Kiddushin 69 - 75
- An escape hatch for mamzeirim
- The aliya of Ezra and the ten categories of people he took with him
- Eretz Yisrael as the highest land
- What the dubious kohanim were entitled to
- The confrontation between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Nachman
- Marry the wrong woman for money
- The attempts to make Eretz Yisrael as free of status problems as Babylon
- Keeping secrets of family status and name of G-d
- How to check on a kosher mate
- The boundaries of Babylon
- The leaders and their successors
- Which Jews may not intermarry
- Determining status of an abandoned child
- Credibility of a single person in certain situations
- Status of child whose father is not known
- The status of the Kutim
The Thumbless Levites
The return to Eretz Yisrael from Babylonian exile led by Ezra is a major topic of the final perek of our mesechta. The mishna mentions that Levites were among the Jews who made this journey. But in his record Ezra declares that he inspected the people at one point "but found none of the sons of Levi" (Ezra 8:15).
The solution to this mystery, explains Rashi, is based on some passages in Tehillim (137:1-4), which describe a touching scene of Jewish exiles weeping by the rivers of Babylon, where they hung their lyres upon the willows. The Babylonian King Nebuchadentzar had demanded of the Levites gathered there to play for him a song of Zion. "How can we sing a song of G-d in a foreign land?" was their reply. They did not say that they do not wish to play for the king, but rather that they were physically unable to do so. In order to make themselves incapable of playing their lyres they had bitten off their thumbs.
It was these Levites, now ineligible to perform the musical service in the Beit Hamikdash, which would soon be built, who had accompanied Ezra, while those who were eligible decided to remain in Babylon where they were more comfortable and secure. Ezra was referring to Levites eligible for Temple service, while the mishna refers to the thumbless ones.
- Kiddushin 69b
What the Sages Say
"One who marries for money a woman who is not kosher for him will have improper children."
- The Sage Rav - Kiddushin 70a