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Prohibited Marriages

Prohibited Marriages


The following summary of marriages prohibited by Jewish religious law details specifically whom one may and may not marry.

A Man May Not Marry:

1. Anyone not Jewish.

2. The daughter of an adulterous or incestuous union (mamzeret).

3. A married woman, until the civil and Jewish divorces have been completed.

4. His own divorced wife after her remarriage to another man and the latter’s death or divorce.

5. A widow of a childless husband who is survived by a brother, until after the chalitzah ceremony has been performed.

6. A married woman with whom he committed adultery, but now divorced or widowed.

7. A kohen may not marry a divorced woman, a chalutzah-widow, a convert, a zonah, or a chalalah (see Kohen Marriages).

8. Relatives (primary and secondary incest):

(a) His mother, grandmother and ascendants; the mother of his grandfather; his stepmother, the wife of his paternal grandfather, and of his ascendants; and the wife of his maternal grandfather.

(b) His daughter, granddaughter, great granddaughter and her descendants; his daughter-in-law; the wife of his son’s son, and descendants; and the wife of his daughter’s son.

(c) His wife’s daughter or her granddaughter and descendants.

(e) His sister, half-sister, his full or half-brother’s wife (divorced or widowed) except for Levirate marriage with the widow of a childless brother, and the full or half-sister of his divorced wife in her lifetime.

(f) His aunt, and uncle’s wife (divorced or widowed), whether the uncle be a full or half-brother of his father or mother.

A Man May Marry:

1. His step-sister (a step-parent’s daughter from a previous marriage, even though they were raised together as brother and sister from their earliest youth).

2. His stepfather’s wife (divorced or widowed).

3. The daughter-in-law of his brother or his sister (divorced or widowed).

4. His niece. In American and English civil law, a man may not marry a niece who is the daughter of his brother or sister, but may marry a niece who is the daughter of his wife’s brother or sister. The halakhic permission—even encouragement—to marry the daughter of a brother or sister is superseded by the civil law’s prohibition in this case.

5. His cousin.

6. His stepson’s wife (divorced or widowed).

7. His deceased wife’s sister, but not his divorced wife’s sister (unless she is deceased already).

8. A woman with whom he had relations in their unmarried state.

9. A kohen may marry a widow (who was never divorced).

A Woman May Not Marry:

1. Anyone not of the Jewish faith.

2. The son of an adulterous or incestuous union (mamzer).

3. A married man, until the civil and Jewish divorces have been completed.

4. A married man with whom she committed adultery.

5. Her divorced husband, after the death or divorce of her second husband.

6. The following relatives (primary and secondary incest):

(a) Her father, grandfather and ascendants; her stepfather; and the husband of her grandmother and of her ascendants.

(b) Her son, grandson, great grandson; her son-in-law, and the husband of her granddaughter and descendants.

(c) Her husband’s father, or grandfather, and the father of her father-in-law and ascendants; and the father of her mother-in-law.

(d) Her husband’s son or grandson and descendants.

(e) Her brother, half-brother, her full or half-sister’s divorced husband in her sister’s lifetime, and her husband’s brother.

(f) Her nephew.

7. A convert may not marry a kohen.

A Woman May Marry:

1. Her step-brother (a step-parent’s son from a previous marriage, even though they were raised together as brother and sister from their earliest youth).

2. Her step-mother’s former husband (divorced or widowed).

3. The son-in-law of her brother or sister.

4. Her cousin.

5. Her sister’s husband (after her sister’s death, not divorce, unless she is deceased already).

6. Her uncle. In Jewish incest law, an aunt-nephew marriage is prohibited, but an uncle-niece marriage is permitted even though the state prohibits it. A man may marry his deceased wife’s sister, but a woman may not marry her deceased husband’s brother. Even a childless widow, whom the Bible commanded to marry her husband’s brother, must today receive chalitzah, enforced separation.

7. A man with whom she had relations in their unmarried state.

8. A kohen’s daughter does not have the restrictions of a male kohen.

Excerpted from The Jewish Way in Love & Marriage by Rabbi Maurice Lamm. To purchase the book click here.
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Discussion (16)
September 29, 2015
Same Sex Marriage
This article errs in not forbidding same-sex marriage, and marriage to non-humans.
Kind of a shame we have to spell that out explicitly, now.

Also, you can't marry yourself, or somebody who has died.

I wonder if it is permitted to marry someone who has had sex-reassignment surgery, and sincerely regrets it.
July 7, 2015
Although polygamy was allowed in the Torah, adultery is not. Even if a person was to have multiple wives, they were not allowed to live with a woman who was married to another man.
Shaul Wolf
July 2, 2015
"3. A married man, until the civil and Jewish divorces have been completed."

Okay, so how does this square with the article on polygamy being allowed in the Torah. Just wondering.
June 8, 2015
One is permitted to marry their first cousin, whether through their mother or father's sisters or brothers.
Shaul Wolf
June 6, 2015
Can I, a female marry my mother's sisters son? Or my mother's brothers son?
April 25, 2015
Correction ther is an Old law on the state of Manhattan that allows for an Uncle to take a Niece in Marriage.
Yitzchak Micha'el
February 19, 2014
Going back on divorce
Halachically, if a couple separates, decides to divorce and are living apart and the wife moves on and is intimate with another man prior to receiving the Get. What happens if the married couple then decides that they made a mistake and do not want to get divorced.
February 11, 2014
Re: Widower time frame for remarriage
A widower must wait for an entire cycle of Jewish festivals to pass before he remarries. For this purpose only Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot count as festivals. So, for example, if a man's wife passes away just before Sukkot he may remarry immediately after Shavuot that same year.

There are some exceptions to this wait period, and a rabbi should be consulted.
Eliezer Zalmanov
February 10, 2014
Widower time frame for remarriage
How long does a man have to wait to remarry after his wife's death?
August 12, 2013
Re: Remarriage
It's not six times, it is about the third time. but it really depends on what happened to the previous husbands i.e. did they die or did they simply get divorced. However, since there are so many exceptions to this law in most cases it does not really apply. But as always, if this is of practical concern, one should consult with their Rabbi.
Yehuda Shurpin for

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