Kiddushin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five



In yesterday’s mishnah we learned that men need to check their wives’ lineage before marriage.  The normal check was eight mothers.  Our mishnah teaches that if the woman father’s or one of the mother’s father’s served in a role where disqualified priests were not allowed, then they need not check back any further.  I would make the following analogy:  sometimes companies do background checks on potential employees.  However, if the company for which the person previously worked is known for doing thorough background checks, a fresh check need not be done. 


Mishnah Five

1)      They do not check from the altar and upwards, nor from the duchan [dais] and upwards, nor from the Sanhedrin and upwards.   

2)      And all those whose fathers were established to have been among the public officers or charity collectors may marry [their daughters] into the priesthood, and he doesn’t need to check after them.

3)      Rabbi Yose says: even one who was signed as a witness in the old court of Tzippori.  

4)      Rabbi Hanina ben Antigonus says: even one who was recorded in the king’s list of officers.



Section one:  If one of the woman’s fathers either served as a priest at the altar, or sung as a Levite from the duchan in the Temple or served in the Sanhedrin, the man who wishes to marry her need not check back in that branch any further.  We should note that it is clear from here that lineage was a criterion for serving in the Sanhedrin.

Section two:  Furthermore, if the father held a position of public trust then the husband need not check any further.  Again we can note that lineage was a criterion in appointing men to positions of leadership. This section probably refers to the post-destruction period, whereas the previous section referred to positions held when the Temple still stood.

Section two:  According to Albeck, Rabbi Yose is referring to people appointed to approve documents in the old court in Tsippori.  Normal witnesses would not undergo such thorough background checks. 

Section three:  While all sorts of people with all sorts of lineages could certainly serve as soldiers, only those with proper lineage were listed in the king’s list of officers (see I Chronicles 7:40).