Friday, October 17, 2008

Marriage - Halachic Difficulties for a posek

mekubal's comment to "Problem - Cohen wants to marry Giyorus":
All other possibilities aside, Shadchanim are not Rabbis, let alone Rabbis who are able to deal with such complicated issues.

For instance in the Shulchan Aruch it in Even HaEzer, Siman 6 it lists many disqualifications for those who can marry a Kohen. Also typically, l'chatchila, if a woman is Ossur to marry a Kohen so is her daughter. For instance you will find in that Siman that a woman who had relations with a Goy is ossur to a Kohen, but so is her daughter, even if her daughter has no other disqualifications. You will also find that a convert, and the daughter of a convert are ossur to a Kohen. In all seriousness how many Shaddchainim know all of this, or even think to ask it? How many say to a young girl, "So did your mother have relations with a Goy before she married your father?" Also even if her grand-mother were a valid convert would that help l'chatchila? I am no expert but I know that at least in some circles that would still be a problem.

Really all of this is an issue for a Gadol. I ran into a problem much like this in my own life. I married my wife, whose father was not Jewish. We were both frum, and the local Beit Din did not object. We come to Israel, and it finally comes out in a Yeshiva that I was in, about my wife's parentage, and the Rosh Yeshiva goes through the roof. He winds up fighting with my Rosh Yeshiva in the US. R' Eliashiv and R'Yosef both my psakim that the marriage is Kosher, B'dieved(we trusted the Rabbanim and the Beit Din at the time how were we to know there was a problem), but Kosher. The Rosh Yeshiva of the Israeli Yeshiva rejected their opinions and asked me to leave the Yeshiva. So before you judge people, and their motives, understand that there is an uninformed public out there as well as an uniformed Rabbinate.


  1. I'm confused. Assuming that your mother in law was Jewish since birth, what was the issue?

    The Wolf

  2. Shadchanim should ask questions as they are directed by their Posek.

    If the shadchan does not, then the Kohen or his parents should according to the advice of their Posek.

    It is also customary for potential inlaws to investigate yichus and Rabbinical references before the first date.

  3. I will try to give a detailed explanation of the problem from a Halachic perspective. Please forgive me if this gets wordy.

    The Gemara (Yevamot 45a) presents two approaches regarding the status of a child born to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father. Some believe that the child is Jewish but is a Mamzeir (illegitimate child) due to the fact that the child is produced by an illicit relationship. Others maintain that the child is Jewish (see Pitchei Teshuvah E.H. 4:1) and legitimate.

    Nevertheless, even the latter opinion believes that a daughter from such a union is disqualified from marrying a Kohen. They reason that if a daughter of a Kohen Gadol and a widow is disqualified from marrying a Kohen, Kal VaChomer (how much more so) a daughter of a Jewish woman and non-Jewish man should be ineligible to marry a Kohen. The Kal VaChomer stems from the fact that the prohibition of consorting with a non-Jew is much more severe than that of a Kohen marrying a widow. No dissenting opinion is presented regarding the daughter marrying a Kohen.

    The Gemara (Yevamot 45b) concludes that the Halacha is established that the child of a non-Jewish man and a Jewish woman is legitimate. No mention is made, though, of the daughter's possible ineligibility to marry a Kohen.

    The Rishonim debate how to interpret the silence of the conclusion of the Gemara regarding the daughter's disqualification to marry a Kohen. One approach believes that the Gemara in its conclusion rejects the clause disqualifying the daughter to marry a Kohen, while a second approach argues that the conclusion found it unnecessary to address this issue, since it was not a matter of dispute in the earlier section of the Gemara.

