Kiddushin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Six



If a woman who is prohibited to a priest (a divorcee or a convert) has relations with a priest, she becomes a “halalah”, or a “profaned woman.”  Her male child from such a union is a “halal”.  A priest may not marry a “halalah”, as we learned in the first mishnah of this chapter.

The word “halal” or “halalah” comes from Leviticus 21:7 where it states, “[He shall not take] a harlot (zonah) or a ‘halalah’”.   While JPS translates this word as describing the harlot “a woman defiled by harlotry”, the rabbis understand the vav between harlot and halalah to be conjunctive.  “Halalah” is not a description of the harlot but a woman of a different category.

The final clause of the mishnah compares the rules for converts with those for the halal and halalah.  A priest cannot marry a convert, as it says in Ezekiel 44:22, “They may marry only virgins of the stock of the House of Israel.”    


Mishnah Six

1)      The daughter of a male halal is unfit for the priesthood for all time.  

2)      If an Israelite marries a halalah, his daughter is fit for the priesthood.

3)      If a halal marries the daughter of an Israelite, his daughter is unfit for the priesthood. 

4)      Rabbi Judah says: the daughter of a male convert is as the daughter of a male halal.



Section one:  The daughter of a male halal is a halalah.  She may not marry a priest.  Furthermore, the daughter of the son of a halal is also a halalah.  The flaw of being a “halal” is passed down through the sons and therefore the daughter of any subsequent son of one of these halalim is herself a halalah and prohibited from marrying a priest.

Section two:  As stated above, being a halal is not passed down through the mother but through the father. Therefore the daughter of a marriage between an Israelite male and a halalah is permitted to marry a priest.

Section three:  This section repeats the rule which we learned from section one.  It serves as a contrast to section two and an intro to section four.

Section four:  Just as halalot (the plural of halalah) cannot marry priests, so too female converts may not marry priests.  Rabbi Judah adds that just as the descent of halalot is determined by the father, so too is the descent of the convert.  The daughter of a convert may not marry a priest.  According to Rabbi Judah if an Israelite male married a female convert, their daughter could marry a priest.  The next mishnah will continue to discuss this subject.