From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Yibbum (pronounced "yee-boom"), or levirate marriage, in Judaism, is one of the most complex types of marriages mandated by Torah law (Template:Bibleverse) by which, according to the law, the brother of a man who died without children has an obligation to marry the widow. However, if either of the parties refuses to go through with the marriage, both are required to go through a ceremony known as halizah, involving a symbolic act of renunciation of their right to perform this marriage. Jewish law (halakha) has seen a gradual decline of yibbum in favor of halizah, to the point where in most contemporary Jewish communities the former is strongly discouraged.
The concept of yibbum is not unique to Judaism. Known as levirate marriage (when the marriage is to the deceased's brother) or widow inheritance (when it is to any surviving male relative), it has been practiced by other societies with a strong clan structure. It is or was known in societies including the Punjabis, Jats, Huns (Chinese "Xiongnu", "Hsiong-nu", etc.), Mongols, and Tibetans.
- Halizah, Jewish law
- Yevamot, the tractate in the Talmud devoted to the subject of yibbum
- Widow inheritance, for a discussion of similar practices in other cultures