Introduction to the Study of Talmud
Kiddushin 13 - Daf 74a continued
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Last week, we learned the gemara on 74a which quotes the
end of the introductory mishna of our chapter: "Abba Shaul would call a
shetuki, beduki." The gemara suggested that the
significance of Abba Shaul's comment was to hint to the fact that we can
interview the mother of a shetuki (a child born to an unmarried mother
and considered a possible mamzer) and rely on her claim regarding
the genealogical status of the child's father. Thus, if she claims that her
child was fathered by someone of acceptable lineage, the child is not
considered a shetuki, and he may marry into the general
community. The word beduki literally means "one whom we
check." Of course, in the absence of real evidence, the only investigation
we can do is to ask the mother, and if we are asking, it must be that we take
her word for it. The gemara questioned whether this could be the
intent of our mishna: after all, the mishna in
Ketuvot has already taught us that, according to the accepted opinion
of Rabban Gamliel, we trust the woman's account of her son's lineage!
The gemara answered that we need both mishnayot: the
mishna in Ketuvot teaches that we trust the woman
regarding her own status; if she had cohabited with someone of tainted
lineage, she herself would become unable to marry a kohen. Our
mishna goes further and teaches that we believe the woman
regarding her child's lineage as well.
We resume the gemara, seven lines above the next
mishna on 74a.
It is well for the one who says that [even] according to the [opinion] that she is fit, her daughter is not
but for the one who says that the according to the
opinion that she is fit, her daughter is fit,
what does Abba Shaul come to teach us?
The [teaching] of Abba Shaul is
more inclusive than Rabban Gamliel's,
for if [we learn] from there, I
would have thought that [the ruling only
applies] there, where most are fit for her,
but [in a
situation] where most are unfit for her -
I would say not. It (the
teaching) is [therefore] needed.
Rava said: "The halakha is like Abba Shaul."
הניחא למאן דאמר לדברי המכשיר בה פוסל בבתה,
אלא למ"ד (=למאן דאמר) לדברי
המכשיר בה מכשיר בבתה,
אבא שאול מאי אתא לאשמועינן?
דאבא שאול עדיפא מדרבן גמליאל,
דאי מהתם, ה"א (=הוה אמינא) התם
דרוב כשרין אצלה,
אבל היכא דרוב פסולין אצלה -
אימא לא. צריכא.
אמר רבא: הלכה כאבא שאול.
The gemara does not settle for the answer that we quoted above.
Regarding the machloket (argument) in Ketuvot, there is a
disagreement as to the opinion of Rabban Gamliel. One view claims that Rabban
Gamliel allows us to trust the woman regarding all implications of the father's
identity. This includes the ramifications regarding the woman herself - for
example, if she can marry a kohen - and those regarding the status of
her children. If the father is a Jew of acceptable lineage, the fact that the
child was conceived out of wedlock does not impact upon the
child's genealogical status. If the father's status is tainted, however,
there will be ramifications regarding the child: if the father is a
chalal, his daugher will be a chalala, prohibited from
marrying a kohen, and if the father is a mamzer, his
child will also have this status.
With this in mind, the gemara questions its explanation of the
need for Abba Shaul's opinion. If Rabban Gamliel's ruling
instructs us to trust the woman's statement only regarding herself but not
regarding her child, we understand why Abba Shaul's teaching is
significant: to extend the mother's credibility to include her child as
well. However, if Rabban Gamliel's statement is understood as being more
inclusive and granting the woman credibility regarding the status of her
child as well, there would seem not to be any reason to repeat this point via
Abba Shaul's statement in our mishna.
The gemara answers that even if we take a more inclusive view of
Rabban Gamliel's opinion, Abba Shaul's statement is still necessary to expand
the ruling. If we only had the mishna in Ketuvot, one might
have thought that we trust the woman only when most of the men are fit for her,
meaning that they would not disqualify her or her child. This is the case if the
woman is not married and most of the men in town are of acceptable lineage. In
such a case, we would feel more comfortable trusting the woman due to
the principle of rov, which assumes that something that has separated
from a group is similar to the majority of that group (see 73a and our
shiurim on that page). However, if most are unfit for her, such as
if she is married (such as a betrothed woman, who is considered legally married
even though she does not yet live with her husband) or if most of the men in
town are of tainted lineage, she would not be believed. Abba Shaul's statement
teaches us that even if most are unfit for her, we still believe the woman's
assertion that her child has been fathered by someone of acceptable lineage. The
gemara concludes by quoting Rava, who rules that the halakha is in
accordance with Abba Shaul.
