You know very well, my brothers (for I am speaking to those well acquainted with the subject), that the Law can only exercise authority over a man so long as he is alive. A married woman, for example, is bound by law to her husband so long as he is alive. But if he dies, then his legal claim over her disappears. This means that, if she should give herself to another man while her husband is alive, she incurs the stigma of adultery. But if, after her husband’s death, she does exactly the same thing, no one could call her an adulteress, for the legal hold over her has been dissolved by her husband’s death.
You shouldn’t have any trouble understanding this, friends, for you know all the ins and outs of the law—how it works and how its power touches only the living. For instance, a wife is legally tied to her husband while he lives, but if he dies, she’s free. If she lives with another man while her husband is living, she’s obviously an adulteress. But if he dies, she is quite free to marry another man in good conscience, with no one’s disapproval.
For the agunah (woman whose husband’s whereabouts are unknown) is bound by the Torah to her husband while he lives; but in the case that her husband’s death can be confirmed, she is no longer an agunah and is released from the Torah of her husband.
For that woman that is under an husband, is bound to the law, while the husband liveth; but if her husband is dead, she is delivered from the law of the husband [soothly if her husband be dead, she is delivered, or unbound, from the law of the husband].
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