If a man dies without children his brother is expected to marry his widow. He's not required to; he could instead perform chalitzah and then the woman is free to marry somebody else. While his decision is pending, I assume she is not free to marry -- she has to wait for him to either marry her or decline.

Is there a deadline for his decision? I know that she cannot remarry for at least 90 days (this source says 92). Must he decide by then, or can he delay beyond that point?

I am asking about a brother who is of age to marry.


1 Answer 1


Indeed, the woman (the yevama) cannot marry out of the family before either Yibbum or Chalitza (Devarim 25:5, Rambam Negative Command #357).

The brother (the yavam) can in principle take as long as he wants, but doing so is rather rude as it leaves the yevama essentially as an agguna (unable to remarry). As with a spouse who doesn't want to give/receive a Get, there are rules about when Beit Din can force the yavam and yevama to do either Yibbum or Chalitza (see ShA EH 165). Historically this was an big issue in cases where the yavam lived far away (or whose whereabouts were unknown) or no longer practiced Judaism, with various leniencies and loopholes recommended (eg. ShA EH 157:4).

The 90 days thing (it's 90 excluding the day of death and the day of the next marriage, so 92) is a rabbinic prohibition to help verify paternity. It applies to widows, divorcees and converts alike. It has no fundamental bearing on the Yibbum process.

  • Another variant where the yevama is unfortunately unable to remarry: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/53019/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 14:52
  • I recall a story where the only brother was in the Soviet Union (?) and would be unable to come for Chalitza but the husband was dying on Shabbat and they had to come up with a way to write her a Get on Shabbat to get out of the Yibbum issue. Can anyone verify?
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 14:59
  • Aha! Probably was thinking of torahmusings.com/2010/05/shavuos-get
    – Double AA
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 15:48

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