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Q&A

Does a living brother fulfill his own pru ur'vu during a Yibum marriage?

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If a man is required to father a boy and a girl (according to B"Hillel in Yevamos 61b), but is married to his late brother's wife (the brother died, childless) then do (all) the children who are born of the Levirate marriage belong to the dead brother's "line" and fulfill the dead brother's or do they (some or all?) conclude the living brother's obligation?

As wikipedia puts it, "The offspring of the levirate union would be seen as a perpetuation of the deceased brother's name." The children (according to the same wiki page) might even inherit from the dead brother so they are considered "his" in certain ways. Would the living brother need to divorce this wife and marry another so that he can have children outside the context of his brother's marriage?

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5 comments

Could you edit to clarify why divorce would be necessary before marrying another wife? msh210‭ 4 months ago

@msh210 I don't know if it would (clearly, I'm playing fast and loose, inventing a time period where there is no automatic chalitzah, but expecting that multiple wives are not an option - mostly because I don't know how multiple wives plays into a yibum marriage and inheritance etc). My point simply was that in the hypothetical, he has to have children that are not intertwined with his brother's familial structure. rosends‭ 4 months ago

Once he has fulfilled the brother's child, wouldn't any additional children be his? sabbahillel‭ 4 months ago

@sabbahillel if the children from the former sister in law can inherit from the dead brother's estate, then they ALL (?) belong to the dead brother's "line". If there is a clear cut halacha that says "only the first" or "only the boys" then that's great -- the rest would "belong" to the living brother. Is there a source for that? rosends‭ 4 months ago

@rosends I do not know what the halacha is supposed to be. I had thought that it was all to the first son, but I do not know for sure. sabbahillel‭ 4 months ago

1 answer

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D'varim 25:6 says "the firstborn that she'll give birth to, he will stand on his dead brother's name". There are a few interpretations:

  • Rashi says the eldest brother of the deceased should do yibum (i.e., marry the widow), provided she can give birth, and he then inherits his brother's share in their father's estate. This interpretation is based on the Bavli and is accepted in halacha (Yore Dea 161:4, 163:1).
  • Ramban says this is an assurance [seemingly that the firstborn will in some sense stand in his father's stead]. Rabenu Bachya (ben Asher) seems to say something similar.
  • S'forno indeed says that the firstborn of the new marriage [or maybe he means all its children] will "count for God as the deceased's fulfillment of the command to multiply". But I cannot find this — and certainly not that it doesn't count for the new husband — in Shulchan Aruch, Bes Sh'muel, Chelkas M'chokek, or Aruch Hashulchan 1, 156, or 162–164, or in Minchas Chinuch 1 or 598, so I strongly suspect it's not accepted in halacha, or at least that the children's not counting for the new husband is not accepted in halacha.
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3 comments

regarding the S'forno's statement, is the deceased brother still required (through his living brother) to have a boy and a girl (is a dead person still mechuyav in the mitzvah??) rosends‭ 4 months ago

@rosends, I don't know. msh210‭ 4 months ago

regarding "that the firstborn of the new marriage [or maybe he means all its children]" see here (והר' עובדי'‏ and איברא) robev‭ 4 months ago

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