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Older Single Kohanim are stuck because they can’t marry prostitutes

A Guest Post by Philo taken without permission from Dov Bear’s Blog

Over Yom Tov I was chatting with a kohen who’s an acquaintance of mine. He’s in his mid-50’s and single. He really wants to get married, but there are very few prospects for him. He’s not insistent on marrying a younger woman who can still have kids. He makes an OK living and is a nice guy, but wouldn’t be considered a top “catch” by most.

However, in his age bracket, so many of the women he’d normally be able to date are out of bounds to him because of his status as a kohen. So he can’t date anybody who’s divorced, which is a really tough thing, because he’d like a family and recognizes that he’s not likely to have any biological kids of his own. He’d love to be a stepdad to kids of any age, young or grown, and be able to have a real family sitting around the Shabbat or Yom Tov table. But because he can’t date divorced women, he sadly envisions a future of, at best, just him and a wife. Widows are in relatively short supply. And even among the never-married women, many of them are off-limits because they’ve had a physical relationship with someone non-Jewish in the past, usually before they became more religious.

And that brings up another issue, of course, that being the probing into the sexual history of any woman who might date a kohen. The discomfort of having to disclose things like that is huge. It also forever relegates women who are ba’alot tshuva to second tier status. The frum community makes assumptions about their sexual history and either doesn’t bother to set them up with kohanim or feels no qualms about asking them personal questions that they’d never dream of asking their “pure” FFB daughters. (Or of asking men, making the whole thing quite sexist.) But in this day and age, not all of those FFB girls are so “pure” either. Some have had sexual relationships with men who aren’t Jewish. It’s a silly thing to ask a 40 year old woman to be a virgin (that’s another whole post) and some of their sexual relationships may have been with gentiles.

A friend of mine dealt with this situation a few years ago. She grew up Jewishly unaffiliated and very naturally had a boyfriend in college with who she had a sexual relationship. She became Modern Orthodox in her early 20’s and got engaged at age 25 to a guy who was on the frummer end of Modern Orthdoxy and happened to be a kohen. She then had to undergo the humiliation of her case being discussed by a bunch of Baltimore rabbis who debated if she was permitted to her fiancée. They questioned her about the nature of her sexual relationship with her college boyfriend and whether they had always used a condom, which might have meant the sex wasn’t “real”, thus creating a heter for her to marry a kohen. In the end, even though one rabbi said it was OK, the other few said no, and he broke off the engagement and broke her heart.

The Torah is pretty clear:

??? ??? ????? ?? ???? ???? ????? ????? ?? ???? ??-??? ??? ???????.

“They shall not marry a woman who is a prostitute or who is desecrated, and they shall not marry a woman who is divorced from her husband for he [the kohen] is holy to his God.” (Judaica Press translation)

But in this day and age, when we’re not even sure that those who claim to be kohanim are kohanim, and when nobody’s bringing sacrifices in the Temple, isn’t there a legal workaround? I’m not a halachic expert on the issue. I do know that the Conservative Movement made a halachic ruling that a kohen may marry any Jewish woman based on this being a sh’at techak, an emergency situation, in which it’s preferable for kohanim to marry divorced women than to intermarry.

My personal advice to my acquaintance, above, was simply to date observant Conservative women who are divorced, and not to worry about the prohibition. Why should he be denied happiness? But I don’t think he’ll be taking the advice, as he takes the Torah’s prohibition very seriously.

But it seems to me that this archaic obsession with a woman’s purity is outdated and insulting.

{ 159 comments… add one }
  • Adam October 6, 2010, 2:18 PM

    First of all, I’m not sure this is so appropriate. Also, many poskim are lenient with today’s kohanim because they are not real kohanim.

    see oraltorah.org

  • Philo October 6, 2010, 2:23 PM

    What about it is inappropriate? If it’s the title, that’s Heshy’s work. I’m not sure what’s inappropriate about the rest.

    • Batsheva October 6, 2010, 3:06 PM

      Well, I could see the argument about it being inappropriate if Adam’s impression of Frum Satire is that everything is supposed to be funny. Because there is absolutely NOTHING funny about this post. I’m assuming it’s true. (If it’s satire, it’s really bad satire, because if a person can’t tell it’s satire, then where’s the humor? Unless it’s just all for the sake of the authors laughing at their ignorant readers.) But assuming it’s true, this is serious, bordering on tragic stuff. IMO, that doesn’t make it inappropriate for this blog because Hesh has written about serious stuff many times before, and he states at the top of the blog that “It aint always satire.” However, if Adam wasn’t aware of that, I could see why he might think it’s not appropriate here.

      As for my take on the whole issue: No one can be 100% certain who is a true Kohen and who isn’t. No one knows whose great-great grandmother got impregnated by a cossack while married to someone named Rappaport. The idea that a person would throw away not only their own but another person’s happiness, and leave themselves unfulfilled romantically and sexually for life because of something that really doesn’t even apply without the Holy Temple, is more like a Shakespearean tragedy than almost any modern-day, real-life situation I can think of. Beyond pathetic.

      • Leeba October 7, 2010, 4:17 AM

        Nicely put. It is very tragic, Batsheva.

        I was married when I was younger – to one man and had one child. He was physically extremely abusive – more than I would share on this forum, and partied hard with his friends. Sure, he was Jewish, but he hurt me once so badly that I nearly lost our baby.

        I left him and 12 years later he granted me a divorce.

        I cannot remarry if I fell in love with a Kohen.

        Now, my elder sister got married to a Cohen at 18. He began showing signs of schizophrenia while they were both in Univeristy. They did not recognise this and she finally left him and they divorced.

        She has since remarried, after going before the beis din, and her husband is ….. a Cohen! Yep. The loophole was found. Something about her first husband’s mental illness I think. It is not discussed but he is a nice guy and went along to many meetings with her or her husband to be.

        They did not bend the rules. It turns out that he, like me (?) was found to be lacking, and the new marriage was able to go as planned.

        I do not have the tenacity my sister does regarding affairs of the heart. Yet, she did her research, got all parties involved up to date and was deemed ‘clean’

        I would not want to bend the laws of Torah. However, again, as you wrote, who really knows who is Kohanim or if…..

        • elinor March 4, 2012, 3:57 PM

          Leeba
          i would love to hear more of your story or your sisters story

          • Leeba March 4, 2012, 4:38 PM

            That’s about all I know, Elinor. I am sure there is more but it was all done through the bet din, her former husband (they had no children) and her current husband.

      • Philo October 7, 2010, 9:16 AM

        Right – it wasn’t meant as satire. I didn’t write it for Frum Satire, I wrote it for my own blog and cross-posted on DovBear. Heshy just copied it here. Not that I’m complaining about the publicity – I’m actually getting some traffic on my fairly new blog, so I’m happy Heshy put it up.

  • Batsheva October 6, 2010, 3:08 PM

    Well, I tried to post a response, but it’s not showing up. When I tried to re-post, it said, “Duplicate comment detected.” So, I guess I’ll wait and see if it shows up.

    • Yankel October 6, 2010, 6:48 PM

      You probably used the “s” word.

      • Batsheva October 7, 2010, 4:53 PM

        Nope, no “S-word.” It finally showed up (above). If anyone has a clue why it took so long, I’d love to know.

        • Yankel October 7, 2010, 5:48 PM

          “and leave themselves unfulfilled romantically and SEXUALLY for life”
          Yep, fraid you did.

  • Batsheva October 6, 2010, 3:08 PM

    Interesting how that one posted just fine. Wonder if this one will.

  • Anonymous October 6, 2010, 3:09 PM

    Perhaps these Rabbis should think with their heads on their shoulders instead of with their heads inbetween their legs.
    What if the girl and guy end up going off the derech because the Rabbis said they couldn’t marry the loves of their lives,are turned off of by Judaism and they end up marrying somebody not Jewish?
    Is that what these Rabbis would like?

    • Anonymous October 6, 2010, 3:53 PM

      congrats on ignorance of the day. Its not the Rabbis who said they cant get married its a verse in the torah.
      The Rabbis may actually not like it one bit

      • SML October 6, 2010, 8:24 PM

        In a way it is sad to think about it. So many of the younger generation make mistakes and when they come and grow up, their life is ruined. I think the Rabbis would make a change to this one if they could. I think the younger girls should be taught this Halacha in grade school so when they do something stupid it is on their own heads and not a mistake.

