1) CHALITZAH FOR A SOTAH
QUESTIONS: The Mishnah (2a) teaches that a Safek Sotah whose childless husband dies before he divorces her must perform Chalitzah but not Yibum. The Gemara (5b) gives four different reasons for why she does not perform Yibum. The Gemara's first explanation is that the verse, "v'Hayesah l'Ish Acher" (Devarim 24:2), teaches "l'Acher v'Lo l'Yavam" -- she shall marry another man ("Acher") and not the Yavam to whom she normally would be bound to marry.
Why does the Gemara assume in the first place that a Safek Sotah should be able to perform Yibum? The Gemara in Yevamos (11a) cites the teaching of Rav who says that a Vadai Sotah does not do Yibum or Chalitzah, but rather she is treated like an Ervah because the verse refers to her status as "Tum'ah" (Devarim 24:4), implying that she is treated like an Ervah who does not do Yibum or Chalitzah. Why does the Gemara here suggest that the Sotah should do Yibum? Since there is a possibility that she is a Vadai Sotah who cannot do Yibum, out of doubt she certainly should be required to do Chalitzah and not Yibum, as the Mishnah says! (TOSFOS to Yevamos 11a)
Furthermore, the Gemara derives from the verse, "v'Hayesah l'Ish Acher," that a Safek Sotah does not do Yibum. Abaye asks that if she is exempt from Yibum, she should be exempt from Chalitzah as well. Rav Yosef answers that just as she needs a Get from her husband when her husband is alive, she needs a release of Chalitzah from the Yavam when her husband is dead. The verse, in contrast, refers only to a Vadai Sotah and not to a Safek Sotah, as the Gemara says in Yevamos (11b). A Vadai Sotah indeed does not need Chalitzah. What, then, is Abaye's question, and what is Rav Yosef's reply (that she needs Chalitzah from the Yavam just as she would have needed a Get from her husband)? The Gemara in Yevamos clearly states that a Vadai Sotah does not need Chalitzah despite the fact that she would have needed a Get from her husband had he been alive! (TOSFOS)
ANSWERS: There are two basic approaches in the Rishonim to these questions. Some Rishonim attempt to reconcile the Sugya in Sotah here with the Sotah in Yevamos, while others assume that the two Sugyos disagree.
(a) The ROSH (Yevamos 1:4) writes that the Sugya here and the Sugya in Yevamos are in agreement. The Gemara here initially assumes that a Safek Sotah is not prevented from doing Yibum even though a Vadai Sotah may not do Yibum because there is no basis to be stringent with a Safek Sotah and suspect that she actually committed adultery. (She has a Chezkas Heter l'Yibum and a Chezkas Kashrus that she is not a Zonah. See Kidushin 80a: "We do not prohibit a woman just because she isolated herself with another man.") The only reason why a Safek Sotah is prohibited from living with her husband, from marrying the suspected adulterer, and from eating Terumah is the Gezeiras ha'Kasuv which states, "v'Nisterah v'Hi Nitma'ah" (Bamidbar 5:13).
That verse, however, applies only to the Isur against living with her husband and with the adulterer; it does not teach that she is forbidden to the Yavam. Although the Isur which prohibits a Vadai Sotah to the Yavam is learned from the fact that the Torah refers to her as being in a state of "Tum'ah" -- "Acharei Asher Hutama'ah" (Devarim 24:4) -- which implies that she must be treated like an Ervah with regard to Yibum, nevertheless the fact that the Torah prohibits the Safek Sotah with a similar phrase -- "v'Hi Nitma'ah" (Bamidbar 5:13) -- does not prove that she, too, is like an Ervah with regard to Yibum. The difference between the two types of "Tum'ah" is that the Tum'ah of a Vadai Sotah is written as an Isur Lo Ta'aseh, while the Tum'ah of a Safek Sotah is written as a Mitzvas Aseh. Only Tum'ah written in the context of a Lo Ta'aseh can teach that the woman is like an Ervah and is ineligible for Yibum. Accordingly, the Safek Sotah remains permitted to the Yavam, and thus the Gemara asks why indeed does she not do Yibum. (See also CHIDUSHEI RABEINU CHAIM HA'LEVI, Hilchos Yibum ch. 6, for a similar explanation.)
However, the second question remains. The Gemara here implies that even a Vadai Sotah needs to perform Chalitzah in order to be released from her bond to the Yavam. The Rosh apparently follows the view of Tosfos here who explains that the reason why the Gemara cites the verse of Vadai Sotah is that the verse is extra; it is not necessary to teach that a Sotah does not do Yibum, because that is already derived from the verse, "Acharei Asher Hutama'ah" (Devarim 24:4), which teaches that she is considered like an Ervah. Rather, the verse must refer to a Safek Sotah.
