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A friend and I were discussing this. Generally speaking, it seems that it should be impossible for a person to be a kohen (rather than a chalal) and also a mamzer, because the set of women whom a kohen is forbidden to marry, and by whom his children would be chalalim, includes all of the arayos (Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 6:8).

However, in 7:14 it says that if a kohen impregnates such a woman the first time they have relations, then indeed the child is a mamzer but not a chalal. Chelkas Mechokek (:24) and Beis Shmuel (:37) point out that there's no real practical difference until the next generation: if the result of such a union is a daughter, and eventually a kohen wishes to marry her, he will be warned that she is forbidden to him as a mamzeres rather than as a chalalah.

So the question: is the child indeed a kohen in that case (which would seem to be implied by the statement that he is "not a chalal")? If so, then isn't there a greater practical difference - that if the child is a boy, he'll have to keep all of the laws of a kohen, and can perform birkas kohanim?

Another data point is that when checking family lineage, "we don't need to check beyond the altar" (Rambam, Hil. Issurei Bi'ah 20:2 from Kiddushin 76a), because any kohen who served in the Beis Hamikdash will have been thoroughly vetted. But if there can be a case, as above, where a person is a mamzer but still a kohen, why wouldn't he be able to perform the avodah?

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    Note that Kiddushin 4:1 lists mamzerim separately from kohanim, so it would seem impossible to be both. – Double AA May 23 '12 at 14:08
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    @DoubleAA (first comment): not much of a proof - mamzerim are also listed separately from Levi'im and Yisraelim. (Second comment:) Then what would it mean? Surely he's not simply a Yisrael, since his father is a kohen and his mother - at first biah - was not a zonah/chalalah. – Alex May 23 '12 at 15:35
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    @DoubleAA: I see where Erachin 33b says that according to Rebbi, a Levi's son who is a mamzer or a nasin (because his mother was one) doesn't get the special treatment accorded to a Levi when it comes to buying back real property in Eretz Yisrael. If you can find a source that applies this to other cases, like maaser, I'd be interested to see it. – Alex May 23 '12 at 17:19
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    See Tosefta Yevamot 8:1 that a mamzer from a levi doesn't get maaser. – Double AA Jun 9 '13 at 6:35
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    Minchat chinuch 264 has a long bit about this. I'll try and post an answer in a bit. – Double AA Jun 16 '13 at 16:21
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+50

In the Chelkas Mechokek Even Haezer 7, 24 it states that the halacha follows the majority of acharonim which include Himself, Bach, Prisha Who quotes the Magid Mishna and Rambam, Beis Shmuel,Beer Heitev, Ginas veradim,the Gra also Teshuvos Rashba 1201 that a Mamzer Cohen can be Metamei lemeisim. Even though the Shulchan Aruch E.H 7,14 argues that the first Biah of a Cohen with an Erva -since she is only a Challala through the second biah- the child does not become a challal and therefore is not allowed to be metamei Lemeisim (see Beis Yosef* and Taz who explains this) the Majority of Rishonim and Acharonim are not worried about this opinion:

"כבר כתבו האחרונים דאין נפקותא לדידן, דמאחר דהולד ממזר מכל העריות הוא גרע מחלל".
The Acharonim wrote since a mamzer can come from the forbidden relationships which a Yisroel is ossur to do whereas a Cholol only comes from uniquely Cohen forbidden relationships, so a mamzer is worst than a Cholol so everything that applies to a Cholol aplies to a Mamzer cohen

This means a Mamzer cohen is completely not a Cohen for everything including not doing Bircat Cohanim, and being able to contaminate himself with Tumat meit just like a Cholol. Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 7,20:

חלל של תורה הודאי הרי זו כזר ונושא גרושה ומטמא למתים שנאמר אמור אל הכהנים בני אהרן אע"פ שהם בני אהרן עד שיהיו בכיהונם**

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\\\ignore the note if you are not familar with concepts///////
{*Note:The Beis Yosef seems to brings a proof to his opinion from Kiddushin 77b:בפ' י' יוחסין (דף עז:) אהא דתנן אין חללה אלא מאיסורי כהונה א"ר אשי הלכך כהן הבא על אחותו זונה משוי לה חללה לא משוי לה חזר ובא עליה עשאה חללהופרש"י חזר ובא עליה או הוא או כהן אחר עשאה חללה שהרי אסורה לו משום זונה שאינו נוהג אלא בכהונה "A cohen that cohabits with his sister (or other Chayav Kareis unions) Makes her into a Zonah henceforth but she is not a Chalolo until the second time where she trangresses a kohein related issur of Zonah" This implies that while her son is a Mamzer from the first cohabitation she is not a chalolo yet rather only a zonah for the future, so her son still has a status of cohein even though he is a Mamzer.

The reason why nearly all the Acharonim argue with the Beis Yosef is mentioned in the Drisha: ובאמת שבגמרא איתא גם שאר עריות וז"ל אמר רב אשי הלכך כהן הבא על אחותו כו' וה"ט דבגמרא לא קאמר הנ"מ בולד אלא לענין תרומה שהיא עצמה נתחללה "Really the Gemora Kiddushin 77b means that the woman from Chayav Kareis relationships (e.g his sister) becomes a challala only from the second Biah which means she can no longer have Teruma (even though she could after the first Biah) but the child there is no difference between first or second biah (as the child from the first biah is a Mamzer and does not need to be classified as a chollol מנ"מ שאין הולד נעשה מתחילה חלל הא הוה ממזר)}

0

Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz clearly said in a halacha shiur that a Kohen cannot be a mamzer according to all poskim. The have no kedushas kehuna.

Now, regarding people who claim to be Kohanim now days in general, many poskim say that they are not "really" kohanim and therefore we are lenient with not treating them as kohanim. See http://www.oraltorah.org for more.

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    Then what's the status of the child in the question? – Double AA Sep 27 '12 at 17:19
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    (Also, I don't see the relevance of the second paragraph to this question. Can you (or anyone) explain? If not I move for removing it.) – Double AA Sep 27 '12 at 17:20
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    Why is this upvoted? It's demonstrably not true! – רבות מחשבות Dec 16 '18 at 13:28
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    I have no citation but I have been told that nowadays no one questions another’s claim to be a Kohen – JJLL Dec 16 '18 at 14:11

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