Previous Folio / Yebamoth Directory / Tractate List

Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 46a

— The idolater has no title to the person [of the slave]1  and he can transfer to the Israelite only that which is his. And [the slave], since he forestalled him and performed ritual ablution for the purpose of acquiring the status of a freed man, has thereby cancelled the obligations of his servitude, in accordance with the ruling of Raba. For Raba stated: Consecration,2  leavened food3  and manumission4  cancel a mortgage.5

R. Hisda raised an objection: It happened with the proselyte Valeria6  that her slaves forestalled her and performed ritual ablutions7  before her. And when the matter came before the Sages they decided that the slaves had acquired the status of freed men.8  [From here it follows that] only if they performed ablution before her,9  but not if after her!10  — Raba replied: 'Before her' they acquire their emancipation whether the object of their bathing had, or had not been specified;11  'after her' emancipation is acquired only when the object had been specified,12  but not when it had not been specified.13

R. Iwya said: What has been taught14  applies only to one15  who buys16  from an idolater; but the idolater himself17  may well be acquired;18  for it is written in Scripture, Moreover from the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them may ye buy:19  you may buy of them but they may not buy of you, nor may they buy of one another.20  'But they may not buy of you'. — What can this refer to? If it be suggested [that it refers] to one's manual labour, may not an idolater, [it may be asked,] buy an Israelite to do manual labour? Surely it is written, Or to the offshoot of a stranger's family,21  and a Master said that by 'stranger's family' an idolater was meant?22  Consequently it must refer to his person;23  and the All Merciful said, 'You may buy of them,24  even their persons'. R. Aha objected: It25  might be said [to refer to acquisition] by means of money and ritual ablution!26  — This is a difficulty.

Samuel said: He27  must be firmly held28  while he is in the water;29  as [was done with] Menjamin, the slave of R. Ashi who wished to perform ritual ablution,30  and was entrusted to Rabina and R. Aha son of Raba. 'Note', [R. Ashi] said to them, 'that I shall claim him from you'.31  They put a chain32  round his neck, and loosened it and again tightened it. They loosened it in order that there might be no interposition.33  They then tightened it again in order that he might not forestall them and declare,34  'I perform the ablution in order to procure thereby the status of a freed man'. While he was raising his head from the water they placed upon it a bucket full of clay and told him, 'Go, carry it to your master's house.

R. Papa said to Raba: The master must have observed the men of Papa b. Abba's house who advance sums of money on people's accounts in respect of their capitation taxes,35  and then force them into their service. Do they,36  when set free, require a deed of emancipation or not? He replied: Were I now dead I could not have told you of this ruling. Thus said R. Shesheth: The surety for these people37  is deposited in the king's archive, and the king has ordained that whosoever does not pay his capitation tax shall be made the slave of him who pays it for him.38

R. Hiyya b. Abba once came to Gabla39  where he observed Jewish women who conceived from proselytes who were circumcised but had not performed the required ritual ablution;40  he also noticed that idolaters were serving41  Jewish wine and Israelites were drinking it,42  and he also saw that idolaters were cooking lupines and Israelites ate them;43  but he did not speak to them on the matter at all. He called, however, upon R. Johanan who instructed him: Go and announce that their children are bastards; that their wine is forbidden as nesek wine;44  and that their lupines are forbidden as food cooked by idolaters, because45  they46  are ignorant of the Torah.

'That their children are bastards', R. Johanan ruling in accordance with his view. For R. Hiyya b. Abba stated in the name of R. Johanan: A man cannot become a proper proselyte unless he has been circumcised and has also performed ritual ablution; when, therefore, no ablution has been performed he is regarded as an idolater; and Rabbah b. Bar Hana stated in the name of R. Johanan that if an idolater or a slave cohabited with the daughter of an Israelite the child [born from such a union] is a bastard.

