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18

All Cohanim and Levi'im are descended from the tribe of Levi. During the time of the temple, a Cohen would have to provide documentary evidence of their ancestry in order to serve in the temple (כהן מיוחס). Since the Babylonian exile, all such documentary evidence has been lost (with the exception of perhaps the Rappaport family). Some interesting genetic ...


14

Based on Jewish law, a person's Jewish status (for a non-convert) is determined through matrilineal descent. This means that one is only Jewish from birth if their mother was Jewish. And their mother was only Jewish if their mother was Jewish. Based on this, a person can have seven out of eight great-grandparents who are Jewish, and still not be Jewish from ...


12

In Bereishis Rabbah 37:10, R. Yose says: הראשונים על ידי שהיו מכירים את ייחוסיהם, היו מוציאין שמן לשם המאורע. אבל אנו שאין אנו מכירים את ייחוסינו, אנו מוציאין לשם אבותינו "The earlier generations, who knew their genealogies, would name after events. We, however, who don't know our genealogies, name after our ancestors." (Etz Yosef explains that ...


11

In addition to what @Danny answered (Cohanim and Levites are from the tribe of Levi), several families claim to trace their lineage back to King David, meaning they are from the tribe of Judah. Since the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the time of the First Temple, 10 tribes were lost and we have no trace of them. The only tribes ...


9

Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in 1492 by the Alhambra Decree. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy, or would otherwise define themselves in terms of Jewish customs and traditions from the Iberian Peninsula. ...


9

All Cohanim and Levites are from the tribe of Levi; many people have proof of such lineage.


8

The source of this midrash is actually the Talmud in Chagigah 13b -- 14a. The Talmud states: תניא אמר רבי שמעון החסיד אלו תשע מאות ושבעים וארבע דורות שקומטו להיבראות קודם שנברא העולם ולא נבראו עמד הקב"ה ושתלן בכל דור ודור והן הן עזי פנים שבדור which Soncino translates as: It is taught: R. Simeon the Pious said: These are the nine hundred and ...


8

No, the nations were mixed up in the days of Sennacherib the Assyrian. The Rambam writes When Sannecherib, King of Assyria, arose, he confused the identity of all the nations, mixing them together, and exiling them from their place. The Egyptians that live in the land of Egypt at present are of other nationalities. This also applies with regard to the ...


7

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 ...


7

It goes back at least to אברהם's generation. There is also חנך. Although I see no commentary about the first חנך, it seems on its face that they are two different people, since their lineages are listed as being different (one from קין and the other from שת). And there is also למך. (See the Wikipedia entry for an interesting comment on the similarities ...


7

Off the cuff, I can say that this was done for at least 2000 years. Rabban Gamliel the Elder, who lived at the end of the Second Temple era, was succeeded by his son Rabi Shimon [ben Gamliel], who was in turn succeeded by Rabban Gamliel II, who was in turn succeeded by Rabi Shimon ben Gamliel II.


7

There is a chassidic story (I've seen it in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales by R' S.Y. Zevin; online here) in which R' Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov is told by his rebbe, the Chozeh of Lublin, that he descends from the tribe of Yissachar. Indeed, R' Tzvi Elimelech named his major work "Bnei Yissaschar" in commemoration of this. So there's a rare case of a family ...


6

The curse of Yechonya (or Yehoyachin) was revoked and his wife had two sons while he was in prison. This is rebuilding of the Davidic line through Zerubavel. Note that this means that since Yehoyachin was the last king who had children that survived (all of Tzidkiyahus children were killed at the destruction of the first temple) Mashiach would therefore ...


5

As discussed previously: 1800 years ago, it sounds like the Mishnah would permit a mamzer to marry a non-Jewish (actually, more like quasi-Jewish) slave woman; when that woman is freed she (and her unborn children) become full Jews. A (male) mamzer would thus be allowed to father a non-mamzer child this way. In contemporary times you can't just go out and ...


5

You would still be a Jew. The lineage of a Jew never breaks, regardless of a person's apparent conversion to another religion. The lineage is through one's mother and that is unbreakable. There exists no such thing as conversion from Judaism according to Jewish law. See the Gemoro (Sanhedrin 44a): אע״פ שחטא ישראל הוא Even if he sinned, he is still ...


