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Yevamot 3: When “Exempt” Means Forbidden

Why are the co-wives described as “exempting” one another from yibum, when really those potential cases of yibum are prohibited? One suggestion is that that language would have suggested a need for halitzah, and once there’s a need for halitzah, there’s a risk of presuming yibum was possible, when it wasn’t. Another suggestion: Plus, the strong connection between halitzah and yibum. Also, the Gemara asks why these 15 cases of co-wives don’t include 6 more stringent cases of illicit sexual relationships (which we know from the Torah, and will discuss those cases later in Yevamot). Plus, some discussion on the transactional nature of the yibum relationship.

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Anne and Yardaena

Anne Gordon is the deputy editor of Ops & Blogs at The Times of Israel. She is a veteran educator, having taught in high school and post-high school institutions in Israel and America for several decades. Yardaena Osband is a pediatrician and teaches in her community and online. They both hail from Boston, proud alumna of Maimonides School, where they first learned Gemara. Talking Talmud is their conversation (via podcast) on the daf yomi. They say: "Learning the daf? We have something for you to think about. Not learning the daf? We have something for you to think about! (Along with a taste of the daf...) Join the conversation with us!"
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