Blog Yomi – Yevamos #104/Daf 105

Rabbi Jack Abramowitz is Torah Content Editor at the Orthodox Union. I thought you might enjoy his synopsis of the key components of חַלִיצָה, a succinct summary of some of what we’ve covered, and a sneak preview of what lies ahead,

The Chalitzah Process

Chalitzah is performed as follows: the yevama goes to the judges of the yavam’s city. They call the yavam and give him appropriate guidance for the situation. If the judges’ opinion is that this couple should perform yibum, they advise him to do so. If their opinion is that this couple should perform chalitzah, such as if one of the couple is much older than the other, then they advise him to perform chalitzah.

The judges must first determine where they will meet, and the woman performs chalitzah there in their presence. This is based on Deuteronomy 25:7, “His yevama will go to the gate, to the elders.” If the judges didn’t discuss the case or set a place to meet but the yavam and the yevama happened to run across them and perform chalitzah in their presence, the chalitzah is valid.

Learning the Chalitzah Text

The yevama and the yavam should be shown how to read until they are familiar with the requisite text. The yevama should be instructed to say “lo avah” (“he did not desire”) in one breath, followed by “yabmi” (“my yavam”) separately so she can’t be understood to have said “avah yabmi” (“my yavam desired”). If the yevama knows the text that she has to recite, we are not particular about her reading “lo avah” in one breath but if she’s not able, she is coached until she does so.

The Chalitzah Shoe

Chalitzah must be performed only by day and not at night, in front of at least three who know how to read. A convert may not serve as one of the three. Even one whose father was a convert and whose mother was born Jewish may not participate in a chalitzah. Both one’s father and mother must be born Jewish. It is a mitzvah for five to observe so that the chalitzah will be publicized; the additional two can be simple people.

Chalitzah is performed as follows: they bring a leather shoe that has a heel and is not sewn with linen thread. The yavam puts it on his right foot and ties the straps around his foot. The yavam and the yevama stand before the court. The text from Deuteronomy 25:7 – “My yavam refuses…” – is read in Hebrew and repeated by the yevama. Afterwards, text from verse 8 – “I don’t want to take her…” – is read and repeated by the yavam, who then presses his foot to the ground. The yevama sits, reaches out in front of the court, loosens the straps of the shoe, removes it and throws it on the ground. As soon as most of the shoe’s heel has been removed from the yavam’s foot, the yevama is eligible to marry someone else.

Spitting

Next, the yevama stands and spits on the ground in front of the yavam’s face so that it can be seen by the judges. Chalitzah requires that both parties stand when reciting their assigned parts and when she spits. The judges must see the saliva that she expectorates. Finally, the text from Deuteronomy 25:9-10 – “Thus shall be done to the one who doesn’t build up his brother’s house. His name shall be called in Israel ‘the house of the one whose shoe was removed’” – is read and repeated by the yevama.

Everything in the chalitzah ceremony must be recited in Hebrew. This is inferred from the word “thus” (v. 9), which is understood to mean “in this language.” Those seated around recite “the one whose shoe was removed” three times. The yevama must remove the shoe with intention and the yavam must have the intention that he is participating in the ceremony for her. They must do so with the intention that the ceremony is to free her for the purpose of marrying another man. A blind man can’t perform chalitzah since Deuteronomy 25:9 requires that the yevama “spit before his face” and he can’t see it.

About midway through דף ק״ה עמוּד א, the Gemara cites an exchange that includes another detail about spitting during חַלִיצָה. The exchange revolves around an individual named לֵוִי who our Bavli doesn’t give much information about, but Yerushalmi does as follows on דף ע עמוּד ב:

בְּנֵי סִימוֹנִייָא אָתוֹן לְגַבֵּי רִבִּי. אָֽמְרִין לֵיהּ. בְּעָא תִתֵּן לָן חַד בַּר נַשׁ דָּרִישׁ דַּייָן וַחַזָּן סַפָּר מַתְנַייָן וַעֲבַד לָן כָּל־צָרְכִינָן. וִיהַב לוֹן לֵוִי בַּר סִיסִי. עָשׂוּ לוֹ בֵימָה גְדוֹלָה וְהוֹשִׁיבוּהוּ עָלֶיהָ. אָתוֹן וְשָָׁאֲלוֹן לֵיהּ. הַגִּידֶּמֶת בְּמַה הִיא חוֹלֶצֶת. וְלֹא אַגִיבוֹן. רָקָה דָם. וְלֹא אַגִיבוֹן. אָֽמְרִין. דִּילְמָא דְּלֵית הוּא מָרֵי אוּלְפָּן. נִישְׁאוֹל לֵיהּ שָׁאֲלוֹן לֵיהּ דַּאֲגָדָה. אָתוֹן וְשָׁאֲלוֹן לֵיהּ. מַהוּ הָדֵין דִּכְתִיב אֲבָל אַגִּיד לְךָ אֶת הָרָשׁוּם בִּכְתַב אֱמֶת. אִם אֱמֶת לָמָּה רָשּׁוּם. וְאִם רָשּׁוּם לָמָּה אֱמֶת. וְלֹא אַגִיבוֹן. אָתוֹן לְגַבֵּי דְרִבִּי. אָֽמְרוּן לֵיהּ. הָדֵין פַּיְיסוּנָא דְּפַייְסַנְתָּךְ. אָמַר לוֹן. חַייֵכוֹן. בַּר נַשׁ דִּכְװָתִי יְהָבִית לְכוֹן. שָּׁלַח אַייְתִיתֵיהּ וּשְׁאַל לֵיהּ. אָמַר לֵיהּ. רָקָה דָם מַהוּ. אָמַר לֵיהּ. אִם יֵשׁ בּוֹ צַחְצוּחִית שֶׁלְּרוֹק כָּשֵּׁר. הַגִּידֶּמֶת בְּמַה הִיא חוֹלֶצֶת. אָמַר לֵיהּ. בְּשִׁינֶּיהָ. אָמַר לֵיהּ. מַהוּ הָדֵין דִּכְתִיב אֲבָל אַגִּיד לְךָ אֶת הָרָשׁוּם בִּכְתַב אֱמֶת. אִם אֱמֶת לָמָּה רָשּׁוּם. וְאִם רָשּׁוּם לָמָּה אֱמֶת. אָמַר לֵיהּ. עַד שֶׁלֹּא נִתְחַתֵּם גְּזַר דִּין רָשׁוּם. מִשֶּׁנִּתְחַתֵּם גְּזַר דִין אֱמֶת. אָמַר לֵיהּ. וְלָמָּה לֹא אַגִּיבְתִּינוֹן. אָמַר לֵיהּ. עָשׂוּ לִי בֵימָה גְדוֹלָה וְהוֹשִׁיבוּ אוֹתִי עָלֶיהָ וְטָפַח רוּחִי עָלַי. וְקָרָא עָלָיו אִם נָבַלְתָּ בְהִתְנַשֵּׂא וְאִם זַמּוֹתָ יַד לְפֶה. מִי גָרַם לְךָ לְהִתְנַבֵּל בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה. עַל שֶׁנִּשֵּׂאתָה בָהֶן עַצְמְךָ