      • Whaaaat? October 7, 2010, 1:31 PM

        Thank you for saying what needed to be said. What everyone is finding so OUTRAGEOUS is actually what I find quite beautiful.

        • Aaron April 26, 2018, 5:05 PM

          How is it beautiful?

      • Leeba October 9, 2010, 7:54 PM

        True. We go by Torah. Not by man’s laws.

    • Yankel October 6, 2010, 6:15 PM

      Recently I decided that I would start eating at McDonalds and not restrict myself to any religious dietary prohibitions.
      What if I end up going off the derech and eating not kosher because of all the pressure from my restrictions on food?

      I decided I would start watching porn and going to strip clubs. What if I can’t handle the sexual abstinence and start watching porn and going to strip clubs because of it?

      I’m not sure you’re aware of this, but if you don’t think you have to listen to the Torah – then you are already “off the derech”.

      These Rabbis, they’re so non-sensical sometimes…

      • gogo October 7, 2010, 7:54 AM

        well, actually there are not so few kohanim who will sleep with a woman they cannot marry (or with a real prostitute), but say that they cannot MARRY them…

      • Batsheva October 7, 2010, 4:56 PM

        Yankel, you and the rabbis really need to get your vision checked. There are LOADS of shades of gray in the world, and even–I know you won’t believe it– OTHER COLORS!

        • Yankel October 7, 2010, 5:57 PM

          Batsheva,
          What are you saying…
          That a Rabbi should permit someone to knowingly violate a halacha, due to a fear that they will violate many more if not given what they want?
          I’ll admit it sounds somewhat logical, but there is simply no such thing as a Rabbi instructing someone to violate halacha, and definitely not officiating such a wedding!
          This can’t change regardless of how many colors exist.

          The basic point I’m making in the above post, is that we cannot solve a problem by creating one just as serious.

          • Batsheva October 7, 2010, 6:14 PM

            I guess what I’m saying is that when you insist on seeing the world in pure black and white, you miss a lot of possibility. My very frum grandmother, z”l, taught me that when you have a halakhic question you should ask a rabbi, but you should do your research first, and choose your rabbi very carefully. The truth is that Judaism is no more black & white than life, no matter how much some people insist on seeing it that way. There are always heters, and pilpul that pulls in opposite direction. And for almost every question (including this one), you can find two rabbis who will give two different responsa. Everything in Judaism has its exceptions, because one of the truly most exquisite things about Judaism is that it is a religion that UNDERSTANDS shades of gray and different colors. You can’t violate Shabbat except for pikuach nefesh, but even pikuach nefesh has its exceptions. . . . All Jews pick and choose the commandments that they follow. The only difference is that some people acknowledge that, and some don’t.

            • Yankel October 7, 2010, 6:22 PM

              I didn’t really get your idea in general of “there’s always a possible exception”.
              I just don’t see why that’s true at all. Wouldn’t you admit that there are some things which are 100% black and white?
              When is it ok to rape someone?

              I particularly did not understand this: “but even pikuach nefesh has its exceptions”
              Can you explain?

              • Batsheva October 7, 2010, 6:46 PM

                When is it ok to rape someone? In that case, pikuach nefesh would apply, as rape is not an explicit exception. In other words, if someone held a gun to your head and said “Rape that woman or I will kill her,” or even, “Rape that woman or I will kill you,” pikuach nefesh applies and it’s ok to rape her. The Talmud Bavli, Yoma 82A, gives 3 explicit exceptions to pikuach nefesh. You have to be willing to die rather than to commit incest (so if the rape is of your sister, you’re right, there’s no exceptions there), commit murder, or commit idolatry.

                • John October 7, 2010, 7:30 PM

                  you of course realzie you are proving yankel’s point in that case the talmud (through exegesis) tells us to rape and not get killed. There is no exegesis allowing for a kohen to marry a gerusha. Its great when things arent black and white or when chazal or modern day rabanim can find a “loop hole” or heter. But some things are black and white like a pasuk in the torah, there isnt always a heter to do whatever seems right to us.

              • Batsheva October 7, 2010, 7:01 PM

                In fact, Yankel, allow me to take this one step further, in a way that will very likely blow the yarmulka right off your skull. I truly hope it isn’t painful. The Talmud says that incest is such a great sin, that it is one of the only 3 exceptions to pikuach nefesh, and yet the TaNaKh says that incest is one of the greatest things that ever happened to the world. Now, before you stop reading because you think I’m insane, just let me finish. I assume you know the story of Lot, how his daughters got him drunk and got impregnated by him. One of the offspring of those acts was a baby named Moav, whom the Torah expressly states to be the father of the Moabite clan. Flash forward to the Book of Ruth. Ruth is a Moabite, which means that she is, by definition, a descendant of Moav. We then learn that Ruth is the great-grandmother of King David. We also learn that Moshiach will come from the line of King David. So do the math. The Tanakh is telling us pretty clearly that our Moshiach will be descended from an act of incest. Somehow I think that if HaShem can turn an act of incest into the Moshiach, HaShem can handle a Kohen marrying the woman he loves. You see all the colors you miss when your world is black and white?

                • MonseySixPack October 7, 2010, 7:06 PM

                  Such a load of crap Batsheva.

                  • Batsheva October 7, 2010, 7:11 PM

                    LOL! I know–ain’t it funny how a load of crap can be TRUE!

                    • Yankel October 8, 2010, 8:26 AM

                      Batsheva,
                      No, I don’t think it’s a load of crap. I do However think the fact that something good can come out of a misdeed or transgression, or even require the aveira, in no way allows anyone to permit him/herself to doing something G-d said not to do.
                      Maybe our actual definitions of “black and white” differ significantly.
                      For me, black and white means, “does the Torah we recieved according to our tradition allow one to do this or not”.
                      To justify, sypathize, rationalize, theorize, derive exceptions from stories, or do anything possible which in the end will result in doing anything other than what the Torah allows – is over the line.

                • John October 7, 2010, 7:34 PM

                  Batsheva this comment made less sense than the last one, just becasue an act has a positive outcome, even a very positive one, doesnt mean its allowed.
                  Im not even sure what you mean. The torah says its forbiden for a woman to sleep with her father, are you saying its not really forbiden because moshiach is descendent from such a union? That comparison is even more direct than comparing kohen + divorcee to the story of Lot

                  • MonseySixPack October 9, 2010, 9:39 PM

                    I ment the “load of crap” for the personal advice of Batsheva after the quated Torah part.

              • MonseySixPack October 7, 2010, 7:04 PM

                It’s ok to rape in the war time.

                • Yankel October 8, 2010, 9:08 AM

                  You mean Ki Setzei – Yifas Toar?
                  Well I didn’t mean ” how can s@x between two people be ok, when one of them does not consent”
                  My question was “When is it ok to rape someone for fun”.
                  I was trying to prove to Batsheva that she does indeed believe in “black and white”, and our argument is only about what’s black and what’s white.
                  In regards to your assumption that “it’s ok to rape in war-time” I gotta tell you that it’s really not a good example.
                  First of all, the commentators tell us that the women would get dressed up for the war, so that the invading army would be attracted to them and keep them alive for marriage. So I wouldn’t call that “rape”.
                  Secondly, you picked the wrong example, because by this specific halacha, the Torah says that realistically speaking it’s ‘wrong’, but if it’s not allowed the soldiers would do it anyway, so better permit it and not have them transgress, but nevertheless it’s strongly advised against. (This is the only place in the Torah where we find such a concept).

            • Phil October 7, 2010, 6:27 PM

              Batsheva / Yankel,

              Hetrim are as good as the Rabbi that gives them. It’s a fine line between a very good Rabbi and one that’s completely off. A mediocre Rabbi will usually say something like “it’s better not to”.

              I daven at a Lubavitch shul, and happen to share a table with the Rav. Very interesting to hear the responses he gives to people.

              Over Simhat Torah, I forgot to make eruv tavshilin. No problem, heter is printed in the Shulchan Aruch to make one on e Yom Tov, due to Sfeika deyoma outside Israel. Eruv Tavshilin in itself is already a heter. Remember that cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is borderline de-orayta.

              On shemini atzeres we had a downpour. Despite the fact that it’s a safek if you even need to eat in the sukka, and shulchan aruch says that one is forbidden to eat in the sukka in the rain of he isn’t comfortable, the rav wouldn’t give anyone that asked about it a heter to eat inside, in line with the prevalent Lubavitch custom.

