Sunday, October 12, 2008

Problem - Cohen wants to marry Giyorus

I recently received the following email - what would you advise the young lady?


MSR wrote
bs"d

Rabbi Eidensohn,

I saw your profile on "blogger.com" and I saw an article you wrote about this non-Jewish lady converting so she could marry a cohen.

I'm going through some issues as well, and I wonder if you could enlighten me a little bit. I don't mean to take your precious time, I know you must be a very busy person, but I would really appreciate it if you take some time.

Thank you very much,

I responded:
I will be try to answer you to the best of my ability. Since your concerns are of interest to those who read my blog, I will post your letter - without any identifying information - so that others can contribute and gain. It would be helpful if you clarify precisely what issues are you going through. Please let me know a little about your background so I can adjust my comments to be more relevant for you.

MSR responded:
Thank you very much, Rabbi Eidensohn. And I do wish to remain anonymous. My family and I converted a long time ago, when I was 8 years old. We never say we converted, since my mothers mother converted as well (but she had a convervative convertion) so when my parents decided to become more frum they told us we had to convert again.

Two years ago I met this boy and we saw that we both were suitable for marriage, we went out for two months and only after I found out he was a Cohen. Obviously I was emotionally attached to that person.

Now, we've been trying to break up, not talk, even change our phone numbers, but still we can't stop seeing/talking/and wanting to get married. He told me that if he doesn't marry he's not going to marry anybody, and he has proved me that by rejecting several Shidduchim. We both are so desperate, we both also come from very religious families so we're afraid of the impact.

What can we do?

18 comments :

  1. Oh, oh, I've seen this one before. First of all:

    > He told me that if he doesn't marry he's not going to marry anybody,

    Don't believe it for a second. He may be heartsick now but there's something on the Y chromosome, we call it the "move on" gene, that will eventually kick in.

    Now for the serious thoughts:

    1) If the mother's mother converted 2 generations ago, it may not be so simple to dismiss it because it was Conservative. Two generations ago many Conservative rabbis were actually frum guys looking for good work and decent pay. Also, there were still many very traditional guys in Conservatism back then, some of whom might have been recognized by Orthodox batei din.
    So I would suggest checking to see if the person who did the conversion actually did get it right.

    If not, I know a rav who figured out a way to remove the "kehuna" from a cohen who wanted to marry a giyores so there is a potential way around this although it'll cost in terms of future getting aliyos in shul potential.

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  2. Obviously, asking on a blog is not the right way to go about it.

    My guess is that a rabbi fielding the question would need to see if he thinks it possible to disuade the couple.

    If not, a pilegesh situation (under a civil union) is less problematic than a full qiddushin to a kohein.

    Even if that proves a battle the rabbi can't win, he might decide that a woman who accepts the fact that their marriage is a violation of halakhah because of their love could still be a valid convert. There is much prcedent in shu"t for not considering premeditated personal weakness a flaw in accepting ol mitzvos.
    But because it's a case of choosing least of evils, it really can't be handled on a theoretical plane. This is a textbook halakhah ve'ein morin kein.

    -micha

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  3. It's fairly obvious that these people need to consult with a highly qualified rav.

    Garnel Ironheart said...

    If the mother's mother converted 2 generations ago, it may not be so simple to dismiss it because it was Conservative. ... I would suggest checking to see if the person who did the conversion actually did get it right.

    This is a potentially valid argument. (I wouldn't want to rely on it exclusively but a competent posek might be able to use it, in combination with other factors, to establish a heter.)

    I am aware of a conversion done in the sixties that was first done by a "frum" Conservative rabbi and then, later, by a very prestigious (world-famous) Orthodox rav. The rav did not allow the recitation of a brocha on the hatafas dam bris because of a safek on the original milah.

    I know a rav who figured out a way to remove the "kehuna" from a cohen who wanted to marry a giyores....

    !!!!!!!?

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  4. There are two parts to your questions. 1)halacha 2)psychology

    Regarding the halacha - it is a Torah prohibition for a cohen to marry a convert.Shulchan Aruch E.H.(8:3),based on Yevamos(61b & 85a)

    The issues needed to be clarified by a gadol [not just your average rabbi] 1) if your grandmother was converted prior to the birth of your mother - is there any possibility that the conversion is acceptable? 2) Is it possible that the young man is not a valid cohen?

    However from what you write there seems to be an additional problem besides the question of the halachic permissibility.

    You seem to be a mismatched couple on the psychological and religious level which does not bode well for a successful marriage anyway. It would appear that 1) the young man is not as religious as you are since this issue seems to bother you more than it does him 2) He is manipulating your emotions which hints at the possibility that he will be a controlling or abusive husband.

    I think that you are better off looking forward to a marriage which doesn't have these problems and be grateful that the halacha is preventing you from what would appear to be a seriously unhealthy marriage.

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  5. Sincere converts hold by halacha and do not try to circumvent it.

