Kiddushin, Chapter Three, Mishnah Thirteen

 

Introduction

This mishnah continues to discuss personal status and lineage. The specific issue is whether or not a mamzer can purify his lineage.

 

Mishnah Thirteen

Rabbi Tarfon says: mamzerim can be purified.  

How is this so? If a mamzer marries a slave woman, her son is a slave; if he frees him, it is found that the son is a free man.  

Rabbi Eliezer says: behold, he is a slave mamzer.

 

Explanation

Rabbi Tarfon uses the rules in the previous mishnah to find a means by which a mamzer can have a child that is not a mamzer.  A mamzer is allowed to marry a slave woman, even though a non-mamzer cannot. If the mamzer owns the slave woman, then he owns the child.  If he frees the child the child loses his mamzer status and becomes a regular Israelite.

Rabbi Eliezer, however, holds that such a “trick” does not work. The status of the child is “slave mamzer.”  When his father/master frees him, he is no longer a slave but he is still a mamzer.  

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