By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Yevamos 108 – That Little Girl is Strong!
Is she allowed to remarry him? That is the focal point of the extensive discussion in today’s daf. When a girl under bas mitzvah is orphaned by her father, and was married off by her mother or older brothers; if that marriage gets broken up, can she remarry him if in the interim she got married to someone else? Generally, once a divorced woman remarries, she can never return to her first husband, even if her second husband dies or divorces her. However, when it comes to a ketana whose marriage is only m’drabanan, it depends. If she left her first husband of her own accord by doing miun, then she is allowed to remarry him despite having been married someone else in the interim. However, if her first marriage with him was terminated by the husband giving her a get, then the interim marriage does in fact forbid them from ever remarrying.
If initially the first husband gave her a get, then she got remarried to him (while still a ketana) and this time she left him through miun, and then only afterward she married someone else, she is allowed to remarry the first husband since her final departure from him (before marrying someone else) was through miun. This is called miun mevatel get, the subsequent miun cancels out the effects of the get.
According to Rav, this only works if the same man who initially divorced her with a get subsequently remarried her (before any other interim marriage) and this second time she left him through miun. However, if the first husband divorced her with a get, she remarried to another man, and she left this second man through miun; in this situation we do not say that the subsequent miun cancels out the get since the miun was done with a different man than the one who initially gave her a get. Therefore, according to Rav, she may not remarry the first husband.
Rava explains the difference. The basic, operating premise is that once she was married to someone, she recognizes his signals and intimations. Therefore, we have to take under consideration the possibility that perhaps the prior husband will attempt using his signals and intimations to woo her away from her current husband.
With this premise, explains Rava, we understand the difference perfectly. If husband number one divorced her with a get, we indeed need to be concerned that she probably loved him and did not want to leave him, and now maybe he will regret having divorced her and try to woo her back. Therefore, if she leaves the second husband through miun, we do not allow her to remarry the first husband out of concern that it was the latter’s signals and intimations that got her to do so.
However, if husband number one initially divorced her, remarried her, and then she left him of her own accord through miun, we do not need to worry about the possibility of him wooing her away from her current husband. Why? Because the assumption is that in the second collapse of her marriage to number one, wherein she was the one who decided to leave, number one made his best effort at persuading her to stay with him. Since she paid him no heed and left anyway, we are not worried that he’ll be any more successful now.
This fact says a lot about the strength of character of a girl, doesn’t it? Don’t forget, we’re talking about a girl who is a ketana. Not only is she a ketana, she is a ketana yesoma. She has no father. This little, orphan girl who was married off to an adult man not only possesses the ability to assert herself and leave this adult man the first time around; but she also is assumed to be of such solid self-control that there is no need to worry that maybe he can convince her now. No. If he tried already when she first left him, there is no reason to worry that perhaps he’ll do any better now.
That’s quite impressive, wouldn’t you say?
It is a fact that can give us pause to consider how we view (and deal with) our own children. Not only our sons, but also our daughters. We generally think about the ideal character of Jewish girls as being soft and refined. That is true. But, at the same time, we see from this Gemara that even little Jewish girls can and should possess an internal strength of character that would enable them – even if they had suffered being orphaned from their father at such a young age (!) – to assert themselves to an adult, even if that adult is her husband! And not only to assert herself to him, but to be so sure of herself that he basically has no chance of wooing her in the future.
Now, it is safe to assume that we cannot necessarily expect the strength of character from our daughters that existed in the time of Chazal. Nevertheless, we can and should take a cue from here as to what type of direction we should take vis a vis the sense of self we are encouraging in our children.
Does this mean that we should enroll all our daughters into martial arts schools so they can learn how to really exercise assertiveness? I think not (although certain, basic training in self-defense may well be called for). What it does mean, though, is that cultivating a healthy and strong belief in self is not only acceptable, but very positive. Yes, children definitely need to be taught to adhere to the instructions of the authority figures in their lives, such as their parents and teachers. There is no question that the institution of authority is key to the successful, ongoing transmission of the mesorah of Torah.
However, we ought to be careful that we don’t do this in a way that it robs children of their healthy sense of individuality. While we don’t believe in democracy as an ideal, certainly not in the context of transmitting the mesorah of Torah, we also do not believe in domineering autocracy. Yes, you need to ensure your children’s and students’ acceptance of your authority. At the same time, though, it needs to be done in a way that you are not chas v’shalom crushing the child or pinning him under your boot, but in a way that builds the child and fosters within him a very strong sense of individuality and self-esteem.
Rabbi Yehoshua Berman serves as the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Reshet HaDaf in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. In addition to having authored Reflections on the Parsha, Rabbi Berman regularly delivers shiurim on Halacha and Hashkafa, writes comprehensive chazara questions (in Hebrew) for the advanced Daf Yomi learner, and weekly words of inspiration from the Parsha. Rabbi Berman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.