'That their wine is forbidden as nesek wine', because a nazirite47  is told, 'Keep away; go round about; approach not the vineyard'.48

'That their lupines are forbidden as food cooked by idolaters, because they are ignorant of the Torah'. [Would their lupines have been] permitted if the men had been acquainted with the Torah? Surely R. Samuel b. R. Isaac stated in the name of Rab, 'Any foodstuff that may be eaten raw does not come under the prohibition of food cooked by idolaters', and since lupines cannot be eaten raw the prohibition of food cooked by idolaters should apply!49  — R. Johanan holds the view as expressed in a second version. For R. Samuel b. R. Isaac stated in the name of Rab, 'Whatever is not served on a royal table as a dish to be eaten with bread is not subject to the prohibition of food cooked by idolaters The reason, therefore,50  is because they were ignorant of the Torah;51  for had they been acquainted with the Torah [their lupines would have been] permitted.

Our Rabbis taught: 'If a proselyte was circumcised but had not performed the prescribed ritual ablution, R. Eliezer said, 'Behold he is a proper proselyte; for so we find that our forefathers52  were circumcised and had not performed ritual ablution'. If he performed the prescribed ablution but had not been circumcised, R. Joshua said, 'Behold he is a proper proselyte; for so we find that the mothers53  had performed ritual ablution but had not been circumcised'. The Sages, however, said, 'Whether he had performed ritual ablution but had not been circumcised or whether he had been circumcised but had not performed the prescribed ritual ablution, he is not a proper proselyte, unless he has been circumcised and has also performed the prescribed ritual ablution.

Let R. Joshua also infer from the forefathers, and let R. Eliezer also infer from the mothers! And should you reply54  that a possibility55  may not be inferred from an impossibility,56  surely [it may be retorted] it was taught: R. Eliezer said, 'whence is it deduced that the paschal lamb57  of later generations58  may be brought from hullin59  only? Those in Egypt were commanded to bring60  a Paschal lamb and those of later generations were commanded to bring a Paschal lamb; as the Paschal lamb spoken of in Egypt could be brought from hullin59  only, so may also the paschal lamb which had been commanded to later generations be brought from hullin only'. Said R. Akiba to him, 'may a possibility be inferred from an impossibility!'61  The other replied. 'Although an impossibility, it is nevertheless a proof of importance and deduction from it may be made'!62  — But

