YEVAMOS 102 (23 Teves) - Dedicated in memory of Nachum ben Reb Shlomo Dovid (Mosenkis) Z"L, who passed away on 23 Teves 5700, and his wife, Rivkah bas Reb Avraham Leib, who passed away on 15 Adar 5764, by their son and daughter-in-law, Sid and Sylvia Mosenkis of Queens, NY.
1) HALACHAH: A SHOE OR A SANDAL
OPINIONS: The Gemara records a Machlokes Tana'im whether a "Min'al," shoe, may be used for Chalitzah, or whether only a "Sandal" may be used. The Gemara mentions an incident wherein Rebbi Yosi met a certain elder from the town of Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah and asked him what type of footwear Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah used when he presided over Chalitzah procedures. The elder answered him rhetorically, "Is one permitted to do Chalitzah with a Min'al?"
The elder's testimony implied that Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah did not permit the use of a shoe for Chalitzah. Accordingly, in practice only a sandal should be used, and not a shoe.
Today, however, the common practice is to use a shoe for Chalitzah. Why is a shoe used, contrary to the Gemara's conclusion and contrary to the practice of Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah?
(a) The ROSH and NIMUKEI YOSEF (in the name of the BA'ALEI HA'TOSFOS) cite the Yerushalmi which records a slightly different version of the encounter between Rebbi Yosi and the elder. The elder answered, "Is there a sandal in our village?" implying that Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah used a shoe, and not a sandal, because sandals were not commonly worn in his village.
The Rishonim explain that the Yerushalmi does not necessarily disagree with the Bavli's version of the story. In practice, both are correct: A shoe should not be used l'Chatchilah, but in a place where the common form of footwear is a shoe and not a sandal, a shoe may be used. Nowadays, everyone wears shoes, and thus Chalitzah may be performed with a shoe.
(b) The ME'IRI and TUR (in the name of the SEFER HA'MITZVOS) write that the contemporary shoe is similar to the sandal of the times of the Gemara. The contemporary shoe is made from a single piece of leather, is somewhat stiff, and has long straps, and therefore the Gezeirah not to use a shoe because of "Min'al Merupat" (see below) does not apply.
However, both this explanation and the previous one do not fully justify the use of contemporary shoes for Chalitzah in all places, such as places where sandals are commonly worn, and places where the shoe is made of soft leather.
(c) The KORBAN NESANEL (12:3:8) writes that the reason why the Chachamim enacted that a shoe not be used for Chalitzah does not apply nowadays. The Chachamim enacted that a shoe not be used for Chalitzah due to the concern that one might use a shoe which is half-broken ("Min'al Merupat"). Such a shoe is usable for walking but is not valid for Chalitzah. The Gezeirah of "Min'al Merupat" applied only in the times of the Chachamim. In those times, when the Beis Din would not have a special shoe readily available to use for Chalitzah, they would ask someone present to remove his shoe and give it to them for use for Chalitzah (as the Gemara records on 103b). Today, however, only the special shoe that is kept in Beis Din and is designated exclusively for Chalitzah is used. Since such a shoe is not commonly used for walking, there is no fear that it will become torn through overuse.
(d) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Yibum 4:6) rules that a shoe may be used for Chalitzah even l'Chatchilah. The Rambam understands that the Yerushalmi's version of the incident disagrees with the Bavli's version, and he rules in accordance with the Yerushalmi's version. (According to the Girsa of the Vilna Ga'on here, the Bavli's version and the Yerushalmi's version are the same. See also Kesef Mishneh.)
2) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SHOE AND A SANDAL
QUESTIONS: The Gemara suggests that one reason for why a shoe may be invalid for Chalitzah is that the strap which fastens it to the foot is "Me'al d'Me'al" -- it is wrapped over the top of the shoe and does not directly cover the foot. (As such, when the strap is loosened to remove the shoe, it is not loosened from the foot but from the top of the shoe.) The Gemara concludes that this is not a valid reason to disqualify a shoe from use for Chalitzah, because in any case the shoe eventually is removed from the foot. Instead, the reason why a shoe may not be used for Chalitzah is that one might use a shoe which is partially torn ("Merupat").
(a) What is the difference in the physical appearance between a sandal and a shoe? Why do the two concerns which the Gemara suggests ("Me'al d'Me'al" and "Merupat") apply only to a shoe and not to a sandal?
(b) The Gemara continues its discussion of the type of sandal valid for Chalitzah. It says that a sandal with "Shintzin" is less preferable than a sandal of an Arab merchant ("Taiya") because the merchant's shoe fits the foot more snugly. The Gemara adds that when an ordinary sandal is used for Chalitzah, even if it has a "Chumresa" (to tighten the sandal to the foot) one should tie a string around the sandal to tighten it to the foot, to ensure that the Chalitzah is done properly. What exactly is the difference between these different types of sandals?
(a) The Rishonim offer various explanations for the difference between a shoe and a sandal.
1. RASHI implies that both the shoe and the sandal are covered footwear (that is, they have leather uppers, which the Gemara calls the "Panta"). The primary difference between a shoe and a sandal is that the leather sole and leather upper of the shoe is soft, whereas the leather sole and leather upper of the sandal is stiff and inflexible (making it somewhat like a wooden shoe).
In order to tighten the shoe onto the foot, thick straps ("Arkesa") which are affixed to the edges ("Oznayim") of the sole are folded over the top of the shoe from one side to the other (and pulled through loops on the opposite side). The straps thereby cover the entire shoe and secure it to the foot. These straps, when wrapped around the shoe, are what the Gemara calls "Me'al d'Me'al," since they cover the leather upper of the shoe. Even if the shoe is half torn, the straps can be used to tighten the shoe onto the foot, and that is why the Gemara says that a "Min'al Merupat" is usable for walking.
