QUESTION: Shmuel says that an Arusah who refuses to marry her husband is considered a rebellious wife ("Moredes"), and her Kesuvah is reduced until she agrees to marry him. Shmuel says further that a Shomeres Yavam who refuses to have anything to do with her Yavam is not considered a rebellious wife and we do not reduce her Kesuvah.
The Gemara questions Shmuel's ruling from a Beraisa that states that even a Shomeres Yavam is considered a rebellious wife if she refuses to have anything to do with her Yavam. Rebbi Yochanan answers that Shmuel is discussing a Yavam who wants to do Chalitzah and the Shomeres Yavam refuses, while the Beraisa is discussing a Yavam who wants to do Yibum and the Shomeres Yavam refuses. When the Yavam wants to do Chalitzah, then she is considered a Moredes for refusing, but not if he wants to do Yibum and she refuses.
RASHI explains the logic of Rebbi Yochanan's statement. Rebbi Yochanan is following the Mishnah Acharonah that states that it is preferable to do Chalitzah than to do Yibum, because a person might not have pure intentions when doing Yibum.
The Gemara rejects Rebbi Yochanan's answer, saying that there should be no difference between Yibum and Chalitzah. If the Yavam claims that no other woman will marry him because he has not yet become exempt from marrying his Yevamah, he should be able to force her to do either Yibum or Chalitzah with him. If, on the other hand, the Yavam is able to find a different wife, then he should not be able to force the Yevamah to do either Yibum or Chalitzah!
Because of this question, the Gemara concludes that Shmuel and the Beraisa are both discussing a Yavam who wants to do Yibum. The Beraisa does not contradict Shmuel, because the Beraisa is following the Mishnah Rishonah that says that Yibum is preferable to Chalitzah (and therefore the Yavam may force the Yevamah to perform Yibum, while Shmuel is following the Mishnah Acharonah that says Chalitzah is preferable because the Yavam might not have pure intentions (and therefore we do not force the Yevamah to do Yibum just because the Yavam wants to). It seems that the Gemara is rejecting Rebbi Yochanan's difference between a Yavam who wants to do Yibum and a Yavam who wants to do Chalitzah.
There are a number of problems with the way the Gemara deals with Rebbi Yochanan's statement, according to the explanation of Rashi.
(a) Why does the Gemara say that in a case where the Yavam will be able to find a different wife if he does not do Chalitzah with the Shomeres Yavam, we should not force the Shomeres Yavam to do Chalitzah? Why should we not force her? After all, there is a Mitzvah to do Chalitzah, and the Mishnah Acharonah holds that doing the Mitzvah of Chalitzah is even more important than doing the Mitzvah of Yibum! Just like we force her to do Yibum according to the Mishnah Rishonah, we should force her to do Chalitzah according to the Mishnah Acharonah! (RITVA in the name of RABEINU TAM)
Indeed, TOSFOS (DH Mai) is of the opinion that according to the Mishnah Acharonah, we do force the Yevamah to do Chalitzah.
(b) Why does the Gemara say, according to Rebbi Yochanan, that we do not force her to do Yibum "because the Yavam is able to find a different wife without doing Yibum?" There is a better reason not to force her to do Yibum -- Rashi says that Rebbi Yochanan is following the Mishnah Acharonah, which says Yibum is to be avoided since the Yavam might have impure intentions. If so, we certainly do not force someone to do Yibum! (TOSFOS DH Mai)
The reason why he cannot force her to do Chalitzah is due to the way Rashi understands the Mitzvah of Chalitzah. Rashi learns that Chalitzah, in contrast to Yibum, is not a Mitzvas Aseh that is incumbent upon the Yavam to do. Rather, it is merely a way to permit the Yevamah to get married when Yibum is not being performed. It is done solely for the benefit of the Yevamah. Therefore, if the Yevamah does not want to perform Chalitzah and she is prepared to remain an Agunah and never remarry, she cannot be forced to perform Chalitzah. In such a case, there indeed is no reason to perform Chalitzah at all!
Even though the Mishnah in Bechoros (13a) says that the "Mitzvah of Chalitzah is greater than the Mitzvah of Yibum," seemingly comparing the two and calling both of them Mitzvos Aseh, Rashi learns that the Gemara calls Chalitzah a Mitzvah only because it is an act which the Torah prescribes in order to make a Yevamah permitted to remarry. Since she is required to do Chalitzah in order to remarry (if she does not do Yibum), it is called a Mitzvah. (That is, Chalitzah is a Mitzvah in the same sense the Gerushin is counted in the list of Mitzvos.) When the Mishnah there says that Chalitzah is greater than Yibum, it means that it is greater in the sense that it avoids the problem that arises if the Yavam performs Yibum with impure intentions.
Tosfos, who says that we do force the Yevamah to do Chalitzah according to the Mishnah Acharonah, seems to maintain that Chalitzah is a positive Mitzvah like Yibum, and therefore we may force her to do Chalitzah.
According to this explanation, Rashi is following his own opinion elsewhere. The Mishnah in Sanhedrin (18a) teaches us that a king does not perform Chalitzah if a Yevamah falls to him, nor does his wife to Chalitzah if the king dies with no children. Similarly, a king does not perform Yibum with his brother's wife, nor does a king's wife perform Yibum with her husband's brother.
It is clear why the king does not do Yibum or Chalitzah with his brother's wife; there is a Mitzvah to uphold the honor of a king, and doing Yibum with his brother's wife to "build the house of his brother, or having his brother's wife spit before him in the performance of Chalitzah, would be a disgrace to the honor of the king (Rashi). Similarly, it is clear why a king's wife cannot do Yibum with her husband's brother. The king's brother is a Hedyot (a non-king), and a Hedyot is prohibited from marrying the wife of a king after the king dies. However, why does the Mishnah there say that Chalitzah may not be done with a king's wife after the king dies? There is nothing shameful with the king's brother doing Chalitzah with the king's wife!
RASHI in Sanhedrin (19b, DH v'Lo Choltzin) explains that Chalitzah is not performed with the wife of a king because she is prohibited from remarrying. It seems from Rashi that there is no point in performing Chalitzah if it will not enable the woman to remarry! Rashi in our Sugya is following that approach as well. (The TIFERES YISRAEL in Sanhedrin suggests that Rashi might not mean that there is no point in doing Chalitzah if the woman will not be getting married. Rather, Rashi means that the Chachamim instituted that she not perform Chalitzah lest she think that she is permitted to remarry, when she is really prohibited from remarrying because she is the widow of a king. However, taken at face value, Rashi seems to be saying that a woman who does not intend to remarry has no Mitzvah to perform Chalitzah, as we have explained. The question of whether Chalitzah is a Mitzvah in its own right may be related to the Yerushalmi, Yevamos 1:1, that discusses whether Chalitzah is "an exemption from Yibum, or a type of Kinyan.")
(b) Regarding why the Gemara does not say that in a case where the Yavam wants to do Yibum, the woman is not considered a Moredes (and we do not force her to do Yibum) because Yibum is looked upon unfavorably according to the Mishnah Acharonah, the answer appears to be as follows. The Gemara means that if the Yavam insists on doing Yibum and she refuses to do either Yibum or Chalitzah, then we force her to do Chalitzah in order to enable him to marry another wife. Even though he is demanding to do Yibum, since his purpose is to be able to marry another wife, we force her to do Chalitzah so that he can get married. (See Tosfos DH Mai Shena, who rejects this approach.)
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