Thursday, January 08, 2015

Martin Guerre and the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: The Return of Martin Guerre: Abandoned, Adulterous, Raped, and Widowed Wives. Talmudic sages say that sinful acts—especially those committed by women—are not the rabbis’ fault.
The main subjects of Tractate Yevamot are marriage and death. Initially, the rabbis were concerned with a man’s responsibilities toward his dead brother’s widow, who is his sister-in-law or yevama. Much of the tractate so far has dealt with whether and how such a man should marry his yevama, or else release her from her obligation by performing the ceremony of chalitza. This week, however, as Daf Yomi readers began chapter 10 of Yevamot, the subjects of death and marriage were brought together in a different way. Now the rabbis shift their attention from the brother-in-law to the widow herself. What happens, they ask, if a widow remarries, only to discover later that her first husband is in fact still alive?

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.