on her to ascertain that her husband is truly dead before she marries another man.

One question that is raised on our daf is whether we need to concern ourselves with the fear that the witness who testifies that a person died may mistake one person for another if they both had the same name. The Gemara relates that Rav Beivai’s nephew, who was called Yitzhak Reish Galuta (Isaac, the Exilarch), was traveling from Cordoba to Aspamya and died. (It appears that Cordoba is the place known by that same name in modern-day Spain. This ancient city, which was originally settled by the Phoenicians, was important in the days of the Talmud, as it was the capital of the Roman province H. Baetica. Aspamya may refer to the area of Spain whose name in Latin and Greek was Hispania.) When word got back of Yitzhak Reish Galuta’s death, Abaye and Rava disagreed about whether they could be certain that they knew who had died, or if they had to be concerned that there was more than one person known by that name. Abaye felt that such a concern had to be taken into account, while Rava was not concerned.

The rishonim ask how this particular case came to be the point of discussion; after all, how many “Yitzhak Reish Galuta”s could there be?!

The Ri”d and others argue that he could not have been the Exilarch; that was merely his nickname. According to the Rashba, Yitzhak was not the head of the entire Jewish community in exile, but rather only the head of the community of Cordoba. Other leaders of the Diaspora, says the Rashba, were also known by similar titles.

The Alsheikh takes a different approach entirely. He suggests that the discussion did not revolve around this specific case, but when Yitzhak Reish Galuta passed away, it led to this situation being discussed.

Previous
Next