TalmuDigest

For the week ending 16 June 2007 / 30 Sivan 5767

Yevamot 44 - 50

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

  • With how many women is one advised to make yibum and when is he encouraged to make chalitzah
  • Status of the child born from marriage with certain forbidden women such as his divorcee who had an interim marriage
  • Status of a child whose mother is Jewish and father is not and that of the mother
  • When the father is half slave, half free
  • The challenge involved in buying a slave from a non-Jew
  • The three rulings of Rabbi Yochanan regarding the sinners of Gavla
  • The need for both circumcision, mikveh immersion and a rabbinical court in order to achieve proper conversion
  • If a person is believed when he claims he had a proper conversion and how this affects his children
  • Discouraging the conversion candidate and what he is taught if he persists
  • What we learn from the dialogue of Naomi and Ruth
  • The immersion process of a convert and of a freed slave
  • The yifat to’ar woman taken captive for purpose of marriage
  • The slave who is not circumcised either because he refuses or because his owner bought him on that condition
  • Who is a mamzer
  • The mysterious record found by the Sage Shimon ben Azai
  • The trial and execution of the Prophet Yeshayahu by King Menashe
  • When one act of acquiring a yivamah or releasing her is followed by another act performed by the same yavam or his brother

The Kohen and the Victim of Intermarriage

  • Yevamot 45a

One of the problems facing a kohen in this generation of widespread intermarriage is finding a woman whom he is permitted to marry. Even if the young lady was chaste enough to have avoided premarital relations with a non-Jew she may be disqualified for marriage to a kohen if her father was not a Jew.

Although there is no doubt about her status as a Jewess because her mother is Jewish there is a serious question as to whether a kohen may marry her.

The source of the problem is a kal vechomer — a method of halachic interpretation deducing the status of something of a more serious nature not explicitly stated in the Torah from something explicit and of a less serious nature. In this case the less serious subject is the widow who is forbidden to a kohen gadol. This is a prohibition limited to a kohen gadol alone, and yet the child of such a union is disqualified from marrying a kohen. How much more so must we infer that the daughter of a union between a Jewish woman with a non-Jew, a prohibition common to all Jews, should be disqualified from marrying a kohen!

Whether this is actually the conclusion of our gemara is a matter of dispute. While Rav Alfas and Rambam maintain that there is no definitive conclusion and leave the matter in doubt, the Rosh unequivocally rules that a kohen may not marry the daughter of a non-Jewish father.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even Ha'ezer 4:5) rules that such a woman is forbidden to a kohen. The commentaries point out, however, that because of the dissenting opinions such a forbidden marriage must not be terminated.

What the Sages Say

"When the Torah states 'Who is like the L-rd our G-d whenever we call to Him' (Devarim 4:7), it is referring to the repentance and prayer of the many, while the limiting time-frame of the Prophet Yishayahu (54:6) 'to seek G-d when He makes Himself available to you' refers to the individual who has the special opportunity during the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur."

  • Rabbi Nachman in the name of the Sage Rabbah bar Avuha -Yevamot 49b

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