If a non-observant Kohen marries a non-observant divorcée, is there a way it would be possible that the sons from this marriage could be kosher Kohenim? What if the last name of this family is Cohen, does that make a difference?

  • 2
    See en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohen: “A priest of Aaron's lineage (i.e. a kohen) is forbidden by the Torah to marry a divorced woman even if she were a native Israelite… If he did [such] his male issue born from such union is no longer a priest (i.e. kohen), but rather becomes Ḥallal,a term designating one who is no longer a priest, but profaned.”
    – Joel K
    Jul 1 at 7:52
  • sefaria.org/…
    – Shalom
    Jul 1 at 10:37
  • 2
    Having a kohen father is necessary, but insufficient.
    – Shalom
    Jul 1 at 10:37

1 Answer 1


One would need to see their local Orthodox rabbi to determine their status in a case like this. The children in question may or may not be Kohenim. In theory the rule is simple: a Kohen may not marry a divorcée, and if he does, his male offspring are challalim ("blemished cohenim") and are not classified as Kohenim. In actual practice, there are many, many details that will determine the status of a marriage such as that of this couple.

Was the mother's first marriage an Orthodox Jewish wedding with 2 shomer-Shabbat witnesses signing the Ketubah? If not, it may not count halachically as a marriage at all and so her sons could be considered Kohenim (there are other factors at play as well).

Was the couple's own wedding an Orthodox Jewish wedding with 2 shomer-Shabbat witnesses signing the Ketubah? If not, again it may not count halachically as a wedding at all and their sons would likely be considered Kohenim.

On top of this, is the father actually a Kohen, or is that just the family's last name? This may depend on many factors in the paternal grandparents' life that I am not going to discuss on the internet.

There are many, many other important details not appropriate to discuss here. SYLOR and get a ruling ASAP, there are many duties and privilidges associated with being a Kohen and if they apply to you you really need to know as soon as possible.

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