Sunday, January 25, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #114

  1. At Kankan Chadash, part four of a conversation on whether to teach the Chassidic idea that Hashem gets pleasure from our doing mitzvot, or the Maimonidean idea that such is kefirah, to the opposite audience.

  2. On the Main Line about the teshuva of Arnold Ehrlich.

  3. In Mol Araan -- is Barack Obama too skinny? some dietary advice.

  4. HaEmtza on mistreating Baalei Teshuva by not giving them full reign when teaching.

  5. JNUL now has Sefer HaChinuch, which I might include now in my "sources" roundups on the parsha. And has Maggid Meisharim.

  6. Wolfish Musings complains of a made-for-TV-movie on CBS tonight (Sunday) called Loving Leah, where the plot is a woman (Leah) who undergoes yibbum. We don't do yibbum nowadays! Pesky Settler gives video of the actress who plays Leah's mother, on the View, where she displays a lack of knowledge and a dislike for Lubavitch Jews, e.g. saying they are all ugly, and talking about the backwards ways and attitudes of Chassidic Jews.

    Meanwhile, Debbie Schlussel also complains about that interview on "The View".

    At the NY Post, you can get a review, which includes a bit of plot summary. Apparently, the initial plan was to do chalitzah, but the irreligious brother refused. And yibbum is apparently presented as the first option.

    Right off, he's distressed to find that he has to rip the lapels (the traditional sign of Jewish mourning) on his good suit. Worse, he finds out that he is also required by Jewish law to marry his widowed sister-in-law if she is childless.

    Jake is already engaged to a WASPy fellow doctor, Carol (Christy Pusz). He's relieved to discover that he can get out marrying his sister-in-law if he waits two months and 28 days and participates in an ancient ceremony.

    At the ceremony, he is told to lean against a wall wearing a special shoe. Leah then kneels down, unties the special shoe, lifts up his leg, removes the shoe, throws it across the room, while Jake loudly denies his brother's existence.

    Wearing the shoe is one thing, denying his brother's existence is another. So he and Leah get married instead and she moves - wigs and all - with him to DC.

    He would not have to deny the brother's existence in a chalitza ceremony; that is a misunderstanding of what goes on... And regardless, yibbum would not be practiced by a frum Lubavitch woman nowadays. She would sit as an agunah, not able to marry, until they figured out a way to compel the brother to participate. See here, on zikkah le-yibbum. And see here is the Rif where he lays out the order of a chalitzah.


Lion of Zion said...

"yibbum would not be practiced by a frum Lubavitch woman nowadays."

why not?

joshwaxman said...

See this Rif, who rules otherwise:

where there is serious discussion in a brayta that yibbum must be performed with pure intentions, but "If one takes in {via yibbum} his siter-in-law for the purpose of beauty, for the purpose of marriage, for the sake of some other matter, it is as if he violated incest, and it is near in my eyes to declare the child a bastard." And the Mishna Acharona seemed to rule like that, and favor chalitza. But then, according to Rif, we do not hold like the Mishna Acharona.

Nowadays, where it is not normative in Ashkenazic circles to perform yibbum but rather chalitza, it certainly seems like they are holding like the Mishna Acharona. See e.g. the writeup at
"The Torah permits it only when the brother died childless, and it must be done with the sole intention of fulfilling the Torah's commandment. The Rabbis have ruled that people nowadays aren't capable of having such pure intentions; for this reason, marriage to a brother's widow (Yibbum) is no longer allowed, and Chalitzah is always performed instead."

I will admit not having learned carefully through modern-day poskim on this matter. But we do have, e.g. the edict in Israel, signed by the Chief Rabbis of Israel, in the 1950's, giving similar logic:
"We decree for all the inhabitants of the Land of Israel, as well as all
those who immigrate from this day henceforth, that it is absolutely
forbidden for them (to perform) the mitzva of "yibbum". They must perform
"haliza" and they are obligated to pay maintenance ("mezonot") for the
yevamma, (the level of which) the Court will specify, until they free the
yevamma via "haliza". This prohibition (against "yibbum") may only be
relaxed in extraordinary circumstances, according to the decision of the
full counsel ("moatza murchevet") and signed by the Chief Rabbis of Israel."
The basis for the Edict was (quoting from the court itself) "In our times,
it is clear that most yevamim do not have the proper intent (i.e. they do
not perform the act "leshaim mitzva"); As well, (we wish to foster) "ways of
peace" and unity in State of Israel, so that the Torah will not appear to be
two Torot".

The Lubavitch woman would be Ashkenazic, and would follow this assumption that chaliza is not just preferred, but yibbum is almost (or is) assur.



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