Is it necessary for a Kohen to clarify that a prospective match who is a ba'alat teshuvah has not had sexual relations with a non-Jew before dating her, or can one rely on a chezkat kashrut? If the former what steps need to be taken to clarify her status?

  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/16102/…
    – Shmuel
    May 1, 2014 at 3:37
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    Such a question would (in my mind) be excruciatingly embarrassing, and embarrassing a baalat teshuva is an issur deorayta...
    – Shmuel
    May 1, 2014 at 3:42
  • @Shmuel I agree. I would not advise any kohen to ask a ba'alat teshuva directly, but there are likely other ways to clarify matters. (through mutual friends, shadchanim, and the like)
    – Yehuda
    May 1, 2014 at 3:49
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    @Shmuel It's only embarrassing if the answer is yes. In which case they won't see each other again. Moreover it can be phrased like "If this is an issue, find a reason to break up with me (and don't date future Kohanim)".
    – Double AA
    May 1, 2014 at 3:51
  • let us continue this discussion in chat
    – Yehuda
    May 1, 2014 at 23:20

3 Answers 3


My understanding is that many people today will start off with the assumption that a woman who bacame baal teshuva after a certain age is just not kohen-eligible.

As for your question -- it's not an easy matter, but if it's prohibited it's prohibited. ("Don't embarrass someone" doesn't mean I can ignore the serious possibility of halachic prohibitions.)

As stated previously:

Most shadchanim simply have a checkbox -- "are you ineligible to marry a Kohen?" The lady can simply check this -- or say "sorry no Kohanim" without giving another drop of detail. Could be her father wasn't Jewish, could be she had a non-Jewish boyfriend, could be rape, could be all sorts of things -- none of it is the shadchan's business.

So while the kohen asking her point-blank about her past in graphic detail is uncouth, there are better ways of doing it -- for instance, involving a rabbi or a shadchan, and handing her a form that says "if any of the following apply, check this box." That's obtaining the minimally-necessary knowledge in the least-hurtful way.

  • 1
    What age is that? Do you have a source for this answer? I am uncomfortable accepting that if one is a ba'alat teshuva at thirteen she would be dateable to a kohen where if she was fourteen it would become problematic. There needs to be some quantifiable way to establish when she gains a chezkat zonah.
    – Yehuda
    May 1, 2014 at 13:37
  • I asked you in your other answer why you say that a non jewish father makes a girl ineligible for a Priest. You said you'd clarify. Can you?
    – Baby Seal
    May 1, 2014 at 20:03
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    @BabySeal judaism.stackexchange.com/a/1363/21 Shulchan Aruch EH7:17
    – Shalom
    May 1, 2014 at 20:05
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    @Master_Yoda you don't use a chazaka as a birur for a safek that can be otherwise figured out! Ring Ring "Hello?" "Oh hello rabbi, I have a halacha question, please help me!" "Okay, ask away." "Rabbi, some milk fell into my beef stew" "What's the volume of the milk and the volume of the pot of beef stew?" "Um ... that's personal. Is there a chezkas kashrus?" [Click.] Someone needs to ask the question at some point.
    – Shalom
    May 1, 2014 at 23:51
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    @Shalom, but is this even a safek at all? And if so, perhaps it is "figured out" by her silence. She should speak up if she knows the situation to be problematic. On the other hand, maybe this can't be resolved by simply asking the question. Perhaps like a shevuyah she is inherently suspect as Baby Seal argues. Intuitively I tend to agree that someone needs to ask the question. Unfortunately, I don't trust my intuition.
    – Yehuda
    May 2, 2014 at 0:04

Have a look in the Tosafos בתולה שעיברה in חגיגה on :דף י"ד

Essentially Tosafos there brings a possible rule that if the wife would also be transgressing (in that case והוא אשה בבתוליה יקח) then we can rely on her. As opposed to Yichus issues where she really has nothing to lose if she lies.

So we may to able to answer your question thus:

As long as the potential wife is aware that they would both be living in sin if she had sexual relations with a non-Jew before dating him, we could supposedly rely on her unwillingness to do so (especially since she's a Ba'alat Teshuva, who has turned around her life not to live in sin) and there would be no need to ask her.

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    Very interesting application. I'd be extremely interested to see whether any acharonim bring this tosafot down l'halacha.
    – Yehuda
    May 1, 2014 at 13:42

If this kohen is himself a BT can we not say he is also most likely a 'cholol' and therefore permitted to marry any other BT. I would say that if he is already married to a BT and there was a good chance that his mother was also a zonah he would be able to stay with her. We see often in the gemoro that one tries very hard not to separate a man from his wife. ניסת לא תצא. It is not korus only a 'lav' where we are even more 'meikal'. Also today kohanim dont have a real chazaka.

  • unfortunately it doesn't work that way. A person becomes a chalal if he was born from the union of a kohen and a divorcee. But if someone is born a kohen, his um, romantic past doesn't alter his kohen status.
    – Shalom
    May 1, 2014 at 20:07
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    If he is a BT then his mother is as likely to have been a zonah as his present match. Not a divorcee.
    – preferred
    May 1, 2014 at 22:40
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    I wouldn't count on it. Besides, what if his mother married young, and what if she was raised in a generation with different mores.
    – Shalom
    May 1, 2014 at 23:56
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    Regardless, we're saying here that you have to concern yourself with a non-zero probability of a problem, not that you can rely on that probability being very high.
    – Shalom
    May 1, 2014 at 23:57

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