Shabbat Parashat Vayeitzei | 5767
Vayeitzei | | 17/02/2007
In Yaakov’s dream, with which our parasha begins, a ladder extended from the ground to the sky upon which angels were ascending and descending. The angels were agents of Hashem, Who is also referred to as the Makom, literally, the place. How can people, whose legs are on the ground but do not reach the heavens, become agents of the Makom? How will the members of our nation reach the place of Beit El, where Yaakov saw that lofty dream?
My car slipped off the road and starting rolling down a hill in a wooded area and was stopped by a tree after two tumbles. I was belted in and, baruch Hashem, escaped with only mild bruises. I said Hagomel (blessing after surviving a potentially life-threatening situation). Should I be making the beracha for experiencing a ness (miracle) when I pass the place of the accident?
In our situation, where the Chief Rabbinate’s regulation and Israeli law rule out yibum, a brother cannot claim that he wants to do yibum. This is no worse than a case where yibum is prevented by fear of non-Jewish authorities. There is thus no alternative but chalitza. If the brother then refuses to do chalitza, he can be even physically coerced to perform it, even according to the Rif and Rambam who generally prefer yibum to chalitza. As the Rosh says, mitzvot are not given so that we should receive worldly benefit from them, so he cannot demand monetary compensation.
A weekly divrei Torah leaflet: A Glimpse at the Parasha, Ask the Rabbi, From the writings of Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, zt”l, Pninat Mishpat (Jewish Monetary Law).