              I pointed out how he just gave me a heter for a possible de-orayta while disallowing an obscure sfeika – desfeika de-rabbannan at worst…

              Go figure.

  • Synapse October 6, 2010, 3:15 PM

    A kohen can actually marry a woman forbidden to him by the Torah and the marriage has a certain amount of validity, but he loses his kohen status as long as he is married to her and any kids he would have would be full jews and not mamzerim but not kohanim (they’d have the status of chalalah or defective kohen status).

    I don’t know if you could find a Rabbi to officiate such a marriage (I doubt it) but a person stuck in a certain situation could find some answer. Optionally he could simply get a civil marriage and not a halachic one, which might be less of an issue halachically in this kind of case.

    • Yankel October 6, 2010, 6:23 PM

      It’s forbidden for him to marry her, but the marriage is nevertheless halachically valid, meaning she would need a get.

      I actually think in times of old they would ostracize a cohen who got married to a woman forbidden to him. I also seem to remember there being substantial disadvantages for both of them in inheritance laws.

      And no, no accepted Rabbi would officiate such a marriage. I actually know of a situation like this, and they just live together without being married.

      I know another guy, a cohen-BT, who waited a very long time and couldn’t find anyone, and ultimately just got fed up and married a non-jewish black woman.

      • Aaron May 14, 2018, 4:19 PM

        You halachically dont need a rabbi to officiate a wedding.

    • Witness February 19, 2013, 5:05 AM

      The marriage is valid, in the sense that they would have to get a divorce to dissolve is, and if there are children they are not mamzerim, but I believe marital relations would remain prohibited.
      He doesn’t lose his Kohen status- he basically retains all the prohibitions involved in being a Kohen, but none of the privileges. I think he can recover his previous status by divorcing the woman and doing teshuva but I’m not sure.

  • Eli October 6, 2010, 4:06 PM

    This is exciting news – I can have treif sex with a condom, since it isn’t “real”. Gotta run – have a lot of catching up to do.

    • Yankel October 7, 2010, 12:17 PM

      There is only a minority of halachic authorities who would even consider the whole “real” thing, most reject it entirely.
      Besides, it’s going to involve MZL and plenty of other good deeds even if it’s not in fact “real”.

    • MonseySixPack October 7, 2010, 7:10 PM

      there is a tsuva from the Beer Moshe and its no difference according to him yes/no condom.

  • MonseySixPack October 6, 2010, 4:22 PM

    You can wipe your @$$ with your personal advice.

    • Yankel October 6, 2010, 6:24 PM

      I don’t think it’s good enough for even that.

  • kissmeimshomer October 6, 2010, 5:23 PM

    I always say, regardless of fighting over the validity of Judaism…some things just simply can’t BE! This is one of them.

    • Yankel October 6, 2010, 6:47 PM

      Tonights matchup, it’s G-d vs. KissMeImShomer….

      C’mon, you either accept the religion or don’t. Why would you try to change it all because you don’t understand it?

      Even Moshe Rabeinu had to accept certain things without understanding.

      The Medrash says that Shaul began to argue with G-d after the command to annihilate Amalek, saying that many of them are innocent.
      To which G-d replied “Be not more righteous than your creator”.

      I’ll quote the Kotzker: “I would not want to serve a G-d which I can understand”.

      • kissmeimshomer October 7, 2010, 1:29 AM

        that is a good quote, but i simply am not ready to follow it when some of the things just are intensely strange and archaic. Even if religion were to be true, which I don’t think it is, I still wouldn’t follow it.

        • MonseySixPack October 7, 2010, 3:39 AM

          Sounds like you’re a firm, reasonable person.

        • Yankel October 7, 2010, 12:20 PM

          Meaning that you would intentionally do what you knew was wrong, OR, that notwithstanding it’s truth, you’d still be correct in not following it because of it’s ‘strange’ image?

          • MonseySixPack October 7, 2010, 1:54 PM

            Of course i ment it sarcasticly.

            • Yankel October 7, 2010, 6:34 PM

              Oh I got that, I was trying to figure out what Kissme was saying.

      • ... November 30, 2011, 8:51 PM

        1. Over and over and over in my life bad crap happens and I get cranky and mad at G-d, and then something amazing happens as a result (usually personal growth, sometimes other stuff). Just learn to chill. He knows you better than you know yourself.

        2. If your friend is willing to forego kohen children, have a Cons. rabbi officiate. Who knows, maybe he will consider it a blessing to NOT pass on that halakhic status, in light of how much grief it has caused him.

        3. I’ve never dated a kohen, so I’m not really sure: is there a mandatory vetting process to marry one? How does it work?

  • Yael October 6, 2010, 5:24 PM

    Is he convinced beyond a doubt that he’s a kohen rather than a chalalah? Not to cast aspersions on his mother, but there may be the possibility that she hid from her husband the fact that she had sexual relations that would have prohibited her from marrying a kohen herself.

    • A. Nuran October 7, 2010, 2:38 AM

      In most of the world throughout most of history saying that about a man’s mother would be grounds for knifing you or at least beating you half to death.

      • A. Nuran October 7, 2010, 2:41 AM

        Seriously. “Your mama’s a hoor and you’re a woodscolt” has been a deadly insult from the oldest writings in existence to the present day from the Mayan Empire to China. It’s absolutely casting aspersions on the man’s mother and his family. Best not to go there.

        • Yankel October 7, 2010, 9:12 AM

          More than anything else, it’s not anything you can consider when dealing with this halacha.

          • Yael October 7, 2010, 9:28 AM

            Why can’t it be considered? Why can’t he privately, and with grave seriousness and respect for his mother (assuming she’s alive), inquire to her and her alone as to the validity of his status? Surely this can be done with great sensitivity to all those involved. If she’s been living a lie, it is incumbent upon her to correct the situation for the sake of her son(s).

            • Yankel October 7, 2010, 12:28 PM

              Oh, sure if she admits to it – it would indeed change the story (although I’m unsure about the status of her reliability in a case where she has to gain by making such a statement).
              I was just saying that a cohen cannot in any way marry a woman forbidden to him – relying on the assumption that his own mother was with someone who disqualified her from marrying a cohen herself, thereby rendering him a non-cohen.

          • A. Nuran October 7, 2010, 10:39 AM

            Absolutely.

        • Yael October 7, 2010, 9:39 AM

          I’m not saying she PROBABLY or ACTUALLY had relations that would have prohibited marriage to a cohen – I’m saying POSSIBLY. And, for the record, he wouldn’t be a woodscolt – his mother’s marriage is still valid, but his status as a cohen would not be valid. So at the most, the insult you are assuming I’m making is, ” Your mother possibily had relations with a goy prior to marriage to your father and you’re possibly a not really a cohen, but we don’t have all the facts and therefore no conclusion can be drawn.” Hardly worth a knifing.

          • A. Nuran October 7, 2010, 11:39 AM

            Yael, lots of things about people aren’t reasonable or logical. This may be one of them, but it’s absolutely a part of the human psyche. Is it objectively worth fighting or killing over from a pure rational expectations point of view? Probably not. But it’s happened a lot over the centuries all over the world.

          • Kandake November 1, 2017, 9:39 PM

            If a Kohen’s parents are divorced, and the mother has had relations with other men (maybe Jewish maybe not), is the son of those parents now chalalah?

  • FortyFrumThing October 6, 2010, 8:35 PM

    What is needed is a vow or something like that for kohanim that allows them to permanently renounce membership in and abdicate from kohanic descent, relegating them and any future progeny to Yisroel.

    Is there anything that already disqualifies a man of Kohanic descent from performing the duties of a kohen like duchanin? Wouldn’t that be enough to allow an otherwise prohibited marriage?

    • adam October 6, 2010, 10:41 PM

      on kohein.org under the halacha hashkafa section it has a personal letter from rabbi ovadia yoseph which allowed a kohein to remain married to a woman prohibited to him by relying on the Rivash and others who say that kohanim are not real kohanim

      • Yankel October 7, 2010, 12:32 PM

        Sorry, there is absolutely no way for a Cohen to escape being a Cohen. Similar to the way a Jew can never become a gentile, and a Yisroel can’t become a Levi or Cohen.