The sandal, in contrast, is made from a very stiff leather. Affixing straps to the edges of the sole, in the same way that straps are affixed to a shoe, would not secure the sandal to the foot; the straps would not be able to bend the hard leather edges of the sandal or the hard top of the sandal to secure them tightly around the foot. Instead, laces are affixed to the back of the sandal (to the raised ankle support, as on today's ankle-high shoes) and tied around the ankle. They are laced tightly to the shin to prevent the sandal from slipping off.
Since the laces are not tied on top of the leather upper, there is no problem of "Me'al d'Me'al." If the sandal is torn, its stiffness prevents it from being tightened to the foot by straps, and thus a torn sandal is completely unusable (and there is no problem of "Merupat").
2. The RITVA and other Rishonim (see ME'IRI, pp. 371-372) explain that the difference between a shoe and a sandal is that a shoe is comprised of two or three pieces -- an upper ("Panta"), together with a sole and an ankle support, whereas the sandal has only a leather bottom and no upper. The Me'iri proves this from the fact that the Gemara consistently refers to a shoe as something which "covers his foot" ("Chofeh Es Raglo"), and a sandal as something which "receives the foot" ("Mekabel Es Rov ha'Regel" -- see end of 102b). Because the edges of the sandal are slightly raised around the foot, it appears as though it is "receiving," or holding, the foot.
The shoe is tied with laces (similar to today's shoes). The part of the shoe in which the laces are inserted is called the "Panta" (or "Oznayim"). Since the laces are tied on top of the shoe, there is a problem of "Me'al d'Me'al."
If the shoe tears (that is, the front of the shoe, above the toes, tears), it still can be worn somewhat comfortably. Since it has a partial covering, it remains usable even if it is torn (ME'IRI). Alternatively, even if it is not usable as a shoe because the top is torn, the bottom is still usable as a sandal (RITVA).
The sandal, in contrast, has straps which are tied to loops ("Oznayim") at the edges of the leather sole, and which cover the foot and extend behind the ankle. They then are tied either on top of the foot or higher up on the shin. Since the straps are wrapped directly around the foot or lower leg, there is no problem of "Me'al d'Me'al." If the sandal (the piece of leather that serves as the sole) tears, it is rendered unusable because the foot treads unprotected on the rough ground.
(b) The Rishonim also offer various explanations for the difference between a sandal with "Shintzin," a sandal of a Taiya, and a sandal with "Chumresa." All opinions seem to agree that the difference between these sandals is how tightly they are secured to the foot. The sandal with "Shintzin" is the least tight, and the Taiya's sandal is the most secure, while the sandal with "Chumresa" ("our sandal") is of average tightness. What is the exact difference between these types of sandals?
1. RASHI explains that "Shintzin" refers to a simple strap, like a drawstring, used to tie the neck of the sandal around the leg. It is not knotted, and thus it is easy to loosen and to extract the foot.
A sandal of a Taiya, in contrast, has long straps which wrap around the leg and firmly secure the sandal to the foot.
The "Chumresa" is a knotted shoelace which tightens the neck of the sandal to the leg. It is looser than the sandal of the Taiya, but it is not as loose as the "Shintzin." The Gemara explains that to make it more secure to the foot, one should wrap and tie a string around the neck of the sandal and the leg (in place of the long strap which it does not have). That string is removed as part of the Chalitzah process.
2. The RITVA explains that the "Shintzin" are interlocking loops which keep the shoe on the foot (in place of shoelaces). The sandal of the Taiya has straps that wrap around the leg, as Rashi explains.
The "Chumresa" on "our sandal" refers to a tight ring through which the straps which serve as shoelaces are inserted. The ring holds the straps in place so that they not loosen. By moving the ring higher or lower on the shoelaces, the shoe can be made tighter or looser. When such a sandal is used, one ties a string around the foot to make it similar to a sandal of a Taiya, so that it should be clear that the act of Chalitzah removes the sandal from a state of fitting securely to the foot.
3) BURNING THE SHOE OFF OF THE FOOT
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses different ways of removing the shoe from the foot in the Chalitzah procedure. The Gemara questions whether the Chalitzah is valid when the Yevamah rips or burns the shoe off of the Yavam's foot instead of untying it and removing it in the normal manner. The Gemara also questions whether the Chalitzah is valid when the Yevamah pulls off the innermost of two shoes which the Yavam is wearing on one foot, while she leaves the outer shoe in place.
The Gemara answers that it depends on whether the Torah requires that she specifically remove the shoe ("Chalitzah"), or that she merely expose the foot.
What is the Gemara's question? The Torah explicitly states "v'Chaltzah" (Devarim 25:9), a clear directive that she must remove the shoe. Why does the Gemara even suggest that burning it off might be valid?
ANSWER: The ARUCH LA'NER explains that the Gemara's question is based on the presence of two apparently contradictory phrases in the verse. The verse says, "v'Chaltzah" ("and she shall remove [the shoe]"), which implies that she must remove the shoe without tearing or burning it. However, the verse also says, "Me'al Raglo" ("from upon his foot"), which implies that the objective is to expose the foot, and the manner in which it is done is not relevant.
Accordingly, the Gemara's question is which phrase is meant by the Torah to be the significant one, "v'Chaltzah" or "Me'al Raglo"? (Although the Gemara elsewhere derives a different Halachah from the words, "Me'al Raglo" (that is, the part of the leg on which the shoe must be tied), the Gemara now suggests that the word "Raglo" is extra and must be teaching that the Yevamah need only expose the foot, since the Torah could have written "me'Alav" ("from upon it") without the extra word "Raglo.")