    The Beit Shemuel (4:2) summarizes the opinions as follows: the Rambam (Hilchot Issurei Biah 15:3) permits the daughter to marry a Kohen, the Rosh (Yevamot 4:30) forbids her to marry a Kohen, and the Rif (Yevamot 15a) is uncertain about this matter. The Ramban (Yevamot 45a) is similarly uncertain but adds that if a Kohen marries such a woman, we do not require them to divorce. The Ramban then appends that the son of such a union is a "Safeik Chalal," one whose status as a Kohen is in doubt. For a thorough review and analysis of the opinions of the Rishonim on this issue, see Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg's Teshuvot Seridei Eish (3:8 in the original edition) and Rav Yaakov Breisch's Teshuvot Chelkat Yaakov (3:22 in the original edition).

    The Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 4:5 and 7:17) rules that the daughter may not marry a Kohen, in accordance with the view of the Rosh. However, the two premier commentaries to the Even HaEzer section of the Shulchan Aruch, the Beit Shmuel (7:39) and the Chelkat Mechokeik (7:26), rule in accordance with the Ramban that if the couple is already married, we do not require them to divorce.

    Rav Hershel Schachter (in a Shiur delivered at a convention of the Rabbinical Council of America) related that a certain rabbi once was invited to a marriage of a Kohen to a woman whose mother was Jewish and whose father was non-Jewish. The rabbi suggested that he could attend the meal, since by that time the couple is already married and we do not order them to divorce (as per the Beit Shmuel and Chelkat Mechokeik's view). Rav Schachter, though, cites that Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik forbade the rabbi to attend even the meal portion of the event, since by doing so he would lend legitimacy to a marriage that should not have occurred.

    The Acharonim debate as to whether the strict opinions believe that it is a biblical prohibition or a rabbinic prohibition for a Kohen to marry such a woman. The Mishneh LaMelech (Hilchot Issurei Biah 17:7) and Shaar HaMelech (Hilchot Issurei Biah 15:3) believe that it is a biblical prohibition. On the other hand, the Chelkat Mechokeik (ad. loc.), Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Teshuvot Rabbi Akiva Eiger number 91), the Maharshal (Teshuvot Maharshal number 18), the Beit Meir (4:5), and the Teshuvot Rama MiPano (number 124) rule that the prohibition is rabbinic in nature. Among twentieth-century authorities, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe E.H. 1:5) rules that it is a biblical prohibition, while Rav Weinberg (ad. loc.), Rav Breisch (ad. loc.), and Rav Shalom Mesass (Teshuvot Shemesh UMagein 3 E.H. 55 and 58; Rav Mesass was the highly respected Sephardic chief rabbi of Jerusalem whose rulings are considered authoritative by Moroccan Jews) rule that it is a rabbinic prohibition. The Ben Ish Hai(sorry can't find the source right now) and Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yabia Omer 7 E.H. 9)rule that it is Sofek d'Rabbanan, and that in this lowly generation we should be even more lenient. R' Yosef also quotes R' S.Z. Auerbach as being in agreement with him.

    Most recently R' Shlomo Amar ruled in a case where a local Beit Din refused to allow a couple to marry on this issue, that they should be allowed to marry. Haaretz carried both stories and they can be googled.

  4. Jersey girl,

    You make the assumption that the Rav that you follow will know all of these details.

    Unfortunately that is not always the case. Simply because a Rav is Posek does not me that they know Kol Torah Kulo, rather it typically means that they have a very specific area.

    We went by our respective Rabbanim and Poskim, I even sought the advice of the local Av Beit Din. Whether he was having a bad day or whatever, I cannot say. However, that did not stop us from having major problems. To the point where even the psakim from R' Eliyashiv and R' Yosef, I still will not get an Aliyah in a Yeshiva the follows R' Feinstein, or any of the Da'ati Leumi Rabbanim.

    The real issue at stake here is whether or not Rabbanim who are not expert in these areas of Torah should be able to perform weddings for Kohanim, or give advice for Shaddchanim who are dealing with a Kohen.

    My wife and I are both committed heart and soul to Torah, however to find out an issue like this, in our case 2.5 years into a marriage, with a child in the mix makes things very difficult. Remember there are opinions that we should divorce. For various reasons, mostly that I am both Sephardi and Hareidi, we don't hold by those opinions. However, it still puts me in an awkward place of feeling like I am choosing a Rav to follow out of convenience.

