A mishna on Yevamot 97b says (Soncino translation):

The sons of a female proselyte who become proselytes together with her neither participate in chalitzah nor contract levirate marriage. Even if the one was not conceived in holiness but was born in holiness, and the other was both conceived and born in holiness. So also where the sons of a bondwoman were emancipated together with her.

The case of children who convert along with their mother seems clear to me; halachically speaking she is not their mother and so they are not brothers to each other, so yibbum doesn't apply. But I'm confused by the part that says that two brothers both born after their mother converted (one was conceived before too, and the other not) are also not obligated in yibbum. I was taught that a child born to a woman who has already converted is fully a Jew (modulo some minor exclusions with, e.g. marrying a kohein); those sons are not bnei Avraham Avinu but, rather, bnei (whoever her Jewish husband is).

The g'mara discusses this on 97 and 98 but I'm having trouble following it. It seems to involve comparison to the bondwoman mentioned at the end of the mishna. What are the mishna and g'mara saying here about children of a giyoret?

1 Answer 1


ArtScroll comments on this situation. Consider the case of two twins, conceived before the conversion but born after the conversion. Thus the case in the mishnah in which one is conceived before the conversion and one afterward is one of maternal but not paternal brothers (as if they were fathered by two different men). This is the same as the case of a shifchah, since her becoming free is the same as a free non-Jewish woman converting.

ArtScroll English page 97b4 note 38.

In this case since they were born "in sanctity," after their mother converted, they are not like newborn babes, and they remain related to their mother and, through her, to each other. However, the conversion does sunder their legal relationship with their biological father, as the Gemara will later derive from Scripture (see note 14 above). Hence they are maternal, but not paternal, brothers, and like all maternal brothers, they are (Biblically) forbidden to marry each other's wives, and the mitzvah of yibum does not apply (see Rashi).

Note 14 quotes the Ritva, points to Rashi on 98a ד"ה לא תימא

Nevertheless, even in this case his relationship with his father is sundered by his conversion (see above, 62a). The Gemara below, 98a, will derive this from Scripture.

Yibum applies only to paternal brothers and not maternal brothers. Thus, if the brothers have the same father but different mothers, yibum will apply.


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