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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Day After

Updated: Jul 10, 2022

The Daf Yomi cycle continues. A number of months ago we began a new Seder called NASHIM (women) and the first Masechet in this order is called Yevamot. There are 122 pages in Masechet Yevamot. Entering into the world of Yevamot is entering into a strange world of laws that describe what happens when a man dies childless. There is a mitzvah called Yibum, where the wife of the deceased man can enter into a relationship with the dead husband's brother in order to bring a child to this world who carries on the legacy of the father.

This sad beginning becomes immediately complicated beyond my meager understanding of the many permutations of how this can happen and who can be involved in these complex relationships.

Yibum is the sexual act between a widow and her husband's brother which brings a new child to this world. Chalitza, something that happened perhaps more than Yibum, is a ceremony where the widow of the deceased and the deceased 's brother formally reject each other as partners and allows both of them to continue onward in their lives.

The Chalitza ceremony involves a special Chalitza sandal, spitting and declaring loudly the rejection in a rabbinic court of law. Please see below for an example of a Chalitza ceremony which still occasionally happens.

There was so much more to Masechet Yevamot. There is talk about death, proving death, witnesses to death, relationships, human nature and even miracles. It was not an easy Masechet to listen to but I continue to be inspired by the sheer range of thought that the rabbis consider.

Chalitza and Yibum both originate in the unfortunate death of a man before he has children.

The Chalitza ceremony opens up the possibility that the widow can begin her life again with another partner. This poem is about the Chalitza ceremony, the man who is gone and the woman who will continue on with her life.

My poem was inspired by the following interview on Youtube.

As I do with each of these poems, I invite you to join in with the study of Daf Yomi. Today we begin a new Masechet called Ketubot. Today is a good day to begin your study of Daf Yomi!

With thanks to my teachers, Anne Gordon and Yardaena Osband.

I will put a few links to Daf Yomi below.

Shabbat Shalom

The Day After

The day after chalitza the world carried on,

a new day dawned.

People carried on with their lives.

The day after chalitza the man was still gone.

There was a void in the world;

an empty space where he would be.

The day after chalitza the room was cold.

The chairs remained in place.

The shoe was returned to its box and placed on a shelf in the locked closet.

The memory of a voice echoed.

The day after chalitza the rabbis considered the case.

The day after chaltiza the witnesses returned home.

The after chalitza the brother of the man recalled their childhood together;

their childhood antics.

The day after chalitza

he still felt the imprint of the shoe on his ankle.

She remembered spitting and she trembled.

The day after chalitza the the mothers of bride and groom cried.

The widow kept her tears hidden.

On the day after chalitza there would still never be a child.

No one to carry his name.

The day after chalitza there was no potential.

The day after chalitza there was all potential.

The day after chalitza the man's memory gently faded,

like a cloud passing.

The day after chalitza her voice still echoed in my ears.

The day after the chalitza

she started the rest of her life.

Chalitza Shoe in the Bata Shoe Museum

By Mich. Richey - Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, Public Domain,

Daf Yomi Links:

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