Blog Yomi – Yevamos #103/Daf 104

We’re up to the Mishnah on דף ק״ד עמוּד א, which makes a declarative statement about two other components of the חַלִיצָה, one regarding the time of day during which it is to be conducted and the second regarding which foot of the yavam is to be used for the shoe:

חָלְצָה בַּלַּיְלָה — חֲלִיצָתָהּ כְּשֵׁרָה, וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר פּוֹסֵל. בִּשְׂמֹאל — חֲלִיצָתָהּ פְּסוּלָה, וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר מַכְשִׁיר

Preferably the ceremony is performed during the day, and the right (presumably dominant) foot/calf is used.

Why the difference of opinion about the acceptability of doing it during the daytime or evening?

לֵימָא בְּהָא קָמִיפַּלְגִי: דְּמָר סָבַר מַקְּשִׁינַן רִיבִים לִנְגָעִים, וּמָר סָבַר לָא מַקְּשִׁינַן רִיבִים לִנְגָעִים

Rabbi Elazar, holds that we compare the halachos governing monetary disputes, which category includes חַלִיצָה, as חַלִיצָה carries with it monetary ramifications and requires payment of the marriage contract to the yevama, with the halachos of leprosy. Just as leprosy cases are judged only during the day (Parshas Tazria 13:14 – וּבְי֨וֹם הֵרָא֥וֹת בּ֛וֹ בָּשָׂ֥ר חַ֖י יִטְמָֽא), likewise, monetary cases may take place only during the day. And one Sage, the first tanna, holds that we do not compare monetary disputes with leprosy.

לָא: דְּכוּלֵּי עָלְמָא לָא מַקְּשִׁינַן רִיבִים לִנְגָעִים, דְּאִי מַקְּשִׁינַן — אֲפִילּוּ גְּמַר דִּין בַּלַּיְלָה נָמֵי לָא, וְהָכָא בְּהָא קָמִיפַּלְגִי: מָר סָבַר: חֲלִיצָה כִּתְחִלַּת דִּין דָּמְיָא, וּמָר סָבַר: חֲלִיצָה כִּגְמַר דִּין דָּמְיָא

The Gemara responds: No, everyone holds that we do not compare monetary disputes with leprosy, for if we would compare them fully, then even delivering the verdict of the court case could not be done at night, but it is permitted to complete monetary judgments and deliver the verdict at night, provided the proceedings began during the day. And here, with respect to performing חַלִיצָה at night they disagree about this issue: One Sage, Rabbi Elazar, holds that חַלִיצָה is considered like the commencement of judgment of monetary cases, and one Sage, the first tanna, holds that חַלִיצָה is considered like the verdict of a monetary judgment, and therefore it may also be conducted at night.

As you can see, in some communities even to this day as rare as it is, it can be a very public ceremony.

Let’s Zoom ahead to the next Mishnah: חָלְצָה וְרָקְקָה, אֲבָל לֹא קָרְאָה — חֲלִיצָתָהּ כְּשֵׁרָה. קָרְאָה וְרָקְקָה, אֲבָל לֹא חָלְצָה — חֲלִיצָתָהּ פְּסוּלָה. חָלְצָה וְקָרְאָה, אֲבָל לֹא רָקְקָה — רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר: חֲלִיצָתָהּ פְּסוּלָה, רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר: חֲלִיצָתָהּ כְּשֵׁרָה

There are three components to the חַלִיצָה ceremony:

  1. The חַלִיצָה itself which is the tying and then the throwing of the shoe
  2. The רָקְקָה which is the spitting which has to be done in view of the yavam
  3. The קְרִיָאָה which is the declaration in accordance to a standard script

Let’s review the derivation of this from the Torah again:

וְקָֽרְאוּ־ל֥וֹ זִקְנֵי־עִיר֖וֹ וְדִבְּר֣וּ אֵלָ֑יו וְעָמַ֣ד וְאָמַ֔ר לֹ֥א חָפַ֖צְתִּי לְקַחְתָּֽהּ

After the Elders of the City talk to the yavam, and he holds fast in his refusal to marry the yevama, the three components of the process occur:

וְנִגְּשָׁ֨ה יְבִמְתּ֣וֹ אֵלָיו֮ לְעֵינֵ֣י הַזְּקֵנִים֒ וְחָלְצָ֤ה נַעֲלוֹ֙ מֵעַ֣ל רַגְל֔וֹ וְיָרְקָ֖ה בְּפָנָ֑יו וְעָֽנְתָה֙ וְאָ֣מְרָ֔ה כָּ֚כָה יֵעָשֶׂ֣ה לָאִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־יִבְנֶ֖ה אֶת־בֵּ֥ית אָחִֽיו

The Mishnah cites, and the Gemara will elaborate on a dispute over what happens if only one or two of the three components of the process occurs. The Mishnah then continues:

אָמַר רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר: ״כָּכָה יֵעָשֶׂה״ — כּל דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא מַעֲשֶׂה מְעַכֵּב. אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא: מִשָּׁם רְאָיָה? ״כָּכָה יֵעָשֶׂה לָאִישׁ״ — כּל דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא מַעֲשֶׂה בָּאִישׁ

As an aside, if that phrase sounds familiar, we find it again in Megillas Esther, when she sets up Haman for the ride of his life:

וְנָת֨וֹן הַלְּב֜וּשׁ וְהַסּ֗וּס עַל־יַד־אִ֞ישׁ מִשָּׂרֵ֤י הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ הַֽפַּרְתְּמִ֔ים וְהִלְבִּ֙ישׁוּ֙ אֶת־הָאִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ חָפֵ֣ץ בִּֽיקָר֑וֹ וְהִרְכִּיבֻ֤הוּ עַל־הַסּוּס֙ בִּרְח֣וֹב הָעִ֔יר וְקָרְא֣וּ לְפָנָ֔יו כָּ֚כָה יֵעָשֶׂ֣ה לָאִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ חָפֵ֥ץ בִּיקָרֽוֹ

The question then becomes what constitutes action. Although the קְרִיָאָה part of the ceremony is the easiest to digest because it unequivocally states what is happening, it is not technically an action. What then to make of the actions themselves? You may find the comments on the Mi Yodeya Stack Exchange insightful in this regard.

