Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have heard (I honestly cannot remember where...) that to be a rabbi a man must be married. Is there any truth to this?

I am more interested in knowing if this was true in the first century C.E. than if it is true today.

I have no reason to believe that there was a change in the standard,but two thousand years is a long time to not image that things might have changed.

Part of the context of this question is that it is written that Jesus was called "Rabbi", yet Christian canon holds that Jesus was never married (a claim of which I am skeptical).

share|improve this question
Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/61433 – msh210 Jul 22 '15 at 12:52
up vote 14 down vote accepted

It was certainly very common, but I can't find a requirement in the talmud (which was written in the few hundred years around your target timeframe), and I find one talmudic counter-example:

On Kiddushin 71b R. Yehudah of Pumbeditha is asked why his son, R. Yitzchak, is not yet married (and is an adult).

Kiddushin 82a does argue that an unmarried man cannot teach children, but this appears to be a concern about the appearance of impropriety, not a question about his ability or knowledge.

share|improve this answer

Rambam Hilchot Ishut 15:3

מי שחשקה נפשו בתורה תמיד ושגה בה כבן עזאי ונדבק בה כל ימיו ולא נשא אשה אין בידו עון והוא שלא יהיה יצרו מתגבר עליו, אבל אם היה יצרו מתגבר עליו חייב לישא אשה ואפילו היו לו בנים שמא יבוא לידי הרהור.‏

My translation: Someone who wished to only study Torah his whole life like Ben Azzai (See Monica Cellio's answer) and clings to it his whole life and never married, he does not have a sin on his hands. This only applies if his desires do not get the better of him, but if he cannot control his desires he must marry, even if he has children [from a previous marriage].

According to Rambam, getting married is highly recommended, even for a rabbi, but is not an absolute requirement.

Perhaps in today's society it is less acceptable, but Halachically it is permitted, albeit not recommended.

share|improve this answer
Elisha and Elijah never married on this principle. – ShamanSTK Aug 14 '15 at 0:15

Moshe Rabbeinu seperated from his wife and was still the leader of the Jewish nation.

share|improve this answer
But he had previously already been married, unlike (lehavdil) the subject of the OP. – Alex Jun 10 '11 at 18:43
By a Kohain Godol we see that a different wife is prepared for him in case his wife dies, which shows that a Kohain Godol is required to be married. – Gershon Gold Jun 12 '11 at 20:06
Did Moshe Rabbeinu have semicha? – Double AA Apr 18 '12 at 16:53
@DoubleAA: sure, from Hashem. He's the first in the chain of semichah (Rambam, Hil. Sanhedrin 4:1). – Alex Apr 18 '12 at 17:07
@Alex The Rambam there just says Moshe gave semicha. Did he receive it? – Double AA Apr 18 '12 at 19:24

No one has mentioned the argument between R Akiva Eiger and the Tiferes Yisroel about his unmarried son becoming a rov Here look on the end of page 127 and beginning of 128. That is the only source I can find at the moment but there are many more. I cant imagine how he could pasken womens shaalos without being married.

share|improve this answer

"Part of the context of this question is that it is written that Jesus was called "Rabbi", yet Christian canon holds that Jesus was never married (a claim of which I am skeptical)."

In response to this part of your inquiry, I can answer you that, by the time of Jesus, the title "rabbi" and correlates were not exclusively used in a formal manner as it is today in judaism in reference to authorized clergy. On the contrary, it was sometimes used in reference to non-clergy and non-pharisaic individuals who had acquired a religious following as a means of attributing honor. Also, not all recognized pharisaic authorities (that time's rabbis) had the rabbi title attached to their names, as was, for example, the case for Hillel The Elder. Later rabbinc authorities also don't always have the title, as is the case for the Sage Shmuel, and many others.

All this to say that: even if it could be proven that in rabbinic judaism historically one would have to be married to be a recognized rabbi, it does not follow from it that Jesus was married just because he was called a rabbi, since the title was not exclusively used in this formal manner by that time, being some times attributed to religious leaderships independent of formal training, recognition and, needless to say, any other requirement for official ordination as a rabbi.

Obs.: Anyone may feel free to edit my answer due to english problems, since it is not my native language.

share|improve this answer
Thank you for your comments, I didn't expect there to be a definitive proclamation that "yes, all Rabbi's are married", I was merely hoping to learn if it might "lend credence" to the argument one way or another. My take away from the discussion is that while it might slightly bolster the claim it is not definitive in either way. – Cos Callis Sep 18 '15 at 11:47

protected by Isaac Moses Feb 1 '13 at 17:27

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.