THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) HALACHAH: USING A SHOE FOR CHALITZAH
OPINIONS: The Gemara records a Machlokes Tana'im whether a "Min'al," a 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 to use for Chalitzah. The elder answered him
rhetorically, "Is it permitted to do Chalitzah with a Min'al?!"
2) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SHOE AND A SANDAL
It seems that the elder's testimony showed that Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah
did *not* permit using a shoe. Accordingly, we should use a sandal rather
than a shoe for Chalitzah.
Today, however, it is the practice to use a *shoe* for Chalitzah. Why do we
use a shoe contrary to the practice of Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah, which
seems to be the Gemara's conclusion?
(a) The ROSH and NIMUKEI YOSEF (in the name of the BA'ALEI HA'TOSFOS) cite
the Yerushalmi that records the story of Rebbi Yosi and the elder slightly
differently. The elder answered, "Is there a sandal in our village?"
implying that Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah used a shoe, because sandals were
not worn in his village.
These Rishonim explain that the Yerushalmi does not necessarily argue with
our version of the story. Rather, in practice, both are true. A shoe should
not be used l'Chatchilah, but in a place where everyone walks in a shoe and
not in sandals, then it is permitted to use a shoe, because a sandal in that
place is not used for walking like a shoe is. Nowadays, since everyone wears
shoes, we may perform Chalitzah with a shoe.
(b) The ME'IRI and the TUR (quoting the SEFER HA'MITZVOS) write that our
shoes are similar to the sandals of the time of the Gemara. The shoe that we
use is made from a single piece of leather, is somewhat hard, and has long
straps, and therefore the Gezeirah of the Gemara not to use a shoe because
of "Min'al Merupat" (see below) does not apply to our shoes.
However, both this and the previous explanation do not necessarily justify
the use of the shoes that we use today for Chalitzah in all places (such as
where sandals are still commonly worn, and where the shoe that is used is
(c) The KORBAN NESANEL (12:3:8) writes that the reason the Chachamim said
that a shoe should not be used for Chalitzah is because one might use a shoe
that is half broken ("Min'al Merupat"), which is not valid for Chalitzah but
which is still able to be used for walking.
The Korban Nesanel says that the Gezeirah of "Min'al Merupat" only applied
in the time of the Chachamim. In those days, if the Beis Din did not have a
special shoe available to use for Chalitzah, they would ask someone present
to take off his shoe and give it to them for the Chalitzah (as we find in
the incident in 103b). Today, though, we only use a special shoe that is
kept in Beis Din and is designated exclusively for Chalitzah. Since such a
shoe is not walked in frequently, there is no fear that it will be torn
(d) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Yibum 4:6) rules that a shoe may be used
l'Chatchilah. It seems that the Rambam understood that the version of the
incident in the Yerushalmi is arguing with the version in our Gemara, and he
ruled like the version in the Yerushalmi (which is like the Girsa of the
Vilna Ga'on here in the Bavli -- see also Kesef Mishnah). If so, a shoe
certainly may be used.
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that one reason why a shoe might be invalid for
Chalitzah is because the strap that 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 (thus, when the strap is loosened to remove the shoe, it is
not being loosened from the foot, but from the top of the shoe). The Gemara
concludes that this is not a reason to invalidate a shoe for Chalitzah
(since the shoe is eventually removed from the foot). Rather, the problem is
that one might use a shoe that is partially torn ("Merupat"). A sandal,
though, has neither of these problems.
3) BURNING THE SHOE OFF OF THE "YAVAM'S" FOOT
(a) What is the difference in the physical appearance between a sandal and a
shoe, and why is it that these two problems exist only with a shoe and not
with a sandal?
(b) The Gemara continues to discuss the type of sandal used for Chalitzah.
It says that a sandal with "Shintzin" is not as good as a sandal of an Arab
merchant ("Taiya") because the merchant's shoe fits more tightly to the
foot. The Gemara adds that when using our sandals for Chalitzah, even if
they have a "Chumresa" on them (to make them tighter), we should still tie a
string around the sandal in order 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) RASHI and the other Rishonim offer differing explanations for the
difference between a shoe and a sandal.
1. According to Rashi, it seems that both the shoe and the sandal are
covered footwear (that is, they have leather uppers, which the Gemara refers
to as the "Panta"). The primary difference between a shoe and a sandal is
that the leather sole and upper of the shoe is soft, whereas the leather
sole and upper of the sandal is hard and inflexible (making it somewhat like
a wooden shoe).
