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Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, [1843], at


§ 1. The ceremony of Chalitzah must take place before three judges, who may be laymen. 1 If it is performed with a shoe, 2 it is valid, but not if with a shoe made of felt, or of cloth. The Chalitzah is also valid when it is performed with a sandal which has a leather strap at the heel, but not if it is not furnished with such a strap. If it is tied under the knee, it is valid, but not if it was tied above the knee.

§ 2. If Chalitzah was performed with a sandal which does not belong to the man, or with a wooden sandal [covered with leather], or on the right foot, with a sandal belonging to the left foot, it is valid. If with a sandal which is too large, but with which the man may walk nevertheless, or with one too small [to cover the whole foot], but which nevertheless covers the greater part of the foot, the Chalitzah is valid. If that ceremony was performed at night it is valid, but R. Eleazar declares it void. A Chalitzah performed on the left foot is void, but R. Eleazar declares it to he valid.

§ 3. If the woman took off the shoe, and did expectorate [before the brother-in-law], but did not pronounce the words [necessary to be spoken on that occasion], the Chalitzah is valid; if she spoke the words and expectorated, but did not take off the shoe, the Chalitzah is valid; if she took off the shoe and spoke the words, but did not expectorate, the Chalitzah is void, according to R. Eleazar; but valid according to R. Akivah. R. Eleazar thus expounds the text (Deut. xxv. 9), "Thus shall it be done," &c. viz. "All acts there prescribed must be performed, and the omission of any renders the Chalitzah void." But R. Akivah replied, "The same text affords a proof of my opinion, for it is there stated, 'Thus shall it be done to the man;' which proves that it only relates to the acts of the man." 3

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§ 4. When a deaf and dumb man had performed to him the ceremony of Chalitzah, or if a deaf and dumb woman performed it, or when a woman performed it to a minor, the Chalitzah is void. A female who, during her minority performed a Chalitzah, must repeat it on attaining her majority, otherwise the first Chalitzah is void.

§ 5. When a woman gave Chalitzah in the presence of two, or even of three judges, if one of them happens to be related to her, or incompetent to give evidence, the Chalitzah is void: but R. Simeon and R. Jochanan Hasandelar declare it valid. It happened once that a man received Chalitzah from a woman in a prison, where none but themselves were present, and when that case was submitted to R. Akivah, he declared it a valid Chalitzah.

§ 6. The due performance of the precept of Chalitzah is as follows:—The man and his sister-in-law shall appear before the tribunal [Beth Din] who are to advise him according to circumstances, for it is said (Deut. xxv. 8), "The elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him," &c., she shall say (Deut. xxv. 7), "My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform to me the duty of a husband's brother." He shall then say, "I like not to take her (Deut. xxv. 8)." This was always said in the Holy language [Hebrew], "Then shall the brother's wife come unto him, and spit out before him;" viz. so that the judges can plainly see her expectorate. Then shall she answer and say, "So shall it be done with the man that will not build up his brother's house" (Deut. xxv. 9). Thus far was it read formerly, but when R. Hyrcanus had the whole passage 4 read under an oak in the village Atam [‏עיטם‎], it became customary ever after to read the whole section. The injunction of the law (Deut. xxv. 16), "His name shall be called in Israel the house of him that hath his shoe loosened," is obligatory on the judges only, 5 but not on the disciples present; but according to R. Jehudah, it is incumbent on every one present at the ceremony to call out three times [‏חלוץ הנעל‎], Unshod one! Unshod one! Unshod one!


225:1 Men who are not the regularly appointed judges of the town.

225:2 Made of soft or thin leather.

225:3 That is, if the match is unequal from disparity of age, they shall advise him to receive Chalitzah instead of marrying his sister-in-law by Yeboom, as otherwise his domestic felicity may be seriously compromised hereafter, all which they are to represent to him, and when the match is a suitable one in point of p. 226 age, they shall advise him to marry his sister-in-law by Yeboom, in preference to receiving Chalitzah from her.

226:4 Till the end of verse 10.

226:5 That is, they are bound to call him so publicly, but no one else.

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