Mi Yodeya

Permit me to quote: “So the simplest idea is that in the times of the Torah, the generally preferred approach was for him to marry her. If he chose not to, he would be publicly shamed. (Now in many cases such a marriage really would not be the best idea, but the Torah says do this procedure in all cases.) The Sforno notes the next topic in the Chumash is payment for embarrassing someone: we can shame people in specific cases for specific purposes, as warranted by the Torah; but that doesn’t mean we can shame anyone willy-nilly.

Now what is the significance of the shoe and the spitting? The spitting seems to be ‘ptooey, I’m disgusted that you didn’t do the right thing.’ As for the shoe:

  • Little Midrash Says quotes Chinuch: The widow says:I would have been willing to be your good obedient wife and even take your shoes off, but you wouldn’t marry me. Ptooey.
    • Not politically correct today. The Chizkuni offers this answer, and says ‘this is the one you give to heretics.’ Check your local non-Orthodox heretic, I guess…
  • Chizkuni’s other answer, which I would gladly give anyone today; also in the Rashbam, described as “simple and natural”:In Biblical times (see Ruth 4:7), the transaction of an estate was executed by one party handing the other party his shoe. Here the brother forfeits his involvement in his dead brother’s memory, thus the widow takes the shoe — she can now marry whomever she wants. Or perhaps, ‘usually in a transaction one person gives the other person his shoe. You won’t even do that; fine, you just sit there and I’ll take it off myself. Ptooey.’
  • Malbim mentions there are all sorts of kabbalistic things going on here, but that it can also be understood intellectually. Rather than reduce this to a soundbite, I’ll paraphrase only slightly:… man differs from animals not in his speech, as some birds speak; not in his intelligence, as many animals are quite intelligent; but in his free will, and ability to apply his intellect to the task of his choosing, even if his nature isn’t inclined towards it. The Gemara (Shabbos 152a) states the a king goes atop a horse, a free man atop a donkey, and a human being atop shoes; a king has dominion over thousands of people, most notably their lives in time of war; a free man has dominion over enterprise; and all human beings have a piece of dead animal that separates themselves from the earth that formed them and informs their natures, as free will allows them to rise above it. The exception is if the ground is holy, as it was for Moses at the Burning Bush, Joshua on his approach to the Jordan, or the priests in the Temple, then they go barefoot, with no separation between them and the earth [furthermore, in such cases, we surrender our will to that of G-d]. In the Biblical transaction of handing over one’s shoe, the message was: I mortgage my human dignity on this transaction; and I shall exercise my will and do everything in my power to see it through. In the case of Yibum, the Torah itself felt it worthwhile to make an exception to the ban on marrying a brother-in-law. Torah going against its own ‘nature’, so to speak. And yet this fellow keeps describing himself, and being described by others, as ‘I don’t WANT to do this’; he could exercise free will, but he’s just going to do whatever he wants. His sister-in-law therefore removes his shoe — you never act beyond your basic wants? You shouldn’t be wearing this.”

The Mishnah finishes with considerations about disqualifications of individuals involved in the process:

הַחֵרֵשׁ שֶׁנֶּחְלַץ, וְהַחֵרֶשֶׁת שֶׁחָלְצָה, וְחוֹלֶצֶת לְקָטָן — חֲלִיצָתָהּ פְּסוּלָה. קְטַנָּה שֶׁחָלְצָה — תַּחְלוֹץ מִשֶּׁתַּגְדִּיל, וְאִם לֹא חָלְצָה — חֲלִיצָתָהּ פְּסוּלָה. חָלְצָה בִּשְׁנַיִם אוֹ בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה, וְנִמְצָא אֶחָד מֵהֶן קָרוֹב אוֹ פָּסוּל — חֲלִיצָתָהּ פְּסוּלָה. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן הַסַּנְדְּלָר מַכְשִׁירִין. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁחָלַץ בֵּינוֹ לְבֵינָהּ בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים, וּבָא מַעֲשֶׂה לִפְנֵי רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא וְהִכְשִׁיר

If a deaf-mute man underwent חַלִיצָה, or a deaf-mute woman performed חַלִיצָה, or if an adult woman performs חַלִיצָה with a male minor, her חַלִיצָה is invalid and the woman may not marry. If a female minor performed חַלִיצָה, she must perform חַלִיצָה a second time once she becomes an adult, and if she does not perform the second חַלִיצָה, her first חַלִיצָה is invalid. If she performed חַלִיצָה before two or three judges and one of them is found to be a relative or disqualified as a judge for some other reason, her חַלִיצָה is invalid. R’ Shimon and R’ Yocḥanan the Cobbler say everything is peachy, and validate the חַלִיצָה in this case. (Listen, if you can’t trust a סַנְדְלָר about a process involving a shoe, who can you trust?). An incident occurred involving a certain person who performed חַלִיצָה between him and her alone in prison, i.e., not in the presence of others, and the case came before Rabbi Akiva and he validated it.

All this is elaborated in the Gemara, for which Rabbi Stern will take you the rest of the way.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Blog Yomi – Yevamos #103/Daf 104

  1. doctuhdon says:

    Can you do חליצה with Nike running shoes 👟?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s