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Steinsaltz

The halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosei that the original High Priest returns to his service, while the second is fit to serve neither as High Priest nor as a common priest. And Rabbi Yosei concedes that if the second priest violated this provision and served as High Priest wearing eight garments, his service is valid. Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: The halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosei, and Rabbi Yosei conceded that if the original High Priest dies, the second returns to his service as High Priest.

The Gemara asks: That is obvious. Clearly, the second priest may serve as High Priest after the first one dies without concern that their rivalry will generate hatred between them. The Gemara answers: Lest you say that the mere knowledge that another priest is in waiting to replace him is enough to generate hatred, and would be for him like a woman whose husband has taken a rival wife in her lifetime; therefore, Rav teaches us that this is not a concern.

§ It was taught in the mishna that Rabbi Yehuda says: The Sages would even designate another wife for the High Priest lest his wife die. The Rabbis say: There is no concern lest his wife die, and therefore the Sages did not designate another wife for him. The Gemara asks with regard to the Rabbis: Aren’t they concerned lest he become impure, which is why the Sages designate a replacement High Priest? Why then, are they not concerned lest his wife die? The Gemara answers that the Rabbis could have said to you: Impurity is common, as it is not unusual for the High Priest to become impure either due to secretions from his body or from an external source. Death is not common, and therefore there is no concern lest his wife die.

It was taught in the mishna that the Rabbis said to Rabbi Yehuda: If so, that you are concerned lest his wife die, there is no end to the matter. You should also be concerned lest the second wife die, requiring designation of a third and even a fourth wife. The Gemara comments: The Rabbis spoke well to Rabbi Yehuda, making a good point. What can Rabbi Yehuda respond? Rabbi Yehuda could have said to you: For the potential death of one wife, we are concerned; for the potential death of two wives, we are not concerned, as the likelihood of that happening is negligible. The Gemara asks: And what would the Rabbis respond to that contention? They would say: If there is reason to be concerned for a potential death, then even for the potential death of two wives, we are concerned.

The Gemara suggests: If according to the Rabbis there is no distinction between concern that one wife might die and concern that two wives might die, let them say the same with regard to their own opinion. Just as they designate a replacement lest the High Priest become impure, they should designate a second replacement lest the first replacement also become impure. The Gemara answers that the Rabbis could have said to you: The High Priest is vigilant in avoiding impurity. No amount of vigilance can prevent death. The Gemara asks: If he is vigilant in avoiding impurity, then why do the Sages designate another priest in his stead? The reason for the designation of the replacement is that once we establish a replacement as a rival, all the more so will the High Priest be even more vigilant in avoiding impurity to maintain his position.

§ The Gemara asks with regard to Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion: And is designation of a second wife sufficient for him? The Merciful One stated in the Torah: “And he shall make atonement for himself and for his house” (Leviticus 16:11). House means wife; and this designated woman is not his wife as they are not yet married. What purpose does designation serve if his wife dies on Yom Kippur? The Gemara answers: He betroths her before Yom Kippur. The Gemara asks: But that does not solve the problem. As long as he has not married her, she is not yet his house, i.e., his wife. The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yehuda says that not only is a replacement wife designated, but he actually marries her. If so, another problem arises. The High Priest has two houses, and the Merciful One said: “And he shall make atonement for himself and for his house” (Leviticus 16:11). He atones for one house and not for two houses.

The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yehuda says that after marrying the second wife, he then divorces her. The Gemara asks: If he divorces her, our difficulty is restored to its original place. There is no point in designating a second wife, as if the first wife dies, the second woman is not married to him. The Gemara responds: No, it is necessary in a case where he marries her and divorces her provisionally, as he says to her: This is your bill of divorce on condition that you die on Yom Kippur. If she dies on Yom Kippur, then she was divorced retroactively and he has only one wife; if she does not die but the original wife dies, her divorce does not take effect and the second wife is married to the High Priest. In either case, the High Priest has only one wife. The Gemara asks: And perhaps neither she nor the original wife will die, and the High Priest then has two houses on Yom Kippur.

Rather, it is a case where the High Priest said to her, the woman designated: This is your bill of divorce on condition that you will not die on Yom Kippur. If she does not die, then she is divorced and he remains married to the original wife; if she dies, isn’t that original wife alive and he remains married to her alone? The Gemara asks: And perhaps the second one will not die and her bill of divorce will be a valid bill of divorce, meaning she is not his wife, but her counterpart might die, leaving the High Priest without a wife at all on Yom Kippur.

Rather, it is a case where the High Priest said to her: This is your bill of divorce on condition that one of you dies. If this one dies, that one is alive, and if that one dies, isn’t this one alive? The Gemara asks: And perhaps neither one of them will die, and he will then have two houses.

And furthermore, the question arises: Is a document of that sort a valid bill of divorce? Does a condition of that sort take effect? But didn’t Rava say: If a man says to his wife: This is your bill of divorce on condition that you will not drink wine for all the days of my life and your life, that is not severance. The bill of divorce in the Torah is called a bill of severance, meaning that for the document to be valid all connections between the husband and wife must be severed. If there is a provision in the document that maintains a permanent connection between the spouses, e.g., not to drink wine for all of her life, the document does not effect a valid divorce.

However, if one said to his wife: This is your bill of divorce on condition that you will not drink wine during all the days of the life of so-and-so; that is severance. Since the condition is not dependent on her and him but on the life of a third party, it is like any other condition in a divorce. Therefore, in the case of the High Priest, since the divorce takes effect only if neither of the women dies, that is a condition that maintains a relationship between the husband and wife for as long as she lives, which invalidates the divorce.

Rather, it is a case where the High Priest said to the second wife: This is your bill of divorce on condition that your counterpart, the other wife, will not die. If her counterpart, the first woman, does not die, the second woman is divorced; and if the first woman dies, isn’t the second woman alive and not divorced? The Gemara asks: And perhaps her counterpart will die in the middle of the Yom Kippur service, and it will become clear

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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