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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo| 5770

Pninat Mishpat: Support Payments from a Brother-in-Law Refusing to Do Chalitza

(based on Mishpetei Shaul, siman 32)

Case: A woman (=pl) lost her husband in the Yom Kippur War without having children. The deceased’s oldest brother (=def) refuses to do chalitza and says that the same is true of his younger brothers, unless pl gives a significant sum of money to carry out the process. The couple had purchased an apartment, with part of the money supplied by the husband, part by pl, and part was outstanding. After the husband’s death, the Defense Ministry assumed responsibility for the outstanding debt. Def demands that pl sell the apartment and divide the proceeds equally and is unwilling to make compromises.


Ruling: Beit din was convinced that def was not acting in good faith but was trying to extort money from pl because she needed his services for religious reasons. In such a case, we apply the following halacha: “If he says that he does not want to perform either yibum or chalitza, we force him to do chalitza” (Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 161:4). The Beit Yosef (EH 160) says that whenever she is withheld from marrying (me’ukevet l’hinasei) because of a specific person’s hold on her (in this case, def), that person has to pay the woman support in the interim. The precedent for such a payment is the case of a woman who received a get with certain doubts about its validity. That woman continues to be supported even though she is likely divorced because in the meantime she is a me’ukevet l’hinasei.

She also deserves the support to be given according to her needs without subtracting from the sum for salary she earns at work or any other source of income. This is because the halacha is that a yavam (brother-in-law in the case of yibum) who has failed to do yibum after the required three-month wait does not receive her work profits even though he is supporting her (Shulchan Aruch, EH 160:4). The Taz (ad loc.) explains that since the support is not based on the regular halacha but is a penalty, there is no reason that he should be reimbursed from her salary. Even those who question the above halacha do so only in a case where he agreed to do yibum (in the communities where this was allowed), for then we can say that she is treated like a wife (and thus he would receive her salary). This would not apply to our case where he is a candidate for chalitza but is recalcitrant.

Therefore, def is required to do chalitza and in the meantime will have to pay 800 liras a month.



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