This sugya, which establishes the credibility of a parent vis-à-vis
his child's lineage, must be taken together with the mishna and
gemara later in our chapter on 78b. Let us take a look at that
sugya, which completes the picture presented here in ours.
We begin from the mishna, halfway down the page on 78b.
who says this son of mine is a mamzer - is not believed;
and even if both of them agree about the fetus in her womb
that he is a mamzer - they are not believed.
Rabbi Yehuda says: they are believed.
is [the meaning of the phrase] "even both
It states [first] 'that
which is not necessary:'
it is not necessary to say that he (the father), who cannot be certain, [is not believed],
but even she, who is certain - is not believed;
and it is not necessary to say where he (the child) has a presumption of legitimacy that they
are not believed,
but even a fetus also, that does not have a presumption of
legitimacy - they are not believed.
מתני' האומר בני זה
ממזר - אינו נאמן;
ואפילו שניהם מודים על העובר שבמעיה ממזר הוא - אינם נאמנים.
רבי יהודה אומר: נאמנים.
גמ'. מאי ואפילו שניהם?
לא מיבעיא קאמר:
לא מיבעיא איהו דלא קים ליה,
אלא אפילו איהי דקים לה - לא מהימנא;
ולא מיבעיא היכא דאית ליה חזקה דכשרות דלא מהימני,
אלא אפילו עובר נמי דלית ליה חזקה דכשרות - לא מהימני.
We have already seen our gemara (74a) discuss the issue of a
parent's credibility regarding which of his children is the firstborn; this
mishna addresses the issue of a parent's credibility regarding the
mamzerut status of his child. The first statement of the
mishna states that a parent does not have credibility if he claims
that his child is a mamzer. Even if both the husband and wife
agree that she is pregnant from someone other than her husband, thus rendering
the fetus a mamzer, they are not believed. Rabbi Yehuda disagrees and
claims that they are believed.
The gemara questions the intent of the mishna's second line
- even if both of them agree. What is added by this line that was not understood
based on the mishna's first statement? The
gemara explains that our mishna follows the style of
presentation of "It states [first] that which is not necessary." This means that
the mishna first presents a case that demonstrates the halakha at hand,
and then presents another case which extends that same principle to situations
in which it is less obvious to come to that conclusion. In other words, not only
is there a need for the second statement, it actually implies everything
taught in the first part of the mishna and more.
The gemara now explains why it is that the second statement is
a greater chiddush (novelty) than the first.
|Take a moment to review the gemara: which
factors make the second case a greater chiddush than the first?
There are two differences between the cases:
1) The first case speaks of a parent that makes a claim,
apparently a reference to the father. The second case applies to a
situation in which the mother agrees to the father's assertion.
2) In the first case, the father comments on the lineage of a child that
has already been born. In the second, the discussion is about an unborn
According to the gemara, both of these factors are significant. It
is one thing to limit the credibility of a father, who, after all, can not
necessarily be absolutely certain whether his wife conceived from
him or from someone else; it is a much greater chiddush to say
that even the mother, who can be more certain than anyone else of her child's
ancestry, is also not believed. The second issue is also important: it is
one thing to say that parents are not believed when it comes to disqualifying a
child of theirs who already has a chazaka, a presumption of acceptable
lineage; a chazaka cannot be overturned without hard evidence. It is a
further chiddush that even when it comes to an unborn child, who does
not yet have a chazaka that he is of of acceptable lineage, the parents
are not believed if they claim that the child is a mamzer.
We continue in the gemara on 78b, at the "two-dots," about
two-thirds of the way down the page.