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. As will be explained infra, no idolater may acquire the person of another idolater.
  2. For the altar, of a pledged animal,
  3. Which is pledged to a non-Israelite but kept in the possession of an Israelite when the time for its destruction on the Passover Eve arrived. No leavened food may be kept in Jewish possession (though pledged to a non-Jew) from midday of Passover Eve until the conclusion of the Passover festival.
  4. Of a mortgaged slave, v, Git. 40b.
  5. Similarly here, the ritual ablution of the slave, for the purpose of procuring his manumission, cancelled his obligations to his idolatrous master, and ipso facto to his Jewish master who is only the representative of the former and can lay no greater claim to the slave than he.
  6. Heb. [H].
  7. For the purpose of conversion to Judaism, and thereby procuring their manumission.
  8. Infra 66b, Keth, 59b, Git, 40b, Ned, 86b, B.K. 89b.
  9. Are they manumitted; because, in that case, they were already proselytes while she was still an idolatress with no title to them.
  10. Lit., 'before her, yes: after her, no'. Thus it has been shewn that if the owner is an Israelite, ritual ablution does not procure the slave's manumission, which is in contradiction to what R. Hama stated in the name of Rab!
  11. Lit., 'whether specified or unspecified'.
  12. When the slave specifically stated that his ablution was performed for the purpose of procuring his manumission: cf. the statement of R. Hama b. Guria.
  13. Lit., 'by specified, yes: by unspecified. no'.
  14. That by ritual ablution a slave procures his emancipation.
  15. Lit., 'they did not teach but'.
  16. A slave.
  17. If he sold his own person.
  18. And a ritual ablution does not procure his liberation.
  19. Lev, XXV, 45.
  20. Git. 37b.
  21. Lev. XXV, 47.
  22. How then could it be suggested that an Israelite may not sell his manual labour to an idolater!
  23. An idolater cannot acquire the person of an Israelite,
  24. Of then, may ye by, Lev, XXV, 45.
  25. The authorization to buy the person of an idolater.
  26. As a slave of a Jew. A heathen, bought as a slave by a Jew, had to submit to circumcision and ritual ablution and thereby acquired partly the status of a Jew: in respect of observances he was on the same footing as Jewish women and minor sons. What proof, however, is there that an idolater does not acquire his freedom if he performed ritual ablution with the specific object of procuring thereby his manumission?
  27. An idolatrous slave who is performing his ablution on his initiation into Judaism as a slave of a Jew.
  28. To indicate that he is performing his ablution as a slave.
  29. Unless some outward mark of slavery accompanied the ablution the slave can procure his manumission by making a declaration, while he is still in, the water, that he performs his ablution for the purpose of procuring thereby his freedom.
  30. On his initiation as the slave of a Jew.
  31. If, while in the water, he will declare that his ablution was performed for the purpose of procuring his emancipation.
  32. [H] 'chain' (Aruk): — Persian arvis, 'rope' (Perles, Ety. Stud.); 'halter' (Jast.); v. Levy.
  33. Between his body and the water. In all cases of ritual ablution the water must come in direct contact with every external part of the body.
  34. So BaH. Cur. edd., add, 'to them'.
  35. Which they themselves are unable to pay to the government when due.
  36. These temporary slaves who were heathens.
  37. [H] v. Jast [H] 'signatures' (Rashi) or 'registers of tax payers' (V. Aruk), 'written document V. Levy.
  38. The temporary service is consequently regarded as proper slavery, and a deed of emancipation is necessary should such slaves ever desire to embrace Judaism and to be permitted to marry a Jewess.
  39. Gebal of Ps. LXXXIII, 8, i.e., the northern part of Mt. Seir.
  40. Ritual ablution is an essential part of the ceremonial of initiation into Judaism.
  41. The verb [H] (cf. [G] Lat. misceo). lit., 'to mix', sc. wine with water or spices, also signifies 'to fill the cup, 'to serve'.
  42. Wine that has been touched by an idolater suspected of dedicating it to idolatrous purposes is forbidden to an Israelite.
  43. Although an Israelite is forbidden to eat of the food which an idolater has cooked.
  44. [H] 'wine of libation', applied to wine that has been, or is suspected of having been dedicated as a 'drink offering' to an idol or idolatrous purpose.
  45. The reason applies to the prohibition of the lupines. v. infra.
  46. The men of Gabla.
  47. V. Num. VI, 2ff.
  48. I.e., a man must be so careful in the observance of a commandment that he must not only keep away from a prohibition itself but also from that which is permitted but might lead to an infringement of a prohibition, A nazirite who is forbidden to drink wine must not even approach a vineyard. Similarly nesek wine is forbidden only when an idolater has actually touched it; but as a preventive measure it has been forbidden, as here, even when contact was indirect.
  49. What need then was there to give as a reason, 'because they are ignorant of the Torah'?
  50. Why the lupines of the men of Gabla were forbidden,
  51. The restriction having been imposed upon them as a preventive measure against their possible laxity in the general laws concerning food cooked by idolaters; cf. parallel passage 'A.Z. 59a.
  52. Those who departed from Egypt as heathens and received the Torah on Mount Sinai when they were, so to speak. converted to Judaism.
  53. V. supra p. 302, n. 6.
  54. To the second query.
  55. It is possible to circumcise a male proselyte.
  56. The mothers who left Egypt may have been admitted to Judaism by ritual ablution only because the other rite was in their case an impossibility.
  57. V. Ex. XII, 3ff.
  58. Subsequent to the generation that brought the first Paschal lamb in Egypt.
  59. [H] 'profane', animals that had not previously been consecrated. In the case of the Paschal lamb consecrated animals could only be such as had been set aside as 'second tithe' the law of which had not been promulgated till after the Exodus.
  60. Lit., 'it was said'.
  61. The Paschal lamb in Egypt could not possibly have been brought from consecrated animals. V. supra n. 7, second clause.
  62. Men. 82a, which proves that even from an impossibility an inference may be drawn. The difficulty, therefore, remains, why does not R. Eliezer, like R. Joshua, infer from the mothers?
Tractate List

