Nachum Tuchman <nachum@...>
Several years ago, there was discussion on the fact that many men
married a sister-in-law as a second wife. I'm sure that a search
of the archives will bring up the relevant posts.
I remember that the weekly portion of the Torah reading at the time had
the curses that would befall the Children of Israel if they did not
follow the commandments. An explanation to the curse that children
would be brought up by someone not their mother was explained by Rabbi
Baruch Epstein in his book 'Torah Temima' (first published in 1907) to
mean that the mother would die, and the step-mother would be cruel to
her husband's children >from his first wife. As a way around this curse,
if there was an unmarried sister, she would be 'shadchened' (married)
off to her late sister's husband. The thought was that an aunt would be
more compassionate with her nieces and nephews as they were, in any
event, her blood relatives.
This doesn't give a reason for the need to remarry, but sheds light on
the practice of marrying a sister-in-law as a second wife,
when possible. And, Rabbi Baruch lived during the time period when this
was indeed the practice.