His Sister in Law Shall Slip His Sandal from His Foot and Spit in His Face
“Should brothers dwell together and one of them die and have no son…her brother-in-law shall come to bed with her and take her to him as wife (Deuteronomy 25:5). This decree is to marry one’s brother’s widow, since a brother’s widow is the ד (dalet) in אֶחָד (eḥad), one, and together with אָח (aḥ), brother, of [the word] אֶחָד (eḥad) it is one. And if, perish the thought, he does not with a [whole] heart wish to bring his אָח (aḥ), brother, to ד (dalet), being the wife and mate of his [deceased] brother [but focuses on his own pleasure] he creates a separation and brings Samael, another god, in between. It says of him, he would waste his seed on the ground (Genesis 38:9). [Consequently] the tip vanishes from the letter ד (dalet), of אֶחָד (eḥad) [becoming] ר (resh); [thus] אֶחָד (eḥad), one, [becomes] אַחֵר (aḥer), other [cf. BT Sotah 20a]. This is why when he would come to bed with his brother’s wife he would waste his seed on the ground so to give no seed to his brother (ibid.). Spilling seed in vain withholds many blessings from one, and [causes] separation. This is why, Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the eyes of YHWH, and YHWH put him to death (ibid. 7).
Uniting the אָח (aḥ), brother, with ד (dalet) is done by means of the righteous, like בֹּעַז (Boaz), Boaz, who over came his impulse—בּוֹ עוֹז (bo oz), strength in him, namely, he has a strong impulse… And thus it was in former times in Israel concerning redemption and concerning exchange to fulfill every condition: a man would remove his sandal and give it to his fellow man (Ruth 4:7)…
[And the elders of his town shall call to and speak to him, and if he stands and says, ‘I do not want to wed her,’] his sister in law shall approach before the eyes of the elders and slip his sandal from his foot and spit in his face and speak out and say, ‘So shall be done to the man who will not build his brothers house’ (Deuteronomy 25:8-9). It is a decree to perform חֲלִיצָה (ḥalitsah), Loosening, of the spirit from that body to which [the dead man’s soul] must join as a brother; he releases him from the brother’s bond [and the widow requires him no longer].
That spirit goes away and wanders until it is redeemed. This is what is meant by: Or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him or any of his own close kin from his clan may redeem him (Leviticus 25:49). However, if his hand [does not] attain the means [to be] redeemed (ibid.), he is like a guest going from place to place or like a slave walking with a chain around his neck until he achieves redemption from his Master from his iniquities. Woe to him who did not leave a son who will redeem him” (Zohar 3:281a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse, cf. ZḤ 38d).
“And there is a further secret, he will later come back in a גִלְגּוּלָא, (gilggula), [life] cycle, and be renewed as formerly, as is written: [And should a priest’s daughter] become a widow or divorced (Leviticus 22:13), as [his soul] being driven out of the Garden of Eden. Hence she is called גְרוּשָׁה (gerushah), divorcee, as in: וַיְגָרֶשׁ (va-yegaresh), and he drove out, the human (Genesis 3:24). And what is the reason for this? It is because she [the soul] having no seed [has] come back to her father’s house as in her youth (ibid.), that is, returns to this world, to the son of the Levirate Marriage… And after she has been privileged to have offspring, of her father’s bread she may eat, but no outsider shall eat of it (ibid.). [This is what is written:] the wife of the dead man shall not become wife outside to a stranger (Deuteronomy 25:5)” (Zohar 3:244b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).
“Rabbi Shesheth stated in the name of Rabbi El’eazar who stated it in the name of Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah: From where is it proved that a sister-in-law, who falls to the lot of one afflicted with boils, is not muzzled? You shall not muzzle an ox when it threshes (Deuteronomy 25:4)” (BT Yevamot 4a).