        • OfftheDwannaB October 8, 2010, 12:58 AM

          You really should check out adam’s site (kohein.org). You seem uninformed about the issue. (I was too until I read the stuff there. He managed to turn a boring, strictly-hocker topic interesting by doing research and quoting the sources.)

        • anon December 7, 2010, 2:46 PM

          This is not true. I know of two stories involving orthodox rabbis where cohanim married converts. The men renounced their status as cohanim.

          • Anonymous December 7, 2010, 5:16 PM

            I know a story involving a guy who renounced his status as a human and decided he was a bird and could fly

  • FrumGer October 6, 2010, 9:13 PM

    Obviously if you dont want to follow Judaism then dont follow it… there is no true heter to get around this. this is not Rabbinic its one of the 613, get over it.

    G-d doesnt want you to marry the love of your life. the love of your life might be a goy or a boy. G-d wants you to marry the one he chooses for you. A person might love to eat shrimp but too bad. this is a “too bad” religion. opt out if you ont like it, just dont do cerebral hula hoops to justify the unjustifiable.
    there is so much of the Ein Sof that we cant understand or explain, but one thing I do understand. This is not a feel good religion, its a do it religion.

    I still honor the Kohenim, I feel special during the duchening. The odd mystical ambiance it brings.. I revere it. In my opinion the Kohen should Revere their status too. What the hell happened to Kedushah?

    • Puzzled October 7, 2010, 9:22 AM

      You know, what bothers me is that the rabbis are so willing to go out of their way to permit things. They find ways to allow interest, they find ways to allow crops in the 7th year, they find ways to permit carrying on shabbat, to permit elevators on shabbat…yet they’re not willing to do the same thing here. We all know full well how pilpul works and that they’d be capable of sophistry here, like they are in other areas.

      • FrumGer October 7, 2010, 9:37 AM

        I hate Pilpul, Having a heter on somethings is nice, but I dont see a logical way around this..

      • Phil October 7, 2010, 10:01 AM

        Puzzled,

        I think the rabbis might work harder to find a way around this in cases where the couple was already married.

        Can’t tell you why the examples you brought up have priority for heters, but it seems like laws related to marriage and intimacy are usually held up to the strictest standards unless it’s in relation to a halachically married couple.

        The kohain thing is just one example. One could theoretically follow similar reasoning for incest, gay couples or even masturbation. I guess they don’t want things sliding down a slippery (or sticky 😉 ) slope.

        • Puzzled October 7, 2010, 2:39 PM

          That’s an easy one. Marriage matters are held to a higher standard re: heterim because the rabbis are the class in society that women wish to marry. They don’t have any difficulties. On the other hand, they do need ways around carrying laws and financial laws.

          On the other hand, they find ways when it seems it might effect them. Consider the 100 rabbi heter.

          • Phil October 7, 2010, 2:49 PM

            Puzzled,

            The rabbis aren’t famous rabbis yet when they reach marriageable age, the might have just received smicha at best. Also, what happens when the Rabbi is a kohain?

            The 100 rabbi heter is tough, beacuse the rabbis have to be deemed equally or more knowledgeable than the court that created a given law. It gets even more complicated when the transgression is de-orayta.

            Again, I’m no expert in financial laws, and as far as I know it’s 100% illegal to charge another Jew interest, unless you were actually investing in his business. I don’t understand how Israeli banks get away with it, or how it’s legal for Jews to place they $$$ there.

          • John October 7, 2010, 4:49 PM

            keep in mind the 100 rabbi heter only heps avoid another rabinic enacment, namely that of Rabeinu gershom, it doesnt get rid of any biblical prohibition

    • chevramaidel October 7, 2010, 10:31 AM

      I, too always have a feeling of awe during the duchening. G-d gave these people the special power to bless us (above and beyond the power each and every Jew, even every human being has to bestow blessing), and somehow, despite all our history, we still have so many with a family tradition of being cohanim. Recently genetic studies were done worldwide, and an overwhelming majority of men with family traditions of being cohanim were in fact found to be patrilineally descended from the same person back in the Biblical era.

    • OfftheDwannaB October 8, 2010, 2:02 AM

      Hmmm. You confuse me. On the one hand, you say:
      “This is not a feel good religion, its a do it religion.”
      And the very next sentence says:
      “I still honor the Kohenim, I feel special during the duchening.”
      You then go on to recommend this be practiced by everyone:
      “In my opinion the Kohen should Revere their status too. What the hell happened to Kedushah?”
      To me, it seems you are picking what makes you feel an “odd mystical ambiance”, and then try to make that into something like halachah.
      You’ll excuse me if I’m left with the opinion that your judgment on this issue seems less than completely objective.

    • Aaron May 14, 2018, 4:27 PM

      And you wonder why people are going off the derech in droves

  • Phil October 6, 2010, 9:36 PM

    It’s a bummer for older unmarried kohanim. One of my friends found out his girlfriend could never be his wife, they ended up breaking up after dating for a long time. After that, one of the first things he mentioned to girls was that he was a kohain, some told him straight up that they weren’t “kosher” for him. After a long wait, he ended up finding a virgin that was a lot younger.

    • anon December 7, 2010, 2:48 PM

      Only the cohen gadol has to marry a virgin, so why mention it.

  • Synagoggles October 6, 2010, 11:22 PM

    Thank you for the very last line of this article.

    • Anonymous October 7, 2010, 8:05 AM

      yes, i was going to say that too!

  • TeenageCohen October 7, 2010, 12:57 AM

    Being Modern (Whatever the hell that means, I sorta keep kosher/shabbos) Orthodox and a Kohen myself has led me to ponder this very question. The whole “God doesn’t want you to marry the love of your life” thing seems like a load of crap. Who on earth buys into a religion like that? I have had doubts about Judaism for many years, and rest assured, this will be one of my first questions for the rabbis I study with in Israel next year. (Gap year post HS, this is my final shot at maintaining my Judaism)

    • MonseySixPack October 7, 2010, 1:42 AM

      Calm down bro, there are plenty “love of your life” chicks out there.

    • Puzzled October 7, 2010, 9:23 AM

      Really? It bothers you that God doesn’t want you to marry the love of your life? I would hope it would bother you more that God wants you to carry out acts of genocide.

    • chevramaidel October 7, 2010, 10:19 AM

      I can only wish for you and bless you that you should find the right rabbis. Don’t drop out at the first bad experience – there are rabbis with the right balance between a firm observance of halacha and compassion for the individual. They’re just particularly few and far between in many places.

      • Avrumy October 7, 2010, 1:44 PM

        This is a religion that doesn’t allow you to squeeze a tea bag on Shabbat. It only gets more in-your-face the more you learn.
        Let the kohen marry whoever he wants. So the kids won’t be kosher kohanim; so what? No silver dollars for redeeming babies? No mumbling blessings under the tallis on holidays? Better than a life alone or regretting what might have been.

        • TeenageCohen October 8, 2010, 1:42 AM

          True that!

        • Yankel October 9, 2010, 6:20 PM

          “It only gets more in-your-face the more you learn”
          If you are pre-inclined to opposing it no matter what – yep.
          Your bringing the “tea bag” example in a way demonstrates perfectly where your mistake is.
          You don’t seem to care about ‘why’ or ‘how’. Only ‘what’.

          You don’t care ‘why’ the cohen can’t marry someone, you are only concerned with the end result – the restriction. And since that doesn’t sit right with you – it’s wrong. The way it came about seems to be wholly irrelevant.

          Now for someone who lives his life keeping his thoughts to himself – that kind of mindset can work. Because abstract concepts and most things which aren’t visible to the naked eye – don’t really bother people who aren’t thinkers.

          But why are you getting involved in a discussion about values which are somewhat abstract, if you don’t recognize them in the first place?

        • ... November 30, 2011, 9:04 PM

          You shouldn’t squeeze a teabag ever. It causes the tannins to run out and make your tea bitter.

  • David October 7, 2010, 1:30 AM

    There is a huge difference between a divorcee and a convert or a woman who slept with a gentile. The Torah specifically refers to a divorcee and a “zona” (whore). We all know what a divorcee is and I bet you thought you’d recognize a hooker when you saw one. Apparently, the Rabbis interpret “zona” as a woman who had sexual relations with someone who was forbidden for her to marry. Money isn’t the issue – “whore” and “slut” are apparently the same. It gets dicey when the Mishna extends the definition of zona to all women who are converts – even if they converted before the age of 3. This is where the Rabbanut needs to get updated. Probably under Roman (pagan) rule most gentile women slept around either by choice or by force. Under puritanical/elizabethan Christianity that was probably not true. Under Islam that would certainly not be true – her brothers would gouge her eyes out with a hot branding iron. Yet the broad-brush blanket treatment remained the same. This rush to chumrah, this stubborness in the face of new evidence and realities, this “what the hell does God care if you’re happy” attitude. This is the stuff that turns people off from Rabbinic Judaism.

