Bikkurim, Chapter One, Mishnah Five

 

Introduction

The first part of this mishnah continues to deal with some halakhic differences between converts and those born Jewish.

The second part of the mishnah provides more examples of a person who brings bikkurim but does not make the declaration.

 

Mishnah Five

1)      Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov says: a woman who is a daughter of a convert may not marry a priest unless her mother was herself an Israelite.

2)      [This law applies equally to the offspring] whether of proselytes or freed slaves, even to ten generations, unless their mother is an Israelite.

3)      A guardian, an agent, a slave, a woman, one of doubtful sex, or a hermaphrodite bring the bikkurim, but do not recite, since they cannot say: “Which you, O Lord, have given to me” (Deuteronomy 26:10).

 

Explanation

Section one: In order to be able to marry a priest, a woman must have been born to a Jewish mother or at least to a Jewish father. In other words, a daughter of two converts cannot marry a priest. The same is true with regard to the daughter of freed slaves. Furthermore, the same law applies for all subsequent generations. This means that if the daughter of two converts marries another convert, their daughter cannot marry a priest.

The main place for this halakhah is Mishnah Kiddushin 4:7. In that mishnah R. Yose disagrees and holds that the daughter of two converts can marry an Israelite. This is the accepted halakhah. The priest is only restricted from marrying an actual convert. The source of this law is probably Ezekiel 44:22 which states, “For they (priests) shall take for themselves as wives a widow or a divorcee, but rather a virgin from the seed of Israel.” To Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov, the daughter of converts is not considered to be from the seed of Israel.

Section two: One can bring bikkurim and make the recitation only if the land on which the fruit grew belongs to him. The guardian, the agent and the slave are all bringing bikkurim on behalf of another person. This is a legitimate way to send one’s bikkurim to the Temple but the person bringing fruit on behalf of another cannot recite the declaration.

A woman, a person of doubtful sex (meaning they don’t have physical signs of being either male or female) and a hermaphrodite (has both male and female genitalia) can all own land. However, they were not a part of the original inheritance of the land in the time of Joshua. At that point, according to rabbinic tradition, the land was only bequeathed to men, more specifically to men who could demonstrate that they were certain men. This is derived from the verse “Which You, O Lord, have given to me.” The “giving” here does not refer to the current status of the land—all of these people can own land. Rather it refers to the original division of the Land. Since they cannot recite this line, they don’t make the recitation.

 

image_print