I’m a big fan of Hallmark movies. Yesterday, I turned on a recorded Christmas movie and it helped me get through 2 hours of ironing. Early in the week, I watched a movie while I pulled turkey off of the carcass to freeze. I will turn one on when I do my Christmas cards and wrap gifts.
Last spring, I watched one called, “Loving Leah,” based on a “Levirate marriage.” In the ceremony, the brother was given a sandal to put on. He had to repeat that he was not willing to marry his brother’s wife and he would deny his brother ever existed. He loved his brother and wanted his memory honored, and since he was single, he married his sister-in-law.
Deuteronomy 25:6, “The first son she bears to him will be considered the son of the dead brother so that his name will not be forgotten in Israel.” New Living Translation
I didn’t want to use a movie as my source of information. I found “Halitzah: The Ceremonial Release from Levirate Marriage” at myjewishlearning.com.
“. . . the purpose of halitzah was to put the levir [brother-in-law] publicly to shame for refusing to do his duty of marrying his brother’s widow. The widow is considered bound to the levir in that she cannot marry anyone else until she has been released by halitzah.” myjewishlearing.com
I didn’t find the actual ceremony but I learned:
- The ideal is for the levir to marry the widow, “nowadays” he should not be allowed to do so but must release her through halitzah.
- The levir must be motivated solely by his wish to carry out his religious obligation.
- Obviously, once the ban on polygamy had been established, halitzah was the only option in any event where the levir already had a wife.
- . . . the word befanav has to be translated not as “in his face” but “to his face,” and the widow simply spits on the floor in front of the levir.
The brother-in-law received his brother’s inheritance and only the first child was called his brother’s son. Boaz and Ruth had a Levirate marriage.
Dear Father God,
In the Bible, a woman needed a son to care for her in her old age. You made a way for every woman to have a son, even if her husband died. Jesus frequently talked to women, even though society viewed them as property. Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah to the woman at the well and he appeared to Mary Magdalene first after his resurrection. You love women and do not see us as second-hand citizens. You want what is best for us. May I ever be a godly woman.
In Jesus Name,
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