Yebamoth 46b

all agree1  that ritual ablution without circumcision is effective; and they differ only on circumcision without ablution. R. Eliezer infers from the forefathers,2  while R. Joshua [maintains that] in the case of the forefathers also ritual ablution was performed. Whence does he3  deduce it?4  If it be suggested, 'From that which is written, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their garments,5  if where washing of the garments is not required6  ablution is required,7  how much more should ablution be required where washing of the garments is required',8  [it may be retorted that] that9  might have been a mere matter of cleanliness.10  — It is rather from here:11  And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people,12  and we have a tradition that there must be no sprinkling without ritual ablution.13

Whence does R. Joshua infer that the mothers performed ritual ablution? — It is a logical conclusion, for, otherwise,14  whereby did they enter under the wings of the Shechinah!15

R. Hiyya b. Abba stated in the name of R. Johanan: A man can never become a proselyte unless he has been circumcised and has also performed the prescribed ritual ablution.16  Is not this obvious? [In a dispute between] an individual and a majority the halachah is, surely, in agreement with the majority!17  — The expression 'Sages' is in fact meant for18  'R. Jose'. For it was taught: If [a proselyte] came and stated, 'I have been circumcised but have not performed ritual ablution' he is 'permitted to perform the ablution19  and [the proper performance of the previous circumcision] does not matter;20  so R. Judah.

R. Jose said: He is not to be allowed ablution,21  Hence22  it is permissible for a proselyte23  to perform the prescribed ablution on the Sabbath;24  so R. Judah. R. Jose, however, said: He is not to be allowed to perform the ablution.25

The Master said, 'Hence it is permissible for a proselyte to perform the prescribed ablution on the Sabbath; so R. Judah'.26  Seeing that R. Judah stated that one27  suffices is it not obvious that, if circumcision has been performed in our presence, he is permitted to perform ablution! Why then, 'Hence'?28  — It might have been assumed that in the opinion of R. Judah, ablution forms the principal [part of the initiation],29  and that ablution is not to take place on the Sabbath because, thereby, a man is improved;30  hence we were taught31  that R. Judah requires either the one or the other.32

'R. Jose, however, said: He is not to be allowed to perform the ablution'. Is not this obvious? Since R. Jose said that both33  are required [ablution must be forbidden as] the improvement of a man34  may not be effected on the Sabbath! — It might have been assumed that in the opinion of R. Jose circumcision forms the principal [part of the initiation] and that the reason there35  is because the circumcision had not been performed in our presence36  but where the circumcision had taken place in our presence37  it might have been assumed that a proselyte in such circumstances38  may perform the prescribed ablution even on the Sabbath, hence we were taught39  that R. Jose requires both.33

Rabbah stated: It happened at the court of R. Hiyya b. Rabbi — (and R. Joseph taught: R. Oshaia b.40  Rabbi;41  and R. Safra taught: R. Oshaia b. Hiyya)41  — that there came before him a proselyte who had been circumcised but had not performed the ablution.42  The Rabbi told him, 'Wait here until tomorrow43  when we shall arrange for your ablution'. From this incident three rulings may be deduced. It may be inferred that the initiation of a proselyte requires the presence of three men;44  and it may be inferred that a man is not a proper proselyte unless he had been circumcised and had also performed the prescribed ablution; and it may also be inferred45  that the ablution of a proselyte may not take place during the night.

Let it be said that from this incident it may also be inferred that qualified scholars are required!46  — Their presence might have been a mere coincidence.47

R. Hiyya b. Abba stated in the name of R. Johanan: The initiation of a proselyte requires the presence of three men; for law48  has been written in his case.49

Our Rabbis taught: As it might have been assumed that if a man came and said, 'I am a proselyte' he is to be accepted,50  hence it was specifically stated in the Scriptures With thee,51  only when he is well known to thee. Whence is it inferred that if he came, and had his witnesses with him, [that his word is accepted]? — It was specifically stated in Scripture, And if a proselyte sojourn … in your land.52