The reason why a Vadai Sotah does not need Chalitzah -- even though her husband would have to give her a Get if he was alive -- is that when the Torah excludes a woman from the category of Yibum, it considers her an ordinary "Eshes Ach" who is prohibited to her husband's brother ("Eshes Ach she'Lo b'Makom Mitzvah"), and thus it is obvious that she needs neither Yibum nor Chalitzah. A Safek Sotah, in contrast, is not entirely removed from the Parshah of Yibum. Rather, the verse which teaches the rule of "l'Ish Acher v'Lo l'Yavam" means that she must leave her Yavam for the same reason she must leave her husband. It is an extension of the Isur to her husband, and it is not because of her Tum'ah! (As RABEINU CHAIM HA'LEVI writes, the verse "l'Ish Acher" simply discloses to us that "v'Nisterah v'Hi Nitma'ah" incorporates an Isur to the Yavam as well as the Isur to the husband.) This is why a Safek Sotah needs Chalitzah.
(b) Other Rishonim assume that the Sugya here disagrees with the Sugya in Yevamos. They explain that the Sugya here does not accept the Derashah of Rav in Yevamos that the Tum'ah of a Sotah is comparable to the Tum'ah of Arayos. The Sugya here maintains that the Tum'ah of a Sotah does not give her the status of an Ervah to exempt her from Yibum.
The RA'AVAD, cited by the Rosh in Yevamos, explains that according to the Sugya here, even a Vadai Sotah indeed must do Chalitzah, in contrast to the view of the Sugya in Yevamos. According to the Ra'avad, who writes that the Gemara here does not compare the Tum'ah of Sotah to the Tum'ah of Ervah, the second question is easily answered. The Sugya here maintains that a Vadai Sotah performs Chalitzah, and it cites the verse of Vadai Sotah because it is also discussing a Vadai Sotah and not only a Safek Sotah; the Gemara here is looking for a source that not only a Safek Sotah does not do Yibum, but that a Vadai Sotah also does not do Yibum.
How does the Sugya in Yevamos respond to the logic of the Gemara here that the Yavam must do Chalitzah with the Sotah whenever the husband would have had to give her a Get? Why does Rav there say that she does not need even Chalitzah? Must the Ra'avad resort to the answer of Tosfos?
The RE'AH (cited by the RITVA) and the ME'IRI in Yevamos write that the Sugya in Yevamos which says that a Vadai Sotah is exempt from Yibum agrees that a Vadai Sotah must do Chalitzah, based on the logic of the Gemara here.
Another approach is that of the RAMBAN and RASHBA in Yevamos. They write that the Sugya in Yevamos exempts the Vadai Sotah from Chalitzah because of an extra verse. Besides the verse that calls her "Tamei" like an Ervah, there is another verse of "l'Ish Acher" (the verse cited by the Sugya here). This extra verse teaches that a Vadai Sotah does not do Chalitzah.
RASHI here seems to suggest a different answer to why the Gemara in Yevamos is not bothered by the logic of the Gemara here (that whenever the husband would have had to give her a Get had he been alive, the Yavam must do Chalitzah with her). The Gemara is not proposing that in all situations in which the husband would have had to give a Get, the Yavam needs to do Chalitzah. Rather, the Gemara is asking a specific question on the teaching derived from the verse, "l'Ish Acher." The Derashah is based on the assumption that when the verse says that she marries an "Ish Acher" ("another man"), it does not refer merely to a Sotah whose husband divorced her, but it refers even to a Sotah whose husband died before he divorced her. The Gemara challenges this comparison by pointing out that if the Torah says specifically that the husband must divorce her, why should we assume that the Yavam does not need to do Chalitzah? The verse implies that some act is required in order to send her away, and therefore it is not proper to infer from the verse that the Yavam does not need to do Chalitzah. However, when the Gemara later derives from other sources that a Sotah does not perform Yibum, this logic does not apply; that is, the comparison between the husband and the Yavam (when the husband needs to give her a Get, the Yavam needs to do Chalitzah) does not apply. Rav Yosef maintains that the Sotah does not do Yibum because the Torah implies that it is not proper for a person to marry a Sotah; the Torah would not obligate the Yavam to marry her if it is not a proper thing to do. According to that logic, the inference that Yibum is not done does not come from a simple comparison between the woman whose husband divorced her and the woman whose husband died; rather, it comes from the verse which teaches that it is not proper to marry such a woman! Hence, the Torah's exemption from Yibum in this case (because it is not proper to marry a Sotah) implies that the Torah does not require Chalitzah either. Since the Torah does not give the option of Yibum here altogether, the woman is completely exempt from the Parshah of Yibum (including Chalitzah). This is why Rashi (beginning of 6a) writes that according to the second source for why the Sotah does not do Yibum (that it is not proper to marry such a woman), the Sotah is like an "Eshes Ach she'Lo b'Makom Mitzvah" which implies that she does not have an obligation of Chalitzah either. According to this reasoning, the Gemara concludes like Rav in Yevamos, that a Vadai Sotah has no obligation of Yibum or Chalitzah.