Mishnah in Horayos 3,8 says:

מַמְזֵר תַּלְמִיד חָכָם קוֹדֵם לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל עַם הָאָרֶץ:
(the scholar mamzer takes precedence over the ignorant high priest.)

Do we have a practical example of this statement? Did we ever (in our sources) precede a Mamzer Rabbi to a Cohen Gadol or similar?

Do we know of a prominent Rabbi that was a Mamzer?


The matter is unlikely to be known. There is a story in the Talmud [Kiddushin 71a] about a rabbi who said he could spot bastards on sight, but would never say anything because some great rabbis are among them. This was later codified by the Rema (on Shulchan Aruch Even Ha-Ezer 2.5): If an unfit person is mixed in a particular family, then once it has become mixed it has become mixed and whoever knows about it may not disclose it".

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    I suspect you're referring to a gemara in the 4th perek of kiddushin (IMSMC) about a rabbi who knew of certain families that were of problematic lineage, but he wouldn't publicise it b/c some of them were very important/powerful. – Loewian May 7 at 15:37
  • @Loewian is referring to Kiddushin 71a – b a May 7 at 16:07
  • It seems that this is only applicable to a family that is known to blend with one of these psulim, but if one is known to be a Mamzer there's no "blending", so a Beis Din knows exactly who he is. – Al Berko May 7 at 16:15

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