More Discussions for this daf
1. Safek Mamzer 2. A Pregnant Woman Who Converts

David Goldman asks:

I do not understand why there are more chumras regarding kohanim today than safek mamzerim. ALL Kohanim are considered to have the status of safek kohen for 2000 years, and yet they are still restricted in their options for marriage, including converts, though Rabbi Akiva permitted it. Yet a safek mamzer is given greater freedom in not being restricted in who he can marry, and should have a stricter status than a safek kohen individually and collectively for 2000 years. What do you think of this? Thanks.

David Goldman, USA

The Kollel replies:

If all Kohanim are only safek kohen, then how are they able to make a beracha when they do Birkas Kohanim, and how is the father of the firstborn able to make a beracha when he does Pidyon HaBen; we should say "Safek Berachos l'Hokeil"?

Concerning the kohen marrying the convert according to R. Akiva.

See Tosfos Sanhedrin 50b DH T'L that according to R. Akiva a single woman is considered a Zonah if she has had relations a few times; and see Taz on Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'Ezer 26:2 that according to R. Akiva if she had biyah twice she is considered Mufkeres and is forbidden to a kohen.


Dovid Bloom

David Goldman asks:

It is an excellent question but evidently it is based on the custom of family tradition.

Plus, there are a number of questionable brachas that still get recited that were not enacted by Chazal yet are recited anyway.

Plus today we don't give trumah to kohanim for this reason. Some poskim address the birkas kohanim issue in relation to the fact that the bracha doesn't include the Shem Hamefurash. Yet this should be questioned, since the bracha of kohanim without the Shem Hamefurash is not the real thing anyway!

And pidyon Haben is also a safek....

Indeed, isn't there a question of a vain bracha with a fixed calendar on lulav on second day Yomtov, achilas matzah at a second Seder, etc. etc.

So whatever the terutzim, the problem remains send not only for the bracha before the duchaning....

I have been checking online, and I see there is mention of poskim who held kohanim should not make the bracha before duchaning because of the status of safek....

The Kollel replies:


a) I found an explanation in the Teshuvos Shevus Yakov 1:93 for how it can be that a Kohen is a Safek, but nevertheless does Nesi'as Kapayim with a Berachah and it is not considered a Berachah l'Vatalah. The Shevus Yakov appears to be of the opinion that nowadays Kohanim are only Safek, and the ramification of this seems to be that if the Kohen married a woman who is forbidden mid'Oraisa to marry a Kohen (e.g. a Zonah), we force him to divorce her, while if she is forbidden only mid'Rabanan (e.g. a "Shevuyah" who was captured by Nochrim but we do not know for sure that she had relations), we do not force him to divorce her.

b) The Shevus Yakov writes that it may be that even a Safek Kohen may do Nesi'as Kapayim with a Berachah. Even though the Gemara (Kesuvos 24b, and Rashi DH d'Isur) states that a non-Kohen who does Nesi'as Kapayim transgresses a positive commandment of the Torah [Bamidbar 6:23, "Thus shall you bless the children of Yisrael," from which we learn that only Kohanim have a Mitzvah to bless, while a non-Kohen who does so transgresses this positive commandment), nevertheless Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi says in Sotah 38b that if someone really is a Kohen but refuses to do Nesi'as Kapayim, he transgresses three positive commandments.

c) The Shevus Yakov writes that in order to solve the problem of the Safek Kohen, the Rabanan said that it is worse to transgress three commandments than to transgress one. Therefore, the Safek Kohen is obligated to go up to Duchan. Since, in practical terms, he has a Mitzvah mid'Rabanan to do Nesi'as Kapayim, it follows that he also makes a Berachah on this Mitzvah d'Rabanan.

d) However, we do see that even though the Shevus Yakov considers the Kohanim nowadays to be Safek, we still force them to divorce a woman forbidden mid'Oraisa to a Vadai Kohen.

