The mitzvah of halitzah (release from levirate marriage) is to be performed in front of three Jewish judges, who are not related to each other or to the levir (yavam) or to the woman subject to levirate marriage (yevamah). And even two married to the daughters of two brothers shouldn't be on the same court, but a second generation with a third generation is valid (Terumat Hadeshen, siman 226). And even if they are ordinary judges, as long as they know how to read out to the yavam and yevamah. And if she performed halitzah in front of ignoramuses who don't know how to read out, it is valid.
[If] one of them is found to be related or invalid or a convert, [the chalitsah is] invalid. Even if his father was a convert and his mother an Israelite, [it is] invalid -- unless his father and mother are Israelites. And some say that if his father is an Israelite, [it is] valid (Tur in the name of the Great Book of Mitsvot). However, it is at any rate an invalid chalitsah to invalidate her to the brothers -- even [if done just] between him and her. Comment: Some say that it is forbidden to take pay for chalitsah, because, whoever takes pay to judge, his judgements are nullified (Ri Mintz and [?]); and so seems [correct] to me. At chalitsah ceremonies, one must be cautious that someone who takes pay not sit among the three judges who are sitting to effect the chalitsah, for we require a court that is valid according to [the law] of the Torah. See, in Choshen Mishpat chapter 9, what pay a judge is permitted to accept; but even for this, it seems to me [correct] to be strict if he takes pay for the chalitsah, because of the appearance to the eye, like we are strict about relatives and other matters regarding a court for chalitsah more than regarding another court. And I have seen and heard [cases] wherein a rabbi takes much pay for chalitsah and supports himself [in this position] on [the fact] that he sells him the sandal of chalitsah; this is a great leniency, in my view, and someone who takes care of his soul should distance himself from this. This is not similar to [the fact] that the witnesses of the bill [of divorce] take pay, for the reason I wrote above [in] chapter 130, and the rabbi who orchestrates the bill, as I wrote above in the agenda of the bill [of divorce], paragraph 4, for those reasons are not relevant to chalitsah (all this is his own view).
Ideally, it is a mitzvah to add on two in addition to the three, even if the two are ignorant people. If they did chalitsah with three the chalitsah is valid (Tur). These two that they added, they should not be relatives or invalid. Specifically ideally, but after the fact, it is kosher (Beit Yoseif).
The judges ideally need to set a place to be able to say, "let us go to such and such a place to do the chalitsah." However, if they did the chalitsah without designating a place, it is valid (Tur in the name of the Rambam).
They should set a place that day. Some say, they should set it the day before.
Chalitsah is only valid if done during the day. If the chalitsah was done at night, the chalitsah is invalid.
Chalitsah should not be performed on Shabbos or holidays. However, on Chol HaMoed, it is better. Some say that chalitsah should not be performed on Friday or the day before a holiday, and this is our practice.
It is needed to know that [the individual preforming the levirate marriage is the] brother of the deceased, and was in the world, and this is the wife of the deceased; And Even if only one witness is there to testify about them [the deceased and widow's former marriage], or even if it [the wittness] is a relative, woman, slave, maidservant or a minor- the testimony is recognized and [is deemed] true, it [the testimony] is believed [even] with this.
The judges need to know that ninety days passed from when the husband died, minus the day he died and the day they are performing the chalitsah.
They need to know that the yavam is 13 years old and one day and the yevama is 12 years old and one day, and that they grew two [pubic] hairs after reaching these times. And if the yevama has large breasts, there is no need to check about the hairs. So too if the yavam has a full beard, there is no need to check about the hairs. The laws of two hairs and their checking is found in Even HaEzer 155:15.
We do not really upon the word of relatives or that of women in establishing the age, rather only the testimony of valid witnesses. But there are those who say that if his age is established by neighbors, and not the father, or if there is a rumor that he has arrived at the appropriate age, then they are relied upon to establish his majority age, if they have checked him and found two pubic hairs, Rem"a: but we do not rely upon there opinions if they say that he has gone up to the Torah or led services (Mordechai: Chapter Mitzvat Halitsa). And, even without the opinions of the neighbors, if he has many hairs, or if they are long as is normal for an older man or woman, it is establish that he has arrived at the appropriate age and may, therefore, do halitsa. We rely upon this and do not check if there are mounds of hair since there are many or if they are long. If their height is tall we can rely upon that to establish that they are of majority age even if they only have two hairs. Rem"a: If the widow has sons then they are like signs (of her majority age.) (Mordechai's additions to Tractate Yevamot.)
