Re: Second marriage with the sister of the deceased wife #general


To add my own two cents to this discussion: My grandfather was married
twice. His first wife died in childbirth with their first child. At the
time, my grandfather was serving in the Russian army. When he returned
from service several years later, he found his sister-in-law caring for his
son. The family story is that she was so attached to the child that she
insisted that he marry her - and he did. My uncle (really half-uncle - or
is it really 3/4 uncle?) always referred to his aunt as his mother.

The above is not the explanation I initially heard. My mother's
explanation of my grandfather's marriages brought in her understanding of
Jewish law - a man needing to marry his deceased wife's sister. No such
law exists. This is a warning to be wary of Jewish law explanations for
people's actions when the source of the legal explanation is someone with
little background in such matters. Jewish law does explain an unmarried
brother marrying his deceased brother's widow _if_ the deceased brother
died without issue. Even under these circumstances a ritual existed
(exists) to allow such obligated parties to avoid marriage. This is as
much as ought to be explained on this discussion list; I mention it only
because I had been led astray somewhat in my own genealogical research by
an inaccurate explanation.

Richard Sapon-White

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