2) I think that the Poskim who discuss the Shem ha'Mefurash are referring to the Gemara in Kidushin 71a that says that in the Beis ha'Mikdash, the Kohanim used to bless the people with the Shem ha'Mefurash. See Teshuvos Maharit 1:149, DH v'Tame'ah, who says that the prohibition mentioned above (in 1c), from Kesuvos 24b for a non-Kohen to do Nesi'as Kapayim, applies only in the Beis ha'Mikdash (see also Pischei Teshuvah in the name of Yeshu'os Yakov, who writes something similar). However, this is not referring to the issue of a Berachah l'Vatalah of a non-Kohen who does Nesi'as Kapayim nowadays.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

David Goldman asks:

Thank you. However why wouldn't it make more sense for kohanim to omit the bracha before the duchaning since safek brachas lehakel?

And why should their safek for marriage be stricter then for a safek mamzer?

The Kollel replies:

1) If one says that Kohanim should omit the Berachah when Duchaning, then people will not take the Duchaning seriously. I remember seeing this Sevara in a different context, in Igros Moshe. I cannot find the Teshuvah at the moment, but as far as I remember the discussion concerned someone who had to daven very early in the morning, at a time when there was a certain doubt whether he was Yotzei the Mitzvah of Tefilin. Rav Moshe ruled that he should daven at that time, since there was no other option and, in addition, according to a lot of Shitos it was acceptable to daven then. The next question was whether it might be better not to say a Berachah, because according to some Shitos it was too early, but Rav Moshe wrote that if we will tell someone not to make a Berachah on the Tefilin, he will believe that he is not really doing the Mitzvah, and will not take it seriously.

2) However, in our case, one does not have to resort to the above Sevara, because the Shevus Yakov writes that there is a Mitzvah d'Rabanan for a Kohen to Duchan nowadays. This is because even though the Shevus Yakov is of the opinion that nowadays they are Safek Kohanim, nevertheless while there is a Safek that he might not be a Kohen, on the other hand there is a Safek that he is a Kohen. If he is not a Kohen then he transgresses a Mitzvah by Duchaning. However, if he is a Kohen he transgresses three Mitzvos by not Suchaning. This means that Kohanim have a certain dilemma, but the Shevus Yakov writes that Chazal solved the problem for them and said that that they possess a Mitzvah mid'Rabanan to Duchan nowadays. Since there is a Mitzvah d'Rabanan to Duchan, it follows that one makes a Berachah on it, in the same way that one makes a Berachah on many Mitzvos d'Rabanan, such as lighting the Chanukah candles. By the way, this argument also explains why we make a Berachah on the Mitzvos of second day Yom Tov in Chutz la'Aretz, which is a Mitzvah d'Rabanan.

3) The Shevus Yakov does give a certain leniency for the marriage of a Kohen nowadays. He agrees with the Heter of the Maharshdam that a Kohen may marry a woman who was captured, since this Isur is mid'Rabanan (because she may not have had relations with her captors). The Maharshdam writes that he is allowed to marry the "Shevuyah" because there is a "Sfek Sfeika": he might not in fact be a Kohen, and even if he is a Kohen, the captured woman might not have had relations (see Pischei Teshuvah to Shulchan Aruch, Even ha'Ezer 7:2).

4) However, when it comes to a Kohen marrying a woman who is prohibited mid'Oraisa to a Kohen, the Shevus Yakov is stringent because present-day Kohanim are Safek Kohanim, so the rule is "Safek d'Oraisa l'Chumra."

David, wishing you a Chag Same'ach and a wonderful Chag Matan Torah.

Dovid Bloom

David Goldman asks:

Thank you, this is w very interesting discussion. Now what about the case of a safek mamzer? That should also be safek doraisa lehachmir, yet he is not restricted in marrying.....and the safek of a mamzer is not like a kohen, who are collectively safek for 2000 years!

So if a safek mamzer can marry then why not a kohen kol sheken?!

And do Chazal ever offer the sevara of a bracha being said so that the mitzva is taken more seriously?

The Kollel replies:

The Mishnah Kidushin 74a tells us that according to Rabbi Eliezer a safek mamzer may not marry whoever he wishes. The Gemara Kidushin 75a states that the Halacha follows Rabbi Eliezer.

Shavua Tov

Dovid Bloom