The judges sit as is it is necessary to sit in judgement, and the yavam and yevama stand before them, since the Mitzvah of chalitsah is ideally done standing. Rem"a: But after the fact, if the chalitsah was done sitting, it is valid (Tur). So too an ill person who is unable to stand is able to do chalitsah sitting, since anything which has no fix is important after the fact (Piskei Mahari Siman 190). And see later Seif 64 for the specific order of the chalitsah.
Once the Yavam [person obligated to perform the levirate marriage] has agreed to perform halitza, he is to be instructed to nullify all declarations he has made, such as ones regarding [the granting of a] divorce; for if he has already made a declaration, the halitza is invalid. Gloss: And also if he was coerced to perform halitza, the law is like in the case of a divorce. See earlier clause 134. And even though there are those who say [performing] halitza is preferable [to Yibum], and thus coercion is justified, even so one should not coerce except in the situations we have enumerated in clause 165.
Preferably, the shoe used for halitza should be given to the Yabam as a gift. There are those who say he should walk in it a bit so that it looks like it belongs to him. But if it was not given to him [as a gift], it is valid.
The shoe must be entirely of leather. Therefore, [the shoemaker] must ideally sew all of its seams with leather. And that is our practice; and some [authorities] invalidate it even after the fact (Tur in the name of the RM"H), contrary to the opinion that since nowadays all shoes are sewn with flax, [the shoe for chalitza] must also be sewn with flax ([this opinion is] in the writings of R"Y Mintz in the name of R' Shmarya) . But its straps do not need to be of leather. And some authorities say that the straps also need to be of leather (Nimukei Yosef), and that is our practice.
There are those who say that from the outset [the shoe] should be made from leather of a clean animal. The strips and the hooks also in it [must be clean], and also the strips of the sewing...(continue)
Some say that apriori it should be made from the skin of a kosher animal. Same for the lashes and hooks and sawing strings (as is written in the book of Rabbai Margalyot) and such is the custom.
There will be two straps on it to tie with them, one on each side. There are those that say that the straps should be white. And also the straps of sewing should be white. But the rest comment that it should be all black on the outside (compilations of the Mordechai on Yevamot), and so is the practice. But regarding the inside [of the straps], there's no need to be concerned with this. And if the straps become blackened due to age, there is no need to be stringent (rulings of the Mahari, sign 205), and so is the practice. And the straps should be long, so that you can double each strap twice [when tying] (Kol Bo).
יעשו בו כמין קשר שקורין חומרתא בצד האחד שיכנס בנקב שבצד האחר כדי להדקו יפה ויש אומרים שיעשו שלשה קשרים בענין זה ולפחות שתים: הגה ונוהגים לעשות ג' ולא יהיו הקשרים מן המנעל עצמו אלא רצועה אחרת מחוברת בראש המנעל וכן יעשה הקרסים שבצד השני (הגהות מרדכי) וכן נוהגין ויתפור אלו הלולאות והקרסים מבחוץ ולא מבפנים וכן נוהגין:
י"א שלא יהיה לו לשון כמו שרגילים לעשות במנעלים כדי שלא יהא מעל דמעל: הגה י"א לתפור שפה סביב המנעל למעלה (ר"י מינ"ץ בשם ראבי"ה) ולא נהגו כן ויזהר לתפרו בתפירות תכופות זו לזו (בסדר ר"י מרגליות) ועושין אזני המנעל קצרים שלא יהיו הלולאות והקרסים על המנעל רק על הרגל שלא יהיה מעל דמעל (הגהות מרדכי) .