    • ShanaMaidel October 7, 2010, 9:38 AM

      No more like the Talmud has a very strange relationship with the Romans. “The roads help us get around, but it helps them conquer us”

      Before the D peeps, we were much more “lax” about who was Jewish. It was definitely through the fathers and not the mothers line, hence inheritance law. The who was jewish thing is actually more part of Roman law, if anything…

      http://judaism.about.com/od/whoisajew/a/whoisjewdescent.htm

      I don’t doubt intermarriage issues, but there has and always will be intermarriage- it’s the approach towards women that seems to matter. I’m also going to claim that other than brief periods of war (and they were brief) rape was probably negligible. So you are going to have to explain why inheritance law in Judaism is through the father’s line, why Torah peeps marry extensively into non-jewish populations and no one cares, but later texts we all care about the women. The only nearby culture that has the Same issues are the Romans…

    • Michaltastik October 7, 2010, 10:51 PM

      According to what you say, then converts would actually be ok, unless they screw a gentil after conversion. After all, a gentile is not forbidden to us when we’re in college or the US Army “having fun.” 😉

  • Yankel October 7, 2010, 1:35 AM

    “The whole “God doesn’t want you to marry the love of your life” thing seems like a load of crap. Who on earth buys into a religion like that?”

    Do you mean to say “who would be attracted to a religion which imposes such heavy demands”?
    I really don’t understand your difficulty. This doesn’t effect the validity of Judaism. If one sees the Torah as true then it’s worth it, if not then nothing’s worth it.

    • Puzzled October 7, 2010, 9:24 AM

      Do you not conceptualize that a person might be undecided on the question? That is, not everyone is certain it is true of certain it’s not. So part of the evaluation process is, you know, looking at it, and wondering if it makes sense for God to say these things.

      • John October 7, 2010, 12:13 PM

        Only a fool would think that way. Saying you’d only believe in a god whos commands you to do things you understand or do anyway, isnt believing in god, which of course is fine but its silly to say he believes in god.
        For example suppose i tell you I have a doctor who i trust no matter what he tells me. You point out that ” the doctor tells you to wear your shirt inside out and you dont do that” To which i reply “oh i only do the things that make sense to me” Do I actually believe in the doctor? or do I do what i want and only claim to believe in the doctor. Now dont get me wrong, Picking and choosing to do some things that make sense/are conveniant/are being done anyway or whatever is better than nothing, although that person cant claim to beleive in the dr or in god.
        (Examples are always poor, but i hope it helps)

        • Puzzled October 7, 2010, 2:44 PM

          Yes, but, once again, you’re getting the cause and effect backwards for some. You’re starting from you have a doctor in whom you have perfect faith. On the other hand, what if you were in a position where you’re trying to decide if you should see a particular doctor or not. You ask some friends about him. They all say the same thing – “we come in with blood infections, but instead of prescribing meds, he has us wear our shirts inside out.” Most likely, you’ll keep looking. Sure, you do what he says once you trust him, but for many, that trust is a conclusion, not the starting point.

          I’m not talking here about trusting God, I’m talking about the question of where the Torah came from. A claim (a rather extraordinary one) has been made as to the authorship of this book. I now have to figure out if I should believe that claim or not. You keep arguing on the assumption that I already believe it, but that’s precisely what’s at question. By what means should I investigate the authorship of this book? Seemingly, looking in the book and seeing if it makes sense that God wrote it is a reasonable step. Your argument boils down to a demand that I believe you without investigation.

          • John October 7, 2010, 4:54 PM

            My apolagies of course im arguing based on the assumption that you beleive already or that belief is the starting point. Otherwise the whole flow doesnt make sense.
            Belief is a leap of faith, if you can take that leap then believing he comanded not to kill is no stranger than for a kohen not to marry a divorcee. If you cant take that leap, its as absurd to believe an invivible being gave us a book teeling us not to kill, as it is to beleive kohen shouldnt marry a divorcee.

            • TeenageCohen October 8, 2010, 1:50 AM

              In response to Yankel and anyone else who gives a hoot; obviously, any religion cannot make sense to those who practice it. (It would thereby defeat the purpose of faith) However, orthodox Judaism takes things a bit too far. How does one validate their lifestyle when all they do is impose silly restrictions on themselves that cause them pain? (i.e. Not marrying someone you love) Granted, there are things about Judaism I love, (shabbos etc.) but I just can’t see myself maintaining that level of commitment throughout my life.

              • Yankel October 9, 2010, 6:26 PM

                “when all they do is impose silly restrictions on themselves that cause them pain”

                Impose on ourselves?
                We accept what we have been commanded to. That’s not imposing on ones-self.
                And why are you calling it silly if G-d is the one who said we should uphold these restrictions? Even if it appears silly, don’t you think he know what he’s doing?

            • Puzzled October 11, 2010, 12:00 PM

              This is a popular answer for the orthodox, granted. (It’s also popular for existentialist Christians.) But I don’t think it’s the only approach. In fact, neither do kiruv professionals who spend time trying to convince people to believe. Aristotle wanted to give an argument for God. The Kuzari wanted to give an argument for why we should believe in TMS. Clearly, those folks believe that arguments can be made and evaluated, with the decision to believe or not being a conclusion, not a premise.

        • ... November 30, 2011, 9:08 PM

          FYI…The #1 cause of course of treatment failure is patient noncompliance. (At least according to my husband, who is in med school.)

      • anon December 7, 2010, 3:04 PM

        The human mind cannot fathom the Master of the Universe. It is important to remember that a lot of our thinking is culturally based. We are products of our time and our societies. For example, there were once societies that considered sodomizing underage boys to be not just acceptable but desirable. And today there are societies where men kill their allegedly promiscuous daughters, and still women jump on the funeral pyre. And in all of these examples people from such societies would reject the Torah, finding it unacceptable to their ideas of propriety. Only the Torah is the eternal truth. It is a mistake to try to understand the Torah through one’s “happenstance” cultural lens. You have to learn the Torah (in depth, not just from the face value verses) as it is, and apply it’s teachings to your society, not the other way round.

  • Israelit October 7, 2010, 4:54 AM

    I know a (secular) Jewish woman here who had a physical relationship with a non-Jew before she married a (secular) kohen. They both knew about it, but got married with the rabbinut and have children who are technically kohens under Israeli law. So here’s the catch: one day I heard her talking about how if her sons ever wanted to marry a woman forbidden to a kohen, she would have to go to a beit din and “prove that she had been a prostitute” by sleeping with her non-Jewish boyfriend before the marriage, therefore invalidating the kohen status of her kids, just so they could marry whomever they want. A little bit twisted…

    • Jason Sudekis October 7, 2010, 12:40 PM

      Please elaborate why she would have to do this.

      • Michaltastik October 7, 2010, 10:48 PM

        If her sons wanted to married a convert or divorcee… Do you lack reading comp skills?

        • Jason Sudekis October 8, 2010, 9:20 AM

          No, I do not. My question is why was she allowed to marry initially if she can so readily invalidate her status for her children’s sake.

  • Anonymous October 7, 2010, 6:13 AM

    I don’t understand why they don’t just lie about it, you know that is what they used to do before google destroyed privacy, nobody would know.

    • SML October 7, 2010, 9:03 AM

      You cant lie about your status. G-D still knows. Anyway the truth always has a way of catching up and destroying a person so in the long run honesty is the best option.

      • Anonymous October 8, 2010, 12:52 AM

        God knows but he is not talking. We all know realistically, we look the other way – it is tradition. Only converts and bts take this stuff seriously, that is the problem.

  • chevramaidel October 7, 2010, 10:07 AM

    And you don’t even touch the issue of female converts, who are also forbidden to a Cohen. Even a woman who was converted as an infant is suspect because the gentiles are said to have such degraded sexual practices that even babies can’t be considered virgins. How do you think that makes Jewesses-by-choice feel? (Not to mention Gentiles!) “Hi, welcome, mazel tov on your conversion! You are now considered a full Jew in every way, your past is erased, and your Gentile family isn’t really related to you (another tough pill to swallow for many gerim). Just one thing: Don’t consider dating any cohanim, you PROSTITUTE!”