- To Next Folio -

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Even R. Eliezer.
  2. Who, he maintains, did not perform any ritual ablution when they were admitted to Judaism.
  3. R. Joshua.
  4. That the forefathers had performed ritual ablution.
  5. Ex. XIX, 20,
  6. E.g.. after nocturnal pollution; keri. v. Glos.
  7. V. Lev. XV, 26,
  8. As was the case when Israel received the Torah and were thus admitted into Judaism. (V. Ex, XIX, 10).
  9. The washing of the garments.
  10. And had no reference to Levitical purity. Such washing, therefore, can have no bearing on the question of the ritual ablution of proselytes.
  11. Is R. Joshua's deduction made.
  12. Ex. XXIV, 8.
  13. Ker, 9a.
  14. Lit., 'for if so', if even ablution was not performed.
  15. V. Glos. They could not have been initiated without any ceremonial whatsoever.
  16. Ber. 47b.
  17. And this view is held (supra 46a) by the Sages who obviously form a majority against the individual or joint opinions of R. Eliezer and R. Joshua.
  18. Lit., 'who are the Sages'?
  19. And by this act alone he is admitted as a proper proselyte.
  20. Lit., 'and what is there in it'. Whether the circumcision had been valid, having been performed for the specific ritual purpose of the proselyte's initiation into Judaism, or whether it had been invalid because it was carried out as a mere surgical operation or as a non-Jewish sectarian rite, is of no consequence, since the present performance of the ritual ablution is alone sufficient for the initiation.
  21. Because both circumcision and ablution are required. As the validity of the former is in doubt (v. supra note 1) the latter most nut be allowed unless some act of circumcision (causing a few drops of blood to flow) had again been carried out specifically for the purpose of the initiation.
  22. Since according to R, Akiba one act, either ablution or circumcision, suffices.
  23. Who had been circumcised on Sabbath Eve in the ritually prescribed manner.
  24. The ablution being of no consequence (v. supra on. 3 and 4), the proselyte's person in no way being improved by it, it is an act which is permitted on the Sabbath.
  25. The ablution completes the initiation and thus effects the proselyte's improvement, which is an act forbidden on the Sabbath. Thus it has been shewn that the author of the view that both ablution and circumcision are required, given supra as the opinion of 'the Sages', is in fact R. Jose.
  26. V, BaH. Cur. edd. omit the last three words.
  27. Either circumcision or ablution.
  28. — Hence etc.'. There is no need, surely, to state the obvious.
  29. Since circumcision he stated supra does not matter.
  30. V. supra note 6.
  31. By the addition of 'Hence etc,'.
  32. Either circumcision or ablution.
  33. Circumcision and ablution,
  34. Which is completed by the ablution (v. supra p. 305, n. 6).
  35. Supra. Where a proselyte who declared, 'I have been circumcised but have not performed ritual ablution' is not to be allowed ablution.
  36. And may be presumed to have been invalid.
  37. And is known to us to have been carried out in accordance with the requirements of the law.
  38. Lit., 'this'.
  39. By R. Jose's apparently superfluous statement,
  40. Alfasi: Berabbi, v. Nazir Sonc. ed. p. 64, n. 1.
  41. Was also present.
  42. Requesting that he be allowed to perform the prescribed ablution, so as to complete his initiation.
  43. The incident having occurred during the night.
  44. Since R. Safra insisted that three scholars (R. Hiyya and the two R. Oshaias) were present at the time the proselyte's request for his initiation was dealt with.
  45. Since the ablution was postponed till the following morning.
  46. To witness the initiation of a proselyte, as was the ease here where all the three were qualified men, v, Glos. s.v. Mumhe.
  47. And provides no proof that in all other cases the presence of qualified scholars is essential.
  48. Num, XV, 16, One law … for the proselyte [H] (E.V. 'Stranger').
  49. As no point of law can be authoritatively decided by a court of less than three men who constitute a Beth din, so may no initiation of a proselyte take place unless it is witnessed by three men.
  50. As a legitimate proselyte, and he should require no [initiation ceremonial.
  51. Lev. XIX, 33. And if a proselyte ([H] E.V., 'stranger') sojourn with thee.
  52. Ibid., i.e., as lung as he is in your land even if he is not well known to you. Cf. n. 4, supra. Cur. edd. include here 'with thee' which should be omitted since the phrase has been previously employed as proof to the contrary that the proselyte must be well known.
Tractate List