5

The fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke at a Simchas Torah (1915) farbrengen regarding Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm. [One of the things said then] was "I know him already for thirty one years. He is Amalek and his end must be obliterated."


5

This is pretty much open-and-shut. Mishna, Kiddushin 3:13. כל מקום שיש קידושין ואין עבירה, הוולד הולך אחר הזכר; ואיזו זו--זו כוהנת לוייה וישראלית, שנישאו לכוהן וללוי ולישראל. ... וכל מי שאין לה לא עליו ולא על אחרים קידושין, הוולד כמוה; ואיזה זה, זה ולד שפחה ונוכרית. Any union which is valid marriage and no prohibition, the child follows ...


5

Perush Yonason asks this question and does not give an answer. I once heard an answer (do not remember from who) which is difficult to accept. Levi lived 137 years in Egypt. The problems with this answer is numerous, and I think this is a question that has no good answer.


4

As far as more recently recorded descendants, don't forget that the Gemara (Gitin 57b) says that Haman's descendants taught Torah in Bnei Brak (or small children, depending on which version you follow). Although our texts do not reveal who these descendants of Haman and Sisera were, the text available to the early commentators apparently did. The ...


4

Several possibilities I can think of here, just to add to Will's answer; you'll have to determine which of these makes the most sense for your situation: A mamzer is the product only of incest or adultery (i.e. a married woman with a Jewish man not her husband). Someone born out-of-wedlock is treated just the same as an ordinary Jew. I'm told it was not at ...


4

Yes the Tzemech Tzedek was the Metzudos Tziyon's great-great-great-grandson. Source


4

The principle derives from the Mishna, Kiddushin 3:12. There it gives four different examples of possible sexual unions and relates the status of the child in each example: כל מקום שיש קדושין ואין עברה הולד הולך אחר הזכר. ואיזו? זו כהנת לויה וישראלית שנשאו לכהן וללוי ולישראל. וכל מקום שיש קדושין ויש עברה הולד הולך אחר הפגום. ואיזו? זו אלמנה לבהן ...


4

The Chida in Sefer Devash L'Pi 1:24 says that Hagar came from Cham. Regarding your question "how can this be understood in light of Avraham's going out of his way to make sure his descendants don't marry into the descendants of Cham?" A look at the verses in Braishis does not mention Cham, it only mentions Canaan. (Breishis 24:3). Rashi explains that since ...


3

Deuteronomy 25:6 says, at the simplest level, that it's only the first child from such a marriage who should carry on the memory of the dead brother. The couple can then have as many children as they like with whatever emotional baggage they choose to (not) bring along. Note that they don't actually have to name the child after the dead brother. In fact ...


3

Briefly, such an interpretation is inconsistent with the text and trend of Rav Saadia Gaon's discussion of this topic in Emunos v'Deos. The entire context of his discussions on when one may interpret Scripture contrary to the plain meaning is one of restricting the practice. Regarding allegorical interpretation Rav Saadia warns: The result of the ...


3

Although I personally do not know of someone with such links, I don't doubt the possiblity that one could be produced. Geneology is my hobby, and although Jewish geneology is very difficult, for a variety of reasons, going far back 2000 years is not impossible if you can link your family to well known Jews for whom we have a geneology. For example, I know ...


3

Rabbi Menachem Azariya miPano in Asara Ma'amaros, Eim Kol Chai, section 3 simanim 9-10 cites an unsourced midrash that Shlomo met Naamah when he was cast out of his kingdom by the demon king Ashmedia (see gittin 68b). The story goes that Ashmedai cast Shlomo's ring, which had the name of God engraved in it, into the ocean. Shlomo the wanderer ended up in the ...


3

According to the Zohar (Shelach 173b), the Messiah will descend from Hefzibah, the wife of Nathan (son of King David). Philo understands that Joash was a descendant of Nathan, son of David and the Messiah will descend from him and not from King Solomon. But Chronicles I 3:11 says that Joash was from the line directly descending from Kin Solomon. In some ...


3

Rabbi Mordechai Hochman, in "הבנים שאינם נראים"( also in "גרשום – 'הגבר' שבחבורה"), brings the question of how could Levi have lived to see Mosheh and Aharon, but also mentions that the same problem exists for Kehat having lived to see Pinchas (i.e. Eliyahu; see Targum [Pseudo-]Yonatan on v. 18). To answer this, he brings Liqutei Moharan I:173, which says ...



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