יהא עשוי לצורת רגל ימנית וינעלו ברגלו הימנית ויהיה למדת רגלו שלא יהא גדול עד שאין ראוי לילך בו ולא יהיה קטן עד שאינו מכסה רוב הרגל ולא יהיה קרוע עד שאינו יכול לילך בו:
חלצה בסנדל של עץ או של שעם שאינם מחופים עור או ברגל שמאל או שהיה מנעל גדול עד שאינו יכול לילך בו או קטן שאינו מכסה רוב רגלו או קרוע שאינו יכול לילך בו או בסנדל שאין לו עקב או באנפליא של בגד חליצתו פסולה היה של עץ ומחופה עור או שבגד פשתן תפור בפנים או שחלץ במנעל של שמאל בימין כשרה) (טור):
מנעל של עובדי אלילים שמניחים אותו לרגלי הצורה ומהלכין אותה בו לא תחלוץ בו ואם חלצה חליצתה כשרה אבל בשל תקרובת ע"א או של עיר הנדחת או שנעשית לתכריכי המת אם חלצה חליצתה פסול':
שולט בשתי רגליו וכן היא בשתי ידיה יעשו בשל ימין (ואם היא אטרת יד תעשה בימין דידה שהוא שמאל כל אדם) (טור בשם י"א):
אטר ברגלו י"א שחולץ בשתיהם במנעל של ימין בימין ובמנעל שמאל בשמאל ויש מי שנסתפק לומר שאין לו תקנה (ונהגו כסברא הראשונה וע"ל בפי' הסדר סעיף מ') .
ינעל המנעל על רגלו כשהוא יחף ולא על בתי שוקיים שלא יהא מעל דמעל ומטעם זה יש מדקדקים שלא יהא טיט דבוק במנעל מבפנים וגם מטעם זה יש מצריכים לרחוץ רגלו הימני יפה יפה:
יש מי שאומר שהיבם קושר כנף המכנסים למעלה משוקיו (כדי שיראו הדיינים היטב שאין דבר בין רגליו ובין מנעלו) (הגהות מרדכי):
ינעול המנעל ויכרוך הרצועות סביב למנעל ברגלו ויקשור שניהם יחד שני קשרים זה על זה (ואל יהדק קשר השני בחוזק יד כדי שתוכל להתירו בימין) (כן עשה מהרי"ל וכן משמע בסמ"ג) ועניבה עליהם וצריך שיהיה הקשר על בשר שוקו ולא על אזני המנעל לכך צריך שיחתוך במנעל לפניו ולאחריו כמו פגימה כדי שתהא הרצועה החוזרת דבוקה ממש על רגלו יחף ויסבב הרצועות פעמים סביב לשוק עד שישובו ראשי הרצועות (על השוק לפנים) (ממעל לאזני המנעל) (הגהות מרדכי) דהיינו על השוק ערום ויהיו הקשרים על פני השוק ולא מאחוריו ויכניס הקשרים שבאזנו בנקבים שבאזנו השנית:
מלמדין אותה ואת היבם לקרות עד שהוא והיא יהיו רגילים ותהיה יכולה לקרות לא אבה בנשימה אחת ויש מי שאומר שצריך ג"כ שהוא יהיה יכול לומר לא חפצתי בנשימה אחת ויקראו אותה והיא מעומד בלשון הקודש מאן יבמי להקים לאחיו שם בישראל לא אבה יבמי ויקראו אותו והוא מעומד לא חפצתי לקחתה (וי"א שצריך שידקדקו עמה שהיא תקרא לא אבה יבמי בנשימה אחת (טור) וכן הוא המנהג גם בלא חפצתי לקחתה (וע"ל בפי' הסדר סעיף ס"ו):
יעמוד אצל כותל או אצל עמוד וישען בו וידחוק רגלו בקרקע ותתיר קשרי המנעל ואח"כ הקרסים הכל בידה הימנית ותתפוס רגלו בידה השמאלית ותהיה שומטת המנעל מן העקב בידה הימנית ותחלוץ כל המנעל גם בידה הימנית וכל זה בלי סיוע יד שמאלית ובכל זה לא תהיה יושבת ולא על ברכיה אלא תהיה מעומד ותכוף עצמה ומשלכת המנעל לארץ (חלצה בידה השמאלית או בשיניה כשרה) (טור)
גדמת חולצת בשיניה:
י"א שאם לא דחק רגלו בקרקע חליצתה פסולה:
התיר הוא הקשר ושמטה היא המנעל מרגלו או שהתירה היא ושמט הוא חליצתה פסולה: הגה וי"א דוקא שאינו יכול להלוך בו בלא קשירה אבל אם יכול להלוך בו בלא קשירה וחלצה אותו חליצתה כשרה אע"פ שהוא התיר הקשר (טור בשם הרא"ש) .