    A sincere convert who discovers she is involved with a Cohen breaks it off IMMEDIATELY and without question.

    A convert who tries to wiggle her way around the halacha to get the forbidden permitted to her is NOT a sincere convert.

    She herself stood in front of a Beis Din who ruled that her grandmother's conversion was not valid and that she would have to convert. She herself pledged to live according to Jewish law.

    She was told that she is forbidden to a Kohen.

    She is obligated to tell any shadchanim or potential shidduchim that she is a convert. It is a material fact to her fitness as a Jewish wife and mother.

    She should also verify (this can be done in the US) with the Chief Rabbinate that her conversion is acceptable in Israel. A convert whose conversion is not accepted in Israel, is not a convert. Her children will not be considered Jewish in Israel.

    Most of the Orthodox Rabbis I know will not perform marriages for converts who have not had their conversions accepted or verified by the RCA's Geirus Protocals System on behalf of the Israeli Rabbinute.


    Since this young woman's conversion was done permit an intermarriage, it is doubtful she would be able to register a marriage to a Jew in Israel.

    Therefore her children would be considered non Jews according to the Israeli Rabbinate.

    Certainly any young man considering this young woman for marriage should be fully informed.

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  6. observer said...

    She should also verify (this can be done in the US) with the Chief Rabbinate that her conversion is acceptable in Israel.

    This is probably a good idea.

    A convert whose conversion is not accepted in Israel, is not a convert.

    This is simply not true. If the conversion was done properly, then the rejection of the conversion by the Israeli chief rabbinate does not change her halachic status. The Israeli chief rabbinate does not have any unique halachic standing.

    At the same time, the fact that the chief rabbinate does not accept a given conversion can cause a great deal of hardship to the convert and the convert's family. As such, a convert would be well-advised to avoid this problem and a responsible beis din would take steps to avoid putting a convert into this circumstance.

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  7. Machon ITIM - Rabbi Seth Farber helps Diaspora converts and their offspring to have their conversions accepted by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

    Also, the RCA should be a help as they have set up special Batei Din L'giyur to help ensure that Diaspora conversions ensure are accepted in Israel.

    Few frum men will knowingly marry a woman whose children who will not be Jewish in Israel.

    It is a deception for a convert whose conversion has not been accepted in Israel to date a Jewish man, because until the conversion is accepted, she and all of her descendants are not eligible to marry a Jew in Israel.

    I have recently seen several marriages annulled because one or the other party hid conversion in the family.

    No woman wants to find herself a single mother with young children and no child support. Many men will go to Israel to avoid paying child support for Gentile children that they were deceived into having and the Rabbis are supportive of these men.

    Because you know firsthand what it is like to have your own Jewish status in question, I am sure that you would not want to raise your own children as Jews if they cannot marry other Jews in Israel or according to the RCA's Geirus Protocols.

    Israel is the Jewish homeland. If you or your children are not Jewish in Israel, you simply are not Jewish according to most Orthodox Jews.

    I wish you all the best. I hope that your family has a good relationship with an Orthodox Rabbi who can help and if not, I hope that Rabbi Farber or the RCA will be able to.

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  8. Observer said...

    Few frum men will knowingly marry a woman whose children who will not be Jewish in Israel.

    It is certainly a very legitimate concern for a potential spouse.

    I have recently seen several marriages annulled because one or the other party hid conversion in the family.

    A marriage can be annulled only if it is certain that one of the parties is not Jewish. If the conversion was valid by any legitimate standard, even if it is of only dubious validity, a get is necessary.

    Israel is the Jewish homeland. If you or your children are not Jewish in Israel, you simply are not Jewish according to most Orthodox Jews.

    As I have said previously, this is not an accurate statement. There are a number of reasons why the Israeli rabbinate may take a given position on a given conversion. Not all of them are halachic. Moreover, even if the Israeli chief rabbinate has legitimate halachic concerns, their halachic opinion does not trump the legitimate halachic opinions of other communities. A conversion performed by a proper beis din is valid regardless of the opinion of the chief rabbinate.

    And, again, this does not mean that a convert should consider the opinion of the chief rabbinate irrelevant. Every effort should be made, by both the potential convert and, especially, by the rabbonim, to ensure that the conversion is acceptable by all standards. Failure to do so can cause a great deal of trouble to the convert and the convert's family in the future.

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  9. GREATSTORY FROM a SHIUROctober 13, 2008 at 5:54 AM

    I heard a great story about something like this. I am going to Share. I forgot the details but I am sure it is on the net somewhere. There was a couple going out and it came out the Boy was a Cohen he really wanted to marry the girl but he did not what to do so he went to the Kosel cried his eyes out and a Beggar told him ask your mother he gave him some change and ignored the advise but after two weeks in America he said nothing else will help might as well so he did his Mother Broke down and said "{I am sorry I lied to you Your whole Life but "YOUR ADOPTED". -------------------------AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER(;

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  10. Daas Torah said...

