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halitza shoe and symbolism

Rabbi Ari ShvatKislev 27, 5780
65
Question
Thank you. What is the symbolism of the shoe in chalitsa? Are there different minhags for that? Is it the left shoe or right shoe? How is it done, and what is the original and hidden meaning of that? Thank you . Yasher Koach
Answer
The Malbim explains that shoes symbolize one's honor and desire (like in English: "Where he's going"). When the widow takes off her former brother-in-law's shoe from his right foot, she is as if it were, stating that he has no honor and no desire to continue his brother's family and name. There are many intricate details involved in this rare mitzvah, for example, there's a specially designed shoe with straps and laces of which only several exist in the world. The ceremony is clearly meant to see his lack of family loyalty in a negative light.
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