היתה רגלו עקומה לאחור או הפוכה על צדה או שמהלך על אצבעות רגליו אינו חולץ:
חלצה מן הארכובה ולמטה חליצתה כשרה מן הארכובה ולמעלה חליצתה פסולה וי"א דאקשירה קאי שאם היה הקשר למעלה מהארכובה פסולה אבל אם נקטעה רגלו אפילו מן הארכובה ולמטה אינו חולץ (ועל כן לא יהיה המנעל ארוך עד למעלה מן הארכובה) (מרדכי ריש מצות חליצה) וי"א דבנקטעה רגלו מיירי שאם נקטעה למטה מהארכובה ונשאר כל כך משוקו שיכול להכניס בו המנעל ולקשרו למטה מהארכובה חולץ:
If she tears the shoe off of his leg, or if she burns it, unfit.
If he is wearing two shoes [in layers one on top of the other], and she removes the outer shoe, even though she tore the bottom one to the point where his leg was exposed, the chalitzah is invalid. But if she removes both of them [i.e. the shoes], the chalitzah is valid. (Tur)
She stands opposite the levir, and she spits on the ground opposite the face of the levir, the spit that is visible to the judges as it goes out from her mouth that reaches the area in front of the levir. But if the judges to not see when the spit goes out of her mouth, [still] valid.
If she spit, and the wind caught it before it reached opposite his face, like a case where she is taller than him, then she needs to spit another time. But, [if the wind catches it] after the spit reaches opposite his face, even if it did not reach the ground, valid. Therefore, if he is tall and she is short, we apply the verse better "in his face." (Devarim 25:9):
The childless widow awaiting marriage who spits blood, she does not need to spit another time. But some say this specially applies when she sucks, because it is impossible for her to do this without cleaning the spit.
If she ate sesame or cress, or something like that, from things that increase saliva, and the spit flows from her mouth, it is nothing. And it customary to prevent her from eating anything. And so too to drink, and she minimizes speaking, so that the spit will come from itself. Also she should not poke at her teeth, so that she will not spit blood.
After so, [the group will] teach her [the following words while he is] standing, "So shall it be done unto the man that doth not build up his brother’s house. And his name shall be called in Israel The house of him that had his shoe loosed " (Deuteronomy 25:9-10). It is a commandment to all present to say "Shoe loosed" three times, and there are there are those who say that the childless widow awaiting Levirate marriage also says so.
This is the order of the Chalitsah: She reads "My brother-in-law has refused" (Devarim 25:7), and he reads "I do not desire to take her" (Devarim 25:8), and she removes [the shoe], and she spits, and she reads "so will be done to the man" (Devarim 25:9-10), but the order does not impinge [on the validity of the ceremony]. Moreover, even if she did not read or spit but only removed [the shoe], the Chalitsah is valid. When is this the case? when they are able to speak, such that they are fit to read. But if either the man or the woman is mute or the woman is a minor, they don't perform Chalitsah, and if they did, their Chalitsah is invalid. This is different than the case if the man is mentally disabled or a minor, in which case they have accomplished nothing, such that she is not invalidated to the brothers and can perform Yibum or not. Some say that this is also the rule for Chalitsah where either the man or woman is deaf that it is nothing. And some say that their Chalitsah is invalid, like with a mute man or woman.
The brother-in-law and the sister-in-law have to have the intention that she will be permitted to an outsider through this Chalitsah. If he intends but she does not, or she does but he does not, she is not permitted [to an outsider]; but it is an invalid Chalitsah [sufficiently] to invalidate her to the brothers. Therefore, a sister-in-law that grew up among the brothers, and we have seen that she removed one of their shoes, she is forbidden to perform Yibum, lest they intended it for the purpose of Chalitsah, and she needs a valid Chalitsah to permit her to an outsider; but as long as we have not seen her remove [the shoe] of one of them, she is permitted to perform Yibum, and we do not suspect that she may have removed [a shoe].
