- Question: [Tuesday, 6th Sivan, 5781]
I have started to work as a Shadchan and have received conflicting information regarding who a Kohen is allowed to marry. It’s very confusing because obviously I only want to set up couples who are halachically allowed to marry each other. I know that a Kohen cannot marry a convert but I have heard some people say that it’s okay for a Kohen to marry the daughter of a convert, or a Jewish girl who was born from a gentile father but from a Jewish mother. Others however told me it’s not allowed. [I asked an anonymous Rabbi, and he told me that it is permitted, but others have told me it’s not]. Please clarify.
It is initially forbidden for a Kohen to marry a woman who was born from a gentile father even if her mother is Jewish. It is likewise initially forbidden for a Kohen to marry a woman who is the daughter of converts, if both her mother and father are converts. [Likewise, it is forbidden for a Kohen to marry a woman if her mother is the daughter of two converts, and her father is a convert, as so long as there isn’t any mixture of pure Jewish lineage from either the mother or father, then the female offspring is forbidden to marry a Kohen for all generations. However, if both her mother and father are the daughter and son of two converts, or if her mother is a convert and her father is the son of two converts, then although the Poskim do not discuss the law in this case, practically it seems to be permitted.] If only one of the parents are converts and the other is Jewish from birth, and was not born from two parents who are converts, then it is permitted for a Kohen to marry her. All the above is only initially forbidden, if, however, the marriage has already taken place, then in all the above cases, they are not required to get divorced. Accordingly, it is obviously forbidden for you to set up a Kohen on a Shidduch with any of the above women, and the fact that there are “rabbis” who tell you otherwise is astounding and inaccurate, and seemingly the result of ignorance in practical Jewish law. [One who is not an expert in a certain field of Halacha should at the very least research the question before answering it, or simply say that they are not knowledgeable in this field, rather than give inaccurate answers from the top of their head which can cause much heartache to a couple who may discover in middle of a Shidduch, and at times even only after meeting the Misader Kiddushin, that according to Halacha they may not get married!]
Explanation-general: While there are certain women in which it is clear according to Torah that it is forbidden for a Kohen to marry, such as a divorcee or convert, the above two cases of a daughter of a gentile father and daughter of two converts, are under Talmudic debate as to whether a Kohen may marry such a woman [in the former case the debate is regarding how to understand the words of the Mishneh and in the latter case there is an actual debate of opinions in the Mishneh]. The following is the background on both of these scenarios:
Explanation regarding a Kohen marrying the daughter of a gentile father: Regarding the former case of marrying the daughter of a gentile father, the Talmud states that we follow the Pagum in a relationship, and based on this it is debated in the Rishonim as to whether a gentile father invalidates his daughter for the Kehuna even if the mother was Jewish, and as to whether it is only initially invalid or even Bedieved that they must get divorced. The practical Halacha in the Shulchan Aruch which is binding on all Jewry is that it is initially forbidden for a Kohen to marry such a woman, and only after the fact, if the marriage somehow already took place [i.e. he discovered that he was a Kohen only after the marriage took place], do we rule that they do not have to get divorced.
Explanation regarding a Kohen marrying the daughter of two converts: Now, regarding the latter case of a Kohen marrying the daughter of two converts, this matter is debated amongst the Tanaim, and although the Talmud concludes like the lenient opinion of Rebbe Yossi which permits such marriages, practically, the Talmud states that the Kohanim from the times of the destruction of the temple accepted and followed the ruling of the stringent opinion which prohibit such marriages. Accordingly, the final ruling in the Shulchan Aruch which is binding on all Jewry is that it is initially forbidden for a Kohen to marry such a woman, and only after the fact if the marriage somehow already took place [i.e. he discovered that he was a Kohen only after the marriage took place] do we rule that they do not have to get divorced.
Explanation regarding the descendants of the daughter of two converts: The Mishneh states, and so is likewise ruled in all the Poskim, under the stringent opinion that even the descendents of 10 generations of the daughter of two converts is prohibited to marry a Kohen until there is a mother from pure Jewish lineage. The wording of the Mishneh and Poskim is quite confusing as it seems to imply that once a child is born from parents who are both converts, then all of her future female descendents are invalid for Kehuna, even if she marries a Jew a pure Jewish lineage. This is preposterous to accept being that the clear ruling in the Mishneh and Poskim is that even if a convert marries a Jew, the daughter may marry a Kohen, and hence certainly the same would apply even more so if the daughter of two converts marries a Jew, that she may marry a Kohen. While the basic Mefarshim on the Mishneh, Talmud, or Shulchan Aruch, do not clarify this most puzzling matter, one must explain the intent to be that if the daughter of two converts herself marries a convert, then the issue continues and their daughter still cannot marry a Kohen, being that there is no pure Jewish lineage in the family line, and this rule applies for all their future generations. However, if the daughter, or a future daughter of the descendants, marries a man who contains pure Jewish lineage in his family line, then the daughter of those parents is permitted to marry a Kohen, and so can be explicitly implied from the Levush, and so conclude Poskim of today. Now, the one question that remains is regarding a woman who both her mother and father are the daughter and son of two converts, or if her mother is a convert and her father is the son of two converts, do we save such a case that since there is no pure Jewish lineage in the family line that therefore the daughter is prohibited to marry a Kohen, or do we say that the generational invalidation of descendents of two converts is only continued maternally and not paternally, and that the son of two converts is considered like an actual Zera Yisrael, whose daughter is allowed to marry a Kohen even if he marries a convert, or the daughter of two converts. Practically, while this matter is unclear from the Poskim who do not discuss it, it seems that such a woman is permitted to marry a Kohen, and so rule some Poskim of today.
Sources: Seder Kiddushin Venissuin [Farkash] p. 63; See regarding marrying the daughter of a mother and father who are converts: Michaber E.H. 7:21; Rambam Issureiy Biyah 19:12; Mishneh Kiddushin 77a [for a debate between Rav Eliezer ben Yaakov versus Rebbe Yossi versus Rebbe Yehuda in the Gemara 78a]; Kiddushin 78a-b; Aruch Hashulchan E.H. 7:39; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Giyores Vol. 6 p. 24; See regarding marrying the descendants of the daughter of a mother and father who are converts: Michaber E.H. 7:21; Rambam Issureiy Biyah 19:12; Mishneh Kiddushin 77a; Levush E.H. 7:21 “Even the descendants are invalid if they were all Geirim”; Pirush Arugas Habosem on Michaber ibid; Avnei Nezer E.H. 16 who rules that the daughter of a man who was born from a gentile father and Jewish mother may marry a Kohen, unlike Ramban who questions this, thus proving that the sons are considered purely Jewish; Shevet Hakehasi 5:229; Chayeh Halevi 1:101; See regarding marrying the daughter of a gentile father but Jewish mother: Michaber E.H. 4:5 and 19 and 7:17; Mishnah Kiddushin 66b; Rishonim brought in Rif Yevamos 45b; Rosh Yevamos ibid 36; Chelkas Mechokeik 4:3; Beis Shmuel 4:2; Chelkas Mechokeik 7:26; Beis Shmuel 7:39; Ramban Yevamos ibid; Nemukei Yosef on opinion of Rif Yevamos ibid; Teshuvos Rama 69 and Binyamin Zev; Rambam Issurei Biyah 15:3; Beis Yosef 4; Birkeiy Yosef 4:14; Mishneh Lemelech 13:8; Rameh Mipuno 124; Rav Akiva Eiger 91; Rashal Yevamos ibid 38