    Both of us would have much rather known this before we began on a serious relationship so that it would not negatively affect us now, or our children. However, we are faced with the simple dilemma that not every Posek is a Gadol HaDor, no matter his lineage or the Yeshivot he studied in.

    P.S. The above post by Jerusalem Kabbalist is also by me, I am not sure why it signed me in as an old and now defunct account.

  5. Dear Mekubal,

    I make an effort to make shidduchim for Kohanim because of the special circumstances that affect kohanim with regard to marriage.

    I have access, with the help of a local Sephardic Rabbi who is a student of Rav Ovadia Yosef to ask shailot of Rav Yosef directly.

    I do agree with you that these issues are very serious and that questions of this nature should always be addressed by a renown Posek/ Gadol Hador.

    "To the point where even the psakim from R' Eliyashiv and R' Yosef, I still will not get an Aliyah in a Yeshiva the follows R' Feinstein, or any of the Da'ati Leumi Rabbanim."

    I do not know of any Sephardic man who can get an aliyah in some synagogues.

    My Sephardic father was denied an aliyah in such a shul on his father's first yahrzeit and was told flat out at the time that it was because he was at best a Safek Jew.

    When my daughter was born, my Sephardic husband walked into the nearest (Ashkenazic) shul (it was Shabbat) to name the baby.

    My husband was denied an aliyah, even after going past the gabbay to the Rav to ask for an aliyah so he could name the baby. There were also several Baalei Batim there who told the Rav that they knew my husband to be an upstanding, observant man.

    You have followed the Psak of Chief Rabbis and you and your wife live an upstanding Torah life!!!

    Kol Hakavod to both of you!!

    Hashem should bless you with a lifetime of Shalom Bayit and many smachot from your children and grandchildren.

  6. Mekubal wrote:
    You will also find that a convert, and the daughter of a convert are ossur to a Kohen. [...]

    I think you have oversimplified matters in respect to the daughter. For a start, it is muttar as far as I recall, but a stringency that Kohanim took upon themselves. We don't ask a Kohain to divorce the daughter of a giyores either.

    Bameh Dvorim Amurim, when this is a case of a daughter of a Ger and Giyores. If one of the parents is a Yisroel, then everyone agrees that it is muttar Lechatchila. This seems to be laid out clearly in the Aruch Hashulchan at the end of the seventh siman in Even HoEzer. (The assumption is that Horoso and Laidoso were Bikdusho)

  7. Jersey Girl said...

    I do not know of any Sephardic man who can get an aliyah in some synagogues.

    Where do you find these shuls?

    I have been davening in Ashkenazic shuls (and yeshivos) for my entire life and have never heard of such a thing as denying aliyos to Sefardim. I don't even understand why anyone would do this.

  8. LazerA,

    I don't know why anyone would do this either.

    My father walked into a Hungarian shtieble on his mother's first yahrzeit (1970) because business kept him away from his usual shul that day.

    After telliing the gabbay that it was his mother's yahrzeit, my father asked for an aliyah and was told, unbelievably, that he could not have an honor because he was a "safek Jew". No questions of yichus were asked. If there had been, a single phone call would have verified that my father is the grandson of a Chief Rabbi.

    My father then asked to speak with the Rav who also denied the aliyah, and the Rav of the shul supported the gabbay's decision to deny the aliyah.

    My husband walked into the nearest Lubavitch shul to name my daughter after she was born on Shabbat and told the gabbay and then the Rav that he was there to name a daughter who was just born.

    My husband was denied an aliyah so he named her in the Sephardic shul.

    When my husband later called and asked why he was denied the aliyah, he was told that it was because Sephardim name their daughters "non Jewish names" and that the name had to be cleared ahead of time.

    You might ask Sephardic men you know who daven in Ashkenazic shuls how long it has been since they have had an aliyah. Most I know will answer "never". If they are entitled to an aliyah, they will go to a Sephardic shul where they can have one.

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