  • FrumGer October 7, 2010, 10:44 AM

    I hate the What if we scare them away from Judaism atitude,

    these bastards don’t give a shiz they come for the food bro.

    And that guy just you pressured into leigning Tefilin on eastern parkway, did the mitzvah with no understanding or chavanah. (which negates the mitzvah anyway nu?)

    Everything I read in the Torah tells me to Kill an Apikoros ass not Kiss the apikoros ass.

    when did Rabbaim get so panty waisted?

    I have no problem with chiddush as long as it goes along with good pskin and in line wih Halacha. I have no problems with not being Machmir, In many ways I’m not myself, but I follow Halachah and I bend for it not the other way around.

  • Avrumy October 7, 2010, 2:08 PM

    It really is hard to be Orthodox and believe in all the heartless admonitions in the Torah. Mamzers, agunot, chalalim. Does G-d get to make the rules simply because s/he is G-d? No constituency to appease? If you don’t like it, leave? That is a pretty bad strategy to get/keep members. And yet, here we are still a Jewish nation.
    But is everyone really on board? Or is much of it lip service?
    “Orthodox” Jews can be found claiming to be “pretty kosher (at home anyway)”, “mostly shomer Shabbat”, going on “tfillin dates”, not to mention the ones who cheat in business, are horribly mean to non-Jews, avoid taharas mishpacha (family purity laws), wear shatnez, which are all pretty serious according to the Torah. Then there are the mixed swimmers/dancers/singers etc. violating rabbinic laws. Yet all these people shower, shave (men, mostly), dress nicely and show up in shul on Shabbat. Good orthodox Jews. They stay ostensibly frum, I guess, because for the most part they enjoy the continuity, community and customs. What they *don’t* do is their own business. Does G-d really have nothing better to do than snoop on each person’s activities? Maybe the laws were given as a guideline and everyone should do their best. That’s how I see it. But who am I to talk? I am an orthodox gay guy with a Jewish partner of many years. Our house is strictly kosher; I put on tfillin every day. Am I a bad Jew because I choose to be happy and partnered and not alone and miserable? Because that is what the rabbis would prefer. So my heart goes out to the kohanim who are told who they can and cannot marry, and choose (or don’t) to follow those rules. It’s their life. I hope they make the best of it.

    • Phil October 7, 2010, 2:43 PM

      Avrumy,

      Your situation reminds me of something interesting that happened a couple days ago.

      I was in Toronto for a wedding, the bride is related to my wife. They have a homos*xual family member that came in from out of town with his partner.

      They aren’t observant at all, so when they made a breakfast the morning after, being the only frum Jew there, I suggested they make Sheva brochos. As I start checking to see who reads Hebrew to set up the brochos, I found out the boyfriend isn’t Jewish, which broke the minyan.

      They were all understanding of my error, I assumed he was Jewish, as I would assume anyone else’s “spouse” to be Jewish, and was a bit shocked to find out he wasn’t, as we were discussing shuls, rabbis and kosher food in his town, he seemed very knowledgeable about it all.

      In hindsight, I think a Jewish gay guy is better off with a goy gay guy (sounds like Dr. Seuss), better 1 sinner than 2.

    • TeenageCohen October 8, 2010, 1:54 AM

      I admire your courage Avrumi, not many people in the Orthodox world have the balls to tell it like it is.

    • OfftheDwannaB October 8, 2010, 2:38 AM

      I empathize with you. You also make some very valid points.
      On the one hand, the Mishneh says “Hashem wanted to give Yisrael merits, therefore he multiplied for them Torah and Mitzvos.” This would indicate that the “people doing their best” theory is true. (In fact, I heard a story associated with the lubavitcher Rebbe a”h who compared Jewish faith/practice to Jacob’s Ladder and being a “good Jew” depends on if you’re going up or down.)
      On the other hand, not fulfilling or violating many mitzvos (aseh and lo sa’aseh) can cause terrible punishments including kares, which in it’s most extreme form is being cut off from the Jewish soul for eternity. (You call this being mezakeh us?)
      I don’t know the complete answer, but I’ve gotten very far by learning Ramchal, Chassidus, and Kabbalah. I would recommend reading the first and second sections of Derech Hashem to give you a string basis. I can give you my take if you want to email me.

  • j October 7, 2010, 3:05 PM

    Anyone in their 50’s who is single and has never gotten laid gave it a fair shot. Its time to get some screw it.

  • FrumGer October 7, 2010, 4:01 PM

    j Thats pretty funny..

    Phil i have always thought that but if under Noahide laws the other guy is still commiting an avera so it still is 2 sinning. I know who cares about goyim but they have a niche to scratch out in olam haba so its best to avoid it all together.

    Avrumy- Listen I agree, WTF is a tefilin date anyway (i know what it is just saying) its all bullshit lip service. thats the problem WAY to many Jews even “orthodox” jews find the Torah to be an Opt in or Opt out situation. what is sort of Kosher? or cerebral Kosher? you either keep it or you dont. semi shomer shabbos? when you break the shabbos its broken. not keeping Taharas Mishpacha? dont get me started…. I know many yidden that spit at the thought of a women wearing tefilin and a women reading the Torah but their wife doesnt go to the mikvah, they shave with a razor, (drives me nuts) they drive on shabbos, and daven once or twice a week at best. I am not for egalitarianism (totally against it) but get your F*#ckin priorities right.

    I dont view the Torah as optional, but a lot of yidden that grew up in the 50’s really changed Judaism for the worst. trying to live the american dream and they had kids that grew up driving on shabbos and eating dairy out, and shaving with razors, but going to an orthodox shul.

    this confused my generation…they say- Im orthodox, what does that mean? oh It means I hate women participating in shul..

    why has woman participation become the crux of what orthodox judaism stands for? how about mitzvot. must we go to an ultra charedi chossidic steible in town to get equal peity amongst congregants? its a shame. the sins of of the fathers pass down 4 generations…

  • Yankel October 7, 2010, 6:39 PM

    You know, there was a story about 8 years ago which was arguably worse than the one above.

    A guy who was a Cohen got married and lived for 10 years with his wife, it was a perfect marriage in every respect – besides for the fact that they didn’t have any children.
    Well, (here’s another halacha for you to go to town on) if a couple is married for 10 years and they are unsuccessful in their attempts at propagation, they must get divorced.
    So they tried everything before the deadline to try and keep things together, apparently they were deeply in love, doctors, treatments, alternative medicine, you name it – nothing worked.
    So they threw their hands up in defeat, and in a sea of tears of agony – went to beis din, got divorced, and said goodbye to each other.

    A month later he gets a call from his ex-wife.
    She is pregnant. She had been pregnant since a week before the divorce.

    Frantically he called the Rabbonim asking for the protocols of how to get around the fact that as a Cohen – he cannot marry a divorced woman – even if HE was the one previously married to her.

    Unfortunately – he got the same answer everywhere “There’s just nothing to do, there’s no way around this one, you come from an established family of Cohanim, it’s just what Hashgacha determined, we’re very sorry for you, but your obligation to H-shem at this point is to just accept it as it is.”

    Now there is such a thing as a “get b’taus”, which means very basically, that if it can be proven without a doubt, that if a husband would have been aware of a certain piece of information at the time of the get – he would definitely not have given it, you can retroactively invalidate the get, and the couple is once again married.

    However, due to the serious and imminent danger this creates, there are a stack of ‘waivers’ – modaos, that the husband must sign before any reliable BD will officiate his get, which essentially state that the giver of the get is validating his divorce regardless of every and any situation that might come up after the get, and regardless of any information he becomes aware of at any future point in time.

    This is especially true for a Cohen, who can easily find a reason to regret his divorce – since his get is irrevocable, unlike a standard Jew who can just remarry his wife as long as she hasn’t been with anyone else in the interim.

    I believe there is actually a specific document which states that “she is to be divorced from me even if she is currently pregnant”.

    • Philo October 11, 2010, 11:29 AM

      Yankel,

      I’ve been hearing that story for 25 years. It may just be a Jewish Urban Legend.

