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Steinsaltz

The above principles apply both in cases of one yevama to one yavam, as well as in cases of two yevamot to one yavam. How so? If he performed levirate betrothal with this yevama and levirate betrothal with that one, i.e., her rival wife, they require two bills of divorce, each for her own levirate betrothal, and ḥalitza with one of them, to release them both from the levirate bond. If he performed levirate betrothal with this one and gave a bill of divorce to that one, the first woman requires a bill of divorce to cancel the levirate betrothal, and one of them must receive ḥalitza. If he performed levirate betrothal with this one and engaged in intercourse with that one, they require two bills of divorce and he must perform ḥalitza with one of them. If the yavam performed levirate betrothal with this one and performed ḥalitza with that one, the first woman requires a bill of divorce.

If the yavam gave a bill of divorce to this yevama and a bill of divorce to that one, they require ḥalitza from him. If he gave a bill of divorce to this one and engaged in intercourse with that one, the latter requires a bill of divorce and ḥalitza. If he gave a bill of divorce to this one and performed levirate betrothal with that one, the latter requires a bill of divorce and he must perform ḥalitza with one of them. If the yavam gave a bill of divorce to this woman and performed ḥalitza with that one, nothing is effective after ḥalitza, and he cannot betroth the rival wife.

If he performed ḥalitza with one yevama and then performed ḥalitza with a second yevama, or he performed ḥalitza with one yevama and then proceeded to either perform levirate betrothal, give a bill of divorce, or engage in intercourse with a second; alternatively, he engaged in intercourse with one yevama and engaged in intercourse with the second yevama, or he engaged in intercourse with one yevama and proceeded to either perform levirate betrothal, give a bill of divorce, or perform ḥalitza with the second, nothing is effective after ḥalitza or intercourse. These halakhot apply both in cases of one yavam to two yevamot, as well as two yevamin to one yevama.

If he performed ḥalitza with one yevama and then proceeded to either perform levirate betrothal, give a bill of divorce, or engage in intercourse with a second yevama; alternatively, he engaged in intercourse with one yevama and then proceeded to perform levirate betrothal, or give a bill of divorce, or perform ḥalitza with a second yevama, nothing is effective after ḥalitza, whether the ḥalitza took place at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end. All of these halakhot accord with the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, who maintains betrothal does not take effect on a woman who is forbidden due to the prohibition against betrothing a yevama after ḥalitza.

But with regard to intercourse, when it is at the beginning, i.e., the first act the yavam performed with his yevama, nothing is effective after it and any subsequent action is void. However, if it was performed in the middle, and similarly if it was performed at the end, i.e., after some other action that impairs the validity of his intercourse, something is effective after it. Rabbi Neḥemya says: Both with regard to intercourse and ḥalitza, whether performed at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end, nothing is effective after it. If the yavam performed a valid action according to Torah law, any subsequent action is of no consequence according to halakha.

GEMARA: Rabban Gamliel and the Rabbis disagree only with regard to the efficacy of a bill of divorce performed after a bill of divorce and levirate betrothal performed after levirate betrothal, but one bill of divorce given to a single yevama, or one levirate betrothal performed with a single yevama, is effective. The bill of divorce prevents him from performing levirate marriage, and the levirate betrothal requires a bill of divorce to cancel it, in addition to ḥalitza.

The Gemara elaborates: What is the reason that the Sages said that a bill of divorce is effective for a yevama, despite the fact that she is not his wife? This is because it is effective in general in cases of married women. For if you say that it is not effective in the case of a yevama, there are some who might mistakenly say the following: A bill of divorce is given to a woman in order to remove her from her husband, and ḥalitza likewise serves to remove her from the yavam; since a bill of divorce is ineffective for this yevama, ḥalitza is also ineffective and does not sever their relationship completely. And perhaps the yavam will come to engage in intercourse after ḥalitza, which is forbidden by the Torah prohibition derived from the verse: “So shall it be done to the man who does not build his brother’s house” (Deuteronomy 25:9).

And what is the reason the Sages said that levirate betrothal is effective for a yevama? Because it is effective in general, as levirate betrothal is essentially an act of betrothal. For if you say that it is not effective, there are some who might mistakenly say: Levirate betrothal serves to acquire a woman and intercourse serves to acquire a woman in general, as women can be betrothed by intercourse; since levirate betrothal is ineffective in the case of a yevama, intercourse is also ineffective, i.e., it does not acquire a yevama completely. And he will therefore come to engage in intercourse with a rival wife after intercourse with the first yevama.

And what is the reason the Sages who disagree with Rabbi Neḥemya said that invalid intercourse, i.e., intercourse that follows any disqualifying action with the rival wife of a yevama, does not fully acquire the yevama, such that something is effective after it? In this case the invalid intercourse does not cancel the levirate bond, and therefore further action with the yevama is effective.

The Sages say: If this is intercourse performed after a bill of divorce, then it is considered invalid due to a rabbinic decree with regard to intercourse after a bill of divorce because of its potential confusion with a case of intercourse after ḥalitza. The Sages established that invalid intercourse of this kind should not cancel the levirate bond completely, for if it did, then people might come to engage in intercourse after ḥalitza, which would violate a Torah prohibition. And if this is intercourse performed after levirate betrothal, then it is considered invalid due to a rabbinic decree with regard to intercourse after levirate betrothal because of its potential confusion with a case of intercourse with the second yevama after intercourse with the first. If intercourse after levirate betrothal is effective, people might come to engage in intercourse with a second yevama after intercourse with a first, and this is forbidden as the woman is considered his brother’s wife who is not eligible for levirate marriage.

And what is the reason the Sages said with regard to this invalid ḥalitza that nothing is effective after it? For they say: What is the reason that we should issue a decree in that case? Should we issue a decree with regard to ḥalitza performed after a bill of divorce due to a concern for ḥalitza performed after ḥalitza? In this case there is no concern, as there is no prohibition involved in repeating ḥalitza. In any situation like these, let her continue performing ḥalitza, for no harm is done if ḥalitza is performed unnecessarily.

Alternatively, should we issue a decree stating that other actions are effective after ḥalitza is performed after levirate betrothal due to the concern for confusion with the case of ḥalitza performed after intercourse? In this case there is a concern that people will assume that no bill of divorce is required after intercourse so long as the yavam performed ḥalitza. The Gemara challenges this concern: Is that to say that in the case of ḥalitza after levirate betrothal she does not require a bill of divorce for his levirate betrothal, such that one would conclude the same for ḥalitza after intercourse? In the case of ḥalitza after levirate betrothal, the woman requires a bill of divorce, and similarly in the case of ḥalitza after intercourse she likewise requires a bill of divorce for his intercourse. Thus, the same action performed following ḥalitza after levirate betrothal is also performed following ḥalitza after intercourse, and therefore there is no need to issue a further decree.

§ Rava said:

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)
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