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From my understanding there are opinions that some form of coercion, such as public embarrassment, may be used to facilitate a recalcitrant husband giving his estranged agunah (bound) wife a get/divorce. This seems to be the practice of organizations such as ORA which has the support of a number of Rabbis. I would like to know if there is any discussion in the contemporary halachic literature regarding applying similar practices to a levir who refuses to perfom halitzah.

  • Isn't someone who refuses to perform halitzah obligated to perform Yibbum, assuming that he's qualified to do so? I'm also assuming that lack of halitzah does not bar the woman from remarrying, but I might be wrong. – DanF Sep 13 '17 at 22:46
  • @DanF it does, not as a capital crime but still mideoraita. – Heshy Sep 14 '17 at 0:27
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    @DanF לא תהיה אשת המת החוצה לאיש זר – Double AA Sep 14 '17 at 3:32
  • @DoubleAA So, she is not allowed to marry anyone else unless chalitza is performed? Until then she is like an agunah? – DanF Sep 14 '17 at 22:39
  • @danf there's a pseudo-marriage connection between her and the brothers (called "Zikah"). It needs to either be consummated or severed, just like a proper marriage. – Double AA Sep 14 '17 at 22:44
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Coercing a levir to perform halitzah [when one side has reason to reject entering into levirate marriage] is discussed in Yeb. 39b (see Tos. s.v. amar & Tos. Ket. 64a s.v. ve'dinei).

In modern day halachic literature this tactic is discussed in multiple rabbinic responsa: R. Chavitah HaCohen (d. 1959, Simchat Cohen EH 57), R. Isaac Herzog (d. 1959, Heichal Yitzchok EH 5 - see footnote re. official mandate of Israel Rabbinic Court enforcing halitzah, however cf. Yabia Omer vol. 6 EH 14), R. Ovadiah Hadayah (d. 1969, Yaskil Avdi vol. 6 EH 123), R. Samuel Wosner (d. 2015, Shevet HaLevi vol. 3 206), R. Shlomo Amar (b. 1948-, Shema Shlomo vol. 4 EH 11).

  • Good references, but for those not motivated enough to dig in, what is the final answer (or controversy)? – Mark Fischler Sep 17 '17 at 16:20

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