For the week ending 15 November 2014 / 22 Heshvan 5775

Yevamot 44 - 50

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Become a Supporter Library Library

  • 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

© 1995-2024 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to TalmuDigest

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.