Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, , at sacred-texts.com
This Treatise contains laws relating to the precept of Yeboom, i.e. the obligation of marrying the childless widow of a deceased brother (see Deut. xxv. 5–11), and the ceremony of Chalitzah, or the taking off the shoe by the widow to her brother-in-law, in case he refuses to marry her (Deut. xxv. 9).
In the first place, it must be premised that a surviving brother can marry only one of his brother's widows, and when the deceased brother has left several wives, and many brothers, the obligation of Yeboom is incumbent on one of the brothers, and of the widows only, and when that duty has been observed by them, all the others are released therefrom (Maimonides Hilchoth Yeboom, vol. ii. chap. i. § 9).
Secondly, that when circumstances exist which would render such marriage unlawful; as, for instance, if the parties were related to each other within the degree of consanguinity prohibited by the Holy Law to intermarry, the precept of Yeboom is superseded, and even the ceremony of Chalitzah is unnecessary.
Thirdly, that when the brother-in-law cannot marry the widow on account of near affinity, he may not marry any of the other wives of his deceased brother, who in the technical term of the Mishna are called rivals, צרות (see our first note).
This Treatise contains also many regulations having reference to the marriage laws in general, and is the first of the class or division of the Mishna called נשים, or laws relating to women [i.e. to marriage, divorce, &c.], because Yeboom is not a voluntary action, like marriage, or divorce, as the person on whom that duty devolves can be judicially compelled either to marry his widowed sister-in-law, or to allow her to perform the ceremony of Chalitzah to him.
We have found it indispensable, in order to avoid the almost constant
repetition of tedious circumlocution and periphrase, to retain a few Hebrew terms which recur in almost every section, viz. יבום Yeboom; and חליצה, Chalitzah; which have already been explained; also גט, get, letter of divorce; and כתובה, ketoobah; or marriage contract.