We have previously referred to the special leniency that allows a woman to remarry on the testimony of one witness. This was a most revolutionary innovation, one that seemingly violates a fundamental precept of the Torah: the basic requirement for two witnesses. Compounding the problem was the fact that the stakes were so high--adultery, illegitimate children, and the undermining of the holiness of marriage--and it is no wonder this law was not readily accepted.
Back in the tenth chapter of Yevamot, we discussed the case of a woman who remarried on the basis of the testimony of one witness who declared that her husband had died. While she is allowed to do so--"because of agunah, the rabbis were lenient" [and allowed one witness instead of two] (Yevamot 88a)--if it turns out the witness was mistaken, she must be divorced from both her second and first husbands.
One would not think that a discussion about the intricacies of the laws of chalitzah would lead to a discussion regarding Divine justice. But such is the nature of the Gemara, where one idea flows seamlessly to the next. Torah is one broad subject with manifestations in all areas of life.
"Rav Elazar ben Yaakov said: I heard that the beit din may hit and punish not according to the [laws of the] Torah, not to violate the words of the Torah, but to make a fence around the Torah" (Yevamot 90b).
"A woman whose husband went overseas, and one came and told her, 'Your husband has died' and she marries [another]..." (Yevamot 87b). Whereas Jewish law requires two witnesses in all matters of criminal and family law, when it comes to freeing a woman who is "chained" to her missing husband, this law is relaxed, allowing the woman to remarry based on the testimony of only one witness.
"G-d did not find a vessel more pleasing for the Jewish people than peace" (Uktzin 3:11). Such is the concluding teaching of the Mishnah. No Jew needs convincing as to the supreme value we place on peace. Such includes not only peace between nations, but peace within a family. There is little that stands in the way of bringing peace and tranquility into a home--from lying (see Yevamot 65b) to erasing the name of G-d (see Bamidbar 5:23) if need be.