It is stated in Rambam Isurei Biah - Chapter 15 - Halacha 25:

When an asufi is found in a city inhabited by gentiles, whether the majority are gentiles or the majority are Jews, the child is considered as gentile of indefinite status with regard to his lineage. If he consecrates a woman, she needs a bill of divorce because of the doubt. If someone kills him, he is not executed for doing so.

My question is, if this person ended up marrying a Jewess of non-doubtful status, is the child a safek asufim? Is a safek asufim a sfake sfaka and permitted to marry into the kehila?

And also in the related Gemara (final perek Kiddushin), it lists several indications where the asufi would be considered kosher (i.e., if he had milah already, etc.). If someone had a relative three or four generations removed and such details have been obscured, would this also be a sfake sfaka?

  • "the child is considered as gentile of indefinite status with regard to his lineage" is an unfortunate translation. He's not a definite gentile, but of indefinite status w.r.t. lineage. He's considered only possibly a gentile. (The Hebrew is "ה״ז ספק עכו״ם לענין יחוסין".)
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 19:45
  • So then his offspring would be a safek afusi? Since afusi not being allowed to marry in, then sfek sfeka of mamzerus then allow the offspring to marry in?
    – rudy
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 19:59
  • Mamzerus? Where did you get mamzerus from? Rambam isn't discussing mamzerus AFAICT.
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 20:06
  • an afusi is a safek mamzer, so an afusi in a city that has gentiles is a safek gentile and a safek mamzer
    – rudy
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 20:17
  • rudy, why don't you clarify all your questions in the question itself, including also the information people need to understand what you're asking, instead of getting into conversations in the comments on the question and on the answer.
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 22:05

1 Answer 1


The first question is pretty easy -- Jewish status is entirely matrilineal. Mom's Jewish? Child is Jewish. Mom's not? Neither is the kid. So if mom is an asufi, the same would apply to her children. Makes no difference who the dad is. (There's only one safek here -- is mom Jewish or not. The safek about dad is irrelevant.)

Second question: you mean something like -- "I know my mother's mother's mother was picked up off the streets, but I don't know whether she had Jewish identfying marks?" Not good enough. That's a safek bedavar echad. The only doubt here is "was great-grandma Jewish?" Identifying signs can help resolve that doubt. But there's only one doubt here.

Try spelling it out as a sfek sfeka, and you'll see where it falls apart. "Maybe she was Jewish, maybe she wasn't. And even if she wasn't Jewish .... maybe she had Jewish identifying signs?"

So if someone's mother's mother's status was we-can't-tell-if-she's-Jewish, then the same would apply to that person.

(Practically, a smart rabbi is going to recommend a just-in-case conversion at some point here.)

  • the question is actually going on a fathers paternal grandfather...but wouldnt the offspring of a male asufi be an asufi as well like an mamzerus? Halacha 23 same chapter...
    – rudy
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 14:53
  • and on the second question, its specifically from that Gemara that if the found orphan has had milah or several other scenarios, the child is not considered a safek mamzer, my question was if a few generations had passed and such information has been obscured and everyone has just married jewish since, if it assumed to not be a problem
    – rudy
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 14:59
  • @rudy so you're getting into questions of safek-mamzer, not safek-akum. Perhaps consider rephrasing your question title?
    – Shalom
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 15:08
  • That is the question though, would a safek asufi(one that comes from a city where gentiles live) that married a Bas Yisroel have offspring that are also safek asufi, or at that point does it change to either a sfek sfeka or a Jew with a gentile father?
    – rudy
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 15:18
  • And would the second question is more like since the child may have had such simanim is it enough for someone 4 generations removed to marry a jewess just like this previous three generations...
    – rudy
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 15:19

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