The people of Simonia came to Rebbi and told him, please give us a man who preaches, judges, runs the synagogue, teaches reading, teaches Mishnah, and looks after all our needs. He gave them Levi bar Sisi. They made him a big platform and sat him on it. They came and asked him, how does a woman without a hand perform חַלִיצָה? He did not respond. They asked him what happens if she spat blood? He did not respond. They said, maybe he is not competent in studies, let us ask him in homiletics. Again, he didn’t respond. They came to Rebbi and asked him what kind of candidate he sent who couldn’t answer any of their questions. Rebbi said by your lives, I gave you one who is my equal! He sent for Levi who came before him and answered all the questions posed to him correctly. He asked him, and why did you not give the interview committee any answers? He said to him, they made me a big platform and sat me on it in front of the townspeople. I because haughty, which cause me to forgot all that I know.

The ArtScroll notes in Yerushalmi Yevamos state that the people of סִימוֹנִייָא wanted someone who could fulfill four roles, which were actually six broad functions:

  1. דָּרִישׁ – An orator – someone capable of delivering public discourses.
  2. דַּייָן – A judge – someone who could adjudicate their disputes.
  3. חַזָּן – someone to lead their prayers
  4. סַפָּר – a scribe
  5. מַתְנַייָן – someone to teach Mishnah
  6. וַעֲבַד לָן כָּל־צָרְכִינָן – someone to take care of all our communal needs

Yersushalmi Brachos recounts that upon his death, Levi bar Sisi was eulogized as having been like a single vine that would produced one hundred barrels of wine. This alludes to the fact that he was a single person who fulfilled many different roles in the community.

Abba bar Abba, a talmudic scholar distinguished for piety, benevolence, and learning. He is known chiefly through his son Samuel of Nehardea, principal of the Academy of Nehardea, and is nearly always referred to as “Samuel’s father.” Abba traveled to Palestine, where he collaborated with Judah haNasi, with whose pupil Levi bar Sisi he forged a close friendship. When Levi died, Abba delivered the funeral oration and glorified the memory of his deceased friend Levi (source: the Jewish Encyclopedia).

In addition to his scholarship, Levi was a bit of a character. The Gemara in Sukkah, דף נ״ג עמוּד א, relates: “לֵוִי הֲוָה מְטַיֵּיל קַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי בְּתַמְנֵי סַכִּינֵי” – Levi would walk before Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi juggling with eight knives. And in the same stretch of Gemara, this passage:

לֵוִי אַחְוִי קִידָּה קַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי וְאִיטְּלַע. וְהָא גְּרַמָא לֵיהּ? וְהָאָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: לְעוֹלָם אַל יָטִיחַ אָדָם דְּבָרִים כְּלַפֵּי מַעְלָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי אָדָם גָּדוֹל הֵטִיחַ דְּבָרִים כְּלַפֵּי מַעְלָה וְאִיטְּלַע, וּמַנּוּ — לֵוִי. הָא וְהָא גְּרַמָא לֵיהּ

The kohen prostrates himself on the ground. (Mordechai Persof/Midrasha L’ad Hamikdash)

Kidda is the full extension in which the Kohen prostrates himself on the ground during the Yom Kippur service. Levi demonstrated a kidda before Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and strained his thigh and came up lame. The Gemara asks: Are you sure that is what caused him to be lame? But didn’t R’ Elazar say that one should never speak impertinently toward G-d and this is what causes one to become lame? In fact, he cited Levi as an example: Once a great person once spoke impertinently toward G-d, and even though his prayers were answered, he was still punished and came up lame. And who was this great person? It was Levi. Apparently his condition was not caused by his bow. The Gemara answers: There is no contradiction. For both reasons he came up lame; because he spoke impertinently toward G-d, he therefore was injured when exerting himself in demonstrating the kidda.

Nice to have this aggadah interlude, and I turn you back over now to Rabbi Stern to finish today’s Daf.

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.
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