Sunday, November 04, 2007

Yevamah’s Mitzvah

The Gemora (Kesuvos 64a) states that we don’t write a certificate of rebelliousness against the yavam because we tell the yevamah, “Go, you are not obligated in this mitzvah!”

Rashi explains: The mitzvah to procreate obligates men, but not women.

The question can be asked: What about the mitzvah of yibum? Even if the woman is exempt from the commandment to procreate, but if she is obligated in the mitzvah of yibum, it should be regarded as the yavam is depriving the yevamah of her mitzvah. It is evident from our Gemora that the mitzvah of yibum is applicable only to the yavam, and not to the yevamah.

The Avudraham writes that the yevamah does not recite a blessing when she submits to chalitzah or yibum because she is exempt from the mitzvah of procreation. It seems that the two mitzvos are dependent upon each other; since she is not obligated to have children, she is exempt from the mitzvah of yibum.

The Rambam in his Sefer HaMitzvos (216) writes that there is a commandment for the yavam to perform a yibum with his brother’s wife when his brother died childless.

The Minchas Chinuch (1:15) states that it is implicit from the Rambam that he maintains that the mitzvah of yibum is an obligation for the man (the yavam) and not for the woman (the yevamah).

The Chinuch (Mitzvah 598 and 599) states explicitly that the mitzvah of yibum is only applicable to men and not to women.

The Minchas Chinuch cites a Pnei Yehoshua in Kesuvos (40a) that the mitzvah of yibum also applies to the yevamah.

Why should there be an obligation for the yevamah; the Torah explicitly states that the brother should marry his brother’s wife. It is not written anywhere that she shall be taken for yibum?

Reb Ezriel Cziment, in his sefer Mitzvos Hamelech answers: Besides the mitzvah of performing a yibum, there is also an obligation to establish a name for the deceased. It is this mitzvah that the yevamah plays an integral role in and she is thus included in the mitzvah obligation.

This would seemingly be inconsistent with our Gemora.