Hi, I am in my later years and going on a Shidduch with an older man who became a Baal Teshuvah and was previously married to a Gentile woman with whom he had children. His children have since converted to orthodox Judaisim. I am wondering if I would require Yibum or Chalitza if r”l he would pass away before me, or if the fact that he has children would exempt me from Yibum or Chalitza. He does have two older brothers who are both very secular Jews.
A woman requires Yibum or Chalitza if her husband passes away without leaving any children who were born Jewish. Thus, the children that he had with a Gentile woman prior to becoming a Baal Teshuvah, does not exempt you from Yibum or Chalitza even though they have now converted. Nonetheless, there are certain prenuptial agreements that can be made by such a marriage in order to avoid falling to Yibum or Chalitza with the secular brother, and you should contact a Rav for these details if the Shidduch progresses.
Explanation: A child with a Gentile woman is not considered Jewish and hence a woman is not exempted from Yibum or Chalitza as a result of such a child having been fathered by her late husband. [The purpose of the mitzvah of Yibum is to make sure that there is Jewish offspring remaining for the deceased and obviously a Gentile offspring does not fulfill his purpose. Furthermore], even if the Gentile offspring later converts to Judaism, the widow is still obligated to perform Yibum or Chalitza being that Gentile offspring is not considered under the lineage of the Jewish father at all for any purpose and hence it is considered as if this individual has no children.
Sources: See Michaber and Rama E.H. 156:2; Rambam Yibum 1:3-4; Mishneh Yevamos 22a; Kiddushin 69a; Beis Shmuel 156:2; Beis Yosef 156; See Michaber E.H. 1:7 regarding a similar discussion if Gentile children of a convert fulfill the mitzvah of having children, and the final ruling that it does if they converted. However, a convert is different as the children he had prior to conversion are considered his and follow his lineage, and hence he is considered to have fulfilled this mitzvah even after he converts and becomes like a new man. This is in contrast to a Jew who had a child with a Gentile woman in which case the child is never considered under his lineage. To note that the concept of Yibum is not relevant to the widow of a convert who passes away being that he has no legal brothers