And therefore, if she spits in front of the brother of her deceased husband, she annuls the Yibum. And there are those who say that if she spits blood without saliva mixed in she does not annul the Yibum.
There are those who hold that one must be careful that the yevama does not spit in front of the yavam before performing halitza, so that the halitza does not become invalid and require her to return [and do it again] with all of the brothers.
If she [the yavama] only read the declaration [but did not perform the halitza act itself], she is not yet disqualified from the yibum process.
A blind person should not, ab initio, perform chalitza. But if he did perform chalitza, his chalitza was kosher. There is an opinion that if there isn't another brother [who could potentially perform the chalitza], then the blind brother may perform the chalitza ab initio, [Remah:] such that the widow not fall into the position of an agunah. Also note that one is not called "blind" unless [blind in] both eyes.
A k'tana [pre-pubescent girl] who performed chalitza to an adult male - her chalitza is considered disqualified, and she is further disqualified from performing chalitza with any of the other brothers. [Remah:] Once she grows up, she may perform chalitza with one of the brothers, and needn't do it again with the other brothers.
A male who mistakenly performs chalitza, in a case like the following: others say to him, "Perform Chalitza with this woman, on the condition that she will pay you 200 zuz"; this chalitza is kosher, even if she gives him nothing, and even if the oath were doubled. [Remah] And even if he said to her at the moment of chalitza: "[I'm doing this] on the condition that you don't marry someone else," and the oath is doubled, it is still unenforceable. Even though the chalitza is kosher even if she doesn't give him the money, nevertheless she is obligated to give it to him, similarly to any case where money is promised in exchange for performing a service. However, if she has a legitimate claim why she doesn't desire him - he isn't fit for her in some way - and he is considered obligated to perform chalitza and yet doesn't want to, and furthermore the court fools him into performing chalitza under the auspices that she will pay him; in such a case she needn't pay him anything. [Remah] But if she did pay him the money, she can't ask him to return it.
If they said to him: "do halitza and thereby you will have married her," or if they said to them: "do halitza because it is a mitzvah and you don't lose anything by it, and if you wish, afterwards you can do levirate marriage..." or similar things, it is not considered halitza that permits her to other men. Since he did not intend to permit her. But this is sufficient to disqualify her from levirate marriage and we force, even half-wits, to do halitza and the halitza is effective.
In the case that they said to him: This woman does not wish to be wed to you via yibbum, so perform halitza for her and remove the levirate bond from her and she will marry you in the normal manner, there are those who say this is a valid halitza.
The rule in regard to compelled halitza, be it by a Jew or a non-Jew, is the same as regards a compelled bill of divorce, as is explained in section 134. REMA: See above in this section paragraph 13.
If one expressed doubts about the [validity] of the halitza [it is not considered a] negated halitza but rather [it is considered] an invalid halitza.
Invalid halitza invalidates the widow from all the brothers and invalidates her from marrying a cohen and forbids the brothers from all of her close relations and she is not allowed to marry out of the brothers' family until you has performed a valid halitza. If she transgressed and married out of the family before she had done halitza: we perform for her a valid halitza and she stays with her [new] husband and she is not caused to leave him, but, nonetheless we seclude her from her husband until the brother in law does the halitza.
After she has had halitza the court writes that she had halitza in from of them in a bill of halitza. And, if they did not write it for her, any two [men] that saw the halitza can write it, even if they don't know the woman or the man; for the court would not have allowed the ceremony in front of them had they not recognized them. [The bill of halitza] must have lines scored into the parchment because of the verses that are in it. REMA: And see below in the comments on the Order of Writing the Bill in paragraph 35. ([I] the Editor say: here too in the Order of Halitza in all places where the source of a comment is not mentioned it is to be assumed that they take from the Sedarim and specifically from the Seder (Order) of Mahari Margaliot.)