Rabbi Yehuda says: They are believed:
As it states in a beraita: "'He shall recognize' -
he shall identify to others;
from here Rabbi Yehduda said: 'A person is believed to say,
"this is my firstborn son;"
and just as a person is believed to say, "this is my
he is believed to say, "this is the son of a divorcee or a
And the Sages say: 'He is not believed.'"
רבי יהודה אומר: נאמנים:
כדתניא: יכיר - יכירנו לאחרים;
מכאן אמר רבי יהודה: נאמן אדם לומר זה בני בכור;
וכשם שנאמן אדם לומר זה בני בכור,
כך נאמן אדם לומר זה בן גרושה וזה בן חלוצה.
וחכמים אומרים: אינו
The gemara here begins with a quote from the mishna, as
usual - in this case, the last line of the mishna, which quotes Rabbi
Yehuda's dissenting view that claims that parents are believed regarding the
genealogical status of their children. The gemara quotes a beraita
that explains the basis of Rabbi Yehuda's ruling. This beraita
should sound very familiar to us, as it was quoted earlier in our
gemara on 74a as well. The Torah states (Devarim 21:17) that a
man must "recognize" (yakir) his firstborn son with regard to the extra
share of inheritance that is due him, even if one favors a different son. The
beraita understands that inherent in this command is that the man must
make known (yakirenu) to others that this is his firstborn; otherwise,
the man's recognition will not have the desired effect of ensuring that the real
firstborn son receives his due share of the inheritance. Based on this, Rabbi
Yehuda claims that just as a father is believed when he identifies his
firstborn, he is believed if he asserts that his son is a chalal. This
would be the case if the man was a kohen and married a woman whom
kohanim are not permitted to marry, such as a divorcee or a woman
who has undergone chalitza. (Chalitza applies when a man dies
childless; his wife must either marry one of his brothers (yibbum) or
perform the chalitza ceremony - see Devarim 25:5-10.) Thus, we
see that a father has credibility even to de-legitimize his son's lineage; the
same should hold true if he identifies his son as a mamzer. The Sages
dispute Rabbi Yehuda's ruling and claim that the father is not believed. As
Rashi explains (s.v. Eino ne'eman) they admit to the father's ability
to identify his firstborn; this does follow rather directly from the Torah's
presentation itself. They simply dispute the extension of this principle to
situations in which the father identifies his son as being of somewhat
Taken together with our sugya, this gemara rounds out our
picture of the extent of parents' credibility vis-à-vis
their children's lineage. Our sugya teaches that a mother is
believed if she claims that her child is of acceptable lineage, even if the
child is born out of wedlock and most people in town are forbidden to the woman.
When it comes to a claim that one's child is illegitimate, however, there is a
debate. Rabbi Yehuda argues that just as a father has a special level of
credibility regarding the identity of his firstborn son, he is believed when it
comes to his children's lineage as well. The Sages argue that parents are not
believed when they identify their children as illegitimate.
It is important to note that there are many cases of parallel sugyot
that complement each other; often, one gets a very incomplete picture of a topic
when one simply learns the isolated presentation of the Gemara in one
location. Parallel sugyot may even appear in separate
tractates! One can strive toward a level of expertise at which one would be
familiar with the entirety of Talmudic literature and not have this problem, but
until then there are important tools that one can use to make sure that one does
get a full picture. Firstly, the classic commentators did achieve an impressive
mastery of Talmud, and generally quote parallel sugyot when they are
relevant. There is another important tool, though, that appears on the page of
the Talmud itself: the Mesorat ha-Shas, which is found on the inside
margin of the page, next to the commentary of Rashi (farther from the text of
the Gemara). In our sugya, on 74a, note that when the
gemara quotes the beraita about the halakha of
"yakir," there is an asterisk next to the word כדתניא (about a quarter
of the way down the page). Directly across from this asterisk (in newer
editions, it may be located on the top of the inside margin), the Mesorat
ha-Shas gives several references to other places where the Talmud quotes
this beraita. The first citation is לקמן עח, which literally translates
as "in front of us," meaning later in our masekhet, on page 78 (the
numerical value of עח). The two dots next to the page indicate that it is on 78b
(a single dot would indicate 78a). A thorough examination of a topic must
include looking up parallel sugyot.