    Daas Torah said: "There are two parts to your questions. 1)halacha 2)psychology

    Regarding the halacha - it is a Torah prohibition for a cohen to marry a convert.Shulchan Aruch E.H.(8:3),based on Yevamos(61b & 85a)

    The issues needed to be clarified by a gadol [not just your average rabbi] 1)"

    Pardon my (or one of my) pet peeves, but I really think the word 'gadol' in your comment needs to be replaced by 'major posek'. While they likely once were, they clearly no longer are, one and the same - unfortunately.

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  11. "Since this young woman's conversion was done permit an intermarriage, it is doubtful she would be able to register a marriage to a Jew in Israel."
    ===============
    This is a mistaken reading. There is no question about the conversion of this young lady nor is there a question regarding that of her mother.
    Conversion was not done for the sake of intermarrriage.

    This is simply a case of a woman who is a convert who has been raised as an observant Jew and who is now interested in marrying a cohen.

    There is absolutely no question about her conversion.

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  12. Great Story,
    R'YBS tells the opposite, a non-Jewish woman falls in love with a non-religious jewish man, brings him back to his faith while she adopts it, they go to his father's kever prior to the wedding and see 2 hands on the matzeva, fingers parted. They never marry and go their separate ways.

    This is gevura.

    GT
    Joel Rich

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  13. "A marriage can be annulled only if it is certain that one of the parties is not Jewish. If the conversion was valid by any legitimate standard, even if it is of only dubious validity, a get is necessary."

    Anytime there is a deception a marriage can be potentially be annulled by a Beis Din. My cousins marriage was annulled during the week of Sheva Brachos because her husband revealed that he had been with other men.

    "Conversion was not done for the sake of intermarrriage."

    A Jewish man was married to a Gentile woman whom he thought was Jewish because her grandmother had a Conservative conversion. If a Beis Din ruled that the woman and her children needed a conversion, she and her children are NOT Jewish. Batei Din do not convert people who are already Jewish.

    A conversion that is done because a Gentile woman who thought she was Jewish is married to a Jewish man is a conversion that is done to permit an intermarriage.

    There is no difference halachically between a Gentile who thinks she is Jewish and a Gentile who does not think she is Jewish. Any relationship between a Gentile and a Jew is an intermarriage.

    When you say "There is absolutely no question about her conversion."

    I have not yet known of a case where the Israeli Rabbinute has accepted such a conversion.

    Do you know that this particular woman's conversion has indeed been accepted by the Office of the Chief Rabbinute?

    If it has not, then this woman cannot marry a Jew in Israel. Her descendants will also not be able to register as Jewish in Israel.

    "And, again, this does not mean that a convert should consider the opinion of the chief rabbinate irrelevant. Every effort should be made, by both the potential convert and, especially, by the rabbonim, to ensure that the conversion is acceptable by all standards. Failure to do so can cause a great deal of trouble to the convert and the convert's family in the future."

    Young men in the shidduch parsha and there parents are taking this EXTREMELY seriously. No one wants grandchildren who are not Jewish in Israel.

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  14. I heard a similar story from Rabbi Viner I think he says it was somone in his Kehilla. The guy was dating a non Jew and he wanted to marry her so he was Megayer her they were married for a while and she got into her new religon really into learening mitvos and its importance and when she realised how great of a sin he had done she divorced him in disgust

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  15. Observer said...


    Anytime there is a deception a marriage can be potentially be annulled by a Beis Din. My cousins marriage was annulled during the week of Sheva Brachos because her husband revealed that he had been with other men.

    ------------------
    Most issues of deception would not warrant an annulment. If one of them was severely mentally ill or sterile that might be grounds for annulment - but would normally require a divorce if possible.
    =========================
    When you say "There is absolutely no question about her conversion."

    I have not yet known of a case where the Israeli Rabbinute has accepted such a conversion.
    -----------------------
    She was converted by the Israeli Rabbinate so the validity of her conversion was never an issue.

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  16. If she is in Israel, the Rabbinate will not marry a Cohen to a convert.

    What I don't understand is that if this couple is "from very religious families", didn't the boy's family tell the shadchan that he was a Cohen?

    How do you "go out" for two months and "only after" find out he is a Cohen?

    Didn't the boy's family do any checking before they went out to find out that the girl was a giyores?

    The story does not make any sense.

    Any young man who knows he is a Cohen, knows to ask questions on the first date.

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  17. 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.

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  18. This is breaking my heart. I converted a while ago. I am now in love with a non-religious Kohein. We desperately want an orthodox chuppah marriage, but sadly it looks like we will have to settle for a secular / legal wedding instead of a halachic jewish one :( My last leap of faith is doing an intensive background search of my maternal ancestry. But i'm at 1905 and so far nothing :(

    ReplyDelete

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