(b) The Rishonim also offer differing opinions as to the difference between
a sandal with "Shintzin," a sandal of a Taiya, and a sandal with "Chumresa."
It seems that according to all opinions, the difference between these
sandals is how tightly they are fastened to the foot. The one with
"Shintzin" is the least tight, and the Taiya's sandal is the most secure,
with the third one ("our sandal") in between. What is the exact difference
between these types of sandals?
In order to tighten the shoe onto the foot, thick straps ("Arkesa") which
are affixed to the edges ("Aznayim") 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
refers to as "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 still usable for walking.
The sandal, on the other hand, is made from a very stiff leather. Affixing
straps to the edges of the sole, like the straps of a shoe, would not be
effective to secure the sandal to the foot, because the straps would not be
able to bend the hard leather edges of the sandal nor the hard top of the
sandal to secure them tightly around the foot. Instead, the sandal has laces
that are affixed to the back of the sandal (the raised ankle support, as in
today's ankle-high shoes), and those laces are tied around the ankle. They
would be laced tightly to the shin to prevent the sandal from falling 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, it cannot be tightened to
the foot by straps because of its stiffness, and thus a torn sandal is
completely unusable (which is why there is no problem of "Merupat").
2. The RITVA and other Rishonim (see ME'IRI, p. 371-372) explain that the
difference between a shoe and a sandal is that a shoe is made of two pieces
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 always refers to a shoe as
something that "covers his foot" ("Chofeh Es Raglo"), and refers to a sandal
as something that "receives the foot" ("Mekabel Es Rov ha'Regel" -- see end
of 102b), because the edges of the sandal are slightly raised around the
foot, so that it looks like it is receiving, or holding, the foot.
The shoe is tied with laces (similar to our shoes today). The part of the
shoe in which the laces were inserted is called the "Panta" (or "Oznayim").
Since the laces are tied on top of the shoe, there is a problem of "Me'al
If the shoe is torn, meaning that the front of the shoe (above the toes) is
torn, it can still 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, on the other hand, has straps which are tied to loops
("Oznayim") at the edges of the leather sole, and which cover the foot and
go behind the ankle, and are then 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 (meaning
the piece of leather that serves as the sole) is ripped, then it is rendered
unusable because the foot then treads unprotected on the rough ground.
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, on the other hand, has long straps that wrap around the
leg, tightening the sandal securely 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." That is why the Gemara says that to make it more
secure, we first wrap and tie a string around the neck of the sandal and the
leg (in place of the long strap that it does not have); that string is
removed as part of the Chalitzah process.
2. The RITVA explains (according to some) that the "Shintzin" are
interlocking loops that keep the shoe on the foot (instead of shoelaces).
The sandal of the Taiya is the same as Rashi explained, with straps wrapping
it around the leg.
The "Chumresa" on "our sandals" refers to a tight ring through which the
straps that serve as shoelaces were 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 using such a sandal,
we tie a string around the foot to make it similar to a sandal of a Taiya so
that the Chalitzah should be more obviously removing the sandal from a state
of being fastened on the foot.
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses different ways of removing the shoe from the
foot. The Gemara questions whether it is considered a proper Chalitzah when
the Yevamah rips or burns the shoe off of the foot, instead of untying it
and removing it in the normal manner. The Gemara also questions whether it
is considered a proper Chalitzah when she pulls off the innermost of two
shoes that the Yavam is wearing on one foot, while leaving the outer shoe in
The Gemara says that it depends whether the Torah requires that she
specifically *remove* the shoe ("Chalitzah"), or that she merely *expose*
What is the Gemara's question? The Torah says "v'Chaltzah" (Devarim 25:9),
clearly stating that she must *remove* the shoe! How can the Gemara suggest
that burning it off is valid?
ANSWER: The ARUCH LA'NER explains that the Gemara found two contradictory
phrases in the verse. On one hand, the verse says, "v'Chaltzah" ("and she
shall remove [the shoe]"), which means that she must remove the shoe without
tearing or burning it. On the other hand, the verse says, "Me'al Raglo"
("from upon his foot"), which implies that the main goal is to *expose* the
foot and it does not matter how it is done.
Hence, the Gemara is asking which phrase is meant by the Torah to be the
signficant one, "v'Chaltzah" or "Me'al Raglo?" (Even though the Gemara
elsewhere derives a different Halachah from the words, "Me'al Raglo" (that
is, where the shoe may be tied), the Gemara now is suggesting that the word
"Raglo" is extra and is teaching that the Yevamah need only expose the foot,
since the Torah could have written "Me'alav" without the extra word