Kiddushin, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three

 

Introduction

This mishnah continues to deal with the question of who can marry whom. 

 

Mishnah Three

1)      All who are forbidden to enter into the assembly may intermarry with each other.

2)      Rabbi Judah forbids it.

3)      Rabbi Elazar says: those who are certain [may marry] those who are certain, but those who are certain with those who are doubtful and those who are doubtful with those who are certain and those who are doubtful with others who are doubtful—this is prohibited. 

4)      Who are “those who are doubtful”?  The shtuki, the asufi and the Samaritan. 

 

Explanation

Section one:  According to this opinion, any person who cannot marry into the assembly (see Deuteronomy 23:1-9), meaning mamzerim, natinim, the shtuki and asufi (see yesterday’s mishnah for a definition of these terms) can marry each other.  A mamzer, for example, could marry an asufi.

Section two:  Seemingly Rabbi Judah says that every person from a class forbidden to enter into the assembly must marry another person from the same class.  A mamzer would have to marry a mamzer, a shtuki would marry a shtuki, etc.  The problem with this interpretation of his words is that there is no inherent logic to it.  The Talmud explains that Rabbi Judah prohibits converts from marrying mamzerim.  The Torah states that a mamzer should not come into the assembly of the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:3). The question is: are converts considered part of the “assembly of the Lord”?  According to Rabbi Judah the convert is part of the assembly of the Lord, and therefore they cannot marry mamzerim.

Section three:  Rabbi Elazar says that those who are certainly prohibited from marrying into the assembly may marry others who are certainly prohibited.  However, those who are doubtfully prohibited cannot marry anyone.  The problem is that they don’t really know whether or not they are prohibited.  If they are prohibited than they can’t marry priests, Levites or Israelites, but if they are not prohibited they can’t marry mamzerim, natinim, shtukim and asufim.  A shtuki, for instance, couldn’t even marry another shtuki, lest one is “fit” and the other not “fit.”  Therefore, they can’t marry anyone.

Section four:  A shtuki and an asufi are in the category of “doubtful” because they don’t even know who their parents are.  The Samaritans are “doubtful” because the very halakhic status of the Samaritans is questionable.  Without delving into the history of the Samaritans (see the Encyclopedia Judaica for more details), they were (and still are) a group in the northern part of Israel that separated from those Jews living in Judea at an early period.  They observed some of the same laws as did other Jews, but not in the same way.  Marriage laws, namely kiddushin and gittin, were not observed in the same way that the rabbis prescribed and therefore any Samaritan is by definition of doubtful lineage. 

 

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