      • jack October 14, 2010, 5:55 PM

        The story is qouted in numerous books as having a happy ending
        he went home told his dad who informed him he was adopted and not a cohen

  • S.H. October 7, 2010, 7:29 PM

    Your “personal advice” is nonsense. Either you believe in binding Torah Mi’Sinai or you don’t. Saying “Well, this is too hard, so don’t do it” makes no sense whatsoever. I understand that people do aveiros because they can’t overcome their yetzer hora sometimes. Fine. It happens. People aren’t perfect. But you’re suggesting someone else do an aveira because you think it’s too hard for him???

    You’re going to call yourself frum and reject a mitzva because you don’t like it or because you don’t understand it?? Please. If you pick and choose which mitzvos to follow, then you’re answering only to yourself, not to Hashem.

  • itchiemayer October 10, 2010, 12:57 AM

    I am a 46 year old divorced (for 5 years) Kohen. If I would bend the rules and marry someone forbidden to me, then that would mean being a Kohen didn’t mean much to me in the first place. Well, it does mean a lot to me, and I’m not bending (violating) Torah law for some woman that is clearly not my bashert, no matter how much I might think I’m in love with her. The whole mental illness heter mentioned above seems more than a bit sketchy to me. Gut voch

  • Sharon October 12, 2010, 1:07 AM

    Why aren’t we questioning the definition of a woman who has had sex with a non-Jew as a prostitute? A prostitute is someone who has sex for money. So if a Jewish woman has a sexual relationship with a non-Jewish man for love, it’s still prostitution?

    Pretty sexist shit.

    • Phil October 12, 2010, 9:50 AM

      Sharon,

      In this case, prostitute doesn’t mean someone that was paid for her services.

      If a Jewish born woman hired herself for s*x, she still would be permitted to marry a Kohain, as long as her customer was Jewish.

      But if she gets nailed by a non Jewish dude, she becomes invalid.

      • itchiemayer October 12, 2010, 10:38 AM

        Generally speaking, any Jewish woman that has relations with someone forbidden to her is a (halachic) prostitute.

        That being said, there are many many wonderful, orthodox Jewish women that technically are halachic prostitutes. It is a halachic term, and would apply, for example, to a ba’alas teshuva who had relations with a non-Jew in college.

        However, since a woman cannot be a witness against herself, it is possible for a Kohen to marry her. If the woman lived with the man and it was clearly public then it could not be done. But if it was a very private matter, noone knew and witnesses could not realistically be found, then it is possible she would be permitted to marry.

        So if a Kohen finds a woman that has never been married, a woman that is shomer mitzvos, then it could depend on to what extent a Rabbi inquires about her past.

        So a woman could have done something that would render her to be a (halachic) prostitute, but go through life without actually having that status.

        In the end, one must inquire of a competent, orthodox Rabbi.

        That being said, I would prefer to find a woman with some “experience” if you know what I mean…..of course a Widow would be just fine. But if I have to break in a virgin, then that should be the worst thing to ever happen to me!

    • anon December 7, 2010, 3:14 PM

      It is forbidden for both Jewish men and women to sleep with a non-Jew.

      Prostitution in Jewish terms is not only about the exchange of money. It’s about sexual licentiousness. Regardless of what happens in practice, Jewish men are also forbidden to have any relations before marriage.

  • Hannahbanana October 12, 2010, 11:27 AM

    I think it comes down to one single question, Can G-D be reasonable. Like you said, the man is not likely to be bringing sacrifices to the Temple any time soon, and life is short. Would G-D begrudge him marrying a woman with a family, which could make him very happy and provide a loving home for him in the future, or do we believe G-D capable of saying, “in a perfect world, you would follow these rules…. however….”?

    But I guess someone will say, “oh! Well! You can say that with ANY rule.” And you can.

    • John October 12, 2010, 11:52 AM

      God’s Reason, by definition isnt the same as yours. All we have is what we believe god commanded us and i quote “veisha gerusha meisha lo yikachu” trans- “and a woman divorced from a man they [kohanim] shall not take [as a wife]”

      • Hannahbanana October 12, 2010, 1:54 PM

        So you’re saying G-D makes a decision and that’s the law and there’s no reasoning with Him or bargaining? That would make the whole conversation Moses had up on the mountaing when He wanted to kill the Hebrew people for worshipping the golden calf, pointless. He had made up His mind…. I just think G-D is big enough to not begrudge an aging man some happiness in his life. I also think He likes a good debate as much as any Jew.

        • John October 12, 2010, 4:35 PM

          You can try, if he responds then he “changed his mind” you cant just assume he will. Incidently I’d love to see an example of someone bargaining with god not to do a mitzva, or to be allowd to do a prohibition. the examples i can think of all involve saving people (Jews, Sedom) from destruction.

          • Hannahbanana October 12, 2010, 4:48 PM

            Oy. NOT gonna play the “Find it in the Torah” game. I’m just saying that I think G-D has better things to do than begrudge one man a happy life. That G-D would have to be a total dick.

            • John October 13, 2010, 8:09 AM

              Youd be wise not to play, though your sentence should read “Im not going to continue playing the “find it in the Torah” game” considering you started (scroll up two comments and see for yourself)
              Look, obviously you can do/think what you want, just dont pretend you care what the torah says or what god wants, your just fooling yourself and proving that you are full of it.
              Youd be more honest if you said “True the Torah says kohnaim shouldnt marry divorcees, but i dont give a rat’s a$$, I Do what I want”

              • Hannahbanana October 13, 2010, 8:25 AM

                Thanks for the grammar check, from a person who can’t use apostrophies. And there’s a difference between not caring, and believing that at some point, though you may disagree, you have to use your brain.

                I’m not entirely sure how you feel character assassination on me by saying that I “dont give a rat’s a$$,” or that I don’t care about Torah, actually debates my point of G-D being negotiable on things, but I imagine that somewhere in your head, that all makes sense. A big ol’ mazal tov to that. I expressed my opinion, you disagreed. That’s fine. And now it’s done.

                • John October 13, 2010, 10:03 AM

                  Youre welcome though it was more of a fact check than grammar check.
                  Thanks for the mazal tov!! thats so sweet im yertse hashem by you!
                  Wait that day is here i’ll explain it to you. You claim God is negotiable on things which would make sense if he didnt tell us how to run our lives. He did in a book called the torah. Now if you dont believe the torah is god’s instruction to us, then theres no problem the entire discussion from the title onward makes no sense. If however you do, then feelings such bargaining with God dont make sense. It can be used for anything, Im really hungry and that cookie looks delicious, obviously god wouldnt expect me to keep kosher now, or to pay for it. The whole Torah might as well be discarded, and you can just do what feels good/makes sense to you. But dont pretend its based on the torah, that is my argument. Hopefully now you understand, Mazel tov to you as well. May you have many more such simchas.

                • Michal October 13, 2010, 3:18 PM

                  Hannah, this line of yours is very telling: ““Find it in the Torah” game. ” To you it is a game, you do what you want and hope to find it in the Torah so that you can feel good about yourself. Then when John points out that in fact an examination of the torah shows the exact opposite of your view, you decide “I’m not playing the game” To us it isn’t a game, it is a very real guide as to how to live our lives. John is right, do what you want, but don’t pretend it is based on anything G-d would want, when you clearly couldn’t care less.

                  • Hannahbanana October 13, 2010, 4:53 PM

                    I can’t “clearly” anything in 3 or 4 comments. But I guess a conversation (that didn’t involve you) hit a nerve, if you feel comfortable enough to come on to a *satire* site and get your panties all in a bunch looking to pick a fight.

                    But hey, if you wanna play little miss judge and tell me all about my relationship to my relgion, my G-D, and Torah, then I *clearly* can’t stop you. I will say, however, that chicks who sit in judgement of others and decide what you must be thinking, are the reason why a lot of my Jewish male friends now date shiksas. Nobody likes someone who thinks they’re “holier than thou.”

                    So, keep judging little troll. I’m done putting comments on this post. There are other interesting things to read on this site.

                    • Michal October 13, 2010, 5:18 PM

                      speaking of hitting a nerve and panties all bunched up….

          • Puzzled October 16, 2010, 7:27 PM

            And this is what you get when metaphorical stories are taken literally. As a metaphor, it actually has a lesson to teach us. As a literal story, we just shrug our shoulders and say “oh, well, since God hasn’t spoken for the last thousands of years, I’m stuck.”

