Pisqa’ 291

Pisqa’ 2911


“Then, his widowed sister-in-law

shall approach him before the eyes of the elders,

loosen his shoe from his foot, and spit before him” (Dt.25:9)—

the spittle must be visible to the elders.


Before the eyes” (Dt.25:9)—

this teaches that

she must be together with him in the presence of the elders.2


“Loosen his shoe” (Dt.25:9)—

I infer only that his shoe is loosened.

How do I know that

the shoe can belong to others?3

The Teaching states:

“The House-of-Loose-Shoes” (Dt.25:10)—

any [shoe can be loosened].

If so, why does the verse specify:

“She shall loosen his shoe (Dt.25:9)?”—

this excludes a shoe too big to walk in,

and one too small to cover most of his foot,

or slippers without a heel-piece—

for the loosening of any of these

disqualifies the release.4

“From his foot” (Dt.25:9)—

here, foot (Dt.25:9) is specified,

and elsewhere, foot (Lv.14:14) is specified.

Just as foot mentioned elsewhere

refers to his right foot (Lv.14:14),

so, too, foot mentioned here

refers to his right foot.

“From his foot” (Dt.25:9)—

on this basis you can teach:


[If she unlaced the shoe]

from the knee downward, her loosening is valid.

From the knee upward, her loosening is disqualified

[since the shoe will remain on the foot].5

“And spit before him” (Dt.25:9)—

is it possible to say that

she spits directly into his face?

The Teaching states:

Before the eyes of the elders” (Dt.25:9)—

actually, the spittle must be visible to the elders.6

On this basis they taught:

If she released the shoe, spat,

but didn’t declaim7

her act of loosening is valid

[for release from the levirate bond is accomplished

by actions, not words alone].

Had she declaimed and spat,

but didn’t loosened the shoe—

her act of release would be disqualified

[since she has not completed it].

Had she released the shoe, declaimed, but not spit—

R. Eliezer says:

Her act of loosening would be disqualified

[since she has not performed all its elements].

But R. Akiva says:

Her act of loosening is valid.8

“Then she shall respond, saying” (Dt.25:9)—

here, response (Dt.25:9) is specified,

and elsewhere, response (Dt.27:15) is specified.

Just as response mentioned elsewhere

refers to response in the sacral tongue (Dt.27:15),

so, too, response mentioned here

refers to response in the sacral tongue.9


“Thus shall be done to the man who will not build his brother’s household!” (Dt.27:9)—

R. Eliezer says:

He hasn’t built it yet, nor is he about to build it.

Said R. Eliezer:

Thus shall be done to the man” (Dt.27:9)—

thus implies that the release is ineffective,

if the act [of spitting] is omitted.

Said to him R. Akiva:

From this [exegesis you claim] proof?

“Thus shall be done to the man” (Dt.27:9—

the man implies that any action

affecting the man must be carried out.

R. Shimon says:

Her failure to release the shoe

or to spit disqualify the release. 10

“And his name will be called . . . the House-of-Loose-Shoes” (Dt.25:10)—

R. Ishmael says:

loosening the shoe [indicates his refusal] to bed her,

while spitting [indicates his denial to her of his] semen.


“And his name will be called in Israel” (Dt.25:10)—

here, in Israel (Dt.25:10) is specified,

and elsewhere, in Israel (Dt.25:7) is specified.

Just as in Israel mentioned elsewhere (Dt.25:7)

excludes the [rite of ] loosening the shoe

from the jurisdiction of a court of proselytes,

so, too, in Israel mentioned here

excludes a court of proselytes from presiding.

“The House-of-Loose-Shoes” (Dt.25:10)—

this requirement falls upon the judges,

but not upon the disciples.

R. Judah says:

A requirement falls upon all present to say:

“Loose Shoes!”, “Loose shoes!”11

Said R. Judah:

One time we were sitting in study before R. Tarfon,

And he instructed us:

All of you! Shout out:

“Loose shoes!”, “Loose shoes!”12

  1. H:282-283: JN2:254-256
  2. Repeated below at Pisqa’ 291.2.
  3. Cf. M.Yev.12:2.
  4. cf. M.Yev.12:1-2.
  5. //M. Yev. 12:1.
  6. Cf. Pisqa’ 291.1.
  7. Heb: qar’a; literally, “read out loud” [from a prepared text]. Root: q-r-‘.
  8. =M.Yev.12:3.
  9. =Cf. M.Sot.7:2. The Hebrew term, leshon hadodesh, refers to the proclamation of biblical texts in the course of a ritual act. See also Pisqa’ 301.1. 
  10. =M/Yev.12:3; cf. T.Yev.12:15.
  11. //M.Yev.12:10.
  12. =T.Yev.12:15.