Whom may a Kerus Shafcha Kohen marry?

  1. Question: [Wednesday, 1st Adar, 5783] 

Due to a serious life-threatening illness a male relative of mine have to have their reproductive organs removed. Now, this individual is a Kohen and is looking to get married. Whom are they allowed to marry? On the one hand a Kohen may not marry a divorcee or convert, on the other hand, a person who has a reproductive injury cannot marry a regular Jewess, and may only marry a convert? So what does he do? 



This case is subject to a dispute amongst the Poskim as to whether he still has the status of a Kohen or not, and determining the level of the dispute is dependent on the type of illness that the individual incurred, and its effect on the reproductive organs. Accordingly, I recommend the individual turn to a veteran Posek who is also experienced in the field of medicine as it relates to Halacha. However, based on the general details already received, it would seem that the final ruling would be that the relative would still retain his Kehuna status being that we would consider his state of reproductive injury as “hand of heaven,” as explained below, and hence he cannot marry a convert but may marry a regular Jewish woman. 


Explanation: It is a clear ruling in the Talmud and Poskim that a Kohen cannot marry a divorcee or a convert, and that a person who is Halachically defined as a Kerus Shafcha cannot marry a regular Jewish girl, and is specifically to marry a convert. Now, what is the law regarding a Kohen who is Halachically defined as a Kerus Shafcha? May he or may he not marry a convert? Here too we have a clear ruling in the Talmud and Poskim that a Kohen who is Halachically defined as a Kerus Shafcha may marry a convert, and is prohibited from marrying a regular Jewish girl. Accordingly, whether this Kohen in the above question must marry a convert and cannot marry anyone else, or is specifically prohibited from marrying a convert, is dependent on whether or not he is Halachically defined as a Kerus Shafcha. In general, the term Kerus Shafcha refers to a person with a reproductive injury which does not allow him to have children. However, in detail things are not so simple, as not every individual who cannot have children due to reproductive injury is Halachically defined as a Kerus Shafcha, and this depends on many factors such as a) the reason and cause for his reproductive injury and whether it was man-made, or the hands of heaven, b) how to define a hands of heaven injury versus a manmade injury, c) the area of the injury, and whether it is to an external reproductive organ or an inner one. The practical ruling in this regard is that the person is not considered a Kerus Shafcha if the deformation or injury is in the internal organs or if it is done as a result of danger and is hence considered like from the hands of heaven. According to this, the above Kohen would still retain his Kehuna status and be prohibited from marrying a divorcee or convert. 


Sources: See regarding the marriage limitations relating to a Kohen, such as not marrying a divorcee or a woman defined as a Zonah: Michaber E.H. 6:1; See regarding the marriage limitations of a Kerus Shafcha: Michaber E.H. 5:1; See regarding that a Kerus Shafcha Kohen may marry a divorcee: Michaber E.H. 5:1; Sources regarding the status of Kerus Shifcha if it occurred due to a necessary medical procedure or condition: Michaber E.H. 5:10; Poskim in Encyclopedia Hilchatit Refuit 5 p. 820-823 footnote 310, 320; Tzemach Tzedek E.H. 15; See Many letters of Rebbe printed in Shulchan Menachem 6:15  

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