Kiddushin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Eight



In this mishnah we learn that parents are not believed if they say that their child is a mamzer.


Mishnah Eight

1)      If a man declares, “this son of mine is a mamzer,” he is not believed.

2)      And even if both [the husband and wife] say about the fetus inside her, “it’s a mamzer” they are not believed.

3)      Rabbi Judah says: they are believed.



Section one:  There are two explanations given for why a father is not believed to say that his child is a mamzer.  The first is that the father is related to the child and relatives may not testify.  The second is that by saying that the child is a mamzer, the father is testifying against himself and halakhah does not allow self-incrimination.

Section two:  Even if both parents say that their child is a mamzer, which means that they are saying that the child is not from the husband but from an adulterous affair, they are not believed. 

Section three:  Rabbi Judah disagrees with both of the previous clauses.  In the Talmud Rabbi Judah’s ruling is based on a midrash.  That is to say his halakhah is not necessarily logical; rather it is based on his interpretation of Scripture.