May a Kohen marry a Jewish girl who was born from a gentile father but Jewish mother?

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May a Kohen marry a girl who has a gentile father but Jewish mother?[1]

A girl who was born from a gentile father and Jewish mother is considered Pagum/blemished for the Kehuna.[2] This applies whether the mother was married or single at the time she conceived from the gentile father.[3] It is thus forbidden for a Kohen to marry such a girl. [It is a Mitzvah to publicize this matter to Kohanim who are in search of a Shidduch, and it is imperative upon Shadchanim, or anyone who desires to arrange a match for a Kohen, to be aware of this matter and verify that both of the girls’ parents are Jewish prior to any match being arranged.]

Bedieved and time of need:[4] If a Kohen transgressed and married a Jewish woman who was born from a gentile father, he is not required to get divorced.[5] [Likewise, in certain circumstances of questionable Kehuna status, or an already long term relationship between the Kohen and the woman, some are lenient to allow a Kohen to marry a Jewish woman who was born from a gentile father.[6] Such cases fall under the jurisdiction of a Beis Din to meet qualification and their standard form of ruling, and thus, in all cases of doubt one is to turn to a Beis Din to review the case and abide by their decision.]


[1] Michaber E.H. 4:5 and 19 and 7:17; Mishnah Kiddushin 66b; Rishonim brought in Rif Yevamos 45b; Rosh Yevamos ibid 36; Ramban holds child is Safek Challal; Chelkas Mechokeik 4:3; Beis Shmuel 4:2; See Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Chalal Vol. 16

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is even initially permitted for a Kohen to marry a woman with a gentile father. [Nemukei Yosef on opinion of Rif Yevamos ibid; Teshuvos Rama 69 and Binyamin Zev on opinion of Rif; Implication of Rambam Issurei Biyah 15:3, brought in Beis Yosef, Beis Shmuel and Chelkas Mechokeik ibid and Birkeiy Yosef 4:14, however Mishneh Lemelech 13:8 learns the prohibition applies even according to the Rambam]

[2] The reason: This is learned from an Almana, as if an Almana’s child with a Kohen Gadol is invalid for Kehuna then certainly a gentile’s child with a Jewess is invalid for Kehuna. [Rif ibid]

Biblical or Rabbinical: Some Poskim rule the above prohibition is only Rabbinical. [Rameh Mipuno 124; Rav Akiva Eiger 91; Rashal Yevamos ibid 38]

Conversion: Some Poskim rule that the daughter of a gentile father and Jewess requires conversion. [Yearos Dvash Derush 17, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah E.H. 4:1; Avnei Nezer 16 on Tosafus Yevamos 16b; See Rashi Emor 24:10] Practically we do not rule this way. [Avnei Nezer 16; Yeshuos Yaakov 4:8; Beis Yitzchak 26; Achiezer 21; Chazon Ish 6:7]

[3] Michaber ibid

[4] Chelkas Mechokeik 4:3; 7:26; Beis Shmuel 4:2; 7:39; Ramban in Sefer Hazakus and Chidushim on Yevamos 45a, brought in Chelkas Mechokeik 4:3 and Maggid Mishneh Issureiy Biyah 15:3; Rashi 18; Rif; Shut Rashal 17; Yam Shel Shlomo Yevamos 4:38; See Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Chalal Vol. 16

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the girl is a Safek Chalal, and hence it is forbidden to remain married and they must divorce. [Rosh ibid; Beir Hagoleh on 4:5; Implication of Michaber ibid, as brought in Birkeiy Yosef 4:19; See Rashal Yevamos ibid 38]

[5] The reason: As such a girl is not deemed a Chalal, but merely a Pagum. Likewise, there are Poskim that are completely lenient even initially. [Poskim ibid]

[6] Such leniencies have been awarded by certain Rabbanim and Batei Dinim in a case that the Kohen does not have strong testimony of his Kehuna, or if the couple are already living with each other for many years, or have already been married in a secular court. Other Rabbanim and Batei Dinim however contest against these leniencies. See a case of allowance brought in Yabia Omer 9:7; Shema Shlomo 5:8 and Habracha 4:25 by Rav Amar; Rav Mashash in Shemesh Umagen 3:54; See cases of prohibition in Igros Moshe E.H. 1:5; Haifa Beis Din  

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