A Non-Jewish Father

Although one whose mother is Jewish is unquestionably considered to be a Jew, one whose father is not Jewish is considered to be "pagum," "blemished".[1] Such a person is subject to certain restrictions and disqualifications.[2] According to some authorities, these restrictions are biblical in nature, while according to others they are rabbinical enactments.[3] It is interesting to note, however, that there is an opinion that one whose father is not Jewish is also deemed to be a non-Jew regardless of the mother's status,[4] though the halacha is not in accordance with this view.[5]

The restriction that we will discuss in this chapter is the ban for a woman whose father is not Jewish to marry a Kohen.[6] As the Shulchan Aruch writes:

If a Jew has relations with any of the prohibited women, the status of the child follows the status of the mother. And if any [of the prohibited men]… except for a mamzer… has relations with a Jewish woman, the child is kosher to marry into the community, except that the child is pagum to a kohen.[7]

Most contemporary authorities concur with this view and rule that although the child of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father is deemed a Jew, a female born from such a union is not permitted to marry a kohen.[8]

On the other hand, there have been authorities in the past that permitted such marriages.[9] There is also a view that although such a marriage is ultimately permitted, it is to be discouraged.[10] According to most authorities, a Kohen who has gone ahead and married such a woman is not required to divorce her.[11] It is not completely clear, however, whether or not the children of a Kohen who married a woman whose father is not Jewish are to be considered kohanim.[12]

Most authorities rule that a rabbi should not officiate at the wedding of a Kohen and a woman whose father is not Jewish.[13] Some authorities permit a rabbi to officiate at such a wedding if the couple was not aware of this halacha when they first became involved with one another.[14] There are also a number of other considerations which have led some contemporary halachic authorities to rule leniently in such a situation, as well.[15] Nevertheless, due to its severely problematic status, one should go to great lengths to avoid such a marriage.

[1] Yevamot 45a.

[2] In addition to the restriction of a woman with a non-Jewish father.

[3] Shu"t Rabbi Akiva Eiger 91; Beit Meir, EH 6:17; Igrot Moshe, EH 1:5.

[4] Tosfot, Kiddushin 75b; Kitzur Piskei Tosfot 142. See also Chemdat Shlomo, EH 2,3.

[5] Yeshuot Yaakov, EH 4:8,10; Avnei Nezer, EH 16; Achiezer 21; Chazon Ish, EH 50.

[6] For additional restrictions and disqualification for such people see: Yashiv Yitzchak 11:37.

[7] EH 4:5. See also EH 4:19, 7:17.

[8] Yevamot 45a; Rosh; Yevamot 4:30; Tur, EH 4; Gra, EH 7:54.

[9] Rambam, Hilchot Issurei Biah 15:3; Pitchei Teshuva, EH 4:1.

[10] Yevamot 77a; Yam Shel Shlomo 18; Shu"t Harama 18,61,69; Rivevot V'yovlot 2:409.

[11] Beit Shmuel, EH 4:2, 7:39; Chelkat Mechokek, EH 4:3, 7:26; Pitchei Teshuva, EH 4:3, Seridei Aish 1:71.

[12] Ramban, Yevamot 45a; Minchat Yitzchak 2:131.

[13] Igrot Moshe, EH 1:15.

[14] Shemesh U'magen, EH 3:58; Shema Shlomo, EH 5:8. Cited at: http://www.koltorah.org/ravj/A_Kohen_Marrying_the_Daughter_of_a_Jewish_Mother_and_a_Non-Jewish_Father__2.html

[15] Yabia Omer, EH 9:7, 10:14