  • itchiemayer October 12, 2010, 4:48 PM

    Part of being a Torah observant Jew is observing the Torah. If you disagree with parts, then it doesn’t make you a horrible person, but it does call into question the strength of your faith in Hashem. Just because something seems too difficult doesn’t mean that it is not absolutely true and correct. I have my nisayonos as well, but I’m the one that needs to change and not the Torah.

    • Batsheva October 12, 2010, 6:08 PM

      No, actually, disagreeing with parts of the Torah does not remotely call into question the strength of your faith in HaShem. It calls into question the strength of your faith in the TORAH, which is not GOD! A person can have absolute perfect faith in HaShem, and still believe that the Torah, having been written by imperfect men, may not be perfect. And yes, you can love the Torah, study it, and respect it, even if you don’t think it’s perfect. Holy and Good are not the same as Perfect. Only God is Perfect, and God is not the Torah.

      • Hannahbanana October 12, 2010, 7:03 PM

        Best. Comment. Yet. Thanks for stating that, Batsheva!

      • Yankle October 17, 2010, 2:21 AM

        Batsheva,
        From a kabbalistic point of view, the argument you’re presenting actually contradicts the basis of the Torah.
        As the Zohar states “The Holy One blessed is he, the Torah, and the Jewish nation, are all one” .
        The Torah is understood to be a manifestation of G-d’s very own will, which is a manifestation of G-d Himself as it were.

        But even from a logic based perspective, how can you say this?
        In tehillim:
        “G-d’s Torah is perfect, it revives the soul”
        In the admonishment:
        “Cursed is one who does not uphold all the words of this Torah in their entirety”

        Aside from this, the majority of commandments begin with the verse “And G-d said to Moses…”
        Isn’t saying “the Torah isn’t perfect” a direct attack on G-d himself?

        Unless, you’re saying that you actually don’t believe that G-d really wrote some or all of what is in the Torah.
        Now, that’s a big statement.
        So to say something like that you have to back it up with some kind of argument as to where the mistakes crept in.
        Historically, we have no such event.
        What we do know is that at one point there was an event at Mt. Sinai, and at that point 100% of the Torah was from G-d.

        I would hope we agree that an extreme opinion like yours would be backed up by more than just “It doesn’t sit right with me, so G-d couldn’t have wrote it”…

        Also, keep in mind the 13 principles of Maimonides necessary to be considered a “believing Jew”.

  • itchiemayer October 12, 2010, 8:09 PM

    But if you go with the attitude that the Torah is imperfect, how do you decide what is right and what is not right? If it feels right, it must be right, and if it doesn’t it must be wrong? It’s a dangerous road.

    • Batsheva October 12, 2010, 8:23 PM

      It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Just because the Torah is imperfect doesn’t make it bad. Doesn’t mean it should be ignored. My perspective is this: I follow Torah as closely as I can. If there is something in Torah that doesn’t make sense to me, that I can’t find a reason for (like say, much of kashrut), I follow it anyway, because I choose to give the Torah the benefit of the doubt. BUT when there is something in Torah that doesn’t make sense to me, that I can’t find a reason for, AND that feels blatantly, strongly WRONG to me (the Kohen marriage issue would be a good example), then I choose not to follow it. You can call that a dangerous road if you want to. Maybe it is. But I don’t believe that the Torah is the only place I can find God. I believe that God is in me (and everyone), and that if I am in touch with that spark, then I will do what HaShem wants me to do, whether it agrees with the Torah or not. 98% of the time it will.

      • John October 12, 2010, 9:13 PM

        Im confused, you do realize you arent orthoodx right? Of course if youre not Orthodox there is nothing to discuss, just do what you want. THis whole discussion is based on an assumption that when the torah says kohanim shouldnt marry divorcees, that actually means something

      • anon December 7, 2010, 3:20 PM

        Batya, your approach is not Torah Judaism, but Ego-Judaism, and exactly the opposite of what the Torah commands us.

    • Puzzled October 16, 2010, 7:29 PM

      Because the only way to know good from bad is to have a neat little book that sums it all up. Well, look. My reason might well steer me wrong. So far, though, it hasn’t told me to sacrifice my son, to wipe out an entire nation because people from my nation got lucky with their women, or that its a good thing if someone makes fun of me and gets eaten by bears. I think I’m doing alright.

      • Anonymous October 16, 2010, 9:59 PM

        You think youre doing alright but youre not.

  • Sharon October 17, 2010, 2:28 AM

    There is a big gender split in these comments.

    As for me, the woman who now knows that she could rename herself “Halachic Prostitute” on this site, I have a question. Seeing as the Torah often does not assign mitzvot to women, where does it say that I am not allowed to sleep with a non-Jew? All I remember is the not having sex with animals part (didn’t break that law!), Jewish men not having sex with me on my period (even though they’re the ones who seem unable to last even three days!), and some incest stuff, that baruch Hashem, I can also say I have been spared. I also recall that men shouldn’t have sex with each other – sorry fellas.

    But where’s the non-Jew part? And what about Cohanim who have sex with non-Jewish women? Does their status change? Because if it doesn’t, then that is very unfair – you can’t control someone else, and a Cohen could lose his status if his wife is in an mutilating accident or has an affair. But I thought Torah was all about controlling your own actions.

    And, for the record, Hashem sent that man to me.

  • Mitzi May 17, 2011, 12:56 PM

    Am I the only Jew who wonders how on earth there are so many Kohanim? It seems in proportion to the rest of Jewry every time they are called up to do the blessings there are large numbers of them. Not saying they aren’t all genuine, but it does make one wonder how all these people can trace their ancestry accurately.

  • LazyFrumguy February 18, 2013, 10:30 AM

    There is another problem, Before I was married, I met women who said they BY CHOICE would not marry a Kohen because as BT’s they in their -“distant” past did things that made them ‘not eligible’.

    The Torah says any woman who was a ‘prostitute’.

    I have asked some rebeim about what a prostitute actually means in this context. Some have told me it’s really subject to interpretation, meaning in the machmir world of things no no and no, Mr. Kohen if you cannot find someone kid out of bias Yaakov to marry you even if you are 50, you are S.O.L. unless you can find a widow, or someone who is probably so unkempt and antisocial -or even such a tzadekes that she is 40 and a pure virgin!

  • LazyFrumguy February 18, 2013, 12:32 PM

    I would add to that that there is a very strange syndrome amongst some bt women, tell me any fellow Kohanim if you have encountered this: It’s the BT WOMAN THAT TELLS YOU -she can’t have you -up front (without any shame). I think it’s really a form of bizzare self empowerment because IF, THEY exclude themselves from Kohanim (when they don’t have to) it somehow makes them -MORE MACHMIR!!!

    So, instead of being labeled as ‘damaged goods’ by adding this chumrah to themselves for allegedly protecting the kohen ‘for his own good’ this somehow elevates their new found frummy status.

    Stop this madness.

    Will not some rebbeim stop this sickness?

  • CDavis26 August 5, 2014, 3:15 PM

    I had just found this post, and I am wondering if anybody will answer- what I do not understand is how being a rape victim can put you into this catagory. It honestly blows my mind. & unless you’re a rape victims you’ll never fully understand the embarrassment or the deep scars it leaves, and to know, that because of some uncontrollable situation you’re now punished.. I feel that it’s so wrong. I honestly feel that some Halachot should be changed according to the times. Nowadays nobody truly knows if they’re a pure Kohen or not. So why should this prohibit a women who was raped? It makes me question so much.

  • A real kohen September 11, 2014, 2:57 PM

    you are so wrong, and you dont even know it. Respect the rules, you just dont understand them, really.

  • JON December 24, 2015, 10:00 AM

    The Torah is not a joke. Kohanim are Kohanim. They should not marry a divorced woman or a woman that had sexual relations with a non jewish. PERIOD. like it? good, dont like it? who cares? you are not god. I am more open minded that you would ever imagine BUT water is water and wine is wine. by the way I am a Kohen, was not easy to get married, but I did succeded.

    Conservatives… pfff give me a break. The whole real issue is just not being humble and therefore trying to adapt things to match your selfish desires..

    On the other hand, a Kohen that (god forbid) marries a woman not kosher for him, he can yes renunce his status. And ofcourse his kids wont be kohanim.

    I wish it would be easier, trust me, you wouldnt believe it. but is the way it is, surely the Kohen has the stengh to overcome this difficulty.

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