Do you know the explanation why in modern Kohanim there is a paternal line encompassing about 50% of the Kohanim and then many lines encompassing the other 50% 1. Is it possible for a Kohen to be descended from a non-Kohen father in some cases?

'Y chromosomal Aaron'

  • 50% of what?.... Aug 28 '12 at 3:29
  • @ShmuelBrin: edited
    – MichaelS
    Aug 28 '12 at 3:33
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    I'm not aware of any way for a Kohen to have a non Kohen father other than by localized divine decree.
    – Double AA
    Aug 28 '12 at 3:53
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    I think you're confusing "kohanim" with "people with that chromosome". Are you asking whether possession of this chromosome is sufficient to make one a kohein? Aug 28 '12 at 15:04
  • @MonicaCellio Yes it is not clear from the question maybe, but I just wanted to know about how this could happen that there are those different lines among a group but not about if one can proove one's acestral connection to Moses this way. Also, even if they are so, there are some things I know about which can make it happen in rare cases in a perfectly observant line. [I believe it is, as everything else in the world, coming from the creator just like the laws of physics are, but that is yet another topic.]
    – MichaelS
    Aug 28 '12 at 21:56

I suggest you look at the section of that Wikipedia article: Does a CMH prove Cohen ancestry?

It is all about probabilities, where you expect a more likely distribution, not a DNA test like in the movies where you prove an association to like 1 in a Trillion.

In any event, although it is called 'Y chromosomal Aaron' it could very well be some immediate descendant in any event (say Eliezar, his son and successor, or Pinchas his grandson, etc.) leaving a whole linage of Kohanim without the gene.

So although we know that in history there were fake Kohanim (I can't find a good source online for that, but I have definitely heard it in Shiurim), and any Kohain today has a presumption (Chazakah) of his status (also due to issues that could make him a Challal which don't affect the genetics discussion, other than the distribution among non-Kohanim), nevertheless the presence of the gene or lack thereof for a specific person is not conclusive one way or another, it is just a certain amount of evidence.

  • Yes, for a specific person one cannot prove Aaron ancestry since there are no samples. In fact what it does prove is that about half in the best case or less in the worst of the population had a common paternal ancestor. From the recommended section on Wikipedia: "One source of early confusion was a widespread popular notion that only Cohens or only Jews could have the Cohen Modal Haplotype. It is now clear that this is not the case." This means AMH is not a proof of being a Kohen, not that Kohanim have different paternal lines as a whole. G-d made them this way.
    – MichaelS
    Aug 28 '12 at 21:41
  • I want to be a friend, maybe it is pretencious to ask about this topic as maybe it can be seem as formulating charges against a group? I came across it accidentally when researching my Jewish ancestry and was curious. But in the end all the written and unwritten laws are for humans to fulfil and there still can be much noone can predict only the one who put the world in motion.
    – MichaelS
    Aug 28 '12 at 21:48
  • @micstas, I don't think it demonstrates that at all (the first comment). It only demonstrates a likelihood that they had that paternal ancestor represented by that mutation. But we don't actually know who that paternal ancestor was, so it is neither inclusive nor exclusive of being a Kohen (not to mention that it is very possible for non-Jews to descend from a Kohen or several that assimilated).
    – Yishai
    Aug 28 '12 at 21:54
  • yes, good point. No one have sampled Aaron [and let it be this way].
    – MichaelS
    Aug 28 '12 at 21:59

In some circles there is a story that only the "Rappaport" family has any "chazakah" of actually being Kohanim, and all other Kohanim are safek (in doubt) of actually being a Kohen or not.

As for the gene, it's in great dispute as to it's meaning. Further study needs to be done.

  • 2
    This seems like a comment.
    – Double AA
    Aug 29 '12 at 16:24
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    It's actually an answer. The DNA is confused, because our tradition about who is a Cohen is stated to be confused. The DNA actually backs up our mesorah of confusion :)
    – avi
    Aug 29 '12 at 19:20
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    Our Mesorah is to have 2 large groups of Kohanim and we're just not sure which is the real group? That's what he's asking about.
    – Double AA
    Aug 29 '12 at 20:26

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