י׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ה (January 30, 2015)

Yevamot 118a-b: To Stay Married Or Not To Stay Married

If a man realizes that he is dying and desires to free his wife from the obligation of yibum (levirate marriage), can he appoint a third party to receive a get – divorce papers – on her behalf? From the perspective of Jewish law, is receiving a get in such a case considered a zekhut (advantageous to the wife), or is it a hova (detrimental)?

The Gemara does not come to a clear conclusion about this question, but it segues to another question – can a husband appoint someone to accept a get on his wife’s behalf if the couple is in a situation of constant argument (ketata)? In such a case, would the woman consider it advantageous to be removed from this contentious situation, or is even a difficult marriage better than a situation of divorce?

On this question the Gemara is clear – a woman would prefer to be married than to be divorced. Four common idioms are brought to support this idea:

Reish Lakish: Tav le-meitav tan du me-le-meitav armelu (“It is preferable to sit as two than to sit lonely as a widow.”)
Abaye: D’shumshemana gavra, kursei bei harata remu la (“With a husband the size of an ant, her seat is placed among the noblewomen.”)
Rav Pappa: D’naftza gavra, tikrei be-sefei bava ve-teitiv (“Though her husband be a wool comber, she calls him to the threshold and sits down at his side.”)
Rav Ashi: D’kulsa gavra, lo ba’ei talfhei le-kidra (“One whose husband sells cabbage does not require lentils for her pot.”)

All of these statements, which were common in the time of the Gemara, indicate that no matter how simple, lowly or – according to the interpretation of the Ge’onim – odd-looking her husband is, a married woman is proud of her status as a wife.

Previous
Next