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Where does the concept of yichus (meaning that the person descends from something akin to "good stock") come from? How is it judged?

Note: I am not asking about the halachic concept that a man must check the lineage of a potential wife, nor am I asking about the term used in kiddushin's "asara yuchsin" or even the idea that a man should strive to marry the daughter of a talmud chacham. I am asking about the term as it is commonly used today. For example "That boy is a catch! He has good "yichus".

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"How is it judged?" seems to be like a question whose answers will take up enough room that you should leave "Where does [it] come from?" to another question (if you wish to ask it). –  msh210 Jun 28 '12 at 0:53

2 Answers 2

I found the commonly stated view expressed here (Some terms translated).

Yichus can be compared to 20 zeros. It is worthless unless each person puts a one in front of them. A Jew must endeavour to align himself with his forebears and only by doing so can he activate and draw from all their strengths which they invested in the future generations.

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Rabbi Yochanan said: Whoever is a talmid chacham, and his son is a talmid chacham, and his grandson is a talmid chacham, the Torah will never again stop from his descendants.

Yoma 85a

We see, therefore, that yichus matters: If someone had three consecutive generations in his ancestors who were talmidei chachamim, the Torah will not stop from his descendants!

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@vram what other "yichus" is there? I never heard of "he's of such great Yichus, his Great great grandfather 15 generations back was the richest man in Troys" –  Shmuel Brin Jun 28 '12 at 1:32
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@vram I was defining "yichus" as meaning ancestry. You asked Where does the concept of yichus (meaning that the person descends from something akin to "good stock") come from? How is it judged? My answer was to that question. –  b a Jun 28 '12 at 1:38
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but you definition does not include any mention of being a good person/ keeping the torah. I just want to clarify. –  not-allowed to change my name Jun 28 '12 at 1:45
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@ShmuelBrin I don't know if you are in the orthodox dating world but it seems the term yichus can mean many things including: he/she has money (or the parents do), he/she is a descendant of an illustrious family (meaning can trace lineage back to, for the sake of example, Rashi). Among many other things. –  not-allowed to change my name Jun 28 '12 at 1:47
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@vram, "yichus" meaning that they or their parents are wealthy? I'm pretty sure I've never heard it used like that. If it is, then the term is certainly being abused. –  HodofHod Jun 28 '12 at 1:55

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