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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 time of Jesus, than if it "IS" true today.

I have no reason to believe that there was a change in the standard, but want to be clear has, in fact. 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).

[I am adding the following edit because a comment does not allow for the space needed]

Per the FAQ's of this site

Jewish Life and Learning - Stack Exchange is for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more.

This question clearly falls into the later category as I was (and still am) "interested in learning more". At heart the question was "Is it reasonable to believe that Jesus of Nazareth may have been 'required' to have been married because he was frequently referred to as "Rabbi"? (or perhaps, "Are references to Jesus as 'Rabbi' evidence that he was in fact Married?") I chose to generalize the question because I saw the question as to whether Jesus in particular was married as a potential fire starter as some may wish to argue the specific rather than provide an simple direct answer to the question, as was done (and for which I remain grateful to @Monica Cellio). I would also point out that when Ms. Cellio kindly reminded me that my original choice to refer to Him as 'Christ' was 'potentially loaded', it was a change I was quick and happy to make. My intent was to ask a clear question without raising controversy. This question has been here for nearly a year without additional comment.

I do not believe the editing of the question to "place it in a Jewish context" is appropriate. Through out Stack Exchange sites there is a consistent goal to minimize the duplication of questions and for allowing questioners to easily find preexisting answers to their questions. If you attempt to start a new question now by typing 'Was Jesus Married' into the title box this question appears near the top of the list. Your edit would likely exclude it from the context search algorithm.

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Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for both your interesting question and your sensitivity in light of Monica's comment! –  Isaac Moses Jun 10 '11 at 4:09
@Jon There most certainly was a Sanhedrin at the beginning of the common era; they even were able to judge capital cases, until ~40 years before the destruction of the Second Temple (c. 30 CE). And they continued to grant semichah for several centuries after that - at least until the 4th century (when our current calendar was established by Hillel II), and possibly as late as the 11th century. –  Alex Apr 18 '12 at 17:10
CosCallis, asking whether it was true around the time of the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem that a rabbi had to married is the same as asking your question but ties the time to a Jewish event rather than to Jesus's life, and seems to me to be more appropriate for this site. Ping @SethJ. –  msh210 Apr 20 '12 at 18:21
Also, within the goal of keeping it on-topic (and I'm surprised the question hasn't been raised earlier), can you provide some reason why you think it might or might not have changed? –  Seth J Apr 20 '12 at 18:35
@SethJ & msh210, see recent edit to the original post. –  Cos Callis Apr 21 '12 at 5:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 12 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.

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

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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
@DoubleAA: this teshuvah, in a sefer called Mecholas Hamachanayim, says that "Moshe was given semichah by Hashem," and indeed that this is why judges are called אלקים in the Torah - because their authority goes back in a chain to Hashem. –  Alex Apr 